April 12, 2016

I just started an AMA on the fantastic /r/HistoryOfIdeas subreddit, the link to which can be found here. Just to copy over what I wrote from there, I feel comfortable taking most questions on virtually anything related to the New Testament and historical Jesus, and their background and socio-historical context most things about the Hebrew Bible, though I have a few weak spots here (for example, I hardly ever do much with the Former Prophets) the wider world of Jewish extrabiblical… Read more

April 3, 2016

  The first post I made on this blog set forth my agenda on Patheos: to encourage taking religion seriously, even as atheists. Here I don’t mean taking religion seriously as a social phenomenon—the type of thing that motivates people to get up early on Saturday or Sunday; that compels maverick lawmakers to either covertly or overtly push it into legislation; something that’s used to motivate and justify terrorism, etc. I think at this point, we all take religion seriously enough in these ways. What I mean, instead, is to… Read more

March 17, 2016

  It’s become somewhat of a modern blogging tradition, around St. Patrick’s Day, for several articles to come out that attempt to shed light on various legends that have emerged over the centuries concerning the well-known patron saint of Ireland, who’s lent his name (and perhaps, according to certain folk traditions, his penchant for drink, too) to the holiday. A particular point of fascination has been the origins of the legend of his having driven all the snakes out of Ireland—surely one of the most ubiquitous… Read more

March 9, 2016

A couple of months ago I wrote a post entitled “’But If You Look at the Original Greek…’: A Plea for Caution” that criticized increasingly careless appeals to linguistics in Christian theological discourse. More specifically, it explored a few well-known cases where people have argued for non-traditional interpretations—often untenable ones—of certain Biblical Hebrew or Greek words, usually with significant theological ramifications. I originally decided to split my original post into two parts, but never got around to posting the second one. Yesterday, however, over at Eclectic Orthodoxy, Father Kimel posted an updated… Read more

March 8, 2016

  (This post is a continuation of my last one, addressing some arguments by Catholic Biblical scholar Brant Pitre. Although reading the two posts together makes for a stronger and more cohesive argument, the current post does stand on its own.) In my last post, I discussed Brant Pitre’s response to a question about eyewitness testimony to the life of Jesus. Having suggested the evangelist Matthew as a qualifying figure here—that is, the person to whom the gospel bearng his name is ascribed, assumed to be… Read more

March 4, 2016

In my previous post, I tackled the first of Catholic Biblical scholar Brant Pitre’s responses to a series of questions sent in by skeptics and atheists, which he answered as a sort of publicity tie-in with his new book The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ. In this post, I’ll move on to the second question that Pitre answered: Name one person who met Jesus, spoke to him, saw him, or heard him and who wrote about… Read more

March 3, 2016

Update: upon further clarification by the paper authors and others, it really does look like the original apparent creationist statements in the PLOS ONE paper were in fact not (intended as) such, and came about due only to unfamiliarity with English and awkward translation. One of the authors, Ming-Jin Liu, posted a comment to the PLOS ONE page for the paper reading We are sorry for drawing the debates about creationism. Our study has no relationship with creationism. English is not our native language. Our understanding of the word… Read more

March 1, 2016

  Over at StrangeNotions, Catholic Biblical scholar and theologian Brant Pitre has responded to a host of questions that were sent in by skeptics and atheists, in promotion of his recent apologetic work The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ. I was originally going to tackle all of his responses in a single post; but this has grown so long that I’m just going to divide this up into different installments, replicating the original questions and then addressing… Read more

February 16, 2016

  “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” (Matthew 26:24) [Update:] A lot of what I’ve suggested here actually becomes a lot more plausible in light of some of the research on Luke 20:34-36 that I’ve been looking at (and doing). See my post here.  Also, in Grypeou and Spurling’s The Book… Read more

January 27, 2016

  The Toledot Yeshu is a notoriously elusive text—or rather, a sort of corpus of related texts, some originally written in Aramaic, but mainly surviving in Hebrew, Ladino, and other languages. At heart, the Toledot is a polemical Jewish anti-Christian work, describing the birth and life of Jesus in decidedly negative, slanderous terms. The composition of various parts of the text(s) has been dated to all sorts of periods throughout the 1st millennium CE; but it’s clear that it was only collected in the medieval or late medieval period. The traditions… Read more

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