Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible

Every year, at Christmas and Easter, several major magazines, television programs, news agencies, and publishing houses love to rattle the faith of Christians by proclaiming loudly and obnoxiously that there are contradictions in the Bible, that Jesus was not conceived by a virgin, that he did not rise from the dead, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. The day before Christmas eve (23 December 2014), Newsweek published a lengthy article by Kurt Eichenwald entitled, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” Although the author claims that he is not promoting any particular theology, this wears thin. Eichenwald makes so many outrageous claims, based on a rather slender list of named scholars (three, to be exact), that one has to wonder how this ever passed any editorial review.

My PDF of this article runs 34 pages (!) before the hundreds of comments that are appended. Consequently, I don’t have space to critique everything that is wrong in this article. Just a few comments will have to suffice. But first, I wish to offer it some praise: It’s fair game to raise questions about the Bible’s accuracy concerning sin, salvation, miracles, Jesus, etc. It’s fair game precisely because the Bible makes audacious claims that, if true, change everything. And it’s fair game because the Bible places these claims in history. Indeed, the Bible is the only major sacred text that subjects itself to historical verification. It’s the only major sacred text that puts itself at risk. And Jesus is at the center of those claims and that risk. It’s not the questions that I’m concerned about in Eichenwald’s essay; rather, it’s the rather conservative and self-contradictory approach to the answers that are problematic. Conservative? Yes—methodologically so, although not materially so. That is, Eichenwald is not methodoligically a liberal because he only considers certain, worn-out conclusions without even giving a hint that many well-qualified biblical scholars disagree with those conclusions. Martin Hengel, that towering figure of German biblical scholarship, wrote about the parallel dangers from “an uncritical, sterile apologetic fundamentalism” and “from no less sterile ‘critical ignorance’” on the part of radical liberalism (Studies in Early Christology [1995] 57–58). At bottom, the approaches are the same; the only differences are the presuppositions. A true liberal is one who is open to all the evidence, including the possibility that God has invaded space-time history in the person of Jesus Christ. A true liberal is one who is willing to go where the evidence leads, even if it contradicts his or her cherished beliefs.

Error 1: Gross Exaggerations that Misrepresent the Data

I will address just one issue here—the notion that the original Bible is unknowable. Eichenwald claims:

“No television preacher has ever read the Bible. Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”

So, none of us today has read anything except a bad translation that has been altered hundreds of times before it got to us? Although Eichenwald enlists Bart Ehrman as one of the three scholars he names in the essay, he has seriously overstated Ehrman’s argument. At one point, it is true, Ehrman says in Misquoting Jesus, “Not only do we not have the originals, we don’t have the first copies of the originals. We don’t even have copies of the copies of the originals, or copies of the copies of the copies of the originals.” Here he is speaking of Greek copies of Greek manuscripts. Nothing is said about translations. At many points he admits that the vast majority of the changes to the text of the New Testament were rather minor over the many centuries of handwritten copying. And in the appendix to the paperback edition of his book Ehrman says, “Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.” But Eichenwald makes it sound as though all translations current today are bad and that we can’t possibly recover the wording of the original text. The reality is that we are getting closer and closer to the text of the original New Testament as more and more manuscripts are being discovered and catalogued.

But let’s examine a bit more the actual statement that Eichenwald makes. We are all reading “at best,” he declares, a “bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.” This is rhetorical flair run amok so badly that it gives hyperbole a bad name. A “translation of translations of translations” would mean, at a minimum, that we are dealing with a translation that is at least three languages removed from the original. But the first translation is at best a translation of a fourth generation copy in the original language. Now, I’m ignoring completely his last line—“and on and on, hundreds of times”—a line that is completely devoid of any resemblance to reality. Is it really true that we only have access to third generation translations from fourth generation Greek manuscripts? Hardly.

Although we know of some translations, especially the later ones, that were based on translations in other languages of the Greek text (thus, a translation of a translation of the Greek), this is not at all what scholars utilize today to duplicate as faithfully as possible the original wording. No, we have Greek manuscripts—thousands of them, some reaching as far back as the second century. And we have very ancient translations directly from the Greek that give us a good sense of the Greek text that would have been available in those regions where that early version was used. These include Latin, Syriac, and Coptic especially. Altogether, we have at least 20,000 handwritten manuscripts in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic and other ancient languages that help us to determine the wording of the original. Almost 6000 of these manuscripts are in Greek alone. And we have more than one million quotations of the New Testament by church fathers. There is absolutely nothing in the Greco-Roman world that comes even remotely close to this wealth of data. The New Testament has more manuscripts that are within a century or two of the original than anything else from the Greco-Roman world too. If we have to be skeptical about what the original New Testament said, that skepticism, on average, should be multiplied one thousand times for other Greco-Roman literature.

What of the differences among these witnesses? To be sure, there are more variants for the New Testament than for any other piece of ancient literature, but that’s because there are more manuscripts for the New Testament than for any other piece of ancient literature. Consider the King James Version compared to virtually any modern New Testament translation: There are about 5000 differences in the underlying Greek text between these two. The vast majority of the differences cannot even be translated. The KJV is based on significantly later manuscripts, yet not a single cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith is affected by the different variants.

The title of Eichenwald’s section that deals with manuscript transmission is “Playing Telephone with the Word of God.” The implication is that the transmission of the Bible is very much like the telephone game—a parlor game every American knows. It involves a brief narrative that someone whispers to the next person in line who then whispers this to the next person, and so on for several people. Then, the last person recites out loud what he or she heard and everyone has a good laugh for how garbled the story got. But the transmission of scripture is not at all like the telephone game. First, the goal of the telephone game is to see how badly the story can get misrepresented, while the goal of New Testament copying was by and large to produce very careful, accurate copies of the original. Second, in the telephone game there is only one line of transmission, while with the New Testament there are multiple lines of transmission. Third, one is oral, recited once in another’s ear, while the other is written, copied by a faithful scribe who then would check his or her work or have someone else do it. Fourth, in the telephone game only the wording of the last person in the line can be checked, while for the New Testament textual critics have access to many of the earlier texts, some going back very close to the time of the autographs. Fifth, even the ancient scribes had access to earlier texts, and would often check their work against a manuscript that was many generations older than their immediate ancestor. The average papyrus manuscript would last for a century or more. Thus, even a late second-century scribe could have potentially examined the original document he or she was copying. If telephone were played the way New Testament transmission occurred, it would make for a ridiculously boring parlor game!

One of the most remarkable pieces of illogical reasoning in Eichenwald’s essay is his discussion of corruption in the manuscripts. Every single instance he raises presupposes that he knows what the original text said, for he speaks about what text had been corrupted in each instance! And more than once he contradicts his opening gambit by speaking authoritatively about what the original text actually said. In short, Eichenwald’s opening paragraph takes exaggeration to new heights. If his goal is to shame conservative Christians for holding views that have no basis in reality, perhaps he should take some time to look in the mirror.

Error 2: Disingenuous Claims of Objectivity

At one point in Eichenwald’s diatribe, he makes the astounding claim that “None of this is meant to demean the Bible, but all of it is fact. Christians angered by these facts should be angry with the Bible, not the messenger.” One of the problems with modern theological liberalism is that so much of it assumes objectivity on the part of the advocates, while equally insisting that conservatives have untenable interpretations. What is so disingenuous about this is that such liberalism often creates straw-man arguments that conservatives allegedly hold, while refraining from serious interaction with the best of conservative thinkers. Further, the lack of nuance in dozens of Eichenwald’s statements unmasks his complete lack of objectivity.

Here are some of the “facts” that the author puts forth, with a correction that follows:

(1) “About 400 years passed between the writing of the first Christian manuscripts and their compilation into the New Testament.” —The oldest complete New Testament that exists today is Codex Sinaiticus, written about AD 350. The New Testament was composed between the 40s and 90s of the first century, according to many conservative scholars (much later according to most liberal scholars). Eichenwald’s “400 years” is thus an exaggeration; the reality is closer to 250–300 years (conservative), or 200–250 years (liberal). Yet even here the notion of “compilation into the New Testament” may be misleading: the original New Testament manuscripts were undoubtedly written on papyrus rolls, each of which could contain no more than one Gospel. It was not until the invention of the codex form of book, and its development into a large format, that the possibility of putting all the NT books between two covers could even exist.

(2) The author speaks of the spurious nature of “critical portions of the Bible” such as the KJV’s wording in 1 John 5.7 (which seems to affirm the Trinity) or Luke 24.51 (which speaks of the post-resurrection ascension of Christ into heaven). The implication seems to be that the Trinity is not to be found in the NT, nor is the ascension. But the ancient church was not aware of the wording of the later manuscripts in 1 John 5.7 (as Eichenwald admits), yet the Council of Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451) nevertheless strongly affirmed the Trinity. How could they do so without these “critical portions of the Bible”? And the ascension of Christ is found in several texts, even if Luke 24.51 might not be one of them (e.g., Acts 1.9, 10; and implied in many passages that speak of Christ as sitting at the right hand of God). None of this, of course, is mentioned by the author.

(3) Constantine “changed the course of Christian history, ultimately influencing which books made it into the New Testament.” This is an old canard that has no basis in reality. In fact, Eichenwald seems to know this because he does not bring it up again, but instead speaks about the Council of Nicea (initiated by Constantine) as dealing primarily with the deity of Christ. There is absolutely nothing to suggest in any of the historical literature that Constantine ever influenced what books belonged in the NT.

(4) “evangelicals insist the Old Testament is a valid means of debunking science.” I’m not sure what evangelicals he’s read that say this; I haven’t read any. Many evangelicals speak about the problems of scientism—the belief that only in science will we find the answers to mankind’s deepest problems. But scientism is not science. To speak so casually about viewpoints that the author seems to only have hearsay understanding about, as though he is speaking factually, is not worthy of a piece that claims any kind of objectivity.

Time and time again the author presents his arguments as though they were facts. Any serious disagreements with his reasoning are quietly ignored as though they did not exist. The most charitable thing I can say is that Eichenwald is in need of a healthy dose of epistemic humility as well as a good research assistant who can do some fact-checking before the author embarrasses himself further in print.

Error 3: Lumping Intellectually Robust Evangelical Scholarship with the Most Ignorant Kind of Fundamentalism

Repeatedly throughout this article the author succeeds in finding some of the most outlandish illustrations of fundamentalist Christianity as though this represents all fundamentalists and even evangelicals. In his third paragraph he says that “modern evangelical politicians and their brethren” claim that climate change is “impossible because of promises God made to Noah” and “helping Syrians resist chemical weapons attacks is a sign of the end times”—yet such views are hardly mainstream among conservative Christians. Neither is snake-handling a feature of normative conservatism, although it figures prominently in the author’s diatribe. This is the worst kind of cherry-picking, yet to the discerning reader it may appear to be the rantings of someone who has little real acquaintance with evangelical scholarship. And to informed conservative Christians, these oddball anecdotes will leave them scratching their heads.

The author also tends to place conservative Christians in the orbit of conservative politics. “They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats,” he opines in his opening paragraph. But it is hardly accurate to see synonymity between the GOP and conservative Christians. The evangelical church is much broader than Eichenwald knows or is willing to admit.

 

Error 4: Simplistic Biblical Interpretation When It Suits His Purpose

One of the most blatant inconsistencies in this essay is how the author treats biblical interpretation. On the one hand, he denies any validity to how some conservatives read the Bible on many fronts; on the other hand, he claims ridiculous interpretations as binding on them. I will mention just three illustrations.

First, Eichenwald notes that “evangelicals are always talking about family values. But to Jesus, family was an impediment to reaching God.” He then quotes Matthew 19.29 as though that was proof enough. Of course, he must ignore the many texts in which Jesus affirms marriage and family values (e.g., Matt 5.31–32; Matt 19.8–9; Mark 10.7–11). Mark 7.8–13 is instructive:

(8) ‘You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’ (9) Then he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! (10) For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ (11) But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)—(12) then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, (13) thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this” (NRSV).

How does Eichenwald reconcile these kinds of sayings on the lips of Jesus? He doesn’t. He appears to throw staccato-like volleys at all that conservative Christians hold dear, by interpreting scripture in ways that are truly bastardizations of Jesus’ teachings.

Jesus uses the analogy of family to reinforce what the church should be about: one who forsakes his physical brothers and sisters for the sake of the Lord will find many more spiritual brothers and sisters. ‘Brother’ in fact is so frequently used of a person who has the same spiritual Father that it becomes one of the more common expressions for that in the rest of the NT. It is true that allegiance to one’s physical family must never interfere with one’s allegiance to Christ and the family of God, but this is a far cry from saying that Jesus was against family.

Second, Eichenwald employs other simplistic interpretations to deny the NT’s affirmation of Christ’s deity. His statement that ‘form of God’ in Philippians 2.6 “could simply mean Jesus was in the image of God” betrays his ignorance about biblical interpretation. The kenosis, the hymn about the self-emptying of Christ (Phil 2.6–11) has received more scholarly interaction than perhaps any other paragraph in Paul’s writings. To claim that Jesus’ being in the form of God may mean nothing more than that he was human is entirely against the context. The hymn begins (vv. 6–7) as follows:

“who [Christ], although he was in the form of God,

he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,

but he emptied himself,

by taking on the form of a slave,

by looking like other men,

and by sharing in human nature.”

Christ’s humanity is mentioned only after he is said to have emptied himself. Thus, ‘form of God’ must mean something more than humanity. Further, the parallel lines—‘he was in the form of God’ and ‘taking on the form of a slave’—are mutually interpreting. Jesus was truly a slave of God; this is how he regarded himself (cf. Mark 10.45; Matt 20.27; 26.39). If ‘form of slave’ means ‘slave’ then ‘form of God’ may well mean ‘God.’ The rest of the hymn confirms this interpretation. Philippians 2.10–11 alludes to Isaiah 45.23, where God says, “To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (NRSV). Paul quotes this very text in Romans 14.11 in reference to YHWH—a book Paul wrote six or seven years prior to his letter to the Philippians. Yet in Phil 2.10–11 he says,

“at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father” (NRSV).

Now the confession is about Jesus and it is a confession that he is ‘Lord.’ Either Paul is coming perilously close to blasphemy, something that a well-trained rabbi could hardly do, or he is claiming that Jesus is indeed true deity. And to underscore the point, he notes that all those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will make this confession—language that is reminiscent of the second of the Ten Commandments, as found in Exodus 20.4: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (NRSV). The Decalogue—known as well as any Old Testament text to an orthodox Jew—is unmistakably echoed in the kenosis. To use this in reference to Jesus is only appropriate if Jesus is true deity, truly the Lord, YHWH himself.

Third, the author claims that 1 Timothy’s proscription against women teaching must be extended to the arena of politics, so that “according to the Bible, Bachmann should shut up and sit down. In fact, every female politician who insists the New Testament is the inerrant word of God needs to resign immediately or admit that she is a hypocrite.” I am baffled as to how Eichenwald could take such a narrow view of 1 Timothy 2.12, and to do so dogmatically. Notice that he does not say, “conservative interpretations of the Bible,” or “liberal interpretations of the Bible,” nor even “the interpretation of one or two scholars”; no, he says baldly, “according to the Bible.” Apparently, there is no room for any other interpretation than his, even by scholars who would not consider the Pastoral Epistles to be by Paul. The last fifty or so years of biblical interpretation are swept under the rug, even though scholars of all theological stripes have wrestled with this text and come to a variety of viewpoints. The amount of literature on this one verse is staggering, yet Eichenwald seems to be completely unaware of it. Instead, he uses 1 Tim 2.12 as a blunt weapon on politically conservative women who are Christians to bludgeon them into submission. His comments tell us more about his view of outspoken women than Paul’s. Would he say “shut up and sit down” to a politically liberal woman who also happened to be an evangelical? The hypocrisy here is not at all what I would have expected in a magazine that used to have a decent journalistic reputation, nor for a journalist such as Eichenwald, who used to share that reputation.

These are just a handful of the bizarre and simplistic interpretations that the author promotes as gospel truth. Read the article for yourself; I have not even commented on some of the more unbelievable examples.

Conclusion

I applaud Kurt Eichenwald for stirring up Christians to think about what he has written and to reexamine their beliefs and attitudes. But his numerous factual errors and misleading statements, his lack of concern for any semblance of objectivity, his apparent disdain for and lack of interaction with genuine evangelical scholarship, and his über-confidence about more than a few suspect viewpoints, makes me wonder. I wonder why he really wrote this essay, and I wonder what he hoped to accomplish. The article reads like it was written by a political pundit who thought he might try something clever: If he could just link conservative Christianity with conservative politics, and show that Christians’ smugness about being Bible-based believers was both incorrect exegetically and had a poor, self-contradictory foundation (since the Bible is full of errors and contradictions), he could thereby deal a deathblow to both conservative Christianity and conservative politics. I do not wish to defend conservative politics, but simply point out that evangelicals do not fit lock, stock, and barrel under just one ideological tent. Eichenwald’s grasp of conservative Christianity in America as well as his grasp of genuine biblical scholarship are, at best, subpar. And this article is an embarrassment to Newsweek—or should be!

For Further Reading

Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels

Darrell Bock and Daniel B. Wallace, Dethroning Jesus

Rob Bowman and Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place

Craig Evans, Fabricating Jesus

Ed Komoszewski, James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus

Martin Hengel, Issues in Early Christology

Daniel B. Wallace, editor, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament

194 thoughts on “Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible

  1. Reblogged this on Veracity and commented:
    Dr. Daniel Wallace provides impressive scholarship to rebut Newsweek’s recent assault on Christians, Christianity, and the Bible. Read the Newsweek article first–it makes some interesting statements that are not without value. That they are out of balance with an informed and studied appreciation of the Bible is, however, the signature of a patently anti-Christian agenda. Snake handlers, Pat Robertson, Rick Perry, the GOP…talk about stereotypes! Really, Newsweek?!

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  2. Pingback: Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible | LIGHT in the Darkness

  3. Pingback: I Still Live | jaydinitto.com

  4. Pingback: The Telephone Game and the Transmission of the Bible | Theo-sophical Ruminations

  5. Pingback: Merry Christmas from Newsweek!

  6. Pingback: Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible | Daniel B. Wallace | Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God

  7. jerryensey

    Dr. Wallace,

    Thank you for responding to the Newsweek article. Such blatant, high-brow hypocrisy must be challenged. It was just what the leftist Newsweek editors wanted—a piece to make Christians look silly. Biblical illiteracy and spiritual ignorance is so rampant among its readers the majority likely think all he said was absolute truth. Perhaps they even assigned Eichenwald the project with an outline for him to fill in.

    Please don’t let the idiocy of the liberal press and heretical critics have the day. As Spiro Agnew would advise: Keep rebutting the effete corps of impudent snobs and nattering nabob of negativism who characterize themselves as intellectuals with real biblical scholarship.

    Sincerely,

    JREnsey

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  8. If the King James were a perfect translation with no loss of meaning or context it would still be an immoral load of nonsense, just as thoroughly boring, and exemplary of why religious morality is deeply inferior to secular ethics, moral philosophy and the legal systems of modern democracies.

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    1. Jonathan Souba

      “Moral philosophy” is just so much nonsense; it proves nothing. The conclusions of moral philosophy are necessarily subjective, as the premises are, and as the reasoning is always tailored to reach the desired conclusion.

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    2. Grant

      Are you one of those people who skip the article entirely and just wade into the comments to provoke a response?

      The “secular ethics, moral philosophy and the legal systems of modern democracies” are, generally speaking, quite happy with murdering the unborn and promoting life-destroying behaviour. So if you want to use them as a basis for an argument, you’re going to have a bad time.

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    3. chuck

      I hate to be the one to tell you this alsarg (not really), but secular ethics, moral philosophy, and legal systems all got their core from religious systems. If you kill the goose, you kill the gander. You’re statement is nothing but verbiage, with no support for any of your statements. Any familiar in the least with western history would know immediately that your statement was incorrect. People like to blame religion for wars. I believe WW1, WW2, the atheistic regimes of stalin and mao alone account for roughly 100 million dead. What religious war can you name that remotely approaches this number. In fact, all religious wars won’t remotely come close. The inquisition accounted for several thousand dead. The crusades (which in spite of what you may read was an attempt to reclaim Christian holy sites conquered by the Muslims. Christians didn’t even attempt to regain the lost lands elsewhere that were once part of the Christianized Roman Empire) account for losses in the tens or hundreds of thousands. I could go on and cover thousands of years of history and still not come close to what atheistic systems have cost in just the last century. Very few of we Christians care a flip about whether the kjv has errors in it. As I have said before, we don’t worship a book. Alsarg, the next time you choose to type such tripe, you should read a little first.

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  9. Pingback: Die Bibel so zu verstehen ist Sünde | TheoBlog.de

  10. Pingback: Die Bibel so zu verstehen ist Sünde | FreieWelt.net

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  12. Dr. Wallace, don’t you guys get tired with this stuff? I applaud men like you and James R White for your commitment to dealing with this kind of silliness. But for the last 15 – 20 years I’ve been seeing this kind of stuff popping up often and right away scholars such as yourself jump to the rescue. Don’t these people realize that they are redoing the same thing Every time? Can’t they just stop already? Don’t they realize they’re being answered and debunked every time? Doesn’t people like Bart Erhman realize that they don’t have an indestructible argument? Why does this have to go on year in year out?

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  13. Reblogged this on Gospel Disciples and commented:
    Hey all. It looks like Christmas came early for us believers… AGAIN. Sometimes I wonder why the adamant unbelievers won’t give up. They come out with blasting liberal attacks and they get slammed every time with the reality of the ridiculous nature of their claims. Read the following post and see what I mean. Also check out James R White’s response on his http://www.aomin.org

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  14. Pingback: Thoughts on Newsweek article, “The Bible: So Misunderstood That it’s a Sin” | Good Question

  15. buddyglass

    “Indeed, the Bible is the only major sacred text that subjects itself to historical verification.”

    What do you mean exactly by “subjects itself to historical verification”? I haven’t read it, but doesn’t the Koran contain specific historical accounts from Mohammed’s life that could be verified against outside sources?

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    1. Scott Youngman

      @buddyglass — this blog post may help answer your question: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/07/christianity-the-worlds-most-falsifiable-religion/
      wherein the authors states “The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry as they are based on public events that can be falsified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry.” (Perhaps “CENTRAL claims” is a necessary refinement of Dr. Wallace’s statement.)

      For example, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most central claims of the New Testament, and indeed a public event which can be investigated by historical methodology. But the central claims of Islam are based on private revelations to Muhammad.

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    2. Calvin809

      Depending on what sect of Islam you look at the Quran is eternal and has nothing to do with the context of what Mohammed was doing at the time. Of course you also have the Hadith which do give a context to Mohammed’s life and include sayings that are supposed to be from him or his followers. Which ones are authoritative also depends on what sect you are looking at.

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    3. Not much data can be gleamed from/about Muhammad’s life from the Quran but the majority of that knowledge comes from Haddith. Not to mention, Quranic Surahs are basically in order from longest to shortest and they too do not provide much data on the when, where, with whom, or sources known to the people of that day.
      Much of that data postdates the Quran while filling in tafsir/commentary on the Quran also post dates much information we can know about Muhammad by hundreds of years.

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    4. Few data is extracted from Quran to assist in understanding who what when where and why’s of Muhammad.
      In fact, the haddith lit is where much of our knowledge comes from regarding Muhammad.
      The Quran isn’t a bio on Muhammad.
      Tafsir and Haddith provide more info on the cultural situations and relationships Muhammad had with people than Quran.
      Passage like Surah 61:6 and Surah 4:157 make it very tuff to know who Muhammad is addressing and the situation of address, and lastly but I think more importantly, the knowledge of the NT/Biblical tradition in Muhammad’s era seems limited in light of the Jesus/ESA IBN MARYUM descriptions.

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  16. Pingback: Kurt Eichenwald: wilful ignorance of New Testament scholarship so severe, it’s a sin | Wintery Knight

  17. Also:

    “I’m not sure what evangelicals he’s read that say this [Old Testament can be used to debunk science]; I haven’t read any. Many evangelicals speak about the problems of scientism—the belief that only in science will we find the answers to mankind’s deepest problems.”

    First, whether such evangelicals exist seems to hinge on what one considers good science. If one considers an old earth and the evolutionary origins of mankind to be “good science” then there are clearly some evangelicals who use [a particular interpretation of] the Old Testament to “debunk” those claims.

    Second, you seem to unfairly characterize as holding to “scientism” anyone who holds science-informed beliefs that contradict [some] interpretations of the Old Testament. I say “unfair” because one can hold to such beliefs (old earth, evolutionary origins, etc.) without also believing that “only in science will we find the answers to mankind’s deepest problems”. In fact, if that’s the definition of “scientism” then most non-believing scientists I’ve met are not, in fact, adherents of “scientism”. They generally regard science to be the only valid means of discovering truths about the physical world (past and present), but they don’t elevate it to the only source of “answer’s to mankind’s deepest problems”. Problems like “how should we treat each other?”, “what is the meaning of life?”, “what happens when we die?”, “how can one find peace and deep satisfaction in life?”

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      1. David S.

        “They generally regard science to be the only valid means of discovering truths about the physical world (past and present).” There must be a distinction between historical/forensic science and empirical/operation science. In my view, adherents of “scientism” maintain a (sometimes willful) ignorance of the differences between the two (though there clearly are areas of overlap).

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  18. Pingback: In Which Dan Wallace Skewers Kurt Eichenwald | Εις Δοξαν

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  20. Boswell

    Refuting the Newsweek article’s facts, & weakly, is telling of the general Christian reaction to these kind of secular criticisms of Christian society. Ever since they translated the Bible into the people’s languages the cat’s been out of the bag. We can all read what Jesus said now (even though he may have said different things altogether) but we can ALL read what only Christians claim to revere & follow. You offended Christians: How dare you! The Newsweek article’s tone & intent is completely in line with the teachings of Christ. Any way you want to interpret secular criticisms of the Church, they are substantially based on Jesus’ own reasoning & ethic as clearly laid out in your Bible. Grow Up! The Newsweek article is twice the Christian document that 95% of Christians are capable of even writing, let alone understanding, in the year 2015. You guys seriously need to wake up & actually follow Jesus & help change the world for the better. AND you need to clearly define yourself AWAY from all of the zombies that have attached themselves to Jesus, what a desecration!

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    1. Eric Robertson

      Hi Erica

      Do you think that this web page would give you the answers to your questions?
      Or just make matters more confusing?
      Good luck in your quest for understanding God’s Word.

      God Bless

      Eric

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  22. I am so grateful and glad that Daniel Wallace is alive, kicking and writing.

    In his latest post on his blog, published yesterday here, Wallace easily deals with the hasty attack on Christianity by Kurt Eichenwald, who, writing for Newsweek, exaggerates the so-called unreliability of the New Testament transmission methods, even overstating Bart Ehrman’s case….

    please see the main part of my response here on my own blog for a couple of things I think Wallace may have left out: http://faithandscripture.blogspot.fr/2014/12/quick-christianity-jabs.html

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  23. Reblogged this on CrossWise and commented:
    Newsweek on the Bible: An Article So Slanted it’s Dizzying

    Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, on his blog, critiques a current Newsweek article, written by Kurt Eichenwald, in which the author, among other things (such as making sweeping generalizations), makes misleading claims about text critical issues in the New Testament. Eichenwald’s comments regarding John 7:53-8:11 – the woman caught in adultery – is one blatant example of the shoddy journalism permeating the piece:

    …Unfortunately, John didn’t write it. Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages. It does not appear in any of the three other Gospels or in any of the early Greek versions of John. Even if the Gospel of John is an infallible telling of the history of Jesus’s ministry, the event simply never happened…

    My current position is with most current Christian scholarship that this is not Johannine (penned by John). According to Metzger (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament), and other sources, this pericope is inserted in various places in Greek manuscripts (mss), such as appended at the end of John’s Gospel, placed after John 7:36, after John 7:44, though predominately located after John 7:52; however, it IS extant in some Greek mss situated in Luke’s Gospel, just before chapter 22.

    To comment briefly on the bolded portions of the above quote from the Newsweek article:

    Scribes made it up and the event simply never happened: Unless Eichenwald is claiming omniscience, he simply cannot know for certain that the event did not ever happen. To claim that scribes simply “made it up” is to pass judgment (and note the author’s closing “Don’t judge”). This by itself calls into question the author’s objectivity and motive. Most scholars identifying as Christian are of the opinion that this pericope was part of an oral tradition, which was later inserted into Scripture at various places. However, there are a few bona fide NT scholars and/or textual critics (Zane Hodges, W. Pickering, Maurice Robinson, David Alan Black) who argue for this pericope’s originality in John’s Gospel, situating it just after 7:52.

    It does not appear in any of the three other Gospels and scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages: As to the former, I could be generous and assume the author meant there are no parallel passages in Matthew, Mark, or Luke; but, I’ll take his statement on its face. While I’m not aware of any translation locating this pericope anywhere other than after John 7:52, there are extant Greek mss with this account in Luke’s Gospel, just before Luke 22 (after Luke 21:38), as noted above. But, more important is his misleading claim that there are no mss containing this pericope before the Middle Ages. While there are no extant Greek mss containing this account before the Middle Ages, there are Old Latin mss with this variant, two of which are from the 5th century. In addition, Jerome “knew many Greek as well as Latin mss” (C.K. Barrett The Gospel According to St. John, 2nd ed. {Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978} p 589) evidencing this pericope, as testified, in part, by Jerome’s Adversus Pelagianos II, 17, (Against Pelagius), thus providing further proof that this account was known as early as the 5th century, possibly even late 4th. Moreover, some extant 2nd and 3rd century Greek mss leave a space between John 7:52 and 8:12, though, the spacing does not allow for the full text – one can speculate from there.

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  24. Pingback: Daniel Wallace’s Response to the latest Newsweek Article on the Bible | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

  25. Thanks Daniel. Newsweek has left a bitter taste in my mouth for over a decade due to its ignorance with everything Christian. You know the old saying, “ignorance breeds hatred.” That’s what apparently is happening with Newsweek and a lot of so-called scholars. Keep up the good work with real Biblical scholarship!

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  26. Pingback: Newsweek’s Bible-Bashing Article that Makes Criticizing the Government a Sin » RickMick

  27. Pingback: Newsweek beclowns itself | Mangy Dog

  28. Greg Hahn

    I suspect the “why” of his article was the same as Paul’s outburst in Acts 23:6: Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out……..

    It’s a great way to drive traffic to their site, no? Their advertisers will be pleased that both sides of the fence will give them click after click. So for that I lament the invitation to go check it out for ones self. But alas- I did it too.

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  29. Joe Tucker

    Having a multitude of manuscripts to compare against, we know what was added or changed in the bible.
    For example, the support for the Trinity doctrine not found in earlier manuscripts.
    The Trinity was unknown to the first century church. Why for thousands of years did none of God’s prophets teach the trinity?
    Why are religious groups that do not believe the trinity considered as cults when Jews do not believe it and get a pass?

    Throughout the ancient world the worship of pagan gods grouped in threes are common.Three gods combined and treated as a single being.
    The Trinity is a corruption that was borrowed from pagan religions and in-grafted on the Christian faith.
    By the fourth century the apostasy foretold by Jesus and his apostles came into full bloom.
    The Council of Nicaea 325 C.E. asserted that Christ was the same substance of God but did not establish the Trinity. There was no mention of the holy spirit being the third person of a triune godhead.
    If the Trinity had been a clear bible truth should they not have proposed it at that time?
    The Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E. put the holy spirit on the same level as God and Christ.

    The earlier bible manuscripts expose the Trinity myth as does secular history.

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    1. Joe Tucker,

      I do believe you have been misinformed. As far as I’m aware, the only verse with an overt Trinitarian emphasis ‘added’ is 1 John 5:7-8; and, this is not even extant in mss until the 11th century. Can you point to other additions (or subtractions) to back up your claim? Moreover, Tertullian (ca. 160 – 220) specifically refuted Monarchianism, aka modalism (the view that God exists in three different modes, i.e. only one at a time), thereby proclaiming the Trinity, in his Adversus Praxeum. Thus, the doctrine known as the Trinity was known much earlier than the 4th century, as you assert.

      The Trinity doctrine is not found in one succinct verse but by looking at Scripture as a whole, in proper context. Jesus’ baptism hints at it, while His resurrection makes it even clearer, as separate verses indicate it was the Father who raised Jesus (Acts 5:29-31; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:17-20), the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:4, 8:11), Jesus Himself (John 2:19, 10:17-18), and God (Acts 2:24; Romans 4:24).

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      1. Joe Tucker

        Tertullian’s concept of Father, Son, and holy spirit was a far cry from Christendom’s Trinity, for he was a subordinationist. He viewed the Son as subordinate to the Father. In “Against Hermogenes” he wrote:
        We should not suppose that there is any other being than God alone who is unbegotten and uncreated. . . . How can it be that anything, except the Father, should be older, and on this account indeed nobler, than the Son of God, the only-begotten and first-begotten Word? . . . That [God] which did not require a Maker to give it existence, will be much more elevated in rank than that [the Son] which had an author to bring it into being.
        Also, in Against Praxeas, he shows that the Son is different from and subordinate to Almighty God by saying:
        The Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole, as He Himself acknowledges: ‘My Father is greater than I.’ . . . Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son, inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another; He, too, who sends is one, and He who is sent is another; and He, again, who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made is another.
        Tertullian, in “Against Hermogenes”, states further that there was a time when the Son did not exist as a person, showing that he did not regard the Son as an eternal being in the same sense that God was.

        The Trinity was first defined at the Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E.

        The text in Revelation KJ version makes it appear the alpha and omgega is applied to God Almight and Jesus Christ but scholars recognize the reference to Alpha and Omega in verse 11 to be spurious, and so it does not appear in RS, NE, JB, NAB, Dy.
        Someone changed this verse to help support the Trinity doctrine but other mss expose it as a forgery.

        John 2:19-22:
        By what he here said, did Jesus mean that he would resurrect himself from the dead? Does that mean that Jesus is God, because Acts 2:32 says, This Jesus God raised up? Not at all. Such a view would conflict with Galatians 1:1, which ascribes the resurrection of Jesus to the Father, not to the Son. Using a similar mode of expression, at Luke 8:48 Jesus is quoted as saying to a woman: Your faith has made you well. Did she heal herself? No; it was power from God through Christ that healed her because she had faith. (Luke 8:46; Acts 10:38) Likewise, by his perfect obedience as a human, Jesus provided the moral basis for the Father to raise him from the dead, thus acknowledging Jesus as God’s Son. Because of Jesus’ faithful course of life, it could properly be said that Jesus himself was responsible for his resurrection.

        Does the Bible teach that none of those who are said to be included in the Trinity is greater or less than another, that all are equal, that all are almighty?
        Mark 13:32, RS: Of that day or that hour no ones knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Of course, that would not be the case if Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were coequal, comprising one Godhead. And if, as some suggest, the Son was limited by his human nature from knowing, the question remains, Why did the Holy Spirit not know?
        Matt. 20:20-23, RS: The mother of the sons of Zebedee . . . said to him [Jesus], ‘Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, . . . ‘You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’ (How strange, if, as claimed, Jesus is God! Was Jesus here merely answering according to his human nature? If, as Trinitarians say, Jesus was truly God-man both God and man, not one or the other would it truly be consistent to resort to such an explanation? Does not Matthew 20:23 rather show that the Son is not equal to the Father, that the Father has reserved some prerogatives for himself?)
        Matt. 12:31, 32, RS: Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (If the Holy Spirit were a person and were God, this text would flatly contradict the Trinity doctrine, because it would mean that in some way the Holy Spirit was greater than the Son. Instead, what Jesus said shows that the Father, to whom the Spirit belonged, is greater than Jesus, the Son of man.)
        John 14:28, RS: [Jesus said:] If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
        1 Cor. 11:3, RS: I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (Clearly, then, Christ is not God, and God is of superior rank to Christ. It should be noted that this was written about 55 C.E., some 22 years after Jesus returned to heaven. So the truth here stated applies to the relationship between God and Christ in heaven.)
        1 Cor. 15:27, 28 RS: ‘God has put all things in subjection under his [Jesus’] feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection under him,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one.
        The Hebrew word Shad·dai´ and the Greek word Pan·to·kra´tor are both translated Almighty. Both original-language words are repeatedly applied to the Father. (Ex. 6:3; Rev. 19:6) Neither expression is ever applied to either the Son or the holy spirit.

        If the Trinity was being taught by Jesus and his apostles there would be no hinting at it.
        This would be a huge convtroversy. Much more so than diet, sacrifices and circumsision.
        Would not Jesus as a great teacher make the trinity doctrine clear?

        The pagans already had their trinity gods. Egypt had their triad of Horus, Osiris, Isis, 2nd millennium B.C.E. Babylon had Ishtar, Sin, Shamash, 2nd millennium B.C.E.
        If the Hebrew God was a trinity, why didn’t he reveal it to the Jews?
        Why hint at it thousand of years later?

        Having a multitude of manuscripts we can get at the truth.

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      2. Joe Tucker,

        With all due respect, I think you are taking Tertullian out of context and confusing words ascribed to Hermogenes with those of Tertullian. Taking the full contexts of all the quotes you’ve supplied, Tertullian is careful to distinguish between the Economic Trinity and the Immanent (Ontological) Trinity. It is only in the Economic Trinity that the Son is ‘subordinate,’ in that the Son is sent by the Father. See the following for the entire Against Praxeas and Against Hermogenes:

        http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0317.htm

        http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0313.htm

        Regarding your assertion that Gal 1:1 contradicts a view that John 2:19-22 means Jesus raised Himself, would you also say that Gal 1:1 contradicts John 10:17-18? And what about Romans 1:4 and 8:11? Even if you are not willing to concede this, there are many other Scriptures which point to Jesus as being and acting on par with the Father (John 5:16-27, e.g.) during the Incarnation.

        I will concede that Mark 13:32 is a difficult verse to reconcile with the Trinity doctrine; however, is it possible that this is only true with respect to the Economic Trinity? For brevity, I’ll not address the other Scriptures you cite; but, I have to ask what you do with Jesus’ words in John 10:30 (“I and the Father are one”)?

        Now I will touch on your point about Pantokrator (παντοκράτωρ) and the KJV’s spurious “I am the Alpha and Omega.” Most modern versions do not include “I am the Alpha and Omega” in Rev 1:11, but then what about the times this phrase is used elsewhere in the Apocalypse? In 21:6 it seems to be God the Father, yet in 22:13 it is clearly Jesus, while in 1:8 these words are admittedly difficult to attribute exactly, as they could be God the Father’s or they could be Jesus’. However, in 1:17 Jesus calls Himself “the First and the Last,” which is tantamount to “the Alpha and the Omega” (and cf. 22:13’s more explicit “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last”), isn’t it?

        In 1:8 we have the same words used in 4:8 (sans “Alpha and Omega”), though ordered differently, on the lips of the four living creatures. Also, in both 1:8 and 4:8 we have Pantokrator (Almighty). The four living creatures bow before the Almighty (Pantokrator), the one who lives “forever and ever” (4:10) – this latter language Jesus uses for Himself in 1:18. In 4:11 are the words “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.” Now let’s compare with the Lamb of chapter 5.

        The Lamb is “standing in the center of the THRONE, ENCIRCLED by the four living creatures and the elders” (5:6; NIV). Once the Lamb takes the Scroll from “the one who sat on the throne” (Almighty), the four creatures and 24 elders bow down before, then begin extolling the virtues of, this Lamb (5:9-14), specifically claiming that He is to receive “honor and glory and praise” (5:12). They then proclaim:

        “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever” (5:13; NIV)

        Quite clearly, the Almighty/Pantokrator (“him who sits on the throne”) and the Lamb are receiving equal worship (and cf. 21:22 for the Almighty and Lamb as the temple), are they not? And, just as clearly, the words “Alpha and Omega” are attributed to both, though in different contexts. Given this evidence, how would you describe the relationship between the Lamb and the Almighty?

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      3. Joe Tucker

        Just because the verse preceding Revelation 22:13 speaks of that “Alpha and Omega” as coming does not necessarily mean it refers to Christ Jesus, whose second coming is frequently mentioned. Revelation 1:8 shows God Almighty as coming, and so Revelation 22:12 may do likewise. He comes representatively, through Christ Jesus. Revelation 4:8 speaks of God Almighty as coming, and Revelation 21 shows his presence with humankind. “Look! the tent of God is with humankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. . . . I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free. Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.” (Vss. 3, 6, 7) This reference is certainly to the Father, for he is God to the anointed body members of Christ and they are his spiritual sons. They are Christ’s brothers, not sons, so the text is speaking of God Almighty, and it calls him “the Alpha and the Omega”. So when the Alpha and Omega is mentioned again in the very next chapter, why must the term suddenly shift to Christ Jesus instead of the Father? It does not.

        Some argue that it refers to Christ Jesus at Revelation 22:13 because verse 16 shows Jesus speaking. But that does not mean the speaker of the preceding verses must also be Jesus. We must remember that the revelation God gave to Jesus Christ was passed on to the apostle John by one of Christ’s angels, and that this angel sometimes spoke for God Almighty and sometimes for Christ Jesus; so we must watch for these changes and note them on the basis of content and context. It is true that when the angel speaks for Christ, at Revelation 1:17, he states: “I am the First and the Last.” But a check of the context shows this “First and Last” was with definite limitations, was relative to just the matter of Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection, as verse 18 shows. Christ was the first one raised in the first resurrection, and the last one that will be raised directly by his Father. Others who follow in that resurrection will be raised by God through Christ. (John 6:40; 1 Cor. 6:14) Christ was the first fruits of those asleep in death. (1 Cor. 15:20) When “First and Last” is again applied to Christ Jesus, at Revelation 2:8, note that again it is with respect to death and resurrection. But when it speaks thus of God Almighty no limitation is set on the meaning.

        —–

        Christ Jesus has been exalted by his Father to a position second only to God, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9-11; compare Da 7:13, 14, 27.) Hebrews 1:6 also shows that even the angels render obeisance to the resurrected Jesus Christ. Many translations of this text here render pro·sky·ne´o as worship, while some render it by such expressions as bow before (AT; Yg) and ‘pay homage’ (NE). No matter what English term is used, the original Greek remains the same and the understanding of what it is that the angels render to Christ must accord with the rest of the Scriptures. Jesus himself emphatically stated to Satan that it is the Lord your God you must worship [form of pro·sky·ne´o], and it is to him alone you must render sacred service. (Mt 4:8-10; Lu 4:7, 8) Similarly, the angel(s) told John to worship God (Re 19:10; 22:9), and this injunction came after Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation, showing that matters had not changed in this regard. If what we understand as worship is apparently directed to the Son by angels, it is in reality being directed through him to God Almighty, the Sovereign Ruler, the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters. (Re 14:7; 4:10, 11; 7:11, 12; 11:16, 17; compare 1Ch 29:20; Re 5:13, 14; 21:22.)

        Revelation 1:1, which states: This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ. (The Jerusalem Bible) The resurrected Christ in heaven is shown to be entirely separate from God, and the holy spirit is not mentioned. If Jesus were the second person of a Trinity, knowing all things, how could he be given a revelation?

        —–

        John 10:30 I and the Father Are One

        THAT text, at John 10:30, is often cited to support the Trinity, even though no third person is mentioned there. But Jesus himself showed what he meant by his being one with the Father. At John 17:21, 22, he prayed to God that his disciples may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, . . . that they may be one just as we are one. Was Jesus praying that all his disciples would become a single entity? No, obviously Jesus was praying that they would be united in thought and purpose, as he and God were. See also 1 Corinthians 1:10.

        At 1 Corinthians 3:6, 8, Paul says: I planted, Apollos watered . . . He that plants and he that waters are one. Paul did not mean that he and Apollos were two persons in one; he meant that they were unified in purpose. The Greek word that Paul used here for one (hen) is neuter, literally one (thing), indicating oneness in cooperation. It is the same word that Jesus used at John 10:30 to describe his relationship with his Father. It is also the same word that Jesus used at John 17:21, 22. So when he used the word one (hen) in these cases, he was talking about unity of thought and purpose.

        Regarding John 10:30, John Calvin (who was a Trinitarian) said in the book Commentary on the Gospel According to John: The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is . . . of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father.

        Right in the context of the verses after John 10:30, Jesus forcefully argued that his words were not a claim to be God. He asked the Jews who wrongly drew that conclusion and wanted to stone him: Why do you charge me with blasphemy because I, consecrated and sent into the world by the Father, said, ‘I am God’s son’? (John 10:31-36, NE) Note that Jesus claimed that he was, not God the Son, but the Son of God.

        —–

        Most of the texts used as “proof” of the Trinity actually mention only two persons, not three; so even if the Trinitarian explanation of the texts were correct, these would not prove that the Bible teaches the Trinity.

        The few text that mention the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together does not say they are coequal or coeternal or that all are God.

        Theologians try to force into the scriptures their preconceived ideas of a Trinity. But those ideas are not in the scripture texts. In fact, those Trinitarian ideas conflict with the clear testimony of the Bible as a whole.

        The facts are:
        Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was never mention in the bible as coequal or coeternal or that all are God.
        No controversy of three persons in one God was ever recorded in the scriptures.
        Jesus and his apostles never taught the Trinity.
        The pagans had their trinity Gods but no triune God was ever reveled in the inspired scriptures to the Jews or Christians.
        Proof texts reveal Jesus was subordinate to the Father and lacked the knowledge of his father on earth and in heaven, hence no Trinity exist in the bible.
        The trinity was formulated after the apostles died out when the apostasy foretold by Jesus and his apostles was in full bloom.

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      4. Joe Tucker,

        Given that you are not a Trinitarian, what exactly are your beliefs with respect to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? You don’t appear to be a modalist; so, are you more of a Gnostic, with Christ understood as an intermediary figure just below God the Father? I think it only fair that I know your position, as you can easily deduce mine as a Trinitarian Christian in the historically orthodox sense.

        I don’t agree with you that Rev 1:8 refers to the Father – it may, but it may well not. I’m inclined to think that Jesus is the referent (v 7 is clearly referencing Christ). Certainly you cannot claim anything other than Jesus as the referent in 1:17-18 as “the First and the Last” – parallel language used in 22:13, as I’ve noted above.

        Regarding your references to προσκυνέω (proskyneō), this same word is used in reference to Jesus (Matt 2:11, 14:33, 28:9), with Him as the recipient of worship. And, when Jesus is in the wilderness telling Satan to worship God, does this necessarily mean that “God” cannot be a Trinity?

        You wrote, “If Jesus were the second person of a Trinity, knowing all things, how could he be given a revelation?” Could it not be that God the Father (or God the Trinity) decided to pass along info to John the Revelator, for OUR benefit, rather than revealing it for the first time to Jesus Christ? That is, the verse can be rendered a bit differently, such as (NASB) “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants…” which can be interpreted as the revelation ABOUT Jesus (given to His servant John).

        “1 Corinthians 10:3-4 speaks of spiritual food (manna) and spiritual drink (the water from the rock), with this sustenance provided by Christ…As Blomberg expounds, ‘From a Christian perspective, Paul recognizes Christ as the pre-existent Son of God, active with God the Father in creation and redemption, and hence the agent of both physical and spiritual nourishment for his people in the desert (v. 4b).’”

        The textual variant in Jude 5 (κύριος (kyrios), Lord vs. Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), Jesus) illustrates the opposite of your position that later scribes were changing texts to push a Trinitarian or Jesus-as-God emphasis. “Lord” is found in the larger number of manuscripts (mss), most of these being later (9th c. and after). The earlier Alexandrian mss are divided between the two readings, though “Jesus” predominates.

        Placing “Jesus” into the text would indicate that Jude is making the theological point that it was Jesus who led the Exodus. The NA28 now places “Jesus” into the critical text, relegating “Lord” to the apparatus, though even before this change, English translations such as the NLT, ESV, and NET placed “Jesus” into Jude 5. In fact, I argue here that “Jesus” makes the most sense of Jude’s larger context (even if “Lord” is original, Jude uses both terms to refer to Jesus):

        http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/who-led-the-exodus-a-text-critical-study-in-jude-5-2/

        Just because the doctrine of the Trinity (and the hypostatic union) were not formulated until later does not mean that this doctrine was not inherent in the original text. Just because fallible humans may not have had full understanding initially does not, on its face, make the doctrine itself something new.

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      5. Joe Tucker

        I am not a Gnostic. I am a Christian that rejects false doctrines.

        ——

        The Greek pro·sky·ne´o corresponds closely to the Hebrew hish·ta·chawah´ as to conveying the thought of both obeisance to creatures and worship to God or a deity. The manner of expressing the obeisance is perhaps not so prominent in pro·sky·ne´o as in hish·ta·chawah´, where the Hebrew term graphically conveys the thought of prostration or bowing down. Scholars derive the Greek term from the verb ky·ne´o, kiss. The usage of the word in the Christian Greek Scriptures (as also in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) shows that persons to whose actions the term is applied prostrated themselves or bowed down.-Mt 2:11; 18:26; 28:9.

        As with the Hebrew term, the context must be considered to determine whether pro·sky·ne´o refers to obeisance solely in the form of deep respect or obeisance in the form of religious worship. Where reference is directly to God (Joh 4:20-24; 1Co 14:25; Re 4:10) or to false gods and their idols (Ac 7:43; Re 9:20), it is evident that the obeisance goes beyond that acceptably or customarily rendered to men and enters the field of worship. So, too, where the object of the obeisance is left unstated, its being directed to God is understood. (Joh 12:20; Ac 8:27; 24:11; Heb 11:21; Re 11:1) On the other hand, the action of those of the synagogue of Satan who are made to come and do obeisance before the feet of Christians is clearly not worship.-Re 3:9.

        Obeisance to a human king is found in Jesus’ illustration at Matthew 18:26. It is evident that this was the kind of obeisance that the astrologers rendered to the child Jesus, born king of the Jews, that Herod professed interest in expressing, and that the soldiers mockingly rendered to Jesus before his impalement. They clearly did not view Jesus as God or as a deity. (Mt 2:2, 8; Mr 15:19) While some translators use the word worship in the majority of cases where pro·sky·ne´o describes persons’ actions toward Jesus, the evidence does not warrant one’s reading too much into this rendering. Rather, the circumstances that evoked the obeisance correspond very closely to those producing obeisance to the earlier prophets and kings. (Compare Mt 8:2; 9:18; 15:25; 20:20 with 1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37.) The very expressions of those involved often reveal that, while they clearly recognized Jesus as God’s representative, they rendered obeisance to him, not as to God or a deity, but as God’s Son, the foretold Son of man, the Messiah with divine authority. On many occasions their obeisance expressed a gratitude for divine revelation or evidence of favor like that expressed in earlier times.-Mt 14:32, 33; 28:5-10, 16-18; Lu 24:50-52; Joh 9:35, 38.

        —-

        Could it not be that God the Father (or God the Trinity) decided to pass along info to John the Revelator, for OUR benefit, rather than revealing it for the first time to Jesus Christ?

        No.

        Revelation 1:1,2
        The revelation of Jesus Christ, WHICH GOD GAVE HIM to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John

        3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the PROPHECY, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.

        Notice the line of communication. From the Father to Christ to the angel to John. Christ is always subordinate to God (never equal to god). This is a revelation about future events (PROPHECY) and would not need to be given to Christ by God if Jesus already had the knowledge. If Jesus already had the knowledge then the line of communication. From the Christ to the angel to John.

        John 7:16 – Jesus answered, “What I teach is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me.
        John 12:50 – I know that his command leads to eternal life. So everything I say is just what the Father has told me to say.

        Jesus admits all his information comes from his Father. Jesus is not God Almighty.

        ——

        Jude 5
        One of the effects of the loss of the personal name of God is that the concept of an anonymous God helped to create a theological vacuum in which Christendom’s Trinity doctrine was more easily developed.

        ——

        Again most of the texts used as “proof” of the Trinity actually mention only two persons, not three.

        How in the world does anyone get the idea of the trinity strictly from the bible?

        Like

      6. Joe Tucker,

        It seems pretty clear that neither of us is going to change the position of the other; so, I won’t belabor this much further. However, intrinsic to the Trinity doctrine is the understanding of Jesus’ deity (along with His humanity), while your position, if I understand it correctly, denies Christ’s deity (the hypostatic union). Assuming so, how do you define the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the preexisting Word who ‘tented’ with/among us (John 1:14)? He’s not merely human, is He?

        Touching once more on the Trinity (though setting aside the Holy Spirit, so as not to widen our discussion) there are still other texts which equate Father and Son in terms of ontology, though not numerical Person. The Gospel of John is replete with such references. The Son is the preincarnate Word, who was with God and who was God (Jehovah’s Witnesses’ misinterpretation on the lack of definite article here notwithstanding) “in the beginning” (i.e. the First, the Alpha, the Beginning; cf. Rev 1:17, 22:13, etc.).

        The Jews in John 5 wished to kill Jesus, because they understood that He was equating Himself with God the Father in His particularizing His relationship with Father God as his OWN Father (5:17-18). In response, Jesus tells them that He only does what He SEES His Father doing (5:19), as the Father shows Him all he does (5:20), even though no one sees God (John 1:18) and lives (Ex 33:20). And, like the Father, the Son gives life “to whom He is pleased to give it” (5:21), but even more incredible, the Son – rather than the Father – passes judgment on all (5:22), in the then-present (5:24-25, 9:39, 41) as well a the eschaton (5:28-30). All this is done either in concert with the Father, as the Son SEES or HEARS the Father. Certainly, one must concede that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the preexisting Word made flesh, enjoys a relationship with the Father that is unparalleled.

        The Word is the agent through/by whom the cosmos was made (Col 1:16; Heb 1:2), and all things are continually sustained/upheld by Him (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3) Yes, He was made “a little lower than the angels” (Heb 2:5-18) but this is speaking Incarnationally, not eternally, and for the purposes of the redemption of mankind (only those who accept Him as the means to the Father, of course) was Jesus made this way.

        So, who is this Jesus Christ?

        Like

      7. Joe Tucker

        I know Jesus is not God Almighty.

        Jesus answered, “WHAT I TEACH IS NOT MY OWN. It comes from the One who sent me”. If Jesus was God Almighty, would not what he teach be his own?

        John 1:18 – No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the Bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
        No man has seen God but some have seen Jesus so Jesus can not be God Almighty. It’s a no-brainer.

        ——

        He’s not merely human, is He?

        Hebrews 2:9 – But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that, through the grace of God he might taste death for all.

        If Jesus was all god and all man, how could he be lower than the angels. Jesus must have been completely human.

        There were times when angels appeared as men, as when two angels appeared to Lot. (Gen. 19:1) Such would be a case of true incarnation. It is noteworthy that the angels visiting Lot materialized as full-grown men, not as babies. If Jesus had been a mere incarnation, then it would not have been necessary for God to transfer his life to an embryo in the virgin’s womb and to have Jesus born as a helpless infant, subject to human parents; he could still have remained a spirit person and materialized a fully developed fleshly body just as the sons of God did in Noah’s day and as the angel Gabriel did before Mary.

        ——

        John 1:1,2
        1 In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God.

        The scripture is saying that the Word had a beginning. But the Almighty God has no beginning.

        Colossians 1:15 (Revised Standard Version) – He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation;

        Trinitarians say that “first-born” here means prime, most excellent, most distinguished; thus Christ would be understood to be, not part of creation, but the most distinguished in relation to those who were created. If that is so, and if the Trinity doctrine is true, why are the Father and the holy spirit not also said to be the firstborn of all creation? But the Bible applies this expression only to the Son. According to the customary meaning of “firstborn,” it indicates that Jesus is the eldest in Gods’s family of sons.

        Before Colossians 1:15, the expression “the firstborn of” occurs upwards of 30 times in the Bible, and in each instance that it is applied to living creatures the same meaning applies-the firstborn is part of the group. “The firstborn of Israel” is one of the sons of Israel; “the firstborn of Pharaoh” is one of Pharaoh’s family; “the firstborn of beast” are themselves animals. What, then, causes some to ascribe a different meaning to it at Colossians 1:15? Is it Bible usage or is it a belief to which they already hold and for which they seek proof?

        Rev. 1:1; 3:14, RS: ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him . . . ‘And to the angel of the church in La-odicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning [Greek, ar·khe´] of God’s creation.’’’ (KJ, Dy, and CC, as well as others, read similarly.) Is that rendering correct? Some take the view that what is meant is that the Son was ‘the beginner of God’s creation,’ that he was its ‘ultimate source.’ But Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon lists ‘beginning’ as its first meaning of ar·khe´. (Oxford, 1968, p. 252) The logical conclusion is that the one being quoted at Revelation 3:14 is a creation, the first of God’s creations, that he had a beginning. Compare Proverbs 8:22, where, as many Bible commentators agree, the Son is referred to as wisdom personified. According to RS, NE, and JB, the one there speaking is said to be ‘created.’)

        All this means Jesus is a created being and can not be God Almighty.

        Since angels, Satan, and men have been referred to as gods in the bible, Why not Jesus?

        (Isaiah 9:6) For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
        Note: Jesus is called Mighty God not Almighty God.

        Maybe you should consider the alternate translation of John 1:1.

        ——

        The trinity is plainly a false doctrine. All the so called proof text for the trinity turns out to be bogus.

        Like

      8. You wrote: “No man has seen God but some have seen Jesus so Jesus can not be God Almighty. It’s a no-brainer.”

        But if Jesus is merely man, how is it that He Himself has seen God the Father? There has to be a way to reconcile Jesus’ words in John 5:19-20 in your belief system; otherwise you have a blatant contradiction. How do you reconcile this?

        You wrote, “But the Almighty God has no beginning.” I agree that the Almighty has no beginning. God also has no end. Yet he refers to Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega,” as well as “the Beginning and the End” (Rev 21:6). So, then why must “in the beginning” in John 1:1 necessarily be about a beginning in time? And, even if so, given that the Word was “with God in the beginning,” assuming “the beginning” refers to the advent of creation, then how can the Word be merely a man – especially considering John 1:14?

        The writer of Hebrews makes a clear reference to the Father referring to the Son as God (NASB) and as One receiving worship, which uses the term “firstborn” (parenthetical notes mine to denote reference):

        6 And when He again brings the firstborn (Son) into the world, He says,

        “And let all the angels of God worship Him (Son).”

        7 And of the angels He (Father) says,

        “Who makes His angels winds,
        And His ministers a flame of fire.”

        8 But of the Son He (Father) says,

        “Your throne, O God (Son), is forever and ever,
        And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.
        9 “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
        Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
        With the oil of gladness above Your companions.”

        Verse 6 is a direct quote of Psalm 97:7 which references YHWH, while the writer of Hebrews ascribes it to Christ, proclaiming equality with YHWH, i.e. full deity. Verse 8 specifically refers to the Son as “God.”

        You wrote, “Maybe you should consider the alternate translation of John 1:1.” I know you identified yourself as “Christian,” but I have to ask: Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?

        Like

      9. Joe Tucker

        But if Jesus is merely man, how is it that He Himself has seen God the Father? There has to be a way to reconcile Jesus’ words in John 5:19-20 in your belief system; otherwise you have a blatant contradiction. How do you reconcile this?

        Jesus Christ did not begin life here on earth. He himself spoke of his prehuman heavenly life.

        John 3:13 Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.
        John 8:23 So he went on to say to them: YOU are from the realms below; I am from the realms above. YOU are from this world; I am not from this world.
        Exodus 33:20 And he added: You are not able to see my face, because NO MAN MAY SEE ME AND YET LIVE.

        Obviously Jesus was able to see his Father during his heavenly life before he was a man.
        He could not be a god-man because he was lower than the angels. I know of no scripture that says his human half was lower than the angels.
        He did not need to be a god-man. He needed to be like Adam before he sinned.

        One of the cardinal teachings of the Bible is the ransom. Sin and death came upon mankind when a perfect man, Adam, transgressed God’s law. For obedient mankind to be released from the condemnation of sin and death, a ransom must be paid. It must be the exact equivalent of the perfect man Adam, for God’s law requires exactness: You must give soul for soul, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. So for Jesus to provide the ransom he must be a perfect man, no more, no less. Further, if Jesus had been a spirit garbed in flesh he could not really have died at man’s hands; and if he did not really die, again we see that the ransom could not have been provided. But the Bible is clear that Jesus did provide the ransom and that he was a man, not God clothed in flesh: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all. – Ex. 21:23, 24; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6

        You wrote, But the Almighty God has no beginning. I agree that the Almighty has no beginning. God also has no end. Yet he refers to Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, as well as the Beginning and the End (Rev 21:6). So, then why must in the beginning in John 1:1 necessarily be about a beginning in time? And, even if so, given that the Word was with God in the beginning, assuming the beginning refers to the advent of creation, then how can the Word be merely a man especially considering John 1:14?

        According to Colossians 1:15 and Rev. 3:14 he is the beginning of the creation by God (first-born). John 1:1 agrees.
        Jesus is called an only-begotten son (John 1:14) for a reason. He was the only one directly created by his Father. All other sons where created by the father through Jesus.

        Certain translations of Hebrews 1:6 say: Let all the angels of God worship him [Jesus]. (King James Version; The Jerusalem Bible) The apostle Paul evidently quoted the Septuagint, which says at Psalm 97:7: Worship Him [God] all ye His angels.-C. Thomson.

        The Greek word pro·sky·ne´o, rendered worship at Hebrews 1:6, is used at Psalm 97:7 in the Septuagint for a Hebrew term, sha·chah´, meaning to bow down. This can be an acceptable act of respect for humans. (Genesis 23:7; 1 Samuel 24:8; 2 Kings 2:15) Or it can relate to worship of the true God or that wrongly directed to false gods.-Exodus 23:24; 24:1; 34:14; Deuteronomy 8:19.

        Usually pro·sky·ne´o given to Jesus corresponds with obeisance to kings and others. (Compare Matthew 2:2, 8; 8:2; 9:18; 15:25; 20:20 with 1 Samuel 25:23, 24; 2 Samuel 14:4-7; 1 Kings 1:16; 2 Kings 4:36, 37.) Often it is clear that obeisance is rendered to Jesus not as God but as God’s Son or the Messianic Son of man.-Matthew 14:32, 33; Luke 24:50-52; John 9:35, 38.

        Hebrews 1:6 relates to Jesus’ position under God. (Philippians 2:9-11) Here some versions render pro·sky·ne´o pay . . . homage (The New English Bible), or bow before (An American Translation). If one prefers the rendering worship, such worship is relative, for Jesus told Satan: It is the Lord your God you must worship [form of pro·sky·ne´o], and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.-Matthew 4:8-10.

        Though Psalm 97:7, which speaks about worshiping God, was applied to Christ at Hebrews 1:6, Paul had shown that the resurrected Jesus is the REFLECTION of [God’s] glory and the exact REPRESENTATION of his very being. (Hebrews 1:1-3) So any worship the angels give God’s Son is relative and is directed through him to Jehovah.

        Notice the words REFLECTION and REPRESENTATION. These are key words when determining if he is God the Almighty or a Mighty God.

        Hebrews 1:3
        Common English Bible – The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being.
        Douay-Rheims – Who being the brightness of his glory and the figure of his substance
        New Revised Standard – He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being
        The Webster Bible – Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person

        Isaiah 9:6 (The Webster Bible) – …his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The MIGHTY GOD, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

        If Jesus is the Almighty God why does he get demoted to MIGHTY GOD in Isaiah 9:6?

        You wrote, Maybe you should consider the alternate translation of John 1:1. I know you identified yourself as Christian, but I have to ask: Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?

        Yes.

        The trinity doctrine (along with other pagan doctrines of Christendom) makes the bible incomprehensible. Remove the pagan doctrines and it all makes sense.

        Like

    2. Read Al Quran, the Final Revelation:
      4:171 O FOLLOWERS of the Gospel! Do not overstep the bounds [of truth] in your religious beliefs, and do not say of God anything but the truth. The Christ Jesus, son of Mary, was but God’s Apostle – [the fulfilment of] His promise which He had conveyed unto Mary – and a soul created by Him. Believe, then, in God and His apostles, and do not say, “[God is] a trinity”. Desist [from this assertion] for your own good. God is but One God; utterly remote is He, in His glory, from having a son: unto Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth; and none is as worthy of trust as God.

      Like

      1. chuck,

        He finally did, at the very end of his last comment. I had already hinted at it earlier when I mentioned the JW error of assuming the lack of definite article in front of God in the prologue to John’s Gospel; but, it wasn’t until I asked him point blank that he admitted it. Then, he had the gall to come over to my blog and start commenting on my statement of faith…

        Like

    3. Matthew

      Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus in his vision. The Father has set forth His Son to the world as the incarnate representation of the Godhead, to reject Him as God is to reject God.

      This lies at the root of all other religions and false cults, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory.” More than that, we not only fall short of the glory but attack it and try and degod God. Because Jesus is the One who has come to earth, He is the One we primarily attack, because He is accessible.

      But God wants to give us Himself, because this is the greatest of love giving the greatest gift, that we would for all eternity enjoy His supreme, especially revealed in the Son, the overflow of His glorious grace.

      Some people are happy to live for eternity without God, not being with Him, but on the earth. They are happy with the absence of God, because they worship creation, they worship themselves. To be with God and enjoy Him forever is not the heartbeat of their lives.

      May all of our eyes be opened to see ‘the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ And our hearts filled with joy at Jesus’ prayer for us, ‘to be with Him, to see His glory the Father gave Him, because He loved Him before the foundation of the world.’ To the Father it is all about the Son, in fact you are all about the Son, whether you like it or not. Because this is the way the Father has made it to be, you are made for the Son.

      Reject Him and you reject the Father.

      Peace in Jesus

      Like

  30. Pingback: Reblog: Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible | The Granite Plowman

  31. Mark Anderson

    “I am baffled as to how Eichenwald could take such a narrow view of 1 Timothy 2.12, and to do so dogmatically. Notice that he does not say, “conservative interpretations of the Bible,” or “liberal interpretations of the Bible,” nor even “the interpretation of one or two scholars”; no, he says baldly, “according to the Bible.” Um, I would say there are passages in the New Testament which require some interpretation and proper context, but this passage is pretty clear: Paul is saying point blank women are not to speak up in the church but are to be passive. You may consider it a leap that the author is saying this means women should not speak up in politics but I wouldn’t. But let’s leave politics out of it for a minute and consider the instructions Paul is giving the church. We do not follow this advice today (unless you consider the Catholic Church ban on female leadership), which is really the point of the article. Many Christians pick and choose what parts of the New Testament are inviolate while at the same time saying all of the Bible is the Word of God and must be followed.

    Like

    1. Matt

      I don’t know what church you go to if you ever have but there are plenty of churches that do not allow women to be pastors or teachers because of these and other passages in the Bible. Examples: The OPC, PCA, LCMS, many Baptist churches (Bethlehem Baptist in MN as one example), and quite a few others.

      Like

  32. Mark Anderson

    “…he (the author) uses 1 Tim 2.12 as a blunt weapon on politically conservative women who are Christians to bludgeon them into submission. His comments tell us more about his view of outspoken women than Paul’s. Would he say “shut up and sit down” to a politically liberal woman who also happened to be an evangelical? The hypocrisy here is not at all what I would have expected in a magazine that used to have a decent journalistic reputation, nor for a journalist such as Eichenwald, who used to share that reputation…” It is pretty obvious to most readers that Eichenwald himself does not really think women, whether conservative or liberal, should not be allowed to have a political voice. He is being somewhat facetious to make the point that people today do not and probably should not take every teaching in the New Testament as how we should conduct ourselves today. Paul’s command that women not have a voice in the church is pretty clear. Not sure how you could interpret it any other way. But my larger point is if you were not able to correctly interpret a very recent bit of writing by a contemporary, how are we to trust your interpretations of what was written by someone 2,000 years ago? I’m not saying this to discredit you, I’m saying to make the point that it is neigh on impossible for anyone to interpret 2,000 year old writings, that were first written some 30 years after christ’s death, with absolute certainty, other than that Christ would tell us, when in doubt, follow the dictates of love and forgiveness.

    Like

    1. Mark, have you read it? Contextually it is absolutely clear that this refers to teaching in the church not in the wider realms of business or politics (where many women in the early church were considered influential such as Lydia). Secondly, the Timothy argument needs to be reconciled with women like Phoebe who held the office of deacon, or Philip’s daughters who were prophetesses, or Paul’s instructions else where for women to pray and prophesy with their heads covered. Thirdly, it is either disingenuous to argue as he does about this text or it’s unacceptable journalistic ignorance. Your argument that we either got it wrong or can’t know is patently ridiculous when there is a clearly two traditions of interpretation that you can trace through (the role of the Montanist controversy and the impact that had on women’s leadership in the early church is also something you can read about and study). It’s not impossible to understand the texts and nor can we simply give up trying and live by some general principles of love and forgiveness we’re disciples of Jesus therefore we need to know what he said and taught and how his church is to be ordered and live (they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching the breaking if bread and prayer). Finally, I think you’ve been reading some fairly inaccurate scholarship most would say the Mark’s gospel was written around 50 AD (some twenty years after Jesus ministry but well within the lifetime of those who knew and witnessed Jesus teaching) but many of the letters of Paul were written earlier. And with Luke’s Acts ending before Nero’s persecution of the church and not recording what happened to James or Peter or Paul we are talking about a likely date between 59 and 63 AD implying and earlier date still for the Gospel of Luke. Plus there is a huge amount of evidence that gives us confidence in the accuracy of the Bible and specifically the New Testament such that it is an unparalleled document from the a ancient world far better than anything we have on Socrates, Aristotle, or Plato (would you rule out any study of classical philosophy on the grounds that we simply can’t know that would appear to be a terribly anti-intellectual position to take).

      Like

    2. Greg Hahn

      Discussing 1 Timothy 2:12-

      Mark Anderson said, ” Paul’s command that women not have a voice in the church is pretty clear. Not sure how you could interpret it any other way.”

      In the article, Daniel Wallace said: “The amount of literature on this one verse is staggering,”

      I say: Mark, I suggest you make yourself aware of the discussion to which Professor Wallace refers.

      Like

  33. Mark Anderson

    Just a few additional points I’d like to make, you take issue with the author’s analogy of the game Telephone. You say the object of the game is to make as many mistakes as possible. That is not the goal. The goal is to be as accurate as possible but inevitably the message gets very screwed up because human beings are prone to error. In addition you say that the story of the Gospel is a written tradition, not an oral tradition. This is not true from what I know of the gospels. Everything I have read about the hsitory of the gospels is they were first written down some 30 years after Christ’s death. For 30 years the NT was indeed an oral tradition just as the Old Testament was an oral tradition for hundreds of years before it was first written down during the Babylonian exile as a means of helping to preserve the Isreali’s traditions admidst the cultural pressures of living in a foreign land. While the letters by paul may have survived the ages relatively intact, the stories and words attributed to Jesus cannot possibly be close to verbatum but rather are remembrances, assisted by I am sure an oral tradition that attempted to be as accurate as possible. Even Paul and Peter disagreed strongly on occassion about how the teachings of Christ should influence the behavior and actions of the early church. We should not base our faith on every word that appears in the modern bible, we should base our faith on love and forgiveness.

    Like

    1. Clark Coleman

      The Telephone game is usually played by people who know that a corruption of the original thought is expected. I played this game a couple of times in my school years, and it was obvious that other students were deliberately transforming what was whispered to them. In short, the Telephone game is a joke.

      The gospels were first written in the form we see (e.g. in the gospel of Mark) three decades after Christ, but it seems to most scholars that a written document preceded them and was used as a source for the synoptic gospels. This earlier written document or documents would have been subjected to critique by many eyewitnesses, as would the synoptic gospels themselves, even three decades after Christ. By contrast, the first written accounts of Homer’s classics would have been recorded long after the deaths of all participants in the Trojan War, for example. This is the contrast that Dr. Wallace is bringing out.

      2 Kings 22 records the finding of “the Law” in written form in the Temple during the reign of king Josiah, before the Babylonian exile.

      Paul rebuked Peter for his behavior towards Gentile converts, but note that this was a short-term behavior on the part of Peter, not a written teaching. No written teaching of an apostle was ever disputed by another apostle.

      Like

  34. A.J.H.

    Mr. Wallace, thank you. So many, many thanks from us who have neither have the time or the intellect to process and/or figure out the endless criticism of the New Testament and faith on our own.

    Like

  35. Mark Anderson

    “The gospels were first written in the form we see (e.g. in the gospel of Mark) three decades after Christ, but it seems to most scholars that a written document preceded them and was used as a source for the synoptic gospels. This earlier written document or documents would have been subjected to critique by many eyewitnesses, as would the synoptic gospels themselves, even three decades after Christ…” Yes, there was likely an earlier document Q (the source) several of the gospels are based upon, but none of this is known with any degree of certainty of when that first document was first written down, by whom or who would have done the reviewing/approving. Your assertion that it was subject to critique and review by many eyewitnesses is a huge assumption. The truth is we know very little about that process. It is also a huge leap of faith to believe that the process used during Constantine’s time 300 years after the fact to evaluate and include some books and not others was not impacted by politics, biases, etc. People then were no different than people today. We are all prone to making errors in judgement and quote “statements of fact” that are influenced by biases, bad information, etc.
    p.s. you too dismiss the Telephone Game. You probably went to Church a few days ago. Try to write down verbatum what the pastor said. Imagine how hard that would be 30 years from now. Today you could probably put down the jist of what was said but you would by necessity be forced to put some of it into your own words. 30 years of iterations would sound very different from what was actually said.

    Like

    1. Clark Coleman

      The fact that different gospels has slightly different phrasings of many sayings of Jesus indicates that the writers were recording their recollections. But the different phrasings also indicate that the gospel authors were not colluding or copying from each other, because they could have easily eliminated different phrasings if they had done so. So, we have inductive evidence of just how much the phrasing could change. We don’t have to speculate. When we examine the phrasing changes from gospel to gospel, we can see that the message is retained. If a fundamentalist wants to argue that more than the message was preserved, then they can jump through hoops to support that claim. The rest of us are content to observe that the minor phrasing changes are not at all what one would expect if two different listeners waited 30 years, or even 5 years, and wrote down their recollections separately.

      You are assuming that there were political biases, etc., in the process of canonization. The record indicates that the bishops of various churches reported on which books they were using as canonical, and the common members of the list were chosen. In a few cases, some books were circulated in only some regions (e.g. Revelation in the East only), but the canonicalization process was de facto, not by decree.

      Like

      1. Not slightly different phrasing. We have entire events left out or directly contradicting other versions of the same period of time. Let me ask you, what was JC doing just before being arrested? What did the other crucified people say? Who got the the tomb first and what did they see? Where the disciples terrified for their lives or did they go right back to town and celebrate in the temple?

        It is interesting that Christians insist that each other is wrong “Lumping Intellectually Robust Evangelical Scholarship with the Most Ignorant Kind of Fundamentalism”. Such finger pointing. It being that no Christian has evidence to support their story, it’s rather like the kettle calling the pot black.

        Like

      2. Davis

        It’s really hard to take an intellectual seriously when they so easily pull excuses and watery arguments out of their ass for every single challenge towards their ancient book of rediculous superstitions. You can absolutely smell the sweaty desire to defend every challenge in a way that no other text would possibly be defended. This is why theology sits in its own faculty at universities far away from faculties of real critical scholarship, why next to no one takes them or their pathetic methodologies seriously or bothers with their “towering figures” in biblical scholarship. Biased scholars who together degree that historical Jesus was real and text Q existed, supported by their own consensus and chipped away by little outside argument because next to no one cares about this stupid book anymore. Theology departments will one day crumble and blow away into the wind.

        Like

  36. Pingback: Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible | I Will Go Ministries – Defending the Faith

  37. Jay Kilbride

    The key to this piece is where the author falls squarely into the category of Christians interpreting the Bible according to their own existing beliefs. Namely, where he states “either Paul is coming perilously close to blasphemy, something no trained Rabbi would do…” Except that Paul was not a trained Rabbi. Paul of Tarsus was a Roman. I seem to recall something of a road to Damascus event mentioned in the NT…Perhaps Mr Wallace hasn’t read it…?

    Like

    1. ben Chessed

      “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.” (Acts 22:34 ESV)

      “But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people…” (Acts 5:34 ESV)

      “…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee…” (Philippians 3:4-5 ESV)

      Yes, Paul inherited the rights of Roman citizenship from his father, as did some other well off Jews in this period. His audience did not contest his claim to have been educated by a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, of the Pharisee party, and thus be qualified to teach Torah, that is, a trained Rabbi.

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      1. Alas, all of those claims about JC being publically seen are just as much nonsense as anything else. There is no corroborating evidence of these claims, only set of stories that even Christians can’t agree on what they mean. Thank you for the link but its as full of nonsense as any other Christian apologia.

        As soon as you can show other evidence, then we can talk. Otherwise, your claims are as false as any theists.

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  47. “evangelicals insist the Old Testament is a valid means of debunking science.” I’m not sure what evangelicals he’s read that say this; I haven’t read any.

    So, you’ve never read anything by Al Mohler? Of all the things Eichenwald wrote, this is perhaps the most accurate, unfortunately.

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  52. Dr. Wallace’s article, though interesting, has problems of its own. For example: do you want a date for the New Testament canon? If so, you can pick AD 367. In that year, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, sent out an Easter letter detailing which Christian texts were beneficial for the faithful. These correspond exactly to the New Testament canon of today, and it is, to my knowledge, the first time the canon is set out. The doctrine of the Trinity was unknown in the first century and very likely would not have even been comprehensible to Jesus or his disciples. Views of Jesus in the early generations seemed to range from the adoptionist (in which he was adopted as the Son of God, this usually being thought to occur at the baptism by God) or subordinationist, in which, as in the prologue to John, Jesus is the incarnate Logos, a kind of “second God” (this phrase was widespread in the Jewish thought of the time). This view of the Logos was widespread and perhaps normative in first-century Judaism. Perhaps the first reference to the Trinity occurs in the title of a second-century work by the Gnostic bishop Valentinus, entitled On the Three Hypostases [Persons] of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Only the title has survived.) Oddly, then, the doctrine of the Trinity, the centerpiece of orthodox dogma, would have been formulated by a man denounced as an arch-heretic. As for the texts of the Bible, the changes and modifications are not always quite as trivial as Dr. Wallace pretends: see, for example, Bart Ehrman’s work The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.

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    1. Richard Smoley,

      Having somewhat recently quoted from your book Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition (essentially promoting ‘Christian esotericism’) in a recent blog post, I’m familiar with your own panentheistic understanding of the Trinity (pp 103-104, 134-135) – a view at odds with historic, Christian orthodoxy. Assuming this is the framework from which you define “Trinity,” Christianity cannot accept it. Moreover, the term “hypostasis” occurs only once in the entire NT; and, the term apparently had many different meanings in antiquity (see, e.g., Peter Lampe “Hypostasis as a Component of New Testament Christology (Hebrews 1:3)” in Schuele & Thomas, eds., Who is Jesus Christ for Us Today? [Louisville, KY, Westminster John Knox, 2009] pp 63 – 71). And, given what we know of Valentinus’ beliefs, which were refuted by many in the early Church, most notably Irenaeus, it is obvious that we would not be able to accept that he had an understanding of the Trinity approaching what Christianity would affirm as orthodox.

      Tertullian, in his Against Praxeus, is probably the first to state and defend the doctrine of the Trinity as per historic, Christian orthodoxy in his refutation of Monarchianism (modalism).

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    2. As to the establishment of the Canon, I highly recommend Michael J. Kruger’s The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013). I’ll quote Dr. Larry W. Hurtado’s endorsement (Kruger’s former prof) from the back cover:

      “With an impressive familiarity with primary data and scholarly studies, and in a patient and generous tone toward other positions, Kruger makes a solid (to my mind, persuasive) case that the formation of a New Testament canon was a historical process with roots at least as early as the circulation and use of certain texts as Scripture in the early second century. Offering what he calls an ‘intrinsic model’ as complement to the emphasis on the final stages of canon formation in much current scholarship, he presents a nuanced and cogent picture that more adequately captures the historical complexity that led to the New Testament.”

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  56. Read Al Quran, The Final Revelation:
    4:171 O FOLLOWERS of the Gospel! Do not overstep the bounds [of truth] in your religious beliefs, and do not say of God anything but the truth. The Christ Jesus, son of Mary, was but God’s Apostle – [the fulfilment of] His promise which He had conveyed unto Mary – and a soul created by Him. Believe, then, in God and His apostles, and do not say, “[God is] a trinity”. Desist [from this assertion] for your own good. God is but One God; utterly remote is He, in His glory, from having a son: unto Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth; and none is as worthy of trust as God.

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  66. Thank you, Mr. Wallace, for countering NewsWEAK’s screed against Christian faith and God’s Word, the Bible. Your excellent points that challenged (and instantly won the argument) against Eichenwald’s screed is greatly appreciated. I plan to include a link to it in a future post at my blog.

    The goal of Eichenwald was to cause controversy in order to get more readers…right? No one could be THAT biblically ignorant! (sarcasm off)

    I would like to read the PDF that you mentioned in your post. Is it accessible from this site?

    God bless you and the wonderful work that you are doing to educate the lost and build up the faith of Christians everywhere!

    Sincerely,
    Christine

    http://talkwisdom.wordpress.com/

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    1. Christine,

      Unless I’m mistaken, I believe the pdf referenced in this blog post is Dr. Wallace’s own copy of the Eichenwald article (presumably from which to take notes pursuant to this blog post), rather than a separate, more detailed Wallace critique of Eichenwald.

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  86. Bobby Garringer

    I’m interested in the line in Eichenwald’s article that you say is devoid of reality — his claim that the Greek copies went on hundreds of times before yielding the MSS that are extant.

    I doubt that anything close to one hundred — certainly not “hundreds” of — successive generations of copies intervened between the autographs and their representation in the MSS of the ninth century AD. So the earlier important Gr NT must have had very few layers of copies intervening.

    So based on the assumption that, generally, copies were made when existing copies began to wear out: About how many generations of copies intervened between the autographs and Sinaiticus and Vaticanus? MSS of the ninth century?

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  88. My two cents. I find it interesting that even among the “experts” (quoted because I haven’t vetted any of them) there seems to be a lot of disagreement about the history of the Bible. The original article quoting “experts” and then those “experts” rebutted by others. I think for me, its hard to know why so many people put faith in a text written by people in the bronze age. People that for all intents and purposes knew very little about the world we live in. World gets dark, must be an angry god, not an eclipse, and so on. For me this is the bigger question. Why put faith in something from a time when people had no explanation for most things that happened and had no global view of the world in general. Literally everything was attributed to a god.

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    1. I think you have a very superficial view. You seem to attribute — all — the books of the Bible to the Bronze Age, failing to recognize that the critical biblical period — from the Christian perspective — is the first century AD that began with Jesus’ appearance.

      Furthermore, your description of how people regarded unusual natural events is far from the in-depth understanding many people had of nature back then. There was a great deal of sophistication in the thought-life of ancient times. Many authors from that time are still highly respected in various fields of study, including the sciences. But most thinkers in those early times also decided that there was more to reality than can be explained by natural forces.

      Today some well-educated people — as well as common folk — are also convinced of the necessity of taking into account a reality greater than the visible, physical world. Some of these people are convinced ;by the evidence that the biblical testimony is trustworthy concerning Christ and Israel.

      Others disagree, but this is when the hard work begins. We must use our best judgment to sift through the discussion. That’s what is going on here.

      Eichenwald wrote his article to be read by the public; and Wallace gave his response. There is also much more to be read and thought through from other sources. We as members of the public, are the intended audience. We are expected to study and think.

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  89. chuck

    perhaps if you did a bit of research on the historicity of the bible you might be surprised. There are at least 83 names, places, events, mentioned in the book of Acts alone that have been verified by historians and archaeologists. The bible doesn’t claim to be a science textbook or a history textbook. But over that last century new discoveries in different disciplines have found much to be true that was previously ridiculed. Some of the great archaelogists such as Ramsay, Albright, Kitchen, etc. have shown this accuracy. Just because we haven’t dug it up doesn’t mean it isn’t true or didn’t happen. Christian faith is not placed in a book but a person, Jesus Christ. It isn’t a matter of believing that he lived and died, history, even non-Christian, has shown the truth of that. It’s a matter of who He said He was. That’s really the key decision. Even if the bible had contradictions or errors in it, that would still leave the question of Christ’s identity. So leave the gods alone. They aren’t important. And you don’t have to worship the bible, so error free or not, it is not where you need to look. Good luck on your journey.

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      1. I am not sure the history is where my hang ups lie. I have researched quite a bit and actually just returned from a trip to Israel where I saw some of the Dead Sea scrolls and other writings from that era. I respect the writings and the history, but no more than any other ancient text. The gap for me lies within trusting these ancient people to have been the chosen people out of the millions of years of humanity as the perfect people for God to send his son to. Yes there are people from that were intelligent but even the most intelligent person of that time was still lacking in many facts we know today, but for the most part, these were people with a very limited world view, why trust that this is one of the very few things that they were absolutely correct on? Is it a coincidence that almost all gods came from ancient peoples with such limited knowledge of how all things work? Is this something that you even question in your mind and if not, why not?

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      2. I suppose the real question revolves around the empty tomb, given that there’s no denying the historical Jesus. On Christian talk radio, I once heard someone quip, “If the resurrection is real, then everything else is rock ‘n’ roll!”

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      3. chuck

        thanks Mr. Wallace. Coming from you that’s quite an honor. And to “pants”, my point was that the Bible is quite reliable, and contrary to skeptics, NOT filled with myth. Certainly because of socio-cultural similarities between peoples, stories and literary genres can be similar. But if you read the Bible (referring here to the old testament) you will see many dissimilarities. The Torah is written primarily as historical narrative. You may doubt the stories and events (and some are of course unrepeatable thus unprovable), but the Hebrews obviously did. The civilizations you refer to were quite polytheistic. While polytheism was obviously present in early Israel (and a continual problem, idolatry), the story of Israel’s meeting and growing awareness of it’s ONE God Jehovah is quite unlike any other story of antiquity. Again, we Christians (and Jews) treasure the Bible, we don’t worship it. Yes, there are questions remaining, but far fewer than a century ago. Of course they had a limited worldview, but so do we. Perhaps we have more information, but we don’t know everything. I don’t ask you to trust them. I ask you to trust the Bible. If it’s filled with error and contradiction, find them. I can’t. Puzzling statements, yes. Variations in story retelling, yes. More importantly, in the New Testament one moves from the Old Testaments spirit of God “ON” his chosen people to the NT’s spirit of God “IN” his people. Christ is the revelation of God in the flesh. He certainly claimed to be. As others have said, no nonsense about a great teacher, or wise prophet, or an incarnation of the “Christ” spirit. Jesus did not give these options. My attraction (from the occult and new age) to Christianity was the UNIQUENESS of the bible and it’s stories and history. Similarities to other ancient stories? A few. As Anthony Flew, probably the most famous atheist in the second half of the twentieth century, said after becoming a theist a few years before he died, and I paraphrase slightly, “I haven’t become a Christian per se, but if any religion has the mark of truth, it would be that one”. I reached the same point in my journey. Can’t guarantee this is 100 percent true, but between it’s uniqueness and the proven veracity of it’s scriptures, I’m going with Christianity. Christ, of course, is the main attraction. His claims are unheard of, and his death (and resurrection) incredible. Did he really rise from the dead? He had plenty of enemies who could have shut the door on this Jewish heresy just by presenting the dead body. No one did. No one ever will. I’ll go with that.

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  90. I have to ask since I can’t figure this out – and I can see, that you guys know, what you’re talking about. My question is about the ending of Mark.

    It’s considered of later date than the rest of Mark by some (and this is in the footnotes in most bibles). This is based on two church fathers and the facts that Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, one old Syric versions and the Armenian manuscripts do not have these verses(?).

    Now, what “bothers” me is this: at least 6 church fathers DO quote from the ending of Mark – all of them contemporary with or earlier than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. And Codex Alexandrinus has the verses. Moreover Washington, Vulgate and Ephraemi includes them and also the Syrian Curetonian + other Coptic, Gothic and Latin manuscripts have the verses. And almost all of the Greek manuscripts. The ending is also quoted in “Gospel of Nicodemus” and “De Rebaptismate” from third century.

    Now, I can understand, that some say that 17 words in the ending is not used in rest of Mark – and it proves the matter? But the twelve verses prior to the discussed last verses of Mark also contains 17 words nowhere to be found in the rest of Mark(?). And almost the same goes for the ending of Luke where 9 words can not be found anywhere else in Luke – and 4 of them nowhere in the NT(?). So is this even a legitimate argument against the authenticity?

    Also, others say that “de anastas” can’t be used in the beginning of a short passage – but what about Luke 1:39, 4:38 or Acts 5:17?

    So, the verses existed and was considered authentic in evidence earlier than the manuscript, that do not contain the verses – and other important manuscripts, like Codex Alexandrinus, includes them. And the internal evidence/arguments against the verses seems rather subjective.

    Now, why does this not settle the issue in favor of the verses? What am I missing – besides my lack of understanding on virtually everything on this topic😉 ?

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  91. I have to ask since I can’t figure this out – and I can see, that you guys know, what you’re talking about. My question is about the ending of Mark.

    It’s considered of later date than the rest of Mark by some (and this is in the footnotes in most bibles). This is based on two church fathers and the facts that Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, one old Syric versions and the Armenian manuscripts do not have these verses(?).

    Now, what “bothers” me is this: at least 6 church fathers DO quote from the ending of Mark – all of them contemporary with or earlier than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. And Codex Alexandrinus has the verses. Moreover Washington, Vulgate and Ephraemi includes them and also the Syrian Curetonian + other Coptic, Gothic and Latin manuscripts have the verses. And almost all of the Greek manuscripts. The ending is also quoted in “Gospel of Nicodemus” and “De Rebaptismate” from third century.

    Now, I can understand, that some say that 17 words in the ending is not used in rest of Mark – and it proves the matter? But the twelve verses prior to the discussed last verses of Mark also contains 17 words nowhere to be found in the rest of Mark? And almost the same goes for the ending of Luke where 9 words can not be found anywhere else in Luke – and 4 of them nowhere in the NT. So is this even a legitimate argument against the authenticity? Also, others say that “de anastas” can’t be used in the beginning of a short passage – but what about Luke 1:39, 4:38 or Acts 5:17?

    So, the verses existed and was considered authentic in evidence earlier than the manuscript, that do not contain the verses,– and other important manuscripts like Codex Alexandrinus and Curetonian includes them. And the internal evidence/arguments against the verses seems rather subjective.

    Now, why does this not settle the issue in favor of the verses? What am I missing – besides my lack of understanding on virtually everything on this topic😉 ?

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    1. You might find the following article by the late Rodney Decker of interest:

      http://ntresources.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Decker_MarkAndMiracle_Mk16_short1.pdf

      In it, Decker looks at grammatical and contextual features exhibited by the “long ending author” to determine the theology behind it. Relying on Decker’s exegesis, I wrote the following:

      https://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/charismatic-ramifications-on-the-long-ending-of-marks-gospel/

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      1. Hi Craig

        Thanks for the reply!

        I read both links – and I will just be “brutally” honest:

        It seems to me, that those sites are more about a personal opinion on miracles today than textual criticism. It’s evident from Decker’s conclusion (that seems to be speculations): “He [the scribe] may have desired to re-ignite the age of miracles by portraying it as normative…. [but]… We should frame our view of miracles from the canonical NT, not from the writings of a 2nd C. charismatic.”

        Hm. I don’t know how I feel about that.

        Not because of my personal opinion, but since Irenaeus quotes from Mark 16:19 the consequences is that the long ending (if it’s wrong) not just was added by a scribe who “desired to re-ignite the age of miracles by portraying it as normativ” – but by someone with great authority (?). And the fact that it later gained massive support*** could seem to substantiate this.

        Moreover, personally I like when people are nuances, specifically here Decker could include the fact, that “the major commentaries on Mark published in the last hundred years”” directly rejects Mark ending at 16:8 (e.g. Evans, France and Edwards) – and not just support Decker’s presented point of view.

        I could go on, but my point is: Decker’s argumentation does not really persuade me.

        I think it would be neat instead, if there was someone who addressed things like, that the long ending is the oldest and most supported in a majority of ancient witnesses and is found in the Byzantine, Cesarean, Alexandrian and Western text-types (contrary to the abrupt ending),etc. Because, all of these witnesses must all be wrong about this? And this on the basis of B + א and a linguistic “unique word test” that seems slightly unreasonable, since it could be applied to other passages with the same result as the ending of Mark – and these passages are not omitted – (Okay, I put this very simplistic😀 !).

        I don’t have an opinion on the ending of Mark, yet, because I somehow feel that I missed “the nail on the coffin” argument against it? Or maybe there’s this straight forward argument using the majority of the witnesses and still convincingly disproving the long ending of Mark, that I don’t know about because of, still, lack of understanding very much about this.

        I hope this makes sense!
        —————-
        ***by Irenaeus, Tatian, Justine, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, Aphraates, Didymus, Jerome, Hippolytus, Marinus, Cassian, Augustine + important witnesses as A, C, D, E, H, N, W, Diatessaron, etc.

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      2. I do think Decker was cessationist, but I, the writer of the 2nd piece above, am not. Having said that, I think the best argument Decker provides for rejecting the long ending contextually is the forced wholesale acceptance of all five charismatic displays (exorcisms, tongues, picking up snakes, drink deadly poison unharmed, healing the sick by the laying on of hands) being evident at all times to “those who believe.” The context also reveals that these must be taken literally and not figuratively.

        As for the text critical issues, I confess I’m not a text critic; but, as I recall, those mss containing the ‘long ending’ are marked such that most (the original copyists and/or subsequent readers) construe that it was thought to be spurious. It seems those mss containing the long ending may have left it appended as a tradition of sorts. Also, I’m not sure that all the Fathers’ writings have been properly subjected to the rigors of textual criticism, thereby making these sources not as reliable as NT Greek mss, which have been.

        I don’t know that you’ll find the ‘nail in the coffin’ you are looking for. There are certainly others who think the long ending original (D. A. Black, M. Robinson, etc.), though they are in the minority. That does not make this minority wrong, however, as we just don’t know definitively.

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      3. Just for sake of good order: I was aware that you were the author of the text in the second link😉

        Now, actually a number of greek manuscripts OMITTING the verses contains an asterisk or obelix indicating something is wrong here. Interesting, right?

        And I’m not sure I see, how the context shows the verses must be taken literally as a 21. century reader understands it? I mean, Jesus must have known, that the only other person in the entire OT who picked up a snake was Moses (this goes for NT too; no, Paul did not pick up the snake, but was bitten by accident). And Moses did it in faith. That is some very strong “figuratively” speaking done by Jesus, that his disciples could understand – if it they were not so dull otherwise😉

        I’m reading parts of a newly published book right now (I started after your first reply): “The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20” by Nicholas P. Lunn.

        I would strongly encourage you to start read it:

        Here’s a review:

        “Nicholas Lunn has thoroughly shaken my views concerning the ending of the Gospel of Mark. As in the case of most gospel scholars, I have for my whole career held that Mark 16:9-20, the so-called ‘Long Ending,’ was not original. But in his well-researched and carefully argued book, Lunn succeeds in showing just how flimsy that position really is. The evidence for the early existence of this ending, if not for its originality, is extensive and quite credible. I will not be surprised if Lunn reverses scholarly opinion on this important question. I urge scholars not to dismiss his arguments without carefully considering this excellent book.”

        ————-
        I tried to leave you with a few links with other reviews, but it seems I can’t post them here. Including one to Google Books, where you can read quite a lot of the book.

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      4. Regarding “picking up snakes” as figurative, while the rest of the list is understood as literal, I’ll quote Decker: “[I]t would be precarious to suggest that one (or more) is to be taken metaphorically if the others are not.” I agree. Contextually, it just does not work to assume one or two of a list of five would be figurative while the others are literal.

        I’ll have to check out Lunn’s book. I note from Amazon that the review you cite is by Craig A. Evans. That’s a pretty strong recommendation.

        But, then again, at this point I’m persuaded by Decker’s exegesis of the “long ending author,” which seems to indicate that the writer had a substandard grasp of NT theology, with said writer providing an overemphasis on semeia (signs). Semeia is only used a few times in Mark’s Gospel: (a) three times in reference to the Pharisees asking for signs (8:11-12), (b) once when Peter and Andrew asked Jesus about the sign that the end is near fulfillment (13:4), (c) and once when Jesus describes false Christs and false prophets performing false signs and miracles to deceive (13:22). Nowhere in Mark’s Gospel is semeia used in a positive sense with respect to charismata – unlike the “long ending author”.

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      5. chuck

        I find it somewhat disconcerting that there are some out there that believe the “long” ending of mark authorizes believers to “snake handle”. There is no command in this passage to do so, merely an acknowledgement it could occur with context (i.e., purposeful handling, accidental or incidental contact). As Jamie Coots, reality show snake handler recently found out, this apparent guarantee is not ubiquitous in nature. He had supposedly been “healed” eight times after snake bites (not all rattlesnake bites are fatal). Did God fail this time? Did He really heal the previous eight times, etc. I would hate to think a scholar’s acceptance or rejection of this passage is based on his or her viewpoint of charismata. It seems quite reasonable to believe there was originally something after verse eight. The ending seems too abrupt, even if it was the first gospel written. Much of verses 9-20 seem reasonably similar to the other gospels, except for the charismata inclusion. I am not a cessationist, nor charismatic by todays standards. Perhaps there was some argument in the immediate years after the resurrection that would have led mark, or someone writing for him, to have included these signs. Perhaps the original ending, in one of the first copies, was lost or destroyed, then reconstructed based on memory. Perhaps mark even contributed if still alive, directly,verbally, or by letter. Who knows. It doesn’t affect anything doctrine wise, and as most point out, everything is found in the other gospels (except snake handling). I agree that Jesus, if he said this, would have meant it literally. I just don’t think one’s position on charismata should even enter the debate. Are we swallowing a camel and choking on a gnat? Don’t misunderstand me. I love the discussion. But one verse does not make a doctrine.

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      6. I kinda wonder why there’ve been no ‘poison bibbing’ sects, but only snake handling ones. At least that particular one is pretty straightforward: “and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all” (NIV 1984). As regards snake handling, it’s not even mentioned whether or not the snakes will be venomous. It states simply: “they will pick up snakes” (NIV 1984 – some mss add “with their hands”).

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