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Was Jesus Made Up? A Blast from the Past.

In browsing through some old posts, I came across this one from five years ago, in which I deal with two questions I still today get asked about the “evidence” that Jesus did, or did not, exist.  The post deals with pointed issues raised by my colleague in the field, Ben Witherington.  The answers still seem germane to me today, as the question of Jesus’ existence has simply ratcheted up, all these years later.


Ben Witherington, a conservative evangelical Christian New Testament scholar, has asked me to respond to a number of questions about my book Did Jesus Exist, especially in light of criticism I have received for it (not, for the most part, from committed Christians!). His blog is widely read by conservative evangelicals, and he has agreed to post the questions and my answers without editing, to give his readers a sense of why I wrote the book, what I hoped to accomplish by it, and what I would like them to know about it. He has graciously agreed to allow me to post my responses here on my blog. The Q’s are obviously his, the A’s mine.


Q. Robert Price’s argument that the stories of Jesus are a giant midrash on OT stories about Moses and others, and so are completely fiction seems to ignore the fact that midrash is a hermeneutical technique used for contemporizing pre-existing stories. Talk briefly about the difference between how stories are shaped in the Gospels and whether they have any historical substance or core or not. (N.B. It appears that Crossan has recently made the same kind of category mistake arguing that since there are parables in the Gospels, that whole stories about Jesus may be parables, pure literary fictions).

A. In Did Jesus Exist? I try to make a major methodological point that there is a very big difference between saying that a story has been shaped in a certain (non-historical) way and saying that the story is completely non-historical. I make this point because authors like Robert Price have claimed that all the stories about Jesus in the Gospels are midrashes on stories found in the OT. By that he means, roughly, that the story of Jesus is shaped in such a way as to reflect a kind of retelling or exposition of stories about persons and events in the Old Testament. For example, the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel shapes the stories about Jesus to make Jesus appear to be a kind of “second Moses.” Like Moses, Jesus is supernaturally protected at his birth when the ruler (Pharaoh/Herod) seeks to destroy him; like Moses he goes down to Egypt as an infant; like Moses he comes up out of Egypt to the promised land; like Moses he passes through the waters (the parting of the Red Sea; the baptism); after which he spends time in the wilderness being “tested” (40 years; 40 days); after which he goes up on the mountain to receive/deliver the Law (Mount Sinai; Sermon on the Mount). The story of Jesus has evidently been “shaped” in light of the author’s knowledge of the story of Moses in order to say something: Jesus is the new Moses.

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The Variety of Views of Suffering in the Bible
An Example of a True Story that Didn’t Happen: Part 1



  1. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  June 27, 2017

    It’s interesting that 99.99% of biblical scholars believe that the existence of Jesus isn’t even a question, but for many (especially agnostic) in the lay audience, it’s not a slam dunk. I posed this question in a discussion group (Deism, Atheism, Agnosticism, etc…) I’ve mentioned before that has close to 38,000 members. There’s about 670+ comments (with 130 people doing the commenting) so far with the results being pretty much equally split three ways: Yes–No–Inconclusive. Some of the things they’ve come up with for both sides:
    Jesus exists because–
    It’s more likely than not there was a person who became embellished over time.
    The bible is true.
    Joesphus’ writings
    Early Church Fathers’ writings
    Liberal commentary on Jewish law resemble those of an important Rabbi leader at the time.
    The Quran is testimony to his life.
    Nearly all biblical scholars agree/trust in scholarship
    Scientific evidence (vague and sketchy)
    No other explanation for Jews/Gentiles being brought together.
    No one expected a poor, crucified messiah.
    Paul knew Peter and James, the brother of Jesus or forget Paul, he was rogue anyway–go with the Gospels

    Jesus does not exist because–
    No one could do the acts the Gospels claim–miracles, walking on water…
    Carrier and Price’s work along with some other random throw-ins (a few that were very sketchy)
    Too similar to pagan mythology
    No eyewitnesses
    No contemporaneous evidence
    The evidence we do have is too late, interpolated, or forged
    Too many interpolations, forgeries, and personal agendas that caused the NT text to be changed in numerous ways.
    Philo possibly influenced the story creation
    Writings were targeted at the poor, enslaved, and dispossessed. Don’t think middle class, think destitute–previous expectations didn’t work, so try this one instead.
    Distrust in scholarship
    Constantine was never a Christian and politically motivated; the Council of Nicaea–?? (I couldn’t quite figure it out, but I think they were insinuating that the Council chose the books they wanted to include in the Canon.)
    Drug-related hallucinations
    Lots of people named Jesus–which one are they talking about? Therefore, a Composite Figure.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  June 27, 2017

      Oh yes, one more to add to the list of Jesus not existing–It’s now thought that Socrates was invented, so inventing a person was easier than we previously thought.

      And then there’s Josephus’ writings:
      “Thus there was a star (20) resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year… before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.” But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, (23) began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!”

      “4. When therefore he (Herod) was about to take a journey abroad, he committed his wife to Joseph, his sister Salome’s husband, as to one who would be faithful to him, and bare him good-will on account of their kindred; (In other words, Joseph can be trusted not to have sex with her)….yada yada yada…5. When he heard that this grand secret was discovered, he was like a distracted man, and said that Joseph would never have disclosed that injunction of his, unless he had debauched her. His passion also made him stark mad, and leaping out of his bed, he ran about the palace after a wild manner; at which time his sister Salome took the opportunity also to blast her reputation, and confirmed his suspicion about Joseph; whereupon, out of his ungovernable jealousy and rage, he commanded both of them to be slain immediately;”

      The appearance of an unusual star, a vision at Pentecost, a Jesus believed to be crazy, who’s forewarning an impending doom, a Herod who entrusts his wife Mariamne to Joseph because he knows he won’t touch her, then seeks to slay them, and then a random, not so nice, Salome….

      This stuff is starting to look contrived…

      When Paul said the pillars had nothing to add to his message, he was telling the truth. They didn’t know anymore than he did.

      • Bart
        Bart  June 27, 2017

        Are you being serious about Socrates? He decidedly was not invented.

    • Avatar
      Tony  June 27, 2017

      Nice list! Yes, the vast majority of NT scholars think that there was an historical Jesus. The vast majority of NT scholars also came from highly motivated Christian backgrounds. Our blog host being a case in point. Rarely, if ever, do Atheist enter an academic career in Christian studies! Carrier may be an exception, but he is an Historian and not a biblical scholar. My point is that biblical scholarship is strongly biased toward historicity.

      • Bart
        Bart  June 28, 2017

        Good points. But it would be a mistake to think that someone from a Christian background has an agenda and someone from an atheist background does not.

  2. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  June 27, 2017

    Socrates as an invention–that’s what several people said in the group discussion and related it to Jesus. I’m not saying they’re right.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 28, 2017

      Yeah, it kind of shows the extremes to go with skepticism if you work hard enough at it. We have three accounts of Socrates from contemporaries — two of them his students!!

  3. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  June 29, 2017

    The discussion group I’m in is oftentimes ill-informed, but they’ve brought up some interesting points. (Well over 700 comments now) Several have serious doubts about Josephus’s reference to James. I’m having my own doubts as well. Is it true that the very earliest Christian apologists did not reference the Josephus passage about James?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 30, 2017

      My strong, very strong, suggestion is that if you want to learn about Josephus (or anything else in antiquity), you get your information from people who have devoted their lives to the investigation — who know Greek, can read Jospehus in Greek, know exactly what he says where, intimately, how he is at odds with himself at times, how his views developed historically, how his writings stand in relation to other sources of his day, what his intellectual heritage is, and on and on and on. Don’t get your information from someone on the Internet who has read a few passages of Josephus in English and then made pronouncements about them. There are world-class Josephus scholars who would flat-out *amaze* you with what they know about him.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  July 4, 2017

        The same time I was trying to connect James as a brother of Jesus in Paul’s letters is when you began the thread for the miracle stories. I didn’t know there was a correlation between the miracles in the gospels and the Old Testament miracles. I put that in the back of my mind while focusing on James, but then I began noticing something else. Paul’s letters never seem describe Jesus as a human being or that he has any awareness of a such a person. Then, I started reading Josephus, and that made it even worse. It wasn’t someone’s outside influence, just reading and noticing peculiar things. I started to feel the same way I did a few years back when I was trying to hang on to the bible being divinely inspired and Jesus being God. I have to ask myself what I’m hanging on to now?
        Moses and Abraham–myths, Jesus’ brother is a part of the Christian movement only when I jump through hoops to get him there, Paul can’t say one word about the life of a man he believed was the one and only God, and an archangel running around with the patriarchs no less! Josephus is over here writing about a star hanging out in the sky for a year, far-out visions on Pentecost, Joseph, Mari, and a crazy Jesus saying, “Woe to Jerusalem!” which sounds a whole lot like Matthew’s Jesus: “Woe to the world because of offenses!” “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees!” “Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!” Josephus’s Jesus didn’t respond when questioned by the procurator, exactly like Mark’s Jesus. Luke describes Paul’s shipwreck that’s eerily similar to Josephus’s. Now it may be that the earliest Christians did not have any such reference to Jesus from Josephus. (I did get *that* from the internet.)

        If Paul’s Jesus was completely through revelation and prophetic writings, then I have to concede to other things like there was never a tomb story in the first place; it’s entirely made up. No women at the crucifixion or the tomb; also made up. The miracle stories are another invention. After a while, all of it looks made up. That’s just to me. I don’t expect anyone else to think so, certainly not you. And I’m not even saying it with full conviction. But after a while, it does look kind of crazy and ridiculous–to me.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  August 2, 2017

        In Josephus and the New Testament, Mason says that the Jerusalem siege in 70 CE was greatly exaggerated by the church fathers for theological reasons. In fact, large Jewish communities outside of Rome were not physically touched and Judaism thrived in Palestine even after the war.

        I do think that makes the 1 Thess. 2:14-16 passage rather suspicious. Mason quotes the early apologists’ description of the destruction of the Jews, and they sound very similar to Paul’s description.

        What do you think Paul meant when he wrote that the wrath had come upon the Jews fully?

        • Bart
          Bart  August 3, 2017

          I think he meant something similar to what he says in Romans 1:18-32, that the wrath of God is being manifest among pagans who commit idolatry. God is wreaking havoc among them in very nasty ways. I don’t think it means that the Temple has already been destroyed.

      • Avatar
        Lebo55  August 31, 2019

        The problem with a lot of these Facebook groups and indeed internet sites is that they discard any info that would prove them wrong.

        I’m a member of one of these Facebook group but rarely if ever participate (if only to troll and fight) because I got tired of the same does God exist arguments day in and day out. When I would post archeological findings from reputable sources I often got shouted down for proselytizing.

  4. Avatar
    moose  July 7, 2017

    Mr Ehrman.
    Inventing OR shaping the Bible stories are not the only possibilities. The stories may have been both invented AND shaped. Invented because they are not really dealing with a historical Jesus, but shaped because they are based on a kind of midrash. Just look at the story of the woman at the empty tomb. Was this story invented or shaped? Well, as it turns out, it can be shown that it could be both.
    The women at the empty tomb is often referred to as a story with a historic core, because it’s seems impossible to believe that someone would let women be the first witnesses of a resurrected Jesus. This seems to rule out the possibility that the story was invented.
    In the infancy gospel of James we find Salome present at the birth of Jesus, and of course Mary the mother. But also Herod have a major part in the birth story(killing babies)
    In the Gospel of Mark we find that Salome is now also present with Mary the moter at the empty tomb, and we find that Herod is yet again a participant(although it’s in Luke). So, what is the core of this story? Where did it stem from?
    The story stem from when Moses was found at the river bank of the Nile. Then there were three women(maybe four) present – Miriam, Miriam’s mother?, the daughter of Pharaoh and her maidservant.
    Miriam as Mary the mother of Jesus. The daughter of Pharaoh as Salome.
    Now, the parents of Miriam were Jochebed and Amram. The parents of Mary were Anne and Joachim. Miriam’s mother Jochebed became Mary’s fater Joachim, and Miriam’s father Amram becomes Mary’s mother Anne.
    This story is both shaped and invented!

    • Avatar
      moose  July 7, 2017

      And just to make it more obvious, because it seems like different evangelists mention different women. Which is typical in an evolving story.
      John mentions Jesus mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Three or four women depending on how it is read.
      Is it possible that Salome and Mary, the wife of Clopas, could be the same woman? Yes, because different rabbinic literature states that the daughter of Pharaoh(Bithiah) was married with Caleb. And so, Mary, the wife of Clopas could be the Pharaoh’s daughter(Bithiah) wife of Clopas(Caleb). Which again explains Luke where two disciples were on their way to Emmaus, one called Cleopas, as Joshva and Caleb on their way to The Promised Land.
      Then there is this Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses. Could this be the mother of Miriam, Jochebed, who was also present at the Nile? – Mary(Jochebed) the mother of James(Aaron) and of Joses(Moses)?
      In Luke, Herod is keen to see Jesus do miracles, which is an allusion to the miracles Moses and the Lord made in Egypt.
      What about Mary Magdalene? I belive Mary Magdalene evolved in to the story based on Micah 4:8 “And you, tower of the flock(Migdal Eder), hill of the daughter of Zion, to you it will come, the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem”.
      I wonder…

  5. Avatar
    Steefen  July 7, 2017

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Do you speak about the Cainites in Lost Christianities?
    More importantly, did you speak about the Cainites in your book about the Gospel of Judas?
    Given the below:

    The Cainites honored Judas, the betrayer, because Julius Caesar’s betrayer, Brutus, had military veterans, and in his mind the King of the Romans should be killed because The Republic of Rome has no kings!

    So, when Dr. Ehrman wrote about the Gospel of Judas, what we are seeing is Jesus’ love of Judas because Julius Caesar did not want to be king and loved that someone agreed with him: he had to be turned over for assassination for the sake of SPQR.

    They regarded Judas the traitor as having full cognizance of the truth. He therefore, rather than the other disciples, was able to accomplish the mystery of the betrayal, and so bring about the dissolution of all things both celestial and terrestrial. The Cainites possessed a work entitled The Gospel of Judas, and Irenaeus says that he had himself collected writings of theirs, where they advocated that the work of Hystera should be dissolved. By Hystera they meant the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

    Epiphanius also says that Judas forced the Archons, or rulers, against their will to slay Christ, and thus assisted us to the salvation of the Cross. Philaster, on the other hand, assigns the action of Judas to his knowledge that Christ intended to destroy the truth—a purpose which he frustrated by the betrayal.

    There is no doubt that they applauded the action of Judas in the betrayal, but our authorities differ as to the motive which prompted him. The view that Judas through his more perfect Gnosis penetrated the wish of Jesus more successfully than the others, and accomplished it by bringing him to the Cross through which he effected redemption, is only one of them.
    – Wikipedia

    • Bart
      Bart  July 8, 2017

      Yes, I deal with the Cainites in my book on the Gospel of Judas. Intriguing group!

  6. Avatar
    Steefen  July 9, 2017

    First version of the gospel: Asinus Pollio’s biography of Julius Caesar is distributed to his veterans by means of annual remembrances
    Next: Julius Caesar’s biography gets intermingled into Jewish culture via Herod the Great (King of the Jews and Messiah) and his military veterans
    Next: Julius Caesar’s biography gets intermingled for the military veterans of Vespasian and Titus and we get the post-Jewish Revolt gospels: Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John

    The final Hebrew version sacrifices overt military references because after the First Jewish-Roman War, the last thing to do to quell Jewish militant messianism is to militarize their gospel.

    When military veterans went civilian after a time of war, some were given land to tend; so, in the following New Testament account, Jesus Christ’s Parable of the Wicked Tenants, military service is demilitarized to vineyard service.

    28th Extraction: Julius Caesar Had Rebels / Jesus Had Rebels

    Julius Caesar’s Account
    War veterans wanted to be dismissed from the army to live their rewards instead of going to Africa for more war.
    The praetor (army commander or magistrate) Sallustius was sent to straighten out the affair. He was almost killed.
    Cosconius, a praetor was killed.
    Galba, a praetor was killed.
    Julius Caesar: I will pay you in part now and the balance with interest when others more worthy (because they fight with me in Africa, they produce when called) earn the triumph.
    “All these things caused much ill-feeling at Rome. Caesar was quite aware of what was going on and disapproved of it, but, because of the general political situation, he was forced to make use of those who would do his will.” – Fall of the Roman Republic, Julius Caesar, Section 51, Plutarch

    Jesus Christ’s Account
    The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12: 1-12
    A man planted a vineyard.
    He leased it to tenant farmers.
    The man sent Representative #1 to tell the farmers I need what you produce.
    Representative #1 was attacked.
    Representative #2 was sent and he was attacked.
    Representative #3 was sent and killed.
    Other representatives were sent, some were beaten, some were killed.
    What Jesus, or the preachers who told this sermon as commentary on the life of Julius Caesar, left out was the reason for the rebellion of the tenant farmers: they weren’t paid.
    Jesus: I will give the vineyard to others [ who will give me the produce at the proper time. Now is the time to go to war in Africa, not rest on your laurels.]

    And elsewhere, Jesus speaks of banquet invitations and those who should come did not come. So, I think of the banquet of triumph.

  7. Avatar
    ddorner  July 21, 2017

    Prof. Ehrman,

    I’ve really enjoyed your books and your lectures! It’s disappointing to see the apparent rise in popularity of the mythicist position; there’s clearly zero evidence to support it.

    I can see why someone would want to deify a human being (particularly Jesus), but I don’t see early Christians having anything to gain from humanizing an angelic/heavenly being or deity. In fact, you’d think that would be a harder sell.

    In your opinion – would there be any benefit/reason for the Gospel writers to want to humanize (or euhemerize, as Carrier loves to say) a heavenly Joshua crucified in space into an earthly Jesus crucified by the Romans?


    • Bart
      Bart  July 24, 2017

      I can’t imagine that the idea would even have occurred to them!!

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  July 24, 2017

      “It’s disappointing to see the apparent rise in popularity of the mythicist position; there’s clearly zero evidence to support it.”

      Zero evidence?

      Maybe the gospel writers humanized Jesus by mistake.

      • Avatar
        ddorner  July 25, 2017

        Aside from the fact that there were pagan dead and rising gods, or Jewish mystery religions, or Zoroastrianism, etc., as Ehrman points out, there’s no evidence the gospel writers knew anything about them. It’s not like the gospel writers necessarily had access to countless pieces of ancient texts like we do today.

        Even if there were some manuscript that contained the gospel stories but took place in some sort of celestial realm, it still wouldn’t prove Jesus didn’t exist, it would just show the gospel writers may have assimilated multiple religious traditions in their embellishments of Jesus. And yet, as far as I know, there isn’t even such a manuscript.

        So all the supposed evidence for mythicism is circumstantial.

        And, correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t it true that even the Gnostics, with all their Aeons, and Sophia, and Pleroma etc. still didn’t argue an earthly Jesus never existed?

        Granted, this is mostly anecdotal, but what purpose would it serve to take an ‘existing’ celestial being, and place him into a real world historical context, just to spend the next several centuries trying to explain why or how the crucified ‘man’ Jesus was actually God? Especially considering a crucified Messiah was the biggest stumbling block to potential Jewish converts.

        So, it looks to me as though there really is zero evidence for mythicism. It simply doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t fit history.

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  July 27, 2017

          Well, I’m not an expert with any of these things, but I can tell you my understanding of it thus far:
          Dying and rising gods–I don’t see the Jesus story tied to any particular pagan myth but more of a generalized concept that was prevalent in the first century.

          Writings that have Jesus placed in a celestial realm–The Ascension of Isaiah. It’s an interpolated mess but does have a heavenly Jesus.

          “And, correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t it true that even the Gnostics, with all their Aeons, and Sophia, and Pleroma etc. still didn’t argue an earthly Jesus never existed?” —- I see it like this, people in the first century were steeped in superstitious beliefs, so a heavenly Jesus was just as real as an earthly one to some of them. I’m not sure they would argue such a thing. And my question to that is, is there an example that can be given for the argument of someone’s existence? Who do we have on record for questioning the validity of someone’s existence and when?

          As far as their purposes go, Bart has said himself that we don’t know the intentions of an author.

          But basically, I don’t think Paul’s letters are clear in communicating that he knew about an earthly man named Jesus.

          • Bart
            Bart  July 28, 2017

            Have you changed your mind about Galatians 4:4?

          • Avatar
            moose  July 28, 2017

            Mr. Ehrman. Galatians 4:4 is pretty clear; “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law”. It speaks for itself. I believe Paul here in the Galatians speaks about a “earthly” mortal Jesus of flesh and blood, and not a celestial one, as some have proposed. I have put “earthly” in quotation marks for a reason.
            We often think of God, the Father, as the God of The Old Testament. This I think is a misconception. When Jesus says; “No one knows the father except the son”, He clearly does not mean that the same God who spoke to Moses and gave him the laws. This is not the god who spoke with Adam, who warned Noah, who tested the faith of Abraham etc. The god of the Old Testament was known to the patriarchs and prophets! The unknown Father, The God only known to Jesus, is a Transcendent god.
            What about the God of the Old Testament – Yahweh? I think Yahweh became the Son. The Son made the world together with the Father. The Son was before Abraham. The Son gave Moses the laws. The Son turned the water in the Nile into blood, as Jesus turned the water of the wedding into wine.
            This was a docetic Jesus before he, in the fulness of the time, became incarnated as the Son of David, based on Nathan’s prophecy. Nathan’s prophecy gave promise of a son of David, after the flesh, who would rule forever. Solomon was a son of David after the flesh, but God rejected him soon because of his devil’s worship. How could God’s prophecy end up so wrong? Perhaps God’s prophecy wasn’t all that wrong after all? Could there be another solution to the prophecy the scribes had overlooked? I think this is the origin of the Passion history. Adonijah, the rejected sønn av David, should be raised up and establish the throne of his kingdom forever. Adonijah should be raised up – born again – as Jesus says to Nicodemus.

          • Avatar
            moose  July 28, 2017

            Look, the wedding at Cana is a riddle. It symbolizes the marriage between God and his people, Israel.
            The marriage is a poetic description of when Yahweh decided to come down and free the Israelis from the Egyptian yoke. We find this sort of symbolism(marriage between the Lord and virgin Israel) used by some of the prophets.
            There were six stone water jars used for the Jewish rites of purification, symbolizing the 600.000 Israelis now ready to be purified by the Lord. His “mother” Mary (Miriam) was present, but this was just in the beginning of all the miracles in Egypt.
            Moose on the loose.

          • Pattycake1974
            Pattycake1974  July 28, 2017

            Re Galatians 4:4–
            I think “born” is technically incorrect as you’ve stated in Orthodox Corruption. Paul quoted a preexisting hymn in Philippians 2:7 that reads “being made in human likeness”, and in How Jesus Became God, you wrote that part of the hymn as “And coming in the likeness of humans”. As far as I can tell when Paul wrote Gal. 4:4 he was reflecting back on his knowledge of the hymn.

            Of course, you know that Paul goes on to write about the two covenants of Hagar and Sarah as well as the physical Jerusalem versus the one above. He also described Sarah as being their mother, so it’s really hard for me to think that Paul had any knowledge of Jesus being the son of Mary or coming into physical existence through a natural birth. He never mentioned Joseph as his father either. He said several times that God was his father.

            Something else that I’m puzzled over is what exactly Paul thought a hymn was. In 1 Corinthians 14, he emphasized the importance of prophecy. The Spirit produced revelations, knowledge, prophecies, and words of instruction. He wrote that if he sang in the spirit, he would also sing with *understanding*. Even if he was referring to singing in tongues, why would they need to understand it? What is there to gain with understanding a song? Then he went on to write, “26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a HYMN, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”

            I have to wonder if Paul was grouping in hymns as a type of revelation. If that’s so, then that would mean the Philippians hymn was a revelation as well.

          • Bart
            Bart  July 30, 2017

            Even translating GINOMAI in this way, I don’t see how there is an option to saying that he came from a human woman, i.e., was “born” (the word can have that nuance, of course).

          • Avatar
            ddorner  July 31, 2017

            Doesn’t 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 imply that Paul thought of Jesus as a living person?
            In my opinion, Paul meeting the lord’s brother and saying Jesus was born of a woman and saying he was crucified, makes it reasonably clear that Paul believed in an earthly man named Jesus.

            Furthermore, one would think that anyone from that period would know that being crucified referred to Roman execution. So if Paul did not mean crucified in the standard sense, but in some celestial sense, wouldn’t he have made that distinction in his writings? It’s like Bart mentioned in his debate, everyone knew exactly what being crucified meant, so Paul didn’t need to elaborate or explain it.

  8. wpankey57
    wpankey57  July 28, 2017


    Could you respond to this?

    The “Born Again” Narrative in John 3: An Aramaic Impossibility? Well, No!
    Posted on August 26, 2011by David

    “Bart Ehrman has published an argument concluding the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in Jn 3 “could not have happened, at least not as it is described in the Gospel of John” (Bart Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted, p. 155). We present Ehrman’s argument here with brief critique. As a preview, our main gripe with Ehrman’s presentation (more fully explained below) is that whereas Ehrman supposes an original Aramaic conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus would necessarily have had Jesus using an Aramaic word which can only mean “from above,” but not “second time,” it turns out the ancient Aramaic versions we do actually have, such as the Syriac Peshitta, have Aramaic men derish (“again” -or a second time- …which can indeed also mean “from above,” or lit. “from the head”[1] Both the Greek text and Aram. translations suggest two possibilities: (1) the possibility of an original Aram. conversation (with Ehrman we presume Christ and Nicodemus would have probably spoken Aramaic, from which the Gospel of John was translated into Greek) with double entendre on men derish or (2) the possibility that the narrative considered from the perspective of both Aramaic and Greek reads just fine with a single meaning of either ανωθεν/anothen (Gk.) or men derish (Aram.) in view, as “again” without inductively presuming there absolutely had to have been an original double entendre (which is certainly possible, but is not an absolute exegetical necessity, but an inference, however plausible it may be made to seem by ancillary arguments). Either way, (1) since there is an Aramaic word that allows the double entendre, or (2) since it is not an absolute exegetical necessity to presume the narrative requires a double entendre in the first place, Ehrman’s novel argument has come to ruin.
    Here is Ehrman’s original argument:
    “In the Gospel or John chapter 3, Jesus has a famous conversation with Nicodemus in which says, “You must be born again.” The Greek word translated “again” actually has two meanings: it can mean not “a second time” but also “from above.” Whenever it is used elsewhere in John, it means “from above” (Jn 19:11, 23). That is what Jesus appears to mean in John 3 when he speaks with Nicodemus: a person must be born from above in order to have eternal life in heaven above. Nicodemus misunderstands, though, and thinks Jesus intends the other meaning of the word, that he has to be born a second time. “How can I crawl back into my mother’s womb, he asks, out of some frustration. Jesus corrects him: he is not talking about a second physical birth, but a heavenly birth, from above. This conversation with Nicodemus is predicated on the circumstance that a certain Greek word has two meanings (a double entendre). Absent the double entendre, the conversation makes little sense. The problem is this: Jesus and this Jewish leader in Jerusalem would not have been speaking Greek, but Aramaic. But the Aramaic word for “from above” does not also mean “second time.” This is a double entendre that works only in Greek. So it looks as though this conversation could not have happened—at least not as it is described in the Gospel of John” (Bart Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted, p. 155).
    Note that Ehrman does not actually specify what exact Aramaic word or phrase he has in mind. We will proceed on the assumption that the Aramaic men derish in the Syriac Peshitta (and also the Old Syriac) could have served nicely in an original Aramaic conversation with Jesus and Nicodemus, later translated into Koine Greek in the Gospel of John narrative, and still later translated into our early Aramaic versions which are still extant using the Aramaic men derish.
    As we have seen, (1) if we presume double entendre, men derish (lit. from the head) s translated “again” -i.e. a second time, and serve the purpose of double entendre just fine;[1] but that, alternately, (2) if it is not absolutely irrefutable to presume double entendre in the Greek narrative (which it isn’t) the narrative in both Gk. and Aram. could make perfect sense understanding the respective words to simply mean “again” without any double entendre.
    Let us look at possibility (2) more closely.
    Here is an English translation[1] of the dialog as it occurs in the original Aramaic of the Peshitta:
    John 3:3 – “Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, If a man is not born AGAIN he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    John 3:4 “Nicodemus said to him, How can an old man be born again? Can he enter again a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
    Verse 4 follows quite nicely from verse 4 in the Peshitta under the second hypothesis Nicodemus would have understood “again” in vs. 3 to mean… well.. “again“(!), and his reply in vs. 4 would have made perfectly good sense -no “double entendre” required (nor was it ever supposed by any of the numerous early ancient translations of the Greek NT into other languages (versions), all of which simply render Jn 3:3 with equivalents of “again.” In the ancient world it seems the natural reading “again” was obvious and unanimous. No direct ancient evidence for anything else exists in Aramaic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Latin, or any other language into which the Greek text was translated).
    Here also is an interlinear translation from peshitta.org with Jn 3:3 in red; the footnote to their English rendering “again” has Lit. ‘from the start’ (‘over again’).

    The final bone we have to pick concerns Ehrman’s monolithic/uncompromising understanding of the Greek text.
    Concerning the Greek text, Ehrman wrote “Whenever it [Gk. ανωθεν/anothen] is used elsewhere in John, it means “from above” (Jn 19:11, 23). That is what Jesus appears to mean in John 3 when he speaks with Nicodemus…”
    Maybe ανωθεν was meant to convey the same meaning in John 3 and maybe it wasn’t. If it wasn’t there is no problem with the consistency of the narrative either originally understood or subsequently translated as “again” in either Greek or Aramaic. If it was, the Aramaic men derish, literally “from the head” also means “again” and is so translated in every major English translation of the Aramaic version into English, so there is no problem supposing an original dialog in Aramaic with a double entendre.
    How have the major English translators rendered the Greek text? Most major translators have not rendered the Greek narrative Ehrman’s way. Using http://biblehub.com/john/3-3.htm we find a minority of 4 translations using Ehrman’s preferred rendering “from above”; 17 translations have “again.”
    Unless the majority not only “might” be wrong to translate John 3:3 as they have, but are absolutely and definitively incorrect, Ehrman’s argument has lost its punch at the level of the Greek text in addition to having completely evaporated at the level of his assertions about an underlying Aramaic narrative. But even on the assumption, with no argument in Ehrman’s book, that the preferred rendering of a majority of our major English translations of the Greek narrative were just flat wrong, that too would work out fine if an original Aramaic narrative had men derish where John used anothen. The narrative potentially reads just fine in both languages on either assumption about the correct meaning of anothen. Ehrman’s novel argument is creative, but it fails to convince.
    [1] Cf. http://dukhrana.com/lexicon/PayneSmith/index.php?p=540 Etheridge, Murdock, Bauscher, Lamsa, and peshita.org all render it as “again” or “anew.” Men derish suggests from the “head” or beginning of a process (cf. Heb. bereshith: “in the beginning”). Men derish also occurs in the Old Syriac version.
    SEE ALSO OUR EXTENDED CRITIQUE OF BART EHRMAN’S LOST CHRISTIANITIES HERE: http://katachriston.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/bart-ehrmans-lost-christianities-a-critique-part-1/

    • Bart
      Bart  July 30, 2017

      Yes, someone else who is an expert in Aramaic has suggested the derish option to me, but has also indicated that it’s a bit of a stretch. But as to the double entendre in the Greek, I’m afraid I heartily disagree with these comments.

  9. Avatar
    moose  July 30, 2017

    I hope you will excuse me a little longer, mr. Ehrman, because there is much much more of these similarities depending on Exodus.

    Look at the Healing at the Pool in John 5. A man had been sick for thirty eight years. Why does the gospel mention this man’s age? Does his age matter? As a matter of fact it does! The lame man is “Israel” stuck in Egypt for 450 years(Acts 13:20). 38 year multiplied by 12(a symbol of the 12 tribes) is roughly 450. 38×12=456! It was a Sabbath, and not any Sabbath but the only Easter Sabbath! ‘Pick up your mat, Israel, it’s time to go home.’ We find variations of this narrative also in the synoptic gospels.

    But when the Israelites went out of Egypt there came a “Legion” of Egyptian soldiers after them, but all ended up drowned in the Red Sea – like Pigs!

    And what about the feeding of the 5000? The Israelites got five books written by Moses and two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. And when we sum up the numbers (5.000 x 12 x 5 x 2 = 600.000) we find the number of Israelites fed in the wilderness .

  10. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  July 31, 2017

    Galatians 4:4–
    Your response is surprising!

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  October 17, 2017

      I was just rereading my comment for Galatians 4:4 from July. After reading Galatians again for the umpteenth time, I do believe Paul meant Jesus was born/made—however you want to put it— from a human woman. From what I can tell, he used the same type of wording in 1 Corinthians 11:12, so not using specifically the word “born” doesn’t really mean anything.

      He does go on to say that Isaac was by (again he doesn’t use the word born-correct?) the power of the Spirit because Sarah was past the age for bearing children. So I’m thinking he believed the same for Jesus. He was the result of a divine promise but still came through a human by the power of the Spirit. Paul doesn’t mention Sarah’s name in this section either because that’s not relevant to his point. Naming Jesus’ mother would be irrelevant as well.

      What do you think?

      • Bart
        Bart  October 18, 2017

        1 Cor. 11:12 doesn’t have a verb at all (it is to be supplied from the context); nor does Gal 4:23 — it is to be supplied from the verb “had” in v. 22. But yes, this does show that for Paul to talk about someone being born he doesn’t have to use the verb GENNAO.

  11. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  August 3, 2017

    Paul wrote that the Jews killed Jesus. What do you think he meant by that?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 4, 2017

      I think he meant that it was Jewish opposition to Jesus that led to his death. (You get the same kind of thing in the book of Acts, where the apostles preach to the crowds in Jerusalem and say “you killed him.” Obviously the crowds being addressed did not *personally* kill him.)

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  August 4, 2017

      Do you think the pre-Pauline hymns (such as Philippians) were revelations?

      • Bart
        Bart  August 6, 2017

        I’m afraid I don’t what you mean. Are you asking if I think God authored those passages through the Holy Spirit? No, I don’t think so.

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  August 6, 2017

          In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul grouped hymns in with words of instruction, prophecies, tongues and interpretations, singing in tongues and singing with understanding. The Philippians hymn was a pre-Pauline revelation is what I’m getting at.

          Hymns were more than a song or poem for the early church. They were also prophecies. I’m asking if you agree with that.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 7, 2017

            I take it to be a very conscientious literary composition, not an oral one.

          • Pattycake1974
            Pattycake1974  August 7, 2017

            “I take it to be a very conscientious literary composition, not an oral one.”

            I think I may be coming across as though I’m asking if you, personally, believe hymns to be prophecies and revelations. I’m not. What I’m trying to say is that early Christians had revelations then wrote them down as hymns. One example being the Philippians hymn.

            Anyway, I finished Josephus and the New Testament. First of all, I had already suspected that the author of Luke-Acts was using Josephus as one of his sources, and after reading Mason’s book, I’m convinced that he was. On pgs. 291-92, Mason states,”In several cases–Agrippa I’s death, Felix and Drusilla, Agrippa II and Berenice–Luke’s narrative seems to depend squarely on such information as Josephus presents…Most telling, however, is Luke’s presentation of Christianity as a ‘philosophical school’ within Judaism, alongside the other schools but based on the teachings of its founder Jesus.”

            He goes on to explain why he thinks so, but it’s lengthy. It’s actually really fascinating how he pulls the writings together.

            As for the authenticity for the Testimonium Flavianum, it’s very problematic: “What, then, is the value of the testimonium flavianum for the reader of the NT? Limited. Paradoxically, the intense effort to reconstruct the “original” reading, in order to make it historically useful, itself diminishes the value of the passage…No matter how convincing a restoration may seem to any given interpreter, he or she will not be able to put much weight on it in the course of scholarly argument.” (pg. 236)

            He does make a convincing argument for the James passage being authentic. Unfortunately, he doesn’t address why Jesus ben Damneus is not the brother that’s mentioned within the passage. He knows that in John’s gospel none of Jesus’ brothers are believers then turns around and cites Acts as evidence for James being his brother while knowing full well that there’s no explicit reference for it! However, Mason acknowledges that we have none of Josephus’s works before Eusebius.

            All in all, I think the strongest evidence for Jesus’ existence are his teachings, especially those that go back to Aramaic, and him being from Nazareth. Paul’s writings are puzzling but may not entirely represent what was happening within the earliest stages of the movement. At times, he seems completely rogue! I mean, he did refer to the gospel as “my gospel.” As a scholar, the historical Jesus may be crystal clear, but for a layperson it’s not the easiest thing to sort out.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 9, 2017

            I don’t take the Philippians hymn to be a revelation; it is a consciously and carefully constructed literary composition, not, say, something taken down from a prophecy given orally in a worship context.

  12. Avatar
    Greenham  August 5, 2017

    On another online forum, I saw someone mention Paul’s use of “James the brother of Jesus” as evidence of Jesus’ historicity. I agree with him as far as that goes, but he went further. In response to mythicist claims about Paul’s uses of that phrase (which say that Paul was referring merely to a spiritual brother of Jesus), this person said that Paul uses “other Greek grammar” when referencing spiritual fraternity. Not finding any evidence of this myself, I messaged this person privately and he said that you were his source, Bart, though he implied he couldn’t remember where specifically he had heard or read it. Any comment?

    Note that what I’m asking is orthogonal to the question of whether James was a cousin or stepbrother of Jesus, rather than being his actual brother. I’m just asking about a literal blood relationship, as opposed to a spiritual relationship like Paul claims of Titus in 2 Corinthians 2:13.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 6, 2017

      No, I’ve never talked about a separate grammar for Paul’s references to spiritual vs. blood relatives.

  13. Avatar
    Luke9733  February 18, 2018

    I know that Richard Carrier’s grand, Mythicist argument is a round about way of saying that the Christian Jesus started as the same figure as Joshua son of Jehozadak from Zechariah. I realized early on that the argument was nonsense, but it was only about a week ago that it dawned on my just *how* nonsensical it was. About a week ago, I started thinking of a huge number of questions I’d never considered before and I’ve never heard Carrier give answers for, like:

    – If the theory is true, why didn’t Paul and the Gospel authors know that Joshua son of Jehozadak *wasn’t* a descendant of King David?
    – Why did the Gospel authors create new biographical details for Jesus rather than keeping consistent with the details from the Old Testament?
    – Why did the Gospel authors re-name his father Joseph?
    – Why do none of the New Testament authors ever reference Old Testament passages that mention Joshua son of Jehozadak and say that these are passages that mention Christ?
    – Last, if the theory is that Jesus specifically *started* as a celestial being, that’s clearly not true for Joshua son of Jehozadak, so wouldn’t the entire theory need to be re-framed to say he started as being understood as an earthly being, then was understood as a celestial being, and then *again* as an earthly being?

    I have no idea how Carrier would answer questions like these. It’s amazing how an already convoluted idea can seem even *more* convoluted when you just consider some very basic questions.

  14. Avatar
    pgeorge  February 21, 2018

    The problem with the thesis of Jesus historicism is how a non-descript sage in Palestine in the first century who said or did nothing particularly unique managed to institute a world shattering religion. None of the contemporary historians mention him. (Josephus is clearly an interpolation) The event which stands out in the first century as the key to understanding this is the Roman-Jewish War. The destruction of temple Judaism surely marked the beginning of the religion as the Jews’ desperate plea to God to save them from the Romans went unanswered. Once this is understood the references in the church fathers (Eusebius and others) to the late first century institution of the religion fall into place. We have not only a thesis that stands up to what we know about how religions are formed sociologically but also in full accord with the ancient documents. Festinger has shown in When Prophecies Fail that beliefs arise almost from nothing and actually Messianism gets stronger as prophecies fail, as they did in the Roman-Jewish War. All of the Christian writings were written after the War, and there are allusions to this fact in Paul’s letters. The gospels and Acts were clearly written after AD70 and after Paul’s letters to counter the then prevalent heresy of uncertain or substitutionary crucifixion which was carried forward eventually into Islam.

  15. Avatar
    truthseekerofallthings  June 13, 2018

    What about the first century Roman historian Tacitus?

    Or Pliny?

    Does their historical writings prove Jesus existed

    Tacitus, a Roman historian (c. A.D. 55 — 120). Tacitus simply said that “Christus, from whom [the Christians] derived their name, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Annals 15.44).

    Pliny the Younger, the Roman governor of Bithynia et Pontus (now in modern Turkey) wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan around 112 AD and asked for counsel on dealing with Christians. The letter (Epistulae X.96) details an account of how Pliny conducted trials of suspected Christians who appeared before him as a result of anonymous accusations and asks for the Emperor’s guidance on how they should be treated.[1][2]

    • Bart
      Bart  June 14, 2018

      Pliny wrote in 112; Tacitus in 115. They are both second century authors.

  16. Avatar
    Marko071291  November 2, 2018

    Bart, all of the questions I’ve asked so far were scholarly type. This one is a little bit personal. Nevertheless, I hope you can respond.
    As a top scholar of early Christianity, does it bother you that so many people believe in nonsense regarding historical Jesus? I mean, eveyrbody has some kind of opinion about who Jesus was or wasn’t and a lot of them have some unfounded ideas: ‘Jesus was a political revolutionary’, ‘Jesus had wife and kids’, ‘Jesus never died on the cross – he went to India’, ‘everything in the gospel is 100 % true’, ‘Jesus never existed’ etc.After all, my colleague who is an expert on medieval history of Croatia doesn’t have that kind of problem since 99,9 % of population in Croatia doesn’t give a damn about medieval kings and queens. Considering peculiar position of any scholar of early Christianity: Do you ever feel like you are doing Sisyphus job?

    Kind regards.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 4, 2018

      It doesn’t bother me too much because most of the many billions of people who have ever lived have believed things that are nonsense (think of views of the human disease, or weather, or astronomy, or … religion up to, say, 1800!). So I don’t see why views of the historical Jesus would likely be any different. The goal of critical scholarship is to help people come to views that are better supported by evidence, rather than nonsense. It’s admittedly an uphill battle. People are tenacious in their views, even in the face of evidence.

  17. Avatar
    Brand3000  January 30, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Do you agree?

    “Ancient myths are NOT what Jesus’ resurrection is based upon. This is in part because resurrection in the bodily sense was an almost exclusively Jewish belief, and among Jewish people resurrection was reserved for the future, viz. a resurrection en masse at the end of time.”

    • Bart
      Bart  February 1, 2019

      I’m afraid I don’t know quite what it means. Obviously Jesus’ resurrection is not the same as the resurrectoin at the end of time, and could well have been modeled, in a Jewish guise, on Greek and Roman myths about people living in heaven after they died.

      • Avatar
        Brand3000  February 1, 2019

        Dr. Ehrman,

        So then what exactly was unique about the resurrection of Jesus? I thought you said that it was not influenced by myth.

  18. Avatar
    Brand3000  February 3, 2019

    Prof. Ehrman: “The precise Christian understanding about what happened Jesus after his death, that his actual body was restored to life and made immortal, is not attested of any pagan figure in antiquity.”

    • Bart
      Bart  February 4, 2019

      That’s exactly right. But the idea was deeply influenced my pagan understandings of people who were taken up to live with the gods after they passed from this world.

      • Avatar
        Michele  July 9, 2019

        Dr Ehrman,
        “But the idea was deeply influenced MY pagan understandings of people who were taken up to live with the gods after they passed from this world”.
        I think MY it’s a typo for BY, isn’t it? (sorry I’m Italian). If is it a typo, since the first followers of Jesus was Jews, how is it possible they were influenced by paganism?

        Thank you,

        Michele Fornelli

        • Bart
          Bart  July 10, 2019

          Yes, it’s a scribal corruption of the text. In my book on How Jesus Became God, I explain how non-Jewish ideas were often influential on Jewish and Christian. They all lived in the same world — just as American culture has come to dominate those of others today I suppose.

          • Avatar
            Michele  July 10, 2019

            Dr Ehrman, I apologize, but with “scribal corruption” are you referring to your typo or with who wrote the gospels and altered them? I ask this because I usually find this expression in reference to the scribes of the biblical text and I wouldn’t like to have misunderstood your kind reply.

            Thanks a lot,

            Michele Fornelli

          • Bart
            Bart  July 12, 2019

            Sorry — it was a joke. I was referring to my typo.

  19. Avatar
    Michele  February 11, 2019

    Dr Ehrman,
    on this site https://freethoughtnation.com/bart-ehrman-mythicists-arguments-are-fairly-plausible/ (I think it is by D.M. Murdock aka Acharya S, ha ha! ) a statement of yours is reported:

    “Mythicists’ arguments are fairly plausible, Ehrman says. According to them, Jesus was never mentioned in any Roman sources and there is no archeological evidence that Jesus ever existed.”

    Actually, they state that you have said this sentence in an interview for npr.org also putting the link to the interview where this statement is actually reported https://www.npr.org/2012/04/01/149462376/did-jesus-exist-a-historian-makes-his-case.
    I guess it’s not true that you consider them “fairly plausible”, among other things the interview is from 2012, when “Did Jesus Exist?” has been published.
    I wondered, however, if it was something that you actually said but that decontextualized wants to attribuite to you a thought totally opposite to yours or if instead the site npr.org has actually invented it?

    Thank you,

    Michele Fornelli

    • Bart
      Bart  February 12, 2019

      No, I have never said that the mythicists arguments were fairly plausible. That was completely misreported.

      BTW, I almost *never* say this about an author, but Acharya S was a flat-out horrible “researcher” (it’s not actually clear if she ever did any research); her book on Jesus was probably the worst book discussing “history” that I’ve ever read — flat out mistake after mistake after mistake by someone who simply, literally, didn’t know what she was talking about (not just about Jesus, and the Gospels, and the New Testament — but about the facts of ancient history, all over the map). I talk about it in my book Did Jesus Exist. She got very upset with what I said, but the reality is that she just didn’t know….. When I first read it, at first I thought it was a spoof!

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  February 23, 2019

      He did say the words “mythicists arguments are fairly plausible”. The link you provided has the audio clip, but Acharya S. took it out of context which was typical of her. She even sent the quote to R. Price which shows how crazy confused she was most of the time. Her reading and listening skills were much to be desired. When listening to the clip in its entirety, it’s more than obvious that it’s not an argument in favor of mythicism.

  20. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  February 24, 2019

    Regarding Galatians 4:4, do you think Paul was referring to a human woman or an allegorical woman?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 24, 2019

      Human, definitely. (I’m not sure what an allegorical woman is? I know what an allegorical figure from Scripture or another literary text is…)

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  February 25, 2019

        I misunderstood what you said about GINOMAI a while back and just wanted to clear it up.

        The sources I use to look up Greek words probably aren’t the best, but when I encounter the Greek that Paul uses, he seems to use a lot of prepositions and linking verbs rather than action verbs—or no? This seems especially true anytime he writes about how women came from men first (Adam) even though men are here because of women. I don’t think he uses the word “born” but instead says things like, “of” or “by”. So his use of GINOMAI—what does he mean exactly? Is he saying that Jesus was an angel, but when God sent him, he was created as a human by a woman, just like all of us are? (I’m having a hard time articulating what I’m trying to say, so I hope this is making sense!)

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