Bill O’Reilly’s Jesus

Several people have (urgently) asked me to write up a review of the new blockbuster hit, Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus.   So, my short answer to the request is that, well, I haven’t read it.   It did just come out after all!   But I see it is – from the get-go – the #1 book (in the world!) on Amazon.  I will obviously have to read it:  just as I have to read Reza Aslan’s Zealot.   The ...

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But Did It Really Happen?

During my recent posts on the story of Jesus and the leper in Mark 1:40-44, I got a number of comments from readers that made me realize that I wasn’t being at all clear about what I was talking about. For a professional communicator, that is, well, an unsettling thought!

These comments came from people who appear to have understood that I was talking about what really happened (historically) in the episode. Did Jesus really get angry or did he really ...

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Reza Aslan’s View of Jesus

I am saddened and grieved to report that everyone on the blog who has responded to me about yesterday’s pop quiz has gotten one of the questions wrong.  🙂   More on that tomorrow.  (But in the meantime: I’m giving brownie points for anyone who can indicate which question everyone is missing and why they’re getting it wrong!)

But on rather more serious matters: back to Reza Aslan’s book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.   Let ...

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Jesus’ Association with Women

In my previous point I talked about the traditions that indicated that Jesus associated with women publicly during his ministry – in an attempt to use established historical criteria to know whether the prominence of women in the earliest Christian communities may have had precedence in the life of Jesus himself. What about the contextual credibility of these traditions?

It is true that women were generally viewed as inferior by men in the ancient world (see below). But there *were* exceptions: ...

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Women in the Ministry of Jesus

In my previous post I tried to show that women – contrary to what one might think – were quite prominent in the ministry and churches established by Paul. One naturally wonders why that might be, given the fact that women came to be silenced in later Christian traditions (continuing on in some rather notable circles today). One answer for why women played important roles in the life of the early church is that they may have played an important ...

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Jesus’ Literacy

QUESTION:

I don’t know if you have covered this or not, but how about the issue of whether Jesus was literate or not? I came across a recent book on Amazon.com titled “Jesus’ Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee” by Chris Keith, and the topic sounds interesting.

 

RESPONSE:

Yes indeed, it’s a very interesting – and much debated – issue. I have not yet read Chris Keith’s book, but it’s on my (very long) list. I do know what he argues ...

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Jesus and Sacrifices

QUESTION:

Would it be accurate to say that after Jesus’ death the first-century Christians turned him into an enduring symbol of the very sacrificial system that he himself rejected in life? By ‘sacrificial system’ I’m referring both to the ancient lamb/goat-based traditions surrounding Yom Kippur, as well as to the later lamb sacrifices conducted by the Jerusalem temple priests during Jesus’ day, etc. And, by the word ‘rejected,’ I’m wondering if Jesus having upset the moneychanger’s tables at the temple was ...

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Jesus’ Inflammatory Words

QUESTION:

Were the claims Jesus made about himself, or the comments he made about other sects or leaders within Judaism, likely to have produced an angry or violent response from devout Jews in Jerusalem during Passover? Were his comments any more “out of the ordinary” than others would have been making about, say, the Temple authorities or whomever?

RESPONSE:

A full answer to this very good question would take a full book.  In fact, scholars *have* written entire books ...

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Historical Jesus Scholarship and Christians

QUESTION:

If historical Jesus scholars believes that Jesus’ main message was the imminent apocalypse, and that didn’t happen, how can anyone who believe that remain a Christian, given that Jesus was wrong on the main focus of his life?

RESPONSE:

It’s a great question.   Let me say several things briefly in response.    First, there are a number of historical Jesus scholars who do not see Jesus in this way (most prominently, members of the Jesus Seminar, such as Marcus ...

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What Judas Betrayed

In my last post I indicated that I would write, next, on what it was, in my opinion, that Judas betrayed.   It is commonly thought, based on the NT evidence, that he indicated to the authorities where Jesus could be found apart from the crowds.   Maybe that’s right, even though, as I indicated, I do have some doubts about it.  Even if it is right, there may be more to it than that.   I think the following data are worth ...

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