Think You Know the Christmas Story?

Bah, humbug.

That’s probably one of the most well-known lines in literary (and now, cinematic) history. Everybody immediately recognizes the curmudgeonly voice of Ebeneezer Scrooge as he pours cold water all over our Christmas spirit.

And his point is still made today by some, albeit in different words.  It’s that the Christmas story just isn’t true. It’s rubbish. It’s made up. It’s all in our heads.

While now is not the time for a full-scale defense of the historicity of the Christmas story, Scrooge’s skepticism does prompt us to wonder whether we’ve gotten the story right. Are we telling the story that really was, or are we just telling the

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What Should We Make of the Hypothetical “Q” Source?

Students of the Gospels will know that there has been a long-standing discussion among scholars about the relationship between the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). These three Gospels are so similar at so many points (often word for word), that it raises a number of intriguing questions. Did they know each other? Did they use each other?

For generations, the dominant answer to this question has been the so-called “Two Source” hypothesis. In brief, that hypothesis argues that Mark wrote first, and then Matthew and Luke independently used Mark.  Since Matthew and Luke did not know each other (so the argument goes), then the common material they share that …

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All Gospels Are Not Created Equal: My Wall Street Journal Review of “The Apocryphal Gospels”

Most people have never read one of the “apocryphal” Gospels—that is, a gospel that was not included in our Bibles. For that matter, most people have never read one of the canonical Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Perhaps they’ve read snippets here and there, but very few have read them straight through.

Even so, there seems to be no shortage of opinions about the nature of ancient Gospels and how they functioned in the early church.  Dramatic claims—typically filtered through blog articles and internet lore—are the order of the day.  There were hundreds of “other” Gospels in the early church, we are told. No one knew which Gospels they …

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Jesus in the Canonical and Apocryphal Gospels: Simon Gathercole to Give Harold O.J. Brown Lectures at @RTSCharlotte

For our annual Harold O.J. Brown Lectures at RTS Charlotte, we are pleased to Welcome Dr. Simon Gathercole, professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Cambridge University.

On March 22, 11AM-2PM, Dr. Gathercole will be giving two lectures (with a provided lunch in between) on the theme of “Jesus in Canonical and Apocryphal Gospels.”

Certainly this lecture will be of great interest to all who want to understand what makes our gospels unique as opposed to the variety of apocryphal gospels in existence. I am particularly interested in this topic myself as I did my Ph.D. research on an apocryphal gospel fragment, P.Oxy. 840 (see my book, The

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Where Are All the Heretical Bishops in the Second Century?

I’ve noticed that Michael Bird has recently posted an article on heresy and orthodoxy in early Christianity. From what I can tell (I can’t see the entire article because it’s behind the paywall), he is pushing back against the popular narrative, originally suggested by Walter Bauer in his 1934 book Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, which insists that Christianity was wildly diverse in the earliest centuries and that the heretics outnumbered the orthodox. It was not until the 3rd and 4th centuries, according to Bauer, that the orthodox began to turn the tide.

But I think there’s an additional way to test Bauer’s theory. Let’s ask a simple …

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