Decent Burials for Crucified Victims

In my previous post I quoted a number of ancient sources that indicated that part of the torture and humiliation of being crucified in antiquity was being left, helpless, exposed not just to the elements but to scavenging birds and other animals. These sources suggest that the normal practice was to leave the victims on the cross to be pecked and gnawed at both before and after death; in some instances there are indications that this would go on for ...

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Crucified Bodies and Scavengers

As I have indicated in earlier posts, some years ago now, New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan, one of the leading scholars today discussing the historical Jesus, made the argument that rather than being properly buried, Jesus’ body may have been eaten by scavenging dogs. You can see his discussion in his popular book, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. (Crossan does not believe that Jesus was physically raised from the dead; but he does consider himself to be ...

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Books and Icebergs

A couple of snapshots of my life right now, followed by a comment.

Snapshot One:

Snapshot one:  I’ve had a couple of people ask me why I’m reading so many books and articles about the resurrection right now, in preparation for my book How Jesus Became God.  The resurrection, of course, is key to answering the question of the title, since if Jesus was thought to have been executed, and to have stayed dead, not only would ...

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Was Jesus Given a Decent Burial (By Joseph of Arimathea)

One of the most pressing historical questions surrounding the death of Jesus is whether Jesus really was given a decent burial, as the NT Gospels indicate in their story of Joseph of Arimathea. Even though the story that Joseph, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, received permission to bury Jesus is multiply attested in independent sources (see, e.g., Mark 15:43-47; John 19:38-42), scholars have long adduced reasons for suspecting that the account may have been invented by Christians who wanted ...

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Christians Charged as Perverts and Criminals

I have some more posts dealing with resurrection matters; but I thought maybe I should give it a break for a day or two, since the resurrection isn’t the most interesting thing for absolutely everyone. So here’s something else for today:

At one point in my bible introduction I talk about the persecution of the early Christians (specifically as mentioned in 1 Thessalonians) and point out that deep into the second century Christians had a very bad reputation. Here, without much ...

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Gerd Lüdemann on the Resurrection of Jesus

One of the first books that I have re-read in thinking about how it is the man Jesus came to be thought of as God is Gerd Lüdemann’s, The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (2004). Lüdemann is an important and interesting scholar. He was professor of New Testament at Göttingen in Germany, and for a number of years split his time between there and Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. He is a major figure in scholarship, and is noteworthy ...

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The Resurrection as a Key to Early Understandings of Jesus

A key part of my book on “How Jesus Became God” will involve a discussion of Jesus’ resurrection. One can make the case, rather easily, that apart from the Christian belief that God raised Jesus from the dead not only would no one ever have thought of him as God (since, as I will be arguing, no one thought of him as God while he was living – he himself almost certainly did not!) but that Christianity itself would not ...

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The Next Project: How Jesus Became God

Now that I have finished my Bible Introduction (a dozen or so scholar-teachers are reading it now to tell me what they think; so I have a month to move on to do other things), I am starting in on the next big project, my long-ago promised book “How Jesus Became God”. People have known about this book for years, and keep asking me when I’m going to write the thing.

The answer is: Now!

So the deal is this. I was ...

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Peter, The Smoked Tuna, and the Flying Heretic


Among the pseudepigrapha connected with the apostle Peter, none is more interesting than the apocryphal Acts of Peter, a document that details Peter’s various confrontations with the heretical magician Simon Magus (cf. Acts 8:14-24). The narrative shows how Peter outperforms the magician by invoking the power of God. Consider the following entertaining account, in which Peter proves the divine ...

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A Problem with My Textbook

Writing any kind of book whatsoever is really difficult. But each *kind* of book is difficult in its own way. I tend to write three kinds of books: scholarly works for scholars (not for general consumption!); popular trade books for broader audiences of intelligent adults; and textbooks for college kids. As I’ve repeatedly said, I’m now finishing up my new textbook on the Bible for introductory level classes. The audience is, basically, American 19 and 20-year olds. And I’m ...

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