The Persian Package

I have posted frequently about the major change that occurs within Judaism in the two centuries or so before the time of Christ: the major growth of belief in angels, Satan, a Last Judgment, the Messiah (or messiahs) and generally a strongly Dualist world-view. These are all ideas that we see well represented in the [Read More…]

Warlords and Holy Men

I steal my title from a classic book on early Scottish history by Alfred P. Smyth. My defense in doing so is that the phrase does offer useful light on large stretches of Jewish history, particularly during the Second Temple era. As I have posted on this period of Jewish history in recent months, especially [Read More…]

Debating Ancient Book of Mormon Fantasies

I have been engaged in exchanges with Bill Hamblin at his blog, on the subject of the historicity of the Book of Mormon. My responses to his most recent posts are presently forming a sizable backlog, which I thought I would clear here. Throughout, the “you” refers to Dr. Hamblin. He is of course welcome [Read More…]

Jesus, Ebionites and Jewish-Christians

Reading Robert Graves’s 1946 novel King Jesus is like undertaking an archaeological dig into intellectual history, as each new layer we excavate reveals changing ideas about Jesus and the Early Church. What makes the book so valuable is that it appeared on the eve of a thrilling new wave of discoveries – Nag Hammadi, the [Read More…]

Of Bill Hamblin, History and the Book of Mormon

I have been engaged in a debate of sorts with Bill Hamblin on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, over at his blog, Enigmatic Mirror. (For the uninitiated, he is a prominent figure in “Ancient Book of Mormon Studies”). He is a trooper about posting my stuff on his site,  which I appreciate. Meanwhile, [Read More…]

Jesus the Essene

I have been posting about Robert Graves’s 1946 novel King Jesus, which presented a wealth of ideas and speculations about early Christianity. I suggested that the book was well worth reading not because any or all of those ideas deserve to be taken as serious history, but for what they suggest about the state of [Read More…]

King Jesus

A classic book can change your life. Oddly, on occasion, a much lesser and truly flawed work can have a similar effect. Over forty years ago, I read Robert Graves’s daring 1946 novel King Jesus, which a later publisher’s blurb characterized as “one of the most controversial historical novels of all time.” Not once was [Read More…]

Apples, Oranges and Nephites

Neil Rappleye is a Book of Mormon apologist. He recently did a piece about me at his blog, under the title The Goose and the Gander, and he is fully entitled to take issue with me on anything and everything. I don’t intend to respond to every criticism or comment he makes, but I am [Read More…]

Scripture and Sedition

The Hasmonean rulers of the independent Jewish kingdom (165 BC – 63 BC) were the subject of many writings, usually in the form of veiled pseudo-prophecies. Taken together, they provide us with a strictly contemporary commentary on a critical period. The ruling Hasmonean dynasty had many enemies, and from various perspectives. Originally aligned with the [Read More…]

The Book of Mormon, Revisited

No, that’s not a reference to the musical. In recent weeks, I have posted several items concerning the historicity or literal veracity of the Book of Mormon, and have had some exchanges with Dr. Bill Hamblin at his blog (a debate that he suggested and initiated). You can see my latest (lengthy) contribution here: [Read More…]