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The Naivety of the Nativity: Platinum Guest Post by Joel Scheller

This week's Platinum Guest Post comes to us from Joel Scheller.  As you know, only Platinum members can read these posts and only Platinums can write them.  This is a platinum thing.  BUT, once a month we vote on one to appear on the entire blog.  Are you interested in reaching the Platinums with your ideas?   And possibly the entire blog?   Submit a post to me, on any topic related to the blog that you're interested in, simply at my email [email protected] Joel's post is about an interesting and important topic: the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke, with much broader implications for our understanding of the entire Bible.  Feel free to comment! *************************************** I am a Christian. I have a respect for the bible as containing the sacred scriptures of my faith. However, that does not mean I accept all that is written in the bible as fact or truth. It is undeniable that the writings are those of human beings, and, as such, must be weighed with reason, taking into consideration all the [...]

2021-08-04T15:18:57-04:00August 4th, 2021|Canonical Gospels, Public Forum|

Cephas and Peter: Final Arguments, Summary, and Implications

Here I give my last supporting arguments that Cephas may have been someone other than Peter, despite widespread assumptions and views that go back at least to the time of the New Testament, e.g., John 1:42, where they are explicitly identified as one and the same!  But were they? It's an intriguing question rarely asked.  Below is the final bit of my article on the topic, written for a scholarly audience but obviously with a view toward what non-scholars would be interested in.  At the end I provide a summary and draw out the implications. In the next post I will discuss whether now -- all these years later, when I'm older and wiser (or at least older) -- I still buy the argument.  (!) ****************************** What now of Paul's other references to Cephas?  Here the one thing that cannot be overlooked is that, taken at least on face value, they appear to stand somewhat at odds with what we "know" about Peter's role in the early Christian church, at least as Paul describes it [...]

Congratulations Fredrick Ackun!

The voting is in on the Platinum guest posts.  Among four options, one is to be published on the blog itself for all members.  I'm pleased to announce that the winning post is the Essence of Religious Literacy: A Christian Perspective. Guest Post by Fredrick Ackun.  The post will appear on August 16, if all goes to plan. I have to say it was an extraordinarily close vote.  We had four outstanding choices and only one could win.  But thanks to all four posters.  And, you the Platinum member, may yourself be interested in reading (again!) these outstanding offerings.  Here they are, once more:   Feb 11: The Essence of Religious Literacy: A Christian Perspective. Platinum Guest Post by Fredrick Ackun   Feb 20: A Christian Is Not Necessarily a Disciple (Monthly Platinum Post: Douglas Wadeson)   Feb 23: The Buddhist Scriptures and the Gospel of Luke: Platinum Post by Steve Sutter   Mar 2: Christian Attitudes toward War, Through the Ages: Platinum Post by Dan Kohanski   In a week or so we will vote on the next four [...]

2021-07-30T14:58:32-04:00July 30th, 2021|Public Forum|

Nazis and the Meaning of the Word “Jew”: Guest Post by Jason Staples

I am very pleased to announce that the book of my former student, Jason Staples, The Idea of Israel in Second-Temple Judaism, has just appeared from Cambridge University Press.  Jason did his PhD here at UNC and this is part of his dissertation.  I say "part" because the dissertation was large, and he has divided it into two separate monographs; the second will be dealing with how the term "Israel" is used in the writings of Paul -- in particular, what Paul might mean when he says "All Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:26) -- an unusually thorny statement that has generated a huge amount of research and opinion over the years (all the usual and fairly commonsense explanations are problematic, for one compelling reason or another).  Jason thinks he has found the solution.  That will be volume 2! Here he presents for us one of the issues he address in vol. 1, related to the overall topic of the book.  Short question: what is the difference in the ancient world between talking about "Israel" [...]

2021-07-25T13:34:06-04:00July 24th, 2021|Public Forum|

Problems with Comments on Revelation!

A lot of terrific comments have come in on James Tabor's posts on Revelation.  I'm afraid we've been having technical difficulties on the blog in making it possible for him to reply to them.  But we think we have it worked out now (long story; I won't bore you with it).   So hopefully responses will be coming.  He will not be able to reply to all of the comments, but will take on some, and we will make sure that all of them, whether replied to or not, are published!  Thanks for your patience.   The difficulty is about to be resolved.  It is "coming soon"!

2021-07-21T13:47:34-04:00July 21st, 2021|Public Forum|

An Interview about Heaven and Hell: American Freethought Podcast

Here is an interview I did about a year ago on the American Freethought Podcast, hosted by John C. Snider.  The focus was on my book on heaven and hell.  Among other things it deals with key questions such as whether the Bible clearly teaches that humans have eternal souls (hey, what else could be goin' on inside me otherwise?) and that heaven and hell are literal realities.    

2021-07-12T07:05:41-04:00July 21st, 2021|Book Discussions, Public Forum, Video Media|

Interested in Hearing Three of My Lectures? Jesus according to the Early Christians

Two months ago I did a three-part lecture series on Zoom as a fundraiser to help defray the expenses of the blog.  I recorded the lectures and have now decided to make them available -- still as a fundraiser -- to anyone who would wants to hear them.  For details how to get access to them, see further below. The lectures all discussed stories involving Jesus that are not widely known to the world at large.  Or to *Christians* at large.  Or to *Blog Members* at large.   I'm pretty sure you didn't hear *these* growing up....  Want to hear them?  These  are the titles and topics:   Lecture One.  Jesus and the Other Divine Men Jesus may be the only miracle-working Son of God people know about today, but in antiquity there were others – “Divine men” who were miraculously born, who could do miracles, and then, at the end of life, ascended to heaven to live with the gods.  How could anyone think such things of mere mortals?  And is there anything that makes [...]

2021-07-12T21:02:25-04:00July 18th, 2021|Public Forum|

Comments on Blog Comments!

In this post I would like to address some questions I have received about blog “comments” and in so doing reaffirm the blog’s policies and procedures. As all of you know, blog members at the Silver, Gold, or Platinum level are allowed to make comments on posts and respond to comments of others.  The limit is 200 words for a comment and only two per day are allowed.  These limits are designed to help commenters keep their remarks direct and on point, and to make the entire enterprise manageable for the one person who manages them (yours truly). A lot of the comments the posts invoke involve a question for me and I try to respond to each and every one.   Since we began the blog in 2012 we have had over 112,000 comments and I have written some 37,000 responses.  Ouch. Most of the time, commenters give a remark or reflection on a particular post.  You can ALWAYS do so on an old post, no problem.  I’ll post it/answer it no matter how old [...]

2021-07-01T20:17:39-04:00July 14th, 2021|Public Forum|

Gold Q&A for July 2021!

Dear Gold Members, It is that time again!   As you know, one of the perks of your elevated status as a gold member of the blog is that you are provided an audio Q&A once a month 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 next Q&A on Saturday July 24to be released  Tuesday July 27.  Send your question(s) to our blog COO, Diane Pittman, at [email protected]   The deadline is midnight (in whatever time zone you're in) Thursday July 22 . The best questions are only a sentence of two long at most.  I hope to hear from you! Bart

2021-07-10T10:40:44-04:00July 9th, 2021|Public Forum|

Blog Dinner in London?

If you're a blog member and are either in or able to get to London just now:  are you interested in getting together for a blog dinner?  If we can get 3-4 (or more!) people together, I'd be happy to do it. It would need to be one of the evenings of Sunday July 11 to Thursday July 15. In either central London or Wimbledon (where I reside when over here). No obligations other than: Being a blog member Showing up Talking Paying for your meal. If you're interested, do NOT reply here as a comment.  Send me an email at [email protected] If you're not around here just now, hey, our day may come!

2021-06-30T06:50:27-04:00June 30th, 2021|Public Forum|

Some Intriguing Questions about Jesus’ Predictions and Mental Health

I've gotten a lot of terrific questions over the years on the blog, and looking through old posts, I came upon this one dealing with two of them, both on Jesus and his immediate followers.  I thought they were worth addressing again. Both of these, as it turns out, deal with issues related to psychology and the early Christian movement: one has to do with why the followers of Jesus didn’t simply give up and disband when the end-of-the-world-apocalypse they had been anticipating didn’t happen (so that they were proven to be *wrong*) and the other about whether Jesus was, literally, crazy.   Interesting questions!  If you have one you would like me to address, just ask in a comment on any of my posts.   QUESTION I get that when the Apocalypse didn’t happen as the apocalyptic Jesus had predicted that a kind of reinterpretation of events including the resurrection took place. But why? Why didn’t the fledgling fringe then Jesus-Jewish (my term) sect simply die out?   RESPONSE Ah, this is a meaty question [...]

An Unusual Interview with an Ex-Muslim, Informed, Atheist

Now *this* isn't the kind of interview I get asked to do every day!  Hanny Seylim is a former Muslim who split his time growing up between Egypt and Ireland (a parent from each) and now lives in Melbourne.  For his podcast, Critical Faculty, he interviews all sorts of critical thinkers in numerous different fields (physics to NT!).  Hanny knows a *lot* about early Christianity and wanted to interview me about my work.  I think this one is unusually good.  Enjoy!  

2021-06-18T16:41:31-04:00June 27th, 2021|Public Forum|

The Issue of “Tenure” for Professors

You probably have heard about the extraordinary case of Nikole Hannah-Jones at my university (UNC-Chapel Hill).   Offered a prestigious chaired position in the Department of Journalism, a chair that has always brought with it “tenure,” the university Board of Trustees, comprised, of course, of people who are not academics with expertise in journalism, chose not to grant her tenure, even though the department itself strongly advocated for it.  I have never heard of that happening before. Of course, given the fact that the Board has to give its approval before tenure is granted, it was completely within its legal right not to give its approval.  But no one on the planet thinks it is an accident that Hannah-Jones – who is 20-year veteran journalist with the New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize winner for journalism (!), and winner of the (incredibly prestigious) MacArthur Genius grant – is famous for her work developing the “1619 Project” avidly promoting an alternative understanding of American history in light of the history of slavery and the contributions made by [...]

2021-06-13T07:51:23-04:00June 13th, 2021|Public Forum, Reflections and Ruminations|

Final Live Lecture on Jesus as The Christians Saw Him: SATURDAY!

This Saturday at 3:00 p.m. I will be giving a live lecture (via Zoom) on an intriguing topic that very few people I"ve ever met (including New Testament scholars) have ever delved into:  What did early Christians think Jesus was doing between the time of his death and his resurrection. This is the third and last lecture in my series on Jesus according to the Christians.  You do not have to have been at either of the others to come or to understand this one -- it is a stand alone lecture, with a good ole Aristotelian beginning, middle, and end. All the funds we bring in will go to help pay for blog expenses, so we can continue to give every dime of membership fees and regular donations to the charities we support.  The fee for the lecture, if you have not already paid for it, is $10.  We accept more than the requested fee of course! This week's event will last for about 75 minutes.  I will lecture for 45-50 minutes and then [...]

2021-06-10T20:57:50-04:00June 10th, 2021|Public Forum|

The Coming of the Holy Spirit in John: A Key to the Trinity

I’ve been talking about Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse,” the long five-chapter discourse that is Jesus’ last speech (virtually a monologue) in the Gospel of John.  In the previous post we saw that in the speech Jesus discusses how he relates to the Father: he is in the Father and the Father is in him, so that even though the Father “is greater” than he, when someone sees him he sees the Father.  They are “one.” That doesn’t mean they are the same person/thing; it’s more like when you tell a colleague or friend “you and I are completely unified in this” or “you and I are at one on this.”  There is no distance between you.  For Jesus it means that he has been given the authority of the Father and that his words are the ones the Father has given him to speak so that whatever he does and says has the full authority of the Father behind it.  There is no distance between him and the Father.  Not because they are the same but [...]

2021-05-30T16:05:32-04:00June 9th, 2021|Public Forum|

My Response To Conservative Critics. An Interview on the MythVision Podcast

Last month I did a long and detailed interview with Derek Lambert, the person who started and runs an interesting podcast called MythVision Podcast.   Derek is unusually well informed about the New Testament and he has deep and penetrating questions about my positions/views in some of my popular books, especially in light of what a very conservative evangelical apologist John McLatchie has been saying about my, well, sloppy ignorance.  I had never heard of McLatchie before, but that's not unusual.  There are over two billion Christians in the world and I've never heard of most of them.  Still, not that many of them assault my intelligence without telling me  directly (e.g. in an email) that I'm an idiot. Still, maybe he's right about everything.  That's the nice thing about human intelligence.  You yourself have it, and you can make up your own mind.   In any event, here's the interview.  The bit with McLatchie kicks in part way through, but the whole thing is about important topics that I"ve dealt with in my writings.    

2021-05-30T16:02:48-04:00June 5th, 2021|Public Forum|

Platinum Webinar! Just for You Platinums….

It's time for another Platinum webinar; as you know, this is a four-time year event, and our last was at the end of January.  So time to go again.  I"m going to schedule in for a Sunday evening this time, to see how it flies.  One week from today, Sunday June 6, 7:00 - 8:15 p.m.  No need to register; just show up. I have decided this time to talk about "What I'm Now Thinking about the Book of Revelation."  As you know, I'm working on a book about the Apocalypse, and in doing my research I have changed my views in important ways.  At this point I'm calling the book "The Book of Revelation and What It Reveals."  It turns out, it doesn't reveal what I used to think it did.... I will talk on the subject for 40-45 minutes, and then take questions for 30-35 minutes.  Interested?  It's for Platinum members only.  Here's the link: Bart Ehrman is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Topic: Bart Ehrman Blog Platinum Webinar Time: Jun [...]

2021-05-30T18:29:50-04:00May 30th, 2021|Public Forum|

What We Know Today About Religions and the Afterlife (in the US): Platinum Guest Post by Sharon Friedman

I am pleased to be able to publish this Guest Post by one of our Platinum members Sharon Friedman.  Sharon has been a blog member for some five years.   Here is an intriguing post with some statistics to make you ponder and reflect on a topic near and dear to many of us. If you have questions comments, go ahead and make them!  Many thanks Sharon. ***************************** Often on the blog, people ask Bart “what did Christians or Jews think about some topic?” It’s definitely difficult or impossible to know that about the past.  We do know something about what they currently think.  Fortunately, groups like the Pew Research Center and NORC at the University of Chicago ask people religious questions.  Let’s look at that source of information for insights into our discussion of the afterlife, specifically what do Christians, Jews and Muslims currently think about heaven and hell? Pew does a Religious Landscape Survey about once every 10 years or so. It’s chock full of information.  There is a crosswalk between belief in heaven [...]

2021-05-27T17:27:17-04:00May 27th, 2021|Afterlife, Public Forum|

Jesus according to the Christians: A Three-Part Blog Lecture Series

I have decided to do a three-part lecture series as a fundraiser to help defray the expenses of the blog.  As the blog continues to grow, it becomes more expensive and I simply refuse to take any money from Membership Fees or Regular Donations to pay for any of the expenses.  Every penny you pay to join goes directly to the charities the blog supports (see   This lecture series will help pay some of the overhead costs so that we don't have to take a dime out of the fees for overhead.  (BTW, in terms of overhead, for what it's worth:  I don't take a penny from the blog myself.)  (But if you want to mail me a number of small unmarked bills, that would be fine.) The lectures will occur over three consecutive Saturdays, starting this week, May 29, and continuing then on June 5 and 12.  They will all be at 3:00 pm.  On each occasion I will lecture for 45-50 minutes and then take questions for 15 -20 minutes.  There will [...]

2021-05-26T09:29:39-04:00May 24th, 2021|Public Forum|
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