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11 August 2011: The Lecture Tour of Germany, Part III: Marburg

Our task and the agenda for the third day of our lecture tour of Germany was to go to the city of Marburg where the University of Marburg is located.  This was a particularly exciting opportunity for me because Rudolf Bultmann, the man I regard as the greatest New Testament scholar of the 21st century, …

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Q & A:

This is a question I have been asked a number of times and I would love to know the answer.  You often mention that the gospels were written at different times and are able to quote the time line as to which gospel was written first, who copied off whom and approximately when and many other details.

Can you tell me the background behind these insights?  I have had this discussion with several people and they immediately dismiss my assertions, but unfortunately I do not have the further information to continue the debate.  Was this new insight due to biblical study or was some of the original script subject to carbon dating?  I would love to know.

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4 August 2011: The Lecture Tour of Germany, Part II: Gottingen

My lecture tour of Germany was joined from the very beginning by a unique Frenchman named Raymond Rakower, who accepted Gerhard Klein’s invitation to come to Germany and to accompany us.  Gerhard Klein has been the translator into German for four of my books.  Ray Rakower was his French counterpart, who has translated two of …

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Q & A:

Thanks for your excellent work.  Would you please comment on Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins in regard to its internal validity and its potential to change the debate which involves your work?

 

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28 July 2011: The Tragedy in Norway and Its Meaning

My heart aches for Norway.  I have visited that country where I lectured in a large Lutheran Church in downtown Oslo and admired some of Norway’s most creative clergy.  I have also felt the reaction of Norway’s ecclesiastically conservative Christian leaders who seem to believe that preserving yesterday’s truth, not engaging the world, is their …

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Q & A:

Have you read the recent book by Rob Bell “Love Wins,” containing his thoughts on heaven and hell? He is a pastor in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area.

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21 July 2011: Our Political Debate – A National Embarrassment

Either those who now run the legislative wing of our government are irresponsible and frivolous with this nation’s health and well being or there is something I do not understand about the current crisis in Washington.  I am both amazed at and disgusted by the behavior of some of our elected representatives.  Let me test …

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Q & A:

I am the father of a gay daughter whom I feel was made beautiful and perfect.  Jesus says nothing condemnatory about sexual orientation.  How should I explain Romans 1 and I Cor. to her?  I love her deeply.

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14 July 2011: The Lecture Tour of Germany, Part I: Background and Content

Earlier this summer as part of a European lecture tour, Christine and I went to Germany for three public lectures in three cities and two press interviews.  The invitation to include Germany on this trip came from a retired Lutheran pastor named Gerhard Klein, who has translated four of my books into German, which have …

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Q & A:

My mother and I had the honor of meeting you at the National Cathedral some five years ago and the reason I am writing to you now is that we are watching a special on John Wycliffe and we really rely on your knowledge.  What is your view on him?  What to believe or not?  I think though he had gone through a lot of courage trying to translate the Bible into English, in the 1500’s if I am not mistaken.  This book sure does get a lot of attention no matter what one’s beliefs are.  Thank you for your time.  I hope this finds you well.

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7 July 2011: Examining the Meaning of Resurrection, Part VI: Seeing Through a Glass Darkly

Something happened at the first Easter.  Some insist that it was an event that occurred on a single day.  Others suggest that an experience was identified with that day making it a symbol of a breakthrough to a new consciousness.  Theologians and biblical scholars alike still debate whether it was an internal or external happening, …

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Q & A:

I've read Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and am now reading Jesus for the Non-Religious In chapter one of Jesus for the Non-Religious you wrote "The religious debate in our time results rather from the exploding new horizons of learning that have re-shaped our perceptions of reality, coupled with a new biblical scholarship that previously had not been allowed to escape the academy for fear that it might erode the confidence of the people who sit in the pews"  Having been raised Catholic, I can remember sitting in the pews during mass and reflecting on how little the mass involved the Bible - three brief passages, the same ones every year - and thinking that if the Bible is the word of God, why the church didn't do more to engage its parishioners in biblical history and education.  So, I'd like to find out more about deliberate efforts to keep people in the pews - the lay person - from biblical scholarship that "previously had not been allowed to escape the academy."

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30 June 2011: Examining the Meaning of the Resurrection, Part V: The “How” Question — What Was the Context in Which Easter Dawned?

We come now to our fourth and final question in search of the meaning of Easter.  Then with clues, hopefully well established, I will seek to draw some conclusions in the final column in this series.  We have thus far identified Simon Peter as the person who stood in the center of the resurrection experience …

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Q & A:

The Wyoming legislature is considering laws that would make it illegal to apply Shariah laws in our courts.  That is incredibly stupid, I know, but apparently that movement is sweeping the country.  Seems to me that since those espousing such laws say they are like Old Testament laws and a few years ago we had Christian Reconstructionists wanting to make Old Testament law the law of the land.  Comments for your articles?

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23 June 2011: Examining the Meaning of the Resurrection, Part IV: What is the Meaning of Three Days?

First, we asked who stood at the center of the Easter experience and Peter emerged from our study as the one in whom the meaning of resurrection dawned.  Then we asked “where” Peter and the disciples were when Easter broke into their consciousness and our study led us to the primacy of the Galilean tradition …

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Q & A:

I have read four of your books since December 23 and feel a guilt-free spiritual awakening.  Raised Episcopalian, I had to leave out most of the words in the creeds when omitting the words I believe.  You bring the spirit rather than just the letter of the law and explain inconsistencies beautifully.  I feel as if I can talk with fundamentalists now when promoting social issues, especially relating to the environment and women.  Thank you so much for your risky writing.

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16 June 2011: Examining the Meaning of the Resurrection, Part III: Where Were the Disciples When They Saw?

When people have a life-changing experience, they tend to freeze in their minds forever where they were and even what they were doing when the news broke or the new awareness entered their world.  I can recall to this day where I was when, as a ten-year old child, I heard the news of the …

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Q & A:

Have you come across a book called The Jesus Mysteries?  I think it makes a very good case for the possibility that Jesus as a man never actually existed.  For one thing it is surprising that such a remarkable person has no mention at all in any writing of his time. (Of course, he would not have been called Jesus, which is a Greek name, more likely Joshua.  If he was real why was he not given his true Aramaic name?)  Second, it would not be surprising if one (the writer of Mark’s gospel) was writing a myth, that he would set it a few decades in the past so that it would not be so easy to refute.  Third, it would account for the other gospels being different, as each elaborated a further fiction.  Fourth, it would entirely account for the references back to the Old Testament prophesies, as the story was written around them.  It does appear that Saul (aka Paul) had set out to replace Judaism with a religion to which others in the Roman Empire could also belong.  I realize that after a lifetime of biblical study, you may find it hard to accept this possibility.  Perhaps that could be the big secret that the Vatican has hidden all these years?

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9 June 2011: Thoughts on the Future of Christianity After a Conversation with the Founder of the Alban Institute

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with the Rev. Dr. Loren B. Mead, known to many of you as the creator of the Alban Institute.  A think tank operation, funded largely over the last fifty years with grants from major foundations, the Alban Institute has studied and made recommendations on every …

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Q & A:

I’ve been reading your book Liberating the Gospels.  Your well supported hypothesis that the gospels are midrashic stories that cast light on the core stories of Jesus as they were understood at the time makes perfect sense.  I find it interesting that with the four gospels, the writing gets better with each one, Mark through John.   My problem is that Jesus is a “character” different in the mind of each evangelist, who does things essentially made up by the writer, perhaps some based on a verbal tradition, perhaps not.  My question is how do I get closer to understanding Jesus as a person?  Or is it a matter of always “seeing through a glass darkly?  I’m at the point in your book where you discuss the Gospel of John, which brings up the memory of when my New Testament professor, Sherman Johnson, listed 13 reasons supporting the idea that John was the earliest gospel.

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