Baptism for the Dead: Paul and the Mandaeans

A student who gave a presentation on the Mandaeans in my “Heresy” class used the phrase “baptism for the dead” to describe the masiqta – more frequently translated as “mass for the dead” or something similar in English. The masiqta proper, of course, is a ritual meal which takes after someone has died, and not an [Read More...]

Churches: Safe Spaces or Self-Destructing Temples?

The above quote from Rachel Held Evans came to my attention soon after a New York Times article noted the misuse of “safe space” as an attempt to try to protect oneself in universities from uncomfortable ideas; and just before Andii Bowsher noted an article in the Telegraph about 38% of churchgoers keeping their liberal views on same-sex [Read More...]

A Polite Bribe at SBL

There was a showing of the movie Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe at the Society of Biblical Literature conference in San Diego in November. The video above features Larry Hurtado, Ben Witherington, and Robert Orlando discussing the film after the showing. If you have never seen it, you can rent the movie digitally on Amazon. [Read more...]

Trusting Tertullian

Tertullian claims that the Acts of Paul and Thecla were forged in his time, and that a particular individual confessed to having done so. In the past, I’ve been willing to accept Tertullian’s account. But I am beginning to think that perhaps I should treat Tertullian’s claim with a greater degree of skepticism. One reason [Read More...]

Who Quoted Whom?

In a post on the blog Right Reason, Glenn Peoples seeks to make the case that Paul quotes from the Gospel of Luke. The reference is to the connection between 1 Timothy 5:17–18 and Luke 10:7. If one were to make the case that the Pastoral Epistles were by Paul, despite the implausibility, then it could still be [Read More...]

Did Paul Meet the Historical Jesus?

Stanley Porter, in lectures which are available for free via iTunes, points out that Jesus and Paul were contemporaries, and makes the case that there is a good chance that Paul met Jesus at some point. Of the four lectures he gives on this topic, the third focuses on passages which Porter believes might indicate that this [Read More...]

Hurtado on Paul’s Messianic Jesus

Larry Hurtado shared a link to the above video of his 2014 lecture on Paul’s Messianism as a variant of ancient Jewish Messianism. [Read more...]

Obvious Things to Mention if Jesus were Divine

It struck me recently that there are so many things that Paul never says, which we might expect him to mention if he thought of Jesus as God. What is the significance of a divine being becoming human? Of a divine being being crucified? Of a divine being returning to heaven after having done these things? [Read More...]

Pretend to be Paul the Time Traveler Day

A commenter drew my attention to the video above, in which apologists for Pauline authorship depict Paul the apostle interrupting Bart Ehrman’s class to insist that he wrote both 1 and 2 Thessalonians. It seems perfect for today, which is Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day. But it doesn’t really satisfy – not least because [Read More...]

Authorship of 2 Thessalonians

Towards the end of the semester in my Paul class, we’ve focused on the disputed and inauthentic epistles attributed to Paul. One detail that never struck me quite as forcefully before about 2 Thessalonians is its ending: “ I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the mark in every letter of mine; [Read More...]

Paul’s Human Jesus

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul makes a contrast between two human beings, Adam and Jesus. One is mythical. Is the other? And did Paul think that one or both of them were mythical? Interestingly, on this point, if none other, concerns of young-earth creationists and mythicists intersect. Is “human” ever applied without qualification to beings [Read More...]


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