Speaking in Churches as an Agnostic; and Jewish Beliefs about Afterlife. Readers Mailbag August 13, 2016

 

I will be dealing with two rather wide-ranging questions in this week’s Readers Mailbag:  What is it like for me, a public agnostic/atheist, to give a talk to believers in a church?  And what did Jews believe about the afterlife in the time of Jesus?

 

QUESTION:

Dr. Ehrman, do churches hire you to lecture on Christianity knowing that you’re an atheist? Do you ever get tempted to say, “Let’s be honest here. I think all of your cherished religious beliefs are baloney, ...

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Life After Death in Rome, and other Questions. Readers’ Mailbag May 6, 2016

In this week’s Readers Mailbag I address three rather divergent questions, one on ancient tombstone inscriptions that indicate that many people in the ancient world did not believe in an afterlife, one on the Temptation narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and one on the process of having a book edited in preparation for publication.  If you have a question you would like me to address, just ask – and I’ll add it to the list!

 

QUESTION:

I’m curious…what sort ...

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The Fear of Hell, Good Debaters, and the Name of God: Mailbag April 22, 2016

For this week’s readers’ mailbag I have chosen three unusually unrelated questions, one on whether we should be afraid of going to hell, one on how I prepare for public debates, and one on how we got the name Jehovah from the Hebrew name of God, YHWH.   This shows just how wide ranging your questions can be on this blog!   If you one you would like me to address in the future, let me know.

 

QUESTION:

What would you say to someone ...

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Heaven and Hell, Part Two

In my previous post I explained how Jewish thinkers began to develop the idea of an afterlife when they devised the idea of a future resurrection of the dead, an apocalyptic event that explained how God would ultimately make right all that was wrong, rewarding those who had sided with him but punishing those who sided with evil.  But how did that idea of a future *bodily* resurrection morph into the Christian teachings of heaven and hell?  I try to ...

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Heaven and Hell, Part One

As I have been discussing the topic of resurrection in early Christianity, a number of readers have asked about a related issue, namely, where the Christian teaching of heaven and hell came from.   For most Christians, the afterlife seems to be the ongoing existence of the soul.  But for the earliest Christians, the afterlife involved the resurrection precisely of the *body*.  How did that change, and why?

I discussed this issue some years back in my book Jesus Interrupted, and what ...

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Possibilities for the Afterlife

IN MY BIBLE INTRODUCTION, I INTRODUCE STUDENTS TO SOME OF THE OPTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE AFTERLIFE, IN VIEW OF PAUL’S INSISTENCE IN 1 CORINTHIANS THAT THE FUTURE WILL INVOLVE A PHYSICAL RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD FOR ETERNAL LIFE – A VIEW NOT SHARED BY MANY OF HIS READERS, BOTH THEN AND NOW!

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Some interpreters have thought that Paul and his Corinthian opponents disagreed about the resurrection because they had fundamentally different understandings about the nature of human existence, both now ...

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