Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Why is Dawkins making this so easy for us?


For some, apparently Richard Dawkins is their guide to life, death and eternity.

Here’s Dawkins on the Bible, supplied by UD News:

 DAWKINS: The evidence [Jesus] existed is surprisingly shaky. The earliest books in the New Testament to be written were the Epistles, not the Gospels. It’s almost as though Saint Paul and others who wrote the Epistles weren’t that interested in whether Jesus was real.

PLAYBOY: You’ve read the Bible.

DAWKINS: I haven’t read it all, but my knowledge of the Bible is a lot better than most fundamentalist Christians’.

Here’s the apostle Paul, author of 13 or perhaps 14 (the authorship book of Hebrews is uncertain) of the 27 books of the New Testament:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, … , And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 17-18.

Got that?  Let me make it easier for you.

 The apostle Paul: If Jesus didn’t live, die and rise again, then we’re all damned.

Dawkins: Of course, Paul wasn’t really that bothered about whether Jesus existed. Trust me, I know the Bible really well.

How about some others who wrote the epistles? Let’s try John, who comes next, having written 5 books in the New Testament, including 3 letters. John’s made this one a really difficult one for us, by failing to raise the whole subject of Jesus’ coming as a true human being until the first lines of his first letter:

 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our 1 joy may be complete.  – 1 John 1:1-4

The whole purpose of 1 John was to refute false teachers amongst the churches who taught that the Christ had not really come as a true human being…. and hence 1 John is full to bursting with lines like these:

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. – 1 John 4:2-3

Got that one?

The apostle John: Those who do not believe in the coming of Jesus as a true human being are the spawn of Satan.

Dawkins: John didn’t really care about whether Jesus was here or not. Was scarcely on his radar. Really, I’ve studied the Bible quite hard, you can trust me on this one.

How about the leader of the apostles, Peter – who wrote two letters and is reputed to be the main source for the gospel of Mark?

Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. -2 Peter 1:12-18

 You get the drill by now…

 The apostle Peter: I saw the glory of Jesus, and heard the voice of God. This stuff isn’t made up. It’s really important that you remember that.

Dawkins: Peter hardly cared about whether there was a Jesus at all. Honestly, I’m a Bible scholar.

Those dozing in the passenger seat might want to peer out of the window and take a look at where Dawkins is driving them. The man talks a good game, but he can’t read the map.

Why is Dawkins making it so easy for folk to spot his foolishness? It’s almost as if he’s dropping you a hint! In case Dawkins wants a further opinion from any other of the epistle-writers, then here’s Jude:

 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” – Jude 17-18

Weren’t we talking about that earlier? 



hehehe Mung
Mung: Ah, now I see it. I remembered your mention of the thesis of the book, but I didn't remember the name of the author, and when you used the pronoun "her," all I could think of was Betty Ford! Timaeus
I’m sorry; I’m lost. I don’t recall discussing anyone named “Ford.” You’ll have to clarify this reference.
@60 and @61 above. Mung
Timaeus I'd go along with most of that. The problem of using "inspiration" is that some (even those who should no better) use it in the same sense that people use of Liberace - "It lifts my heart" (as opposed to being breathed out by God!). Interestingly the Catholic church also defines "inspiration" carefully, distingusihing it from "revelation proper". It seems to have much the same content as Charles Hodge's view. Authorship questions will always, like the Synoptic question, be difficult to unravel, especially given the strong authorial contribution of amanuenses and secretaries at that time. But as ever conclusions depend on presuppositions (eg Papias is unreliable because he's a traditional Christian source, rather than because we have the dirt on how unreliable he is). Incidentally Bauckham thinks Revelation has a separate author from the rest: not sure who. Jon Garvey
Jon Garvey: Thank you for the fraternal correction regarding "evangelical" and "inerrancy." I do understand the various uses of these terms, but from time to time, when writing in a hurry, and thinking of a certain *kind* of evangelical, and a certain *kind* of inerrantism, I don't define my terms, which is unwise, because not all readers will immediately recognize my usage. So let me define my terms, as I've been using them here: By "evangelical" I mean a certain style of Christianity, which is strong in sectarian Protestantism in America, and present in some of the mainline denominations as well. The emphasis is on missionary work, conversion, and on celebrating one's own conversion and the joys of Christian life. Evangelicals come in many varieties, from liberal to conservative, from virtually all denominations (even some American Catholics style themselves "evangelical" in this sense), and on origins their positions are all over the map, from TE through ID and OEC to YEC. By "inerrant," I refer to the view that the Scriptures are without error. This view can be subdivided into two versions: (i) The Scriptures are inerrant in all that they *teach* -- and they *teach* doctrines of the faith, morality, and some historical events. This implies that there may other things in Scripture, incidental things, which are not *taught* by Scripture, e.g., certain Scriptural passages may imply local beliefs in geocentrism or waters above the heavens or the spontaneous generation of flies or the wrong date for the founding of a Canaanite city or the like -- but a Christian may deny those things because they are not what Scripture is trying to convey; (ii) The Scriptures are inerrant in everything they *say*, which means that not only what they say about faith and morals, and key historical events such as the Resurrection, but also what they say about light before the sun and waters above the sky and all dates and places and genealogies mentioned or recorded in Scripture are without error and must be accepted as given. Some -- not all -- "evangelicals" are "literalist-inerrantist," by which I mean, they not only hold to the traditional understanding that the Scriptures are "inerrant," but hold to type (ii) of inerrancy above. They read the Scriptures in a rather mechanical way, where every statement is read off as a sort of videotaped record of past events. (I'm aware that in the ancient and medieval church the "literal" interpretation included more that what "literalist" means in the context I'm using it, but in the common understanding today, "literalist" doesn't mean that any more.) One can believe that the Scriptures are "inerrant" without taking what I'm calling a "literalist" reading of them. For example, the Catholic Church upholds the "inerrancy" of the Scriptures, but its Catechism allows that some of the language of the Garden story in Genesis is "figurative." That term, "figurative," is compatible with the older use of "literal" interpretation (in the patristic and medieval periods), but it's not compatible with the way "literalist" is used today. A literalist today is convinced that a snake had an audible conversation with Eve, and that knowledge of good and evil and eternal life were hanging there in the form of edible fruits. A Catholic, following the Catechism, need not accept that degree of photographic realism when interpreting the Genesis text. (Some Catholics do, and the Church doesn't forbid that; but it is no part of Catholic doctrine that every single statement made in the Garden story is a perfect snapshot of a material thing or historical event.) I'm no expert on historical Protestantism, but there is a famous passage in Calvin about Genesis, whose meaning is sometimes debated, but which seems to be that Moses wrote about the cosmos after the manner of common perception, and not in the manner of a natural philosopher, and therefore that strict accuracy was not to be expected from some of Moses's statements. I have always taken this passage to imply that Calvin would be an inerrantist in sense (i) above rather than sense (ii), but I'm open to further instruction on the fine points of Calvin's view. I agree with your remarks about Scripture and tradition. Certainly the Pope has no authority to say that Paul was in error in his interpretation of Adam. However, for the professional Biblical scholar, as opposed to the confessional theologian, this often poses a problem, because it sometimes at least *appears* that a later Scriptural writer is misinterpreting an earlier Scriptural passage. And from the pure Biblical scholar's point of view, the unity of the Bible cannot be assumed, but must be proved, whereas for the systematic theologian the unity of the Bible not only can be but must be assumed. From a Biblical scholar's point of view, then, "Paul got Genesis wrong" is always an interpretive option, whereas for the Pope, for Calvin, for Luther, etc., that is never an interpretive option. But we don't have to insist that Paul made any error, in order to resist the traditional teaching about Adam and Christ. It is also possible that Paul correctly understood Genesis, but that the Church -- at least the Western Church (I don't know the Eastern tradition well enough to comment) -- has misinterpreted the meaning of Paul's use of Genesis. I won't try to argue that here, but it is a logical possibility. Regarding your other remarks about authorship, I neither affirm nor deny them. I think we in fact know very little about the authorship of New Testament books, and the usual sources of information (Eusebius, Papias, etc.) I regard as, not wrong, but unreliable. And what "the early Church" knew about the various "Johns" of course depends on how "early" we are talking about. Church authorities living in AD 90 may well have known the author of the Gospel of John personally. But we don't have any documents (other than the New Testament and one or two other near-canonical writings) from that period, so we have no contemporary confirmation that "John" was the disciple. And we have no contemporary confirmation concerning the writers of the other Johannine books; only later reports, and modern scholarly assessments of probabilities. Finally, I think your last sentence may be correct, as an interpretation, but I don't see how you can assert it as a fact. A second-century writer might well have done such a thing -- *if* such a device had the approval of the Church authorities of the time. We simply don't know enough about the conditions of composition of the books, and we don't know enough about the relationship between the authors of the books and the early Church command structure. For example, were these authors writing the Gospel and Revelation *on the instructions* of the Church? Or were they "freelancers" whose work later came to be recognized as inspired by the Church? Was there some degree of "committee writing" involved? Etc. I certainly concede that *later* writings (from about 180 or 200 on) seem to discuss authorship in the conventional way, but in the period I'd most like to hear from (ca 50 AD - 150 AD) we have almost no contemporary documents discussing the production of the Biblical books. All I can say is that it strikes me as very unlikely -- based on my own study and literary instincts -- that the author of John's Gospel wrote Revelation. It would take a lot of close exegetical argument to convince me otherwise. The Letters of John, I haven't thought about enough, and have no view on the subject. Again, I'm not representing my position as orthodox or conventional. I'm just sharing my thoughts. I don't expect anyone to agree with me, unless their thoughts have run along similar lines and driven them to the same conclusions. And I don't consider any of these historical ruminations to be very important for the essence of Christian faith. I don't really care who wrote any of the books of the Bible, and I think that any "inerrancy" that it contains comes from divine sources rather than human ones. I actually think that the language of "inerrancy" is filled with connotations that the Church is better off without. I think the language of "inspiration" is sufficient, and avoids all kinds of unnecessary polemics, and all kinds of misadventures into a "literalism" of a bad type (my type ii above). When a self-styled "conservative evangelical" Protestant proudly boasts that he is also an "inerrantist," I assume -- unless he immediately states otherwise -- that he is an inerrantist of type ii, and I know that I am not going to get far with him in any conversation about the meaning of Genesis. Timaeus
An interjection into this debate. When Timaeus uses "Evangelical Protestant" as a substitute for "Scriptural inerrancy" I would have to remind him that "Sola Scriptura", and not "Scriptural Inerrancy", is the Protestant distinctive. The latter has never been doubted by the historic traditions. For example, the Catholic position, evidenced by Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, for which there's unfortunately only room for a short quote, says:
It will never be lawful to restrict inspiration merely to certain parts of the Holy Scripture, or to grant that the sacred writer could have made a mistake. Nor may the opinion of those be tolerated, who, in order to get out of these difficulties, do not hesitate to suppose that Divine inspiration extends only to what touches faith and morals, on the false plea that the true meaning is sought for less in what God has said than in the motive for which He has said it.
The Catholic position is that Councils and Popes have sole authority to interpret Scripture. But no Pope has ever had the authority to say, "the Holy Apostle was in error in writing this Scripture." In the Orthodox statements of faith I've seen, little is said of Scripture itself, but they do state that it has equal status with tradition. That is to elevate the authority of tradition, not to lessen the authority of Scripture - in essence it is saying that God has ensured that the Church correctly interprets his word. And of course, though Orthodox writers love to toss Patristic sources around, those Patristic writers usually bring their arguments from "the divine word". One more thing: I believe the authorship of the New Testament Scriptures was a key issue for the early Church, though not a simple one. That's because they were dealing with (a) the reality of key, miraculous, historic events and (b) the authenticity of dominical and apostolic teaching. There would have been no point in attaching names to the texts otherwise. In the specific case of the Johannine corpus, we may assume that the early Church knew the John (or Johns) who wrote, or authorised, it, which was why it was universally accepted (leaving aside the time it took for 2 & 3 John and Revelation to gain universality, for which there are specific reasons). The fact that we don't know his identigty means we have to hypothesise on inadequate data, and/or take the Orthodox step of trusting the tradition got it right. Richard Bauckham makes a good case for "John the Elder" being a key early eyewitness, and therefore a small-"a" apostle able to write all or some of it. Be that as it may, he was not just some 2nd century prophet adopting the name for extra clout. Jon Garvey
Mung @63: "As for Ford, I don’t agree with her, but I thought it would be an interesting way to acquaint you with the fact that my horizons are broader than the most recent Jack van Impe broadcast on TV." I'm sorry; I'm lost. I don't recall discussing anyone named "Ford." You'll have to clarify this reference. Timaeus
Mung @62: "But isn’t it the case that the truth is guaranteed not because of the human author, but because they all share the same divine Author?" Quite. But my disagreement with David Anderson wasn't over whether all five books attributed to John the disciple were inspired by God, as the ultimate Author; it was whether all five book attributed to John the disciple were written by John the disciple, as the mediate author. And maybe that's ultimately unimportant. But as he was representing as historical fact something which I deem to be at best unlikely and almost certainly false, I offered my correction. Timaeus
Either religion should not be discussed at all here, or one should be allowed to disagree with the religious views expressed by the columnists.
It seems to me that religious content frequently appears, and I never hesitate to point out when I think it is mistaken. As a preterist, if someone here asserts that the book of Revelation is inspired, I ask how that can possible be so. The author clearly states on numerous occasions that the events described in it will soon take place and are "at hand." As for Ford, I don't agree with her, but I thought it would be an interesting way to acquaint you with the fact that my horizons are broader than the most recent Jack van Impe broadcast on TV. Considering your background, I hope we have occasion to come across each other in future discussions. God Bless Mung
Timaeus, don't know if you're still monitoring:
Think of it this way. If your father, or anyone in whom you placed a very high degree of trust, came up to you and said: “Son (friend, etc.), this man here used to be a liar and a murderer, but I tell you from personal knowledge that he has changed, and that you can now risk your life on the truth of anything he tells you” — would you not treat such a man differently than someone whom you knew to be *still* a liar and a murderer?
Having once been a liar and a thief (and perhaps, according to the heart, a murderer), and having experienced the saving grace of Christ Jesus, I would have to take that claim seriously.
It’s like that with the Bible. If you are a conservative evangelical Protestant, the truth of every word of the Bible is guaranteed. The *authorship* is not, because the Biblical books don’t always tell us who wrote them, but the *truth* is.
But isn't it the case that the truth is guaranteed not because of the human author, but because they all share the same divine Author? Mung
Thanks for agreeing to reflect upon my argument, Mung. Thanks also for the book reference. An interesting hypothesis regarding the authorship of Revelation, to be sure! It may even be true. But I can't comment without examining it. Bear in mind that I'm assuming that David Anderson, being a conservative evangelical Protestant, accepts the doctrine of sola scriptura and the 66-book canon of the Protestant churches. The web site he is associated with -- which is extremely conservative -- bears this out. If he holds to the beliefs announced on that site, he must believe that all the books of the Bible speak truth, and speak truth in their entirety. God has guaranteed their veracity. Think of it this way. If your father, or anyone in whom you placed a very high degree of trust, came up to you and said: "Son (friend, etc.), this man here used to be a liar and a murderer, but I tell you from personal knowledge that he has changed, and that you can now risk your life on the truth of anything he tells you" -- would you not treat such a man differently than someone whom you knew to be *still* a liar and a murderer? It's like that with the Bible. If you are a conservative evangelical Protestant, the truth of every word of the Bible is guaranteed. The *authorship* is not, because the Biblical books don't always tell us who wrote them, but the *truth* is. So, if you are an orthodox Protestant, the author of Revelation could have been Jack the Ripper or Charles Manson or the Son of Sam in his previous life, but the truth of the book of Revelation is still binding upon you. If you would deny that God could use such shabby human material to convey truth, you are denying the power of God. And if God *tells* you (as your Dad did in my example) that the author of Revelation is trustworthy (which God does, by placing the book of Revelation in the Bible), your opinion on whether or not the author of Revelation is trustworthy (which is based on your knowledge of his previous misdeeds) shouldn't matter at all. If you set your judgment of his trustworthiness against God's, you're in effect defying God's orders. If you are a conservative evangelical Protestant, you must believe that the Bible is true -- all completely true -- no matter how depraved the persons were who recorded it. Of course, if you are *not* a conservative evangelical Protestant, then you are free to judge the reliability of the books of the Bible in line with your opinion of the moral character of their authors (though how you would determine the authors and their moral biography, I don't know). You can eject from the Biblical canon any books that you like. But I was debating with David Anderson, who does not allow himself such freedom of private judgment, and my conclusions are, I think, inevitable, given the religious axioms he accepts. Authorship shouldn't matter; if it's in the Bible, it's true. And probably the author of Revelation was *not* anything like Charles Manson -- though for all we know he might have been like Charles *Colson* at some point in his life -- but even if he was exactly like Charles Manson prior to his illumination, that doesn't matter. Therefore, even if the John of Revelation is not the disciple John, his words are as reliable as they would be if he were. And the same applies to the authors of the Letters attributed to John. And to all 13 Letters attributed to Paul, whether he wrote them or not. And to all 5 books of Moses, whether Moses had anything to do with them or not. Thus, authorship should be a purely academic discussion, one having nothing to do with the essentials of faith. If David Anderson believes that John the disciple wrote 5 of the NT books, that's his right; I think differently, as is my right. But to make the belief that John the disciple wrote all 5 of those books a test of the genuineness or purity of faith -- that would be wrong. In denying that John wrote all 5 books, I wasn't attacking Christian faith as such, not even fundamentalist Protestant faith. I was attacking only a certain intellectual opinion which has become attached to faith, and is not necessary to it. I see that David Anderson is not interested in continuing the conversation with me, on either thread. That's fine. Such conversations are off-topic for UD anyway. The only reason I entered into the conversation is that if UD is going to allow columnists to assert propositions from their Biblical and Christian faith on a site which is supposed to be dedicated to intelligent design (which loudly proclaims to the world that it is a *scientific* not a *religious* doctrine), then others whose religious understanding is different from the columnists' should have a right of rebuttal. Either religion should not be discussed at all here, or one should be allowed to disagree with the religious views expressed by the columnists. I'll never criticize conservative Biblical Christianity *per se* here, but if conservative Biblical Christians try to pass off as fact religious interpretations which are in fact only hypotheses (i.e., that John the disciple wrote 5 NT books), I think I have the right (and duty, as a trained Biblical scholar) to point out the difference between fact and hypothesis. The reader has the right to be alerted. Thanks again for the discussion. Timaeus
Contrary to general scholarly opinion, Ford identifies the writer as the Hebrew prophet and forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist, not John the Evangelist.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0385509197 Mung
Timaeus, You do bring up some interesting points. You seemed to be arguing that it does not matter who said it, and I objected. But then I reflected upon the fact that Balaam's ass spoke. Should I cede that the words of known liars and murderers should be taken as truth over those of an ass, never known to have lied before? I think not, but I shall reflect upon what you have written. God bless. Mung
DAWKINS: I haven’t read it all, but my knowledge of the Bible is a lot better than most fundamentalist Christians’. Dawkins: Of course, Paul wasn’t really that bothered about whether Jesus existed. Trust me, I know the Bible really well. Uh, about that... There have been many controversies surrounding Jesus Christ, but his historicity should not be one of them. People as diverse as Malcolm Muggeridge, Wil Durant, and even Napoleon Bonaparte have talked about him; if he never existed, then please enlighten me as to whom they were talking about. Barb
Mung (56): You may not be doing it intentionally, but you are arguing demagogically, appealing to popular sentiment rather than to reason. Are you saying that if Dahmer or Manson argued that 2 + 2 = 4, you would deny that 2 + 2 = 4, on the grounds that if someone so horrible believed it, it must not be true? And are you denying that God could take someone like Dahmer and Manson and illuminate their soul with truth, so that they could speak something true, despite the evil of their past lives? Are you denying that God could have chosen to give the book of Revelation to us through a mass murderer, rather than through the disciple John? Is God not free to use what vessels he wills? Even a "man of unclean lips"? Or are you perhaps arguing something purely hypothetical, i.e., that if we had never seen the book of Revelation before, and Dahmer or Manson produced it, we might well be suspicious of its spiritual reliability? If you are arguing the latter, I understand your point. Yes, I *would* give close scrutiny to something produced by evil people when they were still in their unregenerate state. But that is not the situation we are in. We are in a situation where the book of Revelation is accepted as a canonical, inspired, and reliable part of the Bible, not an unknown writing that has yet to prove itself. The Church decided, long ago, that Revelation was inspired. Bear in mind that *I'm* not the one laying down the implicit ground rules of this discussion. David Anderson believes -- he can correct me if I've misinterpreted his position -- that the Bible in its entirety is the inspired word of God, and that all of its teachings are true. If he believes that, then he must believe in the truth of the teaching of the book of Revelation. Now, does his belief in the truth of Revelation come from his opinion that John the disciple wrote it? Or is his belief independent of that opinion? (An opinion, by the way, which has no basis in the book of Revelation itself, but comes only from later tradition.) If his belief in the reliability of Revelation comes solely from his opinion that John the disciple wrote it, then, if a proof comes along that John the disciple did not write it, he must yank Revelation out of his Bible, denying it canonicity. On the other hand, if his belief in Revelation comes from his view that the Holy Spirit guided the Church to select only divinely revealed books for the Bible, so that, *whoever* wrote it, Revelation is guaranteed to be true by the Holy Spirit, then the authorship doesn't matter. I'm not sure that David Anderson is claiming that Johannine authorship *does* matter; he may actually agree with me that it doesn't. If so, then our only disagreement is over the fact of Johannine authorship, not over its significance. But if that has no spiritual cash value, then the disagreement is religiously trivial, and is simply a matter for historical scholarship to wrestle with. Timaeus
Timaeus, Thank you for your response.
I fail to understand why, say, the claim that as in Adam all fell, so in Christ all are redeemed, depends on who made it.
So if Charles Manson, or Jeffrey Dahmer, made that claim, it makes no difference. I could nor disagree more. The truth of a proposition is intimately associated with the individual who states the proposition. Mung
Mung: The thread you are asking about is: https://uncommondescent.com/creationism/the-bible-says-it-therefore-i-believe-it/ There was no exchange on the thread. I criticized Mr. Anderson, and he declined to reply. As for the rest, I fail to understand why, say, the claim that as in Adam all fell, so in Christ all are redeemed, depends on who made it. Whether Paul said that, or his secretary, or some anonymous writer of the Pauline school, or someone else entirely, it's either true or false. If people share Mr. Anderson's belief that the Bible is wholly reliable and that everything in it is true, the statement can be trusted no matter who said it. And the same applies to the book of Revelation; suppose it was not written by John the disciple, but some later John. Does that mean the vision recorded in it was from Satan, rather than God? What's authorship got to do with truth? Can't God take any old John and make him a vehicle of divine truth? Timaeus
kf: I understand your point in 51. I'm not claiming that there is any "fraud," i.e., any deliberate attempt to mislead people about authorship. My view is that there would be no fraud even if the writer of Revelation *was* representing himself to be the disciple John, because it was just accepted literary practice in ancient times to father one's writings on famous names, and all the readers of the day would be "in" on this. There is no more fraud in that than in adults co-operating at Christmastime regarding Santa Claus. No one is *lying* about Santa Claus, in any morally meaningful sense of "lying." In any case, all that the writer of Revelation said was that his name was John. To argue that someone is claiming to be Bob Hope because he signs his name "Bob" would be ridiculous. We have no warrant -- within the text, I mean -- for equating John of Revelation with John the disciple. So no matter what way you look at it, in my view, there is no fraud. Timaeus
I’m not had any disagreement with David Anderson about the *meaning* of any of the works we are discussing. I’m merely indicating disagreement with his views on authorship.
But doesn't who wrote it factor into when it was written? And doesn't when it was written factor into "what does it mean"? ;) I'd be interested in reading this prior exchange between the two of you of you can post a link. Mung
For me, the Rylands fragment is decisive, and I have no problem with Jn being c 90 AD, shortly before John’s death. Same, for the Revelation.
But were they written pre-70, and what does it mean for Christian theology if they were? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Before_Jerusalem_Fell I think it's free online. Mung
T: The problem comes in when skeptical hypotheses are suggested as though they were established fact and where such imply fraud. I think it is not proper to imply such without definitive evidence, and that speculations are not facts. We do have very clear indications of co authors with epistles, e.g. 1 Thess 1:1 -- "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy," 1 Pet 5:12 "By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you". KF kairosfocus
kairosfocus: I have no objection to your point in 46. I have no stake in whether the NT books were written by single authors or were collaborations with secretaries. My point is a very simple one: if someone believes that the Holy Spirit guarantees the truth of what is in the Bible, the identification of individual human authors doesn't matter -- for the reliability of the teaching of the Biblical book in question. So why fight over it? Why not let the literary scholars at Harvard, Tel Aviv, Heidelberg, Oxford, etc. -- who know the background history and the philological issues better than anyone else -- offer the most probable inferences regarding authorship and other compositional issues, while all the while affirming that the Holy Spirit guided both the writing and the editing process in such a way that everything that made the "final cut" is spiritually true? People who fiercely hang onto "Moses wrote the Pentateuch" or "The disciple John wrote Revelation" or "Paul wrote Hebrews" seem to believe that if the alleged authors didn't write these works, the works themselves lose reliability. I think that is simply wrong-headed. I'm not had any disagreement with David Anderson about the *meaning* of any of the works we are discussing. I'm merely indicating disagreement with his views on authorship. Of course, I'm aware of Biblical scholarship which, based on hypothetical reconstruction of sources, says or implies that parts of the Bible are incoherent rubbish, but I've never defended such conclusions. All I said was that it's unlikely that the disciple John wrote Revelation, that it's not certain Paul wrote all 13 letters attributed to him (and virtually certain that he did not write Hebrews), and that the Pentateuch does not claim to have been written by Moses -- and that such questions, while interesting, ultimately don't matter, because the truth or falsehood of the teaching doesn't depend on what human vehicle God used to transmit it. Timaeus
No relation. We just share the same name. William J Murray
William J. Murray, Are you the William J. Murray, son of Madeline Murray O'Hair or is that just your handle? I will be posting something on Madeline Murray O'Hair soon. I want to be respectful of her family member in my essay. Sal scordova
WJM: Yup, sadly. BTW, good stuff in your exchange with LT. I am too busy with Math Remediation curriculum design. KF kairosfocus
Timaeus: Pardon a note but in dealing with C1 Christian writings, I think it is necessary to observe the role of secretaries who did a bit more than take dictation, i.e. were in some cases co-authors under the supervision of the primary responsible party; which still obtains in organisational contexts to this day. Silvanus comes to mind and I suspect that Mark, Luke and Timothy played that sort of role too. That is one reason why I tend to take some of the discussions on who wrote what with a grain of salt. KF kairosfocus
TA: There is a whole parallel thread on the matter, with Petrushka as poster child no 1 on the problem I am highlighting. In addition, there has been a matter of hate sites and more playing out for at least the past year and more. KF kairosfocus
DAWKINS: "I haven’t read it all, but my knowledge of the Bible is a lot better than most fundamentalist Christians’." Just another in a long litany of unsupported, self-serving claims made by Anti-Christians like Dawkins. Good grief, what unsupported, unmitigated arrogance. William J Murray
KF posted this:
And, pardon, that is before I touch on your attempt to push me into the same immoral boat as those who have set out to slander me over at TSZ. (And remember you are here dealing with someone who has to deal with hate sites and clearly unhinged denizens thereof who — as the recent shooting at FRC shows, if that was necessary — credibly pose threats.)
I have no idea what you are talking about. timothya
David, In regard to "teachers at little Bible colleges in the Ozarks," I'd love to visit the Ozarks someday! Re: #32 - I've had some of the same difficulties with Timaeus that you mention, David. He puffed his chest at you in #36 and said: "I did my Ph.D. in religion at the 5th-ranked graduate department in North America." I know where he did his PhD in Religious Studies and have visited there. It is *NOT* ranked that highly. It's a decent school, but don't let him bully you as if you are a hick from the countryside who doesn't understand the Bible and Christian faith. Gregory
1 2

Leave a Reply