Category: church history

You Want Ancient Jewish and Christian Documents, Start Here

Instead of spending money on another half-baked Lost Gospel (None of the Above), aim your browser at this link and drown in legitimate texts. Be sure to click the links at the top left.

Jesus: The Prequels and Sequels

Christmas and Easter got you down? Tired of the same old stories? Just not impressed with feeding thousands and raising the dead anymore? Oblivious to the profundity of the Sermon on the Mount?

I’ve got the book for you! It that fan favorite, “the same thing but different”.


Bat Ehrman and Zlatko Plese have extracted the English portion of their multi-language scholarly book The Apocryphal Gospels to make The Other Gospels, a collection of forty noncanonical gospels of Jesus that are all the rage among early Christian scholars, but often inaccessible to the general public. Now you can read what people are all excited by on the Internet and the documentary TV channels for yourself.

Available at reasonable prices in paperback and ebook.

Multiple Choice Christmas…

In Greek, no less!


(Swanson’s New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Luke)

Bible Secrets Revealed Episodes Online

The new History Channel show, the first episode of which I watched last night, is available for internet viewing here.

I repeat, the show is just a fast review of controversial aspects of the Bible that have been pondered by believers and scholars and skeptics for a very long time. It is a good way to become acquainted with biblical scholarship and see some current scholars of note in the flesh, as it were. It raises questions without really giving full answers, as television usually does, by nature.


HT: Bob Cargill

Bibles with Paragraph Headings…

…almost make up for some of the awful traditional verse divisions. Done in a moving coach, indeed.

The Easter Saturday Story, aka The Harrowing of Hell

Not terribly well-known in modern evangelical circles, the belief that Christ after His death went to the land of the dead and freed the righteous dead and/or announced His victory over sin and death is an ancient one, and still affects many believers today. You can read the Wiki article just to get a sense of the widespread effect of the belief.

The earliest known account of the event is found in the Gospel of Nicodemus, which also recounts the Acts of Pilate.  You can read translations of the story here as M.R. James’ Acts of Pilate Part 2 and Roberts-Donaldson’s translation.

Noncanonical Bible Writings

DSC00753After a discussion of my latest Logos download ( Apocryphal Gospels: Texts & Translations from Rick Brannan) with a deacon this morning, I decided it would be smart to add links to the simplest web sites for the books that didn’t make it into the Bible for whatever reason. So check the right sidebar for Early Christian Writings and Early Jewish Writings.

A few of my favorites are:
Didache, Gospel of Thomas, Diognetus, Odes of Solomon, Sirach, Tobit

What’s in a Red Letter Day and other Curious Things?

Do you know why we call an important day a “red-letter day”?

Sorry secularists, it’s all tied up in Christianity. Ancient Christian calendars marked out high holy days in red ink. The custom carried on into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, where it was maintained in the 1549 English Book of Common Prayer, where the modern idiom of “red-letter day” grew from.

Red letter bibles originated in 1900, the habit of coloring Jesus’ words in red based on the association of Christian redemption with the shedding of blood by Jesus on the Cross. It’s a pernicious practice, easily shown to be highly speculative with a reading of the Gospel of John, where it is often difficult to tell where Jesus’ speeches end and the narrator’s voice begins.

Chapter divisions in the Bible developed out of the Jewish habit of reading the Torah (Moses’ first five books of the Bible) on a weekly basis over a year or three years. Some ancient manuscripts (including apparently some Dead Sea Scrolls) have marks separating the weekly readings. Christians adopted these Jewish customs, which found their way into manuscripts of the Latin Bible, the Vulgate. The modern system of chapters is credited to Stephen Langton, who developed them in the early 1200s while teaching at the University of Paris. (Langton later became Archbishop of Canterbury under King John of England and is credited as one of the authors of Magna Charta). Langton’s numbering was adapted into the Latin Vulgate in the century after his time. Rabbi Solomon ben Ishmael adapted Langton’s numbering to the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh, in the mid 1300s as a way to facilitate Jewish/Christian dialogue.

Verse numbers can be traced again to Jewish scribal practice of dividing the Hebrew Scriptures by phrase, section, and paragraph. Santi Pagnini was the first Christian to divide the New Testament into verses circa 1500 (+/-).  But the New Testament verse system now adopted was created by Robert Estienne for his editions of the Greek New Testament and a French New Testament in the 1550s.

eSword Bible Software Comes to IPAD as eSword HD

The hugely popular PC bible software has been coded for the Ipad and has gone on sale for a nominal fee (4.99 US) in the Itunes store as eSword HD.  The release is version 1, and only includes English modules (bible translations, commentaries, devotions, word study dictionaries, etc.) but we are all hoping for future versions with Greek and Hebrew, as well as more modules.

Longtime Bible Software Reviewer Ruben Gomez has produced a seven minute quick look at eSword HD for those interested:

As far as  the free PC version, eSword is found here, with literally thousands of extra modules (the huge strength of the program) available for download from Biblesupport. There is also an Android adaptation available as MySword.