Book Plunge: Truth In A Culture of Doubt

What do I think of Kostenberger, Bock, and Chatraw’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Bart Ehrman is described in this book as the rising rock star of the New Testament world. While more and more Christians are learning about him, too many are not, and sadly, the first time they often hear of him, they are unprepared for what he has to say. The tragedy is best described by the way Chatraw sums it up.

Later I was a bit surprised when I had a similar discussion with a couple of well-respected pastors in my community. These conversations helped me see once again that most people, even pastors, don’t know much about what’s going on in the world of biblical scholarship. The other authors of this book have had similar discussions.

In fact, just recently I was sharing some detail concerning the last 12 verses of Mark and a good Christian friend was concerned I might have caused some doubt for some. I understood that concern well and shared some information on textual criticism to help deal with it, but it’s a shame that that which is common knowledge is seen as detrimental to the faith of some simply because the pastors have shielded them from the academy. In fact, pastors are usually the worst culprits.

Thankfully, the lay people do have friends in the authors of this book. These authors have done the service of taking Ehrman’s popular works seriously and addressing the main concerns that are raised in some of the most well-known ones. The reader who goes through this book and learns it well will be much more equipped to survive a class from Ehrman or someone like him.

If you are familiar with the arguments, you won’t find much here that is new, but that’s okay. This is written for those who are not really familiar with Ehrman and his arguments yet. If you are familiar with them, you will find that you still have a good resource where the major arguments can be found listed together.

One important insight that the book has that I agree with and have noticed myself is that Ehrman most often is quite good at giving you one side of the argument. He ignores that which is against his hypothesis. They consider his latest book “How Jesus Became God” as a for instance. In this book, Richard Bauckham is not mentioned once. He mentions Hurtado but does not interact with his main claims. He does not interact seriously with the Shema. I’d also add that in his section on miracles, brief as it may be, there is no mention whatsoever of Keener.

Ehrman has been undermining the Christian faith of many for a long time and unfortunately he’s probably right that too many are just closing their ears and humming so they don’t have to hear what he has to say. This should not be the Christian answer. If you want to get the Christian answer, an excellent gateway to that destination can be found in this book. I highly recommend it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

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2 Responses to “Book Plunge: Truth In A Culture of Doubt”

  1. labreuer Says:

    Sometimes I have to be a little derogatory and call it amusing that folks would think a few dead pixels on a monitor totally obscures the movie being played. I get that this comes from stuff like Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, but still. Maybe it’s just that I know a bit about forward error correction, but that concept isn’t needed to understand that a few dead pixels don’t destroy the message. You’ve got to have a lot more perversion than that. The overriding impression when reading Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus is that a few pixels have gone bad.

    Much more interesting than stuff like Misquoting Jesus, in my mind, is whether our understanding of the Greek we do have is shallow. For example, I just asked this question about καλοῦ τε καὶ κακοῦ from Hebrews 5:14, and whether kakos is talking about redeemable or irredeemable evil. Is it “totally whacked” or “something is wrong and could be fixed”? The difference there is pretty huge. But the problem isn’t some section of scripture being inserted, it’s whether we are mature in thought, and if Hebrews 5:14 didn’t exist, we could go other places.

    By the way, have you read Brain Sanderson’s Mistborn series? If you have, it would be relevant to this discussion, but I don’t want to say anything more in case you haven’t.

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