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Readers’ Mailbag November 13, 2015

It is time for the weekly Readers’ Mailbag.  I am keeping a list of questions readers have asked, and I add to it all the time.  If you have a question you are eager to hear me answer in a couple of paragraphs or so, simply ask!  One convenient way to do so is simply to make a comment/question on this post.  Here are three questions for today.


QUESTIONThe Wikipedia entry on the gospel of the Nasorenes mentions your work on the similarities between it and the Gospel of Matthew, could you briefly tell me what this is about?

RESPONSE:  There are three Gospels that are frequently called the “Jewish-Christian Gospels,” because they were – according to the writings of the church fathers – used by Christians who self-identified as being, also, Jewish (e.g., by keeping the Jewish law and, possibly, insisting that to be a follower of Jesus a male had to be circumcised and males and females needed to keep the Sabbath, observe kosher food laws, and so on).  We do not have any of these three Gospels intact in a manuscript – we only have mentions of them and occasional quotations of them in the church fathers (who were opposed to the views these books set forth).  And so to know what was in them we have to patch them together from these quotations.

You can see English translations of these three Gospels in my book (done with my colleague Zlatko Plese) The Other Gospels.  The Gospels are called by ancient sources “The Gospel according to the Hebrews,” “The Gospel of the Ebionites,” and the “Gospel of the Nazareans.”   The evidence for these Gospels is very complex and confusing, so much so that some scholars think there were only two of them and that different church fathers called them different things at different times.

But the standard view is that the Gospel according to the Hebrews had….

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The Apocalyptic Context for Jesus’ View of the Messiah
How Do We Know What Jesus Said About Himself?



  1. Avatar
    James  November 13, 2015

    So if Peter wasn’t the first Bishop of Rome, who was? (Or if it’s easier this way: When did monarchical episcopacy develop at Rome?)

    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      a. We don’t know! b. apparently sometime in the second century, my guess is before 150.

  2. Avatar
    jhague  November 13, 2015

    Was the story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son but being stopped and using a ram instead told and then written to let the Israelites know that their practice of sacrificing humans was no longer to be done?

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    godspell  November 13, 2015

    Is it such a primitive idea, Bart?

    I’m not sure Gandhi or Dr. King would agree. Or Lincoln. Not that we’re in a position to ask them.

    The key difference is choice–some people choose to sacrifice themselves so that others may have life, and have it more abundantly. Greater love hath no man, and so forth.

    The notion that some wrathful deity will be appeased by blood–that’s primitive. But that’s not, to me, precisely what the gospels are saying. It has certainly been interpreted that way by some. At least it’s not all they’re saying.

    Maybe it’s more about setting an example–and you can only prove you mean it by being willing to face the ultimate sacrifice, make the final leap. Others do the killing, but accepting martyrdom has been a time-tested way to make sure your life and ideas will be remembered–if they’re worth of remembrance.

    Jesus is the only cult leader I can think of who is said to have knowingly sacrificed himself, while telling his followers to lay down their arms and live. What was actually going through his mind, we can’t know. But whatever journey he thought he was on, he knew he had to make it alone.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      I meant to say that many people today would consider the idea primitive that sacrificing an animal was a way to appease God’s anger….

      • Avatar
        godspell  November 15, 2015

        It’s a sensitive area, and sorry I overreacted. Sacrifice is such an integral idea in pretty nearly all human cultures. We certainly kill no end of animals, in ways that are far from humane, and in some ways the manner in which our ancestors killed them (I’m thinking of hunter-gatherer cultures) seems rather more sophisticated than a slaughterhouse.

        • Bart
          Bart  November 16, 2015

          Yes, we certainly slaughter lots of animals! What we don’t do is slaughter them to propitiate a divine being.

          • Avatar
            godspell  November 16, 2015

            Perhaps Adephagia?


          • Avatar
            Robert Wahler  November 17, 2015

            Unfortunately, the karma is just the same. One reason the world is violent and uneasy. The debt must be paid in subsequent births.

  4. Avatar
    Robert Wahler  November 13, 2015



    Why do scholars, both consensus (you, Pagels) and revisionists (DeConick, Turner) all assume that Jesus is the “man that bears me” in the Gospel of Judas, when the Gnostic reading consistently throughout calls for it to be Judas? In fact, this is why you are divided into two camps. You don’t understand the essence of Gnosticism. If one of you did, you would recognize that Judas is the sacrifice! Only the very last line says anything about the canonical “handing over”, while the rest is easily read as standard self-sacrificial gnostic teaching. That last line is either a later addition, or a gnostic sop to the canon. The “you will be replaced by someone” at 36,1 curiously doesn’t mention ‘Matthias’, and it would have if the original version was the canon. The Master ‘replaces’ the disciple in Gnosticsm (the ‘bread’ [Life] and the kiss– both present elsewhere as positive mystic symbolism — are the symbolism for it in the ‘Betrayal’). Read Nag Hammadi. Many texts show it, including James, a version of which appears right before the Gospel of Judas in the Codex Tchacos: “You will no longer BE James”. And the Letter of Peter to Philip just before that: “I told you that YOU WILL DIE.” This is to be read as a spiritual death when the Master merges the disciple into himself. The answer “you will sacrifice the man that bears me” is to the question Judas puts to Jesus: “What will those who are baptized in your Name DO?” It is about what they, the disciples are to do, not the Master. Jesus would not switch subjects so casually from them to himself. “Tomorrow they will torment *the one who bears me*” isn’t about Jesus, but the disciples. You all read this wrongly, or do you all not understand Mysticism (Gnosticism)?

    It is all about ‘sacrifice’ of self. I know you don’t believe me when I say I have first-hand knowledge of this, but it is nonetheless true. Masters are never concerned about their own welfare. I know this personally. (One recent Master even titles a book he wrote: “Die to Live”.) There is a real Master here today: Baba Gurinder Singh Dhillon. The proto-orthodoxy was trying to hide Mastership succession. They succeeded for 1800 years (Successor James became traitor ‘Judas’.) What they gave us instead was the Church, pronounced dead by the gnostic author of the Apocalypse of Peter, among others. Incidentally, that same condemnation of the church culture precedes a segment detailing the actual process of mystic hearing of WORD, or Apophasis Logos — alluded to allegorically in many OT stories, and even a few NT ones, albeit often overwritten there by orthodox corruption. Give me a thread and I can fill this out, including some stunning textual analysis I just happened to uncover myself (Psalm 41:9, Zechariah 13:7 and John 18:9-10, all changed from a standard reading into a mystic cornucopia). No one will ever understand the Gospel of Judas or the New Testament without recognizing that the Betrayal is an orthodox corruption of Mastership succession. This is the reason — the only reason — the NT was written. Let me prove it to you and all others.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      Because that’s the fairly obvious meaning of the text.

      • Avatar
        Robert Wahler  November 15, 2015

        Obvious to whom? You? You have a background in orthodox Christianity, not Mysticism. Mysticism is today’s Gnosticism. I have spent a lifetime practicing it. Judas is the sacrifice — NOT JESUS. He answers Judas’s question, “What will those baptized in your Name DO?” They (‘You’ sing.) will “sacrifice the man [themselves!] that bears me”. Your orthodox bias, and that of all scholars studying it has misled you all.

        What, can you not stand another opinion here? I can *prove* it from First and Second Apocalypses of James and Apocalypse of Peter. I thought this was the sort of ‘question’ you wanted in your “mailbag”! AGAIN — you dismiss me without explaining comment. “Your theory is fatally flawed.” Oh, really? And Christianity is so self-evident that it was to keep you enthralled?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 16, 2015

          Obvious to everyone of record who has examined the text.

          • Avatar
            Robert Wahler  November 17, 2015

            You know as well as I do that that doesn’t mean it is so. There is nothing here to support that Jesus thought he “needed to be released from his body”, as you and some other scholars claim is the reason (from his perspective) Judas needed to “hand him over”. Are you unaware — or do you not choose to recall — that your colleagues King and Pagels have said that Jesus, categorically stated in this text in answer to their query, 37,14, “Where did you go and what did you do?”, that “*I WENT* to another great and holy generation”, 36,16. Looks like what’s “holey” is your theory! If Jesus can leave the confines of his mortal body: “no person *of mortal birth* will be able to associate with it [this great generation]”, 37,7, what does he need Judas for? TO KILL the body he isn’t confined to???? Why don’t you work out YOUR theory first? “Look at the text. Why does it not mention Matthias as the “*someone* will replace you” at 36:1? “… *in order that* the Twelve may again come to completion in their God”. They certainly knew of Matthias from Acts 1 at this late date. Why isn’t he mentioned by name? He COULD have been. He SHOULD have been. If the author is striving for authenticity, would he not want all available details to be recorded? Where is “Matthias” here? I will tell you. He was not known yet. This text may not predate the canon, but the TRADITION of mystic union does! The “someone” is JESUS. The Master is the one who brings the Twelve “to completion in their God” by merging into the successor (John 13:19, “I am HE”). I have reason to think the “Twelve” does not refer to the disciples, but levels of being. Either way, whatever the text reads, it is not a replacement with another disciple, but a merging of disciple and Master. How is this a mere replacement of Judas? Like THAT is important. The two MERGE TOGETHER, as any good Gnostic (Mystic) aspires to do with his Master. (I include myself!) “You will no longer BE James.” – A. James. “I told you that YOU WILL DIE” (spiritual — personal — ‘death’), Letter of Peter to Philip, both in Codex Tchacos, BOTH RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE GOSPEL OF JUDAS. Your colleagues say the adjoining books are important, being with gJudas. (I forget which one, or ones, maybe you recall.) I went through every verse in all four Gospels, and there is an undeniable sub-story overwritten by the “Betrayal”. The answer, “You will exceed them all, for you will sacrifice the man that bears me” is to Judas asking “What will those baptized in my Name [WORD] do?” What will they (or he, Judas) DO? They will sacrifice the man that bears them! That “man” is THEM (him), not Jesus!
            Jesus just got done telling them that no hand of a mortal will sin against him. He means IN THEM. He is telling them what will happen TO THEM, not HIM. No Master worries about his own welfare. Traces of that are even present in the canon (“Not my will, but ….”). The “woe to that man that delivers [not ‘betrays’] me” is about THEM, not Jesus! The “woe” is the ‘sacrifice’! Read it like a Gnostic would!

            John 13:18 was the only one that gave difficulty and that was only before I found the Douay Rheims idiomatic reading of Psalm 41:9. Zechariah 13:7 and “Strike the Shepherd…” is a whole study of its own, in mistranslation. But is goes back to preChristian times and the LXX, so I can’t explain that. I know, from the theology of Zechariah and the mystic (gnostic) reading of the pericope, however, that I must be right. Poetic sensibilities and the theology demand that it read “Strike, O Shepherd …” same as the first phrase of the sentence and the beginning of the good/bad shepherd pericope in Zech 11. The disciples (‘little ones’) are refined IN FIRE. The “striking” is a GOOD thing. The Master purifies them for acceptance by the Lord at the end of the chapter in Zech. This was just another rip-off of the Tanak by the Christians.

            On page 137 of your book on gJudas, you say “This is not the Gospel according to Judas, but the Gospel OF Judas”. SO, why not follow through? If it is the Gospel of Judas, HE is the Good News, is he not? Why are you all over Jesus, all the time? The Gospel of Judas AND the New Testament are not about Jesus, but JAMES. ‘Judas’ is James, the NEW Master: “He IS the second Master”, Apocalypse of James, 30,25. “Now is the Son man [the Spirit, NOT Jesus] glorified”, John 13:31. Not later, at the ‘crucifixion’, “NOW”. Judas was created to COVER James. Jesus says “Yet a little while I am with you” just two verses later! He wasn’t talking about HIMSELF, but his SUCCESSOR “glorifying God”. That man is JAMES. You know about the new fragment on page 55? “Israel will come, bringing Israel out from Egypt”. Who is “Israel”. Yes, right, Israel is the name God gave JACOB. But this “Israel” WILL COME, so it isn’t the Genesis 35:10 Jacob the great Patriarch. It is the English namesake of the Greek “Jacob” and “Yacov”, incidentally, the one John 13:18 is about in Psalm 41:9 in the Douay Rheims idiomatic reading, “the one who ate my bread, the one who is my friend, has greatly SUPPLANTED ME”. All other translations blow it. It isn’t the literal Hebrew, “lifted his HEEL against me”. The root word “Ekev” for “heel” is also root for “Yacov” which means “HE WHO FOLLOWS”. Y -K -V. …JACOB…. *JAMES*. I don’t know all the details of what John was doing here, but the prophecy isn’t Ahithophel betraying. It is Jacob SUCCEEDING Esau for his inheritance, as it pertains to James succeeding ‘Jesus’. It is a clever cover of the succession of James. JUDAS became the one who “hands over” (“paradidomai”) Jesus. The succession is the handing over, NOT THE BETRAYAL. Don’t you see this yet? — The Gospel OF JUDAS (James) –. The Church could not abide a successor, so they had to get rid of him. This is only a small, small taste of what there is on this. I need a thread to even begin to cover it all. I have not even started on Apocalypse of James and all the parallels to the canonical Betrayal: “flesh is weak”, in both — word for word; “the kiss” (inverted, of course, from a spiritual transfer of power to a betrayal), “Stripped and rising naked” (spiritually, not “fleeing” — that is a poor translation for Mark 14:50-51); “Hail, brother!” (Master!) — who is categorically said NOT to be a blood brother in A. James, changed to “Hail, MASTER!” meaning Jesus, by Judas (James) in the Synoptics, “Armed multitudes seizing” (archons in A. James, arresting Jesus in the canon); “praying on a rock”, apart, and WEEPING in both sources; bloody sweat in Luke… etc. The theme is consistently reversal, or inversion, of the original Gnostics, like Dr. Eisenman found in the Qumran Pesherim for the Jamesians (Mystics). And you KNOW the orthodox corruptions that make it more Jesus-centric. (You won’t find a word about Jesus in the Scrolls.) The New Testament is about JAMES, NOT JESUS. Jesus was invented. James lived. The NT was a proto-orthodox coverup! Eisenman says the stoning of ‘Stephen’ is James. He says Judas is James in Acts1. I am not alone in this. All I did was look at the Betrayal. It’s about JAMES. “He IS the second MASTER.” -First James, 30,15.

            The church wanted money and power, AND THEY GOT IT. No other known figure of the time in Palestine was stoned *BY FELLOW DISCIPLES*, as Judas sees in his vision on page 44, — except for JAMES (Josephus, Hegesippus, Clement of Rome Ps. Rec. 1:70). And, btw, Clement says it was PAUL and friends who carried out the sentence of Ananus that Josephus says condemned James.You can see what the author of the gnostic Apocalypse of Peter said about him and his Lawless teachings in paragraph three. Not good.

            There is no sacrificial salvation. That is a blatant orthodox corruption of Gnostic ascetic practice. Eisenman’s “New Testament Code” covers it brilliantly. I know this practice BECAUSE I PRACTICE IT. It is listening to the ethereal Word, or Sound Current. Back then it was all about blood purity, now the vows focus on pure diet and clean body, and meditation (Matt. 26:40-41 and a million other passages). The Apophasis Logos is THE WORD. Today it is called “Shabd”. Surat Shabd Yoga: Hear SOUND Union. That is what is taught by ‘Jesus’ at John 3:8 (“the wind blows where it wills and YOU HEAR the SOUND thereof”) — Unspoken Word, straight from eternal mystic Sant Mat. It was called “Name” or Name of the Lord” in the OT: Genesis 4:26 with Seth as the first Master. The name of the highest region, “region never called by any name” in Gospel of Judas is “ANAMI DESH” in Sant Mat: “the No-name Region”. This is 1800 years later! The same theology is throughout too. The five combatants are the Kings grown weak in Judas, the bad habits of lust, anger, greed, attachment, and vanity, destroyed “along with ‘their creatures’ [*OFFSPRING*!!!]” — Desires — just before Judas heads for the luminous cloud of God. You guys can’t even agree on who enters the cloud, for heavens sake, and you are telling me that the reading is “OBVIOUS TO THOSE ON RECORD WHO HAVE STUDIED IT”????????

            Bart. I know Gnostic teaching (Mysticism) because I DO IT. You don’t. If you did, you would recognize the Apocalypses of James and Peter for what they are: the reversed origin of the “Betrayal”. PETER is denied BY JESUS in Apocalypse of Peter (Gnostic Peter, not the other one). “THREE TIMES”, and “in this night”. That’s a dead-ringer for parallelism. SOMETHING is going on here between the canon and Nag Hammadi, and it isn’t the Gnostics doing the copying. They would never be caught dead stealing from an orthodox story of sacrifice. Sacrifice of the MASTER, especially. They HATED sacrifice. Read the Gospel of Judas! Don’t just look at it. You don’t read it. You read the Bible. After your introduction in your book, Chapter Two is about … THE BIBLE Judas. Why do you go to the enemy for information????? Are you IRENAEUS????? Study the Gnostics for information. (I know you get to them later, but too late.) Gospel of Thomas says “Go to James, *for whom heaven and earth were created*”. Anyone ever say that about ‘Jesus’? This is a sayings record, the most primitive of the record for ‘Jesus’. And its author was interested IN JAMES.

            Let me do this right. I can’t possibly do it justice in a post. Eisenman said his case was “made in the details”, which is why his books are 1,000 pages long. My case is similar. He knows about mine, but is no more on board than you have been so far. Would a Jew believe in many Masters, coming successively in the flesh? I doubt that.

          • Avatar
            Robert Wahler  November 17, 2015

            What also is important to consider is the SEQUENCE of events in the Apocalypses and the canon. In the two Apocalypses of James, the order is roughly the same as in the Betrayal scene in the canon. The “stripped and rising naked”, for example, comes AFTER “sorrowful”, “watch and PRAY”, “flesh is weak”, the kiss, and “seize him” all from Mark, and presumably before John 13 “glorify him” as he “goes out” and “where I am going you cannot come”. The prominent use of “following him” in Mark is telling as a mark of succession. At the end of both accounts in the Apocalypses , James (‘Judas’) is stoned, not hanged or falling to his death, as Judas sees himself “persecuted severely” in the Gospel of Judas. . Eisenman pointed out that “falling HEADLONG” to his death in Acts 1 is the EXACT WORD used by Clement to describe the death OF JAMES in HIS Pseudoclementine Recognitions 1:70 at the hands of Saul (Paul). This is covered at the end of Acts 7, says Eisenman, with ‘Stephen’, invented to cover James: the “crying out” and “on his knees” are ties to James, as are the grave clothes at the feet of SAUL, an indication of complicity in his death, although said in Acts to be clothes “of the witnesses”. James even says “Receive my spirit” as Jesus does on the cross, indicating as Hegesippus also has with two other famous quotes of James given to Jesus (“Father forgive them for they know not what they do”, and “You will see the Son of man coming on the clouds and in power”), that James is folded into the character ‘Jesus’. These sorts of detail cannot be dismissed lightly as Eisneman says. The Gospel of the Hebrews has the bread going to JAMES (at his ascension), not to Judas of the disciples as in John and the Synoptics, respectively. You really think all this is coincidence, or merely unimportant findings?

            I could go on, but are you even reading this? Is anyone reading this?

          • Bart
            Bart  November 18, 2015

            Yes, I’m reading — but I simply can’t respond to very lengthy arguments. Not enough hours in my day! Wish it were otherwise. I don’t know if anyone else is reading or not, but hte blog is not really designed for people to go on at great length about their own personal views.

  5. Avatar
    Pegill7  November 13, 2015

    How and when did the early Christians begin to regard Sunday rather than Saturday as their holy day? Is there anything in the New Testament indicating that this change should be made by believers?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      It is first attested that Christians gathered for worship on Sunday in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians; it is first called “the Lord’s Day” in the book of Revelation. So it’s pretty early!

      • Avatar
        RGM-ills  November 16, 2015

        Saturday would be Saturn’s day and Sunday would be the Sun’s. Thus called the Lord’s day. This is also in agreement with origins of the early sacrifice in the first place. The ritual of sacrifice began before Flame was understood. The Sun was understood as the deity and any lightning or burning here on earth was considered a moment when the Lord has descended to earth. Sacrifices were not ritualistic stylings simply simulating the offering to an absent attendee. The Flame itself was considered the entity and it was observed consuming the sacrament as it burned. It was present and attending. Thus also the pleasant odor in the air, origin of spirit, as the flesh cooked. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that sitting in the very midst of the holiest of holies, a simple flame. The Sun you cannot look directly at, or you will get blinded by it like Mr. Saul. The burning bush of Moses also supports this recognition of the deity. Sacrifice originally meant, this life must die so that I, by consumption, might live. The Holy Flame just helped make it palatable.

  6. Avatar
    Hon Wai  November 13, 2015

    Regarding human sacrifice in ancient civilisations: Is there much evidence that the ancient Israelites practised human sacrifices, and the practice was endorsed, or at least condoned, by some biblical authors?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      Yes, some of the kings of Israel are charged with it in the book of 1 and 2 Kings, and the fact there is prohibitions against such things suggest they were sometimes practiced.

  7. Avatar
    jrhislb  November 13, 2015

    Does not the Gospel of John refer to the death of Peter at the end, implying he will die a martyr’s death? Presumably this “prophecy” was thought to have come true when the gospel was written.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      Ah good point!

    • Avatar
      Robert Wahler  November 18, 2015

      Acts 12 is his becoming a Master, which is far more interesting: “And Peter CAME TO HIMSELF”. Lets’ hear Bart explain that one.

  8. tasteslikecorn
    tasteslikecorn  November 13, 2015

    Regarding Peter’s martyrdom, I highly recommend “The Myth of Persecution” by Notre Dame professor Candida Moss. It investigates at length how the Christian tales of martyrdom borrow heavily from Jewish, Greek, and Roman noble death traditions; and how many were forgeries designed to marginalize heretics, inspire the faithful, and fund churches. A quick check of social media reminds us that it remains a popular tactic. Many of the faithful point to these traditions as being a compelling reason to trust in the Jesus-as-savior narrative.

  9. Avatar
    Mhamed Errifi  November 14, 2015

    hello Bart

    have you seen james white video talking about you concerning the discovery of ancient text of the koran


    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      No, I don’t keep up with what James White has to say.

  10. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  November 14, 2015

    The atonement question and your answer are very helpful. Outside the question of “How Jesus Became God,” “How Jesus Became the Savior” is the next most important question in Christianity. It has the making of another good Ehrman book although it would be quite a chore to write The claim that Jesus died for the sins of all and that all can be forgiven by belief in this theology are extraordinary claims indeed and seem to be an unusual type of claim unique to Christianity.

  11. Avatar
    Lawyerskeptic  November 14, 2015

    Regarding the idea that an individual could atone for the sins of others, some first-century Jews believed Jewish martyrs were “a ransom for the sin of our nation” and an “atoning sacrifice” to preserve Israel. 4 Maccabees 17:20-22.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      Yes, they too were influneced by ancient understandings of sacrifice, absolutely! The question is whether Christians got their ideas in part from those circles. (Usually answered: yes!)

  12. Avatar
    Robert Wahler  November 14, 2015

    Jesus died as a sacrifice for others to appease God’s anger, so that God would no longer harm the others.
    It may seem like a very primitive idea to people today, but for ancient people some such view simply made a lot of inherent sense.

    It must not seem so to Christians, Bart. This is anther inherent non-sequitur in the salvation doctrine of Christians. If God sent us here, He knew we would sin, so why is he angry? God isn’t angry. God is Love. He simply waits for us to look for Him, not angry, just sad perhaps.

  13. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  November 15, 2015

    I am taking a continuing education course on Revelation at a local denominational seminary. The commentaries I’ve read cast doubt on the claim of some that the woman in labor represents Mary the mother of Jesus, yet the instructor (a protestant) seems convinced that she does. What is your opinion? Does the cult of Mary come before or after Revelation historically?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 15, 2015

      Yes, CAtholic interpreters have traditionally taken the woman to represent the Blessed Virgin Mary. Probably, though, it is a reference to the “people of God” (Israel/the church): the child comes forth from Israel, and the enemy of God, the beast, persecutes the people of God who are, however, ultimately vindicated and rewarded.

  14. Bart
    Bart  November 15, 2015

    The first references to it are in the Proto-Gospel of James from the second century. Maybe I’ll devote some posts to it soon.

  15. Avatar
    Joseph  November 18, 2015

    Are there any theories that argue the disciples confusion and “not understanding” we find in Mark is Mark’s way of taking sides with Paul rather than the Jerusalem Christians since Pauls writings predate Mark’s gospel?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 19, 2015

      Some have thought so, but there’s not explicit references to Paul in particular in Mark. But it is sometimes thought that Mark was opposed to the jerusalem apostles!

  16. Avatar
    fabiogaucho  November 22, 2015

    I have a question. Why do you not discuss the concept of the divine Logos in the beginning of the Gospel of John, and its likely relationship with the philosophy of Philo of Alexandria?

    In your recent debates you get into the discussion of what it would mean for Jesus to be regarded as divine in the context of 1st Century judaism. But John has this incredible digression where he brings forth his own theory of how Jesus is divine (actually, how he is God). And it seems to many people that his view comes not from jewish scripture and tradition, but from a Platonic philosopher (though a Jewish one).

    The idea of the “logos” was around in the end of the 1st Century. So there was already this notion that God had the two aspects, will and intelligence. And then John gives his own twist: the Logos became flesh. And voilà! There is your human/divine.

    Of course Paul and the synoptics seem to know no such ideas. And Philo himself never heard of Jesus. However, isn’t it likely that the story of “How Jesus Became God” passes through the philosopher, thanks to the creativity of the author(s) of John?

    I admit I haven’t read your latest book. I assume HJBG sticks to the 1st Century, but what about what went on between then and the Council of Nicea? As you have shown, for the early Christians the human-divine nature of Jesus was a perplexing question. Wasn’t the solution eventually drawn from the prologue of John with its borrowing from Philo?

    I think the discussion would merit more than two paragraphs, though…

    • Bart
      Bart  November 24, 2015

      Yes, I devote a (relatively) long discussion to it in How Jesus Became God, and to the developments leading up to Nicea. In fact, that’s what the book is about!

      • Avatar
        fabiogaucho  November 25, 2015

        Awesome! I’ll read the book.

  17. Avatar
    nickgallagher  March 5, 2016

    I’m trying to understand the claims of Spong/Crossan/Borg who say that “Jesus dying for your sins” was not a concept of the early Christians-but rather a later interpretation. I’m intrigued–but just don’t understand how this can be so– Do you recommend any reading that deals with this? Thanks

    • Bart
      Bart  March 5, 2016

      I’m afraid off hand I don’t know a good book on it. Maybe you should ask Spong or Crossan!

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