Today is a day of celebration. It was one year ago today that we started what was originally called Christianity in Antiquity (CIA), The Bart Ehrman Blog, now called The Bart Ehrman Blog: The History & Literature of Early Christianity. So Happy Anniversary to us!
It has been a busy and successful year. When I started the blog I didn’t know what to expect: whether it would be worth all the time and effort, how many posts a week I could manage to do, and at what length, how often I could review and approve comments, how many questions I could answer, how many people would be interested in joining, how much money could be raised for charity.
We now have the answers, and everything is better than I anticipated.
I had hoped to get 1000 people to join the blog, either on a trial or yearly basis, during the first year; we’ve done better than that. Over 1300 have joined, and more join every day. Altogether I have made nearly 300 posts (not counting the partical duplicates that I use as teasers for non-members to induce them to join), so on average just under six a week. On average these posts run around 1000 words. Math whiz that I am – I work all that out to mean that I’ve posted about 30,000 words this past year, on a variety of subjects.
I have been able to read and approve comments every day that I have made a post; and I believe I have answered all direct questions, except in cases where someone has asked a series of questions, especially a series of complicated questions, in one comment: that’s normally more than I can handle. I have had to keep my responses very short (otherwise I’d be spending all day on the blog, and I do have a couple of other things to do with my life….). But hopefully they’ve been to the point.
As everyone on the blog knows, I think, I do this for the money. Well, sort of. Not a dime of it lines my pocket. I have funded the entire project myself and have not kept anything even to pay expenses. Instead, every cent has gone to charity. My hope at the beginning was to raise $20,000 the first year. I actually thought that a more realistic goal was $7000 or $8000, but I wanted to be more hopeful than realistic. And we have far surpassed even my hope. As of today, we have raised over $37,000! All of it has gone to charities dealing with Hunger and Homelessness.
As I indicated at the beginning, my plan was to support four charities. In the process of making disbursements, one of these has risen high above the others to the top of the pile, because it is the one that I am personally committed to most: the Urban Ministries of Durham. This is a terrific organization that deals with the homeless and hungry in my home town. If anyone is interested in their brilliant work, here is the website: http://www.umdurham.org/ The other charities that I have supported are the Food Bank of North Carolina; CARE; and Doctors without Borders. They are all top rate.
All of the money that comes into the blog gets directed to the Bart Ehrman Foundation, a non-profit organization that I set up for the purpose; the funds are disbursed directly from there. Please consider making a donation to the Foundation; you can do so off the blog site itself. All donations are tax-deductible, and as I’ve indicated, they go to very good causes indeed! Some of you have made direct donations, and I am deeply grateful. Some of you have made extremely generous donations, and you have earned inordinate numbers of happy thoughts and eternal blessings from this humble blogger.
As to the blog itself, my sense is that the overall plan is working very well. But if anyone has suggestions for improvement, please let me know. There are several new features that I will try to implement in the weeks and months to come, as I try to make it better. These include:
- Restructuring the categories for the blog postings to make it easier to search for posts of interests. Currently the categories are very broad based (book discussions; personal reflections; Bart answers his readers; and so on). A better approach would be to have them categorized according to topic (such things as Historical Jesus; The Gospels; Manuscripts of the New Testament; The Resurrection Narratives; Early Christology; and so on). But that’s going to take a lot of work to pull off, and right now I’m in the midst of writing How Jesus Became God and don’t have a minute for much of anything else. But hopefully by early summer I will make the changes.
- I would like to get guest bloggers contribute something once a month or so. I had Jeff Siker (author of Homosexuality in the Church) do a couple of posts and respond to comments, and I thought that worked well. Since then I’ve approached two others that I thought would be interesting but they were not able to pitch in. But I’ll keep at it!
- I would like to add some YouTube clips with a bit of commentary as I did for my talk on the King James Bible periodically, maybe once a month or so.
I am finding that the blog does take up a lot of my time. This past year I have been on academic leave to write this book, and so I have been able to squeeze in the time every day. Next year, starting at the end of August, I’m back to teaching, and I don’t know yet how that will work. My plan for now is to try to keep up at the same pace, as I feel that if people are paying for a blog, I need to give them their money’s worth. But as I keep realizing to my chagrin, there are only so many hours in a day!
Let me conclude by expressing my deep appreciation to Steven Ray from Indiana, who did all the work, a ton of it, to set up the site for me, who maintains it, who deals with all technical issues, and addresses all problems that members have. If you need web support or web page design for projects of your own and media – he’s your guy! He has an outdated website he doesn’t have time to fixup due to project overflow at: www.inndesign.com
And thanks to all of you for joining the blog and participating in it. I look forward to even better things to come.