Your Call – Bible Questions – The Jews; Name of God; Heavenly Wheels and Scars; The Devil; Denominations; The Holy Spirit Convicting; The Resurrection Body;

This months Bible Questions on Premier Christian Radio – This one was a wee bit diffferent – Questions include – Are the Jews still God’s chosen people?  Why is God called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (what about Moses, David, John the Baptist)?  Wheels on God’s throne?  Do we keep our scars in heaven? The significance of Jesus being in the grave for three days? When did the devil fall?  Why are there so many denominations?  John 16 and the Holy Spirits Convicting work?  If we are going to get a new body why will the old one be raised?

You can hear the whole show by clicking this link –

https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Weekday/Your-Call/Episodes/Your-Call1105

Your Call – Bible Questions – From Spirit Spouses to Women Preachers!

 

82 thoughts on “Your Call – Bible Questions – The Jews; Name of God; Heavenly Wheels and Scars; The Devil; Denominations; The Holy Spirit Convicting; The Resurrection Body;

  1. I was quite interested to listen to your answer to the question re wheels and scars as it’s actually something I have been thinking about.

    First off your questioner DID mean Daniel and not Ezekiel, the bit referred to is this: “His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.” Daniel 7:9. As someone who uses a wheelchair this grabbed my attention. It’s not that I think that God literally needs a wheelchair to mobilise, this image is clearly symbolic. The symbolism of the wheels seems to me to be about power and movement, God’s rule and authority are not geographically limited. The main other places that wheels feature in the Bible are the Ezekiel passage you mentioned, war chariots and in the temple. Now I know that none of these passages are about disability, I just think that the symbolism is an arresting challenge to the way a lot of people interpret the wheelchair. In popular imagination the wheelchair symbolises the disability that makes the wheelchair useful rather than being seen as a symbol of the God-given human ability to create tools that solve problems. For example I have heard, or seen written, references to being ‘consigned to a wheelchair’, ‘wheelchair bound’, ‘ending up in a wheelchair’. The whole point of a wheelchair is that it restores the ability to move! It isn’t there to bind anyone and it’s not a destination, it’s a way to get places. For this reason I think that liguistically ‘wheelchair user’ is preferable to ‘in a wheelchair’.

    The question about scars was interesting. Clearly Jesus wounds from His crucifixion are very specific and will be a source of wonder, gratitude and praise for all eternity. I do wonder, however, if it might be possible that our resurrection bodies will somehow bear reminders of ways in which God has wonderfully worked through trials to make us more like Jesus. I sometimes watch those programmes on TV where old items are restored and sometimes a decision is made to leave ‘imperfections’ in place that tell the unique story of the item, perhaps that might be a picture of what God might do? I’m being very speculative but however we are raised it certainly will be wonderful and will result in praise and worship.

  2. Most Bible scholars doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Isn’t that a problem for the believability of the alleged resurrection of Jesus?

      1. Bart D. Ehrman (1999). Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Oxford University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-19-512474-3. But are these traditional ascriptions correct? The first thing to observe is that the titles of the Gospels were not put there by their authors—as should be clear after just a moment’s reflection. Suppose a disciple named Matthew actually did write a book about Jesus’ words and deeds. Would he have called it “The Gospel According to Matthew”? Of course not. He might have called it “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” or “The Life and Death of Our Savior” or something similar. But if someone calls it the Gospel according to Matthew, then it’s obviously someone else trying to explain, at the outset, whose version of the story this one is. And in fact we know that the original manuscripts of the Gospels did not have their authors’ names attached to them.1 1. Because our surviving Greek manuscripts provide such a wide variety of (different) titles for the Gospels, textual scholars have long realized that their familiar names (e.g., “The Gospel according to Matthew”) do not go back to a single “original” title, but were later added by scribes.

      2. Example: Wiki –
        Most scholars believe that Mark was written by a second-generation Christian, around or shortly after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple in year 70.[77][78][79]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_reliability_of_the_Gospels#Authorship_and_date

        Also … NT Wright considers the gospels are anonymous.
        And ….as far as I am aware, non-religious biblical scholar consider the gospels are anonymous and not eyewitness authorship.

        I am trying to find evidence to support the claim of eyewitness authorship of the gospels?
        So far I am drawing a blank and what I have read states the opposite.

        Can you at least offer a link to support you statement?

      3. A couple of bits of advice – don’t rely on Wiki….read books.

        If you are trying to find evidence to support the claim of eyewitness authorship of the gospels then read Richard Bauckham ‘Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”….

        Please refrain from googling and then pasting the links on my FB page – we can all do that…

      4. The Wiki article is referenced.
        Baukman does not believe that the gospels are eyewitness authorship.
        I merely asked you for evidence of your claim.
        Why not simply provide me with a link to support you claim?
        That is all I am asking.

      5. Life doesn’t work by links. Where did you get the idea that Bauckham doesn’t believe that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses….have you actually read his book?

      6. Neither does life work by unsubstantiated claims, notably that; ”Most bible scholars do not doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels”.

        So, just for once instead of hand waves and condescension, please have the integrity to supply evidence to support your claim

        Also, as you obviously have read Bauckman’s book, David, please quote me the passage where he states the gospels are eyewitness authorship.

      7. No – I suggest since you are so keen on finding out about this – read it for yourself…it will do you good! His argument is that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts. But what he know? He’s just a professor of NT at St Andrews University and has been studying the source documents for years! How can he stand up against an amateur atheist armed with Wiki and a keyboard! I wonder which one is more reliable?!

      8. I apologize for not responding sooner.

        Most Bible scholars DO doubt the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. I can give you evidence of this. Even most evangelical scholars will admit this consensus exists even though they may disagree with the consensus position. Richard Bauckham, for instance, who DOES believe in the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels states in his book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” (which I have read cover to cover) that that this consensus does exist. Ark has given his statement below but I will repeat it and comment on it in a moment.

  3. “The argument of this bookthat the texts of our Gospels are close to the eyewitness reports of the words and deeds of Jesus–runs counter to almost all recent scholarship. As we have indicated from time to time, the prevalent view is that a long period of oral transmission in the churches intervened between whatever the eyewitnesses said and the Jesus traditions as they reached the Evangelists [the authors of the Gospels]. No doubt the eyewitnesses started the process of oral tradition, but it passed through many retellings, reformulations, and expansions before the Evangelists themselves did their own editorial work on it.” p. 240

    Richard Bauckman – Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

    1. This statement by Bauckham above clearly states that “almost all recent scholarship” rejects the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. That constitutes a consensus.

      Bauckham disagrees with the scholarly consensus, but he contradicts “weefleas” statement above that “Most bible scholars do not doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels…so no problem !” And if even very conservative Bible scholars are admitting that this consensus exists, what more evidence is needed?? (But I will be happy to give you more if you desire.)

      1. Gary,
        you don’t take into account the possibility that Bauckham’s admission in 2003 — that his thesis runs counter to the scholarly consensus — might just have been made obsolete by the reception given to his book. It has been no nine-day wonder as Simon Gathercole’s Foreword to the second edition shows. One of the highlights of Gathercole’s account is his anecdote from a sermon he listened to when his own pastor made cogent use of one of Bauckham’s chapters: when scholarly pastors and evangelists — in many ways the Untermenschen of the academic world — are counted in as they so often aren’t, Bauckham’s effect on the consensus seems to have been little short of devastating.
        Moreover, if you read on from the quote (pp 204ff. of the 1st ed. of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses), Bauckham demonstrates that a large proportion of those who shared the academic consensus in 2003 still took a very high view of the steps that must have been taken to preserve the versimilitude of the oral tradition. One would think that many such must have read Bauckham and recognised that their former way of thinking was a long way for a short cut, as they say.
        Yours,
        John/.

      2. when scholarly pastors and evangelists — in many ways the Untermenschen of the academic world — are counted in as they so often aren’t, Bauckham’s effect on the consensus seems to have been little short of devastating.

        Another somewhat wildly exaggerated statement, John, with zero evidenced to support it.

        What is the difference between a ”scholarly pastor” and , say, an ordinary pastor?
        Don’t they all go through a similar process at seminaries and suchlike?
        Or are there vastly different approaches at such theological schools?

      3. The church has always had a teaching leadership, Ark,
        right from the day of Pentecost until now. There is something wrong with any grouping of local churches where the ordinary pastors are not scholarly in some meaningful sense. However, my ‘somewhat wildly exaggerated statement’ as you will have it, does take account of a couple of factors wrt scholarship outside the academy, so to speak. 1. Tenured posts in academia do have the effect of institutionalising, or even fossilising, ideas that are well past their sell by date. 2. Daily habits of scholarship are much more likely to be found among Reformed Evangelicals than they are among Liberals or Ritualists. These are empirically observable facts so it ought not be surprising if there has been a lag in academic adoption compared with what has happened on the pastorally-involved front-line. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but your ritual complaint about ‘no evidence’ now seems to emerge even when what is put before you is primarily mentioned as evidence. What other reason would there have been for me to direct you to Simon Gathercole’s Foreword to the second edition of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses were it not that it presents evidence that the old consensus is passing away quietly? And that, not with a bang but a whimper.

        Seminaries vary, obviously, but so do the men who come out of them. It probably needs to be pointed out that University Theology Departments are considered to be part of the academy and many Seminaries are not. That does not mean that non-accredited (academically) colleges need be any less scholarly. In my own (unique) case, I did my ministerial training while in the process of retiring from school teaching — I have had a chronic fatigue/post viral syndrome complaint for thirty years — so it was necessary that any studies I undertook would not involve a final exam. Which made it a thoroughly good thing that the London Theological Seminary did not do a degree course. However,
        when I did my Th.M. this century, the (American) accreditation board recognised the Biblical Languages segment of the LTS course as having been up to the level required for an M.Div. so I got to do the course. By my way of thinking I ceased to be any sort of academic when I graduated but I did not cease to be a scholar.
        Yours,
        John/.

      4. @ John K.
        Gathercole’s foreword is certainly full of praise and he does mention that the book has had a lot of impact, and is also part of the reading material at universities and seminaries.
        Nowhere does he state that it has changed the consensus view regarding authorship of the gospels.
        That in itself is telling, so for you to come out with the phrase: Bauckham’s effect on the consensus seems to have been little short of devastating. is quite obviously an exaggeration, and it certainly isn’t evidence.

        That does not mean that non-accredited (academically) colleges need be any less scholarly.

        Would you afford the same amount of leeway to a non-accredited medical school, or even non-accredited veterinary school? In fact, would you send one of your kids to such an institution?

        And correct me if I am wrong, don’t many Seminaries require students/teachers to sign/acknowledge some sort of biblical innerancy contract as part of their terms of employment/study?

      5. Hi, Ark,
        I know it’s a long time since you posted this but it suddenly occured to me that your accreditation question was worth answering. You asked — about non-accredited seminaries —

        Would you afford the same amount of leeway to a non-accredited medical school, or even non-accredited veterinary school? In fact, would you send one of your kids to such an institution?

        Funnily enough, my sister did her medical training at the institution where my brother did his veterinary training: Glasgow University. Now, Glasgow University is, as Universities go, of ancient origin, needing no accreditation from any other institution nor seeking any. (Now I know that you were not referring to Med./Vet. schools with a worldwide reputation to maintain but bear with me.) This state of affairs became a personal problem for my sister when she went to Bolivia because the responsible official could not see his way clear to allowing someone to practice medicine in Bolivia who had trained in a non-accredited institution that didn’t even publish a syllabus!
        So academic accreditation isn’t everything but even where a theology degree is needed, students will tend to go where they think to receive the best teaching, and sometimes the most formative influence comes from outside the institution anyway. The Christian church has always had a teaching leadership and instruction in a seminary ought to be more like that given in good teacher training college; less like university.

        The question of subscription to some or other doctrinal standards is complicated and you will always be able to find cases where it does not work as intended; is nullified by some sort of pseudo-liberal ‘declaratory act’ — as the things have been called — or is used inappropriately to stiffle inquiry and/or debate. It is far more important that the lecturers in an institution are up-front about any exceptions they might have about the Westminster Confession of Faith for example, than would be helpful for the students; but if some dilettanti were to take a place that should be occupied by a more serious student it benefits no-one.
        On the other hand, requiring a commitment to inerrancy before a student can take a course seems wrong-headed to me. Because of the different ways ‘inerrancy’ can be understood and misunderstood, requiring it can only operate as a shibboleth that will exclude some whose initial scruples would be removed by honest discussion about what the word means (to say nothing of including those temped to sign up in order to quell their serious doubts.)
        Caveat Emptor

        Yours,
        John/.

      6. If you consider this comment also not suitable to publish can you ask JohnK to repost on my blog?

        @ John K

        Re: Glasgow University.

        https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_535764_en.pdf

        https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/medicine/

        You didn’t address my query on the previous comment re: your Baukham claim….
        In case you missed it:

        That in itself is telling, so for you to come out with the phrase: Bauckham’s effect on the consensus seems to have been little short of devastating . is quite obviously an exaggeration, and it certainly isn’t evidence.

      7. Ark,
        by its nature, a consensus does not change. It grows/it shrinks; it is increasingly deferred to/it gets ignored; but where a movement has momentum, a consensus has inertia. In the legend about themselves that the Dutch have adopted, Hans Brinker prevents a devastating flood by putting his finger in a tiny breach in the dam. I don’t think Bart Ehrman can pull a Hans Brinker.
        Anyway, here is what N. T. Wright actually had to say about the fist edition of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses:

        The question of whether the Gospels are based on eyewitness accounts has long been controversial. Richard Bauckham, in a characteristic tour de force, draws on his unparalleled knowledge of the world of the first Christians to argue not only that the Gospels do indeed contain eyewitness testimony but that their first readers would certainly have recognized them as such. This book is a remarkable piece of detective work, resulting in a fresh and vivid approach to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of well-known problems and passages.

        https://eerdword.com/2017/04/29/blurb-of-the-week-n-t-wright-on-jesus-and-the-eyewitnesses/

        I think I’ll stick with my ‘devastating’ assessment.
        Yours,
        John/.

      8. Certainly a glowing report – as was Gathercole’s.
        As are so many reports of Strobel’s work for example, and also about the book of former homicide detective, Wallace.
        This doesn’t make what they write any more convincing and certainly none of them present actual evidence to support their opinions.

        Also, did you notice that, Wright masterfully manages to avoid actually agreeing with Baukham?
        So, yes, John, the word devastating is somewhat over the top, and we can safely say that the current consensus stands.

  4. Hi John,

    If you can provide a published quote from any respected New Testament scholar, conservative, moderate, or liberal, who states that since the publishing of Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” the scholarly consensus on the authorship of the Gospels has changed, I will be happy to retract my statement.

    1. Bauckham’s book was published in 2004, I believe. But even in 2009, NT Wright was still saying that he had no idea who the authors of the Gospels were, and he added: “nor does anyone else”. So it doesn’t seem like Bauckham’s evidence was that good if it didn’t even convince another conservative/moderate scholar.

      Here is NT Wright himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FszDfiERnhk

      1. Touché, Gary,
        Tom Wright has many followers even among sub-academical Bible scholars so the picture Simon Gathercole paints might not be uniformly visible. (Gathercole’s book Where is boasting? puts him outside the Wright/NPP ‘consensus’, if we can call it that.) On the other hand, even in this brief clip, Wright’s view of eyewitness testimony places him far closer to Bauckham than a narrow framing of the consensus would allow.
        Yours,
        John/.

  5. Here is a statement by Richard Bauckham in the Preface of the second edition of “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”:

    “I always expected the book to be controversial. After all, it proposed a new paradigm for understanding the origins of the Gospels. It is right that any such proposal should be tested in the fires of criticism and debate. Responses ranged all the way from enthusiastic support to (in just a few cases) unqualified disapproval. Most reviewers judged it as an important book, even if they were not persuaded or not fully convinced by its arguments.”

    –Richard Bauckham
    November 1, 2016

    Gary: That certainly doesn’t sound as if Bauckham himself believes that the scholarly consensus has changed due to his book, merely that his book has provoked a lot of discussion and controversy, which is true.

  6. John: “Tom Wright has many followers even among sub-academical Bible scholars so the picture Simon Gathercole paints might not be uniformly visible.”

    Hi John,

    Doesn’t the fact that NT Wright “has no idea” who the authors of the Gospels were and the fact that most Roman Catholic scholars, who believe in miracles and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, reject the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels, give a strong signal that the evidence for the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is not very strong? Mediocre at best? Doesn’t that concern you?

    1. Since you’ve read The Resurrection of the Son of God, Gary,
      I’m surprised that you think N.T. Wright’s denial of knowing who the Gospel authors actually were, should cause me concern. (On a completely different level — i.e. slightly facetious — should I be convinced that full attention must have been given to Bauckham’s book by the man who endorsed Steve Chalke’s book, apparently without noticing the infamous ‘cosmic child abuse’ statement?)
      As I’m reading Bauckham’s book, itself, I’m finding his arguments engaging to say the least. Am I convinced that Matthew’s name was attached to the eponymous Gospel because it is first and foremost a collection of his eyewitness testimonies? — i.e. not eyewitness authorship in the strictest possible sense — I have to say, not yet, because a supposition about the death of eyewitnesses like Bartimaeus isn’t enough to persuade me of Markan priority. But if one relaxes ever so slightly the meaning of ‘authorship’ — Cleopas, as told to Luke, for example — then Bauckham’s model suggests a compendium of eyewitness accounts that makes the old claim for apostolic authorship seem a bit thin by comparison.
      ‘Eyewitness testimony’ is a better term than ‘eyewitness authorship’ but don’t automatically assume that it’s a capitulation to form-critical claims or even just a step back.
      Yours,
      John/.

      1. Even I agree that there is probably SOME eyewitness testimony within the Gospels. The question is: Which parts are eyewitness testimony, which parts are “4th, 5th, 6th, etc,, hand” information, and which parts are theological fiction?

        Although Bauckham believes that the Greek Gospel of Matthew is based on the Apostle Matthew’s Hebrew Gospel mentioned by Papias, Bauckham believes that later “redactors” added to the original Gospel, at times even inventing stories out of whole cloth!!! Question: If even staunch conservative scholars like Bauckham will admit that there is fictional material in the Gospels, just how historically reliable can these books really be???

      2. Shouldn’t the question rather be: “If Bauckham thinks that the Gospels contain fictional material, how ‘conservative’ can he be?”, Gary?

        As with Tom Wright’s not knowing who the Gospel writers were, I think you’re starting from the wrong direction. This is not a new consideration and it’s certainly been on my horizon for nearly fifty years. There is a growing recognition on all sides that the Resurrection is the keystone belief of Christianity, so, when it comes to the crunch, everything else is tied to the evidence for that; or lack of it, if you must. (I’ve read as far as I’m able to in the googlebooks preview of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses which is enough to suggest to me that if Bauckham allows of parts [that] are “4th, 5th, 6th, etc,, hand” information and even theological fiction then he contradicts what he says elsewhere about Ehrman and Bultmann. But whatever: the question of reliability has to be tied to the consistancy of the eyewitness testimony and not to the inconsistancies of commentators, however eminent.)

        Two books give us a couple of foundational principles we can build on. 1. Easter Enigma by John Wenham — the man who probably taught most of us our Koiné Greek — demonstrates that the ‘eyewitness-perspective contradictions’ of the crucifixion/resurrection narratives are resolvable and are therefore no barrier to acceptance of reliability. 2. Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morrison demonstrates that removing the composition of the Gospels as far away from purported eyewitnesses as is reasonably possible still leaves the reasonable — perhaps overwhelmingly so — conviction that those eyewitness accounts cannot be gainsayed, however deep in redaction they are buried.

        So, worst case senario: Bauckham only goes part way towards demonstrating the provenance of each péricope the key question that remains is whether or not the testimony as a whole or in any part can be shown to be false. (It could be argued that the less conservative the scholar the more impressive the conclusion that the eyewitnesses saw the Risen Christ.) My point is that since God has demonstrably raised Jesus from the dead and given us overwhelming witness to the fact, it would be idiotic to suppose that he would deceive us by burying the witness among a motley collection of made-up stories.

        Yours,
        John/.

  7. “…given us overwhelming witness to the fact”

    How can you make such a bold claim when even conservative evangelical Christian scholars such as Bauckham and Michael Licona admit that fictional stories exist in the Gospels???

    1. You ask, Gary:

      How can you make such a bold claim — [“God has … given us overwhelming witness to the fact”] — when even conservative evangelical Christian scholars such as Bauckham and Michael Licona admit that fictional stories exist in the Gospels???

      It is a bold claim and when the ellipsis is removed it’s the foundationalal claim that we make: ‘God has demonstrably raised Jesus from the dead and given us overwhelming witness to the fact.’ But as to how we can make the claim in the present context? I’ll reitterate the points I was trying to make in the post.

      1. There is a long history of elevating working hypotheses up to the status of ‘assured results of critical scholarship’, only to see that assurance disappear in no time. With respect, you are starting from the wrong place if you want to truly question the reliability of the Gospels.

      2. So where is the right place to start? John Gray — Seven Types of Atheism p. 15 — points us to the story of Jesus:

      Christianity is liable to falsification by historical fact … [and] will be badly shaken if the received story of Jesus can be shown to be false.

      The Apostle Paul’s improvement on ‘badly shaken’ is to say that if the dead are not raised then we are of all men the most miserable. So the starting point is not so very far from how you set the question saving that we ought to look at the consistency of the eyewitess accounts themselves rather than at the consistency of any scholar’s treatment of them.

      3. We know what happens when reassessment of the Biblical narrative takes place on theological grounds masquerading as historiography. When someone quipped:

      By their ‘Lives of Jesus’ shall you know them.

      the joke spread rapidly because everyone knew what it meant. However, when sceptical non-theologians have taken these ‘histories’ at face value, they have found that the purported eyewitness accounts ‘preserved’ by the torturous — as they suppose — process of redaction and invention have a ring of truth that cannot be gainsayed. That said, any identification of ‘fictional stories’ by Bauckham is liable to have been made on theological grounds rather than historical. Which is the complete opposite to your surmise.

      4. For thoroughly logical reasons History cannot say that Christ rose from the dead but for the same logical reasons it must say that hundreds of people, in widely different circumstances, saw the Risen Christ, after his public execution. In my experience, when someone declares something in the Scripture to be a fictional story it has always been on the grounds that it could not have happened but — in the absence of other grounds — since God has demonstrably raised Jesus from the dead, it would be a bit daft to rule anything as fictional merely on the grounds that God could not do that.

      Yours,
      John/.

      1. Hi John.

        “That said, any identification of ‘fictional stories’ by Bauckham is liable to have been made on theological grounds rather than historical. Which is the complete opposite to your surmise.”

        I suggest you read Bauckham’s book before forming a conclusion on his evidence or lack thereof.

        “For thoroughly logical reasons History cannot say that Christ rose from the dead but for the same logical reasons it must say that hundreds of people, in widely different circumstances, saw the Risen Christ, after his public execution.”

        I agree with the first half of that statement, but the second half is incorrect, John. Most historians would agree that historical evidence strongly indicates that some early Christians CLAIMED and sincerely believed that the executed Jesus had appeared to them in some fashion. But that’s it. Not even very conservative evangelical scholar Gary Habermas of Liberty University claims that most historians believe that “hundreds of people saw the resurrected Jesus”. Very important distinction.

        The big question is: What exactly did these early Christians claim to have seen??? A body? A bright light?

        Is there any undisputed evidence that hundreds of people claimed to have seen the walking, talking, broiled fish eating, resurrected body of Jesus as you suggest? Can you provide undisputed evidence of even ONE alleged eyewitness claiming that he or she saw a walking, talking resurrected body? I don’t think you can. And that’s a big problem for traditional Christianity: A complete lack of undisputed eyewitness testimony of anyone claiming to have seen a resurrected walking, talking corpse.

        Thousands of people throughout history have claimed to have received appearances from dead loved ones and friends, John. Do you believe all these claims too? If not, why not?

      2. That’s not how being sceptical works, Gary;
        and it’s not how academic books work either. Imagine if you said that I ought to wait for a blogger to stop posting before coming to a conclusion about where he is coming from; it wouldn’t work. Should you get yourself a copy of Bauckham’s second edition, you could not wait until you had read the three added chapters before coming to a conclusion because you already have and it would be impossible for you to read the new without being influenced by the old. Let’s just say that I’ve read enough to come to a working hypothesis and challenge your conclusion, in respect of how Bauckham has come to what might be deemed less-than-conservative conclusions.

        Having said that, I had thought that you were keeping your powder dry by putting up the Matthew/Levi contradiction in lieu of the more serious charges that you must have gleaned from what I have not yet been able to read. I think I’m safe to think that you don’t have anything better after reading:

        The big question is: What exactly did these early Christians claim to have seen??? A body? A bright light?

        I may not be the person to judge — if for no other reason than that I don’t think that ‘Mark would have said’ is sufficient cause to say that Matthew and Levi were two different people — but is the fact that Bauckham doesn’t seem to mention the possibility of a total coincidence, ‘scandalous’? I’m not stumbled by that, but as I say, I may not be the person to judge.

        On the more substantive question of what ‘History’ must record, you are confusing ‘Historians’ with ‘History.’ If the evidence is that numerous eyewitnesses saw ‘something’ then the individual historian has a choice to report it or go somewhere else. What an historian cannot do is to make the sort of leap you make with:

        Bauckham has the audacity to repeatedly assure us in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses that the “eyewitnesses” to the individual stories or vignettes in the Gospels served as “guardians” to the historical integrity of these stories, zealously protecting the historical accuracy of the stories down to the very day that the Evangelists wrote the stories in their Gospels, and, continuing to protect the accuracy of these stories as the Gospels circulated among the churches in the first century.

        At least, our historian could not do so without first showing that a first century ‘historian’ would not have taken a story that is known to be true — to say nothing about there being parallel cases (e.g. Zacchaeus) and even a close-to-parallel contradiction/coincidence conundrum (i.e. Simon the Leper/Simon the Pharisee.) — and apply it to someone to whom it could very well have happened, as well.

        As for the ‘backstop’ theory: — i.e. that the Matthew author had to hand a story with good provenance about the Apostle Matthew and also a written account of the conversion of an otherwise obscure former tax-collector called Levi. — We cannot condemn him from taking the words written about one and using them to describe what is known to be true about the other. By present day standards that would be plagerism but even today, what is considered to be plagerising someone in one culture is considered to be honouring them in an other.

        Anyway, your too-easy dismissal of the solid (ungainsayable) presentation of the special case of eyewitnesses to the Resurrection bodes ill for any expectation you might have to be considered a trustworthy guide to Bauckham’s findings concerning the general ‘eyewitnesses from the beginning’ assertions of Scripture.

        You ask

        Thousands of people throughout history have claimed to have received appearances from dead loved ones and friends, John. Do you believe all these claims too? If not, why not?

        I answer: No, why on earth should I? (The posing of the questions suggests that you have not taken seriously the claims made by Christians for the eyewitness testimony to the resurrection.) You should.

        Yours,
        John/.

  8. As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.

    —the Gospel of Matthew

    As he [Jesus] was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.15 And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him.

    —the Gospel of Mark

    According to preeminent conservative Christian New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, chapter 5), the author of the Gospel of Matthew was not Matthew the Apostle, but an anonymous Christian author writing a Gospel based on accounts/stories which allegedly originated from the Apostle Matthew. Bauckham believes that this anonymous author knew that the Apostle Matthew was a tax collector, but, did not know the details of Matthew’s calling to be one of the Twelve; he did not know the story of how Jesus came to call upon Matthew to be one of his disciples.

    Bauckham believes that the unknown author of the Gospel of Matthew very much wanted a story about the calling of Matthew for the Gospel he was writing; a gospel which he intended to attribute to…the Apostle Matthew (The Gospel “according to” Matthew). So this anonymous author decided to borrow a story about the calling of another tax collector, Levi, as found in the Gospel of Mark, and insert it into his gospel, creating the fictional calling of Matthew the tax collector and Apostle as found in Matthew chapter 9.

    Yet…Bauckham has the audacity to repeatedly assure us in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses that the “eyewitnesses” to the individual stories or vignettes in the Gospels served as “guardians” to the historical integrity of these stories, zealously protecting the historical accuracy of the stories down to the very day that the Evangelists wrote the stories in their Gospels, and, continuing to protect the accuracy of these stories as the Gospels circulated among the churches in the first century. But to paraphrase Neil Godfrey of Vridar blog: Where were Bauckham’s ‘guardians of historical accuracy’ when the author of Matthew was concocting a fictional tall tale about Jesus’ calling of the Apostle Matthew???

    Scandalous! Truly scandalous.

    Isn’t it obvious? The position of Bauckham and other conservative Christians on the historical reliability of the Gospels is driven by theology not historical evidence.

    1. Tantalisingly, Gary,
      Bauckham begins his discussion of Matthew/Levi on p.108 but the googlebooks preview omits pp. 109f. As far as I can see, Bauckham bases his rejection of the traditional identification of Matthew with Levi on the grounds that if Mark had known Matthew and Levi to be the same person he would have said, which is a fair point. However, IMO Bauckham is being too clever by half: if Matthew and Levi are the same person, Mark not mentioning it is a tad contradictory; but if two different people are in view then there is the possibility of a coincidence. NB the very similar contradiction/coincidence dilemma with the Simon the Leper/Simon the Pharisee stories.
      Yours,
      John/.

      1. Considering how many verses – 600? – in gMatthew are lifted directly from gMark, some almost verbatim, it’s obvious we are simply dealing with an embellished tale designed to fit the author’s agenda. This became even more obvious once scholars realised that gMark was the first gospel and not gMatthew as was first believed/claimed, and what we were all brought up to beleive and is reflected in everyone’s KJV.
        As this is much the same with gLuke, – 300 or so verses – and there is absolutely no evidence for any Q source, all we really have from people like Baukham are arguments and postulations that reflect their foundational Christian belief; arguments that are built upon a presupositional mindset that these documents are in some way historical accounts. A claim that is palpable nonsense as there is no evidence for this whatsoever.
        To quote the immortal lines from Life of Brian: ” He’s making it u as he goes along!”

      2. Really, Ark‽
        Are you really going to sally forth into the field again to make your ‘there is no evidence for this whatsoever‘ claim, knowing when proved wrong, that you can simply declare that it doesn’t matter that there’s a mountain of evidence — in this case that ‘these documents are in some way historical accounts’ — because in order for it to mean anything we’ve got to add on miracles. Why not save yourself all the bother and tell us that in spite of all the evidence that the Gospels are historical documents, they must be wrong because of integral nature of the miracle stories?
        One would think that you need a smokescreen to hide your unbelief.
        Who says that the Gospels are in no way whatsoever to be considered as historical documents?
        Yours,
        John/.

      3. But doesn’t it say something about the weakness of the evidence for the historical reliability of the Gospels if even conservative evangelical Christian Bible scholars are admitting that there is fictional material in the Gospels?

      4. I’m not a disinterested observer, Gary,
        so I’m hardly going to do anything other than deconstruct your allegation.
        1. For these men to affirm that there are fictional stories in the Gospels would ipso facto put a question mark over whether they could be called ‘conservative.’
        2. That they should be said to admit it, implies that a denial would itself be a falsehood. (Heads – I lose; Tails – you win! I’m not buying it.)
        3. That you have to take whatever examples you give of such ‘admissions’ and refer to ‘fictional’ material — I’m assuming that ‘fictional’ is not their word — rather displays the weakness of your evidence, to my mind.
        4. Wouldn’t it be a really strange thing if scholars never made mistakes? On the other hand, where verification is possible, the Biblical authors prove to be historians of the highest order. So William Mitchell Ramsay writing about Acts in The Bearing of Recent Discovery pp. 83, 89:

        Further study … showed that the book could bear the most minute scrutiny as an authority for the facts of the Aegean world, and that it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement. … ‘I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it there [in Acts]. You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment.

        At best these ‘admissions’ of ‘fictional material’ are moot points. Your protest is like a juror arguing that there is reasonable doubt because the Accused said, ‘I didn’t do it.’

        Yours,
        John/.

      5. @ John K.
        Seems another of my comments is not showing. Oh, well …

        Considering how far biblical scholarship and analysis has advanced since the beginning of the 20th century when Ramsay was active, are you sure you want to throw your hat in with someone who was convinced that all 13 of Paul’s letters were authentic?

        Under the circumstances perhaps a more up to date scholar might be a better choice when trying to establish credibility for your argument, John.

      6. You got me, Ark.
        I was fishing. What would be the point of me suggesting anyone more contemporary if you are simply going to dismiss them on the grounds of them being evangelicals? I was hoping you would suggest someone’s criticism of Ramsay’s work but in the absence, how about:
        Edwin Yamauchi, “Ramsay’s Views of Archaeology in Asia Minor Reviewed,” in The New Testament Student and his Field, vol. 5, The New Testament Student ed. John H. Skilton and Curtis A. Ladley (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1982), 27-40.

        Somehow I don’t think we’ll be going there since secondhand copies are a bit pricey but perhaps you know something more accessible?

        Yours,
        John/.

      7. Apologies for late reply, Gary,
        but I’ve just realised that there is a non-trivial question hidden behind your thesis. The thesis itself falls because to make it work you have to read a fundamentalist literalism into the words of men who are not fundamentalists. But if you step back a bit there is a real question along the lines of: it is generally agreed that the Bible contains many examples of figurative language so how are we supposed to know when we are to take it figuratively and when we ought to take it ontologically? If I were answering this question, I would expect to get extra credit for demonstrating that there are occasions when we are meant not to know whether some references are figurative or realistic. Neverthless, most credit should be reserved for just saying in effect, ‘Use your Common Sense.’
        Yours,
        John/.

  9. Who says that the Gospels are in no way whatsoever to be considered as historical documents?

    Oh, but they most certainly are historical documents , John. I would never deny this .
    The crucial point you to struggle to come to terms with is that they do not reflect a real history.
    And I fear your faith will not allow you to accept this fact, even though the evidence, or rather complete lack of evidence is there for all to see. Well, all those who are not encumbered by faith, of course.

    1. They may reflect SOME real history but since even Christian scholars and historians like NT Wright, Richard Bauckham, Michael Licona, and William Lane Craig admit that there may be fictional stories in the Gospels, which parts should we believe as true and which parts fiction?

    2. And there you go again, Ark:
      that’s not an argument; it’s not even a coherent denial.
      According to you, Biblical historiography neither is real history nor even reflects real history. No debate in your mind about that? I assume that your denial does not really stretch as far as to deny that the accounts are written and in narrative form. (This might be pushing it since you belong very decidedly in the ‘What fridge?’ tendency of evidence-denial, but never mind.) There is a debate about whether Luke’s accounts would have been considered to be histories or technical manuals but the ‘manual’ classification would imply a step towards the representation of reality; not a step away.
      But the true wonder of your desperate defence is that you deny that the Lucan accounts even reflect history. So they don’t even have the fallback claim to be legends or secret histories? (We would disagree about how much apocalyptic can reflect historiography, but Luke is patently not an apocalyptic writer, so our disagreement there is irrelevant.) Ark, what are these accounts if they don’t even reflect reality? The logic of this over-extension of your claim would demand that every character that appears in other narratives as well as Luke’s should be expunged from the record because they are nothing more than reflections of Luke’s fantasy.
      Then after this piece of doubling down, you pull out your trump card:

      And I fear your faith will not allow you to accept this fact, even though the evidence, or rather complete lack of evidence is there for all to see. Well, all those who are not encumbered by faith, of course.

      And this evocation of the Emperor’s Dressers’ appeal to the Emperor’s vanity rather proves my point. Why bother debating with people of faith if we can’t see that what we call ‘faith’ is actually not faith at all and that if only we’d bow to your definition; you’d win the argument and then we’d all be happy?
      Well I’ll grant you that when that happens it’ll prove that faith is what those who claim to have none, claim it is. In the meantime I’ll stick with the claim that Where verification has been possible, the Bible writers have proven to be outstanding historians. I don’t think you’ll be able to disprove that.
      Yours,
      John/.

      1. As this discussion goes back some length of time and stretches over a couple of blogs at least , it is disconcerting that you seem to develop a mental block when it suits your approach to this topic.
        It also seems apparent that if I do not use the exact same terminology in each response you give the impression you have dismissed all the other times and thus, is now an opportunity for a ”Gotcha” moment.
        And you deftly avoid addressing a number of the specifics of the post, as well.

        So let me be as precise as I can, and if I omit to mention a point I have raised previously please consider it a given it is expressly implied here, and in any other posts that cover the same/similar topic.
        According to consensus which will include recognised top-drawer biblical scholarship involved in all the relevant disciplines, the gospels:
        1. are not eyewitness testimony.
        2. are not eyewitness authorship – authorship is completely unknown.
        3. are historical fiction meaning in this case that, historically verifiable places and historically verifiable characters are used as a backdrop/setting for the gospel tales.

        Where verification has been possible, the Bible writers have proven to be outstanding historians

        ”Where verification has been possible”. This is of course the ‘thing’, is it not, John?
        Therefore, as archaeologists and their colleagues have been doing sterling work for decades in this field, I wouldn’t dream of even trying to disprove it. Leave it to those more qualified, I say.

  10. William Lane Craig, conservative evangelical historian and apologist–believes that Matthew’s Raising of the Dead Saints Story may be fictional:

    Responding to Jesus Seminar fellow Robert Miller—who claimed that Matthew freely added to Mark’s Gospel the story of the resurrection of the saints, a story which Matthew did not take literally, but included it as a figurative expression of the apocalyptic significance of Jesus’ death—William Lane Craig said: “Dr. Miller’s interpretation of this passage [Matthew’s Raised Dead Saints Story] strikes me as quite persuasive, and probably only a few conservative scholars would treat the story as historical.” —“Will the Real Jesus Stand Up”, edited by Paul Copan, pp. 164-165

    1. Prosecutorial overkill, Gary:
      The raising-of-the-dead-saints account in Matthew would have been a bigger problem if you hadn’t pretended that Craig thought it to be ‘fictional’. It’s quite easy to find video evidence of Craig saying that his reservation is, not that Matthew interjects a fictional account, but that he suspects Matthew might have been using apocalyptic imagery here.
      So, well done for identifying a genuine problem text but making out that ‘conservative’ scholars cry ‘fiction’ when they meet such difficulties? They don’t; it undermines your argument; so: not so well done.

      Perhaps you might want to argue for the raising-of-the-dead-saints account being fictional on your own account — and if so, do so — but hiding behind a pretend admission by a so-called conservative scholar is pointless in an easy information access age. You will be found out.

      Yours,
      John/.

      1. In context, how is apocalyptic imagery not fiction?
        Mike Licona was forced to resign from his position for stating that the Raised Saints incident in gMatthew was not to be taken literally.
        Fellow Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian, Norman Geisler asked/demanded(?) Licona issue a retraction, openly stating that, Licona’s assertion undermined the truth of the gospels.
        The term apocalyptic imagery was a phrase offered in place of Licona’s original statement in his 2010 book, and Licona continues to use it during discussions on the matter and during debates..
        Craig was one of a number of conservative Christians that came to Licona’s defense in the matter, but to no avail.
        It is obvious to those who understand the term in the context that it is used it is a subtle way of saying the incident is a fictional account.

        Any attempt to try to suggest otherwise is blatantly disingenuous.

        And while we are on the subject …
        Do you believe gMatthew’s account is fact or fiction, John?

      2. Do I believe Matthew’s account is fact or fiction?
        Considering that you make fictive, things that others classify as being symbolic representations of factual things how am I supposed to answer that question? I’ve enjoyed looking at the last verses of Matthew again in the light of Gary’s question and it seems to me impossible to tell whether he meant that the raising of the saints actually happened or whether what we have is reportage of what people thought they saw and/or said they saw.

        I might say more once I’m under a solid roof once again but I’m in a tent near Windermere and a warm sleeping bag calls.
        Yours,
        John/.

      3. Do I believe Matthew’s account is fact or fiction?
        Considering that you make fictive, things that others classify as being symbolic representations of factual things how am I supposed to answer that question?

        Things that are fiction are fiction. Anything else you consider I am doing suggests you are simply lying.

        As for the Zombie Apocalypse …. You either consider it happened or it didn’t.
        Surely you aren’t afraid to make an honest answer regarding you personal belief?

      4. No, Ark,
        you did say that Apocalyptic = Fiction.

        It is obvious to those who understand the term in the context that it is used it is a subtle way of saying the incident is a fictional account.

        Any attempt to try to suggest otherwise is blatantly disingenuous.

        I am not lying.

        Nor am I trying to be subtle. If Matthew does switch to apocalyptic mode it does not intend that that should be regarded as fiction. When William Lane Craig prevaricated over saying that the raising of the saints actually happened on the grounds that the péricope could be apocalyptic he definitely wasn’t saying that it would therefore be fictional.

        So, what’s the evidence that it might be apocalyptic? The one thing that strikes me is that Matthew calls Jerusalem, ‘the holy city’ which, importantly, it only does in one other place.

        [Matthew 4:5-7] Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, | lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
        Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

        I’ve got more to say about the structure of the end of Matthew (and how it relates to the beginning) but it’s time for the Champions’ League Final (again) and I want to see it.
        In the meantime, if you really want to know what I think about Matt. 27:53, don’t call it the Zombie Apocalypse. They weren’t zombies.
        Yours,
        John/.

      5. I am not lying. /blockquote>

        Then you are delusional. What possible alternative is there, John?

        don’t call it the Zombie Apocalypse. They weren’t zombies.

        I know they weren’t Zombies. The term Zombie Apocalypse is often used as a pejorative, and I am fully aware of why I used it.

      6. Once again, no, Ark:
        being delusional is not an alternative to being a liar. The fact that I am given to delusion — I do have track record — is not in itself reason to assume I’m wrong about any particular thing. (For example: yesterday I heard a couple of helicopters, walked to the end of our road where there were thousands of people waiting for a bus. I’m delusional but a quick reality check will show that this was not a delusion.) If you know anything about living with delusions, you’ll know that it is no use attempting to spot the delusions; one needs reality checks and workarounds. It turns out that psychiatrists are also wary of labelling delusions, or should be.

        The delusion is the hallmark of psychosis. If a clinician notes the presence of a delusion in a patient, this has enormous implications for diagnosis and treatment, as well as complex notions concerning responsibility, prediction of behavior, etc. Yet despite the facade created by psychiatric textbooks, there is no acceptable (rather than accepted) definition of a delusion.

        “On the Impossibility of Defining Delusions,” Anthony S. David — https://muse.jhu.edu/article/28276
        Yours,
        John/.

      7. being delusional is not an alternative to being a liar.

        It most certainly is one alternative. Therefore, at this stage I am fully prepared to accept you are not lying ( which of course suggests blatant intent).
        Based on your admission, however, – ”I do have track record” – would lend itself to being the more likely suspect.

        What you appear to be doing is attempting to find an interpretation that fits your predetermined belief.
        Indoctrination tends to close down critical thinking faculties somewhat. Francis Collins, for example, cites Death Anxiety as the primary reason for his conversion.
        Apparently he functions quite normally on a day to day basis by compartmentalizing, thus faith does not intrude on his science.
        Dan Dennett considers that, many religious adherents strongly believe in belief. I think he may state it slightly differently, but you get the gist, I hope? ( was a while back that I watched this particular lecture)

        To close, for now ….
        While not the perfect analogy, I would suggest your approach is much like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
        ”Too hot, too cold, ah, just right!”

        And of course, when we say just right, we mean it is just right for you .

      8. The Goldilocks thing is just confirmation bias, Ark,
        though that can be checked with very similar tests as I use to check if I’ve deluded myself. More importantly, Francis Collins does not talk about faith with the rigour that I for one would like but I don’t think it’s legitimate to accuse him of compartmenalisation. See this from an interview with Jon Sweeney:
        SWEENEY:

        As a scientist, you test your assumptions and beliefs. But as a Christian, you have said that you took “a leap of faith.” Why the two different paths?

        COLLINS:

        Maybe they aren’t that different. Both science and faith are ways of seeking the truth. Science seeks truth about how the natural world works, and faith seeks answers to more profound questions such as, Why is there something instead of nothing?, or What is the meaning of life?, and Is there a God? All require a certain element of faith—you can’t be a scientist unless you have faith in the fact that there is order in nature, and that nature will behave in reproducible and predictable ways.

        Yours,
        John/.

      9. The Goldilocks thing is just confirmation bias, Ark,

        It is a rather fitting analogy, in actual fact. And yes, of course you have deluded yourself: you accept that an unsubstantiated text which claims a corpse was resurrected is historical fact.
        How much more delusional do you need?

        Re: Collins.
        He is a Christian for goodness’ sake. Do you really expect him to say something that will contradict or compromise his faith? Good grief!
        Look at the language he uses. ”Maybe they aren’t that different.”
        He is almost equivocating.
        ”You can’t be a scientist unless you have faith in the fact that there is order in nature, and that nature will behave in reproducible and predictable ways.”
        Oh, really? Tell that to Dawkins or de Grasse Tyson!
        Besides, he is playing a little fast and loose with the word faith and we both know it.

        He converted primarily because of Death Anxiety. and if he had lived in the Middle East he would likely have become Muslim.
        So yes, of course he compartmentalizes his faith and his science.

      10. Poor you, Ark;
        it really can’t be easy juggling all these balls in the air at once. From another point of view, I keep yielding you places that you can attack me from and you keep throwing them away.
        Here is the sort of delusion I know I suffer from: I think about theological problems — it’s my job — and sometimes I, quite literally, dream up solutions. Only problem is that sometimes I dream that I’m reading this solution in a book and if I recall it in the future, it is associated with a book in which I never read it, except in a dream. One learns to check ones sources, which is much easier since googlebooks arrived.

        I suppose you are welcome to keep using cognates of ‘Delusion’ pejoratively but if we all did that the words would become meaningless and thus powerless.

        Thank you for the introduction to deGrasse Tyson; I’d not heard of him before. Obviously, anything I’ve read about him (to see if bracketing him with Dawkins is justified) can only have been cursory, but already I’ve read enough in the usual dodgy sources of information, for me to conclude that deGrasse Tyson’s arguments, unlike those of Dawkins, do not depend on a flawed definition of ‘faith.’

        And on that point, let me remind you that I did say,

        Francis Collins does not talk about faith with the rigour that I for one would like

        but your objection is quite the opposite:

        he is playing a little fast and loose with the word faith and we both know it.

        Really‽

        It probably oughtn’t amuse me but it does: the way you keep insisting that all the characteristics of faith that you admire — such as trust and reasoning — must be expunged from our definition of ‘faith’ for your convenience. Not going to happen.

        Similarly, this ‘death anxiety’ excuse for dismissing the testimony of Francis Collins. It’s not in the index of The Language of God which is hardly a surprise because it isn’t in the text either.

        Back to square one, as they say.

        Yours,
        John/.

      11. John, all you are doing is attempting to justify your faith based solely on some form of emotional deficiency you suffer from and which you are unable to come to terms with outside of a Jesus framework. And for some reason you believe that, by utilizing extensive verbiage this will convey a superior intellect and bolster your position.
        In fact, it conveys exactly the opposite.

        Why don’t you simply deconvert?
        I mean seriously, what do you really think is going to happen to you if you don’t?

      12. The ’emotional deficiency [I] suffer from and [with] which [I am] unable to come to terms … outside of a Jesus framework’ is called sin, Ark.
        The
        ‘extensive verbiage’ you complain of is a deficiency of another kind and it’s my considered opinion that it makes me sound like a pretentious fool, which is a pity, and don’t mock the afflicted.
        I was minded just to ignore your invitation to deconvert but then you changed your supplementary from ‘what do you really think is going to happen to you if you don’t? to ‘what do think is going to happen to you if you do? And that is a much more interesting question.

        What would I have to do in order to deconvert?
        • Turn back. Which in baptismal terms means something like not getting on the Ark or not following Moses down onto the bed of the Red Sea. Difficult to undo that, but never mind, I’m sure it’s the thought that counts.
        • Eschew leadership; both leading and being led. That would mean giving up reading the Bible, also.
        • Stop meeting with Christians. This would be the first thing that would be noticed.
        • Forget. No need to join the French Foreign Legion, it should be enough to stop breaking bread as a deliberate act of remembrance.
        • Stop praying. No cheating by clinging on to any of the means of grace and that includes singing.
        • Neglect being ready to say or to do anything that might give the idea that you are a Christian. Be sluggish about maintaining a full assurance of hope.
        • Decommission. Find another purpose for living.

        Why would I want to do that?
        Yours,
        John/.

      13. Oh, and the Death Anxiety? Where do you think I got that from? Sucked it out of my thumb? Francis Collins openly expressed it in an interview.

      14. Couldn’t find it, Ark,
        so — given that it is extensively referred to by yourself and John Zande — it is only right that you get us the citation or just a direct quote. I’m guessing that Collins does not use the term ‘Death Anxiety’ himself but I’ve been wrong before.
        Yours,
        John/.

      15. Then you need to look harder. Try good old Youtube.
        No he does not use the term death anxiety. I never said he did. This is the term given to his emotional condition and was the primary motivator in his conversion.

        And why don’t you deconvert, John? I’m serious, what do think is going to happen to you if you do?

      16. [T]erm given to his emotional condition by whom, Ark?
        and was the primary motivator in his conversion. in whose opinion?

        As for my deconversion, I have a short answer that speaks for all my faculties:

        • No desire to.
        • Know better than to.
        • Not going to.

        What I think and/or know would happen to me if I did such a thing will require a longer post. But I think you’ll find my answer to be worth waiting for.

        Don’t forget that a proper sceptic would have to take everything Collins says about his conversion into account before pronouncing on it. You’ve not done that.
        Yours,
        John/.

      17. Yes, I know everything about his conversion as he revealed himself. If he was hiding anything then no-one can know of any other motives.
        He claimed to have been an atheist – turned away from God is the term he used as a qualifier ,but any atheist will tell you his claim is nonsense. he was never an atheist but merely a lapsed Christian.
        So his doubt and fears came to a head whilst holding the hand of dying woman. He said so himself.
        And death anxiety is a clinical term.
        Look it up.

        Of course you won’t reveal detail of you conversion. Fear is a great motivator.

      18. Of course you won’t reveal detail of you conversion. Fear is a great motivator.

        But, Ark,
        you’re forgetting (again) that I gave you an account of my conversion and you said it was an example of child abuse! Look it up.
        Yours,
        John/.

      19. I must say, it is a shame you do not have a blog that we could extend our conversations away from David’s highly moderated set up.
        I am sure you have no need to worry about the things David fears about having an open blog.
        Maybe you should consider opening your own platform?
        I reckon it would be quite enlightening!
        Ark

      20. William Lane Craig said in the above documented quote, “Dr. Miller’s interpretation of this passage [that it is “figurative”] strikes me as quite persuasive, probably only a few conservative scholars would treat the story as historical.”

        I never said that Craig himself does not believe in the historicity of the Raised Dead Saints Story. But I think his language in this statement makes it clear that he believes it is plausible that this story is “figurative”. And not only is it plausible, according to William Lane Craig, he asserts that “very few” conservative scholars believe it to be historical. So if Craig believes it, only he and a handful of other scholars believe it.

        A figurative story is a non-historical story. A non-historical story is not a factual story. A non-factual story is a fictional story, regardless of the literary purpose of the story for the author.

      21. Never heard of him, John, but Wiki states he is a Christian apologist so we can strike him from any potential list of scholars to consider.
        David has lambasted me on several occasion for using Wiki as a source so I was wondering if he might extend the same degree of critical assessment in your case?

        As you are evangelical and somewhat fundamentalist in your Christian outlook don’t you feel you are batting on a sticky wicket in trying to justify all these fellow fundamentalists, especially in light of modern science, archaeology and scholarship which, with evidence is, bit by bit, chipping away at beliefs that were once held to be sacrosanct?

        Surely it must be like grit in the theological machine for an intelligent bloke like you.
        Or do you simply put all these obvious challenges to one side?
        Every former Christian I have engaged has stated it was things like this that prompted them to question what they had been brought up with.
        First came the questions to Pastors, Priests and other ministers, then, when answers were somewhat glib as they often were, or such replies that were forthcoming demonstrated that these ministers were unable to offer comprehensive answers it was to scientific journals, archaeology texts and eventually sneaking onto to atheist websites and places such as Clergy Project.

        Eventually, if faith could not be balanced alongside fact then, in many cases deconversion followed.
        How do you deal with the dissonance?

        I am interested in understanding what you believe you know that every deconvert doesn’t know or somehow missed?
        Or is it simply faith from top to bottom?

      22. It’s a broken record, Ark —
        if you will excuse the use of figurative speech — nevertheless I have an answer for you about how it works. How to face the challenges of personal frailty, scholarly disagreement, doubt, problem texts, mockery, sanctification, and alienation? Here is Bible text followed by a checklist that anyone can use:

        [1 Peter 1:22-2:3] Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “all flesh is like grass | and all its glory like the flower of grass. | The grass withers, | and the flower falls, | but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
        So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

        It is easy enough for an individual to construct tests for spiritual health from this text but even easier to derive tests for the existence of spiritual life:
        • Do I love other Believers with a sincere brotherly love? YES/NO.
        • Do I desire to grow spiritually by feeding a hunger for the Bible? YES/NO.
        • If no, have I ever tasted that God is good at all? (e.g. by asking and receiving the answer to prayer.) YES/NO.
        Faith as you imagine faith to be will fail these tests whereas the saving faith of Biblical Christian Theology grows stronger under this trial. Go figure.
        Yours,
        John/.

      23. Gary,
        sorry for the hiatus. I’ve been working on the textual context of the raising-of-the-saints péricope — i.e. Matthew 27:51-28:20 — but the conversation ‘moved on’.
        The raising-of-the-saints [Matt. 27:53f.] turns out to be a signature element in the ‘Creation-week’ — α, β, γ, α’, β’, γ’, δ. — structuring of the Matthean epilogue. (The more usual ‘concentric’ structure — a, b, c, d, c’, b’, a’. is signalled by the ‘mothers’ notice at Matt. 27:55f. Both structures divide the verses up in the same way and are utilised by thoughtful re-readers of the text, whether we consciously recognise their presence or not.)
        For our present purposes we can divide up the epilogue as follows:

        The Burial [Matt. 27:51-66]
        α [Matt. 27:51-56] Death circumstances (inc. the many later appeared to by the raised saints) The raised saints are an ‘exotic’ element from outside the circle.
        β [Matt. 27:57-61] Burial of the body — a rich man from the fringes of the circle negotiates sucessfully with Pilate.
        γ [Matt. 27:62-66] Sealing the tomb — enemies take measures ‘to prevent fraud.’
        The Resurrection [Matt. 28:1-15]
        α’ [Matt. 28:1-7] Rolling away the stone (The angel is definitely from outside the circle and decidedly exotic.)
        β’ [Matt. 28:8-10] Holding on to Jesus, bodily — women from the fringes of the circle hold on to Jesus’ feet.
        γ’ [Matt. 28:11-15] The stole-the-body conspiracy of the enemies.
        The Commission
        δ [Matt. 28:16-20] The ‘Eleven’ (some of whom doubted) receive the great commission.

        One thing we can be sure of from this account is that there were many who claimed to have had an appearance from one of the raised saints after Jesus was raised and that the early recognition that the claim was being made had its part in forestalling any attempt to leverage that claim into an assumption of leadership in the church.

        Yours,
        John/.

  11. John: “At best these ‘admissions’ of ‘fictional material’ are moot points. Your protest is like a juror arguing that there is reasonable doubt because the Accused said, ‘I didn’t do it.’”

    I’m not arguing that ALL of the stories in the Gospels are fiction. I am only arguing that most scholars, including a significant percentage of Christian scholars who believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, believe that there MAY BE non-historical narratives in the Gospels.

    I am sure that William Ramsey was a very intelligent scholar, but he is one man. Why do you accept his position on this issue but reject the opinions of so many other bodily resurrection believing Christian scholars? Is it possible that you have a bias to uphold?

    I personally accept majority expert opinion on ALL issues, even when that majority expert opinion is unhelpful to my overall worldview. For instance, I believe in the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth and the historicity of his empty tomb, because that is the majority expert opinion.

    I will bet that in most areas of your life, John, you also accept majority expert opinion. So why on this one issue do you reject it? Do you have a rational basis for this rejection of majority expert opinion on this one issue or is it more an emotional reaction?

    1. Congratulations on your resolve to live by majority view, Gary,
      I’m puzzled how you could possibly know when ideas reach their tipping point or even when paradigms change, but there you go. This revelation explains why you translated ‘history’ into ‘hundreds of historians’ and are so quick to interpret any questioning of ‘the majority view’ on my part to be rejection.

      Thank you for the analysis but, seriously: Who would write the minority reports if your principle was universally adopted? What about people whose calling in life is to stand in front of bandwaggons? Didn’t George Orwell write some things about that kind of mindset?

      Besides, Contra Mundum is an honoured motto where I come from. To quote an officer of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, ‘We’re airborne troops; we’re meant to be surrounded.’

      And after all that, I doubt if you’re actually right about this majority, and once again, there you go.

      Yours,
      John/.

      1. But in most areas of your life you DO trust the experts, don’t you, John?

        Do you investigate all the latest medical research yourself before allowing doctors to treat you? Do you examine airplanes yourself before you travel on them? Do you get out of your car and personally inspect every bridge you drive over for safety? Do you personally verify the purity and safety of your drinking water? Of course not. You trust the experts. But when it comes to issues involving your supernatural beliefs, your reject the majority expert opinion if that majority expert opinion disagrees with your personal views. Your excuse is that the majority of experts are “biased”. In other words, you know better. You are the ultimate authority.

        Doesn’t sound like wise, rational thinking, John.

    2. With respect, Gary, how does anyone become an expert on the subject of ”the empty tomb” when it has never been located ), if it existed at all, and the only mention is within the covers of the Bible?
      To start one has to first accept the veracity of the text on ”faith” .
      So there isn’t even any evidence to go on.

      1. Because that is the majority expert opinion.

        I would encourage you to read scholar Raymond Brown’s book, “The Death of the Messiah”. Brown believes in the bodily resurrection of Jesus (by faith), in miracles (by faith), and the supernatural (by faith), but is very objective about historical claims in the Gospels. He believes many of the detailed appearance stories are allegorical (fictional) yet he believes in the historicity of the Empty Tomb. Why?

        Brown demonstrates how the burial story in a rock tomb in Mark does not show Joseph of Arimathea as a follower or even a secret supporter of Jesus. He is simply a “righteous” Jew wanting to get a Jewish body under the earth before sunset as required by the Law. He buries Jesus in “a tomb”, not “his” tomb. He does not give Jesus a proper Jewish burial (he wraps a cloth about the body and buries it, but no washing of the body and no spices). In this story, it is entirely possible that Jesus’ burial was a temporary measure. (Brown doesn’t discuss it, but this leaves open the possibility that the Sanhedrin moved the body on Saturday evening after the Passover had ended). The most likely cause of the empty tomb is that someone moved the body, just as all the sources indicate was the original suspicion, even by Jesus’ disciples.

        The later Gospel authors attempt to dramatically change Mark’s story, making Joseph a secret disciple and placing guards at the tomb to prevent the very thing that everyone suspects: someone moved the body.

        If you wish to discuss this topic further, Ark, I prefer to do so on my blog and not here with the theists.

  12. I am beginning to get the distinct impression that you are continually deleting this comment addressed to Gary.

    Is there a particular reason you are refusing to allow it out of moderation?

    1. Yes – I’m bored…and you are rude…and your comment is the same repetitive ignorance…so forgive me…feel free to use it on your own blog, FB page….I really don’t want my page to become clogged up with these kind of pointless arguments…I have already let you say too much on here..

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