Why Are the Gospels Called “Gospels”?

02/22/2016 Comments (13)

Why do we call the New Testament biographies of Jesus "Gospels"? There's a surprising reason you may never have heard . . .

God may have created man in his image, but there is a well-known tendency among biblical scholars to re-create Jesus in their own image.

The tendency is particularly notable among skeptical scholars, who feel more free than their conservative counterparts to dismiss or discount Gospel passages that don’t fit their theories.

In writing books on the life of Jesus, they can select, filter, and interpret evidence in a way that allows them to find the kind of Jesus they want—often one that is an idealized form of their own self-image.

Thus a Marxist scholar might read the Gospels and discover a Jesus who is a proto-Marxist revolutionary martyr that led a peasant uprising and fell afoul of the...READ MORE

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Pope Francis Speaks on Hot-Button Issues: 9 Things to Know and Share

02/19/2016 Comments (29)

Pope Francis addressed a series of hot-button issues in a press conference. Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

During his plane flight back to Rome from Mexico, Pope Francis gave an interview in which he touched on a number of hot button issues.

Here are 9 things to know and share


1) What issues did he address, and where can I read the interview as a whole?

The issues included:

  • What the Church is doing to combat pedophilia by priests.
  • Immigration proposals attributed to Donald Trump
  • His meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill
  • Civil unions for homosexuals in Italy
  • Whether abortion and contraception might be used by women with the Zika virus
  • Administering Communion to those who have divorced and civilly remarried without an annulment

He said more than I can comment on in a...READ MORE

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9 Things to Know and Share About Ash Wednesday

02/08/2016 Comments (5)

Ash Wednesday is upon us, and Lent is about to begin. Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

Ash Wednesday is upon us again!

Here are 9 things to know and share . . .


1. What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the day that Lent begins (see: 9 things you need to know about Lent).

The name comes from the fact that a particular rite is always celebrated on this Wednesday in which the faithful have ashes put on their foreheads.

According to the Roman Missal:

In the course of today’s Mass, ashes are blessed and distributed.

These are made from the olive branches or branches of other trees that were blessed the previous year [on Palm/Passion Sunday].


2. What does the putting on of ashes symbolize?

According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:

125. In the...READ MORE

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Nazareth Residents: Who Does Jesus Think He Is?

02/02/2016 Comments (4)

James Tissot (1836-1902), “Jesus Unrolls the Scroll in the Synagogue”

Jesus meets an incredulous group of people from his home town in this Wednesday’s Gospel reading (Mark 6:1-6).

It’s a fascinating text, and it has a surprising number of interesting details.

Let’s take a look . . .


What Happened?

First, here’s the text itself:

He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him.

And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here...READ MORE

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Bart Ehrman Botches a Source

01/17/2016 Comments (9)

It pays to check your sources!--a lesson Bart Ehrman should take to heart.

Bart Ehrman is a smart guy, but he sometimes handles his sources in the most frustrating and misleading manner.

For example, in his book Did Jesus Exist? (where he is on the right side for once), he writes:

Several significant studies of literacy have appeared in recent years showing just how low literacy rates were in antiquity.

The most frequently cited study is by Columbia professor William Harris in a book titled Ancient Literacy (footnote 6).

By thoroughly examining all the surviving evidence, Harris draws the compelling though surprising conclusion that in the very best of times in the ancient world, only about 10 percent of the population could read at all and possibly copy out...READ MORE

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Pope Francis on God’s Universal Fatherhood

01/14/2016 Comments (47)

Pope Francis recently said all people have God as their Father. Is that true?

Pope Francis has a new video out in which he offers a prayer intention for the month of January.

And some people are freaking out about it.

Here are 10 things to know and share . . .


1) Where can I watch the video?

Right here:

Also, you can use this link.


2) What does Pope Francis say in the video?

He says:

Most of the planet’s inhabitants declare themselves believers.

This should lead to dialogue among religions.

We should not stop praying for it [i.e., dialogue] and collaborating with those who think differently.

Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways.

In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty...READ MORE

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How the New Testament Authors Said Mass and Prayed

01/12/2016 Comments (7)

Clues in the New Testament reveal how its authors said Mass and prayed.

Today we have standardized versions of the words of institution at Mass and of the Lord’s Prayer.

At least within a given language group and rite of the Church, you’ll find priests saying the words of institution and the faithful saying the Lord’s Prayer the same way.

But in the first century, things were not fully standardized.

Originally, the Christian community passed on the Jesus traditions orally, and this oral transmission gave rise to slightly different wordings that are preserved by the New Testament authors.

An interesting result is that we can tell something both about how the New Testament authors said Mass and prayed.


How First Century Christians Said Mass


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Why the Holy See Issues Non-Magisterial Statements

12/15/2015 Comments (22)

Why does the Holy See sometimes issue "non-magisterial" statements?

In a recent post, canonist Dr. Edward Peters offers some interesting reflections on a puzzling phenomenon: Why are there statements issued by the pope and by offices at the Vatican that are expressly flagged as being “non-magisterial”?

The Magisterium of the Church is its teaching office, which consists of the pope and the bishops of the world in union with him (CCC 85).

It can be surprising, therefore, when comments made by the pope or by Vatican offices deal with matters of faith and morals and yet are expressly identified as non-magisterial.

How does that work?

Dr. Peters seems skeptical that it does work. In his post, he seems to entertain the idea that such statements are...READ MORE

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About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to Catholic Answers Magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."