Posts Tagged ‘Forged’

Defend The Faith Conference Day 1

January 6, 2015

What’s going on at the Defend the Faith 2015 Conference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re noticed my presence on Facebook has been lacking lately, it’s because I’ve been at the 2015 Defend The Faith Conference in New Orleans. It’s been a big thrill for me. The only other time I’ve been west of the Mississippi was as a small child when I was visiting Memphis and we went across it just so I could say that I had been in Arkansas once.

The day started off with a great talk by Douglas Groothius. He spoke on the necessity for God in order to have a foundation for moral law in society. It relied on an essay that was actually written by the atheist Arthur Leff. The talk left us all a lot to think about including the increasing danger that is going on in a society that wants to give more and more power to the state.

After that came one of my best moments. Finally, I got to meet the one and only Tim McGrew.

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Tim McGrew is the professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University. In fact, when he was introduced later this evening, it was said that he had fan boys and some people had traveled for miles just wanting to meet Tim McGrew. I turned to Allie and said I couldn’t help but wonder who would be so excited about traveling for miles to meet Tim McGrew. In the Christian Apologetics Alliance, McGrew is a legend.

Meeting him was a thrill because he is also so much of what I want to be. Do I mean all the knowledge he’s gathered over the years? Obviously. But I include in it that Tim has a great heart. He has become one of my dear friends who I can turn to when I’m in need and the investment he’s put into my own self has been stellar and I hope to be able to give back to others the way Tim has to me someday.

He and Tom Gilson gave a talk then on Peter Boghossian, quite appropriate since on Unbelievable?, Tim had massacred Boghossian’s chickens. Gilson and McGrew showed how Boghossian is trying to dissuade people with his street epistemology. I’ve written on Boghossian’s work myself. Boghossian does want an army of street epistemolgists who I have also had run-ins with. The church is blessed to have a presentation like that of Gilson and McGrew’s that shows the problems with Boghossian’s approach.

After lunch, we went to some break-out sessions. I wish I could talk about them all, but I can’t, but for those interested it is my understanding they will all be available online afterwards. The first one we went to was by Tawa Anderson. At this point, I had left every choice to my wife since I wanted to see what she’d be interested in. She made a fine first choice. It was a talk on worldview thinking and I was highly pleased to see it involve a scene from the Matrix. Worldview thinking is extremely foundational and so many people just miss it.

Next was a talk by Justin Langford. This one dealt with the topic of forgery in the NT. I have reviewed Bart Ehrman’s book as well here and here. Langford did something interesting in showing us two texts and have us guess which one was canonical. I must confess that I did not get each one right. To be fair, the first one did throw me some since I recognized Jude but knew he was quoting 1 Enoch which left me wondering a bit. We also had a good discussion on if a new book had been found and we knew it had been written by Paul should we accept it into the canon. I argued no since part of it was recognition by the church universal. Someone else answered yes. I think Langford went more for my side, but it was an interesting discussion.

Finally, we went to a talk by Tim McGrew and Tom Gilson that turned out to be about how we could do apologetics faithfully. McGrew asked us what we would like if we could have one wish that would help our ministries. I answered financial stability, which I think several people resonated with. Allie asked about how she could incorporate apologetics into her art. McGrew really liked her question and is still thinking about it.

The evening ended with McGrew giving a talk on how not to read the NT which dealt with Jesus Interrupted and yes, I have responded to that as well. McGrew gave a devastating presentation that showed that Ehrman quite frankly isn’t really honest with the data a number of times. It was quite a thrill also to have him refer to my work on Raphael Lataster. It’s a great way to see members of the body working together and building one another up.

On our way back to the hotel, we also got to ride some with James Walker of Watchman Fellowship. Expect him to show up on a future episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

Overall, we’re having a great time here in Louisiana at the conference. That’s about all I can say here. It’s getting late and I’m tired so we’re going on to bed because we have to get up early for another day of apologetics tomorrow. I have been pleased with this conference so far and I suggest if you’re interested in apologetics, try to make it out next year.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Truth In A Culture of Doubt

September 26, 2014

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

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/27/2014: Truth In A Culture of Doubt

September 25, 2014

What’s coming up on this week’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Bart Ehrman is becoming a much more common name around the world and this includes even in Christian households. Unfortunately, there are still several in the church who don’t know about who he is and the reality is that if they do not know now, they will surely be knowing in the future, most likely when their children come home from college and announce that they’re no longer Christians because they don’t believe in the Bible.

To those who haven’t read the other side, Ehrman’s case can seem to be a strong presentation, but is it really? The authors of “Truth In A Culture Of Doubt” say it isn’t, and one of them will be my guest to talk about it. He’s been on here before and it’s a pleasure to welcome back to the Deeper Waters Podcast, Dr. Darrell Bock.

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“Darrell L. Bock is Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. He also serves as Executive Director of Cultural Engagement for the Seminary’s Center for Christian Leadership. His special fields of study involve hermeneutics, the use of the Old Testament in the New, Luke-Acts, the historical Jesus, gospel studies and the integration of theology and culture. He has served on the board of Chosen People Ministries for over a decade and also serves on the board at Wheaton College. He is a graduate of the University of Texas (B.A.), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M.), and the University of Aberdeen (Ph.D.). He has had four annual stints of post–doctoral study at the University of Tübingen, the second through fourth as an Alexander von Humboldt scholar (1989-90, 1995-96, 2004-05, 2010-2011). He also serves as elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Richardson, Texas, is editor at large for Christianity Today, served as President of the Evangelical Theological Society for the year 2000-2001, and has authored over thirty books, including a New York Times Best Seller in non-fiction and the most recent release, Truth Matters, a response to many issues skeptics raise about Christianity in the public square. He is married to Sally and has two daughters (both married), a son, two grandsons and a granddaughter.”

We’ll be discussing many of the works of Ehrman and the problems in them. This will include works such as “God’s Problem”, “Misquoting Jesus”, “How Jesus Became God”, “Lost Christianities”, “Jesus Interrupted”, and “Forged.” We’ll be talking about how Ehrman is quite a skilled communicator but he unfortunately only gives one side of the argument on a regular basis and does not interact with the best opposition against his viewpoint.

If you have a child you plan to send to college one day, you owe it to yourself to listen to this program to learn about the work of Ehrman and how best you can answer it. Ehrman will only give one side of the argument. Make sure you know the other side of the argument just as well. Please be looking for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast to show up in your ITunes feed.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/24/2013: Andrew Pitts

August 22, 2013

Was that NT book really authored by the person whose name is on it? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Last year, Bart Ehrman delivered another work to shock the popular audience out there that the church has not been equipping with a book called “Forged.” In it, Ehrman sought to show that a number of NT books are not by the person’s whose name is on them. The arguments he made were arguments already familiar to NT scholarship and he hardly interacted with the secretary hypothesis, but still, the splash was made and while many people read the side that makes the news, they don’t bother going out to hear what the other side is.

My guest on the Deeper Waters Podcast is not like that.

My guest is Andrew Pitts who has done extensive research on this topic. He is an up and coming scholar in the field and expect to hear much more from him later. While he has a number of areas of expertise to speak on, the one that we have chosen to do is to address the charge that the biblical accounts are forgeries.

Of course, there is something at stake here. To say the Bible contains forgeries would be to say that the early church fell prey to lying and deceivers and did not do their fact checking very well. While a case for the resurrection could be made on the books of the NT that are not disputed, it still is important to quell doubt in the minds of those who might think that Ehrman has a case.

We will be discussing how we can know who wrote what in the NT and for that matter, how can we know who wrote what in the ancient world. After all, while we are usually told that the gospels are anonymous, what is not mentioned is so were many other works in the ancient world just as anonymous. How is it that we know, for instance, that Plutarch was the one who wrote the books that are attributed to him?

What about secretaries? Those do make a difference and this gets problematic for the presentation of Ehrman since books that are undisputed to be Pauline are in fact written by a secretary, such as Romans. If a secretary wrote a book for an author, what does that do to authorship? We could even discuss how this would work with the inerrancy and infallibility questions risen by such a situation.

In the end, I hope that the show will leave people assured that they have yet another reason that they can trust the NT and that it is accurate even on the question of authorship.

Do you want to be a part of the discussion? I certainly hope that you will be! The show is on at the same time as always, Saturday from 3-5 PM EST. If you want to call in and ask a question about NT authorship, the call in number is 714-242-5180. I hope I will see you there. The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Misquoting Jesus

August 13, 2013

What do I think of Ehrman’s work? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Misquoting Jesus is an accomplishment and a shame to the Christian church both. It is not a problem in that nothing here can be answered. Indeed, it can be and has been. It is not an accomplishment in that new ground has been broken in textual criticism. There is nothing new in here about textual criticism.

It is an accomplishment in that it is the first book on textual criticism to stay for so long on bestseller lists, in fact, as far as I know, to even make it on the bestseller lists. It is a shame in that the church should have been writing such works that would have been liked by the popular audience and bought by them.

Of course, Ehrman knows that controversy sells very well. One could easily imagine a book hitting the bestseller list with the title of “The sex life of Jesus” or something of that sorts. Books that attempt to bring something “new” to the discussion of Jesus, like the Da Vinci Code or today, Zealot, are all the rage in the public sphere.

Unfortunately, these new works have something in common amongst all of them. There is nothing new in them. They are simply old ideas that are being repackaged for new people who have never heard of them. Those who read Zealot will not normally read someone like Craig Evans in response. Those who read Dan Brown will not likely read Ben Witherington in response. Those who read Misquoting Jesus will not likely read Daniel Wallace in response.

To that, it must be said the Christian church should be doing better. It is a shame we have Rachel Held Evans, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen being household names in the Christian community, but we don’t have people like Dan Wallace, Ben Witherington, and Craig Evans being household names. This is because of a lack of reading and real study on the part of the Christian church where we are just interested in making “good” people.

So to get to Ehrman’s book on textual criticism, we have the natural start at the beginning of most Ehrman books where he shares his personal testimony of his deconversion and how it started with a Damascus Road experience in his studies where he was told that maybe Mark made a mistake.

As Evans has pointed out in Fabricating Jesus, Ehrman’s response seems out of proportion to what happened, unless one considers that perhaps Ehrman had put too many of his eggs in the Inerrancy basket. (And some of you wonder why I make it a case to tell people not to marry Inerrancy to their Christianity.) Unfortunately, his understanding of Inerrancy was also a modern western style that would have been foreign to the biblical authors. It would be amusing to see if we could somehow get the reactions to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John today to what we say are contradictions amongst their gospels.

In Ehrman’s story, he had written a paper defending the claim of Jesus about who the high priest was in the time of David in Mark 2. His professor wrote on his paper “Maybe Mark just made a mistake.” That it had a lasting impact on Ehrman is easily shown in that it is mentioned in so many works of his. Yet this initial charge is invalid. See Daniel Wallace being interviewed by Lee Strobel in “The Case for the Real Jesus.” More on that here.

Still, to be fair, Ehrman does present much information in this book that is highly valuable. For instance, on page 18, Ehrman points out that books played virtually no role in polytheistic religions. The Christians were different. They were people of books, as were the Jews who preceded them.

On page 29, Ehrman gives a contrast on how central books were to the lives of the Christians. While Ehrman doesn’t say it, the reason is the NT books were to be those that had apostolicity, antiquity, and authority. Of course, with antiquity, in this case, one means within the lifetime of the apostles.

Ehrman also points out on page 59 that a writer could dictate word for word to a scribe or simply give the main ideas to a scribe or some combination thereof. Both would have been used in antiquity. Unfortunately, this is the kind of idea that also works against Ehrman’s claim in Forged (See here also) that some Pauline epistles were not by Paul since he could just as easily have used a secretary, just as he did in Romans, a letter that is not disputed to be Pauline at all. In fact, a footnote indicates he knows of a leading work on this, that of E. Randolph Richards, one that is not heavily interacted with in Forged.

Ehrman’s thesis is that sometimes when scribes copied texts, mistakes were made. No one would dispute this. The most conservative NT textual critic would recognize and affirm this. The question is, were those mistakes really monumental ones that threaten doctrine? The answer is no. Let’s give some basic examples.

For instance in Mark 1 where we are told that Jesus was either moved with compassion or moved with anger in response to a leper. If anger, does this change our view of Jesus? Not really. Jesus had already had anger in Mark 3 and if Jesus is the embodiment of the OT God, the Jews would have no problem with that since they had in their history experience the anger of God.

But why would Jesus be angry at a leper wanting to be healed?

Probably because the leper chose an inopportune time. Jesus was speaking and healing was a private affair that could have been done later and not drawn attention to Jesus. Instead, the leper came forward while Jesus is speaking before an audience. Result? Jesus heals the man, but now his doing a healing causes people to come after him for that reason rather than for the message itself.

Another example given is Matthew 24:36 where there is a listing of who knows the time of the coming of Christ and we are told that no man knows, not the angels, nor the Son, but only the Father. Some manuscripts we are told omit “nor the Son.”

It is a puzzle why this should be problematic. If it is only the Father who knows and the Son is not the Father, then it follows that the Son did not know. Not only that, if this was wanting to be omitted because it’s embarrassing, why not omit it also in Mark?

Of course, we can bring in discussion on such topics as the long ending of Mark and the story of the woman caught in adultery. That these passages catch some people off guard is a testimony to the fact that we are failing in educating our church. This gets even more problematic with 1 John 5:7 where someone will be prone to use this to deal with Jehovah’s Witnesses only to be caught into the world of textual criticism that they never even knew existed.

Ehrman’s case is nothing new. The problem with his case is as in many cases, he has really only given one side of the argument, and that is the side that is meant to frighten his audience. That a book like Ehrman’s will spark concern among readers is problematic. That we did not educate our church enough to avoid it sparking concern, is an indictment on us. We must do better.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Forged

April 17, 2012

What are my ultimate thoughts on Ehrman’s book Forged? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, I gave some preliminary thoughts on Forged that can be found here. Today, I will be concluding those thoughts.

Ultimately, I was expecting that I’d get a hard-hitting argument. Readers expecting that will be sorely disappointed. This does not stop skeptics from thinking they’ve found a holy grail (er, maybe not holy for a skeptic) to use against Christians. The reality is that Ehrman’s claims are nothing new and they have been known by scholarship for years. Anyone who picks up a good commentary on a book of the Bible can see reasons pro and con and much more detailed.

Of course, for our skeptic friends, so what? The huge majority, such as 99.9% will never bother to pick up such a commentary. After all, these are often by conservative evangelical Christians and we know that they’re always wrong with their looking at the data.

This is simply a genetic fallacy. Could it be that the evangelicals can be right? Why should a skeptic’s argument be seen as objective and the Christian’s as biased? Either bother of them are to be seen as biased or both of them are to be seen as objective.

A major problem again with Ehrman’s work is he really does not argue his case often. For instance, when writing about the Gospel of Peter, he will tell about how it ends with two giants angels coming out of the tomb with a giant Jesus between them and a voice from Heaven saying “Have you preached to them that sleep?” and a talking cross comes out of the tomb and says “Yea.”

You don’t believe that happened? Okay. Neither do I. The question is “Why do we not?” For Ehrman’s position, just stating what the account says is enough. This is obviously something beyond the scope of every day experience and therefore not accurate. My stance is that I don’t believe it because this is the only source that I know of with that claim, it’s late, and it contradicts more reliable sources hopelessly.

Throughout this book, Ehrman does not give an epistemology. How am I to know the epistle to the Galatians of Paul is authentic? You won’t know from reading Ehrman’s book. You will be told scholars agree on this. That’s great, but why exactly do they agree?

There are times Ehrman will give the consensus of scholars supposedly, such as in the idea that certain epistles are inauthentic. In these cases, he is not giving the consensus. He is giving a position that is popular and held by many, but certainly not to the degree of certainty with which people say Paul wrote Galatians.

Other times, Ehrman does not give all the evidence. Why is it said that Luke wrote Acts? There is not mentioned the patristic evidence. Ehrman instead goes to Colossians and looks at the Gentiles there and decides on Luke and then gives reasons why he thinks Luke did not write the account. He does not give reasons why some scholars believe he did nor why some would even date it to before 70 A.D. From Ehrman, you would get the opinion the church mindlessly believed Luke wrote Acts for seemingly the shoddiest of reasons and this started to be seen as false within the past two centuries.

Once again, we get into a great danger then. Several skeptics will learn what scholars think. They’ll be clueless as to why it is that the scholars think this. Instead, they’ll tell Christians, like myself “Well go read your own scholars! They will tell you.” There will be the idea of a cover-up. “You ignorant Christians in the pew don’t know this about the Bible, but the scholars all know this! Obviously, if your minister knows, he’s just not telling you!”

That doesn’t mean that this is a bad thing. On the contrary, as a whole, I think Ehrman writing these and other books is a good thing. I have the exact same opinion I do with books like The Da Vinci Code or with the new atheists. These are bringing the discussion to the public and when all the evidence is shown, I have no doubt which side it will fall on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts on “Forged”

April 16, 2012

Is Ehrman’s case against biblical authorship sound? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Upon moving here, I went to the library and wanting to invest a good deal in NT studies as well, started ordering several books. Some of which were by Bart Ehrman, and the one I will be starting to deal with today is “Forged.”

Ehrman’s subtitle of the book is about why the biblical authors are not who we think they are. There are some ways this is misleading. To begin with, very little of the book is actually dealing with the Bible. You can read about the Acts of Paul or the Gospel of Peter, but these are not biblical authors.

On the other hand, the majority of it is about the New Testament. Ehrman does speak about forgery in the OT, such as in the case of chapters 40-55 of Isaiah, the book of Daniel, and Ecclesiastes. These are not really argued for, as much as they are footnoted. So far, I have not seen any arguments either against the authorship of the gospels themselves. It has mainly focused on Peter and Paul.

Not that this would damage the case for the resurrection in any way. The books that we need, namely 1 Corinthians and Galatians, to make the case for the resurrection are entirely safe and Ehrman himself would argue that this is Pauline. At this point the question is raised, how does he know?

Ehrman will regularly write about how non-authentic Pauline material is recognized supposedly, but he has not said how the real deal is spotted. Now I do not doubt, for instance, that Paul wrote Galatians, and Ehrman himself says he knows of no one who questions that. What the average layman however, who Ehrman says he wrote this book for (Page 10), wants to know is how we can know that.

When he comes with this question, so far I have found nothing that will give him a good answer. Many of us in apologetics know that when dealing with cults, one technique we teach is to let people know the real so well that they can recognize a fake right away. Ehrman needs some steps to show that we know that we have the real.

Ehrman also writes about verisimilitudes that take place in the NT. These are little messages thrown in that can make the letter look authentic. For instance, in 2 Timothy, Paul tells Timothy to get his books that he left behind and have them brought to him. These can also include personal greetings. These are done to make a letter look authentic.

The problem with saying this is that there is no doubt that a forgery could have such statements in it, but the reality is also that authentic letters can have those as well. One could point to Romans about Paul’s traveling plans in chapter 15 and one could even argue if they wanted to that perhaps the long list in chapter 16 is to make the whole letter look more authentic.

One main explanation for a lot of differences is the use of secretaries. Ehrman makes the case about 2 Thessalonians, which he thinks is a forgery, and how ironic it is since it warns against a forged letter, and how it has a statement in it about Paul writing with his own hand which does not show up in any other letter.

Well geez. I have a scenario in mind that makes this very plausible. Paul is using a secretary, perhaps writing from prison as he has often been said to do. Paul knows about a forger using his own name to try to impersonate Paul so Paul writes them a message through the secretary and at the end says “Let me sign the end in my own distinct handwriting so they will know it was from me.”

This seems perfectly plausible to me and yet Ehrman seems to say that since the letter ends this way and no other one does, that this would go against its authenticity. In fact, when he gets to secretaries, Ehrman indicates we don’t really have examples of long letters like epistles, which would mean we can’t argue conclusively either way, but surprise surprise, Ehrman chooses to argue as if it’s conclusive that secretaries would not be used this way.

I hope to have this one finished by tomorrow so hopefully I can conclude everything, but for now, color me still unpersuaded.

In Christ,
Nick Peters