The Resurrection as a Key to Early Understandings of Jesus

A key part of my book on “How Jesus Became God” will involve a discussion of Jesus’ resurrection. One can make the case, rather easily, that apart from the Christian belief that God raised Jesus from the dead not only would no one ever have thought of him as God (since, as I will be arguing, no one thought of him as God while he was living – he himself almost certainly did not!) but that Christianity itself would not ...

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More on the Criterion of Independent Attestation

QUESTION:

Re. multiple attestation: would you elaborate on how these sources are truly independent. I’ve read comments by mythicists and others that state that all the sources actually go back to one source and that any differences in the gospel accounts can be accounted for by the theological views or the ‘agenda’ of the particular author, e.g. Matt 5:17 or Mark 3:21 (and, of course, accounted for by simple miscommunications thru’ generations).

Also, please forgive me for asking a stupid question….are there ...

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Jesus and the Historical Criteria

QUESTION:

I’ve seen, somewhere on the internet (I know, great source!) some discussion that modern scholarship is moving away from the idea of criteria (such as multiple attestation, dissimilarity, etc.) and that the use of criteria is becoming seen as outmoded. Is there any truth to this, or were these sources just blowing

 

RESPONSE:

This question is about the criteria that scholars use to establish historically reliable material about the historical Jesus.   For  background: there are several criteria that get used; the two ...

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Another Take on Jesus’ Existence

Some readers have objected to my insistence that New Testament scholars, on the whole, do not take seriously the claims of the mythicists that Jesus never existed.   I have always stressed that Jesus’ existence is known (and can be demonstrated) by thousands of New Testament scholars.  But I have also always stressed that scholarly consensus on this issue is not in itself *evidence* (my detractors among the mythicists seem to overlook this little point, when they claim that I argue that ...

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Did Jesus Speak Greek?

Several of my recent posts have elicited comments from multiple participants (same comment, asked in a variety of ways). One of them had to do with the question of the language that Jesus would have spoken with Pontius Pilate during his trial. A number of people have asked “why not Greek”? The logic behind this question/solution is that Pilate as an educated Roman would have been fluent in Greek; and Jesus, living in “Galilee of the Gentiles,” where he ...

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Questions on Jesus’ Language and on the Crucifixion

QUESTIONS:

If Jesus could not speak Latin, he must have communicated with the Romans in Aramaic. Was it common for Romans, at least of a certain class, to speak Aramaic? If not, how could Jesus have communicated with, for example, Pontius Pilate? Perhaps through a translator?

Also, are there any sources I can consult regarding my question on the crucifixion? Wikipedia does not address this issue and you yourself have stated that you believe it was a small public ceremony which coincides ...

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Autobiographical. Metzger and Me: The Squirrel Story, Part 2

HERE I CONTINUE MY REMINISCENCES OF BRUCE METZGER, MY MENTOR

As I indicated on my previous post, for years friends of mine were eager for me to find out whether the story about Metzger and the squirrel really happened. They wanted me just to ask Metzger. But there were problems with that. Among other things, if it had happened, he almost certainly wouldn’t remember, since it would have simply been something that happened with no significance to him – ...

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Paul the Persecutor and the Historical Jesus

QUESTION:

You mention in your book “Did Jesus Exist?” that Paul started his persecution of Christians in the early 30s. If he was tasked with hunting down Christians by the Sanhedrin he must have had a fairly high position among the Sanhedrin (I don’t mean that he was a member). How come he didn’t witness the crucifixion or why didn’t he in some way have firsthand knowledge of the events in immediate connection with the crucifixion?

 

RESPONSE:

Ah, an interesting question.  So, it’s ...

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Q & A with Ben Witherington: Part 10 (and last!)

Q.   In what way is the Jewish notion of a resurrection a different idea than either the fertility crop cycle idea, or what is sometimes said about pagan deities that either disappear or die?

A.   One of the reasons for thinking that the belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection is not exactly like what you can find in pagan myths about their gods is that it is solidly rooted in Jewish apocalyptic beliefs of the first century.  This should come as ...

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