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A Fund-Raising Webinar: What Can We Really Know about the Birth of Jesus??

I have decided to hold a small and intimate webinar in order to raise money for the Bart Ehrman Blog.  Every penny that the webinar brings in will go directly to two of the blog’s charities, The Food Bank of Central/Eastern North Carolina and Doctors without Borders, split equally between them.  It will be held on Tuesday December 15 at 7:00 pm EST.  It will last for an hour and fifteen minutes. The topic of the seminar will be “What Can We Really Know about the Birth of Jesus?”  Among the topics to be covered will be: What do the Gospels say about Jesus' birth?  Can they be right?  Why do two of the Gospels not say anything about it?  Why is Jesus' birth not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament?  Are the accounts we have consistent with one another?  Are they consistent with what we know from ancient Jewish and Roman history?  Can we decide when Jesus was actually born -- year and day?  Or where?  How do we explain the idea of [...]

2020-11-27T09:00:31-05:00November 27th, 2020|Public Forum|

Some Feedback on the New Blog ??

This is a good time for some feedback from you, the members of the blog! We are very pleased with the roll-out of the new blog site, and hope you are as well.   The user experience appears to be much improved (or so it seems to us, and that is what we are hearing from you as well).  And yet it is still the same approach and format, with posts on a wide range of topics dealing with the New Testament and Early Christianity appearing five times a week, and readers (at the silver level and above) able to make comments and receive replies.  On Jan. 1 we will move from our crisis-inspired-trial offer of giving all bronze memberships privileges of silver.  At whatever level you are now, when your current subscription ends, you can choose to move to whichever level most suits you and your needs. We received excellent feedback at the outset of the launch and have been able to tweak lots of things as a result.  There are still things we are [...]

2020-11-22T09:48:56-05:00November 22nd, 2020|Public Forum|

Interested in Volunteering for the Blog?

As the blog has developed and grown, administrative needs have increased, and we are all very fortunate indeed that there is a devoted group of Volunteers pitching in to make this a success.  We simply could not be doing this without them. Now with the launch of the new site, more opportunities and needs are presenting themselves, and I will be soliciting more volunteers for more tasks.  Just now there are two areas that are most pressing. SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR:  I need an assistant who can use their skills on social media to promote the blog.  This would be someone who is deeply conversant with, comfortable with, skilled with, and connected with that universe, or rather that multiverse.  If that is you, and you would you be interested in hearing more, please simply send me an email indicating your interest, and we can talk about what it all might entail:  behrman@email.unc.edu TECHNOLOGY ADVISORY BOARD: As we expand we continue to find numerous challenges and opportunities that involve technology.  Steven has brilliantly set up the blog [...]

2020-11-11T14:10:39-05:00November 10th, 2020|Public Forum|

Comments on the Blog

I’ve been getting very good feedback from users of the new blog site, and am naturally very pleased.  There are also a lot of new users now, reading, listening, and making comments.  Fantastic!  If you have any problems with the blog, please be sure to contact us.  Click the HELP button and you will see a list of FAQs and responses, and information about how to get Support. Since we have so many new folk participating, I want to say a separate word about Blog etiquette.  It’s a bit different from typical Internet etiquette, for which most of us, well I, at least, am thankful. When I started the blog, from the outset I decided that I wanted it to be completely welcoming to all people, no matter what their religious convictions (or non-religious convictions), national background, race, gender, sexual identity, background knowledge, native intelligence, good looks, or … anything at all.  And to be welcoming requires all of us to be polite, courteous, and respectful. It’s hard to do.  At least sometimes it is [...]

2020-11-03T12:39:48-05:00November 3rd, 2020|Public Forum|

Speaking Event This Thursday and Friday (4 lectures, remote)

I'm doing a four-lecture series related to my book Heaven and Hell, this Thursday and Friday evenings for the UNC Public Humanities Program;  I'll be doing them remotely from a studio in a local bookstore.   Both days it's a lecture at 5:00 and another at 7:00; the lecture will be 50-60 minutes then Q&A.   Interested in joining in?  Here's the address for further information: https://www.unc.edu/event/heaven-and-hell-ancient-ideas-about-the-afterlife-featuring-bart-ehrman/2020-11-05/ Hope you can join in!

2020-11-01T17:33:34-05:00November 1st, 2020|Public Forum|

Did Jesus’ Disciple John Write the Gospel of “John”?

This is the fifth of my FIVE FAVORITES -- reposts of blog posts from years ago, in part to celebrate the new launch of the blog and in part to encapsulate some of the kinds of posts that can be found in the archives.  The archives go back to April 2012 and are easily searched.  As you can see, you can simply do a word search for any issue; you can get a list of posts for any category; you can actually go back to any month and year and see a list of posts.  Ain't life grand? Here is a post from 2016 on what is, for me, a topic of long-standing interest. ********************************* In my previous post I explained why the author of the book of Revelation, someone named John, was not claiming to be John the son of Zebedee and in fact probably was *not* John the son of Zebedee.   I also showed why this author was not the same one who produced the fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John (see https://ehrmanblog.org/the-author-of-revelation/) [...]

2020-10-30T21:28:59-04:00October 28th, 2020|Public Forum|

My Privileged View of Suffering

To celebrate the launch of our new blog site I am starting by posting Five Favorites from years gone by, one post from each of the blog's first five years, 2012-16.  Here is one I've chosen from 2013.  One of the issues I sometimes address on the blog when I'm not talking directly about the New Testament and earliest Christianity is my take on "the problem of suffering."  It's not just a big issue but also an emotionally difficult one.  That is more or less what this post is about, as someone objects to my decision to air my views. ********************************************* Sometimes people get upset because I deal with the problem of suffering even though I don’t seem to be experiencing any severe pain and misery myself.  Here is an example of the kind of comment I occasionally receive, this from someone commenting to me on Facebook a couple of days ago: "Dude, in a world of suffering, you claim doubts in deity because you live the privileged life of a UNC professor. If you [...]

2020-10-30T21:28:10-04:00October 23rd, 2020|Public Forum|

Welcome to the New Blog Site!

I am so pleased that we have now launched the new Bart Ehrman Blog site. It was many, many months in the making, and many thanks to my assistant Steven Ray who conceived, designed, and implemented it. I hope you agree that it has a great new look.There are several features that you may find very useful.As you will see, many of the old features are the same. You will still receive five posts a week and you will still be able to access archives going back to April 2012. There is a lot of information buried away in there! You can also still search for posts you are interested in, either by doing a simple word search (e.g., “Authorship of the Gospels,” “Judas Iscariot,” or “Persecution” etc.); or by clicking on any category (under Recent Posts) and getting a full chronological listing; or even by going to the archives and browsing through the titles, day by day, arranged chronologically, month by month, for all these years (go to the bottom of the left column [...]

2020-10-21T09:38:41-04:00October 21st, 2020|Public Forum|

What Happens When Your Beliefs Contradict What You Have To Teach? Readers’ Mailbag

I’ve received an intriguing question about professors of religious studies and the relationship between what we teach and personal religious beliefs.   QUESTION: Dr. Ehrman, do your colleagues who have strong religious beliefs sometimes get conflicted when teaching some aspects of early Christianity?   RESPONSE: Now that’s a very interesting question, and to unpack it, and give a response, I need to provide a bit of background of what (I assume) lies behind it.  I’ll start with my personal situation then broaden out from there. Neither of my two teaching positions has been in a religious or denominational school;  Rutgers and now UNC Chapel Hill are, of course, research universities.   Both institutions are not only secular but also state-supported.  Because of the constitutional separation of church and state, people in my position are not allowed to proselytize or promote one particular religion or religious view over another. And yet we are teaching religion.  How is that supposed to work? In the very simplest terms, the way it works is that professors in my position teach [...]

A Major Blog Announcement!!

I am exceedingly happy to make a major blog announcement.  Very soon – probably next week – we will be launching the new blog site.  It will be vastly improved, with all the best features of what we have now but with a new look, higher quality, and more member options.  If you like it the way it is, very little will change except the appearance of the blog.  If you want more, you’re in luck. My assistant Steven Ray has designed and constructed the new site to replace the one that he originally built over eight years ago.   Volunteers have been working to get some of the parts in place.  And we are all very excited about it. PLEASE NOTE: THE BLOG WILL BE DOWN FOR A FEW DAYS NEXT WEEK while we transfer the data from the old blog to the new one.  It is a massive and complicated affair (lots of data here after more than 8 years!).   I will let you know in advance when we are certain it is going [...]

2020-10-09T17:46:53-04:00October 9th, 2020|Public Forum|

A Celebratory Moment for the Blog

I love serendipity, but I have to admit, this one strikes me as very weird. As some of you know, today is my 65th birthday.  It’s an oddly important one for me.  When I was a young teenager, for some reason (that now I have trouble understanding), I had the notion that anyone who could make it to 65 had done pretty well for him/herself and that it was a reasonable time to pass off this mortal coil (not that I had read Hamlet yet).  At least it would mean not dying  young.  So I thought that it would be reasonable goal. Ai yai yai.  Kids.  Well, I no longer think of 65 as the goal in life.  I mean, I don’t particularly want to double it, but I’m happy to plod along for a good long time still.  The other reason that it is significant for me is that my dad died at 65.  That was 1989, a good long time ago; and I remember at the time thinking that he was too young, [...]

2020-10-05T12:58:06-04:00October 5th, 2020|Public Forum|

Hard Evidence that the Book of Acts was Written by an Eyewitness?

Here is an interesting question I received about a Christian apologist’s argument that the book of Acts must be written by an eyewitness, a view that I think is completely wrong.  It’s one of those arguments that has no bearing on anything when you actually think about it, but until someone points out the flaw, it’s hard to see it -- or I assume so since so many people get taken in by this sort of thing. It comes in a book called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, a title which, I have to say, is a clear indication of how well informed the book will be.  But that would be an entire post of its own.  Here I’ll focus on the question raised: QUESTION: One thing about the reliability of the book of Acts I’m constantly encountering when researching popular apologetics is Frank Turek’s argument in his book I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.  In it he quotes a Colin Hemer, who apparently chronicled the last 16 [...]

2020-10-23T23:34:48-04:00October 4th, 2020|Acts of the Apostles, Paul and His Letters, Public Forum|

Another Important Evangelical Charity: Guest Post by Robin Jones

Most of you will remember a couple of months ago I asked my old friend Robin Jones, from my conservative evangelical days (classmate at Moody Bible Institute!), to write some guest posts for the blog.  Robin is active in and knowledgeable about the kinds of social work some evangelical organizations and the evangelical Christians connected with them engage in.  Most of us are blithely ignorant of such things, knowing evangelicals only by reputation and bad press (understandably).  But in fact some are doing a world of good in a world of suffering, reaching out in ways others of us simply don't or can't, helping those we ourselves may desperately wish we too could help. Robin's first post was very moving, and can be found here:  https://ehrmanblog.org/evangelicals-who-make-the-world-a-better-place-guest-post-by-robin-jones/ .  Here now is a second. ******************************************************* This Little Light of Mine A Christian and an atheist walk into a bar… Actually, as we all know, a Christian wouldn’t be caught dead in a bar (unless, of course, no one from church was around, and they were really, really [...]

2020-10-21T08:49:32-04:00September 28th, 2020|Public Forum|

Gospel Questions and Problems

Here I return to the quiz I gave my undergraduate class the first day of the term; I have been explaining why I ask the questions I do and what I would like my students to learn from them.  Here now are three more of the questions Name three Gospels from outside the New Testament Some students may know something like the Gospel of Thomas, but, well, not many even know this one.  In the course we spend most of our time, of course, talking about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  But we also look at some of the amazing non-canonical Gospels: The Gospel of Peter. This is a fragmentary alternative account of Jesus’ trial, death, and resurrection, with unusually interesting features, including an actual description of the resurrection.  People are surprised to hear this, but the New Testament Gospels do *not* describe the resurrection.  They indicate that Jesus was buried, and then they jump to the third day when his tomb is discovered empty.  The event itself is not narrated.  But it is in [...]

2020-09-13T14:55:06-04:00September 13th, 2020|Canonical Gospels, Public Forum|

An Unusual Podcast Interview with a Muslim about How I Debate. Check This One Out!

Very rarely do I myself find an interview that I've done very interesting -- usually because they are often on the same topics, over and over again.  And I almost *never* listen to one afterward.  This one is an exception.  Everyone has her or his preferences, but I really like this one. It is also one of the weirdest interviews I've ever done.  This guy contacted me out of the blue about a new podcast he was doing.  He lived in Chicago.  I was going to be in Chicago to give a talk at a conservative evangelical "apologetics" conference; the three other speakers were all hard-core evangelicals who believed the Bible is "inerrant," and I was speaker number 4.  That in itself was going to be a scream (it was; I had a great time).  But this guy wanted to interview me.  He was going to the conference.  And he was a Muslim. I'm thinkin': Really?!?  He asks for an interview a couple of times; I tell him I'm not sure the organizers are going [...]

2020-09-12T10:47:15-04:00September 11th, 2020|Bart's Debates, Public Forum, Video Media|

All Day Seminar (Online) for the Smithsonian: This Saturday!

Looking for some fun, excitement, and a change of pace this weekend?  On Saturday I will be doing an all-day seminar for the Smithsonian Associates, four lectures (two in the morning, two in the afternoon), each with Q&A to follow, on Heaven and Hell, based, of course, on the book.  Interested in joining in?  Ticket information, and so on, can be found here: https://smithsonianassociates.org/ticketing/tickets/heaven-and-hell-perspectives-on-afterlife The structure of the lectures will be different from the book.  Here is the line-up of the lectures. 9:30­–10:45 a.m.  Death After Death The earliest records of the afterlife in ancient Near Eastern, Israelite, and Greek cultures portrayed it as no life at all: death leads to only a dreary, uninteresting, eternally empty existence in which there is no joy, no pleasure, and no hope, as portrayed in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Hebrew Bible, and writings of Homer. 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  Justice in the World Beyond Both Greek and Israelite cultures eventually developed the concept that this life cannot really be the end of the story and that the misery [...]

2020-09-09T09:50:34-04:00September 9th, 2020|Afterlife, Public Forum|

More Member Publications!

A while back I asked blog members to forward to me information about publications they have ... published.  Twice I've given a half dozen, and here are some more: a couple of articles and a couple of books.  They all look fascinating to me, and two of them are by research scholars / professors of the New Testament that I know.  Maybe one of the others is as well, that I don't know!  In any case, read through their self-descriptions, and if you're so moved, check out the publications themselves! ************************************************************************* Steve  Very Short Article Another side of New Testament Jesus wintertao Twitter.com/wintertao New Testament Jesus did and said many wonderful things. We are taught them as kids and everyone knows them. But on close objective reading the NT also contains another side of Jesus. I’ve worked on this off and on for over 10 years and have posted it many different places including a much earlier revision here on the blog in the members message board where I received valuable feedback. It’s been critiqued [...]

2020-11-22T14:01:52-05:00August 31st, 2020|Public Forum|

Smith-Pettit Lecture – The History of Heaven and Hell

Here is a webinar that I did on July 29th, 2020, as the Smith-Pettit lecture for the Sunstone Digital Symposium sponsored by Sunstone Education Foundation.  It was on the "History of Heaven and Hell."  It was an unusual event for me: Sunstone is an independent organization located in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Sunstone does not have any official ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but it does serve mainly them, bringing together traditional and non-traditional Latter-day Saints, promoting an atmosphere that seeks to value faith, intellectual, and experiential integrity. Moderating the event was Karin Franklin Peter, president of the Fifth Quorum of Seventy, who serves on the Council of Presidents of Seventy with the Community of Christ.  This is a branch of "Mormons" that split from the LDS over polygamy in the 19th century.  She received a bachelor of science in psychology and a master of arts in Christian ministry from Community of Christ Seminary at Graceland University, Independence, Missouri. I was introduced by Lindsay Hansen Park, an American Mormon feminist [...]

2020-08-21T18:56:40-04:00August 21st, 2020|Afterlife, Book Discussions, Public Forum, Video Media|

“The Case for Christ”? The New Testament Review Podcast

Here now is the second guest post by Duke PhD students Ian Mills and Laura Robinson, dealing with their podcast  New Testament Review.   In this one they describe one of their more unusual podcasts.  As you'll see, they deal with extremely interesting material for to anyone interested real scholarship on early Christianity-- as opposed to the (often very popular) books by people who don't know  or understand scholarship but try to denigrate it in order to "prove" their own sectarian views.   Blog Post #2 New Testament Review on Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ   As outlined in our last post, the New Testament Review podcast is dedicated to summarizing influential pieces of New Testament scholarship and their reception in the field. Every work we cover has transformed how later scholarship treats a specific topic or text. Every work, that is, except one. On April 1st 2019, we released an episode with the title, “Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ.” Lee Strobel is a former journalist turned evangelical Christian apologist. His bestselling book The [...]

2020-08-19T09:10:47-04:00August 19th, 2020|History of Biblical Scholarship, Public Forum|

Jesus in Scholarship and Film

University classes started this past week, and as so many have said, this will be a school year like no other.  I will be teaching both of my classes remotely, a PhD seminar on Early Christian Apocrypha, which I will be discussing in a later post, and my undergraduate course, Jesus in Scholarship and Film.  I've taught this latter course on and off for years now, and it is absolutely one of my favorites. The basic idea behind it is to see how Jesus is portrayed in different ways in different venues: ancient Gospels (the four canonical Gospels and seven from outside the New Testament), modern scholarship on the historical Jesus (i.e., attempts to see what he really said and did), and film, from the earliest silents up to recently. One of the goals is to learn how each book/film portrays Jesus differently.  There is not "one" Jesus out there that everyone agrees on. Teaching remotely is a huge challenge.  But I have a terrific group of students.  It is a First Year Seminar; these [...]

2020-11-30T23:30:29-05:00August 16th, 2020|Public Forum, Teaching Christianity|
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