Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of our blog.   We began this little venture back on April 3, 2012.   Happy anniversary to us!

In thinking back on the past four years, I have lots of things to reflect on, as this blog is a rather complicated affair.

For every single week over these four years I have made 5-6 posts, on average 1000 words in length; I have read and added comments made by readers (I post almost all the comments, deleting only those that are not related to the concerns or the blog, or inappropriate for one reason or another) (very few are overly snarky, but on occasion there will be one) (I try to keep the tone of the discussion on the blog at a high level – not an easy thing to do on the internet) (and I try to limit the number of parenthetic comments that I make) (obviously that is not easy either).

I also answer every direct question I get – obviously not at any great length, since, as with most of you, I have only 24 hours in a day and I do find that I have a few other things that need to get done in my life.

So far, if you crunch the numbers, I have made over 1100 posts.   Don’t know about you, but to me that seems like a lot.   One of my big concerns in starting this adventure was that I would run out of things to talk about.  So far that has not turned out to be a problem, even close.  I still have tons and tons of things to discuss.   Only in this past year have I started to return to topics that I addresses in a previous blog, say a couple of years ago; but when I’ve done that it has been with fresh eyes and renewed vigor; and I”ve only done that a couple of times.  We are still dealing with new stuff, and given the enormity of the field of early Christian studies (basically, from Jesus to Constantine, and lots of cognate fields such as Hebrew Bible and Greco-Roman religions) there is an almost inexhaustible supply of things to deal with.

Please remember: if you would like me to address a topic, let me know.  One of the reasons the blog is going so well is that I get such interesting questions.  And my view is that if it is a question that you are interested in, then it is an interesting question!  So always feel free to ask.  Sometimes I can’t address a question – and for a variety of reasons: sometimes I simply don’t know the answer, sometimes it would take too much work for me to find the answer (time!), sometimes I don’t think the topic is as relevant as others to the concerns of the blog, and so on.  But keep asking: no harm ever done.

I have approved 34,627 comments on the blog since we began.

The blog continues to improve, in no small measure because of all the great suggestions I receive.   Keep sending them in.  We can’t obviously implement every suggestion.  Some of them require too much; others take us in directions that I don’t want us to go.   But I very much appreciate all suggestions.  My goal (and everyone else’s) is to make the blog as useful and beneficial as possible.

As everyone here already knows, I have two major objectives with the blog: (1) to spread scholarly knowledge about early Christianity as widely as possible (on such topics as the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the writings of Paul, the spread of the Christian church, persecution and martyrdom, the role of women in the church, the Christian books that didn’t make it into the New Testament, the apostolic fathers, the Christianization of the empire, etc. etc. etc.) and (2) to raise money for charity.

The latter goal has always been my ultimate objective.  If we didn’t do that, I wouldn’t keep doing it.  But we’ve been doing that more and more and better and better, and so I am greatly encouraged to keep at it.  Let me give you the latest numbers.  I think they are impressive.

First some background.  When I started the blog four years ago, I had no idea how much we would be able to raise.  At the time, I was thinking that it would be good if we could raise $10,000 a year, but that if we couldn’t get it to $20,000 then I would have to rethink whether it was worth all the effort.   But then we did much better than that.   The first year, we actually raised $37,000.  I thought that was pretty good, but realized we could do better.

The second year we did do better: $58,000.   And the third year was better still: $78,000.  And I continued to think we could do better.  And we have.   This year, our fourth in operation, we have raised $120,000.   We’re talkin’ some serious money here.  And what is the potential for the blog?  I have no idea.

But I do want to stress an extremely important point.  One of the reasons we have done so well is that members of the blog have not only paid their membership dues, but have also made donations.   Donations have ranged from $10 to $5000.   I can’t tell you how much I appreciate such generosity (I consider the $10 to be very generous: generosity is gauged by how much one has to give of oneself, not by the number of dollars).  Without this kind of generosity, I would not be anywhere near as enthusiastic about the blog as I am.

I am enthusiastic because the proceeds from the blog are helping those in need.  That really, at the end of the day, is what the blog is about (for me personally): dealing with issues of hunger and homelessness, both locally and internationally.

And on that note I would like to encourage you, in the following ways:

  • Please advertise and promote the blog to your family, friends, neighbors, fellow-workers, caregivers, family physicians, dentists, teachers, students, dog-walkers, and every random person you meet. We need to expand our membership, and it is all word of mouth.  So let the words flow from your mouth!
  • Please consider making a donation to the blog, as generous as you can. I deeply appreciate anything you can do to help.
  • And please make any suggestion that occur to you for making the blog better and more attractive, so that we can grow the membership more and more.

Finally, let me close by extending my heart-felt thanks to my assistant Steven Ray, who does an unbelievable amount of work on the blog, all behind the scenes, and keeps it going.  Without him, it simply could not happen, literally.  There are a ton of technical issues involved with a venture of this sort, and without his incredible savvy and dedication, it would die an ugly but rather speedy death.   If you yourself have any computer/website/technical needs, he is your man.

Here is to hoping that in the coming year we will continue to improve and to grow, to spread the knowledge of early Christianity much more broadly still, and to raise yet more significant funds for those in need.