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March 9th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Chris Tomlin, king of the sing-along

By Eric Marrapodi and Tom Foreman, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief'] [twitter-follow screen_name='tomforemancnn']

Baltimore (CNN) - The capacity crowd at the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore is bouncing in unison to the most widely sung music on the planet today. The catwalk above the arena is shaking.

Chris Tomlin grabs the microphone and asks the crowd if they’re ready.

"I feel alive, on God's great dance floor!" He leads the packed venue in singing and jumping.

Tomlin is out touring the country with his latest studio album, “Burning Lights.” In January, it topped the Billboard 200 charts. But unlike those who've enjoyed performances by Beyonce, Johnny Cash and a host of others who've played this Baltimore hall, after these fans stream out the doors they will have ample opportunity to sing Tomlin's songs again, as one.

That is the secret to Tomlin’s success – the stage, the lights, the band - aren’t about him. As lively as his shows are, the point is not to get you inside the doors. The point is to get you singing in church.

“I strive for trying to write something that people can sing, that people want to sing, and that people need to sing,” Tomlin explained before the show.

Tomlin is the undisputed king of worship music, a genre of Christian music sung on Sunday mornings all across the world and increasingly played on Christian radio stations. The music is simple, devotional and easy on the ears.

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“We would say that Chris is the most prolific songwriter in the United States now, in this past decade,” said Howard Rachinski, CEO of Christian Copyright Licensing International, the company that tracks what music is used in churches around the world.

In 2012, CCLI paid out $40 million to artists and musicians, and Tomlin got a healthy slice of that pie. Churches around the world used 128 songs he wrote or co-wrote last year, Rachinski said.

CCLI estimates that every Sunday in the United States, between 60,000 and 120,000 churches are singing Tomlin’s songs. By extrapolating that data, Rachinski says, “our best guess would be in the United States on any given Sunday, 20 to 30 million people would be singing Chris Tomlin's songs.”

In their last two reporting periods, Tomlin had the No. 1 most-sung song and five of the top 25.

Search YouTube for "How Great is Our God" or "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)." Black, white, Asian, big churches, small ones are all belting out Tomlin songs. A lot.

For perspective, consider Tomlin’s musical success against one secular counterpart. In 2012, Katy Perry's record sales dwarfed Tomlin’s, but Billboard reported her songs were played 1.4 million times on the radio. Using CCLI’s low-end calculation, Tomlin’s songs were played 3.12 million times in churches.

Growing up Tomlin

Chris Tomlin was reared in Grand Saline, Texas, heavily influenced by country music. His dad taught him to play the guitar.

“I learned all country music - Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash, all those kind of guys. Those are what my dad played and I played. And I played at my church as well,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin went to college to study sports medicine. “I just didn't know the music would take me here. I loved it and I was getting opportunities to go play, and when I say go play I was starting to write songs of worship even (as) a young kid. I didn't know really what worship music was, what a worship leader was, any of that. I didn't know any of those terms,” he said.

Today, at 40 years old, he is the artist most associated with worship music.

While in college he began singing and writing in earnest. As a senior, he said, he was getting invitations to lead the music for Christian conferences with 10,000 students.

He knew his music was resonating with crowds when he got a call from EMI Publishing after his song “We Fall Down,” which was released in 1998, starting being  played in churches.

“I was just writing songs for the church and from there they just started taking off.”

The compositions are considerably different from pop music. They are simpler, and he takes pains to write them that way.

“I'm thinking as that comes out of my heart as a song of response, I'm trying to think, how can I form this so that everybody, people who are tone deaf, who can't clap on two and four, how can I form this song so they can sing it, so that it is singable?”

Part of that process comes from his love of country music, the simplicity of that music and the stories those songs tell. His goal is to write songs that communicate what people would like to say to God.

“Now, that doesn't happen all the time. I mean, I write so many songs that you never hear because they are not any good.”

Tomlin is the worship pastor at Passion City Church in Atlanta. He leads worship there twice a month and beta tests all his new songs on the congregation. Tomlin is also a major draw as the worship leader of the Passion Conferences, a series of Christian conferences around the world. In January, the conference packed out the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with 60,000 college-age students. Billboard magazine noted the conference helped push up pre-sales of Tomlin’s latest CD.

His songs are so sought-after that, even before they're released on CD, they start showing up in CCLI’s online database.

“His songs have probably had the most immediate impact on churches that we have seen in history,” Rachinski said. “Even before you get to street release [of a CD], churches are already networked and engaged with his songs.”

Don’t look for a crossover

Other contemporary Christian musicians, as the music industry designates them, have crossed over to mainstream pop with some success. Tomlin said he has no designs on making that leap.

He also doesn’t need the money. Over the course of his career he’s sold 4.2 million albums, had 6 million digital downloads, a number of sold-out tours, and of course, the copyright royalties.

Tomlin said money isn't what motivates him to write and perform.

“I feel like I have a responsibility,  that God has given me a gift to write songs for his church that people listen to and that people are coming to expect now,” he said. “When I make a record I feel that responsibility that worship leaders, churches are going to say, 'Hey, are these some new songs we can sing in our church?' And I don't take that lightly, and I don't go, ‘Oh let's go do something else fun.’”

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“I haven't invented any new instruments, I haven't created new chords that no one has ever played. I play the same chord that every band plays, we play the same instruments up there, the melodies are melodies. The difference to me in the music is that I ask that God's presence be on it and that people, when they sing these songs, sense that God does something.”

The spotlight is on Tomlin even more than ever after starting the year a top the Billboard charts. As he tours the country at bigger and bigger venues, he would prefer to step out of the spotlight, away from the microphone, and let everyone else sing.

“People would be mad that they paid for a ticket for that. So I do that just occasionally, but that is what I love.”

He said the night before, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, he took as much time as he could to step back and let everyone else sing.

“It was just so beautiful, because I feel like it says something. It's not just like, ‘Hey, listen to me sing.’ This is all of us together. I think when you step back from the mic and it is not about you - and yeah, the light may be on you, but this is about all of us singing. This is about a bigger story, it's about a greater story. It's about a greater name than my name. My name is on the ticket, but this is about a greater name.”

CNN's Oliver Janney, Chris Turner, and Dan Merica contributed to this post.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Music

soundoff (1,754 Responses)
  1. Elliott Carlin

    Typical of today's mile long inch thick Christianity: Find something I like to do and call it a ministry. We're a long way from taking up the Cross.

    March 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  2. Mark Alan

    Maybe he can write a song about why God didn't stop the killer at Newtown, or 911, or the Holocaust or ....

    March 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      Maybe you can write a song about why man didn't stop Newtown or 911. Guess we haven't 'evolved' enough yet.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Scars

      Wow. Why are so many "unbelievers" so mad at God all the time? Every single article on God is filled with pages of comments by all these angry atheists. Methinks they doth protest too much ...

      March 11, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Why do christians interpret atheist's questions and reasoning as "anger?" it's weird.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  3. sugarcube

    In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

    March 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Lordy, Lordy

      sugarcube
      How cool, you shoud write a song about that, in the key of C.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • kso

      oh you mean the gospel of christ where Jesus at first denies a Cannanite woman help with her daughter who was the object of demon posession and only after begging does Jesus act like a humane person and unposess the daughter? Seems legit. Mat 15:22

      or, how bout the passage where Christ tells everyone that his ideology is more important than your own family members?
      mat: 10:37

      or the part where he states "he that does not believe in me is cast into the fire to whither and burn? John 15:6

      or, the part where God via Jesus says slavery, one of the most inhumane practices of our species, is an outright travesty and that it should be completely obliterated and wiped from the face of the earth!!! oh. wait a minute, god and Jesus didn't actually say that and in fact jesus validates the OT teachings.

      People are more concerned with tradition than truth. let the biblical cherry picking absurdity continue.
      think globally, not stupidly

      March 10, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty

      @kso You clearly have chosen to avoid any context (i.e. the woman's daughter in Matthew 15:22 is healed because of her faith [v. 28]). This article is about Chris Tomlin, a man who loves Jesus and wants to sing about it. If a popular Atheist artist wanted to sing songs about his or her beliefs, and Christians spoke against it, they would be considered bigots. I am not telling you what to believe, but please be respectful to those that disagree and do not twist the words of the Bible to prove your point. And don't play the "well they do it, too" card. That's what my three year old does, I hope you're bigger than him.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  4. R. Parker

    Tomlin said money isn't what motivates him to write and perform., Yes I have heard this before. I will believe him when all his earning are given to charity, not to some church and call it charity.

    March 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Bob

      I missed where you listed your giving to charity, or are you just to judge Chris?

      March 10, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty

      Tomlin gives nearly half of his earnings to the End It Movement, which is fighting to end human trafficking. He also has a wife and a child. The Bible commands us to provide for our families, so he's not at fault for doing so.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  5. Blah

    I sing the praises of my lord Satan

    March 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  6. Francine

    How sad for all of you.To believe there is no purpose for this life and how you twist and mangle everything you "believe" real christians are. All of you bash the Bible but I bet not one of you have read it cover to cover and even know what it "really" says. All you want to do is trample on our beliefs and take away what we have as a right. Why can't you just let us believe what we want without the snarky remarks. We all have free will we can do whatever we want with it. We can choose to believe or not that is yours and mine freedom. Just leave us alone! We know you don't believe but you don't have to be children about it

    March 10, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Damocles

      You have every right to believe whatever you want... one deity, no deities, a whole bunch of deities.... hell you can worship a blade of grass for all I care. What you can't do is try to force others into believing as you do. As for snarky comments, please sample some of the ones from believers. Gems such as 'oh, your child is in heaven and if you don't believe, you will never see him/her again', or 'anyone who doesn't agree with me is going to hell.'

      March 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Francine

      I don't know any Christians who go up to anyone and say any of those things. Lots of people say their Christians but if they are not doing what the Bible says then they are not acting as Christians. The Bible is a book of how Christians are to conduct themselves. You have free will to believe it or not.

      March 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Read your own bible

      If you really believe it, you should follow it.

      1 Timothy 2:12
      12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[a] she must be quiet.

      March 11, 2013 at 12:44 am |
  7. A dose of realtiy

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Francine

      You know nothing, but what you think you know. How sad for you.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Colin D

      Life is short, we will just have to see what happens in the afterlife...I have committed my fair share of sins, so if there isn't an afterlife, good, if everybody goes to heaven just because they were born, good, if I am right in my thinking, I will pray for your blasphemous a$$ 😉

      March 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Damocles

      @francine

      *points to Colin's post* Where is your outrage over his snarky comment?

      @colin

      If your deity only values empty worship, then you are aces.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • andrealp43

      Another long post. What happened to Co-Exist?

      March 10, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Francine

      @ Damocles I saw his Snarky comments and I chose to leave them alone. All prayers are answered just sometimes the answer is no or it is resolved later. The answer to prayer is not always yes. Sometimes it's no and you might not find out why it was no for a long time. Usually when it is no things happen later that lead to understanding or something even better happens. He needs to read the Bible not just spit out things that he really doesn't understand.

      March 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • mac

      Every human is born an Atheist until he/she is brainwashed by their parents. Simple.

      March 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  8. TruthBeTold

    I believe all men and women are born equal, regardless race and religion. No one race is better than another. No one religion is better than another.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Colin D

      If my religion says one thing, and another religion says another thing, either one of us is right or we are both wrong, and IF one of us is right, that religion sounds better than the one that is wrong does it not?

      March 10, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • TruthBeTold

      @Colin, just because you believe in what you believe doesn't make it right; just because people don't believe in what you believe doesn't make them wrong.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Damocles

      @Colin

      Well then you should obviously worship all deities. You won't find out until you are dead and that's no time to find out that you were wprshiping the wrong one this whole time.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Lordy, Lordy

      Colin D
      They are both wrong, one myth is about the same as another, but don't get tbt riled up, he is being more rational than usual.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  9. JJ

    I personally like the old hymns such as Amazing Grace...who saved wretch like me. Kind of sums of Christianity really. I remember singing it as a child thinking I was nothing but a wretch, lower than scum unless I got saved by Jesus. I thought it so unfair that we are all born destined for eternal burning in a lake of fire and that Muslims, Jews and others who didn"t believe as we do didn't even have a chance. I hope this new Christian Lite/Pop Christianity is less scarring and damaging.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • sugarcube

      You missed the whole idea of those songs. Evidently you are a shallow thinker.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      Suge, the poster is a troll

      March 10, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  10. Lordy, Lordy

    Justin Bieber put out a Xmas album, enough to make even the most deluded fundie to lose his/her faith.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  11. Believer

    Chris Tomlin is a fantastic artist who drives lyrics that reach your soul. I have a few of his albums and all his top songs on my iPad. He would not agree with the angle of the story which clearly is trying to make the case for a new marketing / revenue method for Christin music. He writes songs people enjoy when worshipping the Living true God. Those skeptics should listen to his songs before they cast their sones of vitriol. Some people are just angry at everything.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Damocles

      I'm not mad he makes songs. They are just boring.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  12. Peter Q Wolfe

    Why don't Christians just give up this worshiping God bit? We all know that religion supresses the masses like it always has and continues to dogmatically pursue with dogmatic ferver. Everywhere that I've visited whether The Bahamas, southern U.S cities to inner cities that all have Christian churches or mosques apart of them. Subsequently where large gaps between the well to do and poor amass as well, so you do the math on what helps it e.g. cough tax exemption special interest group favoring conservatives anyone?

    March 10, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • sugarcube

      In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • longwaytoboston

      Why do we continue to worship? Because man was created to worship our Creator God. When we don't worship Him, we WILL find something else to worship, whether it be a false god, ourselves, pleasure, or some other higher power.

      True faith in the Lord Jesus Christ doesn't suppress, but rather liberates. I realize that you don't understand the difference, but your ignorance doesn't mean that a difference doesn't exist.

      You make an excellent point about the poor. Why don't you do a little reading about where hospitals and universities came from through the centuries. Not through secularists or atheists or "free thinkers," but through Christians whose Lord taught that the definition of love is self-sacrifice. The church existed long before tax exemptions, and even when those exemptions go away the church will still exist.

      The youth of our church, Christ is King Community Church in Norfolk, Nebraska, raised $23,000 in four months to build a school for the "untouchable" caste in India. Where have you put YOUR money?

      March 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  13. Karloff

    Religious belief is a sort of dementia.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Colin D

      If billions of people tell me not to put my house at the base of a volcano, and I tell them "I don't believe in volcanoes" and after 70 years it erupts, do I deserve to be burned by that lava?

      March 10, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Damocles

      Ehhhhh..... if you build your house at roughly age 30, chances are you won't be around when the volcano erupts 70 years later.

      On another note, the volcano is an unfeeling, uncaring thing. Are you comparing your deity to an uncaring, unfeeling thing?

      March 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Francine

      Guess you'll know the truth one day. We all have to die. I have to say I hope I am right and you are wrong but I guess we will both find out one day

      March 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • andrealp43

      Then I'm demented. God Bless!!

      March 10, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  14. salathieljones

    Reblogged this on The World Outside of Yourself.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  15. TruthBeTold

    One of best songs ever – Imagine, by John Lennon.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:40 am |
  16. jojo

    I worship a god that loves me

    and says if I don't worship him he'll burn me forever.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Colin D

      You worship a God that is all just, if you don't obey Him, His justice will punish you, I had that broken down for me like that when I was 5

      March 10, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Damocles

      Right, burnings are a-ok if you call it justice.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Colin D

      If it is by an all powerful being with no chance for error in the judging then yes punishment is quite alright, that is like saying a parent should never punish a kid that is a troublemaker

      March 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Damocles

      Oh, good. Let's look at the parent/child dynamic shall we?

      Your child steals, what do you do? Why murder him/her, of course, just like your deity would.
      Your child chooses to follow his/her own path, what do you do? Quick now.... that's right, you murder him/her as your deity would.
      Your child finds his/her true love and that person happens to be the same se-x. You guessed it! Murder the poor child as your deity would do.

      Now, you can't just stop at your child, you have to go nextdoor and murder those kids, down the block and kill those and on and on and on, until you feel like you have gotten your point across that no freakin kid is going to go against your wishes.

      Can. You. Feel. The. Love?

      March 10, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  17. MagicPanties

    I prefer songs about my invisible pink unicorn.

    But hey, each to her own imaginary being.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Peter, Paul and Mary

      Sounds right biblical....Puff the Magic Dragon, hard to fit Unicorn into catchy lyrics.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • Science

      But wasn't it a pink fire breathing whale that had something in it ?

      Peace

      March 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  18. Semper Cogitatus

    I'd say their number of Sunday singers is a bit off. I think generally only half or a little more of the folks in any given church are actually singing, the rest are standing there quietly and probably getting dirty looks from their wives...

    March 10, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • JJ

      No, they are just hung over from the previous night's drinking binge at the local titty bar.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  19. Rick

    I guess you and Satan will be able to discuss those lyrics at some point.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  20. Reality

    The only lyrics that matter in the 21st century:

    The Apostles' / Agnostics’ Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (References used are available upon request.)

    March 10, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • tttttfff

      You clearly havent studied the history of these times you are making assumptions on.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • tttttfff

      Also let's see these references. I'm betting i know a few of them. And I'm betting i know more about them than you do 🙂

      March 10, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Reality

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
      o
      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      Added references available upon written request.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.