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Encyclopedia > Barbara Thiering

Barbara Thiering ( 1930 – ) is a controversial Australian scholar with an international reputation. Her academic books and journal articles have challenged Christian orthodoxy, offering a new answer to its supernaturalistic beliefs. 1930 (MCMXXX) is a common year starting on Wednesday. ... The neutrality and factual accuracy of this section are disputed. ... The supernatural (Latin: super- exceeding + nature) refers to forces and phenomena which are beyond ordinary scientific understanding. ...

From her specialty, the Dead Sea Scrolls, she has developed the argument that the miracles, including the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, were not just legends as critical scholars hold, but were deliberately manufactured myths. They never actually happened, and the authors of the Gospels knew this. They wrote according to the theory of pesher that is illustrated in the Scrolls, in two levels. For the “babes in Christ” there were apparent miracles, but the knowledge of exact meanings held by the highly educated members of gnostic schools gave a real history, of what Jesus actually did. Fragments of the scrolls on display at the Archeological Museum, Amman The Dead Sea scrolls comprise roughly 800 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the Wadi Qumran (near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on... The Virgin Birth is a key doctrine of the Christian faith, and is also held to be true by Muslims (Quran 3. ... According to John 10:17-18, Jesus claimed he had the power to lay his life down and to take it up again (in step with the Trinitarian interpretation of the Bible, which says that Jesus was both human and God); thus, after Jesus died, he came back to life. ... A legend (Latin, legenda, things to be read) is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude. ... For the genre of Christian-themed music, see gospel music. ... Pesher is a Hebrew word meaning interpretation in the sense of solution. It became known from one group of the Dead Sea Scrolls. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Jesus (8-2 BC/BCE– 29-36 AD/CE),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity. ...

Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1930, Thiering graduated from Sydney University with first class honors in modern languages, was a high school teacher of languages for several years, and then, while caring for her three young children, continued study and research privately. She obtained an external Bachelor of Divinity degree from London University, a Master of Theology from Melbourne College of Divinity, and a Ph.D. from Sydney University in 1973. This is about the city of Sydney in Australia. ... The University of Sydney, established in 1850, is the oldest university in Australia, and it is located in Sydney, the capital city of the state of New South Wales. ... A Bachelor of Divinity (BD or BDiv) is usually an undergraduate academic degree awarded for a courses taken in the study of divinity or related disciplines, such as theology or, rarely, religious studies. ... Senate House, designed by Charles Holden home to the universitys central administration offices and its library The University of London, founded in 1836, is a federation of colleges which together constitute one of the worlds largest universities. ... A Masters degree which is typically earned after one has already completed a Master of Divinity or a Master of Theological Studies. ... The Melbourne College of Divinity (MCD) is located in Melbourne, in the Australian state of Victoria, it was constituted by a 1910 Act of the Parliament of Victoria. ... Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. ...

As a consequence of her research publications in academic journals, she was invited to lecture at Sydney University, at first in the Department of Semitic Studies, then in the School of Divinity (now the Department of Religious Studies) where she continued until her retirement. During this time she was a member of the Board of Studies in Divinity and the Board of Continuing Education, and served for twelve years as a lay member of the NSW Equal Opportunity Tribunal. When her work became known in the USA, she was made a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar. Semitic is a linguistic term referring to a subdivision of largely Middle Eastern Afro-Asiatic languages, the Semitic languages, as well as their speakers corresponding cultures, and ethnicities. ... The Jesus Seminar is a controversial research team of about one hundred academic New Testament scholars founded in 1985 by the late Robert Funk under the auspices of the Westar Institute. ...

In 1990 a documentary film about her research, the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was shown by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It and the subsequent books attracted intense controversy, which is still continuing.

Thiering has also contributed to feminist theology, with books and articles on the church’s treatment of women. Feminist theology is a movement, generally in the Western religious traditions (mostly Christianity and Judaism), to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective. ...

Thiering's ideas have, however, not been embraced by other scholars in her field and she is generally regarded as a fringe theorist. As noted Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Geza Vermes put it:

"Professor Barbara Thiering's reinterpretation of the New Testament, in which the married, divorced, and remarried Jesus, father of four, becomes the "Wicked Priest" of the Dead Sea Scrolls, has made no impact on learned opinion. Scroll scholars and New Testament experts alike have found the basis of the new theory, Thiering's use of the so-called "pesher technique," without substance." ('New York Review of Books', Dec 1, 1994)


Books on Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins

  • Jesus the Man: New Interpretation from the Dead Sea Scrolls (Transworld Doubleday, 1992) (in the US: "Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls," Harper Collins, 1992). (This book has so far been translated into German, Spanish, Danish, Polish, Japanese, and Korean. Further translations are in preparation.)
  • Jesus of the Apocalypse: The Life of Jesus After the Crucifixion (Transworld Doubleday 1995). (Translated into Japanese)
  • The Book That Jesus Wrote - John’s Gospel (Transworld Doubleday 1998)
  • Redating the Teacher of Righteousness (Sydney: Theological Explorations, 1979)
  • The Gospels and Qumran (Sydney: Theological Explorations, 1981)
  • The Qumran Origins of the Christian Church (Sydney: Theological Explorations, 1983)

Academic Journal Articles

  • "The Poetic Forms of the Hodayot", Journal of Semitic Studies 8,2, Autumn 1963, pp.189-209.
  • "The Biblical Source of Qumran Asceticism" Journal of Biblical Literature 93,3, 1974, pp.429-444.
  • "Suffering and Asceticism at Qumran as Illustrated in the Hodayot", Revue de Qumran 8,31, March 1974, pp.393-405.
  • "Once More the Wicked Priest", Journal of Biblical Literature 97,2,1978, pp.191-205.
  • "Are the 'Violent Men' False Teachers?" Novum Testamentum 21,1, 1979, pp.293-297.
  • "The Three and a Half Years of Elijah", Novum Testamentum 23,1, 1981, pp.41-55.
  • "Mebaqqer and Episkopos in the light of the Temple Scroll", Journal of Biblical Literature 100, 1, 1981, pp.59-74
  • "Inner and Outer Cleansing at Qumran as a Background to New Testament Baptism", New Testament Studies 26, 2, 1980, pp.266-277.
  • "Qumran Initiation and New Testament Baptism", New Testament Studies 27, 5, 1981, pp.615-631.
  • "The Date of Composition of the Temple Scroll" in G. Brooke (ed.) Temple Scroll Studies (Sheffield Academic Press, 1989).
  • "Can the Hasmonean Dating of the Teacher of Righteousness be Sustained?", in Mogilany 1989. Papers on the Dead Sea Scrolls offered in memory of Jean Carmignac, ed. Z.J. Kapera, The Enigma Press Krakow, 1991.
  • "The Mandaeans and the Dead Sea Scrolls", Mandaean Thinker, Journal of the Mandaean Research Centre Inc, Issue 4, July-August 1995.
  • "The Date and Unity of the Gospel of Philip", Journal of Higher Criticism, Vol 2, no.1, Spring 1995, pp. 102-111.
  • "Pesher and Gospel", The Qumran Chronicle, Vol. 5, no 1, July 1995.
  • "Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Question of Method", Journal of Higher Criticism, Vol 3, No 2, Fall 1996, pp.215-236.
  • “New Radiocarbon Datings and the Christian Connection of the Dead Sea Scrolls”, The Qumran Chronicle, vol 6, no 1-4, December 1996, pp. 115-123.
  • “Christian History and the Dead Sea Scrolls: More About Method”, Journal of Higher Criticism, Vol 5/1, Spring 1998, pp. 88-112.
  • (With G.A.Rodley) “Use of Radiocarbon Dating in Assessing Christian Connections to the Dead Sea Scrolls”, Radiocarbon vol 41, no 2, 1999, pp.169-182.
  • “The Date and Order of Scrolls, 40 BCE to 70 CE”, in The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years After their Discovery 1947-1997, eds L. H. Schiffman, E. Tov, J.C. VanderKam, Israel Exploration Society, with the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem 2000.
  • “Christianity and Science: Friends at the Beginning” The Educational Forum. A Publication of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education, Winter 2002, vol 66, no 2, pp. 116-125.
  • “Theological Scholar’, in M.P.Wolfe and C.R. Pryor, The Mission of the Scholar, Peter Lang, New York, 2002.
  • “The Qumran Sundial as an Odometer using Fixed Lengths of Hours”, Dead Sea Discoveries, 9, 3, 2002, pp. 347-363.
  • “The Copper Scroll: King Herod’s Bank Account?”, in George J. Brooke and Philip R. Davies (eds) Copper Scroll Studies, (Sheffield Academic Press, 2002).
  • The Temple Scroll Courts Governed by Precise Times”, Dead Sea Discoveries 11, 3, 2004, pp. 336-358.

Publications on Feminist Theology

  • Created Second? Aspects of Women's Liberation in Australia (Family Life Movement of NSW, 1973)
  • Deliver Us from Eve (ed.) (Australian Council of Churches Commission on the Status of Women, 1977)
  • "Reflections of a Woman Theologian" , in Against the Odds, eds. Madge Dawson and Heather Radi (Hale and Iremonger, 1984).


  • "God's Experiment: Australian Religion", Murdoch Memorial Lecture, Murdoch University, 1982 (published).
  • "Can Religion Listen to Reason?" Madgwick Memorial Lecture, University of New England, 1991 (published).
  • “The Land Where Myths Have Died”, in Seachange, Australian Writing and Photography, ed. Adam Shoemaker, 1998.
  • “No Religion, only Faith”, in I Believe This, ed. John Marsden, Random House Australia 2004

External link

  Results from FactBites:
WCAS - Barbara E Theiring - Will You Please Go Now! (1645 words)
Thiering’s point is certainly intelligible but it is hardly intelligent for it says nothing about the historical worth of the miracle narratives which, in the context, is presumably why she was making the point.
Thiering is, of course, well known for her belief that Jesus survived his crucifixion and she returned to this theme.
Thiering was asked what sort of support she received from scholars and because she has no scholarly support she immediately responds by telling us what ordinary people think of her work.
Matthias Media (1238 words)
When Barbara Thiering’s documentary ‘The Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls’ was screened on ABC television in 1990, it apparently received the highest rating ever for a television documentary.
Thiering makes an unwarranted and unsubstantiated leap of logic when she asserts that the New Testament was deliberately written with coded information, to make a ‘pesher reading’ of Jesus’ life and ministry possible.
Barbara Thiering handles the sources with the freedom of a novelist but does so in the guise of a careful academic.
  More results at FactBites »



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