Going through the story of Joseph (of the Musical fame, not the musical Fame) in the book of beginnings – Genesis, a whole range of questions arise.
What is going on here? What kind of family does Joseph come from? Why does he bear no ill to those who caused him so much ill to bear? What was God up to in this most bizarre of stories?
I had heard of a series of sermons (which led to a book) that counters the many conclusions of what might be considered a traditional teaching of the Joseph story. Joseph the hero. The one who prospered at the hands of Egypt’s Pharaoh. God’s man – who found favour in enemy territory. What he did, perhaps we can do too (within reason). So I tracked it down.
Well it is a good series, very worthwhile and illuminating. warmly delivered by a big man. It has helped me understand the importance of trajectory identification when reading the books, lives, events of the Old Testament. As a former Roman Catholic, I was not schooled much in Old Testament characters – their lives, loves and losses. So while there is relatively little to unlearn, there are still so many things to learn about how to read the Old Testament.
So I commend this series to all and especially to the brethren and sistren (is that a word?) working through Joseph in Genesis at church at the mo.
The first sermon ‘How to read the story’ is particularly strong and similarly the second. Three and four are heavy on application and that is no bad thing. All can be found by clicking the correct question mark. See if you can guess which one!
Two continuations today 1) another careful handling and critique of the now notorious Newsweek article “The Bible So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” by Kurt Eichenwald and 2) the New Zealand connection continued from yesterday.
The resource I am pointing to today was posted at The Gospel Coalition which I highly recommend and written as a guest post by Dr. Darrell L. Bock, a serious New Testament scholar whom I had the priviledge of hearing for 3 hours and chatting with in New Zealand at the Matamata Bible Church in 2012.
Here’s an excerpt from the post at The Gospel Coalition – specifically Justin Taylor’s blog – click at the end of this excerpt to get to the whole post and do consider its reasonableness, it’s content and it’s implications.
So let’s go through this piece one issue at a time. Let’s start with what is said about the actual text we have. For this I could just cite the response of my colleague, Dan Wallace, who has spent his life investigating and photographing the very manuscript evidence this article raises as so untrustworthy. Dan correctly opens up saying the issue is not the fact that Eichenwald asks hard questions. The Bible makes such important claims, so such questions should be asked. It is the way he answers them that is the problem. Dan also shows how the nature of the issues Eichenwald makes about our manuscripts does not lead to Eichenwald’s conclusions. I leave the Textual Criticism side of the argument to Dan’s piece.
Eichenwald’s way in is to cite Bart Ehrman, whom he calls a ground-breaking New Testament scholar. Now Bart himself has said that what he writes is a reflection of current discussion that has been around a long time. He and I have debated over the radiom where he made this statement to me as something I was well aware of, something I also affirmed at the time. The views presented (including the appeal to the telephone game as Erhman’s illustration for how poorly copies were passed on) are but one take on these issues that are argued pro and con in the public scholarly square. This hardly makes him a ground-breaking source. Ehrman is a spokesperson, a very competent one, for one take on all of this. But the article even uses his material extremely selectively. Here is another quotation Ehrman makes on this topic: “Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.” What this means is that people on all sides recognize that what we have in the Bible, in terms of the core things it teaches, is a reflection of what made up these books originally. The caricature by Eichenwald that what we have in our hands has no resemblance to what was originally produced is misleading in the extreme, even considering the source the journalist uses to make his point.
I had the privilege of watching a live stream of the fascinating debate between Dr. Shabir Ali and Jay Smith – held in Toronto Canada last week. Fascinating because of the aterial questioning the widespread claims of muslims that the Qur’an was sent down, is unchanged and that the Qur’an of today is the Qur’an of yesterday.
Dr. Ali shocked us all by sidestepping the material and it could be said appeared to concede a number of matters rasied by Jay Smith and spent a huge amount of his main presentation time talking about the extraordinary numerology associated with the Qur’an or at least a particular version/reading of it.
I hope to link to it soon so you can peruse. In the meantime here is an argument that has some weight to it. I might have made some points differently but none the less there are some good questions here that require answering.
If you watch the frequent Jesus exposes on the History Channel and have noticed that a Christmas and Easter can’t go by without Newsweek and Time magazine bringing the world the latest on how we’ve got everything wrong about Christianity then I really want you to take the time and watch this video. Produced with similar production values but actually taking Christianity and the New Testatment texts seriously. Tired of hearing how tiny, late fringe groups of ‘believers’ were the true christians – well you need to see this. Curious about the fact that the modern media has got such a crush on everything except the received orthodox view of things – a kind of ‘anything but that christianity’ – well you need to take the time and see this.
It’s 2 1/4 hours long.It’s talking about the most important person or fraud in history. Certainly worth giving some time to listen in on what some serious scholars have to say. Class starts in ten minutes and here’s the school bell calling all….
Christian – get to class!
Curious – welcome to class!
Sceptic – please think about coming back to class!