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Decent Burials for Crucified Victims: A Blast From the Past

My post a couple of weeks ago about the burial of Jesus (understandably) struck a nerve for some readers; I was just now digging around in the archives, and see that I addressed most of the important issues, head on, in this rather controversial post I made back in 2012.  All these years later, I'm still open to being convinced otherwise!!! ****************************** In my previous post I quoted a number of ancient sources that indicated that part of the torture and humiliation of being crucified in antiquity was being left, helpless, exposed not just to the elements but to scavenging birds and other animals. These sources suggest that the normal practice was to leave the victims on the cross to be pecked and gnawed at both before and after death; in some instances there are indications that this would go on for days. And so the question naturally arises if the same thing could be expected in the case of people being crucified in Judea around the year 30 CE. As I pointed out John [...]

My Book Sales and the “Relatives” of Paul: Weekly Reader’s Mailbag March 25, 2016

For this week’s Readers Mailbag I have two questions, one about the sales of my new book and one about the apostle Paul (the meaning of a particularly important verse).  If you have a question you would like me to address, simply ask it here! ********************************************************* QUESTION: Are you pleased with how Jesus Before the Gospels is selling? The reviews are great. I'm enjoying reading it, myself.   RESPONSE: Thanks for asking!  Yes, there are some reviewers who seem to “get” what the book is, and who appreciate it.  I’m always grateful for that! Am I happy with the sales so far?  Unfortunately, the answer is “not really”!   I have to admit I’m a bit spoiled on the book sales front.  This is the seventh book I’ve published with HarperOne.   Of the other six, one was a book that none of us thought would be a huge sales success, Did Jesus Exist? (In fact, our original idea was to publish it simply as an e-book, because we knew it had such a limited market.  At [...]

Paul’s “Exceptional” Letter to the Romans

I wanted to follow up on  a comment that I made in my last post about all of Paul’s letters being “occasional” (i.e., written to deal with certain situations that had arisen in his churches), with one partial exception: his letter to the Romans.  Now would be a good time to explain why Romans is the exception.   Here is what I say about the occasion and purpose of Romans in my  discussion of the book in The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. ******************************************************** In one important respect the letter to the Romans is unlike all of Paul's other letters: it is written to a congregation that Paul did not establish, in a city that he had never visited (see 1:10-15).  Given what we have already seen about Paul's sense of his apostolic mission, this should immediately give us pause.  Paul's other letters were written to deal with problems that had arisen among those whom he had converted to faith in Christ.  That clearly is not the case here.  Why, though, [...]

2020-04-03T13:55:09-04:00March 13th, 2015|Paul and His Letters|
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