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Gold Q&A for July 2021!

Dear Gold Members, It is that time again!   As you know, one of the perks of your elevated status as a gold member of the blog is that you are provided an audio Q&A once a month for gold members only.   You provide written questions, I answer as many as I can, and I release the audio recording to gold members only.  Have a question to ask?  The sky's the limit.  Go for it. I will be recording the next Q&A on Saturday July 24to be released  Tuesday July 27.  Send your question(s) to our blog COO, Diane Pittman, at [email protected].   The deadline is midnight (in whatever time zone you're in) Thursday July 22 . The best questions are only a sentence of two long at most.  I hope to hear from you! Bart

2021-07-10T10:40:44-04:00July 9th, 2021|Public Forum|

The Reconstruction of Q: Platinum Guest Post by Steve Sutter

Here is an interesting and informative post on the Q source, provided for us by Steve Sutter. I have been spacing out these Platinum posts, in part because the supply is limited (and the queue almost gone!).   If you have one to submit: go for it!  You can get your ideas out there, people can respond, you can respond back, and it's all good. *************************** The Earliest Gospel “Q” was Lost -- But Reconstructed By: Steve Sutter, M.S. Presque Isle, Maine   The idea of a collection of sayings of Jesus lying behind the Gospels of Matthew and Luke is not a new idea. In 1908, Dr. Adolf von Harnack, a Lutheran theologian and Professor of Church History at the University of Berlin, authored a book entitled The Sayings of Jesus -- The Second Source of St. Matthew and St. Luke. It’s intriguing that in Harnack’s day, at least some historical investigators hypothesized that Jesus was “a genuine Buddhist, who had, however, come under the influence of ideas originating in ancient Babylon, Persia, Egypt, and [...]

2021-06-19T08:01:43-04:00June 19th, 2021|Canonical Gospels, History of Biblical Scholarship|

Gold Q&A for June!

Dear Gold Members, It is that time again!   As you know, one of the perks of your elevated status as a gold member of the blog is that you are provided an audio Q&A once a month for gold members only.   You provide written questions, I answer as many as I can, and I release the audio recording to gold members only.  Have a question to ask?  The sky's the limit.  Go for it. I will be recording the next Q&A on Saturday Jun 19, to be released  Tuesday June 22.  Send your question(s) to our blog COO, Diane Pittman, at [email protected].   The deadline is midnight (in whatever time zone you're in) Friday June 18 . The best questions are only a sentence of two long at most.  I hope to hear from you! Bart

2021-06-12T13:13:45-04:00June 12th, 2021|Reader’s Questions|

What We Know Today About Religions and the Afterlife (in the US): Platinum Guest Post by Sharon Friedman

I am pleased to be able to publish this Guest Post by one of our Platinum members Sharon Friedman.  Sharon has been a blog member for some five years.   Here is an intriguing post with some statistics to make you ponder and reflect on a topic near and dear to many of us. If you have questions comments, go ahead and make them!  Many thanks Sharon. ***************************** Often on the blog, people ask Bart “what did Christians or Jews think about some topic?” It’s definitely difficult or impossible to know that about the past.  We do know something about what they currently think.  Fortunately, groups like the Pew Research Center and NORC at the University of Chicago ask people religious questions.  Let’s look at that source of information for insights into our discussion of the afterlife, specifically what do Christians, Jews and Muslims currently think about heaven and hell? Pew does a Religious Landscape Survey about once every 10 years or so. It’s chock full of information.  There is a crosswalk between belief in heaven [...]

2021-05-27T17:27:17-04:00May 27th, 2021|Afterlife, Public Forum|

Gold Members Month of May Q&A

Dear Gold Members, As you know, one of the perks of your elevated status as a gold member of the blog is that you are provided an audio Q&A once a month for gold members only.   You provide written questions, I answer as many as I can, and I release the audio recording to gold members only.  It's time to come up with some questions! I will be recording the next Q&A on Monday May 24, to be released Wednesday May 26.  Do you have a question?   Send it to our COO, Diane Pittman, at [email protected].   The deadline for your questions is midnight of Sunday, May 23.  The best questions are only a sentence of two long at most.  I hope to hear from you! Bart

2021-05-07T20:15:39-04:00May 18th, 2021|Public Forum|

Other New Testament References to Books Outside the Hebrew Bible: Platinum Guest Post by Doug Wadeson

I'm pleased now to be able to post Part II of Platinum Member Doug Wadeson's two-part thread on quotations/references in the New Testament to passages not found in the Hebrew Bible.  This one has a surprising and intriguing twist, something that would not have occurred to most readers (and certainly not in this detail!). Doug will be able to respond to your comments and questions. *************************** As I stated in my previous post, the books of the New Testament make a number of references to books outside the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. We tend to think of the Old Testament as “the” Scriptures of Jesus’ day, but clearly early Christians knew and used other religious texts.  We looked at two books referenced in the letter of Jude: 1st Enoch and The Assumption of Moses.  Now we’ll consider a few more. Although not really “outside” the Old Testament it is worth mentioning the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, widely used by Greek-speaking Jews and then Christians.  Whenever I run across a quote [...]

2021-04-26T15:16:50-04:00April 26th, 2021|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Got a Question for Me? Gold Q & A for April!

Dear Gold Members, As you know, gold-level members will receive a special 45-50 minute audio post every month, in which I respond to questions gold-level members have asked me. Have a question?  It can be on anything connected to the Bible, early Christianity, or anything else related even remotely to the blog.  Ask away!  We can take questions until this Monday, April 26 midnight (Eastern Time). To send in a question, simply zap an email to my assistant Diane Pittman [email protected].   She will collect the questions; I will record the session; and we will have it posted an audio file by Thursday April 29.   It will be available only to you, those with Gold privileges! I’m looking forward to talking about anything you want me to talk about.  And I hope you are enjoying the blog experience otherwise.  If there is anything we can do to make it better, please let me know.   Bart        

2021-04-25T12:39:46-04:00April 23rd, 2021|Reader’s Questions|

How Yahweh of the Israelites Became God of All: Platinum Guest Post by Dan Kohanski

I am pleased to be able to post a guest post by Platinum member Dan Kohanski.  As you can see from the title, it's an intriguing and, well, rather world-shattering/history-changing topic!  Please feel free to make comments: the post is for and to Platinum members only. And if you have a post you want to submit, send it along!  It can be on any topic related to what we do on the blog. **************************** The early Israelites were polytheists — worshippers of many gods — just as all the nations of the Ancient Near East were, though their pantheon may have been smaller than some. We know of El, Yahweh, Astarte (Asherah), and Baal for certain. Possibly the oldest god in the Israelite pantheon was El — the very name "Israel" can be translated as "he who strives with (the god) El."[1] Belief in the god Yahweh — who would eventually become the only god of the Israelites — may have originated in Edom or Seir to the southeast of Canaan. Sometime early on, El [...]

2021-04-14T18:46:58-04:00April 14th, 2021|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Quotations of Non-Canonical Writings in the New Testament: Platinum Post by Douglas Wadeson

Platinum member Douglas Wadeson has provided us with another thoughtful, provocative, and informed post, this one about how authors of the New Testament sometimes quote writings *other* than those of the Old Testament.   Feel free to make comments! *************************   If you read the New Testament you will find many references to the Old Testament, i.e., the Hebrew Bible, the Scriptures that Jesus and His disciples knew.  The early Christians thought of Jesus as being the sequel to and fulfillment of those Scriptures.  If Hollywood had developed the New Testament perhaps they would have called it, “God the Father II: This Time Its Personal!”  Dr. Ehrman has written and posted on the reasons the early church retained its connection to the Jewish Scriptures even as the church became predominantly Gentile. However, there are also allusions to writings outside of the Old Testament.[1]  I suspect many people miss such references because they assume they are referring to some OT story, or they are subtle enough that one doesn’t catch that an allusion is being made.  I [...]

2021-03-24T19:12:00-04:00March 24th, 2021|Early Judaism, Reflections and Ruminations|

Gold Members: Audio Q&A! This week!

Dear Gold Members, As you know!  Gold-level members will receive a special 45-50 minute audio post every month, in which I respond to questions gold-level members have asked me. Have a question?  It can be on anything connected to the Bible, early Christianity, or anything else related even remotely to the blog.  Ask away!  We can take questions until this Saturday March 27, noon, EST. To send in a question, simply zap an email to my assistant Diane Pittman [email protected].   She will collect the questions and I will record the session Saturday afternoon;  it will be posted as an audio file by Tuesday  – and only to you, those with Gold privileges! I’m looking forward to talking about anything you want me to talk about.  And I hope you are enjoying the blog experience otherwise.  If there is anything we can do to make it better, please let me know.   Bart        

2021-03-23T12:16:28-04:00March 23rd, 2021|Reader’s Questions|

Was Matthew Influenced by Buddhist Writings? Platinum Post by Steve Sutter

Platinum Members!  Here is another guest post by Steve Sutter on interesting parallels between Buddhist writings and the Gospels.  What do you think?  Let him, me, and your fellow Platinum folk know! ALSO: The platinum-post well is running dry.  Do you have something you'd like to contribute?  Go for it!  We'd all enjoy it and you can get your thoughts and ideas out there to a generous and welcoming public!  It can be on anything related to the blog, if even remotely! But for now, here is Steve's post. ******************************   Matthew’s Gospel Tinged by Buddhism as Well   It seems to me entirely possible that the authors of the Gospels of Luke and Matthew had knowledge of Buddhist scriptures while composing the content of their manuscripts in the late first century AD. Some parallels are very fascinating.   Using a similar format as articles I published in the Fort Fairfield Journal November 18, 2020 and January 13, 2021, let me again share a sample of Buddhist scriptures, while pointing this time to verses in [...]

2021-03-10T11:46:12-05:00March 9th, 2021|Canonical Gospels, Platinums|

Christian Attitudes toward War, Through the Ages: Platinum Post by Dan Kohanski

I am very pleased to have this interesting post on an unusually important topic for Platinum Members, produced by one of your own, Dan Kohanski.   He tells me that the post has been adapted from part of a chapter, "When God Goes to War," in a book he is working on about the impact of Western religion on the world.  I venture to say the information he presents here includes many things many of us do not know!  Feel free to comment! (ALSO: I'm running short of future Platinum posts: if you can work one up, on any topic of relevance to anything we do -- a broad category -- please send it along) ********************* Shifts in the Christian Approach to War The earliest Christians had the mixed fortune to live under the Pax Romana, the peace of the Roman empire. On the one hand, they suffered from its harsh response to any insult to the state gods. On the other hand, the pax kept the peace. Early Christians could thus afford to argue that [...]

2021-03-02T19:01:29-05:00March 2nd, 2021|Platinums, Reflections and Ruminations|

The Buddhist Scriptures and the Gospel of Luke: Platinum Post by Steve Sutter

Here is a second interesting post on the relationship of the Gospel of Luke to certain passages of the Buddhist Scriptures -- for you Platinum members only! Remember, if you would like to submit a post yourself, just write it up and send it to me via email: [email protected]    We are almost at the end of the queue!  So bring 'em on! But for now, Steven's intriguing comparisons (on two rather important Gospel passages!) *************************** In the November 18, 2020 issue of the Fort Fairfield Journal, I presented a plausible case (in my opinion) that there are similarities (parallels) between selected sayings and stories in ancient Buddhist scriptures and parts of the Gospel of Luke.  Wrapping up my study project, let’s consider: (1) an additional story (The Temptation) and (2) an additional saying (The Golden Rule).   The Temptation … Paul F. Knitter, a former Roman Catholic priest, in his recent book Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian, notes (p. 106) an encounter “uncannily similar” to what Jesus experienced right before beginning [...]

2021-02-23T10:15:39-05:00February 23rd, 2021|Public Forum|

The Essence of Religious Literacy: A Christian Perspective. Platinum Guest Post by Fredrick Ackun

I am pleased to present now a very thoughtful guest post by Platinum member Fredrick Ackun!    To respond, simply make a comment, and he will be able to reply. I am looking for more contributions!  Feel free to send one along, on any topic! *************************** In this post, I wish to share and elaborate a bit on some personal realizations I have made in my faith journey. They are some of the main reasons why I am of the view that studying and acquiring knowledge about what we believe in is imperative. A faith system solely premised on theological presuppositions with no recourse to historical information can rub away context that would have otherwise provided a deeper appreciation of its narratives. The two keywords here are History and Theology; hence, it may be important to spell out a fundamental difference between these two terms in relation to the faith journey. History is an attempt to reconstruct events in the past based on evidence and plausibilities. Theology, on the other hand, is interpreting history through [...]

2021-02-11T18:42:07-05:00February 11th, 2021|Reflections and Ruminations|

Platinum Members! Vote for your Favorite Platinum Post

This post is accessible by Platinum Members only. If you feel left out, please consider clicking the "Upgrade!" button above to migrate to this membership level. Platinum members increasingly enjoy special benefits while every penny collected aids families and children in desperate need.

 

2021-02-04T15:00:53-05:00February 4th, 2021|Recent Comments|

Even Giants Have a Cross to Bear: Platinum Post by Marie Wiley

I am pleased to be able to provide a new post by Marie Wiley, the second she has submitted!  Are you interested in submitting one?  It can be on any topic related to the blog.  And it's Platinums-only.  So go for it. And many thanks Marie! ******************************** The vision I have of Jesus from The Gospel of Peter is one of my favorites. A gigantic Jesus with an equally gigantic cross illustrates so well my own personal idea of who this holy man is. He is bigger than the human beings I know or know of. When I hear the saying, “Never meet your heroes because you will be sorely disappointed,” I imagine our Jesus to be the exception. When his giant holy cross asks me if I have heard its message, I think, “Heaven, yes.” I know (in a gnostic sense) that its message to me is not one of salvation through Jesus’s death in atonement for my sins. I don’t believe in that. It’s nothing personal, but in all the arguments for this [...]

2021-02-02T18:20:35-05:00February 2nd, 2021|Reflections and Ruminations|

Platinum Guest Post by Douglas Wadeson: A Christian Is Not Necessarily a Disciple, and Vice Versa. Part 2

This now is the second of Douglas Wadeson's two-part post, presenting the flip side of his earlier one. These Platinum guest posts have been terrific so far.  I hope you too have enjoyed them.  Soon we'll vote on which of the four we've seen goes on the main blog site!  But for now, here is Doug again. In my previous post I argued that it may be possible to be a “Christian” but not necessarily a “disciple.”  Now I will discuss the flip side: is it possible to be a disciple of Jesus but not a Christian?  As a reminder from the previous post, I defined a Christian as one who believes in the Christ (Messiah), that died for the sins of the world and then was raised back to life by God; this is Jesus, of course.  Salvation comes by believing in Him, not through your actions.  In fact, trying to be saved by your “works” is futile and even heresy. A “disciple” is by definition a student or pupil or follower.  Such a [...]

2021-01-27T19:09:09-05:00January 27th, 2021|Reflections and Ruminations|

A Christian is Not Necessarily a Disciple: Platinum Post by Douglas Wadeson

The weeks' Platinum post comes to us from Douglas Wadeson, a long time member of the blog and recently retired (lucky fellow) physician.  The post comes in two parts: the second part will appear next week.   Remember: this post, your comments about it, and any ensuing back and forth come to Platinum members only.   (And remember: you too can submit a post!  I hope you do so.  Just send it to my assistant Diane Pittman, at [email protected]) Here now is part 1 of Doug's post: ******************************* In Dr. Ehrman’s Christmas blog post he ponders: “So this is what I don’t understand:  why so many of the alleged followers of the Prince of Peace not only refuse to accept his teaching but by and large preach *against* it, standing precisely for what he stood against.  It’s as if they haven’t read their Bibles.  It’s all there – in Jesus’ teachings, in the Old Testament prophets, he based his message on, in the gospel proclaimed by his earliest followers. God is not on the side of the [...]

2021-01-19T22:39:38-05:00January 18th, 2021|Reflections and Ruminations|

Platinum Guest Post by Steve Sutter: The Buddhist Influence on the Gospel of Luke

Here is a post submitted by Platinum member Steve Sutter, for the enjoyment of all you other shining Platinums.  It will go only to Platinum members of the blog and any comments you make will go only to Platinums as well.   Steve wanted me to let you know that he is not a scholar, but a very interested observer.  But I’m glad he’s made this post: I get asked about this sort of thing on occasion both on and off the blog.  Thank you Steve!   And the rest of you: enjoy!   Buddhist Influence on the Gospel of Luke   By: Steve Sutter, M.S. Presque Isle, Maine   Scholars have often considered the possibility that Buddhism influenced the early development of Christianity. They have drawn attention to the many parallels concerning the births, lives, ethics, and deaths of the Buddha (Siddhattha Gotama), and Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in their respective traditions of scripture and legend. (Old World Encounters – Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times, Chapter 2  Jerry H. Bentley, Un. Of Hawaii, [...]

2021-01-30T01:49:37-05:00January 11th, 2021|Canonical Gospels|

Gold Members Only Audio Q&A

Dear Gold Members, As you know, one of your perks is a monthly audio version of a Q&A, designed and created just for you.  Only those with Gold privileges can participate and benefit..  You submit the Q's and I do the A's.  Interested?   Now we are set to do the first one. I will announce later the date on which it will be available, but first we have to make it!  For that to happen we need questions.   Want to submit one? Here are the rules.  You will be allowed to submit *one* question per month.  We will collect questions until Friday January 15.   Your question can relate to anything connected to the blog.  It should be relatively concise (not a page long) and an actual question, not a comment or disquisition on a topic you want the world to consider.   You should send you question NOT to me, and NOT as a comment on this post, but to my assistant, Diane Pittman <[email protected]>; she will collect and collate them, and we will decide which [...]

2021-01-11T21:55:37-05:00January 9th, 2021|Public Forum|
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