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The Sixth Anniversary of the Blog!

Today marks the sixth-year anniversary of the blog.  It’s hard to believe, but, well, it’s been six years today.  Time to look back and see how we’re doing and look forward to figure out what we can do better.

So, first, to start in terms of raw numbers.   In terms of posts, I’ve added them up and it turns out I have made 275 over the past year.   That’s about 5.3 per week – so basically five with some extras thrown in now and then.  That’s the pace that feels about right to me.  It gives people a lot of bang for their buck, but it gives me a couple of days a week when I can luxuriate in knowing I don’t need to work on the blog.  Good all around.

Total numbers since starting six years ago: 1739 blog posts.  That’s 5.6+ per week, so I’ve slowed down a bit, but I don’t plan on slowing down any more.   Some of those 1739 are repeats: over the past couple of years I’ve started reposting every week or two a blog post from three or four years earlier, on the assumptions that a) most blog members weren’t members then and so didn’t see the post yet; b) since I don’t remember writing the thing it’s likely that people who read it back then won’t be intimately familiar with it either; and most important c) if it was worth saying once it is probably worth saying again.  I haven’t heard any complaints about this practice, and have gotten some positive feedback, so I’ll plan on continuing for now, not as a steady diet but every week or two.

I have received, read, and posted 15,753 comments over the past.  That’s just over 300 a week. For the life of the blog the number is 65,037, which comes to just  over about 190 per week.  That means the comments are on the rise.   I do try to answer every question I get.  If I miss one (or several) (or many) it’s simply because I’m working as quickly as I can and might miss something.   Even though the numbers of comments/queries are increasing with time (as one might expect with a growing venture) so far it is not a burden I can’t handle.

It normally takes me from an hour to an hour and a half to deal with the blog every day: I write a post, edit the post, post the post, put it on facebook, answer queries on facebook connected to the blog, then deal with comments (typically 50 a day) on the blog itself.  If it gets more onerous, I’ll have to go to Plan B.  Whatever that is.  (People have suggested lots of options; so far I’ve been stubborn.)

The reason the comments are increasing is because the blog is growing.  As it turns out, it’s a bit hard to count the people who have joined the blog, because there are some year-long members, some three-month members, some one-month trials, some people who are cancelled but not yet off the blog, and other fuzzy categories that I don’t completely grasp.  But by my count we are up to about 5500 members of one sort or another.

I would like to grow that more and more, of course, since that’s more or less the point, even if it creates certain headaches for me (given the fact that no matter how much I’ve begged and pleaded, I’m still allowed only 1440 minutes in the day and 7 days in the week).  The reason it’s the point is that from my perspective the blog is not only about disseminating knowledge/information about the NT/Jesus/ the history of earliest Christianity/and all related topics (though it certainly is about *that*) but also about raising money for charity.  The more who join, the better!

On the money angle — the part I am most keenly interested in — we have resumed impressive growth after we appeared to have bottomed out in 2016-17.  This year (2017-18) we raised a record $137,000 for charity.  That’s $20,000 more than the year before, roughly a 17% growth rate.  Now *that’s* good.   At this rate we’ll be billionaire contributors before we know it!

I’m always trying to think of ways to increase our revenue in won’t require more time from my end.   One idea that I’ve floated may come back onto the table this coming year — when I have a bit energy for such things during a research fellowship at the National Humanities Center — possibly developing a new multi-tiered membership program, where those who are members now (under the current system) will continue to get all the benefits they have paid for (no change at all) but adding a “sustaining membership” tier or two that might include something extra, for example some form of group contact with me directly on occasion or … something else.  If any ideas occur to you of what that little “extra” might be for people at a premier membership level, do let me know.

You too can help in the blog’s endeavor and goals – not only by continuing to belong to the blog, to read the posts, to make generous (rather than snarky) comments, and by asking whatever genuine questions you have, but also:

  1. Telling family, friends, business associates, neighbors and your congressional representative about the blog, letting them know how great it is, how much worth every one of the few dimes each week it costs, and urging them to join;
  2. Giving gift subscriptions to loved ones and even others who might enjoy having a membership (it’s easy: click “Gift Subscription” on the home page!); and
  3. If you really enjoy the blog, and realize that you’re getting way more for your money than one could reasonably expect, and want to show your appreciation: making a separate donation to the blog (just click Donate!). Any amount is fantastic.  You can do it as a one-time gift or as a recurring gift.  People do both.  Would you be willing to?

Let me close by saying many thanks to everyone on the blog.  Your active, interesting, and engaged involvement makes a huge difference to me and to everyone else.  I appreciate the generosity of so many of the interactions.  There is very little rudeness here (some that I inadvertently let slip – but not much) and that makes this blog both unusual and special.

I’d like to single out for special thanks my assistant Steven Ray who makes the whole thing happen.  He’s been with me from the planning stages well over six years ago and for every step of the way since.  His knowledge, skill, abilities, and commitment are as good as they get, and we both anticipate a long future of fruitful collaboration ahead of us.

Tell me what you like and don’t like about the blog.  If you have any suggestions for the improvement  – any at all to further our goals – please do let me know, either in a comment here (that’s the easiest way) or in a private email.

Best to all as we move into year seven.  And for now, happy anniversary!


The Thinking Atheist Interview: The Triumph of Christianity
Making the Bestseller List

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    ask21771  April 4, 2018

    What were the requirements for something making it into the new testament canon

    • Bart
      Bart  April 6, 2018

      A book had to be known to be from the earliest days of the church, by someone connected with the apostles, widely used among the churches, and theologically orthodox.

      2
  2. Avatar
    hoshor  April 4, 2018

    It’s good that you take a “Sabbath” day from the blog so you will continue to be refreshed to answer all those questions!

  3. Avatar
    beachdaze  April 4, 2018

    Congrats on the anniversary! The only thing I would look at changing is your “favorite icon”. I’m sure your web guy know what this is, but if not, it’s the icon that shows up when a site is bookmarked and in the tab of the web browser. Since you use a classic headshot photo for your icon, it appears very tiny in the list of bookmarks. I tried to do a screenshot to show you, but I can’t paste into the comment window. if you’d like I will email you the screenshot so you can see what I’m talking about.

    Otherwise, the content and layout are superb. My wife and I will continue reading your books and I’ll keep my membership going for as long as I can.

    Many thanks,
    Bruce

  4. Avatar
    fishician  April 4, 2018

    5500 members in 6 years? Sounds like you’re growing faster than the early church. Maybe in a few centuries some scholar will be writing a book, “The Triumph of Ehrman.”

    7
  5. Avatar
    joncopeland  April 4, 2018

    I would be interested in a premier membership, especially if it opened up new forums for conversation or more access to in-depth content on early Christianity. The kind of content that most interests me is your lectures, such as the three-part Schaffer lectures you did at Yale a while back on the gospel of Luke. Even access to transcripts of these lectures would be great to read. Congrats on the success of the blog.

    1
  6. The Agnostic Christian
    The Agnostic Christian  April 4, 2018

    30 or 60 minute private Skype (or whatever preferable video app) calls might be an option for a certain amount.

  7. Avatar
    Pegill7  April 4, 2018

    In “Triumph” you suggest that even if Constantine hadn’t converted to Christianity some future emperor probably would have, and therefore, Christianity would have continued to grow without his policies benefiting the faith. But what about St. Paul? While his mission to the gentiles was extremely important is it possible that the gospels , all written in the first century, would have been sufficient to extend the faith to the gentiles? Especially the Gospel of John.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 6, 2018

      It’s possible. But we don’t know if *they* would have been possible had Paul and others not made faith in Jesus an option for gentiles. They were written decades after that happened, by gentiles (not Jews).

      • Avatar
        jamal12  April 6, 2018

        Professor Erhman, congrats for the sixth year of the blog. After Jesus told his disciples that he was sent only for the lost sheep of israel and he forbade them fro going to the gentiles. But what happened after in Mark 28: 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
        Is that an addition in the Bible could Jesus have changed his mind or may be he did not say that. Is this a contradiction, verses before that he told them not to go to the Gentiles only to the lost sheep then he retracts and say go to the gentiles

  8. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  April 4, 2018

    What I like about the blog: the sense of community, the differing backgrounds of members along with their viewpoints and insightful comments. The posts of course. So many hours I’ve spent obsessing over James, the Lord’s brother. I thought about the story of Perpetua so much the other day that I dreamed about a wild beast chasing me down trying to kill me. When I looked behind me to see what kind of a beast was after me, it was a fluffy chow chow. Seriously.

    Maybe have a special fund drive for a live exchange with blog members using Facebook or YouTube. I’m pretty sure you can create a closed group through Facebook and do a live video recording. There are also various FB pages and channels who would love to interview you. That could be set up where only the members who donate have access to ask questions during a live interview.

    2
  9. Avatar
    ddorner  April 4, 2018

    It’s funny, I read Jesus Interrupted and loved it. Thought I’d sign up for the blog for a month or so, see how I liked it. Figured I’d lose interest or run out of questions.

    Here I am a year later and nothing could be further from the truth.

    4
  10. Avatar
    NancyGKnapp  April 5, 2018

    Congratulations on your 6th anniversary. I am thankful for the friend who told me about it. I appreciate your generosity and commitment to sharing your knowledge. I am a book worm and have often wished that I could dialog with the author and now I can. I’m glad the blog supports charity. That is my other big passion. I was one of those last December who suggested a sustaining membership category and signed myself up for a monthly pledge of $10. Set it and forget it. It is a painless way to give. Even a minimum of $5 a month is $60 over a year. Of course you want your sustainers to step up to a higher level as they are able. I don’t think sustainers need gifts. Just knowing that you are supporting what you believe in is enough.

  11. Avatar
    jmmarine1  April 5, 2018

    Now that 6 years have past, and with each passing year you ask us for suggested improvements. Now it may be time to ask you what improvements you would like to see from the subscribers. We know to remain apolitical, and for the sake of everyone, please keep posts short and to the point; are there any other improvements you would like to suggest to us, your readers?

    2
    • Bart
      Bart  April 6, 2018

      Thanks for asking. Nothing comes to mind, apart from my suggestion that everyone “spread the word” about the blog itself. But everything else — from my point of view — seems to be going along very nicely from the point of view of “my take on the subscribers.”

      1
  12. Avatar
    fmurphy925  April 5, 2018

    Bart–I can’t tell you how much I admire how devoted you are to this. And frankly, I don’t know how you juggle this with your professor/teaching duties as well writing insightful and informative books. Thanks. Keep on. We need your clear, measured and informative voice now more than ever.

    1
  13. Avatar
    ask21771  April 5, 2018

    How do we know that the four gospels aren’t the testimonies of mark Matthew luke and John orally transmitted over the years until I they were written down?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 6, 2018

      What would make one think so? (and if they are their distinct memories, why are Matthew and Luke so often word for word the same?)

      1
  14. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  April 5, 2018

    Wow! Really incredible! In your new “The Triumph of Christianity” you map out in detail how something can start slowly and then the numbers can then progressively grow sort of like compounding interest. It looks like the blog is headed in such a direction. Thanks

  15. Avatar
    royerd  April 5, 2018

    This is really an amazing site: it’s a treasure trove of great information. I can’t think of a “premium” benefit at this point. I enjoy reading other users’ comments, and I don’t mind revisiting old posts or renewing them to think again.

    Dan

  16. Avatar
    royerd  April 5, 2018

    Hmm. I wonder if your publisher would give you an option to sell a set of three or four books for example at some special price option for premium contributors. Just a thought. Perhaps they could give you a coupon code to share with your select contributors that they could use somewhere.

    Dan

  17. Avatar
    pjamato8  April 5, 2018

    Yay Steven Ray! Yay Bart!! Thank you.

    2
  18. Cheryl
    Cheryl  April 5, 2018

    Hi Bart, Just a quick comment to say how much I appreciate the time you devote to the blog. It’s so rich with information and I learn a great deal from it. Were we all financially fortunate enough to do it, annually we should be donating the equivalent cost of one of your UNC-Chapel Hill courses! Thank you, and thank you to Steven, for six years of really great stuff! All the best, Cheryl

    4
  19. Steven Ray
    Steven Ray  April 5, 2018

    Thanks Bart! It has been a life changing journey, both reading your content and helping grow the community. The active membership count is exactly 5,557 as of today. The largest influx of new memberships straddle between Facebook boosted posts and YouTube Channel videos leading back to the blog. As of recent, the new book “Triumph of Christianity” combined with Simon & Schuster’s aggressive marketing strategies has been ‘boon’ for the blogs impressive growth. While the these dynamic metrics assist, everything remains hinged on Bart’s scholarship, insights, long (incredibly tenacious) patience, consistency and witty communication methods that assures the ongoing success of this profoundly informative venue!

    10
  20. Avatar
    godspell  April 5, 2018

    I don’t like that I can’t post here from my work PC. Used to be able to, but not anymore. No problem on my Mac at home. Yes, I’m logged in, can read the entire article, but I write something in response, try to post it, and it just disappears.

    Other than that, no complaints.

    • Avatar
      godspell  April 6, 2018

      I can, oddly, post here from other PC’s at my workplace. So it’s something to do with my personal computer. I have no idea what.

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