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Image of the key players in the Gospel of Jesus Wife story, produced by The Atlantic

Posted: 17 June 2016, 18:21

The professor who introduced ‘The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ to the world in 2012, and who has championed it ever since, has finally admitted that the fragment of papyrus may in fact be a fake. Commenting on dramatic new evidence about the story, Professor Karen King of Harvard Divinity School, says, ‘It tips the balance towards forgery’.

The fragment, the size of a credit card, apparently reports Jesus saying the words, ‘My wife… she will be able to be my disciple’, as we reported in this 2012 blog post. It has stirred up intense debate in the academic world over the past four years. Painstaking scholarship discovered that the writing appears to duplicate errors found only in a document published on the internet, and which a forger might simply have copied. A year ago, an...

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Photo of the CS Lewis memorial in Westminster Abbey

Posted: 17 June 2016, 17:32

In November 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, a memorial was unveiled to CS Lewis at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, honouring his work as a novelist, poet, academic and Christian apologist. Last week saw the launch of a book celebrating the event, and assessing Lewis’s lasting influence in literature, theology and philosophy.

In the book, CS Lewis at Poets’ Corner, Rowan Williams and Alister McGrath assess Lewis’s legacy in theology, Malcolm Guite addresses his integration of reason and imagination, William Lane Craig takes a philosophical perspective, while Lewis’s successor as Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English, Helen Cooper, considers him as a critic.

Christian philosopher and apologist Peter S Williams, one of the book’s editors, says: ‘Lewis...

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Painting of the conversion of St Paul on the road to Damascus

Posted: 08 June 2016, 20:35

When Christian writer Larry Taunton wrote a memoir of his friendship with Christopher Hitchens, one of the ‘four horsemen’ of new atheism, and called it The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, knowingly or unknowingly he had written a book spoiling for a fight. Hitchens famously said, shortly before his death from cancer in 2011, that if he ever made a religious confession it would be because the cancer had gone to his brain.

Taunton’s book did not overtly claim that Hitchens had found faith, but it reported a road trip shared by the two men during which they spent several hours reading passages from the Gospel of John. That and the book’s rather misleading title was enough to draw outrage from Richard Dawkins, among others. Dawkins called Taunton ‘a vulture’ and quoted...

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Photo of tombs in the Kieron Valley, Jerusalem

Posted: 16 May 2016, 22:04

We live in an era of growing, misinformed skepticism about the historical reliability of the New Testament’s account of Jesus and his early followers. According to Richard Dawkins, ‘The only difference between The Da Vinci Code and the gospels is that the gospels are ancient fiction while The Da Vinci Code is modern fiction.’ And the late Christopher Hitchens said: ‘Holy writ is probably fiction, of a grand sort, to begin with.’

But is this actually the case?

Christian philosopher and apologist Peter S Williams is the author of several books, including CS Lewis vs the New Atheists and A Sceptic’s Guide to Atheism. His latest publication – Digging for Evidence, a free-to-download booklet published by Christian Evidence – gathers together the archaeological finds of the...

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Archaeological dig in Bethsaida, Israel

Posted: 26 April 2016, 20:17

Chris Sinkinson explains how archaeology can serve to confirm the stories, people and places in the Old Testament.

The discovery of what could be the biblical city of Sodom at Tall el-Hammam in Jordan was shared widely by Christians on social media in 2015. But not everyone is convinced that the Bible’s account and the archaeological record are easily matched. The claims of sceptics such as Sheffield University professor Philip R Davies, who dismisses the biblical King David as ‘about as historical as King Arthur’, have attracted plenty of attention and publicity through popular media.

In reality, however, the development of archaeology as a discipline has produced a wealth of material evidence for the essential reliability of the Old Testament. Wherever the truth of the Bible can...

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Posted: 23 February 2016, 15:03

New movie Risen (Sony Pictures, 117 mins) dramatically tells the story of the days immediately after the death of Jesus – as seen through the eyes of the Romans who crucified him. Where other biblical epics make Jesus their central character, Risen puts Roman tribune Clavius in the leading role, as he investigates the most famous ever disappearance of a dead body.

The result is a movie where the resurrection of Jesus is recast as a detective story. The empty tomb of Christ is treated as a crime scene. The disciples of Jesus are caught up in ‘the manhunt that changed the course of human history’, in the words of the movie poster. One film critic describes it as ‘Law and Order: Judean Desert 33 AD’.

‘I’d describe it as the greatest murder mystery ever written,’ says Joseph...

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Photo of a plastic Jesus statue

Posted: 16 February 2016, 11:25

When it was reported that the face of Jesus had been spotted on a three-cheese pizza fresh out of the oven at Posh Pizza in Brisbane, everyone who examined the fuzzy image knew what they were looking for: shoulder-length hair and a beard. Jesus has looked that way for centuries, whether it’s in church paintings, Sunday school books, or plastic statues to stick on the dashboard of your car. He is instantly recognisable.

But is that how Jesus really looked when he was a carpenter in 1st century Galilee?

The Professor of Christian Origins at King’s College London, Joan Taylor, thinks it’s unlikely that Jesus ever looked like this.

‘Jesus, as a philosopher with the “natural” look, might well have had a short beard,’ she says, ‘but his hair was probably not very long.’...

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Photo of Sir Brian Heap making a point at B4FA Animal Genetics for Africa Workshop in September 2015

Posted: 09 February 2016, 10:58

Biological scientist, Fellow of the Royal Society, former Master of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, and government adviser Professor Sir Brian Heap talks to Nigel Bovey about the challenges facing the planet.

Sir Brian, what are your professional responsibilities?

I’ve just finished a project on whether GM crops can help to feed the world. We have been focusing on Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.

Africa is one of the worst continents in terms of sustainable development and food security. The project examined the possibility of using genetically modified crops or at least using the advanced technologies that are available in plant breeding.

Although I am a scientist, the focus was on implementation rather than science. The science is pretty well established. The question is how...

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Photo of Alister McGrath taken at the interview in London

Posted: 27 January 2016, 13:16

Steve Tomkins interviews Alister McGrath in this month’s issue of Reform magazine.

After gaining a degree in chemistry at Oxford, Alister McGrath stayed on for three years to complete a doctorate in molecular biophysics – in which time he also got a first class honours degree in theology in his spare time. He has since written more than 50 books in the space of 30 years.

In case that brain-the-size-of-a-planet sounds daunting, it’s fortunate, for readers and interviewers alike, that he has spent his career trying to engage lay people in the issues of faith and science. Talking with him is surprisingly like talking to an ordinary human being, and the same goes for reading him. (Though he does use the word ‘ontology’ in this interview, meaning – should you want a reminder – what...

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William Lane Craig critiques Stephen Hawking's ideas in the film The Theory of Everything

Posted: 09 December 2015, 13:01

In the film The Theory of Everything, Stephen Hawking (portrayed by Eddie Redmayne) claims that cosmology is ‘a religion for intelligent atheists’. The idea haunts the film as it haunts Stephen Hawking’s books.

In a video lecture just released on YouTube, William Lane Craig, philosopher and theologian, examines this claim, critiquing both dialogue from the film and Stephen Hawking’s own writings. Does a beginning to the universe entail a creator? Does Hawking’s latest ‘no boundary’ Big Bang model eliminate the need for God? What hope is there in a godless universe? And is philosophy dead, as Stephen Hawking claims?

All these issues are explored in the video lecture, which can be viewed below.

William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument is the most widely discussed argument for...

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