Episode 038: Zeitgeist

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At the request of a couple of listeners, this episode is a response to the documentary: Zeitgeist.

As I promised in the episode, here are a few links.

First, a link to some astronomical illustrations: http://www.tracer345.org/zeitgeist.html

And here are the links to my three part blog series on evidence for the historical Jesus outside the New Testament, as promised:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

You might also find it helpful to check out my previous blogs on copycat theories about the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

"Most of whom are still alive" – The Apostle Paul on witnesses to the resurrection

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St Paul appealed to the existence of numerous living witnesses to Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead.

Mainstream New Testament scholarship on the Gospels is considerably more conservative than it was, say, forty years ago. For example, the greater number of New Testament critics seemed to agree as a kind of in-house duty that the Gospels were written very late in the first century – the later the better, and if you can find a way of saying that they weren’t finished until the second century, even better! The centre of what is “mainstream” has moved a long way since then. Now it is voices like N. T. Wright, Craig Evans and Richard Bauckham that are setting the pace. Much of the extraordinary scepticism and radical reconstruction of first century Christianity is now seen as simply unwarranted.

But I digress (I got distracted by a certain sense of satisfaction with the sea change that the world of biblical studies has seen). Even those with outdated and extraordinarily sceptical approaches to New Testament studies acknowledge the relatively early date of authorship of the letters written by the Apostle Paul. The first epistle to the Corinthians was composed in the mid fifties, around twenty-five years after the crucifixion. From reading through the letter you can see that one of the theological issues that the church in Corinth was struggling with was scepticism over the resurrection. Continue reading “"Most of whom are still alive" – The Apostle Paul on witnesses to the resurrection”

Merry Mithras!

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The grinches are at it again. Every year at Easter and Christmas the tired old wheels start squeaking and some of the detractors of Christianity start wheeling out a few predictable canards, all connected to the idea that Christianity is just a copycat religion and that the accounts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth that we have in the New Testament were just borrowed from other older religions.

Generally these attempts are now limited to personal websites and message boards on the internet, as they are so discredited that bringing them up at, say, a conference on New Testament studies, would get one laughed all the way home. But, unhappily resigned to the fact that some people only know what they know about theology or biblical studies because they read it at a website, it’s worth addressing some of these claims.

I’ve already dealt with the claim that the virgin birth was borrowed from Buddhism and the claim that Jesus’ life is just a re-hashed version of the life of Osiris. Another common “copycat” theory that floats around online is the claim that Jesus is a mythical character copied from Mithras.1

Continue reading “Merry Mithras!”

  1. Although there is a Mithra and a Mithras in different ancient traditions, the copycat theory that I frequently observed makes no distinction between them. []