Feb 192015
 

google-power-searchI recently mentioned the search tools available here:

http://bcharchive.org/

And they have already improved greatly.

The historical archive of the Biblical Criticism & History forum has been reindexed and checked so that it is indeed complete and unabridged.

The greater Blogosphere search function has been expanded with more websites and upgraded with “refinements,” which let you drill down by category into “biblioblogs,” “forums,” “books,” “articles,” “google-books,” “jstor-articles,” “resources,” or “websites” with just the click of a link.

Last but not least, an Early Writings search function has been created to allow you to use a Google custom search engine over online translations of early Jewish and Christian texts, which themselves are tagged for search refinement as “Early Jewish Writings,” “Pseudepigrapha,” “DSS,” “Talmud,” “Early Christian Writings,” “Apocrypha,” “NHL,” “Church Fathers,” or “Gnostica.”

Please have fun with these new toys! Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Continue reading »

Feb 142015
 

getI found this article to be of interest and wanted to understand it.

The original article by Rudolf Bultmann appeared in Theologische Literaturzeitung 72 (1947), pp. 197-202. It is found here:

http://idb.ub.uni-tuebingen.de/diglit/thlz_072_1947/0107

I have added to it the cleaned-up results of a “Google translate” rendition. I hesitate to call it a translation, as its editor has only a couple semesters of German and not very much practice. Even a hatchet job with a short text like this leaves me with enormous respect for the work done by translators.

In summary, Bultmann finds that Romans 7:25b, Romans 8:1, Romans 10:17, Romans 2:1, and Romans 13:5 are marginal notes that intend to summarize the train of thought developed by Paul in brief “sententious” (doctrinal, pithy, gnomic) form, drawn into the body of the text. They may or may not come from a common “Glossator.” Bultmann further finds that Romans 2:16 and 6:17b seem similarly secondary but are simply interpolations, not marginal notes, with the “Editor” that also added the doxology a likely author.

Romans 7:25b. So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 10:17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 2:1. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Romans 13:5. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Romans 2:16. on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:17b. … you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to.

The German text follows the English rendition below.

Continue reading »

Feb 062015
 

Biblical Criticism & History Archive SearchNow you can search the greater Biblical Criticism Blogosphere, a carefully curated collection of websites, blogs, books, articles, and resources containing about 30 billion web pages indexed and searchable with a Google Custom Search Engine. The search prompt can be found here:

http://bcharchive.org/

This Google-powered custom Internet search engine was created to sit alongside two very specific site search engines, powered by open source software and opening up the full archives of the Biblical Criticism & History forum from 2001 to today. The archives themselves are hosted at bcharchive.org (the historical portion, indexed using Gigablast search technology) and at earlywritings.com (the forum today, powered by phpBB).

I encourage you to play around with these tools! Who knows what pearls you might find? Continue reading »

Jan 222015
 

Buddy christFair’s fair. Let’s try to make the best possible case for the historical existence of Jesus. One never learns about an issue completely unless they are willing to look at it from more than one angle. I intend to write a few more posts on this blog taking up the view of the loyal opposition. Thus I will presently, with respect for the dispassionate approach of Thomas Aquinas, look at the objections first.

The standard disclaimers apply. By the historical existence of Jesus, we are observing the traditional distinction between any possible “Jesus of history” and the Christ of faith. We are interested in knowing if there is a man behind the myth.

Also, we are interested in evidence even if it is barely a whisper, just because that is the sometimes sorry state of our evidence for antiquity.

Continue reading »

Dec 312014
 

top50The year is coming to an end, so here is a Biblioblog Top 50.

As in the last report, the method here uses Alexa rankings whenever they are available. For some sites (i.e., Patheos and Livejournal), where Alexa doesn’t have separate data on each blog, the position has been reckoned by hand.

Notice anything different? Hint: look at the new top five.

Continue reading »

Jun 272014
 

top50School is out and summer is in session, so it’s time to find out where the blog rankings stand in mid-2014.

As in the last report (and like the one before it and the one before that), the method here uses Alexa rankings very strictly whenever they are available. For some sites (i.e., Patheos and Livejournal), where Alexa doesn’t have separate data on each blog, the position has been reckoned by hand.

Check out the full list of biblioblogs, in order by rank, below. And why not keep tabs on some of the interesting blogs about the Bible while you are at it?

Continue reading »

May 162014
 

New RuleIn the past, on this blog, I have defended the right of the public to weigh in on topics related to the history of early Christianity. It’s a topic with wide interest, and it would be a shame to limit input to those who have pursued a credential in history or in theology. Besides the fact that people with different academic specialties have real value to bring to the table, there is something unbalancing about allowing only the voices of those who have gone through a long and expensive credentialing process, usually with the hope of gaining employment either as faculty or in ministry.

That being said, I am proposing a new rule: If you haven’t got a degree in history or religion, make everything that you want other people to respond to you about available for free online. Otherwise, don’t expect anything but obscurity. You have only yourself to blame for the level of interaction with your published work.

Continue reading »

May 162014
 

People who grow up with no religion have a low “retention rate,” but, apparently, it’s getting better.

In what can be described as a turnabout-is-fair-play move, given the general decline in religious belief in America, several have noted recent studies showing that those who report being brought up without a religion in America usually don’t end up with no religion. There’s a graphic from the Pew Forum showing that only 46% of those saying that they were brought up with no particular religious affiliation still claim no religious affiliation.

unaffiliated

It is, for reasons not really clear, even less predictive of atheism for one to say they were “raised atheist.” The 2008 Pew Forum survey had 162 survey responses (weighted at 430 statistically) in the continental U.S. saying that they were “raised atheist.” These survey responses have spawned several articles mentioning the statistics (albeit with little real discussion): most notably from Mark Gray in 2012, most recently from Jesus Creed and Exploring Our Matrix.

Let’s explore that a little.

Continue reading »

May 092014
 

Discussion-GroupIn 1999, not a single biblioblog existed. Even Paleojudaica and NT Blog, two of the first, were yet to emerge. A lot of discussion still happened on Usenet, an ancient internet protocol that most reasonable people have abandoned. Yahoo! would soon acquire a popular service for managing e-mail lists, with lists such as Crosstalk being hot stuff at the time. Web-based forums were also gaining ground at this time.

By 2004, the Bible blogs had started gaining serious steam. These steadily peeled off the most active participants from the mailing lists as they established their own blogs and worked on building them up. Companies such as WordPress and Blogger facilitated this revolution. The bandwidth on e-mail lists was still brisk, but it was soon to be on the decline. Facebook was born.

In 2014, nearly all of the e-mail lists have died off or slowed to a crawl. The “Web 2.0″ revolution is now the old guard, and people are most comfortable with using the web protocol for everything. Yahoo! Groups has gone the way of Pluto: still there but not what it used to be. If Facebook is now the size of Jupiter, the blogosphere is Saturn with its rings, and Reddit is the red planet Mars. Several large web forums exist, but the Bible is only a sideshow for the big ones. A plucky little operation called the Biblical Criticism & History Forum has split off one of them, hoping to survive on its own.

Here are the top 50 discussion groups where you can talk about the Bible online… Continue reading »

May 012014
 

2cents During the month of May, there is a little event going on at the Early Writings forum.

For each and every post to the forum in the month of May, 2 cents will go to charity.

So, if you’d like to make your two cents count, head on over to the forum and get posting! :)

And if you’d like to influence which charities receive the donations, there’s a poll underway for that.

In other news, I turned 33 years old today. Birthday cake and time with family are in my near future. :)

Apr 102014
 

Papyrus Fragment Gospel of  Jesus' WifeKaren King has finally gotten research on the fragment known as the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” published in the Harvard Theological Review (thank goodness too, as there were some concerns over whether the research would get space in a proper venue like this). As indicated, they’d just been waiting for the results to come back from the physical tests of the papyrus fragment. These physical tests include a comparison of the ink with other inks from antiquity and a carbon dating test performed on the papyrus itself.

These tests don’t vindicate those who had been beating the drums for “forgery” from the beginning. On the other hand, they don’t take all the ambiguity out of the matter either, and there will continue to be those who support a hypothesis of modern forgery. The good news is that a healthy debate can occur, taking into consideration all of the most salient data, now that the physical evidence has been examined.

You can check out the links below or join the discussion on the Early Writings forum. And now, the reaction from the blogosphere… Continue reading »

Mar 292014
 

top50It’s that time again! April is just around the corner, so let’s see where biblioblog rankings stand.

As in the last report (and like the one before it), the method here uses Alexa rankings very strictly whenever they are available. For some sites (i.e., Patheos and Livejournal), where Alexa doesn’t have separate data on each blog, the position has been reckoned by hand.

As expected, Jim West continues to maintain a solid lead, but there’s plenty of action in the top 50 and beyond. Check out the full list, in order by rank, below.

And why not keep tabs on some of the interesting ones while you are at it?

Continue reading »

Jan 092014
 

updateOver the last week, I’ve been able to update the Early Christian Writings site with the rest of the Nag Hammadi Library, which consists primarily of Gnostic texts. There are now 226 entries on the site.

Just recently the More Early Christian Writings update added some four dozen entries to the site, primarily church fathers and apocrypha, in an effort to bring the timeline down to 325 AD. I have a few other fragments (and archaeological data) to post. And I still need to fix the “At a Glance” boxes with good data.

Have any suggestions for improvements you’d like to see?

The list of new additions to the website follows below. Continue reading »

Dec 312013
 

top50Previously I had posted the Top 50 Biblioblogs by Traffic, which used Alexa rankings and which could not rank sites hosted on some platforms (such as Patheos or LiveJournal). Soon after I followed up with the Top 225 Biblioblogs by Linkage, which sought to be more inclusive (both in the number of blogs listed and by using a method that could rank them all), but this post used a metric (number of domains linking in) that does not correlate well with the amount of traffic received recently.

So I’ve blended the methods: Alexa is used for rankings, and sites that can’t be ranked that way are interpolated into the list using discretion and a peek at various other stats. Below is the Winter 2013 quarterly report on the top biblioblogs. Think about adding any that interest you to your regular reading. Continue reading »

Dec 302013
 

ImprovedI’ve been busy extending the timeline of the Early Christian Writings website down to the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It’s now at a milestone, as the site has gone from having 153 entries to having 200 entries, including several noteworthy writers such as Cyprian and Eusebius.

I still have 26 Nag Hammadi Library texts to add to the site (the rest of the NHL codices) and a few odds and ends (some fragments and quotations that had been overlooked or which have been discovered since 2001). I expect to put some of the archaeological data from the Physical Evidence of Early Christianity post on the website. I also need to improve the existing pages and fill in the “At a Glance” information boxes with good data. After that, who knows what the future might bring?

Here’s the 47 new additions to the website. Continue reading »

Dec 262013
 

Immanuel: the incarnationRecently Neil Godfrey has been commenting on Brodie’s position that Christian theology does not require the historical Jesus. The whole series blogging through his book Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus is excellent (almost, the book’s publisher might think, too good!).

I am not a Christian theologian, and, simply on a criterion of earnestness, I am ill-equipped to comment on what is or is not capable of being considered sound Christian theology. So that is not the point here. While it is easy to show that Brodie is not alone among Christian thinkers, it is also easy to see that there are some theological concerns in Christianity for which the historicity of Jesus (some might call it the incarnation) is at the center. Continue reading »

Dec 162013
 
190x190-The-church-of-the-celestial-teapot

Bertrand Russell’s “Celestial Teapot”

Okay, I’m sure some wonder why I would write a summary of Dharmakirti’s Logic of Debate in my last post. It’s primarily because I want to preserve this information for those interested in Dharmakirti and the history of logic. But it’s got a secondary interest here: Dharmakirti was one of the first philosophers, of whom I am aware, who takes on the question of whether one can make an argument for the non-existence of something, sometimes called proving a negative, even if such a thing isn’t inherently improbable or implausible. His answer is a highly-qualified “yes.”

The qualifications made by the Indian logician are that the object under consideration must be assumed to be nearby in space and time and, further, apprehensible by its self-nature to the one who wishes to know that it does not exist. This is a philosopher’s way of telling his reader to be humble enough to admit lack of knowledge about a specific claim of non-existence unless this reader is speaking of something that should be visible (or otherwise apprehensible) right then and there. If we agree with Dharmakirti, the relevance to the contemporary debate sometimes conducted over the historical existence of Jesus is twofold. Continue reading »

Dec 152013
 

choedrakDharmakirti was a seventh century Buddhist scholar and a founder of Indian philosophical logic. Dharmakirti taught at Nalanda, an ancient university in India that boasted thousands of students. Part of the curriculum consisted of oral discussion and debate. I found reading his Vadanyaya to be interesting in terms of observing the development of logic outside of the well-known European tradition. Studying logic in general is always profitable whether we are interested in philosophy or in history.

Dharmakirti says at the beginning of his work: “The wicked persons defeat even the one who argues rationally in debates by employing improper methods. We start this (work on the logic of debate) for repudiating them.” Dharmakirti thus believes that the disputant and opponent should not be desirous for victory but should rather want to correct misconceptions, to state the argument rationally, and to refute any irrational argument.

What follows is a description of Dharmakirti’s Vadanyaya, the “Logic of Debate.” Continue reading »

Dec 132013
 

mission-impossible

We can distinguish between nine different and irreconcilable approaches to the subject of Christian origins, characterized by the amount of intrinsic weight given to the two main sources of ideas that could guide and limit the multiplication of hypotheses: (1) statements of tradition and (2) critical reasoning.

Minimal Regard for Tradition Moderate Regard for Tradition Maximal Regard for Tradition
Minimal Regard for Critical Reasoning Conspiracy Theory Novelizations Pious Imagination
Moderate Regard for Critical Reasoning Theories about no-HJ Theories about the HJ Pulp Apologetics
Maximal Regard for Critical Reasoning Minimalist History Bare Historicity of Jesus Academic Apologetics

 

To be clear, hypotheses derived from critical reasoning could include information derived from reading Christian sources and the tradition therein. It is privileging these sources that characterizes the regard for tradition. However, someone could also argue that “minimal regard” actually means antipathy, and I have left some room for that interpretation in the table above and in the discussion below. Continue reading »

Dec 102013
 

Josephus (1)Yep, back-to-back posts on Josephus, but I think it’s important to get it right. I did not spend enough time on my effort the other day, but I was rewarded copiously anyway with some fantastic feedback (thank you!). With that help and with still some more time spent on it, I would like to think the essay is getting better. Here are some differences from my former self:

(1) I no longer entertain the idea that Josephus may have written a “lost reference” in the Jewish Wars to the death of James the Just that was the source of Origen’s reference to Josephus pinning the destruction of Jerusalem on James.

(2) I have expanded on the argument that the 20.9.1 reference requires an earlier passage (argument 6 below).

(3) I have decided against the idea that only the words “who is called Christ” were interpolated (argument 1 below) as it appears to be weaker than the idea that the longer phrase “the brother of Jesus who is called Christ” was interpolated.

(4) I have added some examples of references similar to the proposed “one whose name was James” in Ant. 20.9.1 (argument 2 below).

(5) I had previously discounted the argument that the reference to “Christ” without explanation would be unusual for Josephus (argument 4 below) but with somewhat superficial objections. (I had objected that Christ would only have been a “nickname” emptied of significance in the passage when used by Josephus.) I’m not sure if this objection (or a different one) can be restated to be more cogent.

(6) I have taken a different tactic than pretty much everyone I’ve read (as a possible alternative response to arguments 4 and 5 below for authenticity) by saying that the possibility must be considered that a second century scribe who glossed the phrase “the brother of Jesus who is called Christ” may not have been Christian but rather may have been Jewish.

Please let me know what you think. Continue reading »