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Bart’s Public Blog that provides membership samples.

Second October Gold Q & A

Dear Members Dear As Gold, As you know, I am doing TWO Gold Q&A's this month, to make up for the one I missed in September.  The first was published this past week; I am scheduling the second for October 27.  I will be doing the recording on Sunday October 24. This is a nice perk for Gold members.  You get to ask written questions, I answer as many as I can, and I release the audio recording to Gold members only.  Have a question to ask?  The sky's the limit.  Go for it. Send your question(s) to our blog COO, Diane Pittman, at [email protected]   The deadline is midnight (in whatever time zone you're in) Friday, October 22. Please remember, the best questions are only a sentence of two long at most.  I hope to hear from you! Bart

2021-10-16T12:55:12-04:00October 16th, 2021|Public Forum|

Jesus in the Face of Death?

In my last post I pointed out that the famous passage of the so-called “bloody sweat” in Luke 22:43-44 is thought by some scholars not to have been original to the Gospel of Luke.  I count myself in that number.  One of my very first scholarly articles was devoted to the question; I wrote it when I was a first-year graduate student – or rather, I co-wrote it, with a friend of mine who was in the PhD program at Princeton Seminary with me, a fellow named Mark Plunkett. Mark had done a study of the passage of Jesus’ prayer before his arrest and had realized something about the structure of the passage, which made me, in turn, realize, that if he was right, then the two verses about the bloody sweat could not have been original to the passage.  I’ll say more about that in my next post.  At the time, one of the reasons I thought that was so significant is that it confirmed what was already clear to me otherwise: these verses [...]

2021-10-04T16:17:16-04:00October 14th, 2021|Public Forum|

Did Jesus Sweat Blood? Another Problem with the NRSV

I will give just one other textual disagreement that I have with the translators of the NRSV: by “textual” disagreement I mean a disagreement over what the original Greek text of a passage was that should have been translated. For this second example I’ll stick with Luke, and again with the Passion narrative.  The full passage of Jesus’ prayer in the garden in Luke 22:39-46 reads as follows in the NRSV:  39 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him.  40 When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”  Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”  [[ 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. 44 In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling [...]

2021-10-04T16:11:15-04:00October 13th, 2021|Public Forum|

John Shelby Spong: In Memoriam

I was very sorry to learn last month that John Shelby Spong died (Sept. 12, 2021; age 90).  Many of you know who he was; for those who don’t: he was one of the most important spokespersons of our generation for a critical understanding of the Bible for the general public, in particular for Christians.  He himself was a Christian.  In fact, for many years he was a bishop in the Episcopal church (bishop of Newark NJ from 1979-2000). Even though Spong never left the Christian faith, he certainly had a rigorously historical understanding of the faith and he spent many years writing influential books and lecturing around the world to proclaim it.  He was not well-loved among traditional Christians, and was openly declared a heretic by other church leaders.  That was because his historical studies led him to realize that the Bible cannot be interpreted as the literal, historical truth. Some other Christian bishops found his views dangerous and many people today, both Christian and non-Christian, do not understand how a real Christian can [...]

2021-09-25T11:42:25-04:00October 9th, 2021|Public Forum|

What Do Translators Translate? It’s Not So Obvious…

Translators of the Bible have a terrifically complicated and difficult (and usually thankless) task.  I always knew that, of course, with my head – ever since taking Greek back in college.  But I did not relate to the problems emotionally until I started publishing translations of my own.  It’s HARD.  My first translation project was a two-volume edition of the Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library (published by Harvard University Press).  It was at that point that I realized that what translators do is not at all what the rest of us do who can teach the ancient languages and read Greek and assign Greek translation exercises to classes of graduate students.  When you are with a class of students, you can sit around the table, discuss the various options about how a text can be translated, talk about the pro’s and con’s of various English renditions, make a few suggestions for how to provide nuance to a rendering, explicate the fuller meaning of the Greek by paraphrasing a phrase or a clause in [...]

2021-10-08T12:13:33-04:00October 6th, 2021|Public Forum|

What Do YOU Think? The Experience of Death.

A month ago I decided to add a new feature to the blog, a periodic post that asks you to share your personal view about something, your honest opinion based on serious expertise or complete non-expertise. These posts are (and will be) called “What Do You Think?”  I will NOT be responding to your replies/comments.  I’ll simply be posting them so you can express yourself and have others can see your views.  (As always, I will not be allowing comments that are rude to others or irrelevant to the question – for example, castigations of particular politicians that many but not all of us may despise, on one side of the political chasm facing us or the other. Or that try to proselytize others to your religious beliefs). Others of course can comment on your comment as they choose — and I hope they do.  I’ll be listening in, for my own fun, education, and edification! The topics are meant to involve the BIG QUESTIONS.  This one is related to the previous one but is [...]

2021-09-22T10:20:29-04:00October 5th, 2021|Afterlife, Public Forum|

Two Gold Q&A’s for October!

Dear Gold Members, First, many apologies.  September got away from me; I was out of town for a third of it (lecturing for a UNC Alumni tour in northern Italy, suffering for the cause), and the rest of it just ate me alive.  So I missed the Gold Q&A. But never fear: I am going to make it up to you.  I'll be doing TWO this month. It will be the same as before, only double-duty this month.  Just to remind you, as if you need reminding: as a perk of your elite status as a gold member of the blog you are provided an audio Q&A once a month (well....) for Gold members only.   You provide written questions, I answer as many as I can, and I release the audio recording to Gold members only.  Have a question to ask?  The sky's the limit.  Go for it. I will be recording the first Q&A on  Sunday October 10, to be released Tuesday October 13.  Send your question(s) to our blog COO, Diane Pittman, at [...]

2021-10-01T13:11:58-04:00September 30th, 2021|Public Forum|

Behind the Scenes of the New Revised Standard Version

Here I will give two rather humorous stories (at least to me) connected with my work as the administrative assistant for the revision of the Revised Standard Version. In that capacity I was, of course, present for the various deliberations of the committee. Among the many issues they discussed was what to call the new revision. Ultimately it stood in the tradition of the “Authorized Version” – the technical name of the King James Version. In 1881, the KJV underwent an “official” revision (i.e., authorized by the ecclesiastical authorities who owned the copyright) in the Revised Version. Its committee received a lot of flak for the changes it made. Even though it was an English revision, there were several Americans who were on the committee. As part of their terms of involvement, they agreed not to publish an American version of the translation (making changes as they saw fit and bringing spelling and punctuation into conformity with American usage) for 20 years; and so in 1901 was published the American Standard Version. As I mentioned [...]

2021-09-22T10:03:31-04:00September 30th, 2021|Public Forum|

More of My Work for the NRSV Bible Translation Committee

A CONTINUATION OF MY POSTS OF MY RELATIONSHIP WITH BRUCE METZGER I served as one of the secretaries for the NRSV, as explained in my as explained in my post of Sept. 16th, for a couple of years. It was not onerous work and was quite a privilege to be able to associate with some of the greatest biblical scholars and Semitic philologists of the time. I was, of course, a complete nobody. Some of the members of the committee treated me (and the other secretaries) as complete nobodies (these tended to be the less qualified and more insecure members of the committee; I won’t name names!); others treated me (and the others) in a dignified and respectful way, realizing that we were, after all, just graduate students, but knowing that we were advanced and heading into academic careers of our own. When I graduated from my PhD program I was teaching part time at Rutgers, but I did not have a full time, tenure-track position there.   It was a slightly oppressive situation, as adjunct [...]

2021-09-22T10:21:37-04:00September 29th, 2021|Public Forum|

Reminder: My Public Lecture on the Book of Revelation — This Saturday!

Reminder!  This Saturday, September 18, I will be giving a lecture with Q&A on the book of Revelation; I'm calling it "Expecting Armageddon: What the Book of Revelation Reveals."  Wanna come? The event is a fundraiser (not for the blog, but) for my Department of Religious Studies, which is trying very hard to sustain its work in training graduate students.  My own students are becoming experts in the kinds of things I do, engaging in serious research in the study of the New Testament and the history of early Christianity, teaching important aspects of the field to undergraduate students, and communicating broadly this kind of knowledge to broader audiences in the population at large. It is very important work, not just for the graduate students themselves but for the people they do and will teach and reach, as we try to keep the public educated in what we actually know based on scholarship on these issues of broad importance.  But we are having trouble providing students with the funds they need to complete their training. [...]

2021-09-15T16:49:30-04:00September 10th, 2021|Public Forum|

Bruce Metzger and My Strange Dissertation Defense

  Here I continue with another reminiscence of my interactions and relationship with my mentor, the great textual scholar Bruce Metzger.  This one has always struck me as a bit humorous. *************************** In almost (but not absolutely) all PhD programs in this country, the doctoral candidate has do an “oral defense” of the dissertation.  If s/he successfully defends, the PhD is then granted.  Here at UNC, the defense is conducted in front of the five-person dissertation committee, all of them experts on one or another aspect of the work.  Everyone on the committee has carefully read the dissertation, and the defense is designed to see if, well, the thesis is defensible. In other words, faculty members do not hold back but probe deeply into the work to see if there are any flaws in it.  If a student fails the defense, s/he has to revise the dissertation and try again.  Even if it is considered passable, revisions of some sort are often considered necessary. If you're interested in the blog, why not join?  It costs [...]

2021-09-08T10:32:59-04:00September 8th, 2021|Public Forum|

Platinum apologies: the LINK for the webinar

As a number of you pointed out, I rather inconveniently didn't include the link to our webinar in my post announcing the link to our webinar.  Details.  I've updated the post, but in case you're reading this one instead, here it is:  https://youtu.be/ygmkj5OZXZA

2021-08-30T21:57:48-04:00August 30th, 2021|Public Forum|

Recording of our Platinum Webinar: History of Biblical Scholarship

Thanks to those of you who made it to the Platinum webinar on Saturday, on "The History of Biblical Scholarship."  I enjoyed it very much -- I've never talked to a public audience about that.  There's a lot more to be said, obviously, but I did try to hit the major points! If you weren't there, or even if you were, here's the talk.  https://youtu.be/ygmkj5OZXZA To relieve your concerns, the talk itself doesn't go as long as the recording!  A good chunk of it was Q&A.  Watch as much or as little or as none as you like! I appreciate how you've been involved on the blog as Platinum members.  If we can improve your experience, please let me know. Bart

2021-08-30T21:55:16-04:00August 29th, 2021|Public Forum|

On Giving. Platinum Guest Post by Judith Coyle

I am unusually pleased to be able to publish this guest post by Judith Coyle, one of the most faithfully and deeply committed members of the blog.  Here is her lovely, heart-felt offering, for Platinum members only. ******************************** Even though I am outspokenly adamant against even a thought of trying to make this absolutely perfect blog better, there is no denying now it is indeed better. It offers far more than I could have imagined!. There is a feature left behind though that I miss very much :  for those of us who are already members, that invitation in red to join the blog, giving its purpose and assuring us every penny goes to charity, (part way through each post) is no longer there.  In those invitations. Professor Ehrman managed to come up with something original and often hilarious to keep us focused on the blog's purpose of providing the means for helping those less fortunate.  (Note: the red invitation still does show up for non-members reading the post, who are then not able to [...]

2021-08-28T15:22:09-04:00August 26th, 2021|Public Forum|

Reminder: Fund Raiser for Afghanistan on Sunday

In case you didn't notice or inadvertently dropped it from memory or ... whatever:  I'd like to remind you about the fundraiser this Sunday (August 29).  I hope you can come!  Here's the announcement: ********************* Whatever our political positions, most of us are distraught about the situation in Afghanistan.  It will almost certainly get worse.  As a result of the crisis, relief agencies there are under enormous pressure, more than in a very long time. One of the charities supported by the blog is Doctors Without Borders, one of the truly great organizations in our world.  They are staying in Afghanistan for now (and hopefully for a long time) and their hands are incredibly full.  Naturally, they are desperate for additional resources (just look them up in relation to the situation there, and you can get some reports). We will be doing a blog fund-raiser for Afghanistan relief, this Sunday.  I will be giving a lecture and we will be taking voluntary donations of any amount, in hopes of raising substantial funds.   Every donation will [...]

2021-08-27T16:42:01-04:00August 26th, 2021|Public Forum|

Fund Raiser for Afghanistan: This Sunday!

Whatever our political positions, most of us are distraught about the situation in Afghanistan.  It will almost certainly get worse.  As a result of the crisis, relief agencies there are under enormous pressure, more than in a very long time. One of the charities supported by the blog is Doctors Without Borders, one of the truly great organizations in our world.  They are staying in Afghanistan for now (and hopefully for a long time) and their hands are incredibly full.  Naturally, they are desperate for additional resources (just look them up in relation to the situation there, and you can get some reports). We will be doing a blog fund-raiser for Afghanistan relief, this Sunday.  I will be giving a lecture and we will be taking voluntary donations of any amount, in hopes of raising substantial funds.   Every donation will go in toto directly to Doctors without Borders. The lecture is blog-related rather than crisis-related, since that is what I know about and is also why most of you are here.   It's an intriguing topic, [...]

2021-08-23T20:17:22-04:00August 23rd, 2021|Public Forum|

What Do YOU Think? A Matter of Life and Death

A NEW BLOG FEATURE! I’ve decided to try something new on the blog today.  I’d like *your* view about something, your honest opinion based on serious expertise or complete non-expertise. For this new feature, which I’m calling “What Do You Think?”, I will NOT be responding to comments/questions, I’ll simply be posting them, without making a reply, comment, question, or anything else to, so you can express yourself and have others can see your views.  (As always, I will not be posting comments that are rude to others or irrelevant to the question – for example, castigations of particular politicians that many but not all of us may despise, on one side of the political chasm facing us or the other. [!])  Others of course can comment on your comment as they choose -- and I hope they do.  I'll be listening in.  For my own fun, education, and edification! If this turns out to be a nice feature for the blog, I’ll do it again later. Here is the issue that I would like [...]

2021-08-20T15:26:43-04:00August 21st, 2021|Public Forum|

When / If you have a blog problem!

I regularly get comments on one of my posts from a member who is having some kind of technical problem -- for example, only part of the post shows up for them, or they can't seem to access something etc.  (Other people have problems with what I actually *say*, but that's a different matter....).   Sometimes there are indeed technological problems that arise.  What to do? The VERY BEST thing is to contact our help staff.  I won't get to your comment a day or so later, and the problem is almost always individual, not system wide.  So there's not much I can do to help in response to a comment, even if I did have the wherewithall to deal with the technological details.  (As Groucho once said, Why a four-year-old child could understand this ...! Run out and find me a four-year-old child, I can't make head or tail of it.”) So, are you haveing a problem? Click on HELP and contact support.  Someone will get in touch and figure it out for you. If there are even [...]

2021-08-20T16:56:22-04:00August 20th, 2021|Public Forum|

Platinum Members! Vote for your Favorite Platinum Post to Go To the Blog!

Dear Platinum Members,   It is time to vote for the next Platinum guest post to become a blog guest post!  The winner's post will go to all blog members for reading and comment.   The winner this past month was a big success: Frederick Ackun's post, "The Essence of Religious Literacy" appeared on the blog (a couple of days ago!), and has received very interesting and postive feedback. Now it's the next round.  Do you remember them?  Wanna read them again?  Willing to vote? Here they are in chronological sequence.  If you’re willing to vote, please remember:  I am NOT asking which one you think is the most scholarly.  They are all high quality.  I’m asking: which did you find most interesting and, given what you know about the members of the blog, would best address the interests of most blog members? To vote, please send an email indicating your choice to my assistant Diane Pittman, at [email protected] .    You will have until Tuesday midnight, August 24.  We will tabulate the votes then I"ll announce [...]

2021-08-19T18:23:32-04:00August 19th, 2021|Public Forum|
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