I’m pleased to announce that I will be doing a new two-lecture course on a rather timely topic, When Does Life Begin: The Status of the Unborn in the Biblical Tradition.  The course is not connected with the Blog per se, except insofar as I’m doing it and many of you might be interested.   For more information and registration, go to http://www.bartehrman.com/life

Even if you can’t come to the live lectures, you will be able to get a recording of the course to watch at your leisure.

Here’s a description of the course:


              The issue of abortion is one of the most divisive controversies in our country.  In many ways it comes down to a very basic question:  When Does Life Begin? At conception?  Later in gestation?  When the fetus is viable?  At birth?

For many people the question is intimately connected with the Bible.  Does the Bible declare, intimate, or assume that the fetus is human?   Some emphatically say yes.  Others say no.  Other are not so sure.

In these lecture, we address the question head on.  What does the Bible say about the status of the unborn?

The course will look at both sides of the question, considering passages that can be used to claim the embryo and/or fetus is a human – so that an intentional termination of pregnancy would be murder — and passages that can be used to maintain it is not.

The course will NOT take a stand on the modern debates or the underlying question of when life begins.  The course will, however, attempt to show what the Bible actually says about the matter.  For some people the biblical view is the deciding factor, for others not.  But whatever one’s position on biblical authority, it is important to know what the biblical view is.

The course will consist of two 50-minute lectures followed by an extended life Q&A.  People of every persuasion are welcome and encouraged to attend.


Questions to be Addressed:

  • Was abortion known to the ancient world?
  • Do the biblical authors ever discuss it?
  • Does Jesus address it, or say anything of relevance to it?
  • Do any passages in the Old or New Testament that show that biblical authors assumed or implied that life begins at conception or at some point of gestation before birth?
  • Are there passages that indicate they did not think so?
  • Is there a single view in the Bible, or a variety of perspectives?
  • How might knowing the biblical view affect the modern debate?

Obviously these are hotly debated issues.   I hope you can join me for the event.