The Death of James, the Brother of Jesus

Although mentioned several times in the New Testament, Jesus’s brother James remains a shadowy figure. He is named in the Gospel of Mark as one of Jesus’s four brothers along with Joses (“little Joseph”), Judas (Judah), and Simon (Mark 6:3). None of the four gospels report much, if any, participation by the brothers in the …

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Early Christian Teaching on Same-gender Sex

Recently, the United Methodist General Conference for 2019 passed a controversial piece of legislation called The Traditional Plan which essentially affirms “the church’s current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage” (www.umnews.org). Supporters characterized the plan as adhering to “biblical” values. Members who supported a more liberal plan, called The …

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Did the First Jewish Believers in Jesus Continue to Sacrifice at the Temple?

The question of whether the disciples of Jesus ceased sacrificing at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem following his death is one that comes up occasionally among scholars interested in understanding the very earliest form of Christ-belief. This question has come up again in a new book by Paula Fredriksen, When Christians Were Jews: The First …

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The Bloodline of Jesus? Descendants of the Holy Family

Every now and then, the subject of Jesus’s celibacy is raised, usually in connection with Mary Magdalene who some suggest was his wife. Still others believe that the tomb of Jesus has been found in Jerusalem, a tomb that contained the remains of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and their son. While the jury is still out …

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The Burial and Remains of St. Peter – A Study of the Evidence

Several years ago I prepared a paper detailing what archaeology and history have revealed to us about the last days and ultimate burial of Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ. Few scholars today would doubt the historicity of the tradition that the apostle Peter suffered martyrdom in Rome. The exact year or the circumstances that surround the …

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Sacred Structures along the Kidron Valley and on the Mount of Olives

There are many sacred structures along the east side of Jerusalem, some dating back to before the time of King Herod (37-4 BCE). The oldest is the Tomb of the Bene-Hezir, a priestly family, from the 2nd century BCE. It can be seen to the left in the picture above. To its right is the …

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Mount Zion, Jerusalem

This photograph of the Cenacle, or Upper Room of the Last Supper, was taken from the rotunda of the Church of the Dormition. With the kind permission of Father Elias and the assistance of Lukas, a young volunteer worker from Cologne, I was able to access the top of the dome from which I could …

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The Judgment Seat of Pilate

One of the most fascinating recent discoveries in Jerusalem is the gate that once led to King Herod’s palace but was later used by the Roman prefects of Judea as their judgment seat called Gabbatha or Lithostrotos. The Gospel of John 19:13 says that Jesus stood before Pilate here as his death sentence was pronounced. …

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The Ancient Upper Room and Tomb of David

While in Jerusalem, I cannot help but to repeatedly visit the structure about which I have extensively written. The above photograph displays with amazing clarity the long history of the building we today identify as the Upper Room of the Last Supper and the Tomb of King David. That history is physically present in the …

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Omitting the Infancy and Resurrection Narratives: The Gospel of Mark and the Jewish-Christian Leadership in Jerusalem

Even a cursory glance at the New Testament gospels reveals a startling number of differences both large and small in the telling of the sayings and deeds of Jesus. Similarities among the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke are attributed by scholars to the use of the former by the latter two as well as …

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