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Responses to my Post on the Discovery of an Ancient Manuscript of the Quran

By |April 24th, 2024|Public Forum|0 Comments

After I posted on the discovery of an ancient manuscript of the Quran (years ago; but I reposted it yesterday) I received a bunch of comments (years ago) that I responded to (years ago).  Here's a repost of the back and forth, with a couple of tough ones here. ********************* My post on Saturday about the discovery of two pages of the Qur’an in the library of the University of Birmingham that appear to date from the time of Mohammad himself. or a decade or so later, evoked more than the usual response.   My Facebook post has received nearly 260,000 [...]

An Astounding Quran Manuscript Discovery

By |April 23rd, 2024|New Testament Manuscripts, Public Forum|3 Comments

In my previous posts I've mentioned the course I'll be doing on the Quran and the NT with scholar of Islam, Javad Hashmi.  In the course I won't myself be dealing with the Quran, since it's not my expertise and I prefer as a rule talking about things I know about.  But in past years on the blog I have published some posts on aspects of the Quran and Islam that I AM able to say something about, and thought this would be a good time to re-air them.  Here's one of them: ****************************** Those of you who follow the [...]

Fundraiser for Sudan With James Tabor

By |April 21st, 2024|Public Forum|0 Comments

I am very pleased to announce a fund-raiser for the Bart Ehrman blog on May 6, a special event in which I interview fellow New Testament scholar and social commentator Dr. James Tabor on a topic sure to be of interest.  James, as you may know, is a retired professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.  He is a public figure who has a large following on his own blog and in his many public appearances.  Among his numerous popular is Why Waco, which deals directly with the 1993 disaster at Waco just over 31 years [...]

Major Ways to Compare and Contrast the Quran With the New Testament

By |April 21st, 2024|Public Forum|3 Comments

In my previous post I announced the new course I'll be doing on May 4 and 5, with scholar of Islam, Javad Hashmi, in which we both apply rigorous historical methods to analyzing the NT (me) and the Quran (Javad).  To register for the course, go to For a $5 blog member discount, simply enter the code Blog5. Here now are the topics and specific lectures we'll be doing.  We shot for the really important and interesting issues; I'm really looking forward to what Javad has to say about them with respect to the Quran.  I'm sure it won't [...]

The Bible and the Quran: Their Historical Problems. A New Course!!

By |April 20th, 2024|Public Forum|13 Comments

Most Muslims argue that the Quran is absolutely perfect in every way: it represents God's words, accurately recorded, with no contradictions, and no textual changes by scribes.  Most fundamentalist Christians argue the same thing about the New Testament.  Is either one true? I'm pleased to announce that I will be hosting a special event on May 4-5, an eight-lecture course on "The Bible and the Quran: Assessing their Historical Problems."   I will be giving half the lectures discussing textual, literary, and historical problems connected with the New Testament, and an expert on Islam, Javad Hashmi, will be dealing with the [...]

“Lovemaking” in the Song of Songs – Platinum Post From Dan Kohanski

By |April 19th, 2024|Public Forum|2 Comments

The Song of Songs is the most, well, sexy book of the Bible, a book that translators and interpreters have a difficult time with since its literal rendering sure creates problems for traditional Jewish and Christian sexual ethics. But if you've read it recently, you may not have seen the half of it.  Here are some reflections on several of the book's key passages, based on an examination of the Hebrew text, by Platinum post member Dan Kohanski.  What do you think?   ****************************** The most famous love poem in the Bible, the Song of Songs, opens by stating its [...]

What’s It Like in Sheol?

By |April 18th, 2024|Public Forum|13 Comments

In the previous post I began discussing the intriguing story of 1 Samuel 28, where the king of Israel, Saul, illicitly consults a medium in an attempt to communicate with his now-dead advisor and predecessor, the prophet Samuel.  This is the only case of necromancy in the entire Bible.   In this post I want to consider what the author of the passage seems to think about those who go to Sheol after death. I have taken much of what follows from my book Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (Simon and Schuster, 2020). ******************************   In the account, King [...]

We Need An Experienced Fundraiser!

By |April 17th, 2024|Public Forum|1 Comment

Do you have fundraising experience? Are you a fan of the mission of this blog--to disseminate scholarly knowledge of the New Testament and the earliest periods of the Christian church to a non-scholarly audience, and (most importantly) to raise funds for charity? The blog has raised over $2,000,000 for our charities (The Urban Ministries of Durham, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, The Durham Literacy Center, CARE, and Doctors Without Borders). You can read more about each of them here. But we want to do more. We're looking for a volunteer with experience in fundraising for nonprofits to [...]

What About People Who Come Back From the Dead in the Hebrew Bible?

By |April 17th, 2024|Afterlife, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|9 Comments

In thinking about Sheol and death in the Hebrew Bible, it is worth reflecting on passages where the dead come back to life or are contacted by the living.  This does not happen much at all – a couple of instances of resuscitation and one of necromancy. Probably the most famous resuscitation – the bringing back to life of a dead person – involves the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 17:17-24.   Elijah has been helping an unnamed widow from the town of Zarephath, miraculously providing her and her son with food during a divinely-mandated drought/famine (which the prophet brought to [...]

More on Sheol: Was it an Actual Place?

By |April 16th, 2024|Afterlife, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|4 Comments

The Jewish scriptures contain a variety of different views about what happens to a person at death.   Most commonly, a person who dies is simply said to have gone to “death” – a term used some thousand times in the Bible.   Better known, but far less frequent, a person’s ultimate destination is sometimes called “Sheol,” a term whose meaning and etymology are debated.  It occurs over sixty times in the Hebrew Bible, and there is unanimity among critical scholars that in no case does Sheol mean “hell,” in the sense people mean today.  There is no place of eternal punishment [...]

Could Moses be Thutmose, the Overseer of the Borderlands? – Platinum Post from Serene

By |April 15th, 2024|Public Forum|3 Comments

Here's a provocative post by your fellow Platinum member, Serene: can Moses be identified with another known figure from history, the Egyptian overseer of the Borderlands, Thutmose?  Read her case and let us know what you think!   ****************************** Could Moses be Thutmose, Overseer of Foreign Lands and Frontier Lands?   “…he changed his name and called himself Moses” —  Josephus in Against Apion, quoting 3rd C BCE Egyptian historian Manetho.   Hi Platies! Thank you for the kind reception to my first post, “Jesus, the Half-Nabataean Prince.   The question I’m asking today is, “Could Santa Claus be Nicholas, [...]

What Is Sheol in the Hebrew Bible?

By |April 14th, 2024|Afterlife, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|22 Comments

I was recently asked what the Old Testament teaches about "hell" and whether that's what "Sheol" refers to.  If not (or if so), what it the view of the afterlife in the Hebrew Bible?   This is a topic I dealt with in my book Heaven and Hell (Simon & Schuster, 2020) and I posted on it some years ago on the blog.  This is what I said. ****************************** When trying to figure out where the Christian ideas of heaven and hell came from, an obvious place to start is with the Hebrew Bible.  Jesus himself held to the authority of [...]

Other “Unknown” Sayings of Jesus

By |April 13th, 2024|Christian Apocrypha, Historical Jesus|18 Comments

Here are now some more “agrapha” (sayings of Jesus not found in any of the surviving Gospels; I say more about "agrapha" in the previous post).  These ones are found in writings of church fathers, who appear to have had access to Gospels unavailable to us, or at least to have heard non-canonical sayings of Jesus in some other way.  (You will be able to find info on each church father/writing mentioned pretty easily online) *****************************  Papias (according to Irenaeus Against Heresies 5. 33. 3-4) Thus the elders who saw John, the disciple of the Lord, remembered [...]

April Gold Q&A: Ask Away!

By |April 12th, 2024|Public Forum|13 Comments

Hey Gold and Platinum members, Time to jump in on the April Gold Q&A; my plan is to record it some time next weekend. If you have a question -- and I bet you do -- send it along!  To do so, do NOT reply on a comment here, but zap an email to Diane at  [email protected]. DEADLINE: Please get your question in by next Friday (04/19/2024) at midnight (whenever midnight is in your time zone). Shorter and to-the-pointer questions are more likely to be picked.  Ask accordingly.

Did People Have Time for Jesus? – a Platinum Post from Doug Wadeson, MD.

By |April 12th, 2024|Public Forum|15 Comments

There is nothing better than a guest blog post that flat-out disagrees with me!  And here we have one.  Is it plausible that Jesus could have had large crowds gathering together to hear his preaching in rural Galilee?  I say: Not really.   Platinum blog member Doug Wadeson says: Oh yes! Here's his post.  What do you think?   ****************************** On those few occasions when I have challenged something Dr. Ehrman has said he can usually shoot me down pretty quickly based on his range and depth of knowledge.  But I am going to try again. Dr. Ehrman has suggested that [...]

Ever Hear of an Agraphon? An “Unwritten” Saying of Jesus?

By |April 11th, 2024|Christian Apocrypha, Historical Jesus|9 Comments

To my surprise, I've never talked about the "agrapha" of Jesus before on the blog.   It's about time I did!  This is an intriguing topic connected with the teachings of Jesus known to almost precisely No One!!  (I'd bet a case of fine French wine that your pastor -- if you've ever had one, in any kind of church whatsoever  -- wouldn't be able to tell you what it's all about! Welcome to the world of the insiders. Here is what I say about the agrapha (plural of agraphon) in the book I published with my colleague Zlatko Pleše, The Other [...]

Is the Paul of Acts at Odds with the Paul of His Own Letters?

By |April 10th, 2024|Acts of the Apostles, Paul and His Letters|33 Comments

Here I continue my few remarks on the differences between Paul’s proclamation as recorded in the speeches he gives in the book of Acts and the views he sets forth in his own letters.  Again, this is taken from my book Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene (Oxford, 2006).   ****************************** Further contrasts between what Paul says about his proclamation and what Acts says about it can be seen in the first major speech Paul delivers in Acts, on the first of his three missionary journeys in the book, in the town of Antioch, Pisidia (central Asia Minor).  Paul [...]

Is the Message of Paul in Acts the Same as the Message of Paul According to Paul?

By |April 9th, 2024|Acts of the Apostles, Paul and His Letters|14 Comments

In September I'm going to be hosting an online conference of Bible scholars discussing their work for laypeople at a level that most anyone will be able to follow easily.  This will be the second of our conferences, "New Insights into the New Testament" (if you don't know about the first one from this past year, focused on the Gospels, you can learn about it here: New Insights into the New Testament Conference).  The topic will be The Life, Letters, and Legends of Paul, and we'll have 8 or 10 scholars making presentations with Q&A for each. We'll be announcing [...]

My Favorite Fragment of a Lost Gospel. Is It the Gospel of Peter??

By |April 7th, 2024|Public Forum|27 Comments

One of the most captivating tiny fragments of a lost Gospel discovered in modern times came from a trash heap excavated from the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, one of many thousands of manuscript fragments found there, some of them Christian but most of them non-Christian (most of which were non-literary texts, that is, personal letters, land deeds, divorce certificates, bills of sale, etc.). Did this fragment come from Gospel of Peter? I've taken two posts to explain what the Gospel of Peter is, in order to set up this particular post.  If you haven't read the earlier posts, that's [...]

What We Knew about the Gospel of Peter Before We Had the Gospel of Peter

By |April 6th, 2024|Christian Apocrypha, History of Christianity (100-300CE)|28 Comments

This is the second of my two posts on the Gospel of Peter.  When the fragment that we now have was discovered by archaeologists in a cemetery in Egypt in 1886, it was almost immediately recognized as the Gospel of Peter, not because it had a title on it, but because it fit so well a description of the Gospel in the writings of Eusebius, the early church historian. In two places in his ten-volume history of Christianity (from Jesus to his own day around 300 CE) Eusebius mnentions the book twice as one of the writings not accepted by [...]

An Unusually Large “Fragment” of a Lost Gospel: The Gospel of Peter

By |April 4th, 2024|Public Forum|15 Comments

I've been doing a thread on Lost Gospels as these are represented by fragments of manuscripts that have been discovered and by quotations in the writings of church fathers. I was getting ready to post my favorite one today and then I wondered: Have I talked about that one before on the blog? Turns out, yes! Some years ago. It is a fragment that MAY be a lost portion of the also otherwise also lost Gospel of Peter.  The Gospel of Peter is not *completely* lost: we have a chunk of it.  But how large a chunk, we can't really [...]

Is That a Portion of a Famous Lost Gospel?

By |April 3rd, 2024|Christian Apocrypha, Early Christian Writings (100-400 CE)|2 Comments

Here is an intriguing and mysterious fragment of an ancient Gospel (that is to say: the manuscript of this book was entirely lost, EXCEPT for this little bit that just happened to turn up).  I’ll bet my bottom dollar (but none of my other dollars) that you will think it is a fragment of one of the Gospels of the New Testament.  WRONG!   It is a clever combination of various Gospel accounts into one narrative, a “Gospel Harmony.” Scholars have long debated: is it a portion of the most famous ancient Gospel Harmony of them all, the massive work known [...]

Was Jesus Opposed to Women and Childbirth? The Lost Gospel of the Egyptians

By |April 2nd, 2024|Christian Apocrypha, Early Christian Writings (100-400 CE), Sex and Sexuality in the Bible, Women in Early Christianity|20 Comments

Now here are some conversations between Jesus and one of his women followers I bet you’ve never seen before! When Salome asked, “How long will death prevail?” the Lord replied “For as long as you women bear children.”  But he did not say this because life is evil or the creation wicked; instead he was teaching the natural succession of things; for everything degenerates after coming into being.  (Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 3, 45, 3) Why do those who adhere more to everything other than the true gospel rule not cite the following words spoken to Salome?  For when she [...]

A Really Scathing Review of My Book on Suffering

By |March 31st, 2024|Bart's Critics, Book Discussions|90 Comments

I’ve devoted my past couple of posts to a review of one of my books that the reviewer (really) didn’t like, and doing so reminded me of the most scathing review that, to my knowledge, I ever received, that at the time (sixteen years ago) I thought was outrageous, and now find rather humorous….   I’m a believer in letting the “other side” have its say, so I thought I’d post it here. The book under review was God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Explain our Most important Question – Why We Suffer.  (As is usual, I didn’t give the [...]

Making the Gospels Say What You WANT Them To Say

By |March 30th, 2024|Bart's Critics, Canonical Gospels|40 Comments

Here is the second post on the Very Reverend Robert Barron’s curious critiques of my book How Jesus Became God.  I will not be doing a point-by-point assessment of everything he says; I frankly found none of his criticisms very convincing, largely because, as I indicated in the previous post, he does not appear to have read my book very carefully, but at best skimmed it to find what he was expecting to find.   But I thought I would deal at least with his opening counter-argument, over whether Jesus saw himself or proclaimed himself to be God.   Here is what [...]

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