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Is It A Sin To Be Transgender? Platinum guest post by Douglas Wadeson MD

By |December 9th, 2022|Sex and Sexuality in the Bible|1 Comment

Fellow Platinum Blog member Doug Wadeson, MD, is not afraid to take on the difficult questions.   Here's one I've never thought of posting on!  And one that is as important as it is interesting. As you know, these guest posts are by Platinum members for Platinum members; and occasionally we vote on one to be posted to the entire blog.  If you too want to come up with one -- go for it! But for now, here's Doug's post on transexualism and the Bible.  He will be happy to respond to your comments. ****************************** I recently read of a horrible incident [...]

Can Christianity Be Seen as “Objective” Truth? Modern and Ancient Views.

By |December 8th, 2022|Early Christian Writings (100-400 CE), Greco-Roman Religions and Culture|Comments Off on Can Christianity Be Seen as “Objective” Truth? Modern and Ancient Views.

In a previous post I pointed out that for over the past century modern evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity has been unusually focused on knowing the “objective” truths that can be “proved” about Christianity.  In recent times, some have argued evangelical Christianity has become far more focused on social and cultural issues than theological doctrines (when someone says that this is not the evangelical Christianity your grandfather knew, they are apparently talking about me….).  And I think that’s true.  But even so, apologetics is still BIG in that tradition, and it is almost always based on objective evaluation of the truth. [...]

The Other Virgin Births in Antiquity

By |December 7th, 2022|Greco-Roman Religions and Culture, Historical Jesus|6 Comments

On December 14 I will be giving a one-off remote lecture, with Q&A, called "The Other Virgin Births in Antiquity."  This will not be connected with the blog per se, but with my other venture in which I produce online courses and lectures (BEPS: Bart Ehrman Professional Services).  You can learn about the lecture here:  https://www.bartehrman.com/other-virgin-births-in-antiquity/ Jesus is decidedly conceived by a virgin in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  This is better called a "virginal conception" -- and in my course I'll explain the difference between the ideas of virginal conception; virgin birth; perpetual virginity; and immaculate conception.  All very [...]

Our Platinum Webinar: The Infancy Gospels!

By |December 6th, 2022|Public Forum|Comments Off on Our Platinum Webinar: The Infancy Gospels!

Dear Platinum Members, Remember (or if you didn't hear about it the first time, then "member!"):  We have our December webinar THIS THURSDAY, Dec. 8, at 8:00 pm ET. I've decided to do something related to Christmas but in an indirect way, a talk on the apocryphal Infancy Gospels.  Or at least two of them:  The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (not to be confused with the Coptic Gospel of Thomas), which tells tales of the mischievous Jesus from ages 5-12, allegedly written by his brother Thomas; and the Proto-Gospel of James, which tells stories about Jesus' *mother* and her miraculous [...]

Is Judaism Legalistic? Misunderstanding the Law of Moses

By |December 6th, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|15 Comments

In my upcoming course "Finding Moses" I'll be discussing the final four books of the Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) (for more information, see:  Finding Moses – Online Course Covering the Historicity of the Pentateuch - Bart D. Ehrman - New Testament Scholar, Speaker, and Consultant (bartehrman.com). Apart from the opening chapters of Exodus, these books are not well known to most Christians, even those on fairly good terms with the New Testament.  I've known many a reader who was determined to read the entire Bible from beginning to end, but who quit early into Leviticus.  In part that's [...]

Is The Exodus a Myth?

By |December 4th, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|34 Comments

In my upcoming course on Finding Moses I will be discussing some of the most important features of the foundation of Judaism -- in particular, the Exodus and the giving of the Jewish Law, both connected directly in the Hebrew Bible with Moses (8 lectures, given live with Q&A on Dec. 10 and 11: Finding Moses – Online Course Covering the Historicity of the Pentateuch - Bart D. Ehrman - New Testament Scholar, Speaker, and Consultant (bartehrman.com) These are hugely important events for all of world history (without them, we wouldn't have Judaism, Christianity, or Islam: so imagine what the [...]

Are There Contradictions in the Pentateuch?

By |December 3rd, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|30 Comments

Yesterday I began a short thread dealing with problems in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, as a kind of foreshadowing of the sorts of things I'll be covering in my online course of eight lectures, that I'll be giving live, with Q&A, on December 10-11; again, if you're interested, you can find out about the course here:  Finding Moses – Online Course Covering the Historicity of the Pentateuch - Bart D. Ehrman - New Testament Scholar, Speaker, and Consultant (bartehrman.com) The course will be a followup to my earlier one on Genesis [...]

Other Virgin Births In Antiquity! A New Online Lecture, with Q&A

By |December 2nd, 2022|Public Forum|6 Comments

I am happy to announce that I will be presenting and recording a Chrismas-season lecture "Other Virgin Births in Antiquity," on December 14, 8:00-9:30 ET.  The lecture is not connected with the blog per se, except in sofar as y'all as blog members may well be particularly interested. You can find out about it, along with other lectures and courses that are available here: Online Courses by Dr. Bart Ehrman (10% Off First Order): This is how I'm describing the lecture in my announcement of the course in other venues. *************** Other Virgin Births in Antiquity Bart D. Ehrman Jesus [...]

Do We Have the Original Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)?

By |December 1st, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|31 Comments

On December 10 and 11 I will be giving my eight-lecture remote course on "Finding Moses: What Scholars Know about the Exodus and the Jewish Law."  This was supposed to happen a month earlier, but life got in the way and we had to postpone it.  The course is not connected to the blog per se, it is part of my other outreach program the Bart Ehrman Professional Services (BEPS), which hosts public courses and lectures.  To find out about the course and others like it, here's the address: Online Courses by Dr. Bart Ehrman (10% Off First Order) The [...]

So Which Text is Original?? My View of 1 Thessalonians 2:7

By |November 30th, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts, Paul and His Letters|27 Comments

  I am about ready to wrap up my discussion of the textual problem of 1 Thessalonians 2:7.  When recalling his time with the Thessalonians, when he had worked hard not to be a burden with any of them, did Paul indicate that he and his missionary companions had become "as infants, as a nurse tending her children" or that they had become "gentle, as a nurse tending her children."   It is not an obvious decision, whether you think the change was made accidentally or on purpose.  (If you think it *is* obvious, look at the preceding two posts).  It [...]

Do We KNOW What Paul Wrote? If You Think So, Answer This….

By |November 29th, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts, Paul and His Letters|17 Comments

Do we really KNOW what the authors of the New Testament wrote?  Sometimes we just can't decide -- despite what apologists almost always say (Most apologists, btw, have never actually studied the problem; I'm not trying to be snide or rude when I say that -- it's an empirical fact; even most PhD's in New Testament Studies have not been trained to determine which actual words of the surviving manuscripts probably go back to the authors). I am now looking at a case in point, a single word in a single passage of  Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians (see [...]

November Gold Q&A

By |November 28th, 2022|Public Forum|4 Comments

Dear Gold Members, First I'd like to apologize for a mess-up on the monthly Gold Q&A's.  It was not until a few days ago that I learned the October one had not been posted.  (Don't hesitate to tell me sooner next time!)  That was a complete snafu.  We collected your questions and I recorded the Q&A and then there was a communication breakdown.  I was out of the country and something fell through the cracks; we're not sure what or where, but we're taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.  So, sorry 'bout that.  The October Q&A is [...]

December Platinum Webinar!

By |November 28th, 2022|Public Forum|Comments Off on December Platinum Webinar!

Hey Platinum members!  I'm pleased to announce that our next Platinum Webinar for the blog will be on Thursday, December 8, at 8:00 pm ET. Topic TBA.  But I'll do my best to choose something interesting, and will let you know what it is anon. Here's the link: https://unc.zoom.us/j/97717226646?pwd=VG1rOFBDcnppV1FNQktJejZsVVZsZz09 Any questions or concerns, let us know. And thanks for being Platinum members: if we can improve your experience, let us be the first to hear you shout!  

How Changing a Single Letter of a Single Word Can Change the Meaning of a Passage

By |November 27th, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts, Paul and His Letters|37 Comments

Now that I have discussed the purpose of 1 Thessalonians I would like to discuss a scribal change of the text - a change that involves just a single letter of a single word.  Which did Paul originally write?  The word *with* the letter or the word *without* it?   How you decide the question changes the meaning of the passage.  Yikes.  A single letter? The passage occurs in an earlier part of the book where Paul is reminding the Thessalonians of the time that he had spent with them when he converted them to their new faith.  This is [...]

A Challenge Grant to the Blog! Can You Help Match It?

By |November 26th, 2022|Public Forum|2 Comments

Holiday Season Donation Challenge! I am very pleased to announce that we have received a $20,000 challenge grant from an anonymous donor on the blog.   For the challenge to be met, we need to raise another $20,000 among us.  C’est possible?  One can always hope! I am posting this request for gifts to meet the challenge to the Platinum members of the blog, hoping that we can find some generous assistance with us to meet the goal.  It’s obviously a good time of year for generosity; given the state of the world, no time has ever been better.   Every penny [...]

What Is Paul’s First Surviving Letter All About? 1 Thessalonians

By |November 25th, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts, Paul and His Letters|29 Comments

In my two previous posts I discussed a textual variant that could be explained either as a scribal accident or as an intentional change.   I thought it might be interesting to point out a few other variants that also could go either way.   These are all intriguing problems in and of themselves, and by talking about them I can illustrate a bit further the kinds of quandaries textual critics find themselves in when trying to decide what an author wrote when we have different versions of his words in different manuscripts.   My plan right now is to look at three [...]

How To Leave the Faith and Not Destroy the Family: Thanksgiving Reflection 2022

By |November 23rd, 2022|Bart’s Biography, Reflections and Ruminations|83 Comments

My beloved mom died last week.   She lived a long and good life; she brought a lot of good into the world and made many people very happy; and she died a good death – peaceful, in comfort, in the presence of family.  How good can it get? There are many things I have long been thankful for about my mom.  I would like to reflect on one of them here. Many years ago, when I left the Christian faith that my mom held so dear –  a faith that meant almost everything to her – it caused her a [...]

Religion and the Wrecking Ball of Truth

By |November 22nd, 2022|Bart’s Biography, Catholic Epistles|40 Comments

In my last post I began to discuss the importance of "truth" to conservative evangelical Christianity, through a bit of autobiography.  You don't need to have read that post for this one, so I begin here with the final paragraph that I left off with there.  This is from my book Forged. ****************************** One of the ironies of modern religion is that the absolute commitment to truth in some forms of evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, and the concomitant view that truth is objective and can be verified by any impartial observer, has led many faithful souls to follow the truth [...]

Me and the “Truth”: A Bit of Autobiography

By |November 20th, 2022|Bart’s Biography|36 Comments

I decided recently to reread my book Forged: Writing in the Name of God; How the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are  (which, in my view, has one too many titles....).  It was a surprise: I really didn't remember a good bit of the opening part.  And oh boy, I liked it better than I expected (usually when you read your old stuff you just roll your eyes).  One of the theses of the book is that even in the ancient world, people thought that if someone wrote a book claiming to be a famous author (when they [...]

Why Would Scribes Mess with Mark’s Very First Verse?

By |November 19th, 2022|Canonical Gospels, New Testament Manuscripts|47 Comments

In yesterday’s post I discussed a textual variant in Mark 1:1 that could be explained either as an accidental slip of the pen or an intentional alteration of the text.   We’re plowing into some heavy waters here, but it involves some intriguing stuff that I can say with assurance you didn't ever learn in Sunday School... Just by way of basic review (basics not involving heavy waters, but that you *also* didn't hear in Sunday School), there are thousands of textual witnesses to the NT (Greek manuscripts, manuscripts of the versions, writings of the church fathers who quote the text); [...]

Do We Know How Mark Began His Gospel? Another Scribal Change

By |November 17th, 2022|Canonical Gospels, Early Christian Doctrine, New Testament Manuscripts|59 Comments

I have been talking about different kinds of changes made in our surviving New Testament manuscripts, some of them accidental slips of the pen (that’s probably the vast majority of our textual variants) and others of them intentional alterations.  One of the points that I’ve been trying to stress is that at the end of the day it is, technically speaking, impossible to know what a scribe’s “intentions” were (or if he had any, other than the intention of copying a text).  None of the scribes is around to be interviewed, and so – as with a lot of history [...]

Did God Mock Jesus on the Cross? A Scribal Change?

By |November 16th, 2022|Canonical Gospels, New Testament Manuscripts|24 Comments

I've started to show that scribes sometimes changed the New Testament texts they were copying in ways that certainly seem “intentional” (in addition to making many more simple, accidental, slips of the pen).  I last gave an example from the beginning of Mark's Gospel that appears to be a case where scribes altered a text because it seems to make a mistake. Here I’ll give a second instance, this time from near the ending of Mark, a passage that is exceedingly interesting but for a comletley different reason. One of the most intriguing variations in Mark’s Gospel comes in the [...]

An Error in Mark? Did Scribes Change It?

By |November 15th, 2022|Canonical Gospels, New Testament Manuscripts|24 Comments

In a previous post I discussed "accidental" changes of the text by scribes who appear simply to have made a mistake.  There are other changes that almost certainly were not made by a slip of the pen (as when an entire verse is added!) and it seems clear in these instances that scribes changed the text because they chose to do so, for one reason or another.  You can never tell for certain, of course -- the scribes aren't around to interview about the matter; so it's often a judgment call.  And often the judgment is rather difficult to make [...]

How Can “Group Hallucinations” Possibly Happen?

By |November 13th, 2022|Historical Jesus, Public Forum, Reader’s Questions|100 Comments

When I lecture or debate on whether it is possible to "prove" the resurrection of Jesus on historical grounds, I talk about how -- whether you believe in the resurrection or not -- almost certainly the reason the disciples originally *believed* Jesus had been raised is that one or more of them had a vision of him after he died.  (Believers would say their "vision" was something they actually saw; non-believers would say they were mistaken for one reason or another, or they imagined it, etc -- that it was a hallucination of some kind). But it is often noted [...]

Intriguing Scribal Errors Made by Accident

By |November 12th, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts|56 Comments

As I stressed in my most recent post, the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of differences among out surviving manuscripts (and versions, and patristic citations) are of very little or no importance in trying to establish what the authors of the NT originally wrote.  There are others that matter, and matter a lot.  Those tend to be the ones that are the most interesting.  But there are many, many more differences that are easy to detect and of no real significance. Most of these differences appear simply to be accidental scribal errors.  We can never be absolutely certain, [...]

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