Five “Fake News” Stories That People Believe about Early Christianity

There’s been a lot of chatter about “fake news” in recent months.  Some stories, even though they have no basis in fact, are told so often, and with such conviction, that large numbers of people end up believing them anyway.

And some of these fake news stories even dupe legitimate political figures who repeat the story without realizing it is false.  And, of course, once a mainstream political figure repeats a story then it becomes even more entrenched in the national psyche.

While some of these fake news stories are rather harmless, others have become quite dangerous.  Most famous perhaps is the “Pizza Gate” incident in 2016 where …

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Did the Gospel Authors Think They Were Writing Scripture?

One of the most common misconceptions about the New Testament canon is that the authors of these writings had no idea that they were writing Scripture-like books.  I dealt with this misconception on a general level here, showing that there was a clear apostolic self-awareness amongst the New Testament authors.

While this apostolic self-awareness may be easy to show for authors like Paul, what about the gospels which, technically speaking, are formally anonymous?  Do their authors exhibit awareness that they were writing something like Scripture?  To explore this further, let us just consider just one of our gospels, namely the Gospel of Matthew.

The first step is to get …

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Did Early Christians Believe That Jesus Would Return in Their Own Lifetime? Implications for Canon

One of the most-oft repeated ideas about the earliest Christians is that they believed that the Kingdom of God would come (apocalyptically) within their own lifetime.  In fact Schweitzer famously argued that Jesus himself thought the world would end in his own lifetime; of course the world didn’t end and Jesus died disillusioned on the cross saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

In recent years, some have suggested that this belief in early Christianity would even have affected the development of the canon.   If Christians thought the world would end in their own lifetime, then, it is argued, they would not have …

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