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Early Christology: How I Changed My Mind

It seems like every time I write a book, based on the research I do I change my mind about one thing or another that I've thought for a long time.  Some people (including some fellow scholars) think that's a weakness or a problem.   I think of it as one of my charming personality traits.  :-) OK, seriously, I think more scholars ought to be willing to change their minds -- instead of being intransigent and thinking they are always right.  If intense research gives you new and different insights, that's a *good* thing, not a problem. I think about this a lot every time I'm in the midst of doing research for a book (such as now) (well, OK, such as almost always), and just now I was looking through old blog posts , and I ran across one (almost exactly five years ago today!) where I talk about a big change of mind involving the early understandings of Jesus as a divine being, in connection with the book I eventually published, How Jesus [...]

Reasonable Doubts – How Jesus Became God

I have not posted any audio (or video!) appearances for a while.  Here's one from a few years ago.   On July 25, 2014, I was interviewed by Jeremy Beahan and Justin Schieber  for their podcast called "Reasonable Doubts" on my book "How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee."   The issue of the book is how Jesus, an apocalyptic prophet from Galilee, came to be regarded as a God by his followers. Reasonable Doubts was a production of WPRR Reality Radio (Grand Rapids, MI) and was the winner of the 2009 Peoples Choice Award for Best Religious/Inspirational Podcast. Please adjust gear icon for 1080pp High-Definition:   If you don't belong to the blog yet, why not join?  It won't cost much, you get mega-tons for your money, and every dime goes to charity.  

2018-01-12T12:07:15-05:00October 6th, 2017|Book Discussions, Public Forum, Video Media|

Lecture at Fresno City College

Here is a video of a discussion that I had on my book "How Jesus Became God" at Fresno City College, with Professor of Philosophy Wendell Stephenson, on February 18, 2016 at 7:00p.m. After our back and forth the floor was opened opened to Q&A from the audience. News release about event: Please adjust gear icon for high-definition.   IF YOU DON'T BELONG YET to the blog, JOIN!!!  It doesn't cost much, and you get unbelievable bang for your buck!  And every buck goes to charities helping the needy.  So join!!!

2017-09-25T21:39:01-04:00December 13th, 2016|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, Public Forum, Video Media|

Where Did the Trinity Come From? Video Lecture.

Here is the third of my three talks that I gave last year at Coral Gables Congregational Church in (suprise) Coral Gables, Florida, on my book, "How Jesus Became God."   This lecture deals with one of the most important questions in Christian thinking:  where did the idea and doctrine of the Trinity come from?  Good question!  I try to answer it in this video.  Enjoy! Please adjust gear icon for 1080p High-Definition. How Jesus Became God -UCC Part 3 of 3: If you don't belong to the blog yet, JOIN!!  You get good stuff like this ALL THE TIME, for very little cost.  And all proceeds go to fight hunger and homelessness.  So join!

Video of How Jesus Became God: Part 2 (of 3)

On January 29-31, 2016, I gave three talks at Coral Gables Congregational Church in (surprise) Coral Gables, Florida, all on my book, "How Jesus Became God."   I posted the first of the talks last week.  Here now is the second. Please adjust gear icon for 1080p High-Definition. How Jesus Became God -UCC Part 2 of 3:   If you don’t belong yet to the blog, JOIN!  You will get lots of posts (5-6 a week), videos, and comments.  Tons of stuff, for very little money.  And all proceeds go to fight hunger and homelessness.

2017-10-23T22:52:56-04:00August 19th, 2016|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, Public Forum, Video Media|

Video of How Jesus Became God, Part 1 (of 3)

On January 29-31, 2016, I gave three talks at Coral Gables Congregational Church in (surprise) Coral Gables, Florida, on my book, "How Jesus Became God."  I will post all three talks periodically here on teh blog.  Here's the first!  Rev. Megan Smith opened each session for me. Please adjust gear icon for 1080p High-Definition. How Jesus Became God -UCC Part 1 of 3: If you’re not a member of the blog, JOIN!  It doesn’t cost much and you get lots of stuff!  And all the money goes to good causes, other than to line my pockets!

2017-10-23T22:54:50-04:00August 12th, 2016|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, Public Forum, Video Media|

What the Resurrection of Jesus MEANT

In my previous post I indicated that I was a bit disappointed at my public debate with Michael Bird at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary that he did not propose an alternative solution to “How Jesus Became God,” some other sense of how it happened different from the one I proposed.  If he disagrees with my scenario, what scenario does he himself imagine?  I’m not sure. Part of the problem is that he himself said during the debate that Jesus did not go around during his public ministry saying something like “Hello – I’m God, the Second Member of the Trinity.”  That’s exactly right, he certainly didn’t.  But later Christians were saying that about him. So how do we get from point A to point B? I don’t see any viable alternative to the one I mapped out (I’ll point out in a second where Michael does disagree with it, even if he doesn’t propose an option).   It is clear as day from Mark’s Gospel that... The Rest of this Post is for MEMBERS ONLY. [...]

2020-04-06T12:53:51-04:00February 24th, 2016|Bart's Debates, Book Discussions, Public Forum|

My Debate with Michael Bird Feb. 12 , 2016

As many of you know, this past weekend (February 12-13, 2016) I met with Australian New Testament scholar Michael F. Bird at the 2016 Greer-Heard Point Counter Point Forum on for a two part debate. The event was held at the Leavell College Chapel at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. A question and answer session followed the debate. The subject of the debate was focused on my book. How Jesus Became God. Michael was the editor of the "response" book, produced by a group of evangelical scholars, called How God Became Jesus. Michael F. Bird, BMin, BA (Hons), PhD taught New Testament at the Highland Theological College in Scotland (2005-9) before joining Crossway College in Brisbane as lecturer in Theology (2010-12). He joined the faculty at Ridley as lecturer in Theology in 2013. As an industrious researcher, Michael has written and edited over twenty books in the fields of Septuagint, Historical Jesus, Gospels, St. Paul, Biblical Theology, and Systematic Theology. Michael Bird’s most popular books are The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, [...]

2020-04-06T12:50:33-04:00February 20th, 2016|Bart's Debates, Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, Video Media|

My Debate This Past Weekend

I just returned yesterday from a two-day event in New Orleans involving a public debate with an Australian New Testament scholar named Michael Bird, who is the author of The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians, and Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message.  To explain the situation, I need to give some background.   As most readers on the blog know, a couple of years ago I published my book How Jesus Became God.  This was my attempt to show how it is that the man Jesus, an apocalyptic preacher from a remote area of rural Galilee, came to be considered the second member of the Trinity, God the creator, who had always existed, who was fully equal with the God of the universe, who was in fact of the same “essence” as him.  How’d that happen exactly? Also as many of you know, a group of evangelical scholars learned I was writing the book, and decided, even before they had seen it [...]

2020-06-03T15:55:04-04:00February 15th, 2016|Bart's Debates, Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, Public Forum|

Drew Marshall Show – How Jesus Became God

On May 17th, 2014 I appeared on The Drew Marshall Show with Professor Natalie Evans from University of Waterloo.. The broadcast was recorded  from the studio of CJYE based in Oakville, Ontario Canada. Drew Marshall begins the show by discussing my spiritual journey initially and then focusing on his latest book "How Jesus Became God." Please adjust gear icon for high-definition.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements 2016

  A couple of people have asked me about my upcoming speaking schedule, so I thought I would post it here.   I have broken it down into two separate lists.  The first are my book readings to promote Jesus Before the Gospels, the book being published on March 1.   Most authors no longer do big book tours, since they rarely generate much by way of sales; and most authors are oh so glad not to be doing these any more (they sound glamorous, but they oh-so-are-not).   So my book readings involve just the local Independent book shops.  But if you’re in the area, come to one of them.  I think they’re great fun.  Here they are.   Tues, March 1 @ 7 pm Quail Ridge Books and Music (Raleigh) – Wed, March 2 @ 7 pm Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill) – Tues, March 8 @ 7 pm Regulator Bookshop (Durham) – Wed, March 9 @ 3 pm Bull’s Head Bookshop at UNC (Chapel Hill) – Sat, March 12 @ 11 am McIntyre’s Books (Pittsboro) – [...]

2017-11-16T21:24:49-05:00February 11th, 2016|Book Discussions, Public Forum|

Upcoming Debate!

This coming weekend, Feb. 12-13, I will be holding a debate at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on the topic "How Did Jesus Become God?"   They are calling it a "Dialogue," but that's just because they're being nice.  It's actually a great group of people, even though, as you might imagine, we agree on very little when it comes to matters of faith.   My worthy opponent is Michael Bird. You may have heard of him. He is the author of The New Testament in Its World, and Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message, among other books.  Back when I published How Jesus Became God, he was the one who edited the response book that came out the same day, How God Became Jesus.  He wrote one of the articles in the book.  We will both be staking out our claims on Friday night.  The next day are papers delivered by scholars we have hand-chosen for the event, two each: mine are my good friends Jennifer Knust (Boston University) and Dale Martin [...]

Did Some Disciples Not Believe in the Resurrection?

In my previous post I pointed out that we simply don’t know how many of Jesus’ disciples came to believe that he was raised from the dead.  In my view there is actually some *evidence* that some of them never did believe it.  I lay the evidence out in my book How Jesus Became God.  It has to do with the fact that there is such a strong tradition of “doubt” in the resurrection among Jesus’ followers.  Here is how I lay out the evidence there. *************************************************************** In considering the significance of the visions of Jesus, a key question immediately comes to the fore that in my judgment has not been given its full due by most scholars investigating the issue.   Why do we have such a strong and pervasive tradition that some of the disciples doubted the resurrection, even though Jesus appeared to them?  If Jesus came to them, alive, after his death, and held conversations with them  – what was there to doubt? The reason this question is so pressing is because, as [...]

Ehrman-Bass Debate Did the Historical Jesus Claim to be Divine

On September 18th, 2015 I had a debate with Justin Bass on the question "Did the Historical Jesus Really Claim to Be God?"  As you might imagine, I argued that the answer is "Decidedly No."  He argued "Decidedly Yes."  The debate was held at the Collin College Preston Ridge Conference Center  in Frisco, TX.  The event was hosted by "1042 Church" where Justin Bass is the lead pastor. Most of the audience came from members of Justin's congregation and friends they brought.  It was a very kind and receptive crowd for most of the debate.  During the debate I had mixed feelings about it.  I'm never quite sure if this kind of thing is worth it, since it seems that there is scarcely any chance of getting anyone to think seriously about changing whatever views they already have.  But I keep telling myself that if I can simply get a couple of people to think more deeply about an issue, see the other side, and possibly realize that their views are deeply problematic, I've done [...]

2017-11-16T21:57:03-05:00December 12th, 2015|Bart's Critics, Historical Jesus, Public Forum, Video Media|

Some Flak (Already!) Over My New Book

This week there was a brief but rather fervid flurry of posts on a Facebook discussion page I belong to over the announcement of my new book, due out March 1.  The reason it was brief is that after about twenty or twenty-five rather intense (and some of them rather insulting) posts, the moderator of the list took down the whole discussion.  And he was right to do so.  The comments had nothing to do with the purpose of the page. The page is a very useful site for discussing issues related to “New Testament Textual Criticism.”  That, as most of the readers of this blog will know, is the technical field of study that tries to determine what the original text of the New Testament was based on the fact that we do not have any originals, but only copies made by later scribes, all of which have mistakes in them.  The page is devoted, then, to Greek manuscripts and closely related topics. And what does my upcoming book have to do with any [...]

2017-11-27T20:20:52-05:00October 18th, 2015|Book Discussions|

Christ’s Self-Ignorance

As chance would have it, I was asked virtually the same question within about fifteen minutes of one another, a couple of days ago.   Here is the question, in both its iterations:   QUESTION ONE:  I have a question with regard to your statement that you are not “trying to argue that Jesus is not God.” If the message of the book is that the concept of the “divinity of Jesus” was not clearly stated by Jesus and, instead, slowly evolved after His death, then doesn’t this imply that this concept of the “divinity of Jesus” is a human invention and, therefore, Jesus is not really God? ANOTHER QUESTION ONE:  I confess I don’t see how something can be theologically “true” and yet not be historically true. If Jesus did not claim to be God and his immediate disciples did not believe he was God in what sense can he be God now? If they don’t discipline their speculations with recourse to history how can theologians claim to be making truth statements of any kind? [...]

2020-04-03T13:19:56-04:00September 8th, 2015|Historical Jesus, Reader’s Questions|

How Jesus Became God on Humanist Hour

OK, here is something different to break up all the discussion of textual criticism. On May 14th, 2014, I was interviewed by Bo Bennett on the hour long program called The Humanist Hour.  This is a one-hour talk show produced by the American Humanist Association (see : ).  In the interview we discuss my personal background as a believer, some fundamentals of the Bible from a historical perspective, and some comments related to my book, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. + + + + + + + + + + + + + Please adjust gear icon for 720p High-Definition:

2017-11-27T20:43:09-05:00September 5th, 2015|Book Discussions, Public Forum, Video Media|

Authors Who “Just Want to Sell Books”

Sometimes I hear someone criticize me, or another author, by saying “he just wants to sell books.”     That has always struck me as a very strange thing to say.   Of course I want to sell books.  Why else would I write books?   Would I want to write books so no one would read them?  Has there ever been an author on the face of the planet who wanted to write a book that would not be read? What people actually *mean*by that comment, of course, is far more sinister, snide, and offensive.   What they mean is: “he will say anything in a book in order to get people to buy it.”  There may indeed be authors for whom this is true.   I can’t speak for them, only for myself.   And for myself, this is one charge that I really bristle at. Almost no one of course comes out and actually makes the charge directly.  But it must be what they mean, since, as I just pointed out, no one actually faults someone for writing a [...]

2020-04-03T13:41:57-04:00May 20th, 2015|Bart's Critics, Book Discussions|

How I’m Writing This Book

I have been asked about how I am actually writing my book just now.   Here are some reflections. One of the things you figure out pretty quickly when writing a book is that it never goes as planned.   Things (usually) take longer than you thought they would; or they (rarely) go faster.  For most authors, the structure of the book changes as they start writing it, and they realize that they really have to say more about this and they really probably should say less about that.   They realize that, contrary to what they thought, they need to devote an entire chapter to something that they had planned to cover in a few paragraphs.   Key (verbal) illustrations that they planned to use don’t actually work that well.  And they come up with new ideas in the process of writing. Different authors have remarkably different approaches to writing.   My wife Sarah and I are about as different as they come.  In large measure, I think, that’s because our brains work so differently. Sarah is drop-dead brilliant.   [...]

Sketch of My Memory Book

Please read to the end of this post if you want to learn about a highly unusual opportunity. I started writing my book on memory and the oral traditions about Jesus this week.   My plan was to have an intense week at it.    I’m teaching my regular two classes this term: a three-hour PhD seminar on the use of literary forgery in the early Christian tradition, and an undergraduate lecture course, Introduction to the New Testament.  So I had to do those this week as well, in addition to departmental meetings and meetings with grad students, and so on.   But even so, I planned to write the book every free minute I had, and I did.   I started Tuesday morning and by yesterday afternoon I had three of the six major chapters written.   I celebrated with a very big cigar, and am taking today more or less off! Here I would like to say a few words about what the book is and what it will cover.   The tentative title I have for it is [...]

2017-12-09T08:40:20-05:00April 4th, 2015|Book Discussions, Memory Studies|
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