Recent Posts

A Major Forgery in the Hebrew Bible? Guest Post by Platinum Member Dennis Folds

By |October 6th, 2022|Forgery in Antiquity, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|13 Comments

Members of the blog at the Platinum level have the opportunity to publish posts (just) for other Platinums, and after a number of these appear, the members vote on which should be posted on the blog itself.  Here is the most recent winner, an insightful and intriguing Platinum guest post by Dennis Folds,  Many of you on the blog are interested in Christian pseudepigrapha (= forgeries), especially those in the New Testament.  But what about the Old Testament?  Now *here* is a bold thesis!  Read it and remark! Being allowed to publish these posts is a very nice perk of [...]

What Serious Research Projects Can Undergraduates Do in Early Christianity?

By |October 5th, 2022|Teaching Christianity|0 Comments

Here I continue to discuss some of the things professors in the humanities do in research universities -- in part.  I'm telling this from just my own perspective, but I'd say that most of what I say could be said by nearly anyone in a similar position.  This is how I explained this aspect of it before. ****************************** In addition to my regular teaching, I often get asked to direct Independent studies – where an undergraduate student will pursue a research project of his or her own choosing, something that normally is not taught in a regular class that we [...]

What’s It Like to Teach at a Research University?

By |October 4th, 2022|Bart's Critics, Teaching Christianity|4 Comments

I continue here with my reflections on what a research scholar at a research university actually *does*.  This post covers the most important part of the work.  The main job of a professor, of course, is to teach. (!) Different colleges and universities have different requirements and expectations for their faculty. At many small colleges, professors teach four or even five courses a semester. Rarely can a person teach that much and still produce substantial (or much of any!) research, so that professors in those contexts are usually handicapped when it comes to publishing scholarship in the form of books [...]

Is Christianity Responsible for Gender Equality and Consent?

By |October 2nd, 2022|Bart's Debates, Public Forum, Sex and Sexuality in the Bible|24 Comments

Is the reason women are treated better in today's society than virtually any time in human history (as often bad as it is now, oh boy was it worse in, say, 1950, or 950, or 50), because of the beneficent influence of true Christianity?   That is the thesis of the recent work of an evangelical Christian named Glenn Schriver, and I had a remote debate with him about it.  You can watch it here. It appeared on one of my favorite interview programs in the world (literally, since it's in London), Unbelievable hosted by Justin Brierley.  Oh boy, that program [...]

How Useful Are Our Earliest New Testament Manuscripts?

By |October 1st, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts|19 Comments

It is interesting that as recently as twenty years ago almost *no one* outside a small cohort of textual geeks (like me) had much interest at all in the actual manuscripts of the New Testament.  Even the majority of NT scholars (a very *large* majority) just weren't interested.  And most non-NT scholars had never heard that there was even an issue / problem.  That has changed a lot.  Now it's something people seem to want to talk to me about all the time. I've long thought about the issues that are involved (starting when I was 17!  Seriously).  Here are [...]

The Problem: Not Enough Killing! Platinum Guest Post by Douglas Wadeson

By |September 30th, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Reflections and Ruminations|17 Comments

I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying these Platinum posts -- posts by Platinum members for Platinum members with Platinum Content!    Here is one that will take you aback--Doug Wadeson, grappling deeply with one of the most disturbing aspects of the Bible. ****************************** Recently we had lunch with a delightful Christian couple, very nice people.  They mentioned how their grandchildren were getting such good teaching at their church, especially the Old Testament stories.  I suggested, “That probably includes the story of Jericho?”  (Joshua 6) “Sure.” “Do you think they were taught what the soldiers were to do when [...]

What is it Like to Supervise PhD Dissertations?

By |September 29th, 2022|Reflections and Ruminations, Teaching Christianity|29 Comments

Few people among us who are seriously interested in the life of the mind are actually professional teachers; few professional teachers teach at colleges or universities; few college or university teachers are at research universities (a big difference from, say, liberal arts colleges -- not better or worse, just very different); and not all instructors at research universities direct PhD Dissertations.  Those of us who do usually find it to be a sacred obligation (it is the final step for a graduate student to her PhD), an honor, a privilege, and an ungodly amount of work. When I first published [...]

What Do Professional Scholars Actually Do? Part 1: Introduction

By |September 28th, 2022|Public Forum|16 Comments

I am constantly reminded (from emails and conversations ) that most people would have little way to know what professional scholars at research universities actually do.  That’s not surprising.  I, frankly, don’t really know (or much understand) what a hedge fund manager does, or a state lieutenant governor, or an industrial chemist.  I was thinking about the issue (my position, not the ones I don't know about) last week and suddenly had a vague recollection that I discussed it at some point on the blog; I checked and, lo and behold, I devoted a number of posts to the matter [...]

Understanding the Gospels: Suggested Readings!

By |September 27th, 2022|Book Discussions, Canonical Gospels|47 Comments

I frequently get asked what I would recommend for people to read if they are interested in the study of the New Testament.   In my recent course on the Gospels (www.bartehrman.com/courses) I'm including as part of the supplement to the lectures an annotated list of suggested readings.   The idea is to provide people with some guidance for important books, some to start with and some for more advanced readers.  Here it is, for your perusing enjoyment!   The Unknown Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Annotated Suggestions for Further Reading   Aune, David. The New Testament in Its Literary Environment. [...]

Big Questions for Studying the New Testament Gospels

By |September 25th, 2022|Canonical Gospels|21 Comments

In my previous posts I summarized the eight lectures that can be found on my new eight-lecture online course, “The Unknown Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”  As I’ve indicated before, this course is not connected directly with the blog: it is a separate endeavor run off my personal website for the Bart Ehrman Professional Services.  You can see it here.  https://www.bartehrman.com/courses/. Included in the course packet are questions for reflection, meant to help listeners think through the issues I’ve discussed and reflect on them from their own perspective.  I deal with each of these issues in some depth in [...]

Final Lectures in My Course “The Unknown Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John”

By |September 24th, 2022|Canonical Gospels|9 Comments

 This will be my final post providing summaries of my lectures for my new eight-lecture online course, “The Unknown Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”  As I’ve indicated before, this course is not connected directly with the blog: it is a separate endeavor run off my personal website for the Bart Ehrman Professional Services.  You can see it here.  https://www.bartehrman.com/courses/. I am posting about the lectures simply because I know a number of blog members would be interested.  If you are, check it out.  If you’re not, don’t!   Lecture Six:  Embracing the Differences In this lecture I build on [...]

Why Paul Was Persecuted (Or Claimed He Was). Platinum Guest Post by Daniel Kohanski

By |September 23rd, 2022|Paul and His Letters, Public Forum|16 Comments

I am pleased to publish this new Platinum post by Dan Kohanski, on an intriguing and important topic for understanding both the life (and writings) of Paul and the earliest history of the Christian movement. This post is by a Platinum member for other Platinum members.  You too can make a post like this.  Interested?  Just write something up and send it along.  It doesn't need to be high level scholarship.  Just write up your views about something and get some feedback from others! In the meantime, Dan will be willing to address your feedback on this one. ****************************** (This [...]

More on My New Course: The Unknown Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

By |September 22nd, 2022|Canonical Gospels|10 Comments

I continue here with more summaries of my lectures for my new eight-lecture online course, “The Unknown Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”  Again, this course is not connected directly with the blog: it is a separate endeavor run off my personal website for the Bart Ehrman Professional Services: you can see it here.  https://www.bartehrman.com/courses/. I am posting about the lectures simply because I know a number of blog members would be interested.  If you are, check it out.  If you’re not, don’t!   Lecture Three: What Are the Gospels? This lecture continues the story by explaining how scholarship developed [...]

My New Course: The Unknown Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)

By |September 21st, 2022|Canonical Gospels|14 Comments

My new online course focusing on what scholars know about the four Gospels will soon be available on my personal website.  Neither the course nor the website is part of the blog, but I am announcing it here because I know a number of blog members would be interested.  The course is based on a set of remote lectures that some of you attended, and includes additional instructional materials. If you did not come but would like to know more about it, you can check it out here: https://www.bartehrman.com/courses/.  It consists of eight thirty-minute (or so) lectures, with the title:  [...]

Our Next Platinum Webinar! Tuesday September 27

By |September 20th, 2022|Public Forum|3 Comments

We have scheduled our next Platinum-Only Webinar for Tuesday  September 27!  I hope you can make it: it's a hot topic.  (If you can't make it, we'll be recording it and sending it out) (In fact, we'll be doing that even if you *can* make it)   Topic:  The Birth of the Trinity Issue:  Most people don't actually know what the doctrine of the Trinity is (it's not just that there is a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...); fewer still have a good sense of where it came from, why it developed, and how.  After this webinar, you will! Time:  [...]

September Gold Q&A

By |September 20th, 2022|Public Forum|6 Comments

Dear Gold Members, Here we go!  Time for our monthly Gold Q&A.   Have a question?  Go for it.  It can be anything related to the blog. To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] The DEADLINE for your question is this Saturday, September 24 midnight (whenever midnight is where you live).   I will record the session soon thereafter and we'll get it released by Sept. 29 or so. Questions that are relatively short (a sentence or two) are more likely to be chosen.  And feel free to come up with a stumper!   Bart [...]

Did King David Actually Exist?

By |September 20th, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Reader’s Questions|37 Comments

I am starting to do research for my next online course, to be given in November, dealing with the Hebrew Bible.  I'll be calling it "Finding Moses" and it will be dealing with four of the books of the Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) and what we can actually know, historically, about the exodus from Egypt (Is there any archaeological evidence? Any reference to it in other texts outside the Bible?  Any reason to think it did, or reasons to think it did not, happen?) and about the law of Moses (Were Jews legalistic?  Did they have to keep [...]

Why I Want to Write a Book on Christian Love

By |September 18th, 2022|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, History of Christianity (100-300CE)|39 Comments

Over the past couple of weeks I have been explaining how I have reimagined my next trade book, written not for scholars but for general readers.  As I've pointed out, my initial idea that I floated before readers of the blog was to have a book devoted to how Christianity revolutionized how people in the Roman world understood wealth and what to do with it.   My argument was that as a Jew Jesus insisted that those with resources help those who were in need – a virtually unheard-of ethical principle in Greek and Roman antiquity.  His followers were Jews as [...]

Is It Even Possible to Follow Jesus’ Teaching to “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”

By |September 17th, 2022|Historical Jesus, History of Christianity (100-300CE)|28 Comments

In my previous posts I've been talking about Jesus' "love commandment," arguing that it revolutionized ancient thinking about how people are to behave toward one another. ("Love thy neighbor as thyself").  Now I ask whether that revolution actually involved changing people's behavior in radical ways.  Or not. Obviously, on the practical level, Jesus’ insistence on complete self-sacrifice did not come to dominate the world of late antiquity.  People continued to live much as they had before.  Conquerors still conquered.  The first Christian emperor, Constantine, was one of the most bloodthirsty of them all; many of his ardent Christian successors (including [...]

Jesus’ Teachings on Love and Salvation

By |September 15th, 2022|Afterlife, Greco-Roman Religions and Culture, Historical Jesus|56 Comments

In my previous posts I have been explaining in brief terms how people thought about “ethics” in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, that is, how they decided what kinds of human activities were best for themselves and for their society, how they were to interact with one another, what values and virtues they should hold and what values and vices they should reject. Part of my thesis – which I hope to spell out in my next book – is that Christianity changed how people understood virtuous activity and the good life, how they urged people to behave, and [...]

Who Was The Last Non-Christian Emperor of Rome?

By |September 14th, 2022|Constantine, Fourth-Century Christianity, Spread of Christianity|18 Comments

Most people know that Constantine was the first Christian emperor.  Lots of other things they think about him are wrong -- for example, that he decided or helped to decide which books would be in the New Testament or that his conversion was just a political ploy.  I deal with these in my book The Triumph of Christianity (Simon & Schuster, 2019).  But this one's right.  He was the first Christian emperor. It's also right that nearly all the emperors after Constantine were Christian.  I say *nearly* because  of one brief but highly noteworthy exception: his nephew Julian, most frequently [...]

A Funny Story about the Rapture

By |September 13th, 2022|Bart’s Biography, Reflections and Ruminations|41 Comments

In my forthcoming book on Revelation (Title:  Armaggedon: What the Bible Really Says About the End; to be published on March 21), I discuss how evangelical Christians in the 19th century came up with the idea of a "rapture" -- that Jesus was soon to return to heaven to take true believers out of it before the horrible seven-year "tribulation" began.  Here is  a funny story about belief in the rapture from my younger days. At the time I was still a churchgoing Christian.  The church I was attending was evangelical, but I was moving away from a conservative theology and its [...]

Is There Anything “Religious” about “Ethics”?

By |September 11th, 2022|Early Judaism, Greco-Roman Religions and Culture, Historical Jesus|30 Comments

It is true that ancient ethics did enjoin beneficent acts on family, friends, and acquaintances of one’s own status when they were in need.  But normally such benefices were expected to produce gratitude and respect (elevating one’s status and social capital) and to bring a return; just as important, they were expected to be reciprocated if misfortune should strike the giver.  That is, they were not acts of pure altruism, or arguably altruistic at all.  Moreover, when social ethics entered into the picture – as they often did – they centered on matters of justice and piety (meaning something like [...]

Love. How I’ve Shifted the Focus of My Book on Charity.

By |September 10th, 2022|Book Discussions, Greco-Roman Religions and Culture|46 Comments

As I've indicated, my plan is, or rather was, to write a book that argued that Christians radically changed the understandings of wealth and the practices of "giving" once they took over the empire.  They, in effect, invented what we think of as "charity." As I have talked it over with my literary agent and the editors at Simon & Schuster,  I have decided that my study needs to be placed in a broader cultural context.  Rather than focusing exclusively on the transformation of ancient understandings of wealth and the concomitant social practices of giving in isolation from their larger [...]

Why Even Conservative Christians Should Accept Evolution: Blog Anniversary Guest Post by Michael Shermer (part 2)

By |September 8th, 2022|Public Forum|22 Comments

For several months now I have been posting Guest Posts that were generoulsly provided by others in honor of the blog's tenth anniversary.  These posts have been wide-ranging in their content and the intriguing , each pbased on the posters' unique backgrounds and expertise.  This now is the final one in the series, the second of two posts by Michael Shermer, to continue what he was saying in his post of Sept. 3. This one is particularly significant.  Why is it in conservative Christians' (and everyone else's) own best interest to accept evolution as a reality of the past?   He [...]

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