More on Judas

Several people misunderstood what I was trying to say in my post yesterday about Paul’s knowledge of Judas Iscariot.  It was probably my fault for not being clear enough.   I was *not*, decidedly *not*, trying to argue that the tradition that Judas betrayed Jesus was unhistorical.  Quite the contrary, for reasons I’ll explain in a second, I think this is a completely historical tradition.  I was simply asking whether Paul himself knew about it.  He may well have known about ...

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Jesus’ Rejection in Nazareth

OK, several readers have asked me why I don’t think the story of Jesus’ violent rejection in Nazareth, according to Luke 4:16-30, is historically reliable. The short version is that Luke has taken a story from Mark and expanded it significantly in light of his own literary and theological interests so that the account of the attempted assassination is not multiply attested and it does not pass the criterion of dissimilarity. It looks instead to be a story that Luke ...

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Jesus as the Messiah

Here’s a draft of a few paragraphs from ch. 3 of my book How Jesus Became God. Again, it’s only in rough draft, but let me know if you see any problems with it.

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It appears that some Jews who had this expectation of the future messiah saw him in purely political terms: a great and powerful king who would bring about the restored kingdom through military force, taking up the sword to dispose of the enemies. Other Jews ...

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Was Jesus a Great Moral Teacher?

QUESTION:

Do you think Jesus was a great moral teacher?

If you think this is the case would you mind blogging about it. Fundamentalist are using C.S Lewis approach in this matter. Apparently they are happier if people call Jesus a lunatic vs. a great moral teacher.

 

RESPONSE:

I think this question is going to require at least a couple of posts: one on Jesus as a moral teacher and one on the claim by C. S. Lewis and others that if it’s true ...

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More Responses to My Newsweek Article

When the editor at Newsweek ask me if I would be willing to write an article on the birth of Jesus, I was hesitant and wrote him back asking if he was sure he really wanted me to do it. I told him that I seem to be incapable of writing anything that doesn’t stir up controversy. It must be in my blood. Still, he said that they knew about my work and were not afraid of controversy, ...

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The Myth of the First Christmas

Yesterday I started a little series of posts on the Christmas story, both in the NT and in later Gospels, by reproducing a little meditation from seven years ago. Here’s one that I wrote last year. Again, it was for some national media (a magazine, I think), but I don’t remember and I didn’t write it down. It deals with some of the things that I’ll be talking about at greater length in some of my forthcoming posts, but in ...

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The Other Gospels and the Birth of Jesus

Right now I have the “other” Gospels on my mind.   It’s true, I often have them on my mind, since they have been a focus for a good deal of my research over the past few years, and will continue to be for some years to come.  But just now, they are particularly on my mind even though the book I’m currently writing (How Jesus Became God) is about something else.

They’re on my mind for three ...

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Secret Followers of Jesus?

QUESTION:

Tangential to the discussion here but what do you think of the idea symbolized by the Joseph of Arimathea character that there may have been closeted sympathizers or even fellow travelers of the Jesus movement among members of the Sanhedrin?

RESPONSE:

It’s a good question.  My sense is that it is virtually inconceivable that there were followers of Jesus, closeted or otherwise, in the Sanhedrin.  For a lot of reasons.  The main one is that according to our earliest accounts, Jesus’ ...

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Pilate and Barabbas

I have received a number of interesting responses to my comments about Pontius Pilate, the Romans’ use of crucifixion, and the likelihood that, as a rule, Romans did not allow decent burials for the victims but left them to scavenging birds and animals — helpless, defenseless, and in agony. A couple of people have suggested that since Pilate had the custom of releasing a prisoner to the crowds during the Passover, this would show a basic interest in placating the ...

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Decent Burials for Crucified Victims

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 ...

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