The Guild of Islamic Minimalists

I’ve had some discussions lately here and elsewhere about whether the historical figure of Jesus existed. There is a parallel issue of whether Muhammad was a real historical individual, and that subject recently made the news once again. [Read more...]

Praise Team

Here’s a video of my son performing with the praise team in church this past Sunday: [Read more...]

New Review of The Burial of Jesus

A new review of The Burial of Jesus has been posted on It is by J. A. Kidwell, who is planning to post a longer review on his blog in the near future. [Read more...]

Urgent Business Proposal

“Urgent Business Proposal” was the title of a scam e-mail that made it through my spam filter today. I haven’t posted one of these for a while, and so I thought I’d warn the gullible out there: if this person really was contacting you about business, he’d address you by name. The “Good day,” as [Read More...]

What Jesus Said and Did: 2) Divorce

The teaching attributed to Jesus in the Gospels about divorce is not unique. The Dead Sea Scrolls not only make a similar point about marriage, but even root the argument in the same text from Genesis (see Mark 10:1-12). This would be an esy case in which to suppose that perhaps a general, circulating idea [Read More...]

Quote of the Day (Canonical Prayerbook of the Mandaeans)

In thy sight all hands are thieving, all lips have lied. Water is in the jordan. In thine eyes, Knowledge of Life, no person is clean: we are slaves who are all sin, and thou a lord who art all mercy. When thou art with us, who shall conquer us and if thou justifiest us [Read More...]

Gethsemane Conversation

Tom Verenna has posted a response to my blog entry about Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. For the moment, all I’ll say is that Tom seems to treat addressing God as “abba” as though it were the most natural thing in the world. In fact, it seems to have been uncommon, to say [Read More...]

Tax Collectors in Galilee in the Time of Jesus

It is common to hear in sermons that tax collectors in Jesus’ time were hated because they worked for the Romans. In Jesus’ time in Galilee, however, we are still in the era of Herodian rule (in contrast with Judea, which was under direct Roman rule by this time). So wouldn’t individuals like Matthew/Levi have [Read More...]

Wadi Hawran and Haran Gawaita

I wonder how old the name Wadi Hawran is. If it is ancient, then I wonder whether it might not have some connection to, or actually be, the “inner Haran” that is mentioned in (and gives the name to) the Mandaean text Haran Gawaita. This fragmentary text begins in mid-sentence with “…and Haran Gawaita receiveth [Read More...]

Why Circular Reasoning Works

HT Archaic Christianity [Read more...]

Around the Exoplanets/Blogosphere

The big news around the blogosphere is exoplanets. Not just the detection of stars’ wobbling, but actual images of planets around other stars. Two different stars: HR8799 and Fomalhaut. There’s more information at Bad Astronomy, Dynamics of Cats, SF Signal, IO9, and Gumby the Cat. Elsewhere around the blogosphere, David Ker has a fantastic variation [Read More...]

He Who Has Not Been Named

Finally, a day on which I checked my blog’s keyword stats, and none of the recent arrivals had got here via “Barack Obama antichrist prophecy” or anything comparable. That search string is still the one to most frequently have brought people recently, but still, to not have had any of the most recent searches be [Read More...]

Boston, Providence and Manchester

I’m not sure whether my case is common or rare among those attending the Society of Biblical Literature conference in Boston this year, but I made my booking well in advance, not having the confidence to wait and hope for better prices. My flight is into Providence airport, about an hour from Boston, and my [Read More...]

Dating Daniel

NT Wrong has a post on the reasons why Daniel is regarded by almost all scholars as a pseudo-prophecy (like just about all the other examples of apocalyptic literature we have from this period). In my class on apocalyptic, I put up a powerpoint slide with the text of a recently discovered ancient apocalypse (one [Read More...]