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Daniel and a New Doctrine of Resurrection from the Dead

Biblical scholars have long held that the first relatively clear and certain reference to a doctrine of “the resurrection of the dead” occurs in Daniel 12.   This is striking, since Daniel was almost certainly the final book of the Hebrew Bible to be written.  Because of the barely disguised allusions to Antiochus Epiphanes in the second half of the book, it is almost always dated to roughly the Maccabean period, in the 160s BCE. As I have indicated, in the prophets there were earlier references to some kind of national “resurrection” – as in Ezekiel 37 (and probably, for example, Isaiah 26:19) – in which the nation that had been metaphorically wasted away, killed, destroyed, would revive and once again come to life.   But the prophets – from Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, to the twelve so-called “minor” prophets – all shared the older Israelite view about what happens to a person who dies.  She or he goes to Sheol, along with everyone else, to exist forever in a shadowy netherworld where nothing much happens – [...]

Charges and Anti-Supernatural Biases! Readers Mailbag August 6, 2017

I will be dealing with two interesting questions in this weeks’ Readers Mailbag, one involving a criticism of my work by the well-known New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, who apparently challenges me (publicly) for taking a position that, in fact, I have never taken, and the other about whether it is pure anti-supernatural bias to think that prophets like Daniel did not predict the future. - N. T. Wright is the author of several books, including Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense and The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion.   QUESTION: I saw a Youtube clip with Dr N T Wright giving a short talk on Gnosticism, where he mentioned Elaine Pagels’ and your names, stating:  “…scholars like Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, several others, have said quite stridently: this [Gnosticism] was the real early Christianity; and Mathew, Mark, Luke and John tried to cover it up, muddle it up, and they told this very Jewish story about things going on on earth, and with, um, sacraments and all of [...]

The First Apocalypse: The Book of Daniel

I have been arguing that to understand the radically new view of the afterlife that emerged in ancient Judea in the horrible years leading up to the Maccabean revolt, it is important to know something about a new genre or literature that began to be produced at the time, the apocalypse.  The first surviving writing of this kind is in the book of Daniel.  Here is what I say about Daniel as an apocalypse in my book The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction. *************************************************************** Daniel as an Apocalypse Daniel provides the earliest full-blown apocalypse that we have from Jewish antiquity.  There are other passages in the Hebrew Bible that scholars have suggested embody clear – or reasonably clear – apocalyptic perspectives.  In every case, these are passages that appear to have been added at a later time on to a writing that was already in existence.  This is the case, for example, with Isaiah 24-27, known as the “little apocalypse” of Isaiah, not written by Isaiah of Jerusalem in the 8th century BCE, but [...]

Bart Ehrman discusses the Apocalypticist

This is a very strange video!  One of the strangest I've ever been in.  To begin with, the title doesn't make any sense (I'm not sure who called it this).  The word "apocalypticist" means "a person who holds to an apocalyptic world view."  So who or what is "The apocalypticist"?  I've never heard someone being given that title ("THE" apocalypticist; as if there were just one??).  Maybe it means Jesus the Apocalypticist?  Maybe, but that's not really what the clip is mainly about.  It's about the ancient world view of apocalypticism.  It starts with a movie with Richard Harris, moves to an interview with me about what the term "apocalypse" means, goes (briefly) to the question of whether Jesus was an apocalypticist; and ends with Harold Camping, this fellow who claimed the end of the world was coming on May 21, 2011.  It's a very odd clip.  But here it is! (NOTE: This particular post is open to everyone.  Most posts on this blog are for MEMBERS ONLY.  Think about joining.  You get tons of [...]

Apocalypticism and Apocalypses

In the just finished thread I discussed the number of the Beast, 666, in the context of the book of Revelation and its broader symbolism.  In response, several readers asked me to say some more about Revelation (which by the ways does NOT have an “s” on the end!!  That’s one of my pet pieves.  It’s not the book of Revelations but the book of Revelation).  So I think I’ll do two or three posts on it.  It is the one book my students are *most* interested in.  The book is so weird, so unlike anything they’ve ever seen, that they assume that it can only have come about by  divine revelation, and that it is in fact predicting something that is to happen in our near future. I’m afraid that I end up disappointing my students by my understanding of the book.   I don’t think it is a blue-print for what is to transpire in the early 21st century.  It is a book written in its own day, and for its own audience, to [...]

By |2020-04-03T14:00:04-04:00February 20th, 2015|Early Judaism, Revelation of John|23 Comments
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