A conversation with the Bible History Guy

By TINKY WEISBLAT

For the Recorder

Published: 03-10-2023 7:58 PM

I interviewed Jim Moseley of Petersham on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The date was appropriate because Moseley is an enthusiastic Christian. He is the author of 26 books, 16 of those about Jesus or theology.

His most recent work is “The Biographies of Jesus’ Apostles” (Wipf and Stock, 410 pages, $47). The book uses a variety of sources to examine what is known about what a theatrical producer might call the supporting characters in the New Testament — Jesus’ 12 apostles and several other followers.

I began our conversation by asking Moseley how he came to be “the Bible History Guy,” a nickname he has earned with his prolific writings and teachings.

He described a childhood that was nominally Christian, but set him in search of a deeper connection with God and spirituality. After studying religions around the world (he met the Dalai Lama, among other notables), he ended up coming back to the United States and looking for a church home.

He found one in California, where he experienced a religious conversion. Invited by a minister to approach the altar and open himself to God, he recalled, he “prayed an insolent prayer: ‘If you’re out there, I’m open.’”

“Suddenly, I felt a light go on in my heart,” he remembered. “It didn’t go out. ... I realized, ‘I’m sane. I’m a Christian.’”

Moseley turned the passion he had been applying to other world religions toward Christianity. He began studying the Bible closely and teaching an adult Bible study group. There his students helped him examine and annotate the entire Bible. He went on to get his master’s degree in theology at Liberty University, where he is now working on a PhD.

Moseley speaks with animation about his work and life. By day, he runs a shipping company. By night (or at least in the very early morning hours), he writes and works on his doctoral thesis. He told me that it takes him four to five months to write a book, an impressive rate.

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In addition to his scholarship on Jesus and the Bible, he has written books and screenplays based on his travels and even his food interests. (I plan to feature him on the food page of this paper soon!)

I asked him about the audience for his new book. He stated that he hoped it would be used in schools of theology.

“I also tried to write the book in such a way that it would be a good resource for pastors,” he said. “And I tried to tell a whacking good story.”

Moseley noted that the lives he chronicles are indeed dramatic. He reminded me that there was “no percentage in being a Christian” for the first few hundred years after the life and death of Jesus, when Christians were widely persecuted.

Most of the people about whom he writes traveled great distances (often on foot) to share their faith. Many of them died martyrs’ deaths.

“These are adventure stories. Even if you’re not a committed Christian like me, they are swashbuckling,” Moseley said.

I asked him about his source material, which is not always entirely clear in the book, although he provides a bibliography. He explained that he did not want the details of his historiography to get in the way of telling a good historical story.

He told me that the main sources he used were the Bible itself, documents written at the same time (or near the same time) as the New Testament, and early Christian and non-Christian writings.

I asked him what information he thought was new in his book, aside from details about the lives of people whose names are familiar to most churchgoers, but whose lives are little understood. He said he believes that his research corrects a common misconception.

“I think a lot of people believe today … that the Bible must have been written a long time after the events and edited by people after those events,” he said.

His research and carefully constructed timeline of the lives and writings of the apostles, he argued, tell a different story. For example, he explained that the book presents evidence that the Book of Mark was written only 10 years after Jesus’ death, in the year 43.

“The point is these records go back to the very earliest point in Christianity,” he asserted. “We can be more secure about the reliability of the New Testament….

These records deserve to be recognized for the authority that they really have.”

“The Biographies of Jesus’ Apostles” is available online (a Kindle version may be purchased as well) and by order at any bookstore. Anyone who would like a copy signed by the author may email Jim Moseley at jim@thebiblehistoryguy.com.

Tinky Weisblat is an award-winning author and singer. Her most recent book is “Pot Luck: Random Acts of Cooking.” Visit her website, TinkyCooks.com.

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