Aslan’s Zealot: To Start With…

I have promised for some time to make some comments on Reza Aslan’s bestselling reconstruction of the historical Jesus: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. And now the time is come. As I’ve indicated in my earlier posts, I had my first-year students in my seminar “Jesus in Scholarship and Film” read the book and make an evaluation of it. Most of the students thought very highly of it. In particular they thought ...

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Video: Ehrman & Evans 2012 Debate – Part 2

Ehrman-Evans-2012-debate

A couple of weeks ago I posted a debate that I had with Craig Evans, an evangelical Christian New Testament scholar.   That debate was held at Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia.   The next night we had a second debate — on the same topic (!) but in a different location, at Acadia University, where Craig currently teaches in the Acadia Divinity College.   The topic, ...

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Is History Possible?

One other section that I attended at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Baltimore was devoted to the field of social memory and the historical Jesus. This was a very interesting panel, of four papers, devoted to what we can say about the recollections of Jesus found in the Gospels, based on what psychologists now tell us about memory, and what historians familiar with this psychological work are saying about how the past can be remembered. I found one ...

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Errant Texts and Historians

QUESTION:

In your debates with James White and Dan Wallace, you argued that we cannot know what the original autographs of the NT said because we don’t have the originals. In your debate with James White, you even commented that the 2nd or 3rd copier of the text of Mark could have radically altered the text so that the way it came down to us is radically different than the autographs. You’ve argued that this is the case even for classical ...

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Jesus and Brian!!!

I am pleased to be able to announce that a conference will be held this summer that looks to be outrageously fun and interesting.   It will be at King’s College, London.   And it will be on the Life of Brian and the Historical Jesus.   I have been asked to give one of the papers, and how could I refuse!   I’m going to have to cut short a family vacation in France, but there’s no way I’m ...

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Is The NT Portrayal of Jesus Accurate? Debate With Craig Evans

This video is of a debate that I participated in nearly two years ago in Nova Scotia with Dr. Craig Evans, a very well-known and widely published scholar of the New Testament who is also a conservative  evangelical Christian (not “ultra-conservative,” and nowhere near a fundamentalist – but still conservative).  He is the author of Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence and Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. This was ...

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Why Historians Can Talk “About” the Resurrection

In this final post (for now) on the historian and miracles, I want to emphasize one point that I raise of my own volition, and answer one question that has been asked by a reader.

First, a point to emphasize (I borrow this from my forthcoming book on How Jesus Became God), on whether my stand on miracles just means that I’m a crazy secularist….

The reason that historians cannot prove or disprove whether God has performed a ...

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Historians and the Problem of Miracle

Yesterday I started to talk about why historians cannot demonstrate that a miracle such as the resurrection happened because doing so requires a set of presuppositions that are not generally shared by historians doing their work. Over the years I’ve thought a lot about this question, and have tried to explain on several occasions why a “miracle” can never be shown, on historical grounds, to have happened — even if it did. Here is a slightly different way of approaching ...

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History is Not the Past

Yesterday I started to answer a question from a reader who pointed out that just as the existence of Jesus is multiply attested, so too is Jesus’ resurrection. And so if *one* is established as historical, doesn’t the other one *also* have to be seen as historical? And if one is considered non-historical, doesn’t that show that the other is probably also non-historical?

These are great questions, but I think the answer to both of them is “no.” Yesterday I showed ...

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Multiple Attestation for Jesus

I had an interesting email from a reader the other day, in which he pointed out that the “multiple attestation” for the existence of Jesus is virtually matched by the “multiple attestation” for the resurrection of Jesus. At first I thought his point was the Christian apologetic one, that therefore since the resurrection is just as well (not quite, but still pretty well) attested as the very existence of Jesus, doesn’t that show that Jesus was probably raised from the ...

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