Was Jesus’s Baptism an Embarrassment to His Early Followers?

Why would anyone even ask such a question? Didn’t Jesus’s baptism become the prototype for Christian baptism, a practice that was carried out by his followers as evidenced in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul? How could that have embarrassed anyone who claimed to follow Jesus? To the analytical mind of …

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The Twelve Apostles Part 6: Thaddaeus, Simon, Judas & the Rest

With this post, we complete our historical survey of the lives of the twelve apostles. Here, we discuss the apostles Thaddaeus, Simon, Judas, “and the rest.” Thaddaeus/Lebbaeus/Judas son of James             It is possible, though unlikely, that these three names all refer to the same person.  Some suggest that the names Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus ultimately …

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The Twelve Apostles, Part 5 – Matthew, Thomas, James

We continue our historical survey of the lives of the twelve apostles. In this post, we discuss the apostles Matthew, Thomas, and James. Matthew             The Greek word, Matthaios, from which we derive Matthew, comes from the Semitic Mattiyah meaning “gift of Yahweh.”  Beyond that, and the appearance of his name in the lists of …

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The Twelve Apostles, Part 4 – The Hellenists: Andrew, Philip, and Bartholomew

We continue our series of historical investigations into the twelve specially-chosen followers of Jesus with this look at three who bore Hellenist names: Andrew, Philip, and Bartholomew. Andrew             Andrew is a Greek name (Andreas = “manly”). All four New Testament gospels (Matt 4:18, 10:2; Mark 1:16; Luke 6:14; John 1:40, 6:8) identity him as …

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The Twelve Apostles, Part 3: The Thunder Brothers, Sons of Zebedee

We continue with our series of historical investigations into the twelve specially-chosen followers of Jesus with this combined look at James and John, the sons of Zebedee. James, son of Zebedee             The New Testament features a number of men named James (Greek Iakōbos from the Hebrew Ya’akov or Jacob).  Most of what we know …

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The Twelve Apostles Part 2: Simon Peter

We carry on with part 2 of our historical investigation of the Twelve special persons chosen by Jesus to supplement his work. This blog will focus on Simon Peter. “Simon” is the Greek form of the Semitic name Šim`ôn, one of the most common Jewish names known to us from antiquity.  It means “Yah(weh) has …

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Which Gospel Came First?

Getting as close to the historical Jesus as possible has been a preoccupation with biblical scholars since at least the 18th century. Many questions must be asked. For example, which of the Jesus-traditions (sayings and stories) now appearing in the New Testament and elsewhere are the oldest? Which are most likely historical? Which gospel was …

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