The 3 “Quests” for the Historical Jesus

ZA Blog on 15 hours ago. Tagged under ,,.

Historical Jesus

The gospels give us the most detailed descriptions of Jesus’ life and ministry we have. They’re believed to have been written by eyewitnesses (or at least based on eyewitness accounts), and they all clearly claim that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

If you believe the gospels are historically accurate accounts of the things Jesus said and did, there’s little room for interpretation about who he really was. C.S. Lewis made famous the Lord, liar, lunatic trilemma to explain the challenge of dismissing Jesus’ divinity.

But those aren’t the only three options. The fourth option is much more appealing to skeptics: the gospels are unreliable, non-historical representations of a man known as Jesus.

The quests for the “historical Jesus”

Over the centuries, numerous Bible scholars have suggested that the gospel accounts can’t be trusted. These scholars argue…

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Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?

ZA Blog on 1 day ago. Tagged under ,,,,,,.

Historical Jesus

The Bible gives us four accounts of Christ’s life. Each records a unique perspective of the most significant event in history—the crucifixion and resurrection. All four gospels are named after men who lived during or shortly after Christ’s early ministry. Tradition considers these men the authors, but there’s one problem: not one of these books names its author.

The gospels are anonymous—so how do we know who wrote them?

None of the gospels came with an “about the author” section. The closest we get to a claim of authorship is at the very end of the Book of John, where the author implies that the book was written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:24 NIV).

Are there other context clues we can use to determine the authors? Can we trust tradition’s assumptions about who wrote the gospels? Did…

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“Who Am I?” Personal Identity in an Age of Identity Angst

Jeremy Bouma on 2 days ago. Tagged under ,,,.

9780310499824After certain events changed Brian Rosner’s life dramatically, he had lost his sense of self and was forced to revisit the most personal of questions:

Who am I?

Out from this one question tumbled a number of others: How do your circumstances affect your sense of self? What makes you, you? What is a human being, anyway?

Leveraging his own personal experiences, Rosner addresses these questions in his new book Known by God. It tells the story of his own crisis of identity and the comfort he found in being known by God in an age of identity angst—a sense in which people are no longer sure who they are.

In our day and age the question of personal identity is subject to two powerful but opposing forces. On the one hand, nothing…

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Bible Contradictions Explained: 4 Reasons the Gospels “Disagree”

ZA Blog on 2 days ago. Tagged under ,,.

Historical Jesus

The story of Jesus stands or falls on the trustworthiness of the Gospels. That’s why skeptics pay so much attention to the Gospels’ apparent contradictions. Christianity’s critics cast doubt on the New Testament’s reliability by pointing out disparities in the Gospels. This puts well-meaning—but often unprepared—Christians in a difficult position of trying to reconcile these potential inconsistencies.

So how do we account for the apparent discrepancies in the Gospel accounts? A lot of the problem stems from our expectations. If we expect a level of historical precision that the Gospels didn’t intend to provide, we’re going to run into problems. The truth is that it’s completely normal for ancient (and modern) historical accounts to summarize, paraphrase, omit details, and explain events in a way that highlights their specific points and perspectives.

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Nabeel Qureshi, author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, passes

ZA Blog on 3 days ago. Tagged under ,,,.

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(Nashville, TN) September 18, 2017—It is with deep sympathy for family and loved ones that HarperCollins Christian Publishing recognizes the passing of Nabeel Qureshi, who lost his year-long battle with stomach cancer on Saturday, September 16, 2017, and entered into the presence of Jesus, whom he had embraced as his Savior and Lord. He was 34 years old.

A convert from Islam to Christianity, Qureshi was known as an apologist for the Christian faith, a powerful preacher, and a best-selling author. He had an MD degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University, an MA in religion from Duke University, and an MPhil in Judaism and Christianity from Oxford University. At the time of his diagnosis with cancer, he was in the midst of a doctoral program in New Testament at Oxford University.

His…

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What Are the Synoptic Gospels, and Where Do They Come From?

ZA Blog on 3 days ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Historical Jesus

The Bible’s four gospels paint four portraits of Jesus. While each gospel follows him on the same journey, they recount it a little differently. They had their own methods, styles, purposes, audiences, and (probably) sources—making each portrait of Jesus uniquely valuable.

Despite their unique qualities, the first three gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—share many of the same accounts of Christ, often shared in the same order and with the same wording. Because of their similar perspectives on Jesus’ ministry, together they’re known as the synoptic gospels. (The word “synoptic” comes from the Greek word synoptikos, meaning “able to be seen together.”)

While the differences between the gospels can be a challenge for us, these similarities can be problematic, too. The parallel passages between the synoptic gospels have left scholars with pressing questions about their origins. If Matthew, Mark, and Luke…

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How Luther discovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone

ZA Blog on 1 week ago. Tagged under ,,.

How the Protestant Reformation started

One of the decisive doctrines to emerge from the Protestant Reformation—and central to Luther’s theology—was the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide).

But when and how did Luther come to his new understanding of this doctrine?

Rather than seeing his theological discovery as a single decisive event, we should view it more as a gradual process.

Let’s take a look.

Luther’s early encounters with Romans and Psalms

Between 1513 and 1516, Luther lectured on the Psalms and Romans. It is clear from these texts that he was beginning to think differently about how the individual sinner finds forgiveness from God.

He retained some of the older traditional concepts alongside his radical new ideas. Only after some years of biblical study under the inspiration of the theology of Augustine did Luther arrive at a more fully formed distinctive…

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How the Protestant Reformation Started

ZA Blog on 1 week ago. Tagged under ,.

How the Protestant Reformation started

You probably know at least one thing about Martin Luther: that he nailed the 95 theses to a church door and defied the Roman Catholic Church.

This was Luther’s declaration of independence from Rome.

The truth is, this is historically inaccurate.

Yes, October 31, 1517, would turn out to be the first hint that the Western world was about to be turned upside down. But Luther’s act on October 31, 1517 was not an act of rebellion.

It was, in fact, just the opposite. It was the act of a dutiful son of mother church.

Someone—no one knows who—took the Latin text of Luther’s 95 Theses, translated them into German, and sent them all over Germany. When the German people realized that Luther was standing up against abuses in the church, he became a hero throughout Germany.

The Reformation began.…

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4 Reasons Why Faith vs. Science Is a Myth

Jeremy Bouma on 1 week ago. Tagged under ,,,.

9780310535225“Tonight we will be talking about faith versus science. Our first guest is a former University of Oxford professor, evolutionary biologist, and bestselling author. He believes that science, not faith, holds the answers to all questions. On the other side of the aisle we have Joe Smith, who will speak for the legitimacy of faith and Christianity. Joe homeschools his kids, thinks Oprah is the Antichrist, and lives in a swamp” (23).

Sound familiar?

It does to Mark Clark. As he explains in his new book, The Problem of God, culture often portrays faith at odds with science: “science is about thinking, evidence, and rational justification, while Christianity and faith in general are about evading evidence and clinging to nonrationality” (25).

But…

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Where, Oh Where Did the Antecedent Go? (Phil 1:19) – Mondays with Mounce 295

Bill Mounce on 1 week ago. Tagged under ,,.

Usually it is no big deal to find an antecedent. Start looking for a word with the same number and gender as the pronoun. Every once in a while, however, the antecedent can be a little elusive.

In Phil 1, Paul explains how his imprisonment and all that has happened to him (τὰ κατ᾿ ἐμὲ) has served to advance the gospel throughout the Palace Guard, which in turn has emboldened the Philippian Christians (1:12–15). He then includes a short caveat, explaining that different people have different motives, but at the end of the day he concludes ἐν τούτῳ χαίρω (1:16–18a).

Paul then shifts tenses from the…

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Who wrote Jude?

ZA Blog on 2 weeks ago. Tagged under ,.

Who wrote Jude

The book of Jude itself tells us that it was written by “Jude, slave of Jesus the Anointed One, and brother of James.”

There is a consensus that the “brother of James” identifies the author as the brother of that James who led the community of Jesus-followers in Jerusalem from at least 40 CE until his execution in 62 CE—in other words the same person who wrote the book of James.

That would make Jude the younger brother of Jesus. In lists of Jesus’ brothers James is always listed first and Jude is listed last (Matthew 13:55) or next to last (Mark 6:3).

But note that neither Jude nor James mentions a family relationship…

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Who wrote the book of James?

ZA Blog on 2 weeks ago. Tagged under ,.

Who wrote the book of James?

According to James 1:1, the letter is written by James himself. He was the son of Joseph, a construction worker who originally lived in Nazareth in Galilee.

He is always named next after Jesus in lists of Jesus’ brothers, so he was presumably considered to be Jesus’ next younger brother.

It’s also possible that James was the oldest of Jesus’ cousins if one follows Jerome’s interpretation that adelphos means “cousin,” the children of Mary wife of Clopas, also identified as “the mother of James and Joses.”

James was a prominent figure among the communities of the followers of Jesus living in Palestine in the first century. Paul names him, along with Cephas (Peter) and John, an acknowledged “pillar” of the Jerusalem community (Galatians 2:9);…

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