Friday, August 28, 2009

The NET Bible in Oz

Why can't I find anywhere to buy it in Australia?
I would love it in print - not so much the actual translation, but the textual critical notes on it are rather amazing. It saves a lot of time instead of having to grab the TCGNT out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Defining Early Orthodoxy: The Nature of Jesus

In my attempt at defining early orthodoxy, I believe the nature of Jesus is one of the prime categorical factors. The best way, in my opinion, to examine this would be through two chief questions:

  1. How did the earliest Christians view Jesus? Was he divine, the messiah, a prophet, a mere human - or any combination?
  2. How is this expressed in our earliest witnesses (generally, the New Testament.)?
1. How did the Earliest Christians View Jesus?

Before beginning with my take on the evidence, I will spend some time on the alternate theories.

The Hellenisation Thesis (the Old New School)

In the 19th century New Testament and Christian origins scholarship was flooded by the 'History of Religion' School (or in German Religionsgeschichtliche Schule). This school of thought (propagated by both scholars and layman to the extreme of 'Christ Myth') believed in a sort of Hellenization process that took part in Christianity. That is, the Jesus movement of first century Palestine was thrown into a 'pagan' world and was syncretistically mixed with Graeco-Roman philisophy and religion to birth a 'divine Jesus'.

The thesis, as championed by Wilhelm Bousset in Kyrios Christos (1913), placed two schools of thought in the pre-Pauline period. There was the Palestinian Jesus movement and a Hellenistic Gentile movement. As the famed Rudolph Bultmann states, "the earliest church did not cultically worship Jesus...the Kyrios-cult originated on Hellenistic soil." (Theology of the New Testament). Although this school was abandoned in most forms, the concept of a Hellenistic development has continued - as championed in the more recent works of Burton Mack (A Myth of Innocence (1988) and Maurice Casey (Jewish Prophet to Gentile God (1991)). Casey, specifically, argues that first both Jews and Gentiles, ensrhined in Jewish monotheism, did not permit for Jesus to develop as divine. However, as Christainity became more of a gentile religion, with conversion to Judaism being bypassed, Jesus eventually became to be worshipped.

The New-New School

However, these theories have began to lose support in recent scholarship. Some notable examples would be the work of Martin Hengel (The Son of God (1975); Richard Bauckham (God Crucified (1998); Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament's Christology of Divine Identity) and the mass amount of work by Larry Hurtado on the topic (One God, One Lord; Lord Jesus Christ (2003); How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God (2005).

So, why isn't the old 'new school' convincing anymore? Or, more subtly, why wasn't it ever really convincing?

The first reason - the rapid nature by which Christain devotion to Jesus arose among the various Christain communities cannot be explained by a later progressive syncretism. If we go to our earliest sources, what do we find? We find a high Christology. In Paul's letters we have evidence that Jesus is being thought of and worshipped in a similar way to YHWH-God himself. But we know this did not beging with Paul. In Philippians 2:6-11 (hover cursor to read it)we have a famous Christain hymn which many scholars claimes to be pre-Pauline. Of particular note in this hymn is"he [Jesus Christ] existed in the form of God" (Phil 2:6). Also of note is something of which I have earlier contended. The source of the high Christology in the prologue of John (although in my opinion an exegesis of Genesis 1 in light of the incarnation) echoes the Christology of this hymn as well as Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:6. As Richard Bauckham summarises, "The earliest Christology was already the highest Christology." (God Crucified, p.viii).

Furthermore, the issue with claiming thata Paul was an overtly Hellenised Jew out of touch with the ealy Jesus movement makes very little sense. Firstly, it is multiply attested to the fact that Paul had meetings with the Jerusalem Church, particularly, the Apostle Peter and James the Brother of the Lord. (Gal. 1 and Acts). If there was such a divide over the very nature of the divinity of God, we would surely find some sort of explicit statement or at least an apologetic. Evidently, we do not. Also, even if we do go to the Pauline mission we find that many of Paul's own disciples were Jews of the Second Temple Jewish mileu.

Finally, to claim that the followers of Jesus openly took on pagan beliefs and incorporated Jesus into such is inconsistent with the image we have of the early church. Why would a Church dedicated to pure monotheism; expressly rejecting pagan polytheism (1 Corinthians 8:5-6) turn Jesus into a seperate God other than the true God of Israel?

As Larry Hurtado summarises the pagan-influence thesis:
Both the chronological and the demographic data make it extremely dubious to attribute the level of devotion to Jesus that characterised earliest Christianity to syncrestic influences from the pagan religious context. Devotion to Jesus appeared too early, and originated among circles of the early Jesus movement that were comprised of - or certainly dominated by - Jews, and they seem no more likely than other deviout Jews of the time to appropriate pagan religious influences. (Earliest Devotion to Jesus, p. 42)
Therefore, it is evidently clear that the alternate theses are inadequate to explain the evidence regarding the early devotion to Jesus as if he were YHWH-God. One must conclude that, as the earliest devotion was of a somehow divine Jesus, it is more than fair to say that the early 'orthodoxy' was in line with today's orthodoxy - Jesus was exalted, worshipped and more than a man.

A Bibliography of Relevant Books:
  • Hengel, Martin (1995), Studies in Early Christology
  • Bauckham, Richard, "Monotheism and Christology in the Gospel of John" in The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple
  • Hurtado, Larry, How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?
  • Witherington, Ben, The Many Faces of the Christ

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bart Ehrman - Consistency, please!

Just to summarise his assertions on Lost Christianities:
  • Orthodoxy is just the belief that happened to win the 2nd-3rd century battles to define what was orthodox.
  • The Canon of scripture was arbitrary and resulted only to establish orthodoxy.
  • All other 'Christianities' and scriptures were just as legitimate

However, when we turn to the historical Jesus painted in his Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium?
  • We use the orthodox Christian sources as they are the (1) earliest and (2) most reliable of the scriptures.
  • We paint an eschatological Jesus based on the orthodox sources and testimony of orthodoxy throughout the ages.
  • However, we do not paint an esoteric gnostic Jesus or a Marcionite Jesus which he lends equal legitimacy to in Lost Christainities.
What can we take away from here?
Do you believe that Ehrman really finds all Christainities equal?
Do you believe that he really finds all scriptures equal?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

But the claim to have seen an angel or had a vision can hardly be disputed on historical grounds simply because post-Enlightenment man no longer believes in angels! Visionary experiences are too common in the history of religions for the account here to be dismissed on that score.
James D.G. Dunn, Jesus the Spirit p.127

Pentecostal Discussion

Ben Myers, a scholar of the CSU School of Theology in Sydney, has republished his article Megachurch Worship: Supersize Me whereby he shares some of his thoughts on a recent visit to "a famous Sydney Megachurch" (presumably Hillsong.)

I agree with Myers here - and I have had my fair share of criticism of Hillsong. I believe it is fair to say that Hillsong is not as theologically thorough or focused as one would expect from a church. The preaching is often a man-centred gospel and the bible acts as your very own cliched and modernist 'Guide to a Better You'. As Myers quoted from the service: “The Bible isn’t a book about God’s love for man; it’s a book about man’s love for God.”

In the interest of fairness, Myers sought a response from Pentecostal Theologian Shane Clifton, posted here. Now, I do not think Clifton did a particularly good job in a response - it seems to be 'okay, so the preaching isn't all that accurate - but the kids like it, and that's what counts, right?'

I must concede that Hillsong does have its place - kids like it, and it is a great tool for bringing young people particularly into the church. However, the fun-loving atmosphere does not make up for a lacking or weak theology - there should be a balance, or at least an aim to push people deeper into the issues with reference to sound exegesis as opposed to the man-centred self-help guide for popular consumption. The gospel is so much more than that.

Defining Orthodoxy

Fun, fun, fun!

It's no secret that I am a person who affirms the clear existence of orthodoxy - especially an orthodoxy that is both apostolically (made up word?) authentic and superior to heresies. However, when dealing with orthodoxy and heresy in early papyri of letters - how would one define orthodoxy?

My points thus far:

  • Defined by the four-fold gospel canonical gospel tradition. As Hengel and others have shown, the canonical gospels were prominent and authoritative early on in Christianity. (The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ).
  • However, we must also account for diversity in the New Testament. This brings us to James D.G. Dunn's Unity and Diversity in the New Testament. What unity was there? Dunn contends no real creed - but a consistency and unity between the historical Jesus and the exalted Jesus. Of course, I disagree with Dunn - but aye, so do a lot of people?
  • The crucifixion of Jesus - such a belief can be linked to the pre-Pauline Jerusalem church; is found independently in the Gospels which are extended Passion narratives; is found in works of Paul; Peter (?); Hebrews, etc. (No pseudo-deaths (Thiering); etc)
  • In light of above, a Jesus fitting into the Jewish milieu - a physical death as Jesus was fully man (so no docetism); and a physical resurrection belief.
  • Whilst stressing the humanity of Jesus- we also have the belief in the divinity of Jesus. As Larry Hurtado has pointed out - the New Testament paints a Jesus that is both human, and subordinate to the Father - but also divine in some sense. (How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?). Furthermore, we must also account for the pre-Pauline Christology just in case we have someone Paul-averse. (The Many Faces of the Christ)
  • A Trinitarian - or at least monotheistic binitarian - formula and belief.
That is it for now...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Robert M. Price - Happy that Someone Recognised his Existence

I have no idea when the interview took place, but once upon a time Bart Ehrman was on the Infidel Guy webcast. On the issue of the non-historicity of Jesus, Ehrman unequivocally stated it is accepted that Jesus existed - no real scholar doubts this. The Infidel Guy was in shock - someone arguing that Jesus actually existed? That isn't the impression one gets when they read the pseudo scholarship of Earl Doherty and others of his ilk.

The Infidel Guy raises the 'multiple Jesus hypothesis.' He states, "Jesus Christ itself just means the annointed basically, any Jewish sect that believed they had the Jesus Christ." Does Ehrman correct him that Jesus the Christ (Yeshua ha Maschia) was a name with the title Messiah/Christ added? Nope. He just lets him go.

So, the Infidel Guy brings in the big guns. Nope, not Richard Carrier...not Earl Doherty...not any other unknown Jesus Mythicist from the Internet - but the Robert M. Price.

"What do you think of Dr Bob Price...?" Asks the Infidel Guy, followed by an immediate "Don't know he the guy who denied Jesus existed?...I don't think he's...I don't really know him, why would I?" The Infidel Guy rattles off some book names and Ehrman continues, "I haven't seen any evidence for his views."

The IG starts up again - "There are some people who have been looking at the evidence more than you with double doctorates...I even think he is a professor." Ehrman cuts him off again, "No he's not...he doesn't have a teaching job..."

So, that is how real scholars in academic circles at accredited institutes of higher education see Price. At first, no idea - and then a snicker out of him when they remember who he is.

So, why am I raising the dead?
Well, today I picked up a copy of The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Tradition by Paul R. Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd. What I found interesting was a review of it (actually in the book!) by Robert M. Price.
I am gratified that my friends and colleagues Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd have taken my work as seriously as they have in this comprehensively researched book.
I myself am just shocked -as far as I know, in all the scholarly works on the Historical Jesus, Christian beginnings and the New Testament I have never come across a citation of Price. This must have been an achievement! Finally, someone has taken notice - if only to light the flame.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What I can't stress enough now is that Paul McKechnie's The First Christian Centuries: Perspectives on the Early Church is the greatest introduction to Christian church history from its beginning to the time of Constantine.

It's clear, concise, accessible and scholarly.

So far I am in major agreement with most of McKechnie's arguments.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What are the consequences of too much liberal study of the historical Jesus?

I believe one becomes a boring historian. I find myself sitting here examining the ancient historical sources far more thoroughly than ever before. What is the problem with this? The Alexander the Great of Arrian, Plutarch and Diadorus turns into the decontextualised Jesus of the Jesus Seminar. Very few things are truly authentic and the best we can hope for is an event that more likely than not occurred.

Oh, the consequences of a hyper critical hermeneutic towards the New Testament!

The Propaganda Crew is Out

Next week at the University of Sydney a number of presentations by Muslims for "Islamic Awareness Week" are going to be taking place. Lo and behold, the level of deceptive propaganda is going to be amazing. One of the lectures of particular note is going to be "Scientific Facts in the Qur'an".

Now, what this lecture is going to be is a fusion of really poor science and really poor eisegesis (as opposed to good science and actual exegesis).

Now, let me take the liberty to answer the following questions from the event description.

Is it possible for the Qur'an to contain information about modern day science? Yes, but the science isn't modern day. So, we won't find any newly discovered science. And guess what? We haven't. However, we do have much evidence of the Quranic authors attempting to include modern science such as copying the Greek ideas of embryology. A pity the Greeks were also wrong.

What science is presented in the Qur'an?
The science of dhimitude? Or poor appropriations of incorrect scientific theories such as sperm being produced between the backbone and the ribs.

What good would such information be?
Not very as there is no information.

Is it true that science can prove religion to be false?
Nope. Unless, of course, you take Genesis 1 and 2 (or the appropriate in the Qur'an) as literal as opposed to creation myth. Namely, a myth that is crediting all creation to a personal God.

Are all good scientists atheist?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Update of Reading List

I am still slowly making my way through Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Bauckham)and How on Earth Did Jesus become a God (Hurtado) - well, more so that latter at this stage. I guess the book is just...a lot smaller? (I really do run out of room in my bag!)

Anyway, Hurtado has provoked some thought towards Christology, so, today I grabbed a copy of Ben Witherington's The Many Faces of the Christ. What really is of interest to me is pre-Pauline Christology - however, how do we find pre-Paauline Christology? Do we turn to the hymns such as Philippians 2:6-11 and assume it came from a pre-Pauline source? (I guess with other creeds such as 1 Cor 15.3-11 we have the whole "what I received" comment as well as the underlying Hebrew-Aramaic rhythm [see. P.J. Kearney He Appeared to 500 brothers (1 Cor. XV 6)]).

Anyway, according to a review on Amazon Witherington challenges an idea (probably one of fiction? Who really argues it these days?) that Christology did not necessarily develop over time. This is wholeheartedly true - although John demonstrates clear high Christology - it is easily matched by our earliest NT documents which pre-date John by almost half a century.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Evolution of the Shema

So, the Shema starts out as:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one."
Deut 6:4

Then another aspect is revealed - Jesus as Lord is part of Monotheistic worship:
yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
1 Cor 8:6

But then we get to Islam. They also include a man that had walked the earth but unlike to Paul this man is believed to be nothing but a human prophet:
I testify that there is one god Allah and Muhammad is his final prophet.

I believe the fact to become a Muslim you must include a mere man as a statement of faith - a man whom you are to emulate, a man who accompanies God's name throughout the Quran (the whole "Allah and his Apostle") really raises some questions on how important Muhammad himself believed he was.

A Book to look out for - 'The Historical Jesus: Five Views'

The Historical Jesus: Five Views is a collaborative discussion by a number of scholars on their specific approach to historical Jesus methodology. Well, when I say scholars that is not the correct word. See, we have the big names of historical Jesus scholarship such as John Dominic Crossan (The Historical Jesus; The Essential Jesus and many more); James D.G. Dunn author of the massive and influential volume Jesus Remembered; Luke Timothy Johnson, a Catholic scholar and author of The Real Jesus; and Darrell L. Bock, an influential Evangelical New Testament scholar, author of Studying the Historical Jesus and Jesus According to Scripture. Then, finally we have another scholar - one who does not fit into the category of above. We find, for some reason or another - maybe to set up a strawman for slaughter - Robert M. Price. Price is a controversial scholar who spends his time trying to collect a following on the internet as his recycling of dead Jesus-Myth hypotheses don't fly with any other scholar.

Anyway, I am sure the table of contents of this book expected to be released in November this year will actually say something (and something more than myself having never seen the book):

Table of Contents

The Historical Jesus: An Introduction
Paul Rhodes Eddy and James K. Beilby

1. Jesus at the Vanishing Point
Robert M. Price
John Dominic Crossan
Luke Timothy Johnson
James D. G. Dunn
Darrell L. Bock

2. Jesus and the Challenge of Collaborative Eschatology
John Dominic Crossan
Robert M. Price
Luke Timothy Johnson
James D. G. Dunn
Darrell L. Bock

3. Learning the Human Jesus: Historical Criticism and Literary Criticism
Luke Timothy Johnson
Robert M. Price
John Dominic Crossan
James D. G. Dunn
Darrell L. Bock

4. Remembering Jesus: How the Quest of the Historical Jesus Lost Its Way
James D. G. Dunn
Robert M. Price
John Dominic Crossan
Luke Timothy Johnson
Darrell L. Bock

5. The Historical Jesus: An Evangelical View
Darrell L. Bock
Robert M. Price
John Dominic Crossan
Luke Timothy Johnson
James D. G. Dunn

A primer on this book for anyone who is interested would be Ben Witherington's The Jesus Quest: The Third Quest for the Jew of Nazareth as it overviews the work of Crossan - among others from all sides of the debate. Dunn's far shorter work A New Perspectiveon Jesus: What the Quest for the Historical Jesus Missed as well as N.T. Wright's 100 or so page Contemporary Quest for Jesus. Finally, for a bit of details on methedology as opposed to an overview of portraits try Bock's Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods. There is no need to direct anything with regard to Price's work as I am sure all the criteria of the other respective scholars will demonstrate how unfeasable Price's position is. The only person who would have problems against it- or at least give it some wiggle room - would be Crossan and his reading of myth into the Gospels.

Anyway, that is me for now!

Things to do this Monday...

Tutorial and Lecture Prep.

  1. Egyptian Religion: Hornung, Assmann, The Search for God pp. 80-82; Hard, Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses pp.40-42; 133-135; 84-85 = 46-49; 179-182; 108-110.

    Identify religious epigraphy. Print out Reader.

    Also, purchase The Search for God in Ancient Egypt ( Assmann (trans Lorton)) and Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt (Hornung). [By Tuesday Morning]

  2. Pagans, Jews and Christians: Pagan cults of the early centuries of the common era. Tutorial area: the role of personal beliefs; relationship between private belief and public cult; nature of priesthood; role of cult in public or civil life of Rome. [For Wednesday]

    Readings: MacMullen and Lane, Paganism and Christianity pp. 29-74; 79-105. [By Wednesday]

    Type up definitions. [By Thursday]

  3. Alexander the Great: Austin Doc. 4 and Arrian I.11. The Causes of Alexander's Invasion of Persian Territory
    1. What information does Arrian give us about his methods as an historian in the first few
    sentences of his account of Alexander? (Use the Penguin translation: this brief passage is not in Austin.) What light does this throw on the questions below? 2. How consistent are the figures in the various sources for the numbers in the army at the time of the original invasion? How might we explain the level of inconsistency? 3. What information does Arrian give us about the time of year the invasion began? (You may want to read around the set passage a little.) 4. How credible is the incident reported by Diodorus about Alexander being the first to come ashore on Persian-held territory, and claiming it as a “spear-won prize”? 5. What can we tell about Alexander's financial position at the time of the invasion? Compare Plutarch in Austin2 Doc. 4(a), Quintus Curtius 10.2.24 (not in Austin: use the Penguin or Loeb edition) and Arrian 7.8-9. 6. Does Alexander's giving away of large amounts of ‘crown property’ (Austin2 Doc. 4) fit into this picture? Why is Alexander doing this? 7. Particularly given that Alexander had already realised the proceeds of the selling of the 30,000 Thebans (440 talents according to Diodorus 17.14 = Austin2 Doc. 3b), how can we explain his financial situation at this point? 8. Likewise, given his financial situation, how can we explain the timing of the invasion? 9. Supplementary Question: What can we tell from Diodorus 17.7 and Polyaenus 5.44.5 about the strategic situation on the eve of the invasion? To what extent does this change our assessment of Alexander's aims?

    What factors seem to have effected Alexander's decision to invade Asia Minor when and how he did?

So, above includes the essential things. Then we must also add on my time wasting. I will more likely than not head to Koorong before uni to finaly get some of the books I am after. (Note, this will not be happening if the money put into my account doesn't show up by then!)

  • What Have They Done with Jesus? by Ben Witherington III. Only $18.95 - which is a pretty good price as they also have it for almost four times the price for some reason.
  • I was planning on getting the Michael F. Bird book but it still isn't in - "10 on Order"

Meanwhile, back at uni I am going to hunt down:
  • The Christology of Jesus by Ben Witherington [Link] BT216.5 .W57/1990


Bauer, Walter, Robert A. Kraft, and Gerhard Krodel. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. Mifflintown, PA: Sigler Press, 1996. [MQ Library]

McKechnie, Paul. The First Christian Centuries : Perspectives on the Early Church. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001. [MQ Library]

Bock, Darrell L. The Missing Gospels : Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2006. [Owned]

Pagels, Elaine H. The Gnostic Gospels. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1981. [I don't know]

Hengel, Martin. The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ : An Investigation of the Collection and Origin of the Canonical Gospels. 1st North American ed. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 2000. [MQ Library]

Robinson, Thomas A. The Bauer Thesis Examined : The Geography of Heresy in the Early Christian Church, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity V. 11. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1988. [MQ Library]

Turner, H. E. W. The Pattern of Christian Truth : A Study in the Relations between Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Early Church. New York: AMS Press, 1978. [MQ Library]

Roberts, Colin H. Manuscript, Society, and Belief in Early Christian Egypt, The Schweich Lectures of the British Academy 1977. London ; New York: published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1979. [MQ Library]

Macquarie University. Ancient History Documentary Research Centre. "New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity : A Review of Greek Inscriptions and Papyri" v. North Ryde, N.S.W.: The Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, Macquarie University, 1981.

Desjardin, Michael. 'Bauer and beyond: On Recent Scholarly Discussion of hairesis in the Early Christian Era', The Second Century, 8 (1991), 65-82.

Daniel J. Harrington, "The Reception of Walter Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity During the Last Decade," in Harvard Theological Review 73 (1980): 289-98.

Norris, Frederick W. "Ignatius, Polycarp, and 1 Clement: Walter Bauer Reconsidered," Vigiliae Christianae 30 (1976), 23-44
Craig A. Evan's seems to sum up my view of Lost Christianities as vaguely expressed in my rant below. He states:
The only way someone can come up with a divergent "Christianity" is to import a second-century writing or teacher into the middle of the first century. The examples cited by Bart Ehrman in his Lost Christianities are second-century persons and movements. He discusses Ebionites, Marcion and his following, and Gnosticism. All of these individuals and groups arose in the second century. (Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus. p.202)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Quick Rant

Bart Ehrman's often unnecessary and unqualified provocations within his texts do get tediously annoying. You can read his texts whereby he continually drops unqualified statements and just sit there wondering...we get it, Bart. We get it, you don't like Christianity.

Reading the intro to Lost Christianities (or the vast majority of his more popular books such as Misquoting Jesus, God's Problem or Jesus, Interrupted) is a great case in point. It begins in conspiratorial styled nature - we have an unknown "they" destroying alternative forms of 'Christianities'. He makes no historical mention of Christianity starting off as one rather unified belief - a Jewish movement believing Jesus to be the promised Messiah (as was preached by the Jerusalem Church as well as Paul to the Gentile Churches). This is played down to, well, no mention at all - and we hear of later Christian diversity as if they all existed in the beginning. The facts of the matter, as Ehrman has admitted to in numerous places, is that the New Testament documents are the earliest Christian documents we have - although there is some diversity (cf. Dunn's Unity and Diversity in the New Testament) we have a clear orthodoxy - the same orthodoxy that dominated the Church scene at its core to this day. Yes, we have diversity both ancient and current - but do tell me how this is analogous to the disputes of the orthodox apologists and the Gnostics.

But, alas, all later diversity is apparently equal despite the incomprehensible historical argument that Jesus was a Gnostic or a Marcionite. I see this book as the equivalent of a Fundamentalist Christian author claiming there were no later various forms of Christianity - both this fictional individual as well as Ehrman ignore the evidence and selectively present something the layman would most likely uncritically accept as scholarly.

His inconsistencies are amazing - just as amazing if you were to compare his book on the Da Vinci Code and Jesus Interrupted on the 'divinity of Christ' issue. He tells us that other versions of Acts were written "early in the church" yet a few pages earlier he gives all the alternative versions a late 2nd century date - around 100 or so years after canonical Acts.

He makes the issue of canon purely arbitrary - something greatly contradicted by his mentor the late Bruce Metzger in The Canon of the New Testament.

The list would go on, and on, forever and a day but I feel a tad better now!
Just now I added a NET Bible scriptural reference thing. If you hover over the text a small popup should come up.

1 Corinthians 8:5
1 Cor. 8:6

Dan Wallace on the Historical Metzger

From this, Ehrman offered an analogy to the SBL crowd: getting to the truth of the historical Jesus is a tricky task, and legends about him would often spring up without any genuine historical base. In other words, Ehrman saw in the apocryphal story about Metzger a parallel with the stories about Jesus that are recorded in the Gospels.
An article by Daniel B. Wallace, a prominent Evangelical Textual Critic of Dallas Theological Seminar, recently wrote an article for entitled The Historical Metzger. Here, he subtly turns Ehrman's argument against the reliability of the gospels on their head. It is well worth the read and can be found here.

I should also note that Dan was a guest on the AOMIN podcast The Dividing Line this Thursday which can be found here.

Rise of Orthodoxy

So, I was going to do a short research thesis on the rise of orthodox Christianity in the 2nd-4th century. Essentially, it was an evaluation of Walter Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Rechtgläubigkeit u. Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum). Why I believed this was a good idea is that I know of a lot of scholarship that has challenged the openly accepted thesis to the core; secondly, Macquarie has great access to resources on the issue such as the Papyri from the Rise of Christianity in Egypt etc under the Documentary Research Centre. This scholarship is encapsulated in the works of Edwin Judge as well as the multiple volumes of the New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity. So, in short, I have a lot to work with. subject supervisor wrote an entire book on the issues of using papyri for such an argument. Oh, the dilemma.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Me, Me, Me

So, every now and then I complain about wanting a book. Here I am, once again, to complain about wanting another book. I know - how selfish am I with all my wants, right?

First and foremost, I am still after Darrell Bock's Jesus According to Scripture. The book is not in stock anywhere - but I have found it at Koorong for $18 with a 6-8 week shipping waiting period. However, the fact that the book is well over twice the price everywhere else (including another listing of it on Koorong) I am not sure if the price is right. I hope it is - but I do also hope the shipping time isn't that long!

To the reason of this post - I want another book. Michael F. Bird, an Aussie scholar teaching in Scotland, has written a historical Jesus book on Jesus' self-identification as the Messiah. The text, pictured, is titled Are You the One Who is to Come: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question. Personally, from a purely naturalistic historical perspective I see it more than reasonable that Jesus may very well have seen himself as the Messiah, ushering in a new Messianic age. C'mon, he wouldn't have been the only one. We learn of a number of Messianic claimants towards the end of the Second Temple Period. Just like with writing off the predictions of the destruction of the temple despite Jesus not being the only person doing such pre-fall, when it comes to Jesus and the gospels - we apparently cannot know anything. I guess this sort of double-standard is why I admire the work of the IBR on the historical Jesus.

Anyway - back to obtaining the book. The price (~$30 seems reasonable), however, out of stock. Apparently 10 are on order at Koorong whilst Word lists it as not yet being published.

I hope to soon evaluate the thesis myself.

PS. Just before I go, I should plug Michael Bird's blog.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Resource Page (Under Construction)

I have decided to begin a hub for the numerous resources that I link to. The page is only under construction so deal with the scant content.




Darrell Bock Interview

Dr John Dickson of the Centre for Public Christianity interviewed Darrell L. Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. The interviews can be found here in two forms - 4 videos and one 27 minute audio interview. In my opinion the audio interview is best by far with Bock and Dickson touching some important issues in a, well, less rehearsed and more thorough sort of manner.

I have previously talked a bit about Dr Bock - however, just to reiterate he is one of the great evangelical New Testament scholars coming out of North America (probably along with Ben Witherington III and Craig A. Evans.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Most Interesting Debate of the Week

On the 28th and 29th of July Dr James R. White of Alpha and Omega Ministries and Harold Camping of Family Radio engaged in 'debate' on the radio show Iron Sharpens Iron. The topic intended for debate and discussion was "Has the Church Age Ended?" Harold Camping argues the affirmative with his only reference being selective eisegesis that he can undertake on the basis of special revelation. A revelation that seems to be revealed only to him. The vagueness of my understanding of Camping's position has to do with the fact that he barely discussed the issue. White, with sound exegesis, firmly defended against the idea that the Church age had ended.

I recommend that everyone download the podcast either from the AOMIN.ORG podcast 'The Dividing Line' or the Iron Sharpens Iron site above.

The first day of debate went well - there was some sort of interaction between White and Camping. However, when we get to the second day...I am speechless. As one would expect from the debate - Camping was to engage with White. However, Camping just used his three minutes each go to 'prove' his 2011 parousia through a one-way speech taking no note that White was even talking! It was amazing - White said some very great things and Camping, relying on premises thoroughly refuted by White earlier, would simply start where he left off with his little introduction. "As we have seen in Mark 4, Jesus spoke in parables" - Camping would then assume this meant everything was a parable which he, as the rightly ordained one, could interpret through the use of number games and other forms of eisegesis. Then throughout his three minute speeches he would repeat "This has been shown from the Bible" whilst making very little reference to the Bible or its context.

Furthermore, Camping employs a hermeneutic of - I don't know. How would one phrase this?
Exegesis requires that we take note of the context - firstly, the immediate context of the writing. However, Camping thoroughly rejects this man-made heresy (as we have established from Mark 4 Jesus spoke in parables) in order to uncover the true meaning. This means removing a word from the immediate context completely and placing the verse arbitrarily in the thematic context of an entirely different verse ANYWHERE in the Bible.

I was amazed that he does not see the folly in this. The Bible is turned into a contextless puzzle that one must reconstruct as they wish - postmodern eisegesis at its best!