The Virgin Birth and the Gospel of John: A Blast from the Past

As I’ve indicated on the Blog before, I tend to go to a Christmas Eve Midnight service with my wife Sarah (usually my one time in church during the year), and this year was no exception.  We were in Suffolk, England, in the town of Woodbridge, and attended the Anglican church there for a very nice service.  The Gospel reading was from John (1:1-14), a standard reading.  But I wondered whether anyone in the congregation realized that this passage in ...

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Christmas Reflection 2017

More than any other time, event, or celebration, Christmas, for me, shows that you can take the boy out of Christianity but you can’t take Christianity out of the boy.  As much as I am a completely secular-humanist/agnostic/atheist (pick your term), I am still hopelessly attracted to Christmas and what it stands for.

As I said in the previous post, it is not that I “believe” in the Christmas story (stories) as a historical event (events).  In my judgment the biblical ...

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Is the Christmas Story a Myth?

Is the whole Christian story a myth?   It probably depends on what you mean by myth.

For a very long time now, scholars of religion have had hard and protracted debates on what the term “myth” means, or should mean.  I won’t be going into any of that here.  Instead I’ll begin by talking about two teaching experiences, one negative and one positive.

Negative experience: my first teaching job was at Rutgers University, where I was asked to fill in for a ...

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What Did the Angels Tell the Shepherds? It Depends. Mailbag Sept. 10, 2017

I will be dealing with an interesting question in this week’ Readers’ Mailbag, having to do with the translation of the New Testament from Greek into English.  It involves a problem with a familiar verse (recited every Christmas!) that has a textual problem: different manuscripts have different readings – involving a single letter! – that affect the translation.

 

QUESTION:

A lot of different hymns and liturgies and suchlike make reference to or paraphrase the Gloria, which in turn is based on Luke ...

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Finding Meaning in the Bible: More Responses to my Christmas Article

In the previous post I indicated some of the initial reactions, four years ago, to my Newsweek article on the Gospel stories about Christmas.  I received yet more reaction after that old post, and so posted again, dealing this time with people who thought I was too kindly disposed to anyone who found the stories meaningful.  Here is what I said at the time.  (I still stick by it, for what it’s worth!)

 

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When the editor at Newsweek ask ...

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Response to my Newsweek Article on Christmas

Earlier this week I posted my Newsweek article on Christmas from four years ago, and several people have asked me what kind of reaction I received.  I made two posts about that at the time.  Here’s the first.  I find this post rather humorous now, years later, since I was obviously being wildly defensive (halfway through the response) before denying I was defensive at all (at the end)!  What funny people we can be….

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My Newsweek article this week ...

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Looking Ahead to Christmas: A Blast from the Past

With the passing of Thanksgiving, Christmas season has now officially arrived (whether that brings you joy, despair, or indifference!).   Here is a post that I made exactly four years, prompted in part by my decision to publish an edition of “other” Gospels (that did not make it into the New Testament, including some that deal with the birth of Jesus.

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Right now I have the “other” Gospels on my mind.   It’s true, I often have them on my mind, since they ...

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A Christmas Reflection

Yesterday I posted an article that I wrote that provided one view of Christmas, one that is informed more by my scholarship than anything else.  But Christmas is about a LOT more than scholarship!  I have a personal sentimental attachment to the season, as I explain in this other article I wrote some ten years ago, and that I posted early on in the history of the blog.  Here it is again, a more upbeat assessment of the season:

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The Myth of the First Christmas

Over the years I’ve been asked to write short articles on the meaning of Christmas for various news magazines.  Looking back at some of these articles makes me realize how many different views of the season seem to be competing with each other inside my head.  Or maybe I’ve just been in different moods!

I thought I would reproduce a couple of these articles on the blog.  The following is one I wrote a few years ago for the British journal ...

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The Giving Season

 

The season of giving has come upon us!   I have to admit, even though I am not a Christian, I absolutely love the Christmas season.   I know there are a lot of things wrong with Christianity, just as there are with every religion.   The harm, the evil, done in the name of Christ is enough to make my skin crawl.  But at the same time, there is a lot of good, and I see no reason to deny it.   At ...

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