A Graphic Novel (Textbook) on the New Testament!

I have recently decided to undertake a brand new venture.   Well, more truthfully, I’ve been persuaded to do it.   I have a new editor at Oxford University Press.  My old editor and good friend (he lives in Chapel Hill, as it turns out.  But when I first met him he lived in Manhattan), Robert Miller, who has edited all of my textbooks and all their revisions, my various readers, and most of my Oxford trade books, has retired after a ...

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Why Do Christians Try to Convert People?

I begin this New Year by addressing a really interesting question I received recently from a reader.  It’s a question that has rarely occurred to most people.  Today, we tend to think that religions are by their very nature interested in converting others to their views, that they just inherently evangelistic, missionary, proselytizing.  If you religion is “the right one,” wouldn’t you want everyone to agree with you, so they too could be right, instead of wrong?   Wouldn’t their salvation ...

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The Case Against Miracles: Guest Post by John Loftus

A week ago Michael Shermer posted his Foreword to the new book The Case Against Miracles, edited by John W. Loftus.  The book is a collection of essays by various authors who all make arguments that what we think of as miracles — that is (as they understand it) supernatural interventions in the natural world (not just weird things that happen) — cannot be shown ever to have happened, and so should not be believed.  John ...

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More on the Case Against Miracles: Michael Shermer Guest Post

This is the second guest post by Michael Shermer, from his Foreword to the new book edited by John Loftus, The Case Against Miracles. ((For the first, see yesterday’s post)  Michael is on the blog and is happy to respond to comments you have.    Again, the book can be found here:




When we are thinking about miracles, as with anything else that happens in the world, what we are after is a causal explanation, and ...

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The Case Against Miracles

I recently learned of a new book that has come out arguing *against* the idea that miracles happen.  It is a collection of essays edited by John Loftus, an interesting who in some has had a similar faith trajectory as I: started as a very conservative evangelical, studied at evangelical schools, and ended up leaving the faith and becoming an atheist.  Among other things, for one of his master’s degree he studied with the evangelical philosopher and apologist William Lane ...

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Guided Tours of Heaven and Hell in a Christian Mode

I’ve started a short thread describing the academic monograph I’ve started writing, Guided Tours of Heaven and Hell: Otherworldly Journeys in the Early Christian Tradition..  In my last post I describe  two o the most important forerunners of the tradition, the Greek Homer (Odyssey 11) and Roman Virgil (Aeneid 6) — flat out fascinating texts that I’ve become obsessed with.  The Christian versions are similar in ways but also profoundly different.   Here is what I say about them ...

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Guided Tours of Heaven and Hell: My Scholarly Book

I mentioned that I have started writing my academic book on the early Christian versions of the guided tours of heaven and hell.  This will be very different from the trade book coming out in March — an full eight-chapter scholarly analysis of material that I cover in a very brief overview fashion in one chapter of the trade book.

As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, when I get to certain points of my work on a book, I like ...

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Heaven and Hell in a Nutshell: Getting into the Kernel

Here is the second and last part of my summary of the heart of my forthcoming book Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife.  It’s not an outline of the chapters, but a summing up of the key issues, flow, and the ultimate “point” of the book.  As a tip, I’ve called this little essay (in my own mind): “There Is Nothing To Fear.”



The idea of rewards and punishments eventually found its way into Judaism as ...

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Heaven and Hell in a Nutshell

This post is free for anyone who wants to look.  Every week on the blog I post five times, dealing with all sorts of issues connected with the New Testament and early Christianity.  Interested?  Why not join?  It doesn’t cost much, you get tons for your money, and every nickel you pay goes to deserving charities.


I’m excited about my next book, being published on March 31, Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife.   It’s already getting good ...

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The Coming Armageddon: I Need Some Suggestions!

As many of you know, my next trade book is tentatively titled: Expecting Armageddon: The book of Revelation and the Imminent End of the World, to be published by Simon & Schuster.  I would like some help from interested lay folk in the reading public with a certain aspect of it, and would love to hear your suggestions.

First let me say that I have not begun any serious research for it yet.  My plan is to get going in a ...

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