MORE Fun Facts About the New Testament

We received a lot of positive emails last week about our random facts post. So we’re continuing this week with three more random things taken from a pop quiz that New Testament Professor Bart Ehrman gives his Univeristy of North Carolina students at the beginning of the school year. 

  • When was Jesus born? You’d think that would be an easy one. Nope. First, there is no Year Zero. We go from 1 BCE (Before Common Era) to 1 CE (Common Era). Sooooo, even if it were accurate (which it isn’t), which was it? It used to be BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) when the monks did up the first Christian calendar. But that Christian way of dating fell out of favor in academic circles several years ago.
  • Four years off. And while we’re at it, a monk named Dennis the Short calculated the starting point for the birth year of Jesus, counting back from his place at the table in the sixth century. Somewhere he must have transposed a number. His new calendar started with Jesus’ birth in Year 1. But the Gospels indicate that Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod, who died in 4 BCE. We’ll bet that made for a bad performance review for Dennis that year.
  • Who wrote each of the Gospels? First, the title of each Gospel was based on the following:
    • Matthew. A disciple of Jesus.
    • Mark. Peter’s secretary.
    • Luke. Paul’s traveling companion.
    • John. A disciple of Jesus.
    • But none of these books were actually written by the people they were named for. They were all anonymous. The author never identifies himself in any of them. And the first actual record we have of the names of the four gospels is not until around 185 CE, a century after they were circulating. 

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