About Ben Witherington

Ben Witherington

Ben Witherington III is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. Dr. Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and Biblical meetings in the U.S., England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has written over fifty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top Biblical studies works by Christianity Today. In addition to his many interviews on radio networks across the country, Professor Witherington has been featured on all the episodes of the recent History Channel special---Jesus: His Life, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.

Presenter at

BAS Spring Symposium 2024, April 27, 2024
Paul within Judaism?

Though there is no debate that Paul was a Jew and part of early Judaism, the question remains what sort of Jew was he? In this lecture I will argue that Paul was a radical Jew who not only believed Jesus was the Jewish messiah, he also believed he was the Lord of both Jews and Gentiles and that his Gospel was for them both. He believed Jew and Gentile united in Christ was the fulfillment of God’s plan of creating a saved people. He did not subscribe to a 2 track model of salvation or of God’s people. As such Paul was seen as apostate by many Jews as Alan Segal pointed out a long time ago. The lecture will also chronicle why some models of Paul within Judaism simply don’t come to grips with the radical nature of Paul’s thought.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXVI, November 17 – 19, 2023
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Pisidian Antioch

Why did Paul and Barnabas, instead of going from Perge along the coast back towards Antioch by way of Tarsus etc. instead hiked 120 miles over large mountains to get to Pisidian Antioch. The reason has to do with the governor of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus, and the inscription stone Mark Wilson and I found outside the Yalvac (i.e. Pisidian Antioch) museum that directly mentions Sergius Paulus, who we know from other sources had family connections to Pisidian Antioch. This shows how archaeological evidence can definitely change the way we read and explain certain Biblical texts.

Spring Bible & Archaeology Fest 2022, April 2 – 3, 2022
Isaiah in the New Testament: How New Testament Writers Viewed Old Testament Prophecy

Far and away, Isaiah is the most quoted, alluded to, or echoed Old Testament book of any kind, with several hundred references found in the New Testament. Indeed, Isaiah came to be called the “Fifth Gospel” and was often used to tell the story of Christ and some of his early followers, including Paul. But how exactly was this poetic prophecy used by early Christians? We will examine the selection and manner of the use of Isaiah in various New Testament books, which produces some surprising results.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXIII, October 24 – 25, 2020
Paul and Women: A Reappraisal

While various evaluations of Paul’s views on women have focused on passages where he seems to be correcting them (1 Cor. 14.33b-36; 1 Tim. 2.8-11), a more appropriate place to start would be with an evaluation of the actual roles women are said to play in the Pauline ministry according to the undisputed earlier Pauline letters.  This paper will explore various passages dealing with the latter, and then turn to the passages that are sometimes thought to silence women and prevent them from playing such roles as teachers or leaders.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXII, November 22 – 24, 2019
Scribes, Collaborators, Editors and Apostles: Why Authorship Issues are Complicated in the NT Era.

One of the great problems in reading the Bible today is anachronism, the reading back into the text of modern standards on a whole variety of topics including the issues of authorship and intellectual property. In this lecture I intend to clarify what was the range of possible meanings for title and author identifications of documents in the NT. It was clearly much broader and different than how we would evaluate those issues.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXI, November 16 – 18, 2018
Paul, Arabia, and Aretas IV: Why a Petran Ethnarch Chased Paul to Damascus

Why did Paul, immediately after his Damascus Road experience, go to Arabia? And why, according to 2 Corinthians, is Aretas IV’s ethnarch after him? This lecture explores the perambulations of Paul before his first missionary journey and why it is important to understanding him.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XX, November 17 – 19, 2017
The Case of the Imprisonment that Didn’t Happen: Was Paul in jail in Ephesus?

While various scholars of late have been proffering the theory that the Captivity Epistles were written while Paul was in prison in Ephesus, there are numerous reasons why this explanation of the situation doesn’t work, not least because Paul was a Roman citizen and there are no texts inside or outside the NT which say Paul was ever imprisoned in Ephesus. The traditional locale for Paul’s house arrest and his writing of the Captivity Epistles (Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians), namely Rome, is reaffirmed, as is the date sometime in the early 60s A.D.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XIX, November 18 – 20, 2016
Joanna/Junia—The First Woman Apostle

Many scholars have noticed the prominent role Joanna seems to have played among the female disciples of Jesus, according to the Gospel of Luke. Only a few however have asked the question—What happened to Joanna after the Easter events? In this presentation I will argue the case that she is the same person referred to in Romans 16.7 as Junia the apostle of note, and quite possibly the first female apostle.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
The Social Identity of the Earliest Christians

It has been said that the past is like a foreign country, that “they do things differently there.” This includes the way they viewed human personality. Using social identity theory, we will explore the fact that ancient persons like Paul or Peter or James, while certainly individuals, were not individualists in the modern sense at all. People in their world did not even have last names, which is the main way modern people distinguish one from another. Group identity was primary and individual identity entirely secondary. Furthermore, the ancients believed you were born with a certain personality, and stuck with it. Not many believed in the concept of radical change or conversion. We will explore how these sorts of approach to identity formation affect the way we should evaluate the earliest Christians.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVII, November 21 – 23, 2014
Who was the Beloved Disciple? The Inside Story

One of the most controverted issues in Johannine studies has been— ‘Who is the Beloved Disciple?’ In this lecture we will lay out in detail the internal evidence found in the Fourth Gospel and compare that to later church traditions about authorship, following the basic critical principle that internal evidence of a document is primary and external evidence about a document is secondary. The result of the critical analysis will show that the eyewitness called the Beloved Disciple referred to especially in John 19 and 21 is unlikely to be John Zebedee. It is far more likely he is a Judaean disciple writing a Gospel based largely on the Judaean not Galilean ministry of Jesus, and quite possibly the person in question is Lazarus.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVI, November 22 – 24, 2013
‘Light of Foot, and Nimble of Mind’: The Story of the Discovery of J.B. Lightfoot’s Lost Commentary Manuscripts

Archaeology takes many forms, and it doesn’t just involve digging in the ground. Sometimes it involves detective work digging through old manuscripts in libraries. J.B. Lightfoot was the foremost NT scholar of the 19th century, especially in the English-speaking world. This lecture presents an initial report on the finding of J.B. Lightfoot’s long lost manuscripts on Acts, the Gospel of John, and 1 Peter in the Durham Cathedral Library, transcribing them, and getting them into a publishable format. It explains the process required to go from a handwritten manuscript to the final publishable form, and discusses the importance and implications of this project.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16 – 18, 2012
A Veiled Threat? Head Coverings for Woman Prophets

Headcoverings were important in many different forms of worship. In the Greco-Roman world everyone covered their heads when offering a sacrifice. In the Jewish world, married women normally had headcoverings (not veils), and men covered their heads when they prayed. Paul, however, is trying to set up a gender specific Christian headcovering practice for his converts in Corinth, as 1 Corinthians 11 makes clear. But why? This presentation will explore the issue of women’s hair and headcoverings in early Christianity and explore why they were an issue in worship settings, particularly in light of the text in 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
The Gobeckli Tepe Temple and the Origins of Religion: Are Humans Inherently Religious?

Anthropologists and sociologists studying the origins of human civilization have long argued for three things: 1) that civilization as we know it begins somewhere around 10,000 B.C.E. and 2) that it wasn’t until hunter gatherers became agriculturalists that civilizations evolved from sedentary village life and 3) that religion began to be practiced only once village life became well established—in other words, considerably later than the hunter gatherers. However, a recent archaeological discovery in southeastern Turkey at Gobeckli suggests that religious inclinations were inherent in humanity from the very beginning. This presentation examines the startling discovery at Gobeckli and explores its theological ramifications. Are human beings more than just hunter gatherers? What does it mean to say humans are ‘homo religiosis’?

Bible & Archaeology Fest XIII, November 19 – 21, 2010
Is the Word of God Really Inspired? Inspiration and Sacred Texts in the Greco-Roman World

Sacred texts in antiquity did not function the way that they do today. This is because many of them were part of—and used by—cultures that had mostly oral traditions rather than written ones. This lecture will explore what the written text of the Bible would have meant to people in antiquity, and how that would have compared to the oral method of conveying sacred narratives as the Word of God. Additionally, the presentation will take a close look at what the ancient concepts of inspiration were, and what the implications of these concepts meant for that way that ancient people understood their sacred traditions.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XII, November 20 – 22, 2009
Oral Texts and Rhetorical Contexts

The cultures of the Bible were oral cultures, with only about ten percent literacy at the most. In such a culture, texts function differently: they are surrogates for or prompts of oral communication. This lecture will examine the ramifications of this fact for the study of the New Testament.

Ben Witherington Online

BAS Learning Resources Featuring Ben Witherington