The Trinity on Thursday – Time, Trinity and Text

A common objection from some of my muslim friends is that the doctrine of the Trinity stems solely from one place in the Bible – 1 John 5:7.

John

In the King James version (KJV) of the Bible – there is a piece of text which is super trinitarian in its implications – except it shouldn’t be there. That’s why it is in the KJV as above but not in the New International Version (NIV) or most others for that matter. Many though not all Muslims think that this piece of text, this verse, is the sole reason Christians declare that God is Triune – Three co-eternal and co-equal persons in the one being of God. This is a strong objection.

Let’s think about that argument and it’s implications. It would mean that in the earliest centuries to support the errant teaching of the Trinity idea – someone inserted this bogus text into the Holy Bible. No insertion into the text and there would have been no Trinity and certainly no scriptural warrant for being trinitarian. But  the argument goes, it was inserted and that’s why we have the doctrine of the Trinity.

But this is simply not the case. The verse no where to be seen in any greek text, appeared in the body of the text no earlier than the 15th century and only as a margin note – a schema of understanding, a devotional piece some time before that. No where near the earliest centuries of the church. And the understanding of the divinity of the Son and the Spirt was emerging very early on in the christian community, being described at the end of the second century using the word Trinity. No where near the time of this textual insertion.

time

For source click the image

And another thing I am a trinitarian Christian because I seek to read the whole Bible fairly and carefully and I actually can’t say I have ever read this so called ‘only verse that leads to the Trinity understanding’. Go figure. No bogus verse and yet trinitarian.

See Dr. Dan Wallace’s scholarly treatment of this issue below or click here

“5:7 For there are three that testify, 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are in agreement.”  ‑‑NET Bible

Before τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, the Textus Receptus reads ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι. 5·8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ (“in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 5:8 And there are three that testify on earth”). This reading, the infamous Comma Johanneum, has been known in the English-speaking world through the King James translation. However, the evidence—both external and internal—is decidedly against its authenticity. Our discussion will briefly address the external evidence.1

This longer reading is found only in eight late manuscripts, four of which have the words in a marginal note.  Most of these manuscripts (2318, 221, and [with minor variations] 61, 88, 429, 629, 636, and 918) originate from the 16th century; the earliest manuscript, codex 221 (10th century), includes the reading in a marginal note which was added sometime after the original composition. Thus, there is no sure evidence of this reading in any Greek manuscript until the 1500s; each such reading was apparently composed after Erasmus’ Greek NT was published in 1516. Indeed, the reading appears in no Greek witness of any kind (either manuscript, patristic, or Greek translation of some other version) until AD 1215 (in a Greek translation of the Acts of the Lateran Council, a work originally written in Latin). This is all the more significant, since many a Greek Father would have loved such a reading, for it so succinctly affirms the doctrine of the Trinity.2 The reading seems to have arisen in a fourth century Latin homily in which the text was allegorized to refer to members of the Trinity.  From there, it made its way into copies of the Latin Vulgate, the text used by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Trinitarian formula (known as the Comma Johanneum) made its way into the third edition of Erasmus’ Greek NT (1522) because of pressure from the Catholic Church. After his first edition appeared (1516), there arose such a furor over the absence of the Comma that Erasmus needed to defend himself. He argued that he did not put in the Comma because he found no Greek manuscripts that included it. Once one was produced (codex 61, written by one Roy or Froy at Oxford in c. 1520),3 Erasmus apparently felt obliged to include the reading. He became aware of this manuscript sometime between May of 1520 and September of 1521. In his annotations to his third edition he does not protest the rendering now in his text,4 as though it were made to order; but he does defend himself from the charge of indolence, noting that he had taken care to find whatever manuscripts he could for the production of his Greek New Testament. In the final analysis, Erasmus probably altered the text because of politico-theologico-economic concerns: he did not want his reputation ruined, nor his Novum Instrumentum to go unsold.

Modern advocates of the Textus Receptus and KJV generally argue for the inclusion of the Comma Johanneum on the basis of heretical motivation by scribes who did not include it. But these same scribes elsewhere include thoroughly orthodox readings—even in places where the TR/Byzantine manuscripts lack them. Further, these KJV advocates argue theologically from the position of divine preservation: since this verse is in the TR, it must be original. But this approach is circular, presupposing as it does that the TR = the original text. Further, it puts these Protestant proponents in the awkward and self-contradictory position of having to affirm that the Roman Catholic humanist, Erasmus, was just as inspired as the apostles, for on several occasions he invented readings—due either to carelessness or lack of Greek manuscripts (in particular, for the last six verses of Revelation Erasmus had to back-translate from Latin to Greek).

In reality, the issue is history, not heresy: How can one argue that the Comma Johanneum must go back to the original text when it did not appear until the 16th century in any Greek manuscripts? Such a stance does not do justice to the gospel: faith must be rooted in history. To argue that the Comma must be authentic is Bultmannian in its method, for it ignores history at every level.  As such, it has very little to do with biblical Christianity, for a biblical faith is one that is rooted in history.

Significantly, the German translation done by Luther was based on Erasmus’ second edition (1519) and lacked the Comma. But the KJV translators, basing their work principally on Theodore Beza’s 10th edition of the Greek NT (1598), a work which itself was fundamentally based on Erasmus’ third and later editions (and Stephanus’ editions), popularized the Comma for the English-speaking world. Thus, the Comma Johanneum has been a battleground for English-speaking Christians more than for others.

Unfortunately, for many, the Comma and other similar passages have become such emotional baggage that is dragged around whenever the Bible is read that a knee-jerk reaction and ad hominem argumentation becomes the first and only way that they can process this issue. Sadly, neither empirical evidence nor reason can dissuade them from their views. The irony is that their very clinging to tradition at all costs (namely, of an outmoded translation which, though a literary monument in its day, is now like a Model T on the Autobahn) emulates Roman Catholicism in its regard for tradition.5 If the King James translators knew that this would be the result nearly four hundred years after the completion of their work, they’d be writhing in their graves.


11For a detailed discussion, see Metzger, Textual Commentary, 2nd ed., 647-49.

2Not only the ancient orthodox writers, but also modern orthodox scholars would of course be delighted if this reading were the original one. But the fact is that the evidence simply does not support the Trinitarian formula here—and these orthodox scholars just happen to hold to the reasonable position that it is essential to affirm what the Bible affirms where it affirms it, rather than create such affirmations ex nihilo. That KJV advocates have charged modern translations with heresy because they lack the Comma is a house of cards, for the same translators who have worked on the NIV, NASB, or NET (as well as many other translations) have written several articles and books affirming the Trinity.

3This manuscript which contains the entire New Testament is now housed in Dublin. It has been examined so often at this one place that the book now reportedly falls open naturally to 1 John 5.

4That Erasmus made such a protest or that he had explicitly promised to include the Comma is an overstatement of the evidence, though the converse of this can be said to be true: Erasmus refused to put this in his without Greek manuscript support.

5 Thus, TR-KJV advocates subconsciously embrace two diametrically opposed traditions: when it comes to the first 1500 years of church history, they hold to a Bultmannian kind of Christianity (viz., the basis for their belief in the superiority of the Byzantine manuscripts—and in particular, the half dozen that stand behind the TR—has very little empirical substance of historical worth). Once such readings became a part of tradition, however, by way of the TR, the argument shifts to one of tradition rather than non-empirical fideism. Neither basis, of course, resembles Protestantism.

See also a follow up piece of Dr. Wallace’s here.

Text Tuesday – The Eichenwald Files 5

This will be the last in the Eichenwald Files. All the pieces I have linked to or excerpted say similar things (consistency anyone?) and are all by credible scholars – in the world of scholars. I have posted this series each week to leave a resource trail for Christians and the ‘curious and open-minded other’ to be exposed to careful, thoughtful, rigourous and defendable material. Rarely are ordinary Christians (like me) aware of such voices or exposed to them. That is one of the purposes of the Humble Donkey.

For the last File (5) I am directing you to Dr. Dan Wallace and his response to Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek piece.

Phil

For source click image.

You can find the full Wallace response here as well as other interesting materials by clicking here.

But here is an interesting excerpt from the section entitled:

Error 4: Simplistic Biblical Interpretation When it Suits His Purpose

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.

Text Tuesday – The Eichenwald Files 4

chinese

Click image for source

Amy Hall from the useful apologetics website and ministry Stand To Reason [Click here to go there] has picked out a piece of Dan Wallace’s critique of the Newsweek/Eichenwald Christmas piece. She has bullet pointed this short section for ease of reading and comprehension.  

I think this is an important point from Wallace as I encounter word game / Chinese Whispers / Telephone Game models being proposed as fact with regard to how the books of the New Testament and particularly the gospels were transmitted.

Click the word response below to get to Dan Wallace’s full treatment.

In his response to the now infamous Newsweek article by Kurt Eichenwald attacking the Bible, Dan Wallace succinctly explained why the transmission of the Bible was not like a game of Telephone (bullet point formatting added by me for ease of reading):

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!

Text Tuesday 10 to 13 – The Gospels as Histories

Calling very serious christians – here is a quite academic series of talks from a very serious scholar. They are above my head but so what! I am indebted to and can confirm the advice of John Piper about reading above your level. Your level does lift over time. I can read stuff today that I couldn’t have imagined being able to engage with 5 and 10 years ago. Also while reading above your level – you do get some of the things and as you push ahead you begin to gets stuff your earlier had to gloss over.

So watching lectures is kinda’ the same deal and I encourage you to read, think and converse above your level. Big ideas under consideration are like muscles worked out in the gym. Under strain, there is growth. I certainly prefer books to running machines, though I need both.

They are all over 60 minutes so treat them like a study series and watch one a week and repeat it within the week of viewing to maximise opportunites for increased understanding.

Richard Bauckham Lecture 1 – The Gospels as Historical Biography

Richard Bauckham Lecture 2 – The Gospels as History from Below – Part 1

Richard Bauckham Lecture 3 – The Gospels as History from Below – Part 2

Richard Bauckham Lecture 4 – The Gospels as Micro History & Perspectival History

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Jesus the Hungry – Ramadan Reflections

Light bulbs incandescent-globesLovely muslims say to me, a christian ….

Jesus could not be God – he hungered, ate – game over!

I say to lovely muslims that I, a christian

expect to see Jesus eating and hungering;

because Jesus on earth was the eternal Word of God – made flesh.

Flesh – real flesh – not fake flesh – not pretend flesh;

real eating – real hungering.

That is what incarnation (Word made flesh) means; what one expects with incarnation.

Jesus – God but not solely God

Jesus – man but not solely man.

Jesus – God and man.

Read the scriptures – all of them – not just the ‘Jesus eats! Game Over’ ones.

So when the lovely muslim person says to me, “Jesus ate, he was hungry”, said muslim undoubtedly has an expectation of a light bulb moment for me. There certainly is one – but not the one he expects.

The lightbulb moment for me is the sudden awareness that although this muslim knows I am a christian, he clearly does not know what christians understand our scriptures to say and what we therefore believe.

The lightbulb moment is seeing that the lovely muslim is putting 6th century islamic requirements on the first century Jesus and our scriptures.

We have work to do to understand one another and have a productive chat, this lovely muslim and me.

Gospel according to John – Chapter 1 – Verses 1 to 5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Gospel according to John – Chapter 1 – Verse 14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Text Tuesday 8 – Historicity of the New Testament

TestThis post of someone else’s valuable thoughts and work continues on the theme of reliability and dependability of the texts that tell us about the birth, life, death, resurrection of the man Jesus the worlds Messiah.  Worth thinking about, whether you believe in Him or not.

Historicity of the New Testament – by James M. Rochford [footnotes at original article]

The gospels and epistles are a historically reliable record of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. There are three tests in which all historical documents are subjected in order to determine their reliability:

A. The Bibliographical Test

B. The Internal Test

C. The External Test

Let’s begin with the first test:

A. Bibliographical Test

The bibliographical test (also called lower criticism or textual criticism) asks if the manuscripts from the first-century were accurately transmitted to us today. Was the original NT documents distorted over time?

Many modern people believe that the New Testament was passed down to us like a game of Telephone.[1] I’m sure you remember the game of telephone from grade school. You might begin with the phrase, “Games are played in this space” and you end with the phrase, “James has an ugly face…” (at least, that’s how I remember it from grade school). By whispering the phrase from person to person, the message becomes distorted and unintelligible. Critic Bart Ehrman estimates that there are roughly 400,000 variations in the New Testament.[2] He writes, “There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.”[3] However, this claim is misleading for a number of reasons:

First, the reason why we have so many variations in the New Testament documents is because we have so many manuscripts. Textual critic Daniel Wallace observes, “No classical Greek or Latin text has nearly as many variants, because they don’t have nearly as many manuscripts. With virtually every new manuscript discovery, new variants are found. If there was only one copy of the New Testament in existence, it would have zero variants.”[4] This objection is similar to criticizing a muscle car for burning too much fuel. The engineer might retort: “The only reason this car burns so much fuel is that it burns so much rubber!” In the same way, Ehrman’s criticism actually serves to demonstrate one of the greatest strengths of the New Testament documents: the thousands of manuscripts that support it.

To read the rest of this interesting and comprehensive article at evidence unseen – click here

Text Tuesday 7 – What is the truth about alleged contradictions in the Gospels?

Week 5 and last in this valauble series from Dr. Timothy McGrew hosted by Calvary Bible Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Alleged contradictions in the Gospels? is the subject.

I have loved this series and not just because of Dr. McGrew’s jumpers (pullovers / sweaters) but also getting to write the lovely word kalamazoo 6 times – this being the sixth.

Week 05, Powerpoint, Feb 17, 2013.pdf

Week 05, Resources, Feb 17 2013.pdf

Text Tuesday 6 – What about the alleged errors in the Gospels?

Week 4 with the Dr. Timothy McGrew series at Calvary Bible Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Alleged errors in the Gospels? is the subject.

Resources:

Week 04, PowerPoint, Feb 10 2013.pdf

Week 04, Resources, Feb 10 2013.pdf

Text Tuesday 5 – Is there Internal Evidence for the Truth of the Gospels?

Week 3 of the McGrew series at Calvary Bible Church Kalamazoo, Michigan.

This week the question being addressed is Is there Internal Evidence for the Truth of the Gospels?

Resources:

Week 03, PowerPoint, Feb 03 2013.pdf

Week 03, Resources, Feb 03 2013.pdf

Text Tuesday 4 – Is there external, historical evidence for the truth of the Gospels?

Continuing the series by Dr. Timothy McGrew delivered over at Calvary Bible Church Kalamazoo, Michigan.

This is week 2 of their series – Is there external, historical evidence for the truth of the Gospels?

 

Resources referenced in the talk available in PDF form.

Week 02, PowerPoint, Jan 20 2013.pdf

Week 02, Resources, Jan 20 2013.pdf

Text Tuesday 3 – Who wrote the Gospels?

This is the first of a very good and well resourced series of talks entitled The Gospels & Apologetics by Dr. Timothy McGrew who delivered this series at Calvary Bible Church in Kalamazoo Michigan USA.

The series is accessible but demands attention and is worthy of return trips. The resources accompanying the series – capturing and going beyond the series are invaluable and great to find in one place.

Here is the outline of the 5 week series which I hope to host here each Tuesday:

1) Who wrote the Gospels?

2) Is there external, historical evidence for the truth of the Gospels?

3) Is there internal evidence for the truth of the Gospels?

4) What is the truth about alleged historical errors in the Gospels?

5) What is the truth about alleged contradictions in the Gospels?

All the delivery work is by Dr. McGrew and the setup over at Calvary Bible Church by their team, whom I am grateful to for their work – which I am just posting here to make available to my readership, such as it is.

Dr. McGrew’s resources for Who wrote the Gospels? is as follows:

Week 01, PowerPoint, Jan 13 2013.pdf

Week 01, Resources, Jan 13 2013.pdf

Text Tuesday 1 – Why We Trust the Bible?

Calling serious christians – I want to recommend this resource to you Apologetics Review

Many great resources for your mind, your faith and your fruitfulness. There’s an example below.

Before that, just to say, Dr. Darrell Bock’s presentation below is really a New Testament or gospels defense more than the whole Bible. A very accessible and thoughful scholar, I had the pleasure of hearing, chatting and eating with him in Matamata New Zealand in 2011. Matamata is very close to ‘hobbitville’ from the overated Lord of the Rings movies – controversial I know.

From Apologetics Review

On May 14th, our Reasonable Faith NYC chapter attended a presentation by Dr. Darrell Bock, of Dallas Theological Seminary on the subject, “Why We Trust the Bible.” In this wonderful audio presentation you will find these things discussed:

1. Historical Criteria applied to the Gospels to test authenticity

2. The Jesus Seminar – goals and outcomes

3. Evaluating the Extra-Biblical attestation to Jesus (Joseph, Suetonius and Tacitus – special attention to Josephus)

4. A close look at the Crucifixion story and its historicity

A really great Q & A session was held afterwards.

Here’s the Audio:

Dr. Darrell Bock’s presentation “Why We Trust the Bible”

Dr. Bock provided us with a copy of his PowerPoint slides in pdf format:

Dr. Bock’s PowerPoint slides on “Why We Trust the Bible”

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The universe began to exist – who made God

If your question or objection to this argument is Who made God? then you haven’t understood the first premise of the argument. Spot the word begins.

Try the question again and define God as at 3:48min in the video and the way theistic people do (believers in God) and see why that question is a bit on the nonsense side.

Who made God? Who made the unmade One? Oh dear ….

You might want to argue with the first premise (whatever begins to exist has a cause) and dispute it, refute it (maybe) but that requires more ex nihilo (from nothing) belief than the average theist  can muster. I truely do believe the atheist has more faith than me.

Stop being so passive – start thinking

Today is a day of remembering, of reflecting and boy is it a day of celebrating! But it is also a day of thinking and reasoning.

From the work of accessible scholar & author of Rob Bowman over at Parchment & Pen

In this article I will summarize, as briefly as possible, fourteen evidences for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The summaries of each point are deliberately brief and undeveloped. No pretense is made here of having anticipated every response that skeptics might make. Nor is this an exhaustive list of evidences. Rather, it is a simple overview of many of the factual elements that contribute to the historical case for Jesus’ resurrection. No one point is by itself absolute proof that Jesus rose from the dead, but the evidence is cumulative (that is, each piece adds further weight to the total) and integrative (that is, the various facts fit together in a meaningful whole). The result is a very strong case that Jesus (a) died, (b) was buried, (c) rose from the dead, and (d) appeared alive to a variety of persons (1 Cor. 15:3-8). At the end of this article is an annotated bibliography of 14 books that examine in great detail the issues touched upon in the list of 14 evidences.

14 Evidences

  1. JESUS’ EXISTENCE. That Jesus was a historical individual is granted by virtually all historians and is supported by ancient Christian, Jewish, and pagan sources. Yet modern skeptics often feel that their best strategy for denying the evidence of his resurrection is to deny that he even existed.
  2. JESUS’ DEATH. The most popular counter to the Resurrection in non-Christian and heretical beliefs is to deny that Jesus died on the cross (e.g., this is the position of Islam). However, historians regard the death of Jesus by crucifixion as ordered by Pontius Pilate to be as historically certain as any other fact of antiquity.
  3. CRUCIFIED MESSIAH. Crucifixion was a horrible, shameful way to die, so much so that it would never have occurred to anyone in the first century to invent a story about a crucified man as the divine Savior and King of the world. Something extreme and dramatic must have happened to lead people to accept such an idea—something like his rising from the dead.
  4. JOSEPH’S TOMB. All four Gospels agree that Jesus’ body had been buried in the rock tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish high council (the Sanhedrin). This is an unlikely Christian fiction, because Christians blamed the Sanhedrin for their role in having Jesus executed.
  5. WOMEN WITNESSES. The four Gospels all agree that the first persons to find the tomb empty were Jewish women, including Mary Magdalene. It is very unlikely that anyone would make up such a story, since women’s testimony was devalued compared to men’s and since Mary Magdalene was known as a formerly demon-possessed woman. If the empty tomb story were fiction, one would expect that Joseph of Arimathea, already identified as the tomb’s owner and a respected male leader, would be credited with the discovery.
  6. ANCIENT THEORIES. The earliest non-Christian explanations for the origin of the Resurrection belief (mentioned in John and Matthew) were that the body had been taken from the tomb—either moved to another burial place or stolen to fake the Resurrection. These explanations conceded three key facts: Jesus died; his body was buried in Joseph’s tomb; the tomb was later found to be empty.
  7. TOMB WAS GUARDED. Critics routinely dismiss Matthew’s story about the guards being bribed to say that they fell asleep, giving the disciples opportunity to steal the body (Matt. 28:11-15). But Matthew would have no reason to make up the story about the guards being bribed except to counter the story of the guards saying they fell asleep (see v. 15). Either way, the guards were there: the body had been in the tomb, the tomb had been guarded, and the body was no longer there.
  8. PAUL AND LUKE’S INDEPENDENT ACCOUNTS. Paul’s list of resurrection witnesses in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 coincides with Luke’s account at several points, but in wording and in what is included Luke’s account is clearly independent of Paul. For example, Paul calls Peter by his Aramaic nickname “Cephas,” not Simon or Peter; he refers to “the twelve,” Luke to “the eleven”; Luke does not mention the appearances to James or the five hundred. Thus Paul and Luke give us independent accounts of the appearances they both mention.
  9. CLOPAS AND THAT OTHER GUY. Luke gives the name of one of the two men on the road to Emmaus who saw Jesus (Clopas) but not the name of the other man. If he was making up names he would presumably have given both of the men names. The fact that he identifies only one of the two men by name is best explained if that man, Clopas, was the source of Luke’s account. In short, this fact is evidence that the account came from an eyewitness.
  10. BROTHER JAMES. Although Luke does not mention the resurrection appearance to James (the Lord’s brother) mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6, Luke does report that James had become a leading member of the apostolic group (see especially Acts 15:13-21). Since Jesus’ brothers had rejected Jesus during his lifetime (John 7:5), Paul’s reference to Christ appearing to James is probably based on fact.
  11. JOHN’S EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT. The author of the Gospel of John emphatically states that he was an eyewitness of the death of Jesus, of the empty tomb, and of resurrection appearances of Jesus (John 19:32-35; 20:2-9; 21:7, 20-25). Either he sincerely had these experiences or he was lying; appeals to legend or myth are out of the question here.
  12. ANCIENT SKEPTICISM. Luke reports the skepticism of the men disciples the morning the tomb was found empty (Luke 24:22-24), and John reports Thomas’s skepticism about Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:24-26). These accounts (see also Acts 17:32; 1 Cor. 15:12) demonstrate that the perception of ancient people as gullible hayseeds who would believe any miracle story is a modern prejudicial stereotype.
  13. PAUL’S CONVERSION. Paul was a notorious persecutor of the early Christians prior to his becoming an apostle. His explanation, that Christ appeared to him and called him to faith and the apostolic ministry, is the only plausible explanation for his 180-degree change. Moreover, Paul’s experience was entirely independent of the experience of the other apostles.
  14. PAUL’S GENTILE MISSION. Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus did not result merely in him accepting Jesus as the Jews’ Messiah. Instead, he saw himself, a trained and zealous Pharisee, as commissioned by Jesus to take the good news of the Messiah to uncircumcised Gentiles. The fact that Paul embraced such a calling against his former passionate beliefs and training makes any appeal to hallucination or delusion implausible.

14 REFERENCES

It would be easy to list fourteen books devoted explicitly to the topic of Jesus’ resurrection. The following list of fourteen references includes only five such books. I contend that the cogency of the case for the resurrection of Jesus is significantly improved when it is set within a broader context of substantial background knowledge on God’s existence, miracles, the Bible, and specifically the Gospels and the historical Jesus; hence the tilting of this bibliography to books that contribute to such knowledge.

  1. Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006. Advances in significant ways the case for the origins of the Gospels in eyewitness accounts.
  2. Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002. Since John is the one Gospel writer who explicitly claims to have been an eyewitness, a defense of his Gospel’s historical credibility is of great value to a defense of the Resurrection.
  3. Boa, Kenneth D., and Robert M. Bowman Jr. 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists: Discover Why Believing in God Makes So Much Sense. Colorado Springs: Cook, 2005. Chapters 13-17 present an easy-to-read, popular-level presentation of evidences for Jesus’ existence, death, and resurrection. However, the rest of the book is also relevant, as the other chapters establish a context for believing the truth about Jesus in background knowledge about God’s existence, the reliability and inspiration of the Bible, and the transforming power of the message of Jesus Christ.
  4. Burridge, Richard A. What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. SNTSMS 70. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. 2nd ed., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Dearborn, MI: Dove Booksellers, 2004. Important contribution to Gospel scholarship, proving that the Gospels belonged to the genre of ancient biographies, not fairy tales, legends, or myths.
  5. Chapman, David W. Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010. Thorough study of the subject, complementing Hengel’s by focusing on the Jewish background and the early Christian church.
  6. Copan, Paul, ed. Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Moderated by William F. Buckley, Jr. With responses from Robert J. Miller, Craig L. Blomberg, Marcus Borg, and Ben Witherington III. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998. An interesting published debate on the resurrection of Jesus; Craig and Crossan are leading defenders of their positions.
  7. Craig, William Lane. Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity, Vol. 16. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989. Still one of the very best studies of its kind.
  8. Eddy, Paul R., and Gregory A. Boyd. The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. Powerful refutation of the Jesus myth theory and a strong defense of the historical value of the Synoptic Gospels as sources of information about the historical Jesus.
  9. Ehrman, Bart D. Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperOne, 2012. Tell anyone who claims Jesus never existed to read this agnostic’s critique of the Jesus myth theory and then call you in the morning.
  10. Habermas, Gary R., and Michael R. Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004. Two of the leading scholars on the Resurrection teamed up to produce this readable, solid defense of its historicity.
  11. Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977. Comparatively short but extremely informative study, demonstrating that no sane people living in the ancient Mediterranean world would ever have concocted the story of a crucified man as the central figure of their religion. Focuses largely on the pagan Greco-Roman cultural perspective.
  12. Keener, Craig S. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. 2 Vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011. Massive tour de force case against Hume’s assumption that miracles are so scarce in the modern world as to be ipso facto lacking in credibility.
  13. Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010. Published doctoral dissertation, raising the level of sophistication for the “minimal facts” Resurrection apologetic by a couple of notches.
  14. Quarles, Charles L., ed. Buried Hope or Risen Savior: The Search for the Jesus Tomb. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008. Scholarly, well-done essays refuting the “Jesus family tomb” hypothesis and in the process giving good evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

Holy Week – Easter – Day 5: Thursday

Reblogging the fine and valuable work of Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor Between Two Worlds

Thursday, April 2, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with scholars Doug Moo, Nick Perrin, and Paul Maier, focusing on the background of the Passover, why Jesus and the disciples reclined at the Last Supper instead of eating at a table, and why the Jewish officials had to get Pontius Pilate involved after beginning their judicial proceedings against Jesus.

What is truth?

truth

I previously mentioned (here) this valuable book Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosopy at Denver Seminary, USA. Here’s a piece from the introduction (p16)

We are all citizens of the universe – anxious travelers, much of the time, passing through our days and nights in uncertainty and confusion concerning what matters most. In one sense, we are alone. No one else will live our life or die our death. Each self is unique, responsible and indissoluble. Yet our fate is bound up with our world and our fellow travelers, each of whom has a particular way of coping with – or avoiding – these insistent immensities. We are alone – together.

What if the millenia of human cries echo only into the empty sky and no further? That possibility must be faced if the quest itself is to have any meaning. In the end, hope without truth is pointless. Illusions and delusions, no matter how comforting or grandiose, are the enemies of those who strive for integrity in their knowing and being. Statements such as “I’d like to think of the universe as having a purpose” or “The thought of an afterlife gives me peace” reflect mere wishes. These notions do not address the truth or falsity of there being purpose in the world or of our postmortem survival, because there is no genuine claim to knowledge; a warranted awareness of reality as it really is. A hearty, sturdy and insatiable appetite for reality – whatever it might be – is the only engine for testing and discerning truth. Truth is what matters most, particularly truth concerning our human condition in the world – its origin, its nature, its purpose (if any) and its destiny. Knowing the truth and living according to its requirements should be the hope and aspiration of the reflective person. Only our knowledge of truth – our awareness of reality, no matter how sketchy or partial – can help resolve the inner bickering between the claims of hope and the fears of despair.

In many ways, my own journey to faith in Jesus, has been through the question ‘What is truth?’. What is the truely true and the really real? The Father in drawing me into the truth of the Son by the Spirit practically destroyed me – literally. But on the battlefield between life and death I arrived at a precipice thought – If God is really there, I do want to know him. This was beyond wishful thinking, comforting ideas, childhood reminiscences. I had already visited those shrines and found them desolate. Life and the prospect of death had stripped me bare to my most real and now I was asking a question not solely as an intellectual exercise but I had positioned myself or been positioned to surrender to the answer. If God was not there – then futility would be explored to the maximum. If God was there – then I would live in the reality, beauty, suffering and life of that reality. Again to the maximum. For the first time ever I was falling without a parachute. When you are at your most real, your most true, when everything is stripped away – then the one who lives in unapproachable light just may approach you.

1 Timothy 6:11-16 *

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

So my prayer to the triune God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) for you is:

  • That you will strive for integrity in your knowing and your being
  • That you will pursue the meaning of life beyond your mere wishes
  • That you will have a hearty, sturdy and insatiable appetite for the really real
  • That this insatiable engine will test and discern the truely true
  • That through reflection and aspiration you then live according to the truth
  • That hope grounded on the reality of truth will aid you to live in a despairing world
  • and I ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen (so let it be).

All this puts me in the mood for the serious and beautiful song Skin by Vigilantes of Love from their album Blister Soul (1995). Let the reflective beware this song rewards the repeat button.

* Scripture sourced electronically from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%206&version=NIV