Responding to Richard Carrier’s Response to Bart Ehrman

I linked previously to Bart Ehrman’s piece on whether Jesus existed in The Huffington Post. A response has been written by Richard Carrier (also discussed by Tom Verenna and Neil Godfrey), and I want here to point out some problems with that response. Let me begin by emphasizing that when scholars write op-ed pieces for [Read More...]

Hebrew Text on Darth Vader’s Armor?

A post that appeared today on IO9 drew to my attention a topic at the intersection of religion and science fiction that I somehow managed to remain completely unaware of. Apparently there is Hebrew writing on the front panel of Darth Vader’s armor. Here’s an image (you will probably need to zoom in to see [Read More...]

Matthew Morgenstern reviews Charles Häberl’s The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Khorramshahr

Here’s the conclusion from a review of the book The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Khorramshahr by my co-worker on the Mandaean Book of John translation project, Charles Häberl: In summary, we have before us an outstanding contribution to the study of one of the rarest Semitic languages spoken today. Häberl is to be thanked for having [Read More...]

Translating (Away) The Son of God

I’ve been meaning for some time to come back to a topic that has been garnering attention, the news that some Bible translations aimed at predominantly Islamic contexts were not using the phrase “son of God”, ever since I circulated an online article mentioning the news and was met with expressions of concern because that [Read More...]

Hebrew Fail in Left Behind II (and what it says about today’s End-Times Christianity)

Fred Clark shared an image from the movie Left Behind II: Tribulation Force, a movie that he has been blogging about (and highlighting the problems and the shortcomings of). I share it because it illustrates well a problem with the approach to the Bible reflected in the Left Behind series and the view of the [Read More...]

Yahia Yuhana: How Do You Translate a Name and its Translation?

The characteristic introduction in the sections of the Mandaean Book of John focused on John the Baptist (pictured above from Lidzbarski’s edition) reads “Yahia teaches in the nights, Yuhana in the evenings of the nights…” In the translation above, I’ve merely transliterated the names used. But what we have in the text is synonymous parallelism, [Read More...]

The Best Evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis is in the Psalms

Students of the Bible learn about the Documentary Hypothesis, the view that the Pentateuch was put together using multiple earlier written sources, traditionally identified using the abbreviations JEPD. Sometimes challenges have been raised to such source criticism on the grounds that varying the way one refers to God is quite common within unified religious traditions [Read More...]

Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts Online

The British Library blog shared a long list of links and some sample images from their collection of illustrated and illuminated Hebrew manuscripts, many of which are available online. [Read more...]

The Nag Hammadi Codices in their Monastic Context

The blog Past Horizons has a post today which begins by saying “The texts of the Nag Hammadi codices have commonly been treated as mere witnesses to Gnostic texts in Greek mainly from the second and third centuries. A new research project will now challenge this approach by interpreting the Coptic texts of these codices within the context of their probable production and use in fourth- [Read More...]

Lost Doctor Who Episodes and Exciting Manuscript Finds

Mark Goodacre offered a comparison between the finding of lost Doctor Who episodes and the discovery of important ancient manuscripts. Both happen, but rumors of such things are more frequent than the actual occurrences. He related this to the recent rumors of a first-century fragment of the Gospel of Mark having been found. Chuck Grantham [Read More...]

The “Original Aramaic Lord’s Prayer” is None of the Above

After it came up on this blog a while back, I’ve wanted to return to the topic of the “Original Aramaic Lord’s Prayer.” Why? Because the thing that can be found online referred to in this way is not original, not Aramaic, not a translation, and not the Lord’s Prayer. Let me elaborate further. This [Read More...]


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