Blog returning to sleep mode…

Four months ago I began the latest series of posts, “A New Account of Christian Origins.” Numbering sixteen entries, the series has covered a lot of territory—from my views regarding the emergence of the Catholic religion in the middle of the second century CE, to the non-existence of Paul, of Marcion, and of the earliest Church Fathers (Clement of Rome, Papias, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna). While freely admitting that I may not be correct regarding all of these propositions, I am fairly confident that the most important will stand the test of time. At the very least, the onus is shifting onto the tradition to demonstrate to an increasing number of skeptics that the major figures in … Continue reading

Nazareth update

Ken Dark For the last couple of years I have refrained from commenting on Prof. Ken Dark’s 2020 book, The Sisters of Nazareth Convent: A Roman-period, Byzantine, and Crusader site in central Nazareth. Already in 2006 Dark wrote that his goal in examining the Sisters of Nazareth site over several summers was to produce “a book-length report—fully illustrated with detailed scale drawings and photographs—covering all of the data.” I have already extensively rebutted Dark’s claims of a first century dwelling on the site, both in my book NazarethGate (Chapter 6) and also online ( The Sisters of Nazareth Convent is located about 100m west of the Church of the Annunciation. No one (not even Dark) contests the presence of a … Continue reading

Baker Books proposes a new time-shift

A reader (thank you, Alan) recently apprized me of a book hot off the press (May 3, 2022): Rethinking the Dates of the New Testament (RDNT), by Dr. Jonathan Bernier. According to the Amazon page, the book proposes that the New Testament was written twenty to thirty years earlier than traditionally thought, that is, towards the middle of the first century CE! I’d like to mention that the publisher, Baker Books, is a conservative Christian imprint on whose welcome page we read: Baker Books has a vision for building up the body of Christ through books that are relevant, intelligent, and engaging. We publish titles for lay Christians on topics such as discipleship, apologetics, spirituality, relationships, marriage, parenting, and the … Continue reading

The obliteration of Gnosticism from early Christian history (cont.)

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 6 “At Alexandria [before c. 200 CE] it was hard to differentiate between gnostic and Christian doctrines…” The statement dates to 1986 and is by Robert M. Grant (d. 2014), the ‘dean’ of Early Christian History for a whole generation. Grant’s distinction between “gnostic” and “Christian” doctrines has been, and still is, typical of the field—and so wrong! By and large, the Gnostics considered themselves the true Christians: …There is much evidence to show that in the Roman Empire, at least, the Manichaeans considered themselves to be Christians, nay, the true Christians, while they condemned the Catholics for “judaizing,” and hence for being unfaithful to the true doctrine of Christ.     [G. Stroumsa, in: The Roots … Continue reading

John the Baptist in Josephus—Pt. 2

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 2 The Authenticity of John the Baptist in Josephus (continued) Arguments for inauthenticity By his own admission, Kirby’s points are indecisive as regards the authenticity or inauthenticity of the John the Baptist passage in Josephus (Ant. 18.116-119; Whiston’s chapter 18.5.2). In this latter half of his article he argues mainly against Frank Zindler (The Jesus the Jews Never Knew, pp. 88–99), who raised a number of points against authenticity. Kirby also argues against Robert Price, citing rebuttals by Maurice Casey (d. 2014). This is revealing, for Casey believed “that the documents on Jesus of greatest historical value are the Gospel of Mark and the Pauline epistles.” Right. The Pauline epistles have next to nothing … Continue reading

The Hermann Detering Legacy/2—Curriculum Vitae to 2005

This is the first of several posts that will review Dr. Detering’s life and scholarship according to the available material on- and offline. It is carried out from afar and in an admittedly impromptu manner. I invite readers to add data, links, or corrections—simply send me an email with the information and I will consider adding it to the CV. The Wikipedia article (German here) is a good place to begin, and Detering’s own brief VITA in German is on his website here. These posts are deceptively short. However, they are dense with links that offer the interested reader avenues to explore a good deal of material. If possible, I would like to add a personal impression of Dr. Detering’s … Continue reading

An immodest proposal: Lock ’em up!

Some good friends recently sent me the following recommendation: We the People of these United States—319 million of us, give or take a few hundred thousand—should locate the 500 richest Americans and gather them into one place. That shouldn’t be too hard. A single large room will be sufficient to seat those 500 persons. Once they are together, we can ask those wealthiest individuals a few questions. The first is: Why should I work for you? It’s a simple question. Not complicated. The People can listen attentively to the reply from the super-rich, some of whom might, however, respond boorishly: “If you don’t work for me, I’ll cut off your head.” Such a response, of course, would not be a … Continue reading

Truth matters: By the numbers Donald Trump LOST

The “evidence” of the recent election is already almost completely forgotten. By the numbers, Donald Trump LOST. Few people have bothered to inquire into the shenanigans in the swing states that bear out this conclusion. But it’s patent. If there were an accurate count, I have no doubt whatsoever that Hillary Clinton would win—both the popular and the electoral vote. Hands down. But, of course, there wasn’t an accurate count. That fact provides cover for Trump people to object. They taunt: “Prove to me that Hillary Clinton won those swing states.” My riposte is clear: “I’d love to prove it to you. But you won’t let me! An accurate count is precisely what Jill Stein and the Green Party tried … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 6

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In this series of posts I’ve tried to show that the Price-Ehrman debate suffered largely because the two principals play by vastly different ground rules. It’s hard to have a meaningful (much less an exciting) exchange of ideas if the assumptions, acknowledged experts, and evidence are so dissimilar. This reminds me of the global warming debate, or of the long-standing evolution-creationism debacle. In all these cases what seems obvious to the scientist is contested—inevitably because a very powerful anti-scientific agenda is in play. As James Crossley noted in the post-debate conversation,[minute 49] “Paul” is a case in point. For Ehrman and mainstream scholarship, the Apostle was real, a convert to Christianity only a few years after the … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 5

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In this post I’d like to comment on a few points in the Price-Ehrman debate that I found particularly important. The following discussions have reference especially to views I’ve presented elsewhere on this website and in the final chapter of my book NazarethGate. Where possible I link to relevant webpages. (a) Dating “Paul.” Ehrman dated Paul to the first century CE on the basis of the First Letter of Clement. However, the reference is invalid. We have recently noted on this website that 1 Clement mentions Paul several times: “It is traditionally attributed to Clement of Rome and dated somewhere between 81 and 98 CE. However, H. Detering (1994:75) has noted that the epistle knows 1 Corinthians … Continue reading