This is the title I’d like for my next book.  Of course, I may change my mind (it happens all the time) and of greater moment, what I propose to my publisher as a title book often ends up having little effect or influence on the actual title.  Publishers have the final say on that, and even though there is a lot of back and forth, discussion, and negotiation – in the end, well, good luck winning *that* decision!

Even so, it’s what I’m calling the book now because I think it encapsulates what I want to say in it.  My view is that Jesus’ teachings on how to live in relation to others were radically different from what can be found in (a) the teachings of Greek and Roman moralists (“moral philosophers”), (b) on the ground, in the Roman empire generally (among non-philosophers) (insofar as we can tell how people normally lived, given the scarcity of our sources of information), and (c) even in the Hebrew Bible tradition in which Jesus “lived, moved, and had his being.”

The Jewish tradition was, of course, normative for him, deeply influencing his own teachings in every way.  They too were quite distinct from the ethical teachings found virtually everywhere else in the Mediterranean world — especially Jewish teachings of the crucial importance before God of helping the poor, the outcast, the hungry, the needy.  That is a teaching central to the Hebrew prophets of Scripture, such as Amos and Isaiah.  Jesus endorsed this view whole-heartedly.

But he also radicalized it, in two ways and for one reason.

To summarize the matter as briefly as possible (hopefully without oversimplifying it beyond all recognition):

  1. Whom to help
    1. In the pagan ethical tradition, people were to treat their families, friends, and social equals well, even in altruistic ways at times, when they were in need.
    2. In the Jewish ethical tradition, such as found in Amos and Isaiah, Israelites were to treat fellow Israelites in altruistic ways when they were in need (not just families, friends, and social equals, but – all other Israelites)
    3. Jesus expanded compassion further, not just to family members, friends, and social equals; and not just to fellow Israelites who share the same God, cultic practices, customs, heritage, history, and so on, but to ALL people who were in need: Fellow Jews, Samaritans, pagans, enemies!\
  2. How much to help
    1. The pagan moral teachers insisted that it was a good, noble, and virtuous thing to help those in need (as specified above) when it was possible to do so. That’s how you ought to live in order to be a good person who could be pleased with who you were and how you lived.
    2. Jewish moral teachers such as the Hebrew prophets insisted that it was essential before God to help fellow Israelites in need. This was more important than following the cultic laws of sacrifice and worship.  Those who had resources were decidedly not to exploit the poor but help them when they were in need by providing them some of their own resources.
    3. Jesus’ taught that one should devote one’s entire life to helping those in need and to give all that one had for the sake of the poor. Helping those in need was the ultimate point of life; one should not worry about what to eat and drink – let alone about eating and drinking well, having fine clothes, a nice house, or any other material possession.  One should live strictly for God and give everything not needed for pure survival to those in need. In fact, one should be willing to die for the sake of others.
  3. Why Do So
    The first two points are about Jesus’ radicalized view of ethics; this final one is about the reason for living (and/or dying) this way.

    1. In the pagan ethical tradition, going back to Aristotle, the point of moral behavior was to promote personal well-being (to put it in its simplest terms); the word almost always used is EUDAIMONIA. You will recognize the word DAIMON in it, a word that in later Christian texts comes almost always to mean “demon.”  But a DAIMON in the Greek tradition was not a wicked fallen angel set on making life miserable for people; it was a lower-level divinity more intimately connected with people than the great gods.  Often it was a good and helpful being.  Socrates famously claimed he was led by his DAIMON to know right from wrong – and so it was more of a guardian angel.  The word DAIMONION, based on DAIMON, could mean something like “heaven-sent” or “divine.”

The first two letters of EUDAIMONIA (EU) mean “good” or “well.”  And so a person who has EUDAIMONIA has a “happy” (divinely blessed) life – not in the sense of a shallow and transient emotion (“Gee I’m happy today”) but in the sense of feeling self-satisfied (in the good way) or contented with life and how one is living it.  All is well.

The different philosophical schools (Aristotelians, Platonists, Stoics, Epicureans, Cynics, etc.) had different advice for how to attain EUDAIMONIA – that’s one of the big things that made them all different; but they all had it as a goal.  Helping family and friends in need is a way to make you a good person, virtuous, self-content, and happy.  So that’s why you should do it.  Virtue is good for your character, good for your life, good for you.

2. In the Jewish tradition of the prophets, the point of moral behavior is to please God (again, to put it in its simplest terms). God has told Israelites how to behave in relation to one another and how to worship him.  The Torah (Law of Moses) is all about that – worship practices (rituals, sacrifices, festivals, sabbath, sacred places, etc) and communal life (how to behave individually and as a community).  The “people of God” were set apart from all others and so needed to live in certain ways.

Those who refused to help others in need in the broader community were not living in imitation of God who saved a needy people from their oppression at the Exodus, or in obedience to his Law, which stresses the need to “love your (Israelite) neighbor as yourself.”  People who fail to do that will be punished.  If the nation as a whole is filled with such people, then it too will be punished.

In the Hebrew Bible the punishment is never eternal damnation to torment in hell.  There is no hell in the Hebrew Bible.  The punishment comes in this life, usually in the form of physical suffering sent from God, from famine to earthquake to drought to crop-failure to military defeat to national destruction (see Amos 3-5 e.g.).   The prophets insist on this point in book after book after book, page after page.  It’s their main point.  (Their purpose is NOT to predict a future messiah!!  Just read them sometime!)

3. In Jesus’ teachings the point of moral behavior again is to please God, as in the broader Jewish tradition, but it is also in order to receive the glorious Kingdom of God that is coming and to avoid annihilation at the future resurrection of the dead. Jesus was an apocalyptic Jew (like the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, John the Baptist, etc.), who believed the end was imminent.  It was coming VERY soon.  God was soon to enter into history to destroy all that was evil in the world, everything and everyone who opposed him and his purposes.

This day of judgment would affect not only the living at the time but also those who had already died.  Everyone would be raised, bodily, from the dead and either shown the errors of their ways and annihilated or received into God’s glorious eternal kingdom.  Those were the two choices.

And who would enter into the kingdom?  Those who lived completely for others.  How completely?  Giving away everything if need be, to allow others to survive.  Not just Jews.  Not just people who follow the right ways of worship.  All people, Jew and Gentile, who live for others.

Is this feasible and practicable?  Not if the world will be lasting for another 2000 years.  But if this age of evil is coming to a crashing halt sometime soon – a few years, a few months, a few days – then of course, it makes sense to do your utmost to show your devotion to the God of all so as to enter into the kingdom.  Give it away.  Help the needy.  Don’t be concerned about what you eat and drink.  Seek first the kingdom of God!


Thus Jesus’ radical ethical teachings were based on a deeply apocalyptic premise that “you will not die before all these things take place.”  My new way of understanding Jesus’ teachings is that they were Jewish ethics on apocalyptic steroids.

And that’s why no one follows them today.  At least no one I’ve ever met.  (It’s true, I’ve heard of some people, but even they….)   And in fact, that’s why just a couple of decades after Jesus’ death his followers were already modifying his views, and returning his radical teachings into something more practicable, such as “give a lot” rather than “give it all” or “be generous” rather than “take up your cross.”   Etc.

Even those *modified* teachings were significant for the ancient world, and in fact changed the world for all time for the good, and a good part of my book will be about that.  But they weren’t the teachings of Jesus himself.

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2023-06-12T10:38:12-04:00June 13th, 2023|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus|

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  1. SC June 13, 2023 at 7:02 am


    You’re cherry picking the NT for the best sayings attributed to Jesus.
    “Jesus expanded compassion further, not just to family members” vs

    Luke 14:26
    Matt 10:35
    I’ve seen first hand families torn apart by religious differences – there is nothing compassionate about it.

    “Jesus expanded compassion further, not just to family members, friends, and social equals; and not just to fellow Israelites who share the same God, cultic practices, customs, heritage, history, and so on, but to ALL people who were in need: Fellow Jews, Samaritans, pagans, enemies!”

    Matt 15:24

    NT Jesus could be verbally abusive and verbal abuse has nothing to do with compassion.

    at the 1:24:20 – 36 mark: “The Jesus I think is historical is not the one I would want.”

    And yet the NT Jesus is the one you would want?
    These teachings changed the world alright. In some ways for better in some ways for worse. Apocalyptic rhetoric and exclusivity have consequences. See American Holocaust by David Stannard.
    You’re engaging in exactly what most do construct a Jesus they feel comfortable with by cherry picking the NT – an already highly glossed life written by a fan club.

    There is clearly both good and bad in his teachings.

    Thanks for the time,

    • dabizi June 13, 2023 at 7:39 pm

      Bart, regarding the listed verses Luke 14:26 (and similar Matt 10:35), can it be argued these are perhaps interpolations (or potentially changed from what Jesus originally said), given that what immediately follows Luke 14:26 is Luke 14:27, which reads “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”… unless one is a very traditional believer, Jesus-the-man could not have known in advance he would eventually die on the cross (and therefore this was ostensibly added to any list of his sayings)? Further, the word choice of “hate”, while striking in the English language (particularly to a reader with a more concrete thought-process), sounds similar to other uses “hate” in the Hebrew bible… Deuteronomy 21:15 (two wives, one loved and one hated), Genesis 29:31 (Leah was hated, while Rachel was loved), Malachi 1:2-3 (Jacob was loved and Esau was hated)… is the English language idea of “hate” what is intended?

      Isn’t it more likely the point of Luke 14:26 / Matt 10:35 is that Jesus is advising that if you follow him you must be prepared to have family members dislike you, but, importantly, Jesus is not advising followers to hate unsupportive family members?

      • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 7:11 am

        I would say that certainly the statements about bearing the cross have to be secondary, added after his death. But the drum-beat of insistence that people sacrifice for the sake of others is attested widely (including without the cross statements) and appears to go back to Jesus himself. Jesus and his disciples appear genuinely to have left their families to pursue their mission, and it seems plausible that he thought that this is what true commitment loks like.

    • dabizi June 13, 2023 at 8:15 pm

      Regarding Matt 15:24, who knows how much of Matthew is historical and reflects what the historical Jesus actually said and did?… given that Matthew was written by a Jewish Christian who sought to show that Jesus fulfilled Hebrew scripture (including Matt 15:24 and Matt 10:5-6 with respect to Old Testament verses like Jeremiah 50:6 and Micah 5:4).
      It may be hard to know what was actually said by Jesus as related in Matthew (or any of the gospels), given that the author of Matthew came decades after Jesus and was trying to make a theological point.

      Too bad there is not a “historian’s bible”, like the Jefferson Bible, except rather than cutting out anything superstitious, just cut out anything that is unlikely to reflect the historical Jesus.

    • Martin Brody June 18, 2023 at 7:10 pm

      I don’t see these statements of Jesus to be necessarily inconsistent. As Bart points out he was preaching a very radically different moral principals. And to large degree, as Bart points out, this would not necessarily be practical for a continuing civilization. Thus, for Jesus to emphasize that one needs to strictly adhere to these teachings would invite criticism as and animosity from even one’s closest relatives. I also think Jesus understood, during his lifetime, the unpopularity of his message and therefore you don’t even need his crucifixion in order to make these statements make sense in the context of his other sayings.

  2. jsgleeson June 13, 2023 at 8:19 am

    That sounds like a great book topic, Bart. I can’t wait to read it (or, more likely, listen to it).

    But SC makes some great points above, which I hope you’ll address.

    • Hank_Z June 16, 2023 at 1:24 pm

      Bart, when will (or did) you finish your book that’s immediately prior to the one you describe here?

      • BDEhrman June 24, 2023 at 12:07 pm

        Sorry, I’m not sure which of mybooks you’re asking about. My most recent book was Armageddon, which came out in March.

  3. fishician June 13, 2023 at 8:59 am

    It seems to me that the early church realized that Jesus’s teachings were not applicable to the long term, they only worked in a short-term apocalyptic setting, but the church wasn’t willing to admit that Jesus got the time frame wrong. So they softened the message so it would work in the long term while ignoring Jesus’s error.

    • sLiu June 20, 2023 at 7:09 pm

      The “church” I grew up & was baptized in preached & still believe that every other Christian before them is fallen.

      Though my aunt [deacon & perhaps her husband was an elder, as her father was] admits that I was screwed, there is no way to be an overcomer except through them.

      I definitely have their hypocrisies stated as Jesus preached. But how can American Christians believe what they did leading up to Trump’s election. As what they spout is clearly not NT
      new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist national poll that shows that Trump’s GOP base is still steadfast. Eighty-three percent of Republicans think Trump should stay in the race. That’s compared to 56% of Americans overall who think Trump should drop out of the race. And that split is also seen when you ask people, did Trump do something illegal? Fifty percent of Americans say he did. Fifty percent of Republicans, and that’s up from 45% in March, say he did nothing wrong.

  4. TimOBrien June 13, 2023 at 11:30 am

    Very well said, professor! I look forward to reading this next book — whatever title the publisher gives it.

    I came to realize just how radical the teachings of Jesus were back in my junior year of (RC) high school — now more than half a century ago 😳 — and have been trying to suss them out ever since. I must confess BTW to taking no small pleasure a couple of years later in confounding the draft board by repeatedly quoting Jesus to a gaggle of military officers who *claimed* they believed him to be the Son of God!

    The reason “Christians” don’t understand, much less follow, Jesus’ teachings is because they don’t even recognize, much less appreciate, just how surpassingly spiritual they were.

    Sayings like “Love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek,” or “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink” seem so utterly unrealistic and other-worldly because they are!

    These make perfect sense to anyone who truly believes that the purpose of this life is not about this life, but aspiring to a higher, more transcendent one.

    IMHO to understand the Christ forget Paul and study exegeses of his kindred spirit, the Buddha.

  5. illogician June 13, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    I’m curious what historical grounds there are for thinking that Jesus pleas for compassion extended to gentiles. We do see this in the Gospels of the NT, but I wonder if the Gospels could be reflecting post-crucifixion trends in Christian thought. Isn’t it the case that Jesus’ apostles objected to Paul’s contention that pagans did not need to become Jews to be followers of Jesus? I could see how compassion and cultic membership might be separate issues, but I’d like to better understand what the historical grounds are here.

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 6:55 am

      The parable of the Sheep and the Goats and teh parable of the Good Samaritan (the first I think almost cretainly does go back to Jesus, the other may well have) show this.

  6. Moshe25 June 13, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Dr Ehrman, I just heard you on Paulogia’s channel saying that there is a first hand account of Romulus coming down from heaven as well as Apollonius of Tyana, as well as second hand evidence of the miracles of the Ba’al Shem Tov. Where can I look up those accounts for myself?

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 6:59 am

      Romulus: Livy, History of Rome 1.16; Ba’al Shem Tov: Dan Ben-Amos and Jerome R. Mintz, eds., In Praise of The Baal Shem Tov [Shivhei ha-Besth]. (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1993) (an editoin of the original accounts). I disucss the first in my book How Jesus Became God and the second in my book Jesus Before the Gospels. disabledupes{82436cba10b9a85b3b265584dab65157}disabledupes

  7. Serene June 13, 2023 at 3:09 pm

    I believe he pioneered charitableness and you’ve outlined this well , but more of a gated-community type. Imo, campaigning for tetrarch influenced his giveaways.

    Galilee-Peraea wasn’t a democracy, but popular support was important to Rome to prevent civil unrest. Rome laurel-crowned candidates to see how the crowd reacts. Isn’t that similiar?

    Mark 10:30

    “…It will come back to him a hundred times as much in this lifetime…”

    Sounds like, “Bet on me. I and my wealthy father will compensate you when I win.”

    There’s nuance. Parable of the Minas outlines the same penalty for not *creating money* as Strabo says Nabataeans had.

    And there’s “Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give’ – Didache.

    Oessenes (if Epiphanius is correct) and Revelation/gJohn assert that this son of a handmaiden to a god-king, Jesus, did become king. Just not of Jews inside Palestine. I mean, Herod the Great was Arab.

    Wine bibber and feaster maybe, perfume liker definitely, it resembles Nabataeans who lived sumptuously and dressed simply.

    There was state health care in Petra, going by the inscriptions. And archaeologists have found no poverty there, but Petra was impossible to get to for poor folk. The Siq = the Narrow Way.

  8. edecter June 13, 2023 at 4:52 pm

    Really enjoyed this post, as it helped clarify in simple terms what you see as Jesus’ fundamental break with wider Jewish tradition and moral teaching.

    The thing I’m hung up on is the argument that Jesus broadened teachings about caring for one’s fellow Israelites to all people, Jewish and Gentile. Aren’t there several instances in the gospels where Jesus explicitly says that his message is for his fellow Jews and instructs his disciples to preach to Jews and not Gentiles?

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 7:05 am

      Yup. I’m talking about the historical Jesus, not as he’s portrayed in the Gopsels per se. In the Gospels there are passages that say that Jesus came *only* to Jews; that probably needed to be said because so many people were by then saying that he was mainly for *gentiles*; and that would have been a later development. I don’t think Jesus himself, in history, would have had to insist that he was ministering only to Jews. Jews were all he had around him. Later missionaries, though, had to deal with the question. BUT, Jesus does give some good indicatoins that Jews were to treat others outside of Judaism well (Sheep and the Goats, Good Samaritan, etc.)

      • Serene June 16, 2023 at 2:04 pm

        You made a LED lightbulb go on over my head with this, so I thought I’d share it with you Dr. Ehrman.

        “ In the Gospels there are passages that say that Jesus came *only* to Jews…”

        Could it be because of the people who recognize him as the Son of God would implicitly not be lineage Jewish? Son of God is the common name for princes in the ANE.

        “I don’t think Jesus himself, in history, would have had to insist that he was ministering only to Jews. Jews were all he had around him.”

        Wasn’t Northern Galilee majority *Iturean* per Josephus, until ~20 BCE when lineage Arab Herod the Great conquers it? HTG also moves freed slaves to populate Galilee — freed slaves are generally *converts*.

        Then there is the Decapolis (not majority Jewish. When it happens in Very Jewish Judaea, they make sure to point out it’s a Roman soldier (meaning a Syrian Auxillary).

        If Jesus’ bio dad is an Abrahamic divine king, there would be a need for explanation as to why Jesus wants to rule Jews. King Herod Agrippa, mostly lineage Arab, but who finally *does* have some lineage Jewishness, is given both Jewish and Arab kingdoms.

        • BDEhrman June 24, 2023 at 12:09 pm

          Galilee at the time was almost entirely Jewish, except for some gentile presence in the larger cities (Tiberius and Sepphoris); “king of the Jews” in this setting wold mean “messiah.”

  9. Neurotheologian June 13, 2023 at 5:49 pm

    Hi Bart You make an interesting point that effectively Jesus’s “Jewish ethics on apocalyptic steroids” was altruism gone too far, or at least impractical altruism or maybe impossible altruism. Can altruism go too far even if the Kingdom of God is not “at hand”? Surely one could argue that if the afterlife is real, and eternal (or perhaps everlasting) and this life is clearly temporary (even if the baptism of or and the great and terrible day of the Lord or the coming of the son of man, is not imminent) then maybe one indeed can’t be *too* altruistic?

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 7:07 am

      Yup, that’s what eventually happens. Extreme altruism for the sake of rewards in heaven. (With the concomitant question: is that really altruism? Behavior motivated by an amazing, eternal reward?)

  10. Apocryphile June 13, 2023 at 7:03 pm

    I think this is a great topic for your next book, since most people don’t know about these differences in moral philosophy between Jesus and his wider cultural context. In one way, however, the ancients perhaps had it one-up on us. At least in the U.S., and perhaps in the wider western world, when it comes to caring for our immediate families, I think we often fall short. In 19th century America and England, there was a view that anyone who was poor had mostly themselves to blame. This was evident in the workhouses of Victorian England and in the attitudes of the wealthy industrialists and abysmal and dangerous working conditions in the factories and sweatshops here in the U.S. Unfortunately, there is still a holdover of these harsh attitudes even today, and even within our immediate families. There is an unstated and largely unconscious assumption that every nuclear family should be financially self-sufficient. Our closest family members – our brothers, sisters, etc. might go out of their way to help us in other ways, but when it comes to $, that’s usually a different story, even if they’re quite comfortable themselves.

  11. giselebendor June 13, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    Very impressive article!

    Jesus intuits that many will not be able to follows the most extreme decrees.The example from Matthew 19 ,11-12 specifically addresses total celibacy,but it can be easily inferred that other themes would fit as well.

    “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given……..He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”

    Perhaps one cannot say that “nobody”can follow Jesus’ teachings.Monks,for example,fulfill both celibacy and poverty vows.

    Later,Jesus recites some of the commandments, including “honor your father and your mother”.Jesus,however,didn’t honor his mother,and elsewhere recommended to the disciples to “hate” their families.

    Moreover,after reminding more than once “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” and not to get angry,he states that he will turn families one against another and bring strife to the world.

    The example of the rich young man not being able to dispossess himself-wouldn’t he also dispossess his entire family?-and thus being( unfairly)banned from the Kingdom appears to confirm how difficult it was to take extreme paths,already with Jesus present.

    In these second instances,though,instead of people not been able to comply with extreme dictates,it is Jesus who doesn’t comply with the 5th commandment.

    Did Jesus really expect people adopting extreme life choices? Couldn’t we say that he knew what was or wasn’t possible?

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 7:09 am

      My hunch is that Jesus really said it and meant it, but htat later editors (and story tellers) added the provisos (Of course, no one… But only those… etc.)

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 7:09 am

      My hunch is that Jesus really said it and meant it, but htat later editors (and story tellers) added the provisos (Of course, no one… But only those… etc.)

    • Serene June 16, 2023 at 4:14 pm

      Gisele, good insight. I think it takes a women to see what you wrote:

      “Jesus, however, didn’t honor his mother,and elsewhere recommended to the disciples to ‘hate’ their families.”

      Maybe he’s honoring her with his presence? There is a lot of writing honoring mothers in the Ancient World First Century and prior. Beautiful things are said.

      Here’s Pliny:

      “…that I can find no higher praise – great mother of a great woman…”

      Mary: Son, why have you treated us like this?

      Jesus: Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers…”

      The third time he gives her away.

      It all makes sense if you just read it as written – Mary says she’s a doule, that’s a slave handmaiden. But to who?

      Wealthy Arab divinized kings were encouraged to free their slave handmaidens after first birth.

      I can only find academic attestation to the 6th C so far, but hey, up until recently, our earliest NT was a thousand years old. Josephus wrote that a member of Herod the Great’s royal household was in a relationship with a slave woman, so this type of thing existed.

  12. dankoh June 13, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    I’d make a further distinction between pre-exile (Babylonian) Israelite thinking and post-exile Jewish thinking. In the former, God punishes the community or the nation, not the individual (David’s affair with Bathsheba being a singular exception, perhaps because as king, his acts affected the whole nation). During the exile, Ezekiel and Jeremiah both revoked the national rule (everyone is now responsible for their own sins). There is a shift in emphasis toward individual morality and less on community responsibility for individual failings. I think this could be extended to Jesus’s thinking – and particularly to that of his followers with their emphasis on the salvation of the individual, even at the expense of the community.

    Certainly, the morals proposed by Jesus cannot sustain a community for long, and are only workable if the eschaton is on its way. I do like the line “Jewish ethics on apocalyptic steroids”, by the way.

  13. bestewart June 14, 2023 at 12:54 am

    Hello Dr. Ehrman,
    I have never believed for a second that historical figures in the old testament lived to 900+ years old. Something like 9 humans from Adam to Noah are claimed to have lived longer than 700+ years old. I have also heard the evangelical explanation that the atmosphere was different back then. That they didn’t have all the harmful UV rays and things we have today, thus the effect of the original sin sparked the degradation of life spans, congruent with science. This is laughable and cannot be taken seriously in my view. Have you blogged about this topic? Sorry if I missed it! Please shed some light on where this all came from? Is it an age miscalculation? Is it a social construct of creating an extra honorable attribute, giving someone who looks freaking old a crazy long age to esteem them into a new level of legendary respect? Where else in history has this trick been played? I’m trying to be open to any interpretation, but I’m guessing that the evidence won’t hold up to any such real plausibility.
    Thank you! Brad

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 7:13 am

      It’s very common in ancient texts of varoius cultures to claim that humans in antiquity lived to extreme ages. It’s one way of tlaking about the “Golden Age” or the “Good ole Days”….

    • sLiu June 20, 2023 at 7:16 pm

      My dad’s girlfriend Stanford PhD both worked at Xerox Parc:

      Replied to me concerning this: They calculated time differently then

  14. giselebendor June 14, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    Could Jesus have expected that every Jew- and some Gentiles too- in the Land of Israel,including women, children and the elderly,would quit everything everywhere and follow him, by the hundreds of thousands , in his itinerant life of poverty, or else all of those hundreds of thousands would not enter the Kingdom?

    The Damocles sword suspended by Jesus over the heads of the wealthy ,threatened with being left out of the Kingdom ( being left out was an often uttered threat in the Gospels ) only for being rich, even if they, who, unlike the chronically pious poor, were able to raise fortunes that would be used in large part to care for the voluntarily poor and indigent, would seem a vision of Communism.

    Is this a tenable option considered by scholars?

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 7:18 am

      Seems unlikely. But I too know some people with unrealistic expectations today… 🙂

  15. ChimpoChimperoo June 16, 2023 at 1:05 am

    Hello Group,

    I must say I’m a bit surprised at Bart’s comment about Jesus Radicalism and its positivity. I agree substantially with SD’s critique.

    Even if you cherry pick as I believe Bart does on this one, and if you say that Jesus ascetic view made him more radical and generally more inclusive and positive concerning charity and morality, and if you conclude that this is because he believed the end time was immanent, the fact is that the end time didn’t come immediately and may never come at all. So practically speaking, what was the overall affect of the teachings: a set of principles that is impractical; a closed philosophical system that is anti intellectual and therefore easy to manipulate for evil purposes???

    • BDEhrman June 16, 2023 at 7:21 am

      I”m not sure I”m understanding your objection. First there’s a difference between drawing conclusions from a historical analysis and cherry picking (since historical analysis is precisely meant to counter cherry picking); and second, I agree the end didn’t come. But I don’t see why that means Jesus’ thought it wouldn’t. And if his teachings are easy to manipulate, why would that mean they weren’t his teachings?

  16. J.J. June 17, 2023 at 12:17 am

    Bart, just curious… why do you think the Parable of the Good Samaritan goes back to the historical Jesus? It’s one of six times that Luke omits an episode in Mark and then rewrites it in his own Lukan way in a different context with typical Lukan emphases. The pericope is simply the Lukan version of the Great Commandment (Mk 12:28-34; Mt 22:34-40).

    • BDEhrman June 24, 2023 at 12:19 pm

      I wouldn’t say it’s a Lukan rewriting / revision of a saying, since it’s a parable. I see it as an “add-on” not a “re-write.” I’m open to it being authentic, but am not completely convinced about it, because virtually everything in it coincides with themes that I htknk can be reliable traced back to Jesus and seems to have originated with someone familiar with the geography and religious institutoins/practices of Israel itself (as opposed to Luke!). But I’m open to be persuaded otherwise.

  17. Jacurr June 20, 2023 at 6:10 am

    Bart in Acts 2 42 the early Christians followed the teaching of the apostles. Interesting how they don’t say those of sure they thought it was on par.
    However, that said, many Christians at least aspired to Jesus’s radical moral teachings, viz the Desert Fathers, martyrs, and of course vowed religious orders through the centuries. They aspired, but always needed reform. Human nature! Would that aspiration be considered in your book maybe? Many thousands lived lives in the belief that they were as close as possible to Jesus’s moral teachings.

    • BDEhrman June 27, 2023 at 9:29 am

      Many millions still do today. And lots and lots of them ain’t even close….

  18. bbayer1976 September 6, 2023 at 4:51 pm

    What’s the expected publishing date for this one? Looking forward to it.

    • BDEhrman September 10, 2023 at 2:01 pm

      Normally a book would be published about a year after the author has sent in the final manuscript. I’m *hoping* to have it written before next summer, but who knows. Life often gets in the way….

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