Did Jesus Mean that Literally? Rewards and Punishments in the Afterlife

I return now to my thread dealing with the teachings about the afterlife in the New Testament.  One question that can naturally be asked is whether what is said about the afterlife in this, that, or the other passage is meant to be taken literally.    For example, I have discussed the famous passage of the “Sheep and the Goats” in Matthew 25, where the Son of Man at the end of history sits on his throne and divides the nations ...

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The Sheep and the Goats

Jesus’ teaching about the “separation of the sheep and the goats” is found in only one place in the New Testament, Matthew 25:31-46.  It is easily one of my favorite passages of the entire Bible, and as I have pointed out, in my view, it is a teaching of Jesus himself (not something put on his lips by Matthew or by Matthew’s source, M, or by an early Christian story-teller).  I think in fact, it well encapsulates Jesus’ entire proclamation.  ...

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Jesus, the Sheep, and the Goats

I have been talking about the criterion of dissimilarity for one ultimate reason: wanted to show why, in my opinion, a particular passage in Matthew’s Gospel goes back to the historical Jesus, the man himself.  I.e., it does not involve words put on his lips by later followers, but is something he himself actually said.  If you’re a little fuzzy on how the criterion of dissimilarity works, please read the preceding two posts.

The following has been taken from my undergraduate ...

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Jesus, the Law, and a “New” Covenant Lecture

On October 6, 2016 I gave a lecture at the University of Michigan on “Jesus, the Law, and the New Covenant.  This was keynote address for the Mendenhall Symposium, in honor of the eminent scholar of the Hebrew Bible, George Mendenhall.  The symposium focused on issues on the law and covenant in the the Ancient Near East, the Hebrew Bible, and second-temple Judaism, with prominent scholars in these fields presenting papers on key aspects of the subject.

Here is the video ...

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Jesus, The Law, and the New Covenant

This past week I gave a lecture at the University of Michigan called “Jesus, the Law, and the New Covenant.”  The occasion was a symposium in honor of the life and work of Old Testament scholar George Mendenhall.  I never knew Mendenhall.  He was a highly prominent figure in the field of Hebrew Bible in the middle of the 20th century, known especially for his work on the significance of “covenant” for understanding both the Hebrew Bible and the history ...

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Jesus and Paul on Heaven and Hell

A couple of days ago I indicated on the blog that I am thinking about devoting my next book to the “Invention of the Afterlife” – that is, to the question of where the Christian doctrines of heaven and hell came come.  I asked for comments (and I still welcome them) from people about what they would be interested in seeing in a book like that.  Many, many thanks to everyone who has (so far!) responded to my request!

As some ...

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Jesus’ Death; Good Scholars; and Writing the First Book: Readers’ Mailbag May 28, 2016

I have three rather wide ranging questions to deal with in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag: one on the understanding of Christ’s death as a sacrifice (or not); one on whom I like to read among NT scholars; and one on how to publish a scholarly book.

This should be fun!  If you have a question you’d like me to address, simply ask it in any comment on any post (whether it’s relevant to the post or not).

 

QUESTION:

Would you agree with the ...

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Do Paul and Jesus Represent Fundamentally Different Religions?

I’m in the middle of a thread on the class debates that I assign for my Introduction to the New Testament.   This started by my remarking on the debate I did with myself in front of the class, on whether the book of Acts is historically reliable; I haven’t yet gotten to what it is I argued (both affirmative and negative), but will do so!  First I need to set the broader context.

As I’ve indicated, every student is required to ...

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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 ...

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Weekly Readers’ Mailbag: January 30, 2016

In this installment of the Weekly Readers’ Mailbag, I’ll address two questions, one about the Jewishness of Jesus the other about my personal (bad) experience with editors.  If you have a question, either send it via a comment here or zap me an email.

 

QUESTION:

What is it in the NT portrayal of Jesus that tends to obscure the centrality of his Jewishness?

 

RESPONSE:

The person who asked this question mentioned the fact that it is only in fairly recent times, since the second ...

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