Jesus and Dionysus (2): Comparison of John’s Gospel and Euripides’ Play

This post continues from my earlier one that concluded with Mark W. G. Stibbe’s “very broad list of similarities” between Euripides’ Bacchae (a play about the god Dionysus) and the Gospel of John. Stibbe discusses these similarities in John As Storyteller: Narrative Criticism and the Fourth Gospel. What Mark Stibbe is arguing Stibbe makes it … Continue reading “Jesus and Dionysus (2): Comparison of John’s Gospel and Euripides’ Play”


Jesus and Dionysus: The Gospel of John and Euripides’ Bacchae

No, I am not going to argue that Christianity grew out of the worship of Dionysus or that the original idea of Jesus was based upon Dionysus. Rather, I am exploring the possibility that the portrayal of Jesus that we find in the Gospel of John is in significant measure a variant of the Greek … Continue reading “Jesus and Dionysus: The Gospel of John and Euripides’ Bacchae”


Spit at a Late Date for the Gospel of Mark?

Last month I posted Another Pointer Towards a Late Date for the Gospel of Mark? but this morning I was reminded of an article I read and posted about some years back that surely calls for a date soon after 70 CE. That article does not address the date per se but it does raise … Continue reading “Spit at a Late Date for the Gospel of Mark?”


Another Pointer Towards a Late Date for the Gospel of Mark?

Back in August this year, I introduced a hypothesis that what we read in Josephus’s Antiquities about John “the Baptist” is actually a misplaced episode about the John Hyrcanus II. (See the relevant section linked here in the discussion of the festschrift for Thomas L. Thompson, Biblical Narratives, Archaeology and Historicity: Essays In Honour of … Continue reading “Another Pointer Towards a Late Date for the Gospel of Mark?”


Review, parts 13, 14. More on Ancient “Resurrection” Stories (Litwa: How the Gospels Became History)

Chapter Thirteen, “Disappearance and Recognition”, continues with an exploration of the little devices used by the author of the Gospel of Luke to build a sense of realism (or “historicity”) into the narrative of the two travellers on the Emmaus Road after the death of Jesus. These literary devices make the account seem very natural, … Continue reading “Review, parts 13, 14. More on Ancient “Resurrection” Stories (Litwa: How the Gospels Became History)”


How Mythic Story Worlds Become Believable (Johnston: The Greek Mythic Story World)

This is the second of two articles by Professor of Religion Sarah Iles Johnston. (The first article was addressed in Why Certain Kinds of Myths Are So Easy to Believe) I have been led to Johnston’s articles and books (along with other works addressing related themes by classicists) as I was led down various detours … Continue reading “How Mythic Story Worlds Become Believable (Johnston: The Greek Mythic Story World)”


The First Edition of John as the Dionysian Gospel

Highlighted citations are my additions to footnotes. 4 MacDonald, Dionysian Gospel, 28-29, 30-32.  — John 1:1-5, 14, 16, 18 Bacchae 1-4 …. 5 MacDonald, Dionysian Gospel, 29.  — John 1:6-8 Bacchae 10-12 6 MacDonald, Dionysian Gospel, 29-30.  — John 1:9-12 Bacchae 26-30 7 MacDonald, Dionysian Gospel, 38-40.  — John 1:19-51 ….. 8 MacDonald, Dionysian Gospel, … Continue reading “The First Edition of John as the Dionysian Gospel”


Jesus, a new Dionysus Triumphantly Entering Jerusalem?

The last few days I’ve been distracted from my planned reading and posting as a result of reading something quite unexpected by Andreas Bedenbender in Frohe Botschaft am Abgrund: das Markusevangelium und der Jüdische Krieg. Since I don’t read German (except sort of through machine translators) and since most of Bedenbender’s references are in German, and … Continue reading “Jesus, a new Dionysus Triumphantly Entering Jerusalem?”


Professor John Moles — In Memoriam

I was very shocked and saddened to belatedly learn of the death of Professor John Moles: Professor John Moles: In Memoriam by Jane Heath Professor Moles was a Classicist (not a New Testament scholar) but some of his research did overlap with the earliest literature of Christianity. From time to time John Moles and I … Continue reading “Professor John Moles — In Memoriam”


Jesus, Enfant Terrible in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas?

Not all early Christian gospels made it into our Bibles. One non-canonical second century gospel is known as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas [IGT] and it presents a terrifying image of Jesus as a boy. The child Jesus strikes another boy dead for merely bumping into him by accident. IV. 1 After that again he went through … Continue reading “Jesus, Enfant Terrible in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas?”


Why the Gospels Blend History with Fiction

Associate Professor of Classics specializing in Hellenistic Judaism, Sara Johnson, may suggest an answer to the question implicit in this post’s title even though she does not address the Gospels directly. Johnson has a chapter in Ancient Fiction: the Matrix of Early Christian and Jewish Narrative (2005) discussing the way 3 Maccabees was composed to … Continue reading “Why the Gospels Blend History with Fiction”


Jesus and Dionysus in The Acts of the Apostles and early Christianity

“Jesus and Dionysus in The Acts of the Apostles and early Christianity” by classicist John Moles was published in Hermathena No. 180 (Summer 2006), pp. 65-104. In the two years prior to its publication the same work had been delivered orally by John Moles at Newcastle, Durham, Dublin, Tallahassee, Princeton, Columbia, Charlottesville and Yale. The … Continue reading “Jesus and Dionysus in The Acts of the Apostles and early Christianity”


Jesus and Dionysus (3)

Continuing from the Jesus and Dionysus (2): Comparison of John’s Gospel and Euripides’ Play . . . . It would be a mistake to confine our comparison of the Gospel of John’s Jesus with Euripides’ play. Bacchae has no reference to the Dionysian miracle of turning water into wine (see the first post in this … Continue reading “Jesus and Dionysus (3)”


Discovering the Sources for the First Gospel, 3 — Criteria

This post concludes the series of notes from Adam Winn’s Mark and the Elijah-Elisha narrative : considering the practice of Greco-Roman imitation in the search for Markan source material. Winn concludes his first chapter with six criteria he hopes will help us determine literary dependence between two texts. He has derived these criteria from his … Continue reading “Discovering the Sources for the First Gospel, 3 — Criteria”