The Context of the Context of Jesus’ Words

It is not infrequent to hear self-centered pseudo-Christians justifying their lack of concern for the poor by appealing to Jesus’ statement, “The poor you shall always have with you.” The full statement, as those concerned about context know and emphasize, is “The poor you shall always have with you,  and you can help them anytime [Read More...]

Synoptic Length Comparison

I chuckled when I read this in a student assignment today: A common argument,  analyzes the lengths of each of the synoptic writers. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never come across an attempt to compare the lengths of the writers of the Synoptic Gospels. I don’t know how one would go about undertaking such a [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...]

Young-Earth Creationists vs. the Parables of Jesus

A commenter pointed out something which I've also said in the past, but which bears repeating. Young-earth creationists are adamant that there must be one creation story in Genesis, and it must be chronologically coherent and factually, historically, and scientifically true. Ironically, Jesus, the one whom most of them claim to follow, taught primarily in [Read More...]

Jesus and Paul were not Literalists when it comes to Genesis 2-3

It is interesting how some modern readers simply assume that ancient individuals and authors shared their supposed literalism, and their focus on facts and history and science, all of which are thoroughly modern concerns. If we look at what Jesus is depicted as saying about Genesis 2 in the Synoptic Gospels, he points to the [Read More...]

Take Up Your Cross

I received a question in an e-mail that seemed worthy of a blog post rather than just a private response. The question was about the depiction in the Gospels of Jesus telling people to not simply follow him, but to take up their cross and follow him. One question is obviously whether Jesus can be [Read More...]

Do Gospel Authors Owe Us The “Truth”?

I read the words below in an article in today’s New York Times about the blurriness of the lines between history and historical fiction in recent movies. How do you think its points relate to the depictions, reworkings, and interpretations of history in the Gospels? I for one doubt that the majority of people in [Read More...]

An Important Book on the Synoptic Problem

My review of Dennis R. MacDonald’s book Two Shipwrecked Gospels: The Logoi of Jesus and Papias’s Exposition of Logia About the Lord has been published by Review of Biblical Literature and can be read online. Here is how the review begins – hopefully that will inspire readers of this blog to click through and read [Read More...]

Why Did Early Christians Improve the Burial of Jesus?

Jeff Carter has posted on his blog about his impressions from reading my short book The Burial of Jesus: What Does History Have to Do with Faith?. I encourage you to click through and read what he says about it. He ends the post with a question for me, which I’ll quote here: The earliest followers [Read More...]

Brief Overview of Themes in the Four Gospels

Series with titles like “A Very Short Introduction” are very popular nowadays. This is an attempt to say a little about major themes in all four Gospels in the New Testament in about half an hour. It is skimpy but perhaps nevertheless useful for those approaching the Gospels for the first time. [Read more...]

Late Texts, Early Traditions continued: Thomases, Johns, and Marks

Here I am continuing some preliminary reflections related to my upcoming conference paper (which I began in an earlier post). My research interests which intersect with the methodological question I raised in my previous post, about the discerning of ancient traditions and of independent traditions in relatively late texts, seem to revolve around Johns and Thomases. [Read More...]


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