The title may sound like a joke, but the truth is that most recent discussions of oral tradition in the Gospels have made use of the Lord-Parry school’s work on folk songs and epics. I have some significant problems with this, given the role of meter and rhyme and the assistance to memory provided by music in the case of this very different genre. Nevertheless, there are useful comparisons that can be made.Recent works on oral tradition in the Gospels… Read more

A news item mentioned on the Christianity Today blog (which itself interacts with and quotes Jim West’s blog) as well as in newspapers highlights a Babylonian tablet that correlates with information in Jeremiah. This is a fascinating discovery, and very interesting for historians. From a historian’s perspective, this just shows that the Bible at times provides reliable information – but mainstream historians already knew that. What it does not prove (and can never prove) is that the Bible is inerrant…. Read more

Origen famously created controversy in his day by merely speculating on the possibility that even the devil could be saved. It is important to ask why this idea should be controversial in a Christian context. Allegedly, Christianity is all about redemption, about the possibility of those living in darkness seeing the light and changing direction. Yet even today a question about praying for the devil on Yahoo! Answers meets with either surprise or the response ‘there would be no point’.I… Read more

I know many readers of my blog are Star Wars fans. I recently purchased the Star Wars Miniatures Starship Battles Starter Set, and can highly recommend it. Created by Wizards of the Coast, who are also responsible for the Star Wars Miniatures game (involving individual characters rather than ships) and currently also produce the Dungeons and Dragons line of products.Those of us who appreciate these sorts of games will welcome this. The Star Trek game Starfleet Battles was a famous… Read more

When I need to be persuaded yet again that reality includes transcendence and the spiritual, I usually turn to music rather than opening the writings of some theologian or other (although those help a lot too!). Here are a few pieces I’d recommend for this purpose…Peteris Vasks’ Lauda which I was listening to earlier todayAlan Hovhaness’ Symphony “Celestial Gate”Kurt Atterberg’s Symphony No.2, the opening and closing sections of the second movement being, for me, the most inspiring melody of all… Read more

For me, one of Croy’s strongest arguments (in his book The Mutilation of Mark’s Gospel) that Mark originally continued beyond 16:8 (where it ends in our earliest manuscripts) is a comparison with Moby Dick. Apparently, the English release omitted the epilogue, with the result that it appeared no one survived. As one reviewer appropriately asked, if no one lived to tell the tale, then how am I hearing about it?! The same problem confronts readers of Mark’s Gospel in the… Read more

One can trace the origins of intelligent design’s type of argument back into the ancient world. Naturally, before there were scientific explanations for various phenomena, there was a tendency to identify all sorts of “natural phenomena” (in our terms) as literally “acts of God” or acts of the gods.What is intriguing in these early examples of the “failure of imagination” argument (i.e. “I cannot conceive how this could possibly have arisen, so God must have done it miraculously) is that… Read more

In response to a question asked on the List-serv X-Talk, I’m sharing a review I wrote of The Mutilation of Mark’s Gospel by N. Clayton Croy. In short, I found the suggestion that Mark’s Gospel may have lost its originalbeginning as well as ending plausible, and certainly agree that the evidence points to Mark’s Gospel having been originally intended continue beyond the abrupt ending found in our earliest Manuscripts.I am inclined to think (as I indicated in a post on… Read more

For many fans of Doctor Who, among our favorite episodes are the ones where the Doctor encounters his earlier selves – which inevitably leads to arguments! Although intended primarily for comic value, I presume, there is an important insight in these episodes. If I were to meet an earlier me, I would encounter a person very different from the one I am today, and I can easily imagine arguments ensuing, as I who I am today tried to share what… Read more

One particular detail in the Gospel of Peter has long struck me as a sure sign the author had authentic early oral traditions passed down to him apart from or in addition to the canonical Gospels. The reference to the disciples being in hiding after Jesus’ arrest because it was feared they would set fire to the temple surely would not have been invented by a Christian, and certainly not after the accusation that they had started the fire in… Read more

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