Q & A about Jesus Before the Gospels: Part 2

I have started to post the Q&A that I have done for my publisher (HarperOne) on my new book (due out one month from today! March 1, 2016), Jesus Before the Gospels. I’m really excited about its release. In many ways it is very different from anything I’ve published before, even though it is dealing with the reliability of the Gospels.

Here is the second of three installments of the questions and answers.

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1. In the book, you look at anthropological studies ...

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9

Help! My Views of Memory

I am thinking about ending my book with a kind of Paean to Memory.   I expect that some people will find it a bit  controversial or even off-putting.  Or maybe not!   Here is what a draft of the kind of thing I’m thinking about saying.  Let me know what you think.  (It’s longer than my typical post.)

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Like most authors, I get a lot of email from people who have read my books.   I find one of ...

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My Memory Book: False Memories and the Life of Jesus

As I indicated in my previous two posts, the fifth chapter of the book I’m now writing, Jesus Before The Gospels, deals with “False Memories and the Life of Jesus.”  The first part of the chapter shows what we know about how traditions are kept alive in oral cultures, as they are told and retold, either by professionals who are experts or by regular ole folk who are not.   And so this part of the chapter summarizes the ...

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My Memory Book, Chapter 4 Again: The Death of Jesus

I am in the midst of a thread summarizing my current book project, Jesus Before the Gospels, which I am writing now, even as we speak.   The book will have six major chapters and a short conclusion.   Yesterday I finished drafting chapter 5, and hope to polish off the final two chapters next week, before revising it and sending it out to readers for comments.

In my previous posts I said some things about chapter 4, “False Memories and ...

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What Is A Memory?

A number of readers on the blog have objected to my understanding of memory, specifically to what a memory is, that is, to what constitutes a memory.  As a rule, these readers have argued – some with considerable force and conviction! – that a “memory” is a mental recollection of something that one has personally experienced.

Let me cite one of the more closely reasoned expressions of this alternative view by one of my respondents, before explaining my view ...

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My Memory Book, Ch. 4a

Chapter four of my book, tentatively entitled “False Memories and the Death of Jesus,” is where I address head-on the psychology of memory.   My principal interest, at the end of the day, involves the problems of memory, of how memories for things we experience or hear about can be frail, faulty, and even false.   That’s not to deny that most of the time our memories are pretty decent.   If they weren’t we wouldn’t be able to function, either ...

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Remembering Lincoln

I thought I would take a post to give you a taste of one of my early chapters in my book on Memory.  It is in very rough draft, so don’t expect much.   But this passage deals with the topic of my last post, “collective” memory.   Here I use the example of how we remember, or misremember, the life and views of Abraham Lincoln.

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In 2014 a poll was taken of 162 members of the American Political Science Association, asking them ...

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My Original Interest in Memory

When I decided no longer to do a commentary on the Gospel of Peter and other early Greek Gospel fragments it was not only because I realized that I was not up for two or three years of that particular kind of laborious detailed work.  It was also because there was another area of research that I was really, really interested in but that I knew very little about.  That was the study of memory.

I was interested in memory for ...

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Why I Shifted My Research Plans

In my last post I started explaining how I came to work on issues of memory.   My plan had been something else, to write a detailed commentary on the Gospel of Peter and other early Greek Gospel fragments.   I had  been committed to do this for years, with a book contract with Fortress Press for their commentary series that is called Hermeneia.

Just by way of background:  when I was just out of graduate school, I vowed to myself ...

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Trade Books and Scholarly Books

I indicated in my previous post that I would say a few things about each of the books that I am planning – today at least – to try to write over the next ten years or so.   The very next book will be trade book on Jesus Before the Gospels, a study of what happened to the stories about Jesus as they were altered, and invented, by Christians circulating them word of mouth before the writing of ...

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