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If the Quest for the Historical Jesus Failed… What Then?

In response to a question about the Messianic Secret in Mark, I have now shown how scholars (most signficiantly William Wrede) came to realize that not even the Gospel of Mark was a straightforward historical account of what actually happened in the life of Jesus. Some five years ago on the blog I talked about what happened next, in the scholarship on the New Testament.  It’s a crucial element of the history of biblical scholarship.  Here is what I said.


Once it came to be realized that Mark’s Gospel – the earliest of our surviving accounts of Jesus – was driven not purely by historical interests in order to record biographical information with historical accuracy, but was (like the other Gospels) written in order to convey theological ideas in literary guise, the movement to use Mark to write a “Life of Jesus” more or less collapsed on itself, for a time and among most New Testament scholars. What arose from the ashes of this “Quest of the Historical Jesus” could not have been foreseen by its devotees – as often happens in times of disciplinary progress and change.

The big breakthrough came with the work of Karl Ludwig Schmidt (whose most important book was never translated into English, to my knowledge). Schmidt realized that the theologically loaded parts of Mark’s Gospel were not found in the core stories found throughout its account, but in the “framework” for these stories, that is, in the narrative transitions that the author himself provided for moving from one story to the next. (That’s where the “messianic secret” identified by Wrede is found – not in the stories themselves but in the aftermath). This raised the possibility that the authors of the Gospels – who were known by this time not to have been the disciples of Jesus himself – were incorporating stories into their Gospels that they inherited, and that they themselves were merely providing the transitions from one story to the next and making the overall structure of the Gospels so that the stories would cohere into a unified whole.

And that in turn meant that the Gospel writers were not inventing the stories they wrote on the one hand, and were not simply writing history as it happened on the other.   Instead, they were *inheriting* the stories.  And where were the stories before they were written down?  They were …

To see what happens next in the unraveling the secrets of the Kingdom, you will need to be among the chosen few — the members of the blog!  Joining is simple and cheap, and every penny you pay goes to charity.  So join the elite crew of insiders.  Become a member!!

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Non-Christian Sources for Jesus: An Interview with History.com
The Death Knell for the Study of the Historical Jesus



  1. Avatar
    Anton  February 22, 2019

    I dont see why there must have been a purpose that all the healing stories have the same structure. It seems logical to me that this would be a very natural process. That is, you are sick, ask Jesus for healing, he does so, people marvel. That is why we go to doctors when we are sick, no purpose in mind.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      Right. But the stories about Jesus are not *that* bare bones. In modern stories, someone is sick and goes to the doctor and gets better. But rarely do you have the crowds marvel, e.g. And you don’t have a story of someone coming to tell Jesus that a relative or associate is sick, and Jesus comes (sometimes after a delay), and the situation looks hopeless, and he utters reassuring words, but is not believed, and he heals the person and the crowds all marvel. I.e. there is consistnenlty *more* to these stories than a simple straightforward narrative.

      • Avatar
        rburos  February 24, 2019

        It seems to me that even those who benefited from Jesus’ healings also misunderstood who Jesus actually was? That healing is nice, but Jesus was much more than *just* a healer (which since I have friends who claim to have healed people via prayer I’m sure there were plenty of those back in the first century as well)?

  2. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  February 22, 2019

    I look forward to your subsequent posts on this topic. To me, the key question of all questions is what is historical versus what is legendary about Jesus. All that follows depends on the answer to that question.

    Often, as you know, the simplest explanations, Occam’s Razor, are the best ones. Here is one possible simple explanation for the “Messianic Secret”: Neither Jesus nor His disciples thought He was the Messiah. But (you have taught me many things including that it is okay to start sentences with “But”) after the death of Jesus, certain followers, trying to deal with the very disappointing death of Jesus, rationalized His death by contending that He was the Messiah and that His death was part of God’s plan to provide atonement. Since neither Jesus nor His disciples ever contended that Jesus was the Messiah, their “silence” about such matters, had to be, gradually and progressively, rationalized in the oral tradition by contending that Jesus remained “secret” about being the Messiah in order to prevent His being killed prior to His fulfilling His teaching mission. Hence, the origin of the “Messianic Secret.” As shown by the fervor of today’s politics, we should never underestimate the capacity of humans to rationalize stuff. I know this is similar to some of what you have been posting, but that is one way of putting it all together.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      I think the very big historical issue is why the disciples would come to call Jesus the messiah after his death if they had not already thought he was the messiah *before* his death. Even if they came to believe that he had been raised from the dead (as they did) that wouldn’t suggest to them (or to anyone at all) that Jesus was the Messiah, since there were no traditions about a messiah rising from the dead. So they may have concluded *some* things about him — e..g, he has been made divine — but not others — e.g. that he was after all the messiah (any more than the resurrection would lead them to say, Hey, he must be the Roman Emperor!)

  3. Avatar
    ajohns  February 22, 2019

    This question isn’t directly related to this post, but it’s something I’ve been wondering about for awhile / having a hard time figuring out.

    Is there any oral tradition or anywhere in the New Testament that clearly articulates Jesus’s views on whether his followers needed to keep following the Old Covenant / Mosaic Law? I know that you regularly post that the historical Jesus was a devote jew who kept the law but from reading the gospels, I feel like on multiple occasions they clearly **imply* that Jesus was doing away with the old law, yet in other verses he’s talking about how important it is to keep the law…but then he breaks the sabbath himself on multiple occasions. Are they putting words in Jesus mouth or is there clearly tension in the gospels regarding the Mosaic Law? or do I have this all wrong? thanks.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      Yes, this is a much-written about topic. I think you’ll find discussion of it in any book on the historical Jesus. It’s a complicated issue — to much for a blog comment — in part because different Gospels appear to have different views of the matter. In Matthew, for example, jesus insists that his followers adhere to all the law in all its particulars, even better than the religious leaders of the jews; but when he summarizes the parts of the law to be followed, it is always the moral/ethical injunctions, nothing about ritual purity, or sabbath observance, or kosher food, or circumcision, etc. So what did he mean? In Mark and John, on the other hand, he appears to relax a number of the laws — sabbath and kashrut, e.g. So what was his actual view? My sense is that he believed Jews had to follow the law strictly, as long as they understood the most important parts of it, involving loving God and loving neighbor; and if love required them to break a law on occasion, that wasn’t the end of the world.

      • Robert
        Robert  February 24, 2019

        “… and if love required them to break a law on occasion, that wasn’t the end of the world.”

        But the End of the World was indeed just around corner! Longenecker, Apostle of Liberty , pp 144-148, summarizes the Jewish debate as to whether any aspects of the Law might change in the messianic age and/or in the age to come. It is a very interesting debate. Obviously some elements of Matthew’s traditon/community strongly endorsed the immutability and strict legal interpretation side of this discussion (Mt 5,18-20 23,2-3), while others in the messianic movement represented the other side of this debate, eg, at least some of Paul’s followers. Perhaps the best attempt to discuss this issue in terms of the historical Jesus is found in John P Meier’s 4th volume of his Marginal Jew works, Law and Love. 735 pages devoted to Jesus’ approach to the law.

  4. Avatar
    Nichrob  February 22, 2019

    Fantastic journey….!! Anxiously looking forward to the next post…!!

  5. Avatar
    AstaKask  February 22, 2019

    So if there’s an oral tradition then there’s really no need for Q, M, or L. Suppose there are 50 stories about Jesus floating around and Matthew and Luke hear 20 each. If they hear stories at random, they will each hear twelve unique stories (that’s M and L) and they will hear eight common stories (that’s Q). So why do people believe there are these source documents?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      There’s definitely a need for Q, since the agreements between Matthew and Luke are verbatim in Greek. And if Matthew and Luke are getting most of their stories from previous written sources, one would have to mount an *argument* that htey were just makin’ up a bunch of them themselves….

      • Avatar
        AstaKask  February 24, 2019

        That’s a good argument.

      • Avatar
        Rokyro  February 25, 2019

        Anything to the idea that maybe Luke or Matthew were copying each other, instead of a second source?

        • Bart
          Bart  February 26, 2019

          That is one view — which has the virtue of dispensing with Q, a hypothetical source. But most scholars don’t hold to it, because of other very serious problems it has, especially esplaining what they non-markan material in matthew and luke is almost always in a different location in the two narratives, whereas the markan material is followed, in terms of sequence. It’s hard to explain why, if Luke used Mark *and* Matthew, he chose, whenever he came across a non-Markan saying, to stick it somewhere else in his account, especially since there seems to be no rhyme or reason for the change in most cases. Easier to think they both had a list of Jesus’ sayings and stuck them into the Markan outline wherever it made best sense to them, individually.

  6. Avatar
    JoeBTex  February 22, 2019

    Wow ! More please .

  7. Avatar
    godspell  February 22, 2019

    Bart, it seems to me that most of the problems relating to the study of the historical Jesus exist with many if not most figures in ancient history. We have surprisingly little reliable material relating to Alexander the Great, for example. (And he was actually worshiped as a god while he was still alive!)

    Did those seeking the historical Jesus imagine that he would somehow be different? Or was it that they came from different areas of scholarship, different disciplines, and didn’t fully grasp the inherent difficulties in separating legend from fact that most professional historians take for granted?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      Nope, same problems, just fewer sources. I think one problem is that people (even scholars) treat Jesus as a special case. When it comes to knowing what happened, the same rules of evidence apply!

      • Avatar
        godspell  February 24, 2019

        Seems to me that’s much less the case now than it was in the 18th and 19th centuries (or even the early 20th). It was, as you indicate, hard to step back and be objective about someone that influential, who wasn’t written about until long after his death.

        In retrospect, it’s a pity the Cult of John the Baptist produced no comparable body of writings (or really, any that have survived, unless you count the Mandaeans). The Pharisees and Sadducees are likewise silent about the matter–Judaism took little note of Jesus until centuries later, when his cult became a threat.

        But then again, we have no writings at all about Alexander from any of the peoples he conquered. We have no writings from the Persians about their legendary wars with the Greeks. My understanding of ancient history (which isn’t what I studied in graduate school) is that there’s never as much information as desired.

        Whereas, with the study of (let’s say) the French Revolution, there’s so much source material, no single historian could ever read it all.

        And they’re still debating what exactly happened there, and why, and since none of them has read everything, and it’s hard to be objective about an event that changed history….

        All historians have their own unique problems, but at the end of the day, it’s the same problem. Human society is too complex to be fully understood, unless you could step outside of it completely, and none of us can do that.

  8. Avatar
    fishician  February 22, 2019

    Let’s suppose Mark took the stories circulating about Jesus and organized them into a chronological account. Did that account then become the basis for all later gospels (except maybe John)? In other words, did Mark create the “biography” of Jesus that others then used as the basis for their works? Second question: when Morton Smith wrote Jesus the Magician, was that based on form criticism? That is, was he saying the Jesus miracle stories were following common forms of magical stories?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      Yes, that’s generally the view today; Smith: not explicitly. He was less influenced by a formal analysis than by motifs.

  9. Avatar
    NancyGKnapp  February 22, 2019

    Thank you. I love it when a light bulb goes on in my mind. I learned how form criticism works and that the core stories in Mark were tied together by a theological framework emphasizing the messianic.secret.

  10. webo112
    webo112  February 22, 2019

    Great post Professor.
    Wish you could write a book just on the history of New Testament scholarship.

  11. Avatar
    rburos  February 22, 2019

    1. This is my favorite string since I joined the blog, hands down.

    2. JD Crossan seems to be screaming for a guest spot here too. I feel he’d have a lot to add to the post above, though he would end it with ‘history or parable–either way a christian is called to DO something from each of these stories.’

    • Avatar
      rburos  February 23, 2019

      Do you think then, that the Jesus Seminar is basically a ‘day late’?

      • Bart
        Bart  February 24, 2019

        Do you mean “out of date”? My sense is that the project doesn’t have a large following just now.

  12. Avatar
    Hon Wai  February 22, 2019

    Can you explain why form criticism is now a largely defunct approach in contemporary historical-critical studies?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      Yes, good idea. I’ll see if I can come up with something to explain why it died out.

  13. Rick
    Rick  February 23, 2019

    Professor, is their a “form” characterized by “escalating argument” between the Christian community (perhaps the earliest Jesus movement) and the “Jews”? There seems (to my untrained self) to be examples in “what was the risen Jesus?” From ghost to reanimated man. Culminating with Thomas feeling the nail holes; or, in the advancing christology from special human messiah person favored of God snd thus resurrected to adopted son to begottenson to everlasting logos?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      The Sitze im Leben have to do with set “situations” that the communities found themselves in — e.g., controversies with Jews over whether it was necessary to keep the sabbath (leading to the sabbath-controversy dialogues in the Gospels). They are not related to developing theological views among the Christians.

  14. cheito
    cheito  February 23, 2019


    With ALL due respect. Would you admit to the world that you were wrong If one day you suddenly realize that you’ve erred in your assessment of who the historical Jesus really is and that you’ve been wrong about your assertions that there are no words at all from God in any of all the NT/OT manuscripts?

    Joe Rodriguez a.k.a. ~Cheito-

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      Of course. That’s my entire point. You have to go where the evidence leads.

  15. Avatar
    Tm3  February 23, 2019

    Dr Ehrman,
    Considering Mark 16:8 it seems that the ending is a Resurrection Secret. If the goal in the Markan community was to understand why they didn’t know Jesus was the Messiah during his lifetime but only after his resurrection what would be the goal of not mentioning the event? It’s like the old question about the tree falling in the woods not making a sound if no one hears it.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      I’m not sure I’m quite following your question. But the resurrection is explicitly mentioned in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus is absolutely raised from the dead. That’s the point of the followers not knowing about it. They didn’t realized what, for Mark, really happened.

  16. Avatar
    Phil  February 23, 2019


    The blog posts over the past few weeks have been really interesting. Normally, I am not in any particular rush to read the latest post, but recently, I check the blog first thing every morning because I want to get the latest update as soon as possible.

    I think what is interesting is that you are not only answering the question you have posed (e.g. which Gospel was written first), but you are giving a high level explanation of how scholars figured it out. It is very interesting how the little clues within the texts can lead to a very high level conclusion.

    Have you ever considered writing a book like this? Each chapter could pick a high level topic or question and then explain what the scholarly conclusion is and which evidence scholars used to figure it out. I think this would be very interesting to a lot of people. After all, many people have read the bible, but most have not picked up on the minor clues that can be used to determine which Gospel was written first, or that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher.

    In the past month or so, you have already written about what could be the first three chapters in this book (The Synoptic Problem, The Messianic Secret, The Quest for the Historical Jesus) and I am sure there are many other similar topics that could be reviewed.

    As a bonus, not only are the topics interesting, but they also have really cool names.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      Interesting idea. Most of this material is covered in my textbook on the New Testament, where I show the arguments for why scholars think what they do. I do a lot more there than I’ve done here on both the Synoptic Problem and the Quest; though I do less there on the Messianic Secret. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the thread!

  17. Avatar
    Gary  February 24, 2019

    But where is the evidence that the stories in the first Gospel, Mark, originated from oral traditions? Educated guesses?? Why isn’t it possible that the author of Mark heard a bare bones story about the apocalyptic healer and miracle worker Jesus, the resurrected Jewish Messiah, and simply invented most of the stories about Jesus found in his Gospel—to address issues in the Church of. his day in circa 70 CE?

    Then the author of Matthew did the same in circa 80-90 CE, tweaking Mark’s (fictional) stories and inventing ADDITIONAL stories to address issues in the Church in his day. And about the same time, the author of the Gospel of Luke did the same thing, tweaking Mark’s fictional stories, quoting from Q, and inventing his own additional stories.

    Then circa 100 CE, the author of John loosely borrows stories from the three Synoptic Gospels but significantly tweaks them and adds his own very different (fictional) material. Why is this scenario for the origin of the detailed stories in the Gospels less likely than the oral traditions theory?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      If there are multiple stories about parables about seeds told by Jesus in sources that did not know of each other’s existence, then no one source made upt those kinds of stories. That shows they have been passed along by word of mouth. So too with dozens of other kinds of stories.

      • Avatar
        Gary  February 24, 2019

        The Parable of the Sower appears in Mark, Matthew, and Luke. If both Matthew and Luke had Mark as a source, as most scholars believe, then then their version of this parable could simply be a reworking of Mark’s material. One source.

        Although John does not copy and paste entire passages of any of the Synoptic Gospels as Matthew and Luke do with Mark, it is still possible that John had heard stories from these three books told in his local congregation. At least half of all scholars believe that John is dependent on the Synoptics. So here is the real issue: Are there any narratives (not including sayings) that appear in both Matthew and Luke that are not in Mark? If there are, then this could be evidence for circulating oral stories. If not, then as I see it, it is entirely possible that Mark invented all or most of his stories, with the other authors inventing stories unique to their gospels.

        • Avatar
          Gary  February 24, 2019

          I do not believe that all the material in the Syoptics was invented by Mark because there is material shared in Matthew and Luke that does not appear in Mark. The majority of scholars believe this is due to a second original source named “Q”. I am suggesting that it is possible that many of the narratives in the four Gospels have one source: Mark, and therefore could very well be literary/theological inventions.

        • Bart
          Bart  February 25, 2019

          Yes, it’s possible about John. My view is that if anyone wants to argue that one author (John) based his work on earlier authors (Synoptics), that person bears the burden of proof. One would need evidence for it, not simply assumption — as with all historical claims. But yes, there are a couple of narratives in Matthew and Luke not in Mark: the longer Temptation narrative and the Healing of the Capernaum official’s son.

  18. Avatar
    paulfchristus  February 24, 2019

    Very helpful, Thank you for posting.

  19. Avatar
    dennislk1  February 24, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman,

    The conclusions one arrives at are often dependent on the assumptions one makes at the beginning. If one assumes the sun goes around the earth, because that is what it looks like when standing on the earth, then one can arrive at the conclusion that the earth is at the center of the universe. Prove that the sun does not go around the Earth and the conclusion is proven false.

    Even if one doesn’t believe Jesus spoke to Paul, made him blind and then restored his sight, one can perhaps believe that Paul met with Peter because it says so in the New Testament. Now whether or not Paul understood marketing, Paul is a prolific writer and surely Paul understood the importance of getting a first-hand written account of the life of Jesus (even if Jesus would not have inspired him to do so) and how such a document would make it easier for him to convince Jews and gentiles that Jesus is the Messiah, that such a document would make it easier for the communities of Christians he was establishing to believe in and remain true to their faith in Jesus.

    Does it not make sense that Paul would have left behind 3 or 5 literate followers to interview the apostles, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, Nicodemus, etc. and write down what they said? And once those documents existed, wouldn’t Paul have sent copies of these documents to his churches and perhaps sent the originals to a friend in Rome for safekeeping? Does the fact that many of the manuscripts are written in the Greek language not point to the influence of Paul on those manuscripts? Starting with the assumption that the written manuscripts came from an oral tradition, one looks for proof of an oral tradition in the manuscripts and then finds it. But if the first accounts of Jesus life were first handwritten accounts from the people who had first-hand knowledge of Jesus, then the manuscripts seem to then become very much closer to the true story of the life of Jesus.


  20. Avatar
    dennislk1  February 24, 2019

    If one assumes Christianity is an act of fate, Jesus was just a man, Paul and Peter were just following natural instinct; one can assume that it began with 20 people, that none of the 5000 became followers of Jesus, none of John the Baptist’s followers became followers of Jesus, that Jesus did not speak to Paul and that mathematically speaking even a blind squirrel will find a nut. But for the majority populations of 4 continents of the Earth to call themselves Christian does require very many blind squirrels to find very many nuts. And thus understanding Christianity requires people who’s thinking process is grounded in reality and logic, as I think mine is and as I think yours is, to figure it out so that it makes sense to people who have a 2019 education.

    Christians conclude the God of Abraham created the universe and all that is in it, but He did not. Christians conclude that Jesus is the son of the God of Abraham and therefore is also a God, but He is not and is not. The conclusions of the Christian church have caused its beliefs to become misguided. And these beliefs and what is written in the beginning of the Bible do not match what modern science is proving to be true which is beginning to cause all three religions that are based on the God of Abraham to become weaker, and the scandals of the Catholic Church and other churches are not helping.

    There is an interpretation that allows Christianity to be completely compatible with modern science. There is an interpretation that explains the Bible in a way that will make sense in 2019, but it is very “new wine” and will not be easy for many Christians to drink.

    My question is, are you Dr. Ehrman open to hearing and reading new interpretations of the Bible or do you believe everything has already been written, said and done; and that there is nothing new under the sun?

    Dennis Keister

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      If you’ve followed my blog for long, or read my books, you know that my major emphasis as both a scholar and a person is to follow the evidence wherever it leads, even if that means changing your mind. I think that needs to be true even for people (I don’t include myself in this group) who think they’ve discovered the answer to everything that others constantly puzzle over.

      • Avatar
        darren  February 24, 2019

        I’m puzzled by the tone of some of these “questions.” In my years on the blog, Dr. Ehrman is regularly challenged by readers, and replies with the best evidence he has for his point of view. It’s what makes the comments section worth reading, the rational back and forth. Want to challenge the idea Jesus didn’t get a decent burial? Raise a counter argument and he’ll respond. But please, there’s plenty of snark in the world’s comment sections without bringing it here.

      • Avatar
        dennislk1  February 25, 2019

        Yes, everything I have read and your youtube videos convinced me that you were such a person and I guess I was confirming that you are still such a person. I should like to meet sometime this year with you to discuss my book if you are open to that or email you some of it for you to read. We did meet once briefly. I was standing outside your office reading the comic strips. But you seemed busy and I really wasn’t in a position to discuss my ideas at that time because they were not developed enough. But now I have made progress and am looking to publish my book in 2020. I get to North Carolina a few times a year but live in Louisiana. I did get to see Son of Sam and talk to the protestors and so am able to understand that story better.

        I want to thank you. I was struggling years ago with the story of Jesus and the woman who committed adultery. Manly, how easy it is to be Jesus if one can pick and choose when one will obey the Law of Moses word for word. I heard you giving an interview (NPR?) where you mentioned that story and then bought Misquoting Jesus. The understanding your book gave me allowed me to move forward in my quest to understand. It was with this book that I became aware of your desire to follow the truth where ever it might lead. And thus it was that I decided then that should I ever get my book written that I should like to hear your opinion of it.

        Dennis Keister

    • Avatar
      godspell  February 24, 2019

      Dennis, agreeing that all these fallacies exist in Christianity, in all its forms–they exist in all belief systems. Theistic or secular. Without exception.

      You seem to be assuming that these vices you associate with Christianity wouldn’t exist without it, or something like it, and that’s clearly false. Provably false. These are inherent problems with our species, and it’s not so much that religion creates or empowers them, as that it fails to adequately curb them. However, where religion diminishes in influence, I don’t see any great improvement in human behavior–quite the contrary, at times. We need some moral system to follow, and secular philosophy has never been terribly effective in this regard, except maybe for intellectuals. (And the excesses of secular philosophy can at times make religion seem mild.)

      We clearly need to believe things we can’t prove, all of us. I think it’s better for us to understand our beliefs AS beliefs, and not as facts–facts have to be made a separate case. Facts are the province of science, which history can be considered an arm of, albeit necessarily less objective, since you can’t do controlled experiments with history, can’t look at alternate timelines, etc.

      I’ve known Christians who were incredibly decent and rational people. I’ve encountered atheists who were–well, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. And vice versa, naturally.

      Can you just accept that much of what Jesus is quoted as saying is in fact true? That he seems to have understood us very well?

      Would it be asking too much of us–believers and unbelievers alike–if we tried to understand him a bit? It seems only fair.

      • Avatar
        dennislk1  February 25, 2019

        I believe the New Testament scriptures were written exactly as they needed to be so that Christianity would get to where it is now. And I believe that Jesus has guided human civilization to where it is now.

        What I want to try to do with my book is to help guide Christians and Christianity into the space-age. It is a very tall task and thus I can probably only hope to plant seeds of knowledge in the minds of the readers that will perhaps grow into trees of knowledge for the readers.

        In the past, the “fear” of God helped to curb people’s basic desire to follow their “evolutionary nature” because they did not want to tempt God to give them “bad luck”. But science has removed the fear of God because science has explained what causes the weather, disease, birth defects, fertility, death, etc.. And so, CEOs have no problem taking outrageous salaries while some of their employees are on food stamps. And unfortunately, this will continue because people, especially young people, can no longer connect the truths of the Bible with the truths of modern science and so they are moving away from religion.

        But perhaps it is possible to replace the “fear” of God in the minds of people with the desire to be “born-again”. That is, replacing the “stick” with a “carrot”. But being “born-again” needs to be explained in a way that shows it is both desirable and achievable.

        I do believe that much of what Jesus is quoted as saying is true. Jesus is the savior of the world and this was His purpose from the beginning. But He is not a God and the God of Abraham is not a God because there are no Gods. But to explain it requires a book. But believe me when I say that my belief in Jesus is very strong because I have no doubts. I do not need to believe because I have reached the point of being able to understand. It took a long time to reach this point. If I come across as arrogant, I apologize, it is just that I have reached the mountain top (so to speak) and it was a long time coming. As with Dr. Ehrman, I had my faith then lost my faith. But now I have my faith again because I understand and I hope to share this understanding.

        Dennis Keister

        • Bart
          Bart  February 26, 2019

          Thanks for this. But let’s try to keep comments to the historical issues, and not to matters of personal faith.

        • Avatar
          godspell  March 1, 2019

          Sorry I misunderstood your point.

          And good luck with the book, though I believe many others have embarked on similar projects in the past.

          Christianity (and Judaism) made their way into the space age right about here–


          It’s what you make of your beliefs that counts, and I’m afraid all beliefs can be corrupted, and made to serve evil ends. And though I wouldn’t call it a belief system (not supposed to be, anyhow), so can science.

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