Apostle of the Lord—or Jailbait? By Ben Witherington III

Jesus had an entourage, and that entourage, according to the Gospel of Luke, included several women of substance. Luke tells us that as Jesus traveled through the cities and villages of Galilee, “proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God,” he was accompanied by the twelve as well as by “some […]

Jesus Lives!
Looking Back on 20 Years of Jesus Scholarship By Stephen J. Patterson

Thirty years ago, the historical Jesus was dead. By 1975, it was clear that scholars had very little to say about him. If students were assigned anything to read on the subject, it was usually Gunther Bornkamm’s Jesus of Nazareth from the 1950s1 or even Albert Schweitzer’s classic tome The Quest of the Historical […]

Happy Birthday, BR!

If Bible Review were a male Israelite, today it would leave adolescence behind and officially become an adult. That’s because with this issue, Bible Review turns 20—a significant milestone in the Bible. Twenty may well be the most overlooked number in the Good Book, however. Numbers like 7 and 40 seem to get all […]

Another Brother of Jesus By Ben Witherington III

When Jesus preaches in his hometown synagogue, the locals are astounded. “Where did this man get all this? … Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?” (Mark 6:3). Readers of BR (and especially of its sister magazine Biblical Archaeology Review) have […]

Mary, Simeon or Anna
Who First Recognized Jesus as Messiah? By Ben Witherington III

Being first to hear doesn’t always mean being first to understand. In Luke’s birth narrative, Mary is the first to be told that Jesus will be the messiah. Luke adds that she “treasures the words” the angel Gabriel speaks to her. But Mary is also puzzled by the divine message; she is “perplexed” when the […]

Sister Wendy’s Top Twenty Biblical Paintings

To help us celebrate 20 years of BR, we asked the famous, beloved nun and art critic Sister Wendy to write about 20 of her favorite biblical (or Bible-inspired) paintings that have appeared in our pages over the years. Enjoy!—Eds. Biblical scholars may raise a pitying eyebrow, but I love BR almost as much […]

The Exodus of Abraham

No experience had a greater impact on ancient Israel than the Exodus from Egypt.1 So central was this event to Israel’s self-understanding that it formed the basis of Israel’s covenant with God at Mount Sinai. When giving Moses the Ten Commandments, for instance, God begins by explaining, “I am the LORD your God, who […]

Did Jesus Get Angry or Agonize?
A Text Critic Pursues the Original Jesus Story By Bart D. Ehrman

Christianity is a religion of the book. From the outset, it has stressed specific texts as authoritative scripture. Yet not one of these original, authoritative texts exists today. We have only late copies, dating from the second century to the sixteenth. And these copies vary considerably. Indeed, the 5,700 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament […]

Taking the Biblical Text Apart

For centuries, scholars from many backgrounds—religious and nonreligious, Christian and Jewish—have worked on discovering how the Bible came to be. Their task was not to prove whether the Bible’s words were divinely revealed to the authors. That is a question of faith, not scholarship. Rather, they were trying to learn the history of those […]

The Genesis of Genesis
Is the Creation Story Babylonian? By Victor Hurowitz

On December 3, 1872, George Smith, a former bank-note engraver turned Assyriologist, stunned the Western world by announcing that he had discovered a Babylonian story of a great Flood resembling the well-known account of the Deluge in the Book of Genesis. Four years later, Smith published a collection of Mesopotamian myths and heroic legends […]

Saints Men
Rembrandt’s New Testament By Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., Peter C. Sutton, Anne T. Woollett

Throughout his long and extraordinarily productive career, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) turned repeatedly to the Bible as a source of inspiration for his paintings, drawings and etchings. Although his composition, themes and pictorial style changed dramatically over the course of his career, he always demonstrated a remarkable empathy with the human dimension of these […]

What America Believes About the Bible

Late th century and (thus far) early 21st century Americans are surely the most prodded, probed and polled people in history. Pollsters contact, calculate and communicate Americans’ views on every topic imaginable (and some that, frankly, I couldn’t imagine), from political persuasions to sexual positions. Thus, it should come as no surprise that statistical studies […]

The Search Begins: The Fathers of Historical Jesus Scholarship

During the Enlightenment, the historian’s job changed dramatically. It was no longer enough simply to chronicle events reported in earlier, authoritative texts. Tradition and authority had become suspect, as investigation and reason became the new basis for knowledge. For the first time in history, historians were beginning to ask, What really happened? In religion […]

A Woman Equal to Paul
Who Is She? By John Dominic Crossan

To the Editor: I just completed the book In Search of Paul: How Jesus’s Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom (Harper San Francisco, 2004), by John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan Reed. I was especially intrigued by the cover illustration of a sixth-century fresco of Paul and his faithful female disciple Thecla, from the […]

The Fall and Rise of Simon Magus
How the Worst Man in Christendom Saved the Church By David R. Cartlidge

Simon Magus is arguably the worst of the bad guys in the history of the church.1 One of the major sins, simony, the act of buying an ecclesiastical office, is named for this magician who clashed with the apostle Peter. It gets worse. In the early Christian apocrypha, he is the common enemy who […]

Did Jesus Marry?

There is not the slightest hint in the New Testament that Jesus ever married. Yet, Jesus’ marital status has become a hot topic—again—as a result of the best-selling book The Da Vinci Code.1 Novelist Dan Brown claims not only that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, but that the happy couple bore a daughter who […]

Of Time and Immortality

The first chapter of the first book of the Bible can be read as a treatise for measuring (or calibrating) time; the next two chapters as offering insight into the birth of death.

Song of Songs: Not Just a Dirty Book

Pornography! This is the label some scholars give to the Song of Songs. They dismiss the book as nothing more than a source of lewd entertainment for the ancient male power elite. These lusty men slipped the salacious Song into the canon of Scripture by claiming it was only an allegory describing the relationship between […]

The Holy Bible: A Buyer’s Guide

Walk through the religion section of any major bookstore, and you’ll see an amazing array of Bibles. The broad selection of translations (also called versions)—and the seemingly endless ways in which they are packaged—is without historical precedent. But for many people, it is also bewildering, if not frustrating. Rather than the “blessing” it could […]


Genesis and the Cathedrals
Like a French cathedral, Genesis was built over time. By Ronald S. Hendel
When Forever Isn’t Forever
Reinterpretation is sometimes the only way to keep God’s promise alive.
Dating Creation
My, How Times Have Changed! By Ronald S. Hendel
Twenty Years That Have Passed
It seems like just yesterday. By Ronald S. Hendel
The Conversion of Saul
Text and Tradition
Interpreting the Bible vs. Interpreting the Constitution By Mary Joan Winn Leith
BAS Publication Awards
2005 Winners
Man in the Time of Solomon