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History in the Bible

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A layman's guide to a 150 years of research into the history presented in the Bible. Lightly garnished with a dash of drollery, and a soupcon of scrutiny. Episodes are released every third Sunday.

A layman's guide to a 150 years of research into the history presented in the Bible. Lightly garnished with a dash of drollery, and a soupcon of scrutiny. Episodes are released every third Sunday.
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A layman's guide to a 150 years of research into the history presented in the Bible. Lightly garnished with a dash of drollery, and a soupcon of scrutiny. Episodes are released every third Sunday.






Bonus 22: All things Biblical at the IntelligentSpeech conference in NYC

This is a bonus episode for season two. My long-time collaborator, Steve Guerra, attended the IntelligentSpeech podcasting conference in New York in June 2019. I appeared with Steve thanks to the magic that is Skype. We talk all things Biblical. I hope you enjoy this bonus show. The conference was organised by Roifield Brown, producer of numerous podcasts: How Jamaica Conquered the World, and The Things That Made England, amongst others. Roifield was the man who introduced me to history...


2.41 Jesus' Disciples II: The Other Guys

After the Big Three disciples come the forgettable bit-players, the Nondescript Nine: Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew (also known as Nathaniel), Matthew, Thomas Didymus, James son of Alphaeus, Judas (also known as Thaddaeus), Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot.


Bonus 21 The Trinity: Part 1

The notion of the Trinity is one of -- if not the -- most difficult concepts in Christian theology. Steve Guerra and I plough through centuries of Jewish and Christian thought to try to make sense of it. Part one of two.


2.40 Jesus' Disciples I: The Cabinet of Three

Jesus had an inner cabinet of three disciples: Simon Peter; and James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Only they have significant speaking parts. The often appear together at many significant moments, such as the Transfiguration. The rest of the disciples are ciphers. Peter is by far the pre-eminent disciple, named more often in the New Testament all the other disciples put together. He is Jesus’ devoted wombat, an impulsive, exuberant, and eminently likeable individual. But he fails when put...


2.39 Conflict and Transfiguration

Jesus' mission to Galilee does not go as well as hoped. The Pharisees and scribes attack him for teaching and working wonders on the sabbath. Jesus spars with the Jewish factions many times. Jesus attacks the Pharisees for their petty legalism. Modern interpretations of these accounts hold them to reflect the situation when the gospels were written, projected back into the time of Jesus. Jesus' Galilean ministry concludes with his Transfiguration, where he stands between Moses and Elijah,...


2.38 Miracles and Healings in Galilee

Most of Jesus ministry was conducted in Galilee. This time is stuffed to the brim with miracles and parables. Jesus exorcizes demons, raises people from the dead, and cures the sick. He feeds thousands, walks on water, and calms the storm. He teaches parables about old wine into new skins, mustard seeds, pearls, and weeds amongst the wheat. He meets Mary Magdalene. Jesus predicts his own death. Peter professes him the Messiah and Son of God.


2.37 Jesus All Over the Place

In John's account of the early ministry, Jesus flies all over the place. He steals the disciples Simon Peter and Andrew from the Baptist while in the Perea. In his first great sign, he turns water into wine at Cana, then finds the disciples Philip and Nathaniel. He cleanses the temple and debates Nicodemus. He is first recognised as Messiah by a Samaritan, a people derided by the Jews. Jesus gives us his first theology lesson. None of this is in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.


2.36 Jesus in Galilee

This episode presents Jesus' earliest ministry as the synoptic gospels tell it. Straight after his baptism by John, Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness near the Dead Sea. He passes with flying colours. You know that quote "Get the behind me Satan"? It's not here. When Jesus learns that the Baptist has been arrested, he flies back to Galilee. According to Mark and Matthew, Jesus summons two sets of two brothers as his first followers. Mark and Luke describes Jesus first act as a...


2.35 Prologue to Jesus' Ministry

An introduction to the geo-political world of Jesus. I also discuss the many problems we have when attempting to reconcile the chronologies of the gospels. The synoptic gospels differ in the details. The big problem is with the gospel of John. We simply cannot reconcile the chronology of John with the synoptics.


2.34 The Problem of John the Baptist

Jesus' identity as Son of God is revealed at his baptism by John, an old-style prophet who promotes Jewish ritual washing. Did John recognise Jesus at this event or not? The gospels differ. They regard the Baptist as a problematic figure, and treat him enigmatically. The synoptic gospels downplay him. The gospel of John (the apostle, not the Baptist) takes him over.


2.33 We Three Kings. 2019 Epiphany Special

My Epiphany special relates the story of Christmas as told by the gospel of Matthew. In Matthew, the story is told from Joseph's point of view, not Mary's. Matthew has wise men, the infamous massacre of the innocents, and the flight to Egypt. No angels and no shepherds. He does not mention Mary's relative Elizabeth, and her son John the Baptist. If you read Matthew carefully, he says nothing of the day of Christmas, but he has a lot to say about the day of Epiphany, 6th January, the day the...


Bonus 20 The Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity

Second Temple Judaism (530 BC-70 AD) was a lush forest of beliefs, factions, and sects: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Sicarri, Zealots, the Fourth Philosophy and more. All were swept away in the First Roman-Jewish war that ended with the destruction of the temple. From this forest, two new religions emerged: Rabbinic Judaism, and Christianity.


2.32 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. 2018 Christmas Special

My Christmas special tells the story of Christmas as related by the gospel of Luke. With lots of canticles and shepherds. My forthcoming Epiphany special relates the gospel of Matthew's version of the nativity.


2.31 The Many Names of Jesus

King of the Jews, Saviour, Son of Man, God, Son of God, Messiah and Christos, and Lord. The New Testament has many titles for Jesus. Let's investigate them.


2.30 John's Gospel of Knowledge

The gospel of John reads nothing like the other gospels. John defines Jesus as a cosmological figure, not the man adopted by God at his baptism that the other gospels talk about. John has a quite different biography of Jesus. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus travels to Jerusalem once in his life, to meet his destiny. The gospel of John has Jesus travelling to Jerusalem several times, and places the cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of Jesus' career, not at the end. John's gospel is...


2.29 The Gospels of Matthew and Luke

The gospel of Matthew is the most Jewish of the gospels. He insists that his readers must follow Jewish law. Yet his gospel contains the infamous blood cry. Matthew's community might have been Jews who went to synagogue, and believed that what we call Christianity was the right way to be a Jew. Or they might have been outside the synagogues. Matthew today is understood as a factional writer, one who contended against the emerging rabbinical community. The gospel of Luke is part of a package,...


2.28 The Gospels of Mark and Matthew

Mark is the earliest, shortest, and least popular gospel. We don't know if Mark was a Jew or a gentile. Mark's audience is assailed by the powers that be. He has an especial dislike of the Pharisees. His Greek is rough, but punchy. Mark expects the return of Jesus any day now. Mark's Jesus was a man adopted by God at Jesus' baptism. His Jesus is forever telling people shut up about Jesus' true identity. In Mark, Jesus is Clark Kent, not Superman. In Mark, the reader always knows more than...


2.27 What We Know About the Life of Jesus

Our earliest pagan sources for the life of Jesus - the historians Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius - tell us almost nothing about Jesus. The letters of St Paul are uninformative, as are rabbinic sources. We have to rely on the four gospels. These have their own agendas. In this episode I explore the relationships between the synoptic gospels: Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Today, we believe that Mark was the first gospel, and that both Matthew and Luke drew upon Mark. But Matthew and Luke have...


2.26 Christianity's Earliest Witness: Paul Writes to the Thessalonians

Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians is the earliest surviving document of Christianity. I drop in on the Thessalonian Jesus-club to discover how a pagan newcomer would have reacted to the club and the letter. The newcomer is befuddled by the strange words used by club members, and confused about Paul. I also dissect the letter, and discover that Paul knew almost nothing about the life of Jesus.


2.25 Quest for the Historical Jesus

Since the Enlightenment, three great academic attempts have been made to make sense of the life of Jesus: the first, second, and third quests for the historical Jesus. I follow the Third Questers.