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Table of contents

And many Jewish rabbis regard him as a great teacher. Everyone knows about Jesus, but how many of us fully understand what He was like as a person? The book investigates such questions as: How do you love someone when you get no love in return, only withdrawal or ingratitude? How do you love without being trapped or used by another person?

How do you love when you have your own problems? When do you take care of yourself?

J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life

When you are compassionate, people use you, but when you are honest, people get angry—so how do you love with both compassion and honesty? And the better we know Him, the more we will be drawn to follow His perfect example. I have been at Durham as Lightfoot Professor of Divinity since , delighted to be part of a very strong team of scholars in New Testament and early Judaism, and a lively research community of postgraduate students. During my Glasgow years, I worked on the social history of early Christianity especially in Pauline churches and researched and published on Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora From that I moved to a translation and commentary on one of Josephus' most interesting texts, his defence of Judaism called Against Apion , which involved me in study of Judaism in the Roman world and some elements of post-colonial theory.

They do not and cannot presuppose any set beliefs about the natural realm. Let me give you an analogy. Mathematics is simply irrelevant to purely literary questions.

The Vision of Paul (The Apocalypse of Paul) (The Revelation of Paul) "Fuller Version"

So too, historical research cannot lead to theological claims about what God has done. To sum up, the sources we have are not as good as we would like. Historians cannot establish miracle as the most probable occurrence because miracles, by their very nature are the least probable occurrence. Thank you!

Now I want to skip over that first contention for the time being and go straight to the second because this is the key issue dividing Dr. Ehrman and myself. Ehrman maintains that we can never say that a miracle like the resurrection probably occurred because miracles by their very nature are inherently improbable. Now despite what he said, this argument is nothing new.

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That is to say, it is demonstrably, irremediably, hopelessly fallacious. When we talk about the probability of some event or hypothesis A, that probability is always relative to a body of background information B. So we speak of the probability of A on B, or of A with respect to B.

So in order to figure out the probability of the resurrection, let B stand for our background knowledge of the world apart from any evidence for the resurrection. The first factor that we need to consider is the probability of the resurrection on the background knowledge alone:.

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It tells how probable the resurrection is given our general knowledge of the world. Next we multiply that by the probability of the evidence given our background knowledge and the resurrection:. It tells how probable the resurrection makes the evidence of the empty tomb and so forth. These two factors form the numerator of this ratio. Now below the line, in the denominator, just reproduce the numerator. Just move everything above the line down below the line:. Finally, we add to that the product of two more factors: the intrinsic probability that Jesus did not rise from the dead times the explanatory power of the hypothesis of no resurrection:.

II, p. He just ignores all of the other factors. Specifically, Dr. If these are sufficiently low, they outbalance any intrinsic improbability of the resurrection hypothesis. Now notice that as Y tends toward zero, the value of this ratio tends toward 1, which in probability theory means absolute certainty. So Dr. In order to explain that the resurrection is improbable, he needs not only to tear down all the evidence for the resurrection, but he needs to erect a positive case of his own in favor of some naturalistic alternatives.

What, after all, is the resurrection hypothesis? It is not the hypothesis that Jesus rose naturally from the dead. That Jesus rose naturally from the dead is fantastically improbable. But I see no reason whatsoever to think that it is improbable that God raised Jesus from the dead. But Dr. Ehrman says that the historian cannot say anything about God. But it gets even worse. In sum, Dr. But today New Testament theologians no longer have any excuse for using such demonstrably fallacious reasoning. Now Dr. Ehrman has already shown himself to have the scholarly objectivity to reverse himself on the power of the empirical evidence.

But in this case a reversal of his position is mathematically obligatory, and I hope that the same scholarly objectivity that led him to reverse himself with respect to those four facts will now also lead him to re-think his opposition to the resurrection hypothesis. Now in my few remaining minutes let me return to that first contention and deal with Dr. He said that there is a sort of wish list that he would offer for historical sources and that the Gospels are not as good as we would want.

Let me simply say that this wish list is so idealistic as to be practically irrelevant to the work of the practicing historian. The only purpose that it serves is a psychological purpose of a setting the bar so unrealistically high that the Gospels appear to fall short by comparison.

In fact, however, no sources for ancient history measure up to this wish list, and the New Testament documents do, I think, fulfill four out of the six on his list unproblematically and the other two partially. So the real question is not, are they as good as we would like, but are they good enough to establish those four facts? And they certainly are. What about all the inconsistencies?

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Second, that they lie at the heart of the narrative rather than in the details, which in fact they do. In fact, when you look at them, the Gospels all agree that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in Jerusalem by Roman authority during the Passover feast, having been arrested and convicted on charges of blasphemy by the Jewish Sanhedrin and then slandered before the Roman Governor Pilate on charges of treason.

He died within several hours and was buried Friday afternoon by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb, which was sealed with a stone. Certain women followers of Jesus, including Mary Magdalene, who is always named, having observed his interment, visited his tomb early Sunday morning, only to find it empty. Thereafter, Jesus appeared alive from the dead to his disciples, including Peter, who then became proclaimers of the message of his resurrection.

All four Gospels attest to all of those facts.

More details could be added simply by including facts mentioned in three of the Gospels, three out of the four. And, as I say, the bottom line is that Dr. Ehrman himself now admits, since , that despite the inconsistencies those four facts are historical. In fact, N. The question is the best explanation of the facts. And the objection that Professor Ehrman offers is not the objection of the historian.

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This is not a historical argument; this is a philosophical argument, which is based on a misunderstanding of the probabilities involved. Once that is cleared up, I see no reason at all why one cannot infer on the basis of the historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. Thank you, Bill, for that impressive refutation! First, Bill makes dubious use of modern authorities. Bill constantly quotes modern scholars as if somehow that constitutes evidence for his point of view. As Bill himself knows, the fact that the majority of New Testament scholars would agree with his four points is not proof that they are right.

Does that make those conclusions wrong? It simply means that his conclusions are not persuasive to most historians. Bill might find that surprising, but that would be because of the context he works in — a conservative, evangelical seminary. Does that make him wrong? No, it simply means that his impressive recounting of scholarly opinion is slanted, lopsided, and fails to tell the real story, which is that he represents a minority opinion. Second, Bill makes dubious use of ancient sources.