11 votes, average: 4.91 out of 511 votes, average: 4.91 out of 511 votes, average: 4.91 out of 511 votes, average: 4.91 out of 511 votes, average: 4.91 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 4.91 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.

The Gospel Truth: Sometimes A Little Hazy

One of my all-time favorite interviewers is Terry Gross, the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air on NPR.  I have done her show six times over the years for various books I’ve written, and it has been a terrific experience each time.  She is an amazing interviewer.  She asks really perceptive questions and knows how to get to what is especially interesting about a guest’s work.

If you’ve listened to her show, you’ll know that it always sounds like she is in the same radio studio with the person she is interviewing, talking to them face to face.  That’s not how it is.  The person being interviewed is physically somewhere else, in a radio studio in their own location, and the interview is happening over headphones and cable hookups.  It certainly never seems that way!  But I’ve never met her face to face.

Here is an interview I did with her on March 4th, 2009 about my book “Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them).”  The book tries to present information that scholars have long known about the Bible but have not successfully communicated to a wider public.  One of the themes of the book is that this material is presented to (non-fundamentalist) seminary students during their training — so that pastors of churches do know about it.  But they normally do not tell their congregations!

One of the points I make in the book involves some of the familiar stories of the Gospels, such as: What do the Gospels say about Jesus’ birth? How did Judas die? What did Jesus say when he was crucified?  As I point out in the book, and in the interview, the answers to these questions vary from one Gospel to another, and it is probably a mistake to “smash the four Gospels into one big Gospel and think you get the true understanding.”


Please adjust gear icon for 720p High-Definition:

IF YOU DON”T BELONG TO THE POST, JOIN!!!  It doesn’t cost much money and you get meaty posts 5-6 times a week.  And every dime of your membership fee goes to help the needy.  So Join!

How Do We Know When the Gospels Were Written: A Mailbag Blast from the Past
The Standard Greek New Testament Today



  1. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  February 18, 2017

    I decided to listen to a couple more of Gross’s podcasts with other people since she’s so immensely popular. I did like the interview for How Jesus Became God a bit more. I got the impression that she had taken the time to read the book based on the questions she asked, and they were questions that popped into my own mind when I read it. Still, I think her interviews have more of an informational tone to them. Your books have controversial subject matter, so my expectation for an interview is that tough questions are going to be asked–Barbara Walters style. 🙂

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2017

      Thanks! Yup, and I absolutely love the cover.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  February 19, 2017

        Love the subtitle!

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  February 20, 2017

          Who thought of the subtitle? It’s genius

          • Bart
            Bart  February 20, 2017

            My editor. She’s great.

          • Avatar
            dragonfly  February 20, 2017

            Yeah, that subtitle is awesome. Everyone loves a David and Goliath story.

  2. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  February 19, 2017

    I am going through a period, decades really, of frustration. I find your work extremely interesting and one would think that it would be very, very important to Christians to study historical questions about the Bible such as canonization, textual criticism, and historical criticism. Yet, what I have found is that almost no one is interested in such subjects despite their claiming that Christianity is the most import thing in their lives. I guess I just don’t get it. Has this been frustrating to you as well and, if so, how have you understood this issue and adjusted to it so well? Shouldn’t the critical examination of the Bible be crucial to Christians? This lack of critical examination has really made it impossible for me to attend churches, but I miss the social connections which you can only get if you share the correct beliefs.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2017

      I have to say, I rarely have that problem, since I talk mainly to self-selecting audiences who have come hear me speak, not to regular ole folk who don’t really care. But yes, I can imagine that being massively frustrating!

    • Avatar
      dragonfly  February 20, 2017

      Have you asked people why they’re not interested the history of the bible? I’d be interested in their responses.

  3. Avatar
    DavidBeaman  February 19, 2017

    In the interview, you say that because there is no afterlife, or so you think, people should grab onto the life that we have and make the most of it. This gives you a greater appreciation of your life. However, the fact is that due to politics, poverty, and the bad actors that there are in this life, among other factors, a great many people will never be able to make the most of their lives and your view cannot and will not give them any significant comfort. Through your foundation, you try to make life better for some, but it is a drop in the bucket and no amount of well-meant charity will be able to reach a great many who, for various reasons, will never receive that charity. These people need the hope of a better afterlife, a hope that cannot yet be proven true or false, but currently exists only as a matter of faith.

    Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether God, the divine or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable. This neither affirms, nor denies that these things could be true. It only states that they are unknowable. But unknowable in what way? Many things were unknown and seemingly unknowable to us for very ling periods of time throughout human existence until they were discovered and found to be knowable and known. Furthermore, logic states that just because something has never happened doesn’t mean that it can’t or won’t happen.

    I am gratified that in this interview you allowed yourself to be called an agnostic and did not introduce the word atheist in reference to yourself, which to me carries a hostility that being an agnostic does not. Certainly, you are not hostile prone.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 21, 2017

      Yup, it’s a drop in a bucket. But if enough people put in drops, it helps, at least. Better to do good than to do harm.

      • Avatar
        DavidBeaman  February 21, 2017

        Yes, much better. And I highly respect you for doing what you do. However, I do so want there to be more for these people than just to live in constant suffering and then to become non-existent with all their thoughts, dreams, hopes and all that makes them human disintegrated. That is ultimately why so many need to believe in an afterlife that is better than this life.

        I don’t want to cease to be; and I don’t want you to cease to be. You have accomplished so much, learned so much, think so many good thoughts and enrich so many lives. Certainly, you are loved and love. That great mind of yours is filled with so much. And there are and have been others – in fact, everyone – who, in their own way, also have full minds that should not disappear.

        Here, I think of the old song, “What’s it all about, Alfie. Is it just for the moment we live?” What a waste, what a shame, if it all just ceases.

        Do not go gentle into that good night,
        Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        I know Dylan Thomas wrote that in response to his father going blind, but it is the way I feel about a death that is an end without a new beginning.

        • Avatar
          The Agnostic Christian  March 2, 2017

          Wishful thinking doesn’t make it so either. Based on your logic we should hold out hope that leprechauns and fairies exist because no one has actually proven they don’t exist.

          Thing is, you cannot prove a negative. So a god’s existence will never be disproven. The real question is whether there is any evidence to suggest a god does exist. Bart and many others like him think not. At best there might be some sort of “god of the philosophers”, but none of the gods that currently rule in any of the organized religions. And if none of those gods then no god has yet revealed itself. And if not then faith is paramount to delusion.

          Your own consciousness and awareness does not prove or justify belief in an eternal soul. It could be argued better that on an evolutionary level you are simply expressing a desire billions of years old: survival. No living organism wants to die, but we humans with our evolved inquisitive brains have confused ourselves with fictions and fantasies we have never experienced and have no way of testing.

          • Avatar
            DavidBeaman  March 3, 2017

            The soul cannot yet be proven to exist based on evidence. That may change someday. There has been some recent scientific interest in looking into it. It may one day be proven. It has taken mankind thousands of years to discover some things. So, who knows? We are both gamblers. You are gambling that you will die and cease to exist, and I am gambling that I have an eternal soul and will continue to exist in some form after death. Neither one of us may ever know who wins, or we may both know that I win.

  4. Avatar
    Jayredinger  February 20, 2017

    Hi Bart, just for your information, I come out of a Christian cult where the leaders claim to have performed many miracles in Jesus name, including the healing of ten blind men. These stories are even recounted in their books and are generally believed by all and sundry in our modern world. Nobody checks to find out if these incidents actually took place, especially the members and adherents of the sect as this would be considered a serious lack of faith and punishable by God. Somebody did try and locate the ten blind people who were healed of blindness, but not one could be found. The excuses ranged from, “they have moved and we don’t know where they live anymore” to “oh. they have passed away.” Even though I was part of this group I never experienced any of these miracles and always simply put it down to just being unlucky, ie. not being at the right place at the right time.

    • Avatar
      jdub3125  February 26, 2017

      There were no miracles performed here.

  5. Avatar
    The Agnostic Christian  March 2, 2017

    I think it would be a great idea if you could record your blog posts. On video for YouTube, and on audio for SoundCloud and Spotify would be great. The ad revenue on YouTube (if set up) would help your charity even more and every play on Spotify would earn a little bit. Not sure if there is a monetary element to SoundCloud but I get it totally for free.

    I’m so busy these days with work and family, that I very rarely get to read a post, but listening to a short podcast in the car would be way more doable on a regular basis.

  6. Avatar
    Healy53  October 12, 2017

    Sir, thank you for being born. I’m a recently born (not necessarily born-again) agnostic and a recovering roman catholic. this conversation with Ms. Gross and your debate with Michael Brown on Suffering are both quite powerful and provided me great comfort since i am uncomfortable with life in a country that seems overwhelmingly theist — despite skepticism for my compatriots’ presumed theistic belief — and I’m hopeful that you’ll share a transcript of your closing statement with Mr. Brown since your invocation of ecclesiastes is worthy of daily review by agnostics who feel like outcasts.


You must be logged in to post a comment.