History tagged posts

Ep. 7 – How Ancient is Atheism? with Tim Whitmarsh

How long has atheism been around? In this seventh episode of the show, I talk with Tim Whitmarsh, the A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Cambridge, about atheism in ancient history. Professor Whitmarsh works on all areas of Greek literature and culture, specializing particularly in the world of Greeks under the Roman Empire. Professor Whitmarsh has published several books, including Greek Literature and the Roman Empire, Narrative and Identity in the Ancient Greek Novel, and his most recent, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World.

Armchair Atheism is the of...

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Why the Resurrection is Historically Improbable

Generally, the resurrection is taken as an article of faith, perhaps the central most tenet of Christianity. According to some scholars, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 contains an early Christian creed professing belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the apostle Paul, “the message of the cross is foolishness” that he nevertheless delighted to believe in (1 Corinth. 1:18,21). More recently, however, Christian apologists like William Lane Craig and Gary Habermas have attempted to take the resurrection outside the realm of faith and into the field of history...
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New Testament origins

Origins of the New Testament

The New Testament is one of the most important documents in the history of humankind. It has shaped Western civilization as we know it, serving as the backbone of the Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths, which together account for the most prominent religion in the world.1 The New Testament writings also opened the doors of universality, teaching a message meant for everyone, and so helped to establish Christianity as one of the three main missionary religions of the world...

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Old Testament origins

Origins of the Old Testament

Accept the truth from whatever source it comes.
-Maimonides

The Hebrew scriptures tell the epic story of the ancient Israelite people. Many of the tales are already familiar to us, having been imprinted on Western culture over the centuries. There is the garden of Eden, with the first man and woman, the forbidden fruit, and the infamous snake. The burning bush from whence God spoke to Moses, instructing him to lead his people out of Egypt...

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Is the Bible historically reliable?

The Historical Errancy of the Bible

In 1868, a German businessman named Heinrich Schliemann published a book arguing for a historical Troy, located at a place called Hissarlik (in modern Turkey). As a boy, Schliemann was greatly fascinated by the epic tales of the ancient Greeks, particularly Homer’s classic writings, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and when he had made enough of a fortune to retire at the young age of 36, he devoted himself to finding the legendary city of Troy mentioned in Homer’s Iliad. Despite having no training or formal education in archaeology, he began excavating the site of Hissarlik in 1871.

Although a num...

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Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

For much of the history of Judaism and Christianity, the scriptures of the Bible have been studied in a largely devotional manner. Even though differing views were certainly held on the interpretation of many passages, these differences were often defended by appeals to faith and philosophical teachings, rather than the sciences. However, by the 18th century – and more so by the 19th century – a new approach to biblical study began to emerge, thanks in part to refinements and developments in the fields of history and archaeology...

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From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible

Contrary to what some fanatics may say, the Bible does not have all the answers. In fact, a number of questions arise from its pages, particularly when we compare the biblical portrait to our world of today. Many Bible stories end with a bit of mystery. We are told that Noah’s Ark came to rest on a mountain after the flood, and then we never read of its whereabouts again in scripture. The Ark of the Covenant is said to have been kept in the temple, but did it survive the temple’s destruction in the 6th century? From Eden to Exile goes in search of some of the Bible’s great mysteries, giving u...

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Did the Disciples Die for a Lie?

If Christianity is a lie, if Jesus was never really raised from the dead, and if his followers never actually witnessed his empty tomb or ascension, would the disciples have died for their faith? There are many examples through history of men and women dying for a cause they believed to be true, but what about dying for a cause that you know is false? A martyr is someone who willingly endures persecution and often dies for refusing to renounce a particular belief or principle...

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Evidence for the Resurrection

The resurrection of Christ is arguably the central doctrine of Christianity. The premise at the heart of most strains of Christianity is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save humanity from its sins, and he rose again three days later, victorious over death and having established a new means for salvation. In the bible, the apostle Paul says to his fellow believers that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Corinthians 15:17)...

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He is Risen? Resurrection Discrepancies

Tomorrow morning millions of faithful men and women will pile into churches around the globe to hear the familiar Easter story of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Crucified under Pontius Pilate, buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, only to be discovered missing on the third day, with the stone rolled away from the entrance. The women and apostles express their shock and perhaps mourn what they perceive to be a cruel joke. Then Jesus began appearing before his followers, telling them that his body had not been stolen, but resurrected by god...
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