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How Old Was Jesus at His Baptism, Start of His Ministry & Death?

You've probably seen the popular inspirational quote that goes something like this, "Jesus didn't start his ministry until he was 30 years old, and yet he changed the world." I guess this is supposed to encourage people in their teens and twenties that haven't accomplished much in their life.  (As if comparing their potential future to the accomplishments of the supposed "son of God" is supposed to make them feel better!  Ha!) It also illustrates a common assumption (or perhaps misconception), that Jesus was 30 years old when he began his ministry. Is that a fact?  If so, where does the Bible say so? Do we also know how old was Jesus was when he was baptized or when he died? How Old Was Jesus When He Died? This is not a slam dunk answer. In fact, I ask all my students at Chapel Hill this question (many of whom answer incorrectly) on their first-day quiz. Almost everyone who thinks about the matter thinks that Jesus was 33 years old when he died.  But the [...]

2020-04-03T01:56:53-04:00October 11th, 2017|Historical Jesus, Public Forum, Reflections and Ruminations|

The Gospels are Finally Named! Irenaeus of Lyons.

In the previous post we saw that the Gospels almost certainly circulated anonymously at first, just as they were composed anonymously.  It is an interesting question why the authors all chose to remain anonymous instead of indicating who they were.  I have a theory about that, and I may post on it eventually when I get through a bit more of this thread on why the Gospels ended up with the names they did.  At this stage, what we can say with certainty is that the Gospels are quoted in the early and mid-second centuries by proto-orthodox Christian authors, who never identify them as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. That is especially significant when we come to Justin around 150-60 CE, who explicitly quotes these books as “Memoirs of the Apostles,” but does not tell us which apostles they are to be associated with.   This is in Rome, the capital of the Empire, and the seat of what was probably the largest, and certainly the most influential, church at the time. Some thirty years after [...]

2020-04-03T14:20:54-04:00November 18th, 2014|Canonical Gospels, History of Christianity (100-300CE)|

Jesus Sweating Blood: Transcriptional Probabilities

I’ve been discussing the kinds of evidence that textual critics appeal to in order to make a decision concerning what an author originally wrote, when there are two or more different forms of the text – that is, where a verse or passage is worded in different ways in different manuscripts.  And I have been using the passage found (only) in (some manuscripts of) Luke of Jesus’ bloody sweat as an example.  Yesterday I discussed one kind of “internal” evidence.    Remember: external evidence deals with figuring out which manuscripts have which reading: how many manuscripts (not so important), age of the manuscripts, geographical distribution of the manuscripts, and (something I didn’t discuss) quality of the manuscripts.   And recall that internal evidence is of two kinds, the first of which is “intrinsic probabilities,” which seeks to establish which form of the text is more likely to have been written by the author himself. The second kind of internal evidence is a kind of flip side of the coin, and it’s called “transcriptional probabilities.”   With arguments/evidence of [...]

2020-04-03T16:29:24-04:00October 17th, 2014|Canonical Gospels, New Testament Manuscripts|
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