Eyewitnesses and the Gospels: A Blast From the Past

Five years ago today I received and answered this question on the blog.  I thought it would make a nice break from my current discussion of my change of faith, a topic to which I’ll return tomorrow.  For now, here’s a blast from the past.

 

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QUESTION

One of the major points of your work (if I understand correctly) is that the contents of the New Testament are at a vast remove in time, place, and source from any ...

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Metzger and the Squirrel Part 2: Another Blast from the Past

I’ve decided that I can’t do just one Blast from the Past this week, since the one I chose was a two-part post, and I can’t leave anyone hanging.  Here is the all important (and in some ways more interesting) part two of my Metzger and the squirrel story, from exactly four years ago.

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As I indicated on my previous post, for years friends of mine were eager for me to find out whether the story about Metzger and the squirrel ...

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Bruce Metzger and the Squirrel: A Blast from the Past

A Blast From the Past: four years ago I posted the following, an amusing anecdate about my mentor in graduate school (and beyond) the illustrious New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger.

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As with all great men, Metzger was widely talked about among those who knew and revered him. There were lots of stories told about Metzger at Princeton Seminary. Someone should probably collect and publish them. I was especially interested in the stories, since I came to Princeton in order to study ...

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On the Accuracy of Oral Traditions

I have announced on the blog that my new book, Jesus Before the Gospels, will be available March 1.  The book is about how the stories of Jesus were passed along by word of mouth for several decades before being written, and about how modern studies of both memory and oral cultures can help us understand what probably happened to the traditions as they circulated orally from one person to another over all those years.

In reaction to a previous post ...

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What Can We Know about the Life of Jesus?

QUESTION:   You have stated in your various works that there are some things that we can accept as likely historically true concerning Jesus’ life; his origin in Galilee, his association with John the Baptizer, his crucifixion, etc.  For the rest of the episodes in Jesus’ life do we have to content ourselves with contemplation of what this or that gospel tells us about its author and community? Should we just “get over” this desire to know what really happened two ...

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My Memory Book, chs. 1-2

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, I did not start writing my current book until I had a very full outline already in place.  With a massive outline that covers everything you want to say, the book pretty much writes itself.   Well, that’s what I tell people.  It’s not true, of course; but I have found that once all the hard work of research and outlining is finished, the writing – just for me, of course – is ...

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New Boxes: Oral traditions and the Dates of the Gospels

For the sixth edition of my New Testament textbook I have written twelve new “boxes.”   These are side-line discussions of interesting and relevant (if a bit tangential) issues of some importance for various aspects of the study of the New Testament.   I will post several of these, including these two here.  If these generate any questions, let me know, and I can follow up on them.

The two are about the Gospels: the first has to do with the ongoing nature ...

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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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My Next Project

I’ve had several people ask what I’m working on, now that How Jesus Became God has come and gone from.   The answer is: the very next thing!   And it’s something that I’ve gotten really excited about, as excited as I was about How Jesus Became God.  For some reason, when I was doing that book over the past couple of years, I thought that it was going to be the climax of my trade book publishing career, and ...

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More Background on Oral Traditions

Up until the 1920s, critical scholars who were deep into questions of New Testament studies had focused a lot of their attention (not all of it, obviously) on questions of textual criticism (how do we know what the “original” text was?) and source criticism (what are the written sources lying behind the New Testament – especially the Gospels?). The former was a matter of concern largely because it was thought that the words of Scripture were inspired by God – ...

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