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The Bible Geek


The Bible Geek

Robert M Price presents theology with a twist
 but without the spin

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John Felix for his part in making The Bible Geek podcast possible.


The Bible Geek Podcast 14-047
Tuesday, August 19th 2014, 39m
What is the historical evidence for the various early Christian leaders named in the Bible, and can you talk about which were most likely actual people? If any of the disciples were real people - as James seems to be, from what I know - how do you believe they came to be made the disciples of a fictional character, Jesus? In History and the Gospel C.H. Dodd argues that the New Testament writers did not draw on the whole body of messianic predictions available to them from the Old Testament, which implies there was a real Jesus who had done some things and not others. What dictated the New Testament writers' choice of prophecies? Are there Old Testament messianic prophecies that Jesus is not said to have fulfilled, and if so why were these not applied to Jesus? In "The Historical Bejeezus" you lay out the case for a prior version of the Passion that involved a narrow escape from death, rather than a death and resurrection. But if the earliest form of Christianity involved a heavenly Christ who died and rose from the dead in the heavens, then why would the earliest historicization of his crucifixion involve an escape from death, rather than a death and resurrection? Apologists argue that the martyrdom of Jesus' disciples and other early "eye-witnesses" validates their spectacular claims, as though this is an indisputable historical fact. This seems like using a dogma to justify another dogma. Do you think that the early martyrdoms were a part of the larger Christian mytheme? What's the evidence that these martyrdoms ever even took place, and what indications do we have (if any) that they're more likely to be legend than history? Gerd Theissen writes "The image of the Pharisees as persecutors of Christians is to be located historically in the 40s and early 50s; the same goes for the preaching and mission oriented on Israel which is presupposed in Q". Do you agree with this? You've addressed the "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" verses, mentioning that the term "Holy Spirit" is used there as a "pious circumlocution." Does that apply just to these verse or is this the origin of the term "Holy Spirit"? And does the Holy Spirit have a distinct function in Scripture vs. God the Father? Is there any indication the Holy Spirit might have feminine qualities?

The Bible Geek Podcast 14-046
Friday, August 8th 2014, 1h10m
If Aaron saw God on the mountain with Moses, how could he think God looked like a calf when he fashioned that image? Isn't it likely the image represented Apis and Hathor, bovine gods of Egypt? And does the Bible say humans can see God and survive or not? You often talk about how Luke and other gospel writers got it wrong. How do we know that these gospel traditions are just plain wrong? Is there a good sourcebook for this? What's the deal with all the strange instances of circumcision in the Bible? Luke seems very insistent that Jesus is the new Elijah. Does the author envision a new Elisha as well? What do you think is the correct chronology of the biblical books? Gehenna (the Valley of Hinnom) just a metaphor for an actual literal hell? Or is it a garbage dump for disposing of sinners' corpses? Do you think "Study Bibles" are useful? Do they interject too many theological assumptions into the text? Which might you recommend? How are commentaries used? What is your favorite? Do you know of any readily accessible books which address the connection between Zoroastrianism and Judaism? In your future book "Moses und Minimalism" is it your contention that the Old Testament / Tanakh is on the same level of historicity as The Book of Mormon i.e., no historical merit? Was JRR Tolkien's created mythology influenced by Semitic polytheism? How can we talk about inerrancy if there is so much diversity between texts?

The Bible Geek Podcast 14-045
Friday, July 18th 2014, 46m
What do you make of ISIS member Abu Turab Al Mugaddasi saying that they would destroy the Kaaba in Mecca: "If Allah wills, we will kill those who worship stones in Mecca and destroy the Kaaba. People go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah." 2 Corinthians 1:3 begins "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ...." It seems that "God the Father" is both the God of, and the Father of, Jesus Christ. If the father and son are part of the same God-trinity, would the father really be the God of the son? It certainly seems the author did not consider God the Father and Jesus Christ to be equals. What's with all the bragging by the "humble" Paul in 2 Corinthians? And why does he first write as if the man who journeyed to the third heaven was someone else? Jews speak of the unbroken chain, of father-to-son, dating back to Sinai, but we know that there was at least one bottle-neck at the time of Ezra. Are you aware of other examples where the story/knowledge/Torah was lost, and then reintroduced? Might the display of divine retribution at Mount Vesuvius have "put the fear of (the Israelite) God" into some Gnostic Christians to rethink their theology and claim Jehovah as the Father of Jesus and the Jewish Scriptures as their own, thus giving birth to Catholic Christianity? I sometimes wonder if, when Paul refers to James as "the brother of the Lord," that the phrase "brother of the Lord" is a nickname, like with Simon the Zealot (see Luke 6:15) or Sons of Thunder (see Mark 3:17). An early tradition of the Jesus movement is preserved in Mark where Mark has Jesus say "Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35)." Maybe in Paul, James has the title or nickname "The brother of the Lord" because James was a great example of someone who always did the will of God. This interpretation would agree with Origen who said in Contra Celsum 1.47 that James was called the brother of the Lord by Paul because James was very righteous, not because he was Jesus' sibling. How could Adam & Eve be blamed for the "immoral" act of disobeying God when as yet they had no knowledge of good & evil? Why is Luke the only Gospel writer to actually mention that Jesus healed Malchus' severed ear? If Luke and Mark owe their position in the canon to their supposedly being written by disciples of the Apostles, why is Polycarp's letter to the Philippians not included in the New Testament considering he was a disciple of the Apostle John? When Origen mentions an Epistle of Jeremiah "handed down by the Hebrews," is he referring to Jeremiah 10:11, which is allegedly part of Jeremiah's now lost letter to Babylonian Jews, or is he referring to the Epistle of Jeremiah included as the final chapter of Baruch? Is there evidence that Polycarp wrote Acts wholly from scratch while he merely fleshed-out Marcion's Ur-Lukas? What evidence is there that Polycarp wrote the Pastorals?

The Bible Geek Podcast 14-044
Tuesday, July 15th 2014, 1h6m
Luke's gospel does not expressly include the flogging/whipping/scourging as part of the Passion, though Pilate in dialogue with the crowd twice recommends that he punish or chastise Jesus and release Him. Why? I heard that the Song of Solomon uses explicit Hebrew words for human anatomy (e.g., apple is actually the world for penis in Hebrew). Is it true that it is translated into virtually unrecognizable euphemisms for what was written explicitly in the earliest sources? On Bernard Batto's claim that the translation of Yam Suf as the 'Sea of Reeds' is not correct and that it does actually mean what we call the Red Sea today, or even as Yam Sof (End Sea as Israelites saw the Red Sea as the end of the world). Presumably when first written the Torah would have been written in the original paleo-Hebrew but was later changed to the Aramaic one that we use today. Even according to most conservative Jewish scholars admit this was changed by Ezra. Does this comport with the notion of a very late origin? Phillip Harland pointed out that in Mark 8:27-30 Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is and Peter responds "You are the Christ," whereupon Jesus tells them to be silent about it. Then he responds to Peter: "Get behind me Satan!" Up to that passage in Mark, the only beings that recognized Jesus were possessing spirits. Does this imply that the author intended to depict Peter as Satan-possessed? Can any parallels be drawn between the initial succession conflict within Islam (Abu Bakr and Ali bin Abu Talib) and that of Christianity (Paul and Peter)? What issues were being polemically symbolized in Peter's three denials of Jesus? Why three? Tacitus mentions in passing only that the Christians were named after somebody named Christus or Chrestus who was crucified by Pilate. Suetonius also mentions that Christians were followers of "Chrestus", who was apparently a rabble-rouser of some note in Rome in about AD 49. Does this lend credence to the theory Chrestus was not Jesus and that his deeds were subsequently conflated with those of a Jewish teacher and seditionist to create the composite character today known from the gospels? Was Tacitus perhaps referring to the "AD 49 Chrestus" of Suetonius instead? Where did the NT writers come up with the idea of Hell? Do you understand the NT to actually teach eternal lake of fire torment for all who do not believe in Jesus? Isn't it a fact the NT teaches NO ONE goes to heaven until Jesus comes back? Robinson & Koester's Trajectories through Early Christianity suggests that Mark understood 4:1-34 not as a set of parables, but more so as riddles. I believe they're suggesting that Mark represents a stage in the evolutionary development of Gnosticism, right? Do you agree with the views expressed in Acts and Christian Beginnings: the Acts Seminar Report?

The Bible Geek Podcast 14-043
Friday, July 11th 2014, 1h02m
Extravagant, blind fan worship of Michael Jackson vs. the hypothetical swift deification of an historical Jesus. On the Isar community, a Christian group which claims descent from the Samaritan Diaspora. Josippon (also called Pseudo-Josephus), written in biblical Hebrew, and its relationship to other pseudoepigrapha and fprgeries. On the Book of Jubilees being highly regarded by both the Hasmoneans the Qumran community and implications on authorship and dating. Does Mark 6.14 erroneously calling Herod Antipas "king" imply late dating and non-eyewitness authorship? Geek's opinion on the authenticity of the "Moabite Stone." Isn't it foolish to discourage the involvement of Christian amateurs in the processing of ancient papyri that languish in unopened crates? In Acts 2 and 4 it seems like the Christians in Jerusalem were practicing a kind of communal property and redistribution. Was this temporary? Was it just in Jerusalem? Are the passages in question are historical do they serve some kind of ideological function? Is it possible that the writers of the Bible (e.g. Rev. 11:7-98) never were in Egypt but wrote "Egypt" so whichever captives they were subject to would not consider the writings revolutionary propaganda? Are there further examples of euphemisms deployed to disguise a location, country or people so we who hath ears can hear and interpret who is truly meant (other than "666")? On Eusebius' mention of a text called the Memoranda that claims Jesus was crucified in 21 CE and implications for Jesus' historicity. Josephus places the death of John the Baptist in 36 CE vs. Gospels placing it before the crucifixion of Jesus with John either a forerunner of Jesus or Jesus being viewed as John resurrected from the dead. Has anyone proposed combining Lena Einhorn's "the Egyptian as Jesus" hypothesis with mythicism? Could the gospels have taken common knowledge events related to the Egyptian and transformed them into the character of Jesus? Do you think there is any place in an atheist's life for the concept of sin? Christians have understood Zechariah 3 as a literal event where Satan and the Angel of the Lord contend over Joshua the High Priest. Could it be that, as Goulder and other scholars have proposed, this event instead reflects a real world political crisis between Sanballat the Horonite and the Jews after the Exile? In a hadith, Mohammad heals Ali's eye ailment. Did Mohammad actually perform miracles? Abraham ibn Ezra, a Jewish commentator in medieval Spain, interpreted Noah's ark as being a vessel that remained underwater for 40 days, after which it floated to the surface. Was Noah's ark a submarine?

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