Your Beliefs about the Afterlife: Are They Christian?

My summer reading program has essentially concluded with two recommended volumes that together cover much of the same ground. Bruce D. Chilton’s Resurrection Logic: How Jesus’ First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead (Baker, 2019) was followed a year later by Bart D. Ehrman’s Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (Simon …

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Animals in the New Testament

Specialists and general readers alike spend so much time focusing on the various human characters in the New Testament that it is easy to overlook the role that members of the animal kingdom play in its stories and teachings. Animals feature throughout the entire Bible playing memorable parts usually in the service of moral lessons …

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Fatherhood in the Gospels: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Fatherhood is well-represented in the New Testament. One of the very few authentic words spoken by Jesus and recorded in the gospels may be the Aramaic form of father: abba. Jesus, like other rabbis of ancient Judaism, characterized God as the male parent, benevolent but just, forgiving but demanding. The first-century world was a patriarchal …

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Do We Have the Authentic Words of Jesus?

My New Testament students are sometimes surprised when I ask this question in class. Most of them have never thought about it before. Why would we even ask whether we have the authentic words of Jesus? Aren’t they recorded in quotations in the gospels? Weren’t the gospel authors ear- and eye-witnesses writing down what they …

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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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The Fall (and Rise) of Pontius Pilate

Almost everyone, Christian and non-Christian, has heard of Pontius Pilate and is generally aware of his role in the death of Jesus. He was certainly an historical figure as archaeology, non-biblical historical sources, and the gospels can attest. Pilate was a prefectus, sometimes translated into English as governor, appointed by Rome to administer the relatively …

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Disagreement over Jesus’s Resurrection: How did it Really Happen?

Tomorrow Christians celebrate the pivotal event that lead a group of disheartened, first-century Jews to feel as if their faith in Jesus as the messiah was vindicated even after his horrifying execution. The event is known as the resurrection and it helped transform a Jewish sectarian reformist movement into a worldwide religion that ultimately left …

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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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The Imagery of the Nativity: Where Does it Come From?

At Christmas time, believers naturally focus on imagery recalling the birth of Jesus. Visual depictions of a crèche filled with figures representing the holy family, wise men, shepherds, angels, and various livestock are meant to recall the events depicted in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. But few may realize that the elements of a …

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