Church history

New light on the New Testament

Readers of the Bible, you are almost certainly in for a shock. A new book, drawing on recent archaeology and literary criticism, persuasively argues that some of the most important parts of the New Testament were written or edited by slaves. Its author, Candida Moss, presents this thesis in God’s Ghostwriters, a general interest book which asks readers to look beyond the Bible’s named authors and imagine their collaborators, some of whom were enslaved scribes. In the Roman era, ‘writers’ did not usually inscribe the text themselves but composed through dictation; and most people who took dictation were enslaved. They were well educated from a young age, and it was

Who was to blame for the death of Jesus?

In 1866, the Russian historian Alexander Popov made an astonishing discovery. Leafing through a Renaissance Slavonic translation of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, Popov found detailed notes on the trial of Jesus written by none other than Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to death. The notes, finally published in a German edition 60 years later, were impressively detailed. They described Jesus as a ‘crooked’ and ‘horse-faced’ man whose eyebrows met over his nose. They showed how he had arrived in Jerusalem in the week before his death in the company of secretly armed partisans, intending to occupy the Temple. And they proved that Pilate had been forced