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Michael Wright PHIL240_D02_201230 July 20, 2012
#1. Did Jesus ever really exist? After several years of sharing the Word and developing apologetic arguments it’s almost astonishing that one of the most difficult questions to answer is the question of whether or not Jesus Christ ever truly existed. It is a rather extreme position to take, though one might take it out of ignorance, an intellectually honest person would have to reject all evidence out of hand in order to take it. A non-believing scholar, even an atheist would find this position difficult to defend. 1 The more extreme categorization of people who deny that Christ ever existed are known as “mythers,” and range from (at best) the intellectual amateur to the legitimately scholarly but personally offended. 2 This essay shall address the less extreme, those who argue the point out of genuine ignorance. One does not need to approach the topic of historicity to show that Jesus existed. Historicity in the case of Jesus actually does not regard whether or not Jesus actually existed but whether the evidence points to the biblical Jesus of Nazareth or some different historical construct upon which Christianity later evolved. To question whether there was a man named Jesus living in Nazareth in the first century is a non-starter. Around that time five percent of the population carried the name “Yeshua” or Jesus. In fact scholars believe only about sixteen names made up 75% of the population. 3 Now does that answer the question? Of course not, what the person really wanted to know is if the Jesus Christ of Christianity has a basis in history or not. Why then toss in red
Gary R. Habermas, "A Summary Critique: Questioning the Existence of Jesus," Christian Research Journal 22, no. 3 (2000). Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? : The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, 1st ed. (New York: HarperOne, 2012), 17-19.
Joel Kramer, "The Jesus Tomb Unmasked," in Expedition Bible (Sourceflix Inc., 2009)
herring answers? Often these sorts of conversations are all about red herrings, and you need to be ready for a fish slapping contest. 4 The movement that claims the Gospel accounts are just rehashes of pagan mythologies such as Osiris and Horus, Mithraism, etc. was born out of 19th century anti-Semitism, and though that movement died out it has seen various resurgences ever since. 5 When it comes to the evidence of Christ there are a variety of classifications for sources, but one might start with inside and outside sources. Inside sources can be defined as primary and secondary, primary being the writings of those who claim to have witnessed Christ’s teachings (tied to Apostolic authority) and secondary being Christians who wrote of him after his death (largely the Epistles and Acts of Apostles). Outside sources are largely classified as Secular Documentary (Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, Pliny the Younger), Secular Commentary (Celsus, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion), Jewish Non-Christian (Josephus, Babylonian Talmud), and ExtraBiblical Christian (Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Quadratus of Athens, Aristedes the Athenian, Justin Martyr, Hegesippus, etc.). Upon genuine evaluation of this evidence, if an individual still feels the evidence is not consistent enough to support the historicity of Jesus, then their one alternative is to show that he is myth. The testimony of history can certainly be unclear as to the details of a person or event, but either that person existed or they didn’t. The event happened or it didn’t. And if it didn’t, it stands to reason that something must have come about for that idea to come into being or there’d be no presence of mind for the idea to come into play at all.
William Lane Craig, "Jesus and the Story of Osiris and Horus," in Veritas Forum (University of Central Florida, Orlando FL: 2012)
There are three criteria someone must meet in order to show that Jesus was a myth. First of all they must be able to show that a particular myth or set of myths were in account before the said birth of Jesus. Second they must show that there are meaningful parallels between the details of said myths and Gospel testimony. Finally and most importantly, they must show with absolute certainty that there is little to no independence in the Gospel testimony. 6 When it comes to the sort of myths some claim Christianity has “copy-catted,” there are generally two sorts of sources that are probably being claimed. The first is Hellenistic Mystery Religions, and the second is the pagan mythologies of various ancient cultures. What needs to be understood about the former is that mystery religions were generally secret cults that required vows of silence, as the wisdom imparted was thought to lead to some sort of salvation. In the case of the latter, what needs to be understood is that the mythology of culture typically changed through the course of the history of that culture. Ultimately what needs to be understood is that rather than pick up details from blogs or YouTube clips, one needs to get the full story. When the actual particulars are placed side by side with the details of Christianity, what may have seemed like a copy-cat falls apart fairly quickly. 7 But the question is under the first criteria, do any of these myths that Christianity is accused of copying predate the Gospels? Unfortunately the answer is not that clear. For instance Mithraism can be traced back to Zoroastrianism which is thought to have emerged in the 6th Century B.C. But the specific version claimed to be the progenitor of Christianity was adapted
Greg Koukl, 2011. "Greg Koukl - Jesus and Other Myths," Stand to Reason. Video Blog, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty58TcalENM http://www.str.org/ (accessed 07/20/2012). Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Come Let Us Reason : New Essays in Christian Apologetics, Kindle ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Academic, 2012), Location 3413.
into Greek somewhere between the 1st and 4th Century A.D. The Osiris myth is part of a larger Egyptian mythology has archaeological evidence dating back to 1,100 B.C. What is interesting about that date is that Rabbinic Judaism holds that the Exodus from Egypt occurred in 1313 B.C., though archaeological evidence points to an even earlier date. In fact when you bring archaeological evidence into play, not a single one of these external cultural mythologies are shown to have any influence on Judaism. This is important because the one factor that truly predates Christianity, affects and even affirms it is the culture and religion of Judaism. What of the second criteria of meaningful parallels? Probably the most commonly cited event is that of the resurrection, which would in fact have a huge impact on Christianity as the whole of its theology may be said to be dependent on it. 8 For instance a common claim made is that the resurrection story was copied from the Egyptian story of Osiris. 9 While there are many different versions of this story, the dying and rising god categorization certainly fits. Except in every version when Osiris is murdered, he’s never actually risen back to life. In some versions he becomes the god of the underworld; in others his wife Isis impregnates herself with his lifeless corpse. 10 These details are not even remotely similar to the resurrection account. Another very common claim is that Christianity is a complete knockoff of Mithraism. 11 The absurdity here is that so little is known about this mystery religion besides the modern claims that he was born of a virgin and died, only to be resurrected. In reality two of the few things we do know about this
1 Corinthians 15:17 Copan and Craig, Locations 3459-3460. Dr. Roy Willis, Mythology: An Illustrated Guide (London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 1998), 42. Copan and Craig, Location 3523.
cult is that Mithra was said to have been born of a rock and never died; therefore a resurrection comparison is totally fallacious. 12 What about the third and final criteria, that there must be shown little or no independence in the Gospel testimony. Why is this question even important? Because it forces the question that if the Gospel testimony cannot be trusted as the historical origin of Christianity, then how did Christianity come about? Let’s take in an example of the relevancy of this issue. In 1898 a novella was published by Morgan Robertson titled “Futility: The Wreck of the Titan.” The story is about an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean, striking an iceberg and sinking. It bears remarkable resemblance to the actual sinking of the Titanic fourteen years later, including the insufficient number of lifeboats, the length of the ships (800 feet), the triple screws (propellers), the claim that the ship was the largest, most luxurious, and “unsinkable.” Both the story and event took place on an April night 400 miles from the coast of Newfoundland, both ships struck an iceberg at roughly 25 knots on the starboard side of the ships. While the Titanic had 2200 passengers and the Titan 2500, more than half of both drowned in the sinking, going down bow first. 13 The similarities between the story and the event are incredibly striking. Yet no one makes the claim that the story of the historical sinking of the Titanic was taken from the fictional account of the Titan. Why is this? Beyond the witness testimony and the actual wreck found at the bottom of the Atlantic, no one makes the synchronicity claim because the historical account
Ibid. Locations 3557-3558.
Pearson, "The Titanic - Futility," History on the Net (2010). http://historyonthenet.com/Titanic/futility.htm (accessed 07/18/2012).
relies on sources independent of the fictional account. There is no evidence of relationship at all beyond the superficial details. The same can be said of Gospel testimony. While many beliefs about Christianity are based in Judaism and numerous stories in the Old Testament are similar to Pan-Babylonianism, the account of Jesus Christ as a historical figure has no parallel. 14 The Resurrection of Christ alone holds such a unique claim amongst the ideas of life after death in the ancient world that there simply is no comparison. For them death is a one way street; transcendence of the soul after death was seen as freedom from the flesh, an elevation of one’s existence. In the Greco-Roman world the idea of N.T. Wright’s definition of the Resurrection as “total death reversal” was not only foreign to that culture, but it made little sense. A return from death to the “fleshly” material world would be a transition in the wrong direction. 15 So ultimately upon full examination the argument falls apart. The challenge against the historicity of Jesus is a house of cards built by people who’ve drank far too much caffeine. Oddly enough a more solid case can be made that the Titanic never in fact sank than the idea that Jesus never existed. 16 Of course then the conversation that follows inevitably belongs to the topic of whether or not the Gospels reliably transmitted what Jesus said. But on this basis it can be concluded that rejection of the historicity of Christ is wholly illogical.
John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One : Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009), 34.
Copan and Craig, Locations 3632-3641.
In my prior draft to this essay I meticulously dissected every detail published on the sinking of the Titanic, and on the same criteria of the Jesus Seminar built a compelling case that could be considered a challenge to the historicity of the event. It’s a “Chewbacca defense,” or a red herring tactic so confusing that it changes the logical direction of an argument based on completely irrelevant data. The tactic has actually been used successfully in recent court proceedings, and I plan on having that paper published soon… but it seemed to long of an argument for this assignment.
#2. The Integrity of the New Testament There is a saying, a quotation from a prominent Christian preacher that I have found from experience to be the most profound, and yet most understated statement ever to be spoken. It only highlights the brilliant mind of the man named Charles Haddon Spurgeon. “The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” 17 When it comes to claims about corruption of scripture I feel very strongly about being honest with my answer. Unfortunately my answer taken at face value or out of context tends to anger a lot of Christians, especially of Evangelical persuasion. When someone tells me that the Bible is full of errors and discrepancies, my answer is simply “OK. So what?”18 My point of course is not a capitulation that I agree with some notion that the Bible is false and my “blind faith” allows me to see past that. On the contrary, I assert that when holding the transmission of the Bible up to the standards of all ancient documents we will inevitably discover “variants” in transmission. But when it comes to authenticity of transmission or the integrity of key theological doctrine, what we find is a collection of work that is unparalleled in written history. I’m also talking about a book that speaks of itself far better than I ever could. Having grown up in a cult that produced its own distorted translation of scripture, I have this distinct appreciation for being forthcoming about the raw truth of the Bible, and the force of its implications.19 When you begin to examine the reality of manuscript transmission and the
17 18 19
Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 101. Jeff Scott Kennedy, Fearless Conversations (Spokane, WA: EssentiaLife Resources, 2012), 51.
I am an ex-Jehovah’s Witness. The “New World Translation” contains some 300 intentional mistranslations and over 2,000 inappropriate insertions of the name “Jehovah.” Still it strikes me at times when I go back and read that book, there is a definite sense that even with its damaged transmission the Word of God refuses to be silent.
reality of errors that do exist, the Bible begins to stand out for what it truly is; the original authoritative revelation of God Himself. To speak of the analysis of genuine textual integrity of the New Testament (and ancient documents in general) is to speak of the discipline of Textual Criticism. Not criticism in the sense of challenging authenticity or quality, but the examination of manuscript copies to determine the most likely rendition of the original document. 20 This is a necessary discipline as the original documents, called autographs no longer exist, and because no two copies are ever alike. It has been estimated that there are between 200,000 and 400,000 textual variants amongst millions of pages of discovered New Testament manuscripts. 21 This seems like an impressive amount of error without the context of knowing what sort of errors these are. There are essentially five sorts of errors that appear in ancient manuscripts. The first is spelling differences that have absolutely no effect on the content of the text. This comprises the majority of variants and is characterized in large part by what is called “the movable nu,” or an “n” that can occur at the end of a word when they precede a word beginning with a vowel. Whether the manuscript contains the mark makes absolutely no difference in translation. 22 The second type is minor differences such as synonyms that do not affect translation at all. Frequently these are errors of transposition, or changes in word order. This would make a difference in English, for instance, as the subject of a verb should properly proceed it. Form is
J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God's Word : A Hands-on Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2005), 159-160. Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, 1st ed. (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), 59. J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus : How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture, Kindle ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2006), Location 473.
important in word order. Not so with Greek, a language more concerned with inflection than word order. The sentence “God loves Paul” may only be meaningfully written one way in English, but in Greek can be written six ways! 23 The third type is differences that do in fact affect the meaning of the text but are irrelevant. These are typically found in the later Byzantine manuscripts where individual manuscripts have little likelihood of being harmonized with the original text. Some examples might be 1st Thessalonians 2:9 where “gospel of God” has been translated “gospel of Christ.” Another happens in Matthew 9:11 where the Pharisees ask the disciples “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Some earlier manuscripts render “eat and drink” to conform to Luke 5:30. Really what these types of errors tend to show is that attempts were made by scribes to harmonize Gospel accounts, or add material rather than take away testimony. 24 The fourth kind is differences that affect both the meaning of the text and are relevant. This is the smallest kind of variant and only an issue in that it may change the meaning of the text to some degree. An example happens in Romans 5:1 where the difference between “ἔχομεν” (“we have peace”) or “ἔχωμεν” (“let us have peace”) certainly changes the meaning of the scripture, and Scholars are certainly split on the issue. How much does this matter to Christian doctrine? Paul is either speaking about the positional status of Christians with the Father or urging Christians to grab hold of foundational truths upon which the Christian life is based. 25 What amuses me about this is that I once saw a fistfight between Greek Orthodox and Armenian clergy over who could begin the procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem,
23 24 25
Ibid. Location 488. Ibid. Location 515. Ibid. Location 530.
but I’ve never seen any sort of contention over this verse. 26 I didn’t see the point of that so maybe I’m biased in thinking our ignorance of how this one verse should be translated is at all meaningful. Another and more common example involves the use of a first person or second person plural pronoun, the difference in Greek being only a single letter. An instance here might be 1st John 1:4 where it says “Thus we are writing these things so that our (or your) joy may be complete.” 27 Obviously this contention over whose joy should belong to who ought to shake the very core of our Christian faith. The fifth and final variation is that of interpolations, whole sections of scripture that we genuinely cannot identify as genuine to the original documents, and yet there are indications that something was said here. According to Bart Ehrman, these are scribal additions often found in late manuscripts, but not in those of earlier centuries. 28 There is some truth to that claim but in the field of textual criticism it is just not that clear. In fact I am only aware of four instances of scripture where this is the case. These are known as “the endings of Mark,” Luke 22:43-44, the Pericope Adulterae, and the Comma Johanneum. The contention with the end of Mark is not really an issue for Biblical scholars, but oversimplification and under-explanation have led to misunderstandings of the issue. Some have said that the ending of Mark is “lost,” while others claim Mark is an entirely unfinished Gospel. While I lean towards the latter because of the stylistic nature of the writing, the simplest
Shira Medding, "Monks Brawl before Religious Ceremony " (2008). http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/11/09/israel.brawling.monks/index.html (accessed 07/21/2012).
Ibid. Location 545. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, 265.
conclusion is that the writer of this Gospel (who we have good reason to believe is the John Mark of Acts 15:37) primarily spoke in Aramaic and wrote the Gospel in Greek, which he was less versed in. This lends credence to Markan priority as Matthew and Luke smooth out their attribution. 29 At issue is that our two earliest manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus (330-360 A.D.) and Codex Vaticanus (325-350) end with verse 16:8; “Then they went out and ran from the tomb, for terror and bewilderment had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” One would conclude, as Komoszewski does, that this is a rather abrupt ending for a Gospel. 30 But nothing more appears in over a hundred other manuscripts, and both Clement of Alexandria (150-215) and Origen (184-254) express no knowledge of further verses. Eusebius (263-339) and Jerome (347-420) claim that further verses were absent from any Greek manuscript known to them. 31 Three further versions of an ending in verses 9-20 appeared from the 4th through 9th centuries. The first simply tags the following onto verse 8; “And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.” This is referred to as “The Short Ending,” as it was likely tagged on to the end of later manuscripts. The next is considered the traditional or “Long Ending” of Mark and includes the verses we most commonly find in the Bible today. It is also found in the greatest majority of manuscripts. The
Ben Witherington, The Gospel of Mark : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 2001), 18-29.
Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, Location 545.
31 Bruce Manning Metzger and United Bible Societies., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament; a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (3d Ed.) (London, New York,: United Bible Societies, 1971), 102-3.
last ending is almost certainly Apocryphal, only appearing in one manuscript (the Freer Gospel, 4th or 5th century), has an unusual verse about the ending of the age of Satan. 32 While neither the Short nor Long Endings of Mark can be shown to be of Markan origin due to stylistic, rhetorical and word choice usage, today our Bibles are published with the Long Ending. 33 This would seem to affirm accusations that scribes have changed the Bible over the years! The problem with this allegation is the word “changed.” The ending of Mark was never changed from the original as it was merely assumed that Mark never ended the Gospel and there ought to have been more to the story! The short ending is just a wrap-up, and the long ending contains nothing you can’t find attested to in the other Gospels or Acts. The Luke 22:43-44 passage is a curious one indeed; “Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” It’s difficult to make a ruling on this one; most of the ancient and on the whole entirely diversified manuscripts do not contain the passage. But the Codex Sinaiticus does! Ehrman claims that the verse was added to combat the views of Docetism (the view that Jesus was fully Deity). 34 Metzger supposes the verses were deleted out of the view that Jesus was being overwhelmed by human weaknesses and incompatible with his divine nature (or too human). 35 The medical diagnosis of hematidrosis (sweating blood) in the face of one’s own death is a documented phenomenon, so the verse isn’t
32 33 34 35
Ibid. 104. Ibid. 105. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, 164-70. Metzger and United Bible Societies., 151.
exactly talking about some weird form of supernatural phenomena. 36 In truth whether Luke wrote of it or not adds nothing to the testimony of Jesus beyond the extreme emotions he went through in Gethsemane. I was in an apologetics debate class at church when my mentor dropped the bomb that the story of Jesus and the Adulteress wasn’t in the earliest manuscripts. Shocked, I immediately went home and became something of an expert on the subject of the Pericope Adulterae. As both Ehrman and Metzger attest, the evidence against John 7:53-8:11 being Johannine in origin is overwhelming. Other than being one of my favorite biblical stories, upon examination it appears that it actually interrupts a single discourse between Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles in 7:1-52 and 8:12-59 where Jesus climactically proclaims that “Before Abraham was, I AM!” Indeed as it happens, not even the style of the text resembles authentic Johannine writing, and there is little attestation to it being included in scripture before the 12th century. 37 Yet we still tend to find the story in our Bible, and if we read the margin notes we are told the truth of the matter. So why has it survived? Oddly enough because there is still strong evidence that the event was a true historical one, carried on through oral tradition. 38 There are diacritical marks (asterisks or brackets) in numerous manuscripts, including four of the earlier manuscripts indicating that the story was meant to be placed there but for whatever reason not added. Papias reported the story was recorded in the lost Gospel to the Hebrews, which Jerome
Dr. Dave Miller, "Did Jesus Sweat Blood?," Apologetics Press (2004). http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1086 (accessed 07/21/2012).
Metzger and United Bible Societies., 188. Ibid. 188.
later claimed may have been the original Gospel of Matthew. 39 There are extra-biblical accounts of it in the Didascalia Apostolorum, Apostolic Constitutions, and in many of the writings of Didymus the Blind (313-398). Ultimately the Editorial Committee of the United Bible Society was unanimous that the Pericope was originally not part of John’s Gospel, but its significant ties to tradition accord it worthy placement where it exists in the Bible. And what about the last, the Comma Johanneum? If ever there were an accusation that the church intentionally inserting scripture to support one of its doctrines, this variant is the one. The original reading is “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” The contested scripture reads “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” This spurious translation is believed to have originated in a 4th Century Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus, written by the Spanish heretic Priscillian. It is thought that somehow notes of this attestation made it into some manuscripts, but it was never added into scripture until Erasmus. 40 None of the Church Fathers knew of the passage, who most certainly would have quoted it in their defenses of the Trinity. In fact the Comma did not even appear in the first two editions of the Textus Receptus. It was added into the 1522 edition with a lengthy footnote from Erasmus that the documents provided to him on the matter seemed suspect. 41
A.S. Barnes, An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, For Family Use and Reference, and for the Great Body of Christian Workers of All Denominations (Google Books: Harvard University, 1884; reprint, 12 Feb 2008), 106.
Metzger and United Bible Societies., 648.
Bruce Manning Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 2nd ed. (Oxford,: Clarendon P., 1968), 101.
Now the trinity is, no doubt a major doctrinal point of Christianity. If this verse is false, does that mean our faith is false? Does that mean the New Testament is corrupt, the Bible lacking inerrancy? There are a number of things to bear in mind when answering these questions. First of all, the only people on average who even know of this scripture are adamant readers of the King James Version. Late last year when I took a class on Inductive Bible Study and I was introduced to some of these “scholars-in-training,” absolutely convinced that the only Bible worth studying was the King James. One of them even said they specifically wouldn’t read the NIV because it removed the Comma Johanneum! I received a very kind comment from my professor for providing this woman with a website that very gently covered the topic in more detail. The truth is the only modern (Western) Bible that contains this is the King James or NKJV. All the other modern translations based off the Nestle-Aland 37th Edition do not contain the Comma Johanneum. They don’t contain it for good reason; it’s completely unnecessary! The doctrine of the trinity is not just some random idea we picked out of a scripture in one small epistle in the Bible and made much to do about it. In fact the word “trinity” doesn’t even appear in the Bible, a reason numerous cult movements today reject it. One reason you won’t find it in the Bible is because it’s a Latin word, Trinitas, meaning the number three. The expression of the doctrine in named form didn’t appear until just after the Apostolic Age when the Church Fathers began battling false teachings in the church such as Docetism (Jesus was divine only), Adoptionism (God “adopted” Christ), Arianism (Jesus was created), etc. Tertullian is the first credited theologian to explain God as the unity of Father, Son and Spirit in essence. 42
Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed. s.v. "God, Doctrine Of.", 502-4.
The doctrine of the Trinity is a revelation of God manifested organically through scripture. It starts in the first couple of verses, Genesis 1:1-2, 26. The original Hebrew term Elohim is a plural form of God, followed by the expression of God’s Spirit over the “waters.” 43 And the Tower of Babel thing in 11:7, “let us go down and confuse their language.” Then we have Deuteronomy 6:4 and the Shema, the Lord is One ( ,אחָדechad, a primary cardinal number ֶ that means “alike,” “all together,” “everyone,” etc.) Proverbs 30:4 is an interesting one, though Isaiah 7:14 is better; “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”).” Of course that’s a messianic prophecy, and Gabriel told Joseph to call him Jesus… that can’t be right. Jesus means “Jehovah Saves.” There is clearly no relationship between the two. There are probably hundreds of scriptures I could quote in support of the trinity doctrine but the point is, the “most devastating blow to New Testament Integrity” amounts to all of nothing. Only 1% of all variants mean anything at all. 44 And that “at all” is only significant in so far as there is constant Biblical scholarship and dialog taking place. Often people wonder what the point of that is. 45 I think Mark Noll said it best; “The point of Christian scholarship is not recognition by standards established in the wider culture. The point is to praise God with the mind. Such efforts will lead to the kind of intellectual integrity that sometimes receives recognition. But for the Christian that recognition is only a fairly inconsequential by-product. The real point is valuing what God has made, believing that the creation is as "good" as he said it was, and exploring the fullest dimensions of what it meant for the Son of God to "become flesh
I keep telling people these verses do not express the concept of Creatio Ex Nihilo, that it wasn’t until John that this is expressed. Of course no one listens; I’m just a crazy person.
Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, Location 566. Or worse, believe it takes God out of the Bible entirely.
and dwell among us." Ultimately, intellectual work of this sort is its own reward, because it is focused on the only One whose recognition is important, the One before whom all hearts are open.” 46 So what now? I’ve exposed all the dirty wrinkles and warts of the Bible, left it open and naked for you to see. How have I shown that the scriptures are not today corrupted? How can I continue to assert that the Bible is the holy, inerrant Word of God? I suppose because I’m just a different sort of apologist… I’ve seen the charts so many times comparing the “Embarrassment of Riches,” how there are over 5,700 Greek manuscripts in possession today, one of which is dated within 20 years of its author. Then there are over 20,000 versions (or translations from the original Greek to another language), more than a million quotations by the patristic writers to take into account as well. 47 Compared to all the other ancient writings we consider historical, copies of which we can’t really do a lot of Textual Criticism with because if we have ten copies written within a thousand years of the topic that’s pretty darn impressive. 48 Indeed, if the typical Greek Author were the name brand bran cereal, then the New Testament would be Super Colon-Blow. 49 It would take over two and a half million copies of the Complete Works of Flavius Josephus to equal the fiber content of your copy of the Holy and Revealed Word of God. And yet, it still fails to impress people. “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” - Psalm 10:4. That or they are really afraid of abdominal distention.
46 47 48 49
Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994), 248. Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, Location 718. Kennedy, 48-52. http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/colon-blow/229046/
#3. Why is it important for the Christian to believe in the historicity of Jesus Christ? I feel somewhat cheated in that William Lane Craig answered this question in all of a sentence. I’ll try to do better (if that’s even possible, it’s William freaking Lane Craig).
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Miller, Dr. Dave. "Did Jesus Sweat Blood?" Apologetics Press (2004). http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1086 [accessed 07/21/2012]. Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994 Pearson. "The Titanic - Futility." History on the Net (2010). http://historyonthenet.com/Titanic/futility.htm [accessed 07/18/2012]. Saucy, R.L., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI:Baker Academic, 2001. Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One : Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009 Willis, Dr. Roy. Mythology: An Illustrated Guide. London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 1998 Witherington, Ben. The Gospel of Mark : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 2001
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