Recent Posts

Of COURSE the Rapture is in the New Testament — There for all to see! Right?

By |March 25th, 2023|Public Forum|Comments Off on Of COURSE the Rapture is in the New Testament — There for all to see! Right?

In my new book Armageddon, which saw the light of published day just a few days ago, I talk about where the "rapture" came from, the evangelical belief that Jesus was soon to return to snatch his followers out of this world before a horrible time of Tribulation hits the earth. That too will be the subject of a lecture, with Q&A, that I will be giving (unrelated to the blog) on April 15.  For information about THAT, go to my website I left off yesterday with a bit of a tease, indicating that the following passage, one of the main [...]

Is The Rapture in the New Testament?

By |March 23rd, 2023|Early Christian Doctrine, History of Christianity (100-300CE), Revelation of John|17 Comments

This post is immediately relevant for me in two ways.  My book on Revelation has now appeared (I kept *saying* it was "coming soon"!)  AND I will be doing a lecture soon, April 15, on the idea of the "rapture," the belief that Jesus is soon to return to take his followers out of the world before the Antichrist arises and all hell breaks out on earth.  You don't wanna be here for that.  You don't want to be "Left Behind"!   The lecture is not connected with the blog per se; you can find out more about it on my [...]

Was the Roman Soldier Pantera Jesus’ Father? His Cousin? Platinum Guest Post by Omar Abur-Robb

By |March 22nd, 2023|Historical Jesus, Public Forum|7 Comments

As many of you know, one of the perks of being a Platinum member of the blog is that members are allowed to submit posts that go only to other Platinum members, and after four appear a vote is taken to see which one of them can go on the entire blog.  This time it is a controversial and interesting post by Omar Abdur-Robb.  If you have comments / questions, let him know! ****************************** A Summary of an article: Discussing the conclusion of James Tabor related to the relationship between Jesus Pantera and Abdes Pantera, and presenting a new model [...]

Armageddon Has Arrived!

By |March 21st, 2023|Book Discussions, Revelation of John|29 Comments

Normally one would not welcome Armageddon with rejoicing, but in this instance ....     My book is published today:  Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says about the End.  Now this is a book that has, in some sense, been in the works for 50 years, since the first time I started pondering the Apocalypse of John as a 17 year old, about to head off to Moody Bible Institute and realizing I better read the final book of the NT -- even though I was scared of it -- before taking the first-year Entrance Exam on the Bible possibly whiffing on [...]

Why Would an Atheist Be Obsessed with Jesus?

By |March 19th, 2023|Public Forum|81 Comments

Some years ago, after I had written my book How Jesus Became God, I was asked to write an article for a journal to explain why, if I'm an atheist, I'm so interested in Jesus.   Some nine or ten years later, I still get asked that a lot.  Twice this past week! Here's the article I wrote, called  “Why I Am Obsessed with Jesus": ****************************** I finally figured out why I’m so obsessed with Jesus. It makes sense that Jesus mattered to me when I was young. I was raised in a Christian household, we went to church, we revered the [...]

You Have No Right To Question Why You Suffer. What???

By |March 18th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|47 Comments

We come now to the conclusion of the dialogues of Job.   His friends have stridently insisted that he is suffering because he has sinned.  He vehemently argues he has not.  As it turns out, he's right.  Then why is God making him suffer?  Here God himself appears to explain.  Or rather, to insist that he is not going to explain and that Job has no right to ask him to. Is this an answer to suffering?  Or, well, a satisfactory one?  We can't even ask? Decide for yourself.  Here's how I explain the climax of the book of Job in [...]

Creation Stories of the Ancient World (Part 1): On Enuma Elish and Genesis 1 Guest Post by Joseph Lam

By |March 16th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|15 Comments

My colleague Joseph Lam is an expert on the languages and texts of the Ancient Near East, including the Hebrew Bible.  In terms of languages, he not only teaches ancient Hebrew, but also (brace yourself), Ugaritic, Akkadian, Syriac, Semitic linguistics, and, well, so on.  He is particularly expert in the relationship of the texts and myths other Ancient Near Eastern religions with those of the Hebrew Bible. Joseph is also a superb teacher, and so he was invited to to a course for the Great Courses (Wondrium) called "Creation Stories of the Ancient World."  The course just came out, and [...]

Does God Punish Those Who Do *Right*?

By |March 15th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|19 Comments

In my last post I began discussing the dialogues at the heart of the book of Job, where Job's friends declare that he is simply getting what he deserves because he is so sinful, and he defends himself by saying he has done nothing to deserve this.  It turns out he's right.  But why then is he suffering?  Here is how the dialogue continues, as the "friends" intensify their attacks on his morals and Job stands firm in declaring his righteousness. ****************************** Sometimes the friends bar no holds in accusing Job, wrongly, of great sin before God, as when Eliphaz [...]

March Gold Q&A

By |March 14th, 2023|Public Forum|1 Comment

For your (Gold & Platinum) viewing pleasure, here is the video of the March Gold Q&A:    

Pre-Pub Offer on My Book: ARMAGEDDON!

By |March 14th, 2023|Public Forum|8 Comments

I am sending out to everyone who might want to know an incentive to pre-order my book Armageddon.  If you're gonna get it anyway -- how 'bout getting it now?  Even if you don't want the offer here -- pre-orders are much appreciated. Here's the offer as we're distributing it. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ As you can imagine, authors become very excited when their book is about to be published.  As you might not imagine, they get equally excited about pre-publication sales – orders of the book before it’s available.  These end up mattering a lot. My new book, Armageddon: What the Bible Really [...]

Job and His “Friends.” With Friends Like These…

By |March 14th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|7 Comments

I have been doing a series of posts on the views of suffering in the book of Job.  I quite intentionally use the plural “views” because, unlike what most people think or assume (those who have any opinion on the matter) the book of Job does not present a solitary view but several views that are at odds with each other.  One of those views is opposed by the author.  But two of them – that are at odds! – are embraced by the author.  Or, rather, we need to use the plural again: by the “authors.”   As I point [...]

Live Gold Q&A! Monday March 13.

By |March 12th, 2023|Public Forum|4 Comments

Dear Gold Members, I will be   my Gold Q&A tomorrow evening, March 13, 7:30 pm -- and anyone who wants to watch is welcome to come!  I've got a great set of questions to deal with and am looking forward to it.  No charge for admission, just show up.  We'll meet and greet, I'll do my thing, and then we can chat for a few minutes after. Here's the link: Topic: Gold Q&A Meeting ID: 922 0749 0998 Passcode: 339508 One tap mobile +16469313860,,92207490998# US +19294362866,,92207490998# US (New York) Dial by your location +1 646 931 3860 US +1 [...]

What Do the Apostles’ Deaths Prove? Guest Post by Kyle Smith.

By |March 12th, 2023|Public Forum|22 Comments

This is the final guest post by Kyle Smith, based on his recently published book about martyrs and the cult of the saints in Christianity. There is a special bonus for this post! A significant discount offer to buy the book. Go for it! And whether or not you do buy the book, feel free to ask him questions or make comments on this post, on a widely misunderstood but important topic. Kyle is the author or coauthor of five books about Christian saints and martyrs, including Cult of the Dead: A Brief History of Christianity (University of California Press, 2022). [...]

February Gold Q&A (video)

By |March 11th, 2023|Public Forum|2 Comments

Okay, you Golds & Plats: here is the video of my answering the February Gold Q&A questions. I had to break it into two parts, so be sure to scroll down for Part 2.  

Is the God of Job Worthy of Worship?

By |March 11th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|63 Comments

Is there any way to consider the God portrayed in Job as a morally upright being who deserves complete devotion?  Read the account yourself.  I have summarized the "folktale" of Job (found in Job 1-2, 42) in my previous post.  This is a tale that portrays God, Job, and the reason for human suffering very differently from the (different) composition of Job 3-42, a set of dialogues between Job and his friends and eventually God that I will discuss in my next posts.  For now I'm interested in the reasons God crushes the righteous Job with suffering in the tale. [...]

The Story of the Righteous Job and His Righteous God

By |March 9th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|32 Comments

In my previous post I explained how the book of Job comprises both a folk-tale written in prose about a righteous man named Job (chs. 1-2; 42) and a set of dialogues written in poetry between Job, his so-called friends, and eventually God (chs. 3-42).   These are two different compositions with two different authors living at two different times with two different understandings of why Job and people like him suffer. To unpack these understandings, I begin with the folktale as discussed in my book God's Problem (HarperOne, 2008). ****************************** The Folktale: The Suffering of Job as a Test of Faith [...]

Suffering in the Two Books of Job. Two Books?

By |March 8th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|25 Comments

  After I finished my short thread of posts about the problem of suffering a couple of weeks ago, I realized that it might be helpful for me to discuss one or two of the books of the Bible that deal with the issue head-on -- in part because many people don't read these books much, even if they know about them, and in part because many people who *do* read them don't know how expert interpreters have explained them. For no book is this more true that that gem in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Job.  Or rather [...]

Platinum Webinar! Forgiveness vs. Atonement

By |March 7th, 2023|Public Forum|6 Comments

Dear Platinum members, It is time (finally!) for our quarterly Platinum webinar, for you Plats only.  We have scheduled it for Wednesday March 15, 7:30 pm EST.  I have decided to delve into a topic that you (or at least I) almost NEVER hear about: the difference between forgiveness and atonement.  This difference plays a significant role in early Christianity, even though, so far as I know, no early Christian talks about it or even seems to recognize it.  And it marks a very big difference between the teachings of Jesus and the preaching of his followers after his death.  [...]

Revelation — A Novel. Guest Post Announcing Publication, by Gary McCarragher

By |March 7th, 2023|Book Discussions, Public Forum|17 Comments

Just now published, here is a novel about a New Testament scholar named Bart, at a major university in the South, who comes from a fundamentalist background and continues running up against it.  But this Bart's story ain't mine.  As a novel, this is a fictional narrative, which does, however, deal with issues that I and many of you have confronted and dealt with at length: how to come to grips with a historical understanding of the New Testament when coming from an evangelical world, a world still inhabited by those we love. Gary McCarragher is a blog member, a [...]

March Gold Q&A: Submit your questions!

By |March 6th, 2023|Public Forum|15 Comments

Dear Goldies, Our monthly Gold Q&A is coming upon us.  DEADLINE for your question(s):  this coming Friday, March 10, midnight your time.    Interested in anything I can deal with?   Now's your chance: Ask away! I'm more likely to answer questions that are relatively short and to the point than those that go on for a long paragraph.  So be concise. I'll answer as the spirit leads. To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] My plan is to record the session sometime over the few days after that.  I will probably send out [...]

The Voice at Jesus’ Baptism–An Intriguing Version in the Gospel of the Ebionites

By |March 5th, 2023|Public Forum|32 Comments

Last week in my class on "Jesus in Scholarship and Film" we were discussing the intriguing little fact that when Jesus is baptized, the voice of God that comes from heaven to call him his Son says different things in each of the three Synoptic Gospels (there is no voice in the Gospel of John).  How does one explain that?  It made me think of the Gospel of the Ebionites, and I started wondering if I ever talked about it on the blog. It turns out the answer is yes.  Here is a post devoted to it, from years ago [...]

Is the Gospel of Mark in Papias Our Gospel of Mark?

By |March 4th, 2023|Canonical Gospels, Early Christian Writings (100-400 CE)|22 Comments

Can we trust a source such as Papias on the question of whether our Gospel of Matthew was written by the disciple Matthew and that our Gospel of Mark was written by Mark, the companion of the disciple Peter? It is interesting that Papias tells a story that is recorded in our Matthew but tells it so completely differently that it appears he doesn’t know Matthew’s version.  And so when he says Matthew wrote Matthew, is he referring to *our* Matthew, or to some other book?  (Recall, the Gospel he refers to is a collection of Jesus’ sayings in Hebrew; [...]

Who Wrote the Gospels? Our Earliest (Apparent) Reference

By |March 2nd, 2023|Canonical Gospels, Early Christian Writings (100-400 CE)|44 Comments

I have begun to discuss the evidence provided by the early church father Papias that Mark was actually written by Mark.  He appears to be the first source to say so.  Does he?  And if so, is he right? Here’s how I begin to discuss these matters in my book Jesus Before the Gospels (edited a bit here). ****************************** Papias is often taken as evidence that at least two of the Gospels, Matthew and Mark, were called by those names already several decades after they were in circulation. Papias was a Christian author who is normally thought to have been [...]

Did Mark Write Mark? What the Apostolic Fathers Say

By |March 1st, 2023|Canonical Gospels, Early Christian Writings (100-400 CE)|35 Comments

Did Mark write Mark?   A couple of weeks ago I did an eight-lecture course on the Gospel of Mark for my separate (unrelated to the blog) venture, a series of courses on “How Historians Read the Bible” (the courses are available on my website:  It was a blast.  One of the things I loved about doing it was that I was able to read and reread scholarship on Mark and I learned some things I had long wondered about, and re-learned other things that I used to know. One of the things I had to think seriously about for [...]

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