Revue Biblique on The Case for a Proto-Gospel

This review, from one of the oldest academic biblical magazines, is in French. With the help of the editor, I had the following extract translated into English. The review uses traditional abbreviations for several terms. “A” is the author, i.e., Me.

It is clear that Jn is very different from the synoptics, and in particular from Mc, but the A. claims that Jn made changes because he disagreed. Still, they share many episodes, albeit without many verbal agreements. A first chapter is attached to Jn 6, which brings together elements dispersed in Mk 6 and 8 (multiplication of the loaves, walking on the waters, etc.); next, the story of the paralytic of Capernaum is compared to the story of the cripple of Bethzatha of Jn 5; then the discourse on the bread of life is related to the rejection of Jesus by his own; then, the episodes relating to the beginning of Jesus’ mission highlight the role of John the Baptist; then Jesus’ last visit to Jerusalem is examined, followed by the plot against Jesus, the account of the Eucharist, the Jewish trial of Jesus, the appearance before Pilate, the crucifixion, and finally the resurrection. Finally, the A. proposes a restoration of the supposed protevangel: it is essentially Mc, with some intrusions of Jn and Lc. The author considers that three criteria prove his thesis: a good number of John’s stories have parallels in Mark; the order of the pericopes is most often similar; John cannot have followed either Mark or Luke directly, which presupposes an earlier state.

This result has required long analyses and very ingenious considerations, which could be discussed in detail, but the overall remark to be made is that the interest of this research is not apparent.

Midwest Book Review on Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists, Volume II

Midwest Book Review  October 2022

Willis Buhle’s Bookshelf

Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists
Gary Greenberg
Pereset Press
9781737308812, $36.95, HC, 428pp

Synopsis: Continuing his astonishing study of Egyptian influences on the Book of Genesis, Gary Greenberg moves from Egypt’s historical chronology to its mythological chronology, with the publication of “Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II: Egypt’s Mythological Period”.

In this latest volume Greenberg meticulously uncovers the biblical book’s deep dependence on Egyptian sources for some of its most famous stories, including the seven days of creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, and the family of nations descended from Ham, Shem, and Japheth.

Despite the biblical narrative showing that Israel’s formative period as a nation took place in Egypt, almost all biblical scholars and Egyptologists refuse to take such claims seriously, rarely looking at anything more than an occasional peripheral link. Greenberg’s thorough scholarly examination of the biblical and Egyptological sources tears through this “papyrus curtain” and presents clear and convincing evidence that the original authors of Genesis worked from a solid knowledge of Egypt’s literary and historical sources and used them as the basis of the Bible’s primeval history.

It was only long after, when Genesis source documents were significantly re-edited and heavily redacted during the Second Temple period, did the Hebrews lose touch with their Egyptian roots. Greenberg sets the record straight and the results are impressive.

Some of the stunning discoveries in “Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II Egypt’s Mythical Period” include:

How did the Genesis author determine in what year the first Patriarchs, from Adam to Jared, fathered their first son? Egypt’s mythical chronology holds the answers. That the story of Noah and the flood was the original Genesis creation story and it was based on Egypt’s most famous creation myths.

Who was the mysterious light that appeared on the first day of creation? (Yes, who, not what; No, it wasn’t Jesus.) – Who were the biblical generations of Heaven and Earth and who were these children? – Egyptian deities in the Garden of Eden? What is the hidden Egyptian secret behind the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life? – How long did the flood last and what does that have to do with the Egyptian calendar? – Were there seven days of creation or eight?

Critique: A work of impressively detailed analytical scholarship, “Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II: Egypt’s Mythological Period” is an informative, thought-provoking, iconoclastic, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college and university library Egyptology, Judaic, Old Testament, and Christian Biblical Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, Judaic/Christian theologians, Egyptologists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that “Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II: Egypt’s Mythological Period” is also available in a paperback edition (9781737308805, $26.95).

Editorial Note: President of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York and a Fellow of the Jesus Project, an organization of biblical scholars concerned with issues related to the “historical” Jesus, Gary Greenberg is the author of several highly-praised books on biblical history, including the popular biblical classic “101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History.” His works have been translated into many languages. He also has a dedicated website at

Willis M. Buhle

NTA Note on “The Case for a Proto-Gospel”

I’m pleased to see that New Testament Abstracts, a leading research tool in New Testament studies, has included an abstract for my The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source Behind Mark and John in its most recent issue, (65/2 2021). It is serendipitously located on a page featuring a book by Bart Ehrman, Craig A. Evans and Robert Stewart. Here’s the listing.

New Testament Abstracts 65/2 • 2021

Gary Greenberg, The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source behind Mark and John, Studies in Biblical Literature 172 (New York—Bern: Lang, 2020, $114.95/€95.80) xvii and 719 pp., 22 tables. Bibliographies. Indexed. LCN: 2019029929. ISBN: 978-1-4331-6605-1.

Noting that NT scholars believe with near unanimity that substantial differences in style, content, and verbal description between John and the Synoptics preclude any literary relationship between them, Greenberg, author of Proving Jesus’ Authority in Mark and John (2018), proposes that Mark, John, and Luke all knew a now-lost written proto-Gospel. After a 35-page introduction, he discusses Mark 6 and 8 and John 6, the paralytic on the mat (Mk 2:1-12; Jn 5), true kindred and the devil (Mk 3:20-35; Jn 8:31-59), you can’t go home again (Mk 6:1-6, Jn 4:44; 6:42; 7:15), the mission begins (Mk 1; Jn 1–4), Jesus’ last visit to Jerusalem, the plot to kill Jesus, the Jewish trial of Jesus, the Lazarus conundrum (Jn 11:1-44; Lk 16:19-31; Mk 1:40-45; 5:22-24, 35-43), the Roman proceedings, the crucifixion, the day of Preparation, and the resurrection. Then he presents a proposed reconstructed proto-Gospel with brief commentary. He concludes that Mark and John most probably have a literary relationship based on a shared written source, since almost every non-speech episode in John has a literary parallel in Mark, the two Gospels agree on sequential order in approximately two-thirds of such stories, and in several stories outside the sequential order several details also follow a common sequential order.

Is “Judaism” a Jewish concept? Daniel Boyarin doesn’t think so.

Daniel Boyarin is one of the world’s foremost Talmudic scholars. In a recent book, Judaism: The Genealogy of a Modern Term, he argues that the use of the term “Judaism” as the “name” of the religion of the Jews was a Christian invention, and not necessarily a friendly usage. “Judaism,” he argues, wasn’t used by Jews as the name of their religion until modern times, as the Christian term took hold. In his deeply detailed linguistic study, he traces the use of the word “Judaism” over the course of history down to modern times. The thesis is, of course, controversial. The LA Times Book Review assembled several scholars to comment on the book. You may want to check it out.

He starts with how the term “Judaism” (in its original Greek formulation), was used in in the first centuries just before and after Jesus. He argues, based on linguistic parallels with the Greek usages, that the term did not reference religious beliefs. Rather it referred to a regional ethnic identity for people living in a specific geographical area. Judaism was, then, a term that referred to the behavior of people living in the country called Judah. A “Jew” was someone who behaved like people who lived in Judah. It applied to general behavioral considerations and the word didn’t specifically reference religious beliefs. It encompassed a wider range of regional behaviors. I’m not sure I’m fully or accurately capturing Boyarin’s argument here. The book is not a casual or easy read.

Centuries later, he says, the term was understood to define a set of legal values or doctrines. Citing example from some medieval texts, when an inquisitor (I’m not talking church inquisition here) asked a Jewish teacher to explain what Judaism meant, the Jew was expected to describe their legal practices or doctrines, what rules they applied to assorted situations.

Modern Jews might take offense at this distinction, arguing that their laws are their religion, that the two concepts are indistinguishable from a religious perspective. But that is not quite the issue that Boyarin raises. The question is whether prior to modern times, did Jews use the word “Judaism” as the name of their religion. He argues that there is no linguistic record of the Jews using that term as the “name” of their religion until modern times and that there is evidence that the term “Judaism” was used to name something that did not mean just their religion.

Book Review: Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period

While the temple in Jerusalem was the iconic center of life for Jewish people in the Second Temple Period, it’s not very well known that there where other Jewish temples that existed alongside and in contrast to the Jerusalem temple. Although a lot isn’t known about these other centers of worship, they included the anti-Jerusalem Samaritan Temple; a temple in Egypt’s Persian era at Elephantine that may have worshipped more gods than just Yahweh; and the very historically problematic Oniad dynasty temple allegedly in the Egyptian city of Leontopolis, mentioned in the writings of Josephus and 2 Maccabees.

Meron M. Piotrkowski’s Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding the Oniad movement and fill in the many gaps in the historical record, about which there are many academic arguments. If this sort of thing excites you then mosey over to Ancient Jew Review for Miguel Vargas’s lengthy and interesting review of Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period

Biblical Studies Carnival # 165. October 2019

Welcome to my Biblical Studies Carnival. It’s my first stroll down the midway and there sure has been a lot to see. Couldn’t catch everything, so I might have to come back another time. I’m assuming you have lots of handy candy from last night’s trick-or-treating. Hope you enjoy the show.


Bruce Chilton has some questions about early Christian developments regarding the “empty tomb” teachings. Based on his recent book, Resurrection Logic.

The conventional presentation [empty tomb] has become so prevalent that it needs to be mentioned in order to be set aside because it flies in the face of the fact that “the empty tomb” is a latecomer to the traditions regarding how God raised Jesus from the dead. The resurrection was conceived of as bodily by Jesus’ disciples, but they did not all assert a single origin story, nor did they always conceive of his body in a physical way.

Alex asks: Did the disciples see the son of man coming in his kingdom in AD 70?

From Nijay Gupta. An Interview with Joseph R. Dodson, Co-Editor of Paul and the Giants of Philosophy.

Religion Prof, otherwise known as James McGrath, has some observations on how modern perspectives from literature and other sources can mislead us as to how we interpret the bible in the context of its own time.

Bill Heroman has some book notes on the Gospels as Biography.

An interview with Michael Bird on his collaboration with N. T. Wright for The New Testament in Its World, and the keys to fruitful New Testament study.


Joy? No joy? Dr. Claud Mariottini discusses translation conflicts with respect to Isaiah 9:3

Another translation question. Bill Mounce asks, “Was Moses Exposed, Abandoned, or Thrown Out? (Acts 7:19)

Lynne Moss Bahr explores time concepts in the Jesus stories in light of continental philosophy. She has a book on the subject.

Over at Zondervan Academic. Who wrote 1, 2, & 3 John?

Paul’s Opposition in Corinth in 2 Corinthians from Reading Acts by Phil Long, who has heroically kept the monthly carnivals going for these many years.

Robert Cargill argues that Melchizedek of Salem was actually King of Sodom and that Salem was not a toponym for Jerusalem. Controversial, yes. He also has a book length study of this and related issues.

Is there a connection between Jesus and Elisha and leprosy? Brant Pitre at The Sacred Page thinks so. He might want to consider Luke 4:24-27 in future discussions of the issues he raises here.

How is disagreement resolved in the Council of Acts 15? Ian Paul at Psephizo,

Revelation Roundup, from Religion Professor.

On my blog, I ask, Did God rest on the Seventh Day or the Eighth?

Text Criticism

Larry Hurtado discusses 1 Enoch: An Update on Manuscripts and Cautionary Notes on Usage. Also, an exploration of the differences in how Muslims and Christians do text analysis on the New Testament and the Qur’an.

Arthur Hunt, Harold Idris Bell, and Edward Maunde Thompson on the Date of Codex Sinaiticus From Brent Nongbri at Variant Readings.

Bart Ehrman tells us about “Crazy Things Textual Scholars Say.” I’m old enough to remember the TV prequel, Kids Say the Darnedest Things.

At Aeon: An early influential bible critic you probably never have heard of.


God in Conflict: Images of the Divine Warrior in Ancient Jewish and Early Christian Texts, by Scott C. Ryan. From Bible and Interpretation.

Evie Gassner asks: How Jewish was Herod?

Historian Linda Zollschan Challenges World Opinion about the Roman Coin inscription “Judaea Recepta.”

Solving the Mystery of the City in Isa 24-27: The Fall of the Assyrian Palace at Ramat Raḥel:

 “Who built these impressive structures in the seventh century and used them as a base to oversee Judah and its economy? It was a period of major historical and political changes in Judah.”

Mythism debate. Back in 2016, Craig Evans and Richard Carrier debated whether or not Jesus existed. Evans Yea and Carrier Nay. No surprise there. Shortly thereafter, Evans published an assessment of the arguments, which was reprinted in March of 2018. Carrier recently learned of the publication and responded.

Book Reviews

To Cast the First Stone by Jennifer Knust and Tommy Wasserman. It is widely accepted among biblical scholars that John’s account of Jesus and the Adulterous Woman (John 7:53-8:11) was not original to the Fourth Gospel, although a number of Evangelical text critics disagree. (I don’t say that as a put down.) At the 2018 SBL annual conference, in a panel discussion of this work, Bart Ehrman declared that he was sad to report that he had nothing critical to say about this book and considered it the definitive work on the story of Jesus and the Adulteress. Many scholars agree, but not James Snapp, Jr, who provides a lengthy critique.

The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation. H. H. Drake Williams review’s Rick Brannan’s book. The text focuses on a translation that adheres more closely to the underlying Greek.

The Emperors and the Jews, by Ari Lieberman. Favorably reviewed by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein.

That All shall be Saved by David Bentley Hart.  Reviewed by Andrew Perriman. (O.K. I admit. I had to look up “magniloquent.” Thought it was a Disney Princess. Guessed again. Still wrong.)

“I’ve done a couple of posts so far critically reviewing aspects of David Bentley Hart’s magniloquent anti-infernalist treatise That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, & Universal Salvation. My interest has been mainly in his use of the biblical material; I am not convinced that the theological arguments against hell and for universal salvation need to be made.”

Essential Companion to Christian History from Zondervan. Reviewed by Jim West.

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Full History by Weston W. Fields. Reviewed by Anthony Ferguson at Evangelical Textual Criticism.


Bart Ehrman is leading a tour to Rome and other sites April 14–24, 2020, featuring lectures on pagan-Christian relationships in the early centuries. Interested?

The Evangelical Textual Criticism blog-folk are organizing their annual dinner gathering at SBL 2019 in San Diego. Details here.

This is troubling. More here. And here. And here.

A is for Apple, Alef Beth is for Learn Wisdom. A chart based on Talmudic teaching for learning the Hebrew Alphabet.

Some video lectures on Christian History by Diarmid MacCollough. These were recommended to me for inclusion in the roundup but due to time constraints I haven’t viewed them yet.

And lastly,I shamelessly plug my forthcoming book, The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source Behind Mark and John. From Peter Lang, tentative release in November or December.

So. That’s it. Gonna stroll down the midway, catch some of the verse jugglers, hop on the camel ride through the eye of the needle, and check out that leopard-bear-lion thingie with the ten horns and seven heads.

Upcoming Carnivals

#166 November 2019 (Due December 1) – Derek DeMars, Theology Pathfinder 

#167 December 2019 (Due January 1) –  Alex Finkelson,  Scribes of the Kingdom

#168 January 2020 (Due February 1) –  Jim West  on Twitter as @drjewest,  Zwinglu Redivivus

And: If you’d like to host a future carnival, contact Phil Long at this email or @plong42 on Twitter.

Theological Studies reviews my book “Proving Jesus’ Authority in Mark and John.”

Theological Studies 80(3) recently published a nice review of my book, “Proving Jesus’ Authority in Mark and John.” A couple of briefexcerpts:

” The result is a fine inquiry which. . . represents a positive contribution to Johannine and Synoptic scholarship. “

“Some of G.’s keen observations are well taken and should generate further discussion. In fact, their presence makes the book recommended reading for serious students of John’s Gospel.”

“As for his readers, both the general audience and specialists will be treated to a well-written, provocative, and informative inquiry into a lingering mystery in New Testament studies.”

KMT reviews Gensis Chronology and Egyptian King-lists

KMT magazine, a popular scholarly journal that covers ancient Egypt, published a review of my Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-lists. In the most positive portion, the reviewer wrote, “The numerous tables, where they deal with Egyptian king-lists . . . are excellent, highly informative, as also is his discussion of the same. These alone are worth the price of the book (emphasis added).” I take this as a tacit acknowledgment that the book deals well with the basics of mainstream Egyptian chronological studies.

Where we part company is over whether I have made the case that the numerous precise year-to-year alignments (none of which are cited in the review) between Genesis birth and death dates and the Egyptian High Chronology starting dates of every Egyptian dynasty down to the Eighteenth, as well as the starting dates for several major Egyptian kings and the beginning date of the Egyptian Sothic cycle constitute sufficient reason to believe that there is a relationship between the Genesis birth-death chronology and the Egyptian king-lists. Given the precise chronological alignments between the Genesis birth and death dates and the Egyptian dynastic dates, I am not sure what sort of additional evidence would be needed to make the case.

I have some other criticisms of the review, but I’ll let those pass for now.