Review, part 11. Comparing the Lives and Deaths of Aesop and Jesus (Litwa: How the Gospels Became History)

Chapter 11 of How the Gospels Became History again makes for fascinating reading as M. David Litwa explores in some depth the idea of the scapegoat in Greek myth as one part of the cultural and mythical context in which the gospels were written. The technical (Greek) term is pharmakos [link is to a brief … Continue reading “Review, part 11. Comparing the Lives and Deaths of Aesop and Jesus (Litwa: How the Gospels Became History)”


Did Aesop Exist?

Short answer, the one I would give if I had to bet my house on being right: I don’t know. Short answer, but one I would offer at no risk of damages to myself if I am wrong: Probably. In two recent posts I was commenting on thoughts arising as I was reading about the … Continue reading “Did Aesop Exist?”


Aesop / 2, a Guide to a Late Gospel of Mark Date

Sleepy me forgot to include the main thought that led to the argument of the previous post. Reflecting on Hägg’s point about the Life of Aesop being produced at a time when interest in Aesop was the fashion of the day, the question I was asking myself was: When do we see an interest in … Continue reading “Aesop / 2, a Guide to a Late Gospel of Mark Date”


Aesop, Guide to a Very Late Date for the Gospels?

Is it possible that our canonical gospels, even the apparently pioneering Gospel of Mark, were really composed well into the second century? The possibility has been argued by a few and I don’t discount it. I often find myself suspecting it is true although very often for the sake of argument I will assume that at … Continue reading “Aesop, Guide to a Very Late Date for the Gospels?”


Lawrence Wills: “The Life of Aesop and the Hero Cult Paradigm in the Gospel Tradition”

Several times I’ve referred to comparisons between the ancient tale of Aesop with the gospel accounts of Jesus, referring readers to Lawrence Wills’ book, The quest of the historical gospel : Mark, John, and the origins of the gospel genre, and Whitney Shiner’s chapter “Creating Plot in Episodic Narratives: The Life of Aesop and the Gospel of Mark” in … Continue reading “Lawrence Wills: “The Life of Aesop and the Hero Cult Paradigm in the Gospel Tradition””


Jesus (and Paul) in the Ancient Philosopher Tradition

Think of the world from which Christianity emerged and mystery religions easily come to mind. That may be a mistake. A more relevant context, influencers and rivals were the popular philosophers and their schools in the first and second centuries. The Jew and the Christian offered religions as we understand religion; the others offered cults; … Continue reading “Jesus (and Paul) in the Ancient Philosopher Tradition”


conclusion … Biblical Narratives, Archaeology, Historicity – Essays in Honour of Thomas L. Thompson

The previous posts in this series: 25th August 2020 (introduction and Part 1 and half of Part 2) 27th August 2020 (completion of Part 2) 28th August 2020 (first half of Part 3) This post concludes my overview of the festschrift to Thomas L. Thompson on his 80th birthday. I hope to post soon a … Continue reading “conclusion … Biblical Narratives, Archaeology, Historicity – Essays in Honour of Thomas L. Thompson”


How Jewish Gospels Became Christian Gospels

This post follows on from A Midrashic Hypothesis for the Gospels . We are going through Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure de Papier by Nanine Charbonnel. All posts so far are archived at Charbonnel: Jesus Christ sublime figure de papier. Nanine Charbonnel [NC] at this point begins to study how the fictive figure of Jesus in the … Continue reading “How Jewish Gospels Became Christian Gospels”


Guest Post: Further Thoughts on the “We Passages” in Acts

[I have copied the following comment by Greg Doudna to a post here so the thoughts do not get lost in the comments section and are easier to read and engage with. Format slightly changed — Neil] –o– The argument that the “we” passages of Acts are an origin story of the church at Rome … Continue reading “Guest Post: Further Thoughts on the “We Passages” in Acts”


Once more on Jesus’ humble origins and that presumed criterion of embarrassment

Concerning Aesop’s lowly origin: While Aesop is defined βιωφελέστατος in the incipit of the Vita, meaning ‘very useful for life’, ‘great benefactor of mankind’, he is, in effect, an ugly and misshapenslave of Phrygian origin who, throughout most of the biography, is at the service of his master, Xanthus. In his case too, it is … Continue reading “Once more on Jesus’ humble origins and that presumed criterion of embarrassment”


Review, pt 1a: How the Gospels Became History / Litwa

We declared a while ago on Vridar that we would never sell anything so I am at this moment trapped between gratitude and principle. Yale University Press kindly agreed to send me a review copy of M. David Litwa’s How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths but, as it turned out, they requested their … Continue reading “Review, pt 1a: How the Gospels Became History / Litwa”


Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure de Papier. Chap 3d … Metaphors of Exodus and Lion Dens Become History

Continuing from Chap 3c . . . . The Exodus: Metaphor Preceded “History” Other examples of changing names and wordplay: The narrative can even culminate in the bestowing of a new name, or make the point that the change of name is itself the central point, along with all that it signifies: Isaiah 62:1-4 for … Continue reading “Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure de Papier. Chap 3d … Metaphors of Exodus and Lion Dens Become History”


And once more . . . .

With the previous post in mind . . . . Aesop told him a fable: “A woman who had buried her husband was sitting at his tomb, weeping and overcome with grief. A plowman saw her and began to desire her, so he left his oxen standing with the plow and came over to her, … Continue reading “And once more . . . .”


Ancient Historiography and Historians — Vridar Posts

For the background to this post see Vridar Maintenance. I am listing here the posts that are categorized or tagged as “Ancient Historiography“. This list is for my own editing purposes but I am making it public because I know it’s a topic that if of particular interest to some readers, so they can share … Continue reading “Ancient Historiography and Historians — Vridar Posts”