Statistics and the Synoptic Problem

Statistics tell us… well, even though they are numbers, statistics do not automatically provide answers to questions. And 73.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot – as that one was. But sometimes statistics can tell us something important. They can quantify what otherwise may seem vague and merely impressionistic. I regularly cite [Read More...]

The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic

I had it drawn to my attention this morning that John Shelby Spong has a new book coming out soon: The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic. As it is about the Gospel of John, it is obviously of interest. I have a great ambivalence about Spong’s writings. On the one hand, his willingness [Read More...]

John, Jesus, and History Conference

Tom Thatcher sent around the news about an exciting-looking conference to be held in Baltimore prior to SBL in November, on the theme of John, Jesus, and History. The keynote address will be by James Dunn. [Read more...]

153 Fish – The Definitive Explanation

Today in my class on the Gospel of John we reached the final chapter. One detail in John 21 that has long puzzled commentators is the reference to 153 fish having been caught. Why so specific? Is there some symbolic significance to the number? If so, what is it? Some of the attempt to treat [Read More...]

Two Recent Commentaries on the Gospel of John: Introduction

I am grateful to Eerdmans for having sent me review copies of two commentaries on the Gospel of John which they recently published. As I am teaching my course on the Gospel of John this semester, I hoped to blog about both commentaries as I encountered points of note or interest. Alas, it has taken [Read More...]

Mandaean Roots of Christianity?

This book came to my attention recently via Facebook. There is also a promotional video which contains only text plus images that can be found on the internet. This self-published book is unlikely to offer anything useful to scholars interested in the Mandaeans. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is impossible there were connections between [Read More...]

The Lost End of Mark

The classic study of The Four Gospels by B. H. Streeter is available online. I am linking to the chapter on the end of Mark’s Gospel because of my longstanding interest in that subject. Streeter drew the conclusion that John 21 was the lost ending of Mark. I think that putting it that way is [Read More...]

Appropriately Skeptical Thomas

The above cartoon depicts the caricature of a doubter, and specifically of Thomas who became known as “Doubting Thomas.” But is skepticism in the face of seemingly incredible claims really inappropriate? Was Thomas the fool depicted in the cartoon above, or wiser than far too many gullible Christians today, whose unwillingness or inability to doubt [Read More...]

It All Started With That 150 Gallons of Wine

This cartoon from ASBO Jesus offers a humorous slant on an aspect of the Cana story in John 2 that can be problematic. Jesus is depicted as making 120-180 gallons of really excellent wine at a wedding at which people had already drunk so much that they had depleted whatever supply those involved in planning [Read More...]

New Commandment and Foot-Washing Thursday

Apparently the term “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin phrase “mandatum novum” meaning “new commandment.” The reference is to John 13, which features the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, followed by his statement about a new commandment he has given them, to love one another. We actually reached this passage in my class [Read More...]

I’m Dreaming of a White Easter

Today in my class on the Bible, we talked about the crucifixion. In my class on the Gospel of John, we are entering the passion narrative. And this is what the Butler University campus looks like today: It certainly creates a holiday mood…but not for the holiday I was expecting people to have their minds [Read More...]


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