Is the Book of Acts Historically Reliable? Smoke and Mirrors.

In my next post I will be staking stake out the “negative” side on the debate I had with myself in class, arguing against the resolution, Resolved: The Book of Acts is Historically Reliable.  I have already made the affirmative case; in the negative I will argue that the book is not reliable (that first speech was a set speech, prepared without reference to anything the affirmative side said).  I will then give a negative refutation of the affirmative’s first ...

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For Anyone Who Still Needs a Free Membership!

I’m happy to say that thanks to the incredible generosity of members of the blog, I am still able to provide a limited number of free one-year memberships available.   These have been donated for a single purpose: to allow those who cannot afford the annual membership fee to participate on the blog for a year.   I will assign these memberships strictly on the honor system: if you truly cannot afford the membership fee, but very much want to have full ...

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My Book Sales and the “Relatives” of Paul: Weekly Reader’s Mailbag March 25, 2016

For this week’s Readers Mailbag I have two questions, one about the sales of my new book and one about the apostle Paul (the meaning of a particularly important verse).  If you have a question you would like me to address, simply ask it here!

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QUESTION:

Are you pleased with how Jesus Before the Gospels is selling? The reviews are great. I’m enjoying reading it, myself.

 

RESPONSE:

Thanks for asking!  Yes, there are some reviewers who seem to “get” what the book ...

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Is Acts Historically Reliable? The Affirmative Argument

I am ready now to explain how I did the debate with myself in front of my undergraduate class on the resolution, Resolved: The Book of Acts is Historically Reliable.

As always happens in a debate, the Affirmative side goes first and gives a prepared speech. In arguing for the affirmative, I made the following points. (Note: I’m not saying I personally agree with these points, just as I’m not going to be saying that I agreed with the Negative points. ...

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Major Themes in the Book of Acts

The debate over the historical accuracy of the book of Acts is important, in no small measure because – as I have pointed out already – it provides us our one and only narrative of what was happening among the followers of Jesus in the years immediately after his death.  This is the key, formative period in the formation of Christianity.  How did it start as a religion?  Acts is our only surviving historical account.  But is it an accurate ...

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The Literary Artistry of the Book of Acts

I am in the middle of a thread dealing with the New Testament book of Acts, the first account that we have of the history of the Christian church at its very beginnings – starting with the events happening right after the resurrection of Jesus and covering the spread of the Christian faith through the Roman world up until the time Paul reached the city of Rome, presumably in the early 60s CE.   And so this is an account of ...

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Memory, Eyewitnesses, and the Relevance of Jesus: Readers Mailbag

In this week’s Readers’ Mailbag I will deal with three questions, all of them having to do with the historical Jesus:  how has memory studies affected my understanding of Jesus; whether the claim that the Gospels are based eyewitnesses is a new or an ancient attempt to “guarantee” their accuracy; and whether Jesus can be relevant today if his basic apocalyptic view was proven to be wrong.

Good questions, all of them!  If you have any questions about anything involving the ...

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Does the New Testament Condemn Modern Practices of Homosexuality?

The third in-class debate (for the other two, see my two preceding posts) is in some ways the most controversial of all, as it hits at the heart of a highly fraught topic today.   And yet the resolution may seem to some people to be undebatable – that the answer to it is obvious.  As it turns out, it isn’t.  The third resolution is this:

Resolved:  The New Testament Condemns Modern Practices of Homosexuality

Again, the wording of the resolution ...

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Were Paul’s Views of Women Oppressive?

In my post yesterday I discussed the first debate topic assigned to my undergraduate class on the New Testament, on the relationship of Paul and Jesus, and the question of whether they represented fundamentally the same religion or not.   Of all the debate topics that I assign, I think that one is the most central to the understanding of the New Testament and the history of Christianity, as it deals with the root of the very problem of Christianity itself ...

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Do Paul and Jesus Represent Fundamentally Different Religions?

I’m in the middle of a thread on the class debates that I assign for my Introduction to the New Testament.   This started by my remarking on the debate I did with myself in front of the class, on whether the book of Acts is historically reliable; I haven’t yet gotten to what it is I argued (both affirmative and negative), but will do so!  First I need to set the broader context.

As I’ve indicated, every student is required to ...

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