The Historical Jesus and the Criterion of Dissimilarity
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
3w ago
The criteria of authenticity are critical-historical tools that are applied to the Gospel and New Testament texts to critically reconstruct the historical Jesus (6-4 BCE–c. 30 CE) (Boring 1988; Porter 2000; Theissen and Winter 2002; Holmén 2008, 138). There is history behind the criteria, as they gradually emerged to form a distinct branch of methodology on the basis of historians considering it necessary to develop methods specifically designed for analyzing the authenticity of the Jesus tradition. There are several criteria, although this article limits itself to the criterion of dissimilari ..read more
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What did Jesus Christ Teach About Prayer?
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
3w ago
Prayer was central to the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth (c. 6–4 BCE—c. 30 CE). Jesus is often recorded as having engaged in prayer and he taught his audiences about prayer. On historical grounds, that Jesus prayed and taught others about prayer have a strong historicity. They are present in all the gospel sources and traditions: Mark, Q, the material unique to Matthew (M) and to Luke (L), and in John’s gospel. There is further independent attestation in Hebrews 5:7. Jesus is often recorded as having prayed: He prayed at his baptism (Luke 3:21); He withdrew to a desert place to p ..read more
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Romulus and Remus (the legendary twins and founders of Rome)
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
1M ago
Legendary twins in Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the founders of Rome.  The earliest of the traditions go back to the fourth century BCE and were well-known by the beginning of the third century BCE. The legend has been debated since the nineteenth century, especially given interest in its antiquity, meaning, and the death of Romulus. Analysis has posed challenges for historians whose interpretations differ, although all of them recognize that the legend narrates the foundation of Roman institutions. Explanations for the death of Romulus pose challenges (e.g., sudden disappearan ..read more
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The Global Decline of the Religiously Unaffiliated (Agnostics, Atheists, and “Nones”)
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
1M ago
Although the religiously unaffiliated demographic (those identifying as agnostic, atheist, or with no official religion) grows in absolute numbers in some locations and cultures, they decline in their respective percentages of the global population. The following data are derived from recent research provided by academic analyses of the relevant subjects.  The data indicate that although the religiously “unaffiliated” or “nones” demographic (those identifying as agnostic, atheist, or with no official religion) grows in absolute number, it is outmatched by expanding numbers of people ident ..read more
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Who are the “Scribes” in the New Testament?
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
1M ago
The word “scribe” (grammateus) in Greek texts refers to “secretary, recorder, clerk” who wrote in the context of a civic or public office (Grabbe 2008,1952). Given their skills to read, draft documents, and keep records, which were skills the vast majority of people did not have, they provided an essential service in administration and the temple. Hebrew scripture contains many references to scribes: the scribes of David’s (2 Sam. 8:17; 20:25), Solomon’s scribe (1 Kgs. 4:3), Shebna the scribe (2 Kgs. 18:18, 37; 19:2), and Shaphan the scribe (2 Kgs. 22:3, 8–10, 12; 2 Chr. 34:15, 18, 20). The bo ..read more
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Q (‘Quelle’) Material: Origin, Content, and Christology 
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
2M ago
Q (from “Quelle”, meaning “source”) is a hypothetical source that most historians maintain the authors of both the gospels of Matthew and Luke used when writing their respective accounts (Kloppenborg 2008, 1519). It is necessary to posit a second common source in order to account for the roughly 4,000 words shared by the gospels of Matthew and Luke, which they did not derive from Mark’s gospel, which constitutes their other major source. In much of the ‘Q’ material, Matthew and Luke both show high verbal agreement, and more than one-third of the units occur in the same relative order in their ..read more
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Who were the Sadducees During the Time of Jesus? 
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
2M ago
The Sadducees were an aristocratic Jewish group, both priestly and lay, of the early Jewish era who continued to exist in some form until after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Their beliefs are not articulated in much detail in the available sources, although it is clear that they did not observe the oral law and instead affirmed the sole authority of the written prescriptions of the Pentateuch. The Sadducees did not believe in the concept of the resurrection of the dead (Mark 12:18–27; Matt 22:23–33; Luke 20:27–40), since the doctrine is not found in the Pentateuch.  Few sources ca ..read more
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The Historical Context of Jesus: Roman Rule in Palestine 
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
2M ago
Rome’s involvement in the religious and political processes of Palestine had significantly altered Jewish reality. In 161 BCE, the Palestinian Jews first experienced Roman influence as beneficial. On several occasions, the Maccabees contracted and renewed an alliance with the Romans as a protection against hostile neighbors (1 Macc. 8; 12; 14:16, 24; 15:15–24; Ant. 12.10.6:414–19; 13.5.8:163–65; 13.9.2:259–66). The alliance aided the Jews in their priorities of Law observance, temple worship, and national independence. Jewish land and its religious influence in conquered territories subsequent ..read more
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Who were the Pharisees During the Time of Jesus?
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
2M ago
As a group of Jewish religious figures that flourished before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (Gurtner 2008, 1465), the Pharisees numbered about 6,000 (cf. Ant. 13.10.6:298; 18.1.3:20; 17.2.4:42) during the time of Jesus of Nazareth’s ministry (Sanders 1985). The origin of the Pharisees is uncertain, although they may have derived from a group affiliated with the Maccabean Revolt (167–160 BCE). Their name might come from the Hebrew term perûšîm, meaning “separated ones” (Gurtner 2008, 1465). According to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37–100 CE), the group’s members came from all ..read more
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Why was Jesus Christ Called “Rabbi”?
Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy
by James Bishop
2M ago
Jesus of Nazareth (c. 6–4 BCE—c. 30 CE) is often addressed as “rabbi” in the New Testament gospels.  The term is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic title for a teacher and is used of Jesus more so than any other designation (Mark 9:5; 10:51; 11:21; 14:45; Matt 26:25, 49; John 1:38, 49; 3:2; 4:31; 6:25; 9:2; 11:8). According to scholar Bruce Chilton, “as judged by the depth and breadth of these references, as well as their number, the best historical designation for Jesus is clearly “rabbi” (2008, 1291–1292). The title possibly means “my great one” or “my master,” and was the usual mea ..read more
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