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The Death of Paul in Acts and Unrelated Topics: Readers’ Mailbag April 29, 2016

I will be dealing with three very different questions this week in my Weekly Readers’ Mailbag:  why does the book of Acts not narrate the deaths of Peter and Paul; what is the difference between the Day of Atonement and the Passover; and how I dealt with discrepancies and contradictions when I was an evangelical Christian in college.  If you have any questions for me to address, pass them along!

 

QUESTION:

If Acts was written after 75 CE why do you think Acts doesn’t contain details of Paul’s and Peter’s deaths?

 

RESPONSE:

I get asked this question a lot – maybe five times this month!  I’m not sure why.  But it’s something people seem to be interested in, and in part that’s because some conservative evangelical scholars want to claim that Acts was written before Paul’s death in around 64 CE (since otherwise the author would “surely” have narrated his death), and that therefore Luke’s Gospel (written by the same author) was written before then, so that both Luke and Acts are nearer to the times they describe and that they therefore (so it is assumed, by implication) are more likely to be historically accurate.

That final assumption doesn’t work for me.  Just because an account is only, say thirty years removed from an event rather than, say, fifty years, doesn’t make it accurate.  You have to evaluate it critically in order to *see* if it is accurate — even if it was written the very next day!

In any event, what about the specific question?  If Acts was written around the year 85 or so, why wouldn’t it include an account of Paul’s and Peter’s deaths?   Here I think there is a very good and straightforward answer.   The entire point of the book of Acts is …

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My Debate with Richard Bauckham – Round 2
The Early Growth of Christianity

53

Comments

  1. Avatar
    Michael Fischer  April 29, 2016

    Thank you so much for your blog Ehrman! I really enjoy reading your work but stating “The Passover lambs were not sacrificed on two different days, but only on one day.” seems like you just ignored the fundamentalists answer and burned a straw man… Don’t you think the the 30+ years difference in time, the destruction of the temple, or the composition of the Church could be factors into what calendar was used? I bank on your handling that contradiction not being as simple as you made it out to be..

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      I’m just addressing the more simple question: did Jesus die the day before the Passover meal was eaten (as in John) or the day after (as in Mark). He didn’t die both times! I don’t see why we have to make it any more complicated than that. It has to be one or the other (or neither) but it can’t be both!

      • Avatar
        Michael Fischer  May 12, 2016

        No, I understand.. I guess my perspective is that the jewish calendar actually is different than the Roman calendar and does propose a very possible reconciliation of the dates. Is it not possible that the audience the author was targeting determined the calendar each author used? I was hoping to hear your argument as to why it isn’t possible or that it is at least unlikely.Especially if there is a good chance the author of John was familiar with the Gospel of Mark

        • Bart
          Bart  May 13, 2016

          The question is simpler than that, I think. Did Jesus eat a passover meal (Mark) or not (John)? It can’t be YES to both! And both authors are explicit on the question.

  2. Avatar
    JR  April 29, 2016

    Good point re Paul’s death. Also I think thematically Luke wanted to show that the martyrdom of the apostles mirrored Jesus’ death and he already showed that with Stephen (lots of parallels e.g. he forgives his killers just like Jesus did). There is no need for him to cover this again with Paul. As as you say he needed paul alive to show his other theme of gospel going out to the world.

  3. Avatar
    spiker  April 29, 2016

    “So here’s a question: what evidence is there that two different groups of Jews in Jerusalem in the year 30 (or so) who were involved with celebrating the Passover followed different calendars. Answer? None. ”

    Thanks for confirming my suspicion here. This is a good reason why Christian apologetics is so terrible. They stop at the answer they want. The answer I want MUST be the right answer THEREFORE…..Consequently there’s no effort to determine whether John (Whoever he was) was referring to a different calendar than Mark (Whoever he was)

  4. Avatar
    Jderwin86  April 29, 2016

    Great reaponse. The first question reminded me of a recent conversation I had regarding Peter. It was stated that 1 and 2 Peter *had* to have been written before 65ad because he mentions Paul in 2 Peter being that they were a little more than contemporaries. Thoughts?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      He mentions Paul precisely in order to make you think he is Peter! (But note: he doesn’t say he knows Paul, only that he knows about Paul’s letters)

  5. Avatar
    JoshuaJ  April 29, 2016

    Dr. Ehrman, I have a somewhat unrelated question: Many of the NT books include language (including quotes of Jesus himself in the gospels) suggesting the second coming of Christ was to occur in the first century. That obviously didn’t happen. Doesn’t this fact alone basically demonstrate that the Bible is not inerrant or “divinely inspired” and that if the gospel writers did in fact quote Jesus accurately, that he must have been wrong as well? Isn’t this an enormous red flag, or am I thinking about it wrong?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      I would say that it shows that you have to re-interpret the meaning of these passages if you’re going to think they are in any sense “true”

      • Avatar
        ellispm35  June 22, 2018

        How the heck to fundamentalist reinterpret this whale of a problem?? Jesus (and Paul) proclaimed the imminent Kingdom of God. As John Meier puts it in A Marginal Jew:

        “Surveying the authentic saying of Jesus, we hear a note of urgency and intense anticipation, a fierce concentration on the theme of the kingdom is coming, which is out of all proportion if Jesus did not imagine the kingdom’s coming to be close at hand. Then, too, there is a general argument from historical continuity. John the Baptist proclaimed an imminent-future eschatology tinged with apocalyptic, and the first-generation church did the same, at times moving over into full-blown apocalyptic.”

        It has been almost 2000 years — and the KOG has still not arrived! Isn’t the ONLY PLAUSIBLE explanation that Jesus got it wrong? You could, of course, re-characterize the KOG as something else — but that requires intellectual dishonesty and self-deception given what Jesus and 1st century apocalypse clearly understood and preached about the KOG.

        • Bart
          Bart  June 24, 2018

          There are lots of “explanations”: e.g., “soon” for God is different from soon for us; or God has graciously delayed the imminent judgment in order to give peole more time to repent; etc…. Most of them are grasping at straws, in my opinion.

  6. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  April 29, 2016

    The numerous books of Lee Strobel and the Apologetics Press website are both filled with examples of people reconciling anything and everything. Confirmation bias and the reduction of cognitive dissonance are very powerful forces as shown every day by following American politics. I like your approach of asking does a given reconciliation make the “best sense”? That is very helpful otherwise the discussion always ends up with the idea that the contradiction has been reconciled.

  7. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  April 29, 2016

    If I understand it correctly, The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) usually occurs in September or October and the Passover usually occurs in March or April. So, they are separate events.

  8. Avatar
    BobHicksHP  April 29, 2016

    Not argument, just information. In his “Great Courses” on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Gary A. Rendsburg indicates that there actually were two different Jewish calendars in play between Qumran (solar) and Jerusalem (lunar), and that the Scroll writers condemned the Temple leadership for moving festival days around. Most specifically, the biggest argument was over Yom Kippur, but he actually suggests that, though not likely, the discrepancy in the gospels could be the result of this dispute.

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      Yes, at Qumran they kept a different calendar. But unless someone wants to say that Jesus kept the Passover at Qumran, it wouldn’t have any bearing on the question (since they were opposed precisely to the calendar kept in Jerusalem, and it was in Jerusalem that Jesus kept the passover)

    • talmoore
      talmoore  May 2, 2016

      One would then have to argue that Jesus and his followers went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover on precisely NOT the calendar followed by the Jerusalem priests and Levites, which would make one wonder why they would bother celebrating it in Jerusalem at all. The Essenes, because they followed a different calendar, believed the Jerusalem calendar and feasts were illegitimate, so they wouldn’t be caught dead celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem — a city they considered defiled in the meantime.

  9. Avatar
    Jim  April 29, 2016

    Both Peter’s and Paul’s deaths/executions(?) seem to be grouped together under the Nero persecution. Other than from proto-orthodox traditions, is there any solid evidence to suggest that Peter was ever in Rome?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      I’m not sure what other evidence there could be. None of the Marcionite, Valentinian, Sethian, or Ebionite sources say anything about it if that’s what you mean. (Most of the surviving CHristain materials are proto-orthodox, and non-Christian sources never mention him)

  10. talmoore
    talmoore  April 29, 2016

    Dr. Ehrman, I don’t completely understand all the evidence that suggests Luke-Acts was composed around 85 CE, but when I read Luke-Acts it seems rather obvious to me that the reason “Luke” doesn’t narrate Paul’s death is that Paul was still alive when Luke-Acts was written. The hint we get from when Paul might have been sent to Rome comes from Paul’s alleged “trial” (more like a hearing) before Antonius Felix. If Felix was procurator from 52 to 58, then Paul’s alleged trial would have occured within that time. If we assume that the rest of Acts is accurate, then Paul could have arrived in Rome to await his trial before Nero anywhere from the middle 50s to the middle 60s CE.

    The sense I get from reading Luke-Acts is that there was a sudden urgency to get down on paper an “orderly account of the events” leading up to Paul’s house arrest — an ugency that would have been completely gone by 85 CE — and that this was a time of much excitement and anticipation that warranted a sudden burst of missionary energy. The only event, to my mind, that would incite such excitement and anticipation was when the powder keg in Judea finally exploded, particularly the (seemingly miraculous) routing of Cestius’ armies at Beth Horon in 66 CE. With a relatively tiny piece of land along the east coast of the Mediterranean erupting in rebellion, the attention of the entire Roman world was focused on that small piece of land and it’s people, the Jews, and, moreover, what those Jews believed that would give them the impetus and the chutzpah to rebel against Rome.

    I can imagine Christian missionaries suddenly becoming very busy at the time. I think it was within this Judeo-centric milieu that Luke-Acts was written, possibly late 66 to 68 CE, when Christian writers such as “Luke” were suddenly compelled to document everything that had led up to that point of upheaval. And it just so happens that Acts stops its narration — which, let’s be honest, was really meandering in the last chapters — immediately right before this period, which is awfully suspicious.

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      Luke 21 seems to presuppose a knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem by Gentiles. So that’s #1. It’s based on Mark’s Gospel that also appears to be after the Jewish WAr, so that would be #2. And, well, there are some other reasons. The author of Acts certainly wants you to think that he was a companion of Paul and therefore from his time!

      • talmoore
        talmoore  May 2, 2016

        The reason I think that the Gospels *appear* to predict the destruction of the Temple is that Jesus actually “predicted” the destruction of the Temple! But not because he was really a prophet channeling the Word of God through the Holy Spirit. (Alas, I don’t even believe there is a God). But there’s a saying: A stopped clocked is right twice a day. In other words, Jesus didn’t so much predict the destruction of the Temple as he probably “prophecized” the obvious. If the current Temple cult is corrupt, making the current Temple unclean, then, of course, God is going to raze the current Temple and erect a new, undefiled one in its place. And since he’s God it won’t take him 46 years to do it. He can — and will — do it in only a matter of days, because he’s God. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what happened here. Jesus told his disciples that the current Temple will be destroyed — without one stone on top of another stone — on the Day of Reckoning in order to make way for the new, uncorrupted Temple of God that God will build in only a matter of days, just as God created the entire universe in only a matter of days. But when Jesus was executed instead, the disciples then assumed Jesus was talking about himself dying and rising several days later. But then, 40 years later, the actual Temple was actually destroyed! (But a new one was not erected, regardless of the efforts of Bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiva.) So it appeared that Jesus had correctly predicted its destruction, when, in fact, the only thing that happened was a self-fulfilled prophecy, because the Zealots and other Jewish rebellions probably believed the same thing — that the current Temple was corrupt and would be destroyed, and a new, undefiled one would take its place — which is probably why the rebels during the time of the siege in 69/70 were so careless about defiling the Temple complex even more (when the Zealots were holed up in it, for instance), because they thought the current Temple was going to be completely destroyed soon anyhow. The irony, of course, is that this was literally a self-filling prophecy: Jesus and his contemporary fanatics believed the current Temple was going to be razed and replaced in the coming apocalypse, and the next generation of Jewish fanatics literally brought about that destruction via their actions that were inspired by that belief! A classic case of self-filled prophecy.

        • talmoore
          talmoore  May 2, 2016

          I should also add that if anyone thinks that no documents suggest the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, to be replaced by a new, undefiled one, he only need read the second half of the Book of Ezekiel, which describes a Temple that is clearly NOT the Temple that actually existed. Many Jews at the time — and, indeed, many Jews today — believe that Ezekiel is describing the Third Temple of the Messianic Era. It’s no stretch, therefore, to presume that Jesus was talking about the destruction of the Second Temple, to be replaced by the Third Messianic Age Temple.

  11. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  April 29, 2016

    1) Would the author of Acts more likely have been writing for a specific Christian community or for Christians at large? If the former, is it likely that they already knew the details of Paul’s death, so it was unnecessary to rehash?
    2) Modern synagogue worship observes a custom of never ending a reading on a negative note, hence the threat of a curse at the end of Malachi is followed by a reprise of Elijah’s promised return a frew verses before. Could that have been part of Luke’s reason for ending while Paul is alive and preaching?
    3) Bishop Spong argues, based on the mention of palm branches the Sunday preceding Jesus’s crucifixion, that Jesus died during Sukkot, but that it took until Passover or later for his followers to decide he had been raised. Do you find any merit in that?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      1) I think for his own community, and yes, I think they probably did konw. 2) Unfortunately we don’t know about reading practices in first century synagogues, but in any event, this author (and his community) were almost certainly not Jewish. 3) Yeah, I don’t see evidence for that view….

  12. Avatar
    cjeanne  April 29, 2016

    So, how did we stay crazy for so long.
    Wheaton 63

  13. cheito
    cheito  April 29, 2016

    DR Ehrman:

    I read this once online and it seems to clear up the contradiction concerning on which day did Jesus was crucified. I’ll have to study it more in depth to see if there’s any holes in it…It’s long, but it’s interesting
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    There are those who maintain that the Gospel of John contradicts the three synoptic Gospels. It does not. The apparent but non-existent contradiction is cleared up once a few things are understood.

    We have to start with a fixed point. That fixed point is that all four Gospels clearly state that Jesus Christ was crucified and died on the preparation day, the day before the Sabbath. Here are the four passages which show this.

    Matthew 27:57 ‘When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58] This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus….62] Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate 63] and said, ”Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ I know the word Sabbath isn’t mentioned here, but this passage is in agreement with the other passages.

    Mark 15:42 ‘When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43] Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

    Luke 23:54 ‘It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55] Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56] Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

    John 19:31 ‘Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

    All four gospels show that Jesus was crucified and died on the preparation day before the Sabbath. That’s the fixed point.

    John 19:14 however, says something a little different.

    John 19:14 ‘Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he (Pilate) said to the Jews, ”Behold your king!”

    John did not contradict Matthew, Mark or Luke. And he didn’t contradict himself. (John 19:4 contrasted with John 19:31. Sabbath or Passover?)

    The Passover always fell on the 14th day of Nisan. Nisan is the first month of the Jewish year (Lev 23:5). ‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’S Passover. By Jewish reckoning a new day began at sundown. So at sundown, the thirteenth day became the fourteenth day.

    The Passover was also a preparation day for the Sabbath. But the weekly Saturday Sabbath is not in view here. On the day after Passover, on the 15th day of Nisan, the seven day Feast of Unleavened bread began. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened bread was a special Sabbath and no work was allowed to be done. Leviticus 23:6 ‘Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7] On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. 8] ‘But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.’ ”

    Now, Jesus was crucified on Passover, the 14th day of Nisan. Passover proper. But Passover and the seven day Feast of Unleavened bread were so closely connected that they were often considered as one feast.

    The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, p.210 states, ‘The one-day Passover was followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 23:15; Lev. 23:4-8; Deut. 16:1-8). The entire eight-day festival was sometimes called the Passover (Luke 22:1, 7; John 19:14; Acts 12:3-4).’

    Luke 22:1 ‘Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is called the Passover, was approaching ….7] Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.

    John 19:14 ‘Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he (Pilate) said to the Jews, ”Behold your King!”

    Now remember from Lev. 23:5-6 that the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread began on Nisan 15, the day after Passover. Yet as you can see in Luke 22:1,7 the Feast of Unleavened Bread is called Passover. That’s not a contradiction or an error, it’s just that in a popular sense, the entire eight day period from Nisan 14 Passover day, through the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread ending on Nisan 21 was considered one Feast. At least in a popular sense if not strictly speaking.

    In John 19:14, when John says it was the day of preparation for the Passover, he was not referring to Nisan 14, the day that Jesus Christ was crucified, but to the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread which began the day after Passover proper, but which was sometimes itself called the Passover week. Nisan 15 to Nisan 21.

    Ezekiel 45:21 calls the Feast of Unleavened bread, Passover.

    Ezekiel 45:21 ‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten…. 23] ”And during the seven days of the feast he shall provide as a burnt offering to the LORD seven bulls and seven rams without blemish on every day of the seven days, and a male goat daily for a sin offering.

    Unleavened Bread Can Refer to Entire Passover Season

    Matthew 26:17 Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ”Where do You want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

    Mark 14:1 Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread was two days off; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to kill Him;

    Mark 14:12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, ”Where do you want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

    Luke 22:1, 7 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is called the Passover was approaching …7] Then came the day of unleavened bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.

    Now, understanding that Passover proper, Nisan 14, was sometimes referred to as the first day of Unleavened bread, Mark 14:12 makes sense.

    Mark 14:12 ‘And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, ”Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

    Jesus, knowing that He was going to be sacrificed, ate the Passover meal early Nisan 14. Now, by Jewish reckoning, a new day began at sunset. When the sun set on Nisan 13 it became a new day. It became Nisan 14, Passover day. Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover meal that evening, and then the events that led to His crucifixion the next morning ensued. Jesus went to Gethsemane, was betrayed and arrested, and endured His trials throughout the night. The next morning, (still Nisan 14, still Passover) Jesus was put on the cross at 9 A.M.

    1 Corinthians 11:23 ‘For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;

    The Jews who had brought Jesus to Pilate had yet to eat their Passover meal. John 18:28 indicates that they intended to eat their Passover meal later that day.

    If you understand the above then you shouldn’t be confused by John 19:14 ‘Now it (Passover day-Nisan 14) was the day of preparation for the Passover [Passover week- Nisan 15-21); it was about the sixth hour. And he (Pilate) said to the Jews, ”Behold your King!”

    And you should be able to see that John is in agreement with the other Gospels that Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14, Passover day. There is no contradiction.

    Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/christianity/1501796-four-gospels-agree-jesus-christ-crucified.html#ixzz47FsB6mBc

  14. Avatar
    Photon  April 29, 2016

    Not to be argumentative – There is a certain allegory to the sequence of events with Pesach (Passover) which ‘The Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur) does not have. For instance the preceding Sabbath is known as the Great Shabbat (Hagadol) and this was not only the day most Jews hold the first commandment was given (take a lamb for slaughter) excluding of course that wee bit about eating some fruit from a certain tree, but which of course was before the time of Israel. This was therefore actually Lamb Selection Day, where one was brought in doors – into the home to live. Which was a period of extreme close examination for the lamb, and which went on for four days, the checking for without blemish part. And where Elohim informed the Egyptians one of their major deity’s was going to be put to death, as the lamb was a major player in their belief system. You could well imagine the captors may have noticed the choice was made on a Shabbat a day NO work is ever done. But maybe perhaps they were now a little too shell-shocked to make much of a fuss. What ever the reason the Jews consider it another miracle since there was no negative reaction. And then you have the timing considerations where this particular one (due to timing from selection day to next Sabbath) placed the High Holy Day of Pesach (extra sabbath for the week – known as a holy day of obligation in some religions) one day just ahead of the normal weekly Shabbat. And so this gave the requisite 3days to fulfill certain requirements, And with Yom Kippur there are also certain other obligatory events on the preceding day, which might have gotten in the way.

  15. Avatar
    dragonfly  April 30, 2016

    The last question got me thinking about how important the canon is. No one goes around trying to reconcile contradictions between, say, Mark and the gospel of Peter. Why? The gospel of Peter is not in the canon, so who cares? I wonder what it would be like if there wasn’t a canon?

  16. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  April 30, 2016

    How many people aren’t even aware that such contradictions in the bible exist? I’ve went back and forth a hundred times on whether I should give certain family members and friends a copy of Misquoting Jesus. Some people’s relationships are literally held together by their faith. When they rant about things like how gay marriage is going to send the U.S. to hell, I try to educate them as best as I can. Giving them a book by a scholar carries more weight than my words, so then I have to ask myself if I want to be responsible for bringing them something that could potentially tear a family apart. It’s a dilemma.

    • SBrudney091941
      SBrudney091941  May 17, 2016

      Nothing I’ve ever said to a fundamentalist–from my snide and sarcastic arguing (when I was young) to calm rational arguing has ever changed his or her mind (and I’m a reasonably smart person with an MA in philosophy and a strong speaking voice). I know the temptation to give such people a clear and coherent book to read but, even if they were to read it (the chance of which is almost nil), confirmation bias and the reduction of cognitive dissonance would prevail and you’d have an ever-increasingly complex set of new arguments with them. I think the best you can do is to state your view and summarize your reasons without attacking their and move on to people less closed to new views and to the young who are still forming their views.

  17. Avatar
    jdubbs  April 30, 2016

    I think your comments on Acts can be applied to the WHOLE Book of Acts. Out of all the books in the NT, it has to be the most propaganda driven work. I always describe the Book of Acts to my students as “Luke loitering–with intent!” 🙂

  18. talmoore
    talmoore  April 30, 2016

    Dr. Ehrman, I have a question for your mailbag. I was raised a relatively secular Jew, so your whole previous life as an evangelical Christian is completely foreign to me — and, alas, in order to get myself into the mindframe of evangelical Christians for my research I regularly listen to Moody radio, and, yes, it’s as masochistic as one would imagine it is. So my question for you is is there anything you do, or read, or study, or whatnot, in order to get yourself into the heads of other people of non-Christian beliefs? For example, have you ever read the Qur’an or the Bhagavad Gita or the various Rabbinic literature (Talmud, Midrashim, Aggadim, etc.) etc. etc.?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      I’ve certainly read scriptures of other faiths, but I’ve never studied them intently. (When I was in college I was a counselor on Moody Radio, late at night, once night a week. Now *that* was an experience….)

      • talmoore
        talmoore  May 2, 2016

        Don’t take this the wrong way, but when I force myself to listen to Moody Radio I sometimes wonder if it’s causing me brain damage.

  19. Avatar
    Todd  April 30, 2016

    The way I deal with it is to realize that the various accounts come from different human communities having different traditions and different sources, some giving conflicting information as well as common errors in transmission. To me that strengthens these documents rather than being “canned.” I look for the overall content/theme rather than isolated details.

  20. Avatar
    VEndris  April 30, 2016

    Thank you for this explanation of Passover/Day of Atonement. I think it is because of my evangelical upbringing that its a little confusing. It seems like a big leap to make for early Christians to move from “Jesus’ death is the sacrifice that causes God’s wrath not to fall on us,” to “behold the lamb that takes away the sins of the world.” I guess the middle man is to somehow link God’s wrath to sin as Paul did. Have you written a post/book on how this progression of ideas might have happened or can you recommend one, specifically dealing with how the Passover lamb came to be known as an atonement?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 1, 2016

      No, I’ve never written about it! I think if you’re really interested you could find some interesting discussion in Raymond Brown’s book Death of the Messiah.

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