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Looking Back on the Blog 2016

The end is near!   Or at least the end of 2016.   For some of us this has been a nightmare year that we are glad to see behind us.  For others it has been a year of unusual success, prosperity, and happiness, a utopian cornucopia.  Whichever camp you are in (most of us are somewhere in between), I hope you can look forward with some hope to what lies ahead.

This will be an end-of-the-year post, summarizing what we have accomplished on the blog over the past twelve months and thinking a bit about what lies ahead.  It has been a very good year for the blog.  I can start by giving some of the important numbers.

My objective, all along, has been to provide 5-6 posts a week, each and every week.  To my knowledge, I haven’t missed yet.  This past year I made 281 posts, an average of just over 5.4 per week.  So I have kept the pace up.   Since starting the blog in April 2012, I have made 1394 posts.  Each post is about 1000 words, which means I have so far burdened you with something like 1,400,000 words.   Go figure.

The posts have continued to be on a very wide range of topics, as you know, from the historical Jesus, to the Gospels, to the writings of Paul, to the manuscripts of the New Testament, to issues connected with translation, to a wide range of topics on the history of Christianity in the first three centuries, to the Hebrew Bible, to the study of early Judaism, to personal reflections, to … well, to lots of things.

One of the new features I have incorporated into the blog seems to be going very well.  That is the “Blast from the Past” which I post once every week or two.   This is when I dig something out of the archives that I posted in the past, usually three or four years ago, and repost it, on the assumption that most of us won’t remember the post from the first time around.  I know that in most instances I myself don’t remember it, and so I think I can assume most readers won’t.  moreover, most members of the blog now were not members then, so they never saw the post in the first place.  I’ve tried to pick only posts that I think were most valuable and interesting.  The feedback I have gotten from this new feature has been very good.

Feedback generally has been good.   Since the beginning of the blog we have allowed comments on posts.  Most comments are a reaction to the post, although sometimes readers use the comment function in order to raise a new topic or address a new issue.  All comments are always welcome.  So far, since the beginning of the blog, there have been 45,366 comments.  Really.  That’s about 800 a month.  My sense is that the number of comments per post is slightly increasing with time (I don’t have statistics on that, but most days there are over 30 now), and some of the comments are obviously easier to deal with than others.  I read every one of them, and if an answer is needed, I try to provide one.  As you know, most of my answers are terse and to the point.  I’m afraid there simply isn’t any way around that until we clone me.

There continue to be two ultimate goals of the blog, one that most of you are most interested in and the other that I’m most interested in (on the assumption that all of us are in fact very much interested in *both*).  The first is for me to disseminate knowledge about early Christianity to a broader reading public.  I see this as one of my roles as a scholar in the field, who thinks it is a pity that so many scholars in so many fields of inquiry have no interest in making what they know available to the human race at large.  The field of early Christianity is of such enormous importance, historically, socially, and culturally (not to mention religiously!) that our world would (and does) benefit hugely from scholarly information about it for the wider public.   And so we are working to achieve that here on the blog, and to my knowledge there isn’t anything quite like the blog to achieve these ends.

The second goal (the one that is especially important to me personally) is to raise money for charity.  Frankly, as I’ve said ad nauseum (you may be thinking), if it weren’t for the charitable aspects of the blog, I simply wouldn’t do it.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the blog – I do indeed relish the chance to make scholarship available to a wider public.  But if we weren’t raising money for those in need, I simply would do other things with my time.

And we are indeed raising money for charity, in a rather big way.  This past calendar year we have (as of this morning) raised $115,000.   That is $315 a day, each and every day of the year.  We should be very proud of that.  It’s a lot of money.   And I hope the amounts will grow and grow.   Please remember that it is dead easy to make a donation to the blog on top of what you pay for your membership fees.  Many, many, many thanks to those of you who have done so.  May your tribe increase!  And whether you have done so before or not, remember – there are still a few hours left in 2016 for your end-of-the-year charitable gift!  All donations are completely tax deductible.

Let me close with a plea or two.  If you know anyone who would be interested in joining the blog (surely you know *someone*!) please tell them about it and urge them to join.   We have kept the membership fees at the same level since 2012 – it is less than 50 cents a week.  But we need more and more members, and our only real mode of advertisement is word of mouth.  So please, mouth the words!

In that connection, please remember that it is possible to give Gift Subscriptions to the blog to everyone you know and love.  Why not do so?  It is dead easy (click the button!), it will be a very nice gift, and it will help us meet our goals.

All in all it has been a very good year for the blog.  And now I’m looking very much forward to an even better one to come!   Happy New Year to all!


What is the Hebrew Bible?
The Copying of the Hebrew Bible



  1. Avatar
    Boltonian  December 31, 2016

    Thanks, Bart, for all your labours. From this member’s viewpoint, every drop of your sweat has been worthwhile. Some of your posts confirmed my views, some surprised me but most gave me pause for thought – and thought is always worth pausing for. Well done with the donations; your pleading, badgering, and cajoling paid off, so to speak.

    By my rough and ready calculations it was an ok year: 137,000 fewer people living in poverty at the end than the start of the year according to the UN; far fewer natural, weather-related disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and floods etc; fewer people died violent deaths (despite Syria); fewer disease-related deaths; and so on. Room for improvement, of course, but certainly not the, ‘Worst year ever,’ that I have heard bandied about by some gloomsters.

    • Bart
      Bart  January 1, 2017

      Thanks! I agree.

      • Avatar
        BartyD4all  January 3, 2017

        I used to volunteer with Greensboro Urban Ministries, so I am very familiar with some of your charities. Good causes all. You are a great cause as well..Happy New Year!

  2. ronaldus67
    ronaldus67  December 31, 2016

    Well, what can I say. Not only your blog, but all of your work has enriched my life and I hope it will continue to do so in the future.
    Thank you Bart and a happy new year to you too!
    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  3. Avatar
    plparker  December 31, 2016

    Thanks as always. Great Blog!

  4. Avatar
    Pattycake1974  December 31, 2016

    This blog is very special and dear to me. It has such a unique sense of community that I’m convinced it just can’t be replicated.

    Happy New Year to you and your family. May 2017 go above and beyond your expectations!

  5. talmoore
    talmoore  December 31, 2016

    “For some of us this has been a nightmare year that we are glad to see behind us.”
    Something tells me our nightmare is only beginning.

    “sometimes readers use the comment function in order to raise a new topic or address a new issue.”
    Speaking of which, for my Jesus novel, which I’m trying to make as historically plausible as possible, I’ve taken advantage of my knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic to try to systematically sift out what may have been Jesus’ actual Aramaic or Hebrew words embedded in the NT, and so far I think I’ve had a few breakthroughs. For starters, try as hard as I might, I have found that most of the best candidates for Jesus’ words simply do not work nearly as well in the Aramaic as they do in the Hebrew. I’ve read several attempted reconstructions in the Aramaic, from Jeremias to Maurice Casey, and they are way too clumsy to feel right. However, whenever I reconstruct a saying in Hebrew, the saying magically comes alive. Here, I’ll give you another wonderful example.
    אין הנביא אין הכבוד חוץ הארץ
    “There is no prophet without honor outside [his] land.”
    The way that expression rolls off the tongue in Hebrew is simply magical: Ein ha-navi’ ein ha-kavod chutz ha-aretz.
    If Jesus didn’t say that expression in the Hebrew, well, he should have!
    (The Aramaic equivalent — לית נביאא לית כבדא אלא ארעא — sounds REALLY ugly by comparison.)

    Anyway, Dr. Ehrman, once I’m done with my massive spreadsheet of the reconstructions of Jesus’ apothegms, some time in 2017, I’ll share it with you.

  6. Avatar
    Wilusa  December 31, 2016

    Happy New Year, Bart! It’s great to know the Blog has been so successful this year. I’m sure all of us are enjoying it, while we’re learning some fascinating things. I’m glad you still read all the Comments yourself, and we haven’t been asked to limit their length!

  7. Avatar
    doug  December 31, 2016

    Thanks, Bart, for sharing your knowledge with us. I look forward to and learn from each of your posts. They are brain food.

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    mjt  December 31, 2016

    Thank you for all your effort to help the less fortunate. If Christianity turns out to be true, based on Matthew 25 you’ll actually get to go to heaven! 😉

    • Bart
      Bart  January 1, 2017

      Well, based on traditional Christian theology (and Paul!) I wouldn’t. But here’s hoping!

  9. Avatar
    Jana  January 1, 2017

    Dr. Ehrman, it’s a blessing to learn from you. You were a literary hero long before I found your blog site. Since reading not only your books (and I have more kindle downloads to read this year and REREAD now I have a better perspective) but your blogs, my understanding and thus relationship to Christianity has changed .. radically. I remain however respectful and at times in admiration of the devotion and intense gentle and simple devotion that my largely Spanish established Catholic Maya community manifests. I also am respectful of the underpinnings of your write .. a sincere and precision quest for the truth. Any flaws are totally my fault .. I feel a lack of my own continuity, poor internet service at times and frankly I’m tired. I’m not sure where you derive your zest but if there is a blog to that effect, I will subscribe! Happy 2017!

  10. Avatar
    mjkhan  January 1, 2017

    Bart you are a scholar of early Christianity.And you know that still we can’t find any gospel according to Jesus.This by the way is opposite to Hinduism where you have sacred text(Vedas and Upanished)but you don’t know who brought them what was his name when he gave this text.
    Yet there are many things which can be included in discussion one is what Jesus said about a comforter who will come after he leaves and will speak the words that are put in his mouth(Muhammad was an unlettered and he repeated the words Angel Gabriel told him so he could memorize them and then were dictated>My point is that there is lot in common between Abrahamic faiths,and they are in succession.Jesus said I can’t tell you now when I leave then I will send comforter who will remain with you forever(in the form of Quran and teachings of Prophet Muhammad)That area needs to be focused on for the sake of Jesus,his work and his saying and the common ground it will foster between Abrahamic faiths.We always need efforts from leaders(like you) to work towards commonalities and thus peace.

    • Bart
      Bart  January 2, 2017

      When Jesus spoke about a Comforter/Advocate — the Paraclete — in the Gospel of John, he was referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Just read John 14 and 16, and you’ll see; especially, e.g., 14:26; 16:13)

      • Avatar
        mjkhan  January 2, 2017

        But the holy spirit was present at the time of Jesus as well.And Jesus said when I go then I will send a comforter who will speak what he hears(prophet Muhammad who was unlettered and repeated what Angel Gabriel spoke to him so he could remember it and then told people the same)and will remain with you ,prophet Muhammad is the last and final prophet after him no will come.Quran is the last and final testament.

        • Bart
          Bart  January 3, 2017

          If you’re talking about the views found in the Gospel of John, then you need to read what the Gospel of John has to say, not impose some other theology on John. (It’s fine to impose your theology on any book you want, but that’s not the same thing as seeing what the book itself has to say). John is quite clear that Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit coming after he has left. He explicitly says so.

          • Avatar
            mjkhan  January 3, 2017

            If John means that Jesus says”holy spirit coming after he has left”then it gets confusing.,meaning there was no holy spirit at the time of Jesus?or Holy spirit had left after Jesus and then returned ?or this is “another”holy spirit so now we have two holy spirits,one from before i.e of the trinity and this one added after Jesus so now we have two holy spirits and one God.Religion needs to be simple if the purpose of this is guidance of mankind,followership.One reason that today Christianity so much deviated from the original teachings of Jesus, is that the gospel(bible)was property of church not to be even read or interpreted by ordinary people.The clergies could manipulate the meanings and even change the text to back it.
            Actually the Quran says about Jesus a lot so the research is done by scholars what bible says about Muhammad.There are many world renowned scholars on Islam who have spoken on this topic.Dr.Zakir Naik is one.HIs presentation on the topic”MUhammad in Bible ” is worth wathcing on Youtube ,by both christians and Muslims alike due to our common ground and the fact both prophets were sent by same one God to guide human race in different area and different times.You have a right to disagree but you being a scholar have a double responsibility to disagree based on solid reasoning ,logic or proof.

            Muhammad (PBUH) in The Bible – Dr. Zakir Naik

            Show original message

          • Bart
            Bart  January 5, 2017

            I think the problem you’re having is differentiating between what the Gospel of John (Jesus talks about the coming of the Spirit to the disciples) has to say and what was “really” the case (the Spirit must have been with them already in the person of Jesus.)

  11. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  January 1, 2017

    With all you do, I thought you had already been cloned several times. Thanks for your work on this blog. It’s more important to me and others than you probably realize,

  12. Avatar
    bensonian  January 2, 2017

    Bart, thanks for being so generous with your time and energy in this blog.

  13. Avatar
    dankoh  January 2, 2017

    I have always felt that a true scholar is not just interested in sharing his or her knowledge, or willing to share, but actually delighted to share it, to have correspondents who are both interested and interesting, who not only welcome new ideas but also challenge them.

    So I am delighted (!) to have found your site. And I appreciate the amount of time you are able to my thoughts and those of others, and of course the blogs themselves, whether I comment on them or not. The charity is important as well.

  14. Avatar
    Jason  January 2, 2017

    Dr. E, you’re doing fantastic and I’m proud to have been a part of this since (I believe) the first year and to have found a great “humanist” charity like UMD as a result.

  15. Avatar
    lobojose  January 6, 2017

    Dr. Ehrman, your Blog is a fountain of information, where people like me we can go and acquire knowledge………. Please keep us inform….. Thank you!!

  16. Avatar
    Raemon  January 9, 2017

    Bart, what is the best argument/apology for Christianity you have read?

    • Bart
      Bart  January 10, 2017

      Well, no one was as clever as C. S. Lewis. And many who aren’t as clever are just downright dumb. 🙂

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