Holy Scripture

God Vindicated – A short review of Kaiser’s book on God’s actions in the OT

Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2015, 176 pages, pbk

God Almighty will always have to suffer the inquisitions of his rebellious creatures, at least until He sorts out the waywardness epidemic of creaturely independence which is the bequest of the presence of sin.  It won’t do to answer these jibes with “God can do anything He likes”, we must be prepared to educate unbelievers about the justice which always lays behind God’s judgments.

This new book by veteran OT scholar Walter Kaiser nicely addresses the most important issues which are raised by the destruction of the Amalekites in 1 Samuel or the “deceptions” one reads about hither and thither, or the Bible’s view of women and other things.  Kaiser does so, moreover, in a patient, thoughtful and even pastoral manner.  He is careful to explain all-important backgrounds and context, while unlike some recent attempts in the same genre, not sidestepping the sticky problems which some accounts may raise.

A particularly helpful and relevant chapter deals with whether God was okay with polygamous marriages in the Old Testament.  Through clear exegesis Kaiser demonstrates that although there was polygamy, it was not pleasing to God.  The tricky passage in 2 Samuel 12:7-8, for example, is dealt with deftly (100-101).

There are one or two extras included in the book.  One which stands out to this reader is Kaiser’s caution about going “first to the New Testament interpretation as the source for the original and final meaning back into the Old Testament.”  Of course, this NT understanding is but an “alleged New Testament meaning” which “makes the Old Testament meaning dispensable and reduces it to mean the same thing as the most recent application of that text in the New Testament.” (13).

A good book made better by the author’s mature, almost devotional at times, reflections on the issues.

As with all recent Kregel titles, I have a big ax to grind against the decision not to include any indexes.  Really, who made such a dumb decision and why were they listened to?

 

My thanks to Kregel who sent me this book for review without charge.

 

The Rules of Affinity Simplified

RULES OF AFFINITY

Premise:If all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, it is imperative that our doctrines line up with Scripture.  Theology may be defined as correct alignment with the pronouncements of the Bible.

The ‘Rules’ demonstrate that some doctrines line up much more closely to Scripture than others.  Those with a very strong, direct “affinity” are ranked in the first category (C1).  Those with the weakest claim to any affinity with the text of the Bible are ranked category five (C5).

C1 = a direct statement

 Examples include:

  • ·         Creation out of nothing – “The Triune God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing.” – Gen. 1:1f; Isa. 40:28; 45:12; Jer. 10:12; Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:15-16; Heb. 1:2; Heb. 11:3; Rom. 11:36
  • ·         Christ died for all sinners (whosoever believes) – “Christ died for all men (sinners).” – Isa. 53:6; Jn. 1:29; 3:16-17; Rom. 5:6; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 4:10; 1 Jn. 2:2; Heb. 2:9, 10:29

 

Most fundamental doctrines are a C1.  A C1 doctrine is taught via a direct quotation of Scripture.

 

C2 = a strong inference

 

Examples include:

  • ·         Inerrancy – “The inspired Scriptures are the Word of God before they are the words of men.”

2 Tim. 3:16; Psa. 12:6; Jn. 17:17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21

  • ·         The Trinity – “God exists as one substance yet in three divine, co-equal, distinct, yet eternally inseparable ‘Persons’.  God is one yet three, though in different modes of being.” – Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; Jn. 1:1-3, 18; 14:15-17; 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 9:14, 10:28-29

A C2 is established on the witness of several clear C1 passages.

 Premise: Every major doctrine is a C1 or C2.

C3 = an inference to the best explanation

 

Examples include:

  • ·         The Pre-Trib Rapture – “Christ will come for His Church prior to the 7 year Tribulation.” – 1 Thess. 4:13f; 1 Cor. 15:50f,; Rom. 11:24f; Dan. 9:24-27

 

A C3 is established on the witness of C1 and C2 texts, which overlap to point to a plausible inference.

C4 = a weak inference

 

Examples include:

  • ·         The Covenant of Grace – based on ideas like “the one people of God” and “the church as the new Israel”

 

A C4 is founded on no clear or plain statement of Scripture.


C5 = an inference based on another inference

 

Examples include:

  • The Christian Sabbath – Sunday replacing the Jewish Sabbath

 

A C5 is an even weaker inference based on other theological inferences, without reference to plain statements of Scripture.

Conclusion: We should only formulate our beliefs from C1’s and C2’s with some reference to C3’s.  On the other hand, doctrines supported only by C4’s and C5’s should be suspected of relying too much on human reasoning without Scripture.

Autographa & Apographa: John Owen on Inspiration and Preservation

Here’s an item from a couple of years ago which I’m including to change the pace a little.  I’ve left the combox open. 

Introduction

 

The greatest British theologian of the 17th Century was, in the opinion of many, John Owen.  Owen made distinctive contributions in a number of theological loci.  His book on the mutual relationship within the Trinity and our communion with each of the Divine Persons is still the best work on the subject.[1] Likewise, his manifesto for congregational-independency[2] offers some of the best arguments for Pastor-led congregational form of church government, and his The Death of Death in the Death of Christ[3] is considered the book on the Reformed view of particular redemption.  Owen’s teaching on the subject of the inspiration of the Bible is also most instructive, especially in view of what has been and is being taught in some evangelical seminaries and books.

The Importance of Divine Inspiration

 

Owen’s views on the crucial matter of the relationship of the Bible as we have it and the autographs are worth pondering.  He, like all solid evangelicals, rests the authority of the Bibles we have, not upon some inner impression of its validity, but upon its original theopneustic character.  In his, The Divine Original of the Scripture he asserted, “That the whole authority of the scripture in itself depends solely on its divine original, is confessed by all who acknowledge its authority.”[4] Thus the autographs were from God and delivered to men.  We possess “the words of truth from God Himself.”[5]

Inspiration he defined as “an indwelling and organizing power in the chosen penmen.” [6] Thus, “they invented not words themselves…but only expressed the words they received.”[7] Indeed, “the word that came unto them was a book which they took in and gave out without any alteration of one tittle or syllable (Ezek. ii 8-10, iii 3; Rev. x 9-11).”[8] As Owen writes in his great work on the Holy Spirit:

He did not speak in them or by them, and leave it unto their natural faculties, their minds, or memories, to understand and remember the things spoken by him, and so declare them to others; but he himself acted their faculties, making use of them to express his words, not their own conceptions.[9]

It is because of its divine provenance that the Scripture gains “the power and to require obedience, in the name of God.”[10] The Scriptures “being what they are, they declare whose they are.”[11] Even so, being as the Bible is the Word of God, every man is bound to believe it.[12] (more…)

Why I Read The Scholars Yet Still Believe God Means What He Says

 

Recently, I have (not for the first time) been immersing myself  in the works of writers who would disagree very strongly with the views espoused at Veritas and by traditional dispensationalists in general.  Trawling through these big books, paying attention to each argument and their use of Scripture, and repeatedly coming across assertions that seem to make God guilty of double-talk is, to be brutally honest, a sort of self-imposed torture.  So why do I do it?  I read these works because I want to be informed about the latest arguments against my position.  I want to keep abreast of how many evangelical scholars think.  I don’t want to be a Bible teacher and theologian who is ignorant of what’s going on around him.

Another reason I read books by those with whom I disagree is because if a good argument arises which demonstrates I am wrong, I want to see it.  So far, I have to report that I have not found any argument which impresses me that way.  In fact, the more I read of these men, the more convinced I become that they are, hermeneutically speaking, barking up the wrong tree.

Let me give you an example:

“Perhaps one of the most striking features of Jesus’ kingdom is that it appears not to be the kind of kingdom prophesied in the OT and expected by Judaism” – G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 431 my emphasis.

You might need to read that statement more than once.  What Beale says is quite startling.  Here we have a respected evangelical NT scholar asserting that OT prophecies about the kingdom had fulfillments which differed from what the prophets themselves predicted!  Since the Author of Scripture is God, we have God giving His prophets a misleading prophecy.  God puts confusing words in the prophets’ mouths!  Naturally, Beale would cry foul.  But think about it.  In Deuteronomy 18:22 we have God telling His people to how they are to test a true prophet sent from Him:

“when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

In this passage God plainly tells His people that they can spot a true prophet from a false prophet by whether what they say will happen actually transpires.  But doesn’t Beale’s view of prophecy render God’s tests of a true prophet utterly futile?  (more…)

A Theological Case for Inerrancy (3)

The Inspiration of Scripture – Proposition: “The Scriptures come from the God who breathed them out and caused them to be inscripturated through men who were ‘borne along’ by the Spirit.  That is what makes them Scripture.” – 2 Tim. 3:16 C1; 2 Pet. 1:20-21 C1; Matt. 4:4 C2; Jn. 17:17 C2; Psa. 119:89-91 C2

Inerrancy – Proposition: “The inspired Scriptures are the Word of God before they are the words of men.  They must be up to the job of transmitting truth from Him who is True.  This truth will be as reliable in one area of knowledge as in any other, even if exact precision is not necessary.” – 2 Tim. 3:16 C2; Psa. 12:6 C3; Jn. 17:17 C2; 2 Pet. 1:19-21 C2.

In closing out this foray into the notion of inerrancy from a theological perspective (see Part Two here), I call your attention to the support-texts I have given for the two doctrines above.  Three of the passages used in support of inspiration have been used again to support inerrancy.  I have also run these verses through the “Rules of Affinity” so as to show how sure these proposals are (even though more texts could be mustered to support the propositions).  Let us examine the outcomes.

2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 tell us the Scripture comes from God and those who wrote it were superintended, nay, “carried along” by Him in their production of it.  They do not deal with the collection of the Canon, since that is a separate (though related) issue.  The C1 tag corresponds with the places in the first proposition where phrases from the texts make up the proposition.  Matthew 4:4 connects with 2 Tim. 3:16 because of the reference to “the mouth of God” and the connection between “every word which proceeds from the mouth of God,” and the Scripture as “God-breathed out.”  Palpably, Jesus was referring to and quoting from the Scriptures in His Temptation.

John 17:17, as already stated, refers to God’s Word as “Truth.”  That “Word” is inscripturated.  The link with Matt. 4:4 is in the way a man ought to live.  He must live in Truth, not in falsehood.  Psalm 119:89f. connects the settled Word “in heaven” with the discipling Word which the psalmist observes.  We have that Word.

When we turn to see how the doctrine of inerrancy utilizes these texts we get the following:

2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:19-21 are now rated C2 since they provide the support in the first two statements in the proposal upon which inerrancy is based (they do not testify to inerrancy with the same clarity that they do for inspiration).  In Psalm 12 I am only interested in the first assertion about the words in verse 6 (“the words of the LORD are pure words, etc.”), not the preservation in verse 7, which I hold to be referring to the people in the context.  The purity of the words of God relates there to their ability to “keep” the people safe, and their trustworthiness, not just their moral clarity.  I believe a good (C3) inference can be made that the dependability of the words (“refined seven times”), logically applies comprehensively to all they claim.  John 17:17 calls the Word of God “Truth.”  This truth separates believers from unbelievers in the world.  It could hardly do that effectively if it enunciated scientific or historical error, since error in those cases would lessen the force of any ethical assertion made in the Bible, and throw immediate suspicion upon its authorship.  But then we are back to the matter of the sustained voice of Scripture that it comes from God, and that it is His Word not mans.

There seems to be no way out of concluding that the theological case for inerrancy is sound if the witness of Scripture is to be our guide.  The only theological case against inerrancy which is weighty is the Barthian view which effectively makes it irrelevant.  But inerrancy is irrelevant to Barth because he constructs his doctrine of Scripture upon the hiddenness of the revealing God (see Sections 4 through 6 in the Church Dogmatics I.1).  Barth distinguishes revelation from Scripture, thereby leaving Scripture open to be a word of man as well as a word of God.  The Spirit reveals by the Bible, but the Bible itself is not the revelation.  This denudes the Bible of its innate power and authority, and it renders its self-witness mute.

But does not the Bible itself witness to what God spoke?  Yes it does, but (and this is crucial), what God spoke in the past is only the Word of God to us if it is a scriptural Word.  In point of fact, the scriptural Word is the only Word of God we have!  It is the written Word which has authority.  What God said to men in times past, even if it is reported in the Bible, is only the Word of God to Everyman because it is in the Bible.  If God spoke to Moses then Moses heard the Word of God.  But until Moses wrote it under inspiration that revelation to him was not revelation to us.

Even the words of Jesus can only be the Word of God to us if we find them in the Bible.  Until He returns, even our notions of Jesus’ stature as the Logos depend upon what Scripture says about Him.  That kind of preeminent declarative power demands both inspiration and inerrancy.

A Theological Case for Inerrancy (2)

Let me start where I left off last time, with definitions of inspiration and inerrancy.

The Inspiration of Scripture – Proposition: “The Scriptures come from the God who breathed them out and caused them to be inscripturated through men who were ‘borne along’ by the Spirit.  That is what makes them Scripture.” – 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21; Matt. 4:4; Jn. 17:17; Psa. 119:89-91

Inerrancy – Proposition: “The inspired Scriptures are the Word of God before they are the words of men.  They must be up to the job of transmitting truth from He who is True.  This truth will be as reliable in one area of knowledge as in any other, even if exact precision is not necessary.” – 2 Tim. 3:16; Psa. 12:6; Jn. 17:17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21.

Both doctrines appeal to 2 Timothy 3:16.  The verse presents us with the clearest statement about the inspiration of Scripture.  But this statement is in direct continuity with very many statements in both Testaments regarding the Bible’s Divine provenance.   Scripture itself always stresses its God-givenness far more than it does its human provenance; a fact hardly ever given the attention it deserves.  Paul views the Bible is, in truth, the voice of the Lord in inscripturated form.

This is why Paul can praise the Thessalonian believers for receiving the spoken Word of God,not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” – 1 Thessalonians 2:13b.

In the production of the Scriptures, the roles of God the Holy Spirit and the roles of the human authors bear an asymmetrical character which must never be brought into equal balance.  Assuredly, this was not done by Jesus (cf. Matt.4:4 and Jn. 17:17), or the OT prophets, or the Apostolic authors: why then should we be out of step with them?

Carl Henry wrote of the doctrine of inspiration:

Inspiration is primarily a statement about God’s relationship to Scripture and only secondarily about the relationship of God to the writers. – Carl F.H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, 4.143

This is most important for us to understand as conservative evangelicals.  B.B. Warfield recognized the same truth.

These acts could be attributed to Scripture only as the result of such a habitual identification in the mind of the writer of the text of Scripture with God as speaking, that it became natural to use the term ‘Scripture says’ when what was actually intended was ‘God has recorded in Scripture said. – B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 299-300.

(more…)

A Theological Case for Inerrancy (1)

The battle over the inerrancy of Scripture hasn’t and isn’t going away.  We must decide how we will approach the Bible – what our working assumptions will be.  If “all Scripture is God-breathed” then all Scripture has the insignia of God upon it.  This would be the bare-bones theological deduction from the relationship between the two.  For the human element to be lifted above the Divine element so as to enjoy equal ultimacy over the resultant production of Scripture requires an alteration to Scripture’s own self-witness.  This is the reason why those who reject the idea of inerrancy (and I am far from rejecting all their work on account of their error), often plead in the vacuum of unaided reason.

Taking one prominent broadly evangelical theologian as an example, Donald Bloesch wrote,

While we grant that in one sense the Bible is the revelation of God to men, this revelation is in the form of human witness and is therefore to a degree hidden from the sight and understanding. The bane of much of modern evangelicalism is rationalism which presupposes that the Word of God is directly available to human reason. It is fashionable to refer to the biblical revelation as propositional and in one sense this is true. The Bible is not directly the revelation of God, but indirectly in that God’s Word comes to us through the mode of human instrumentality. – Donald G. Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology – Volume I, 75-76.

This quotation shows us how the human element can be stressed so as to compete with the Divine element.  To wit, the doctrine of inspiration must be accommodated to include the “human witness.”  This means that the claim to “direct revelation” from God to man is excluded (or, at the very least, camouflaged).  And then we are laid open to the philosophy of God’s free action reaching us through the Bible but only by His choice to employ it as His Word.

What we must say… is that in the case of Scripture just as surely as in preaching, ‘fallible men speak the word of God in fallible human words’ – Trevor Hart, Regarding Karl Barth, 38.

Taking this tack immediately places one on the horns of a dilemma.  For the Bible stresses many many times its God-givenness.  If it is produced by the combination of God’s out-breathing and the Spirit’s direction, and if every word of God is true, then unless we are prepared to engage in the futile task of separating God’s words from man’s words we shall have to decide to be those who accept a form of inerrancy, or else those who fail to find God’s prints on the Bible at all. (more…)

My Take on Chapter 3 of ‘The Gospel as Center’

I thought I would put this up here as I put a little effort into it and I need to post  🙂

Some of the men in our Church are reading through the new book edited by D. A. Carson & T. Keller, The Gospel as Center.  I was given the chapters on Scripture and Creation to write about.  Here is what I wrote about chapter 3, “The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible.”

“Hello,

Pastor asked me to write something on chapters 3 and 4 of our book.  Here are my thoughts on chapter 3:

Chapter 3 is by M. Bullmore on “The Gospel and Scripture.”  Because I am rather pressed for time I shall have to record some problems with the chapter in with its good points.  It is a rather simplistic chapter written with broad strokes, but it is clear that it is written from a point of view decidedly biased toward covenant theology (Hereafter CT).  CT basically teaches that salvation in the Church is the main theme of Scripture.  All the elect are under a “covenant of grace” which means all the elect from Adam’s time to the second coming are in the Church.  Since neither I nor many evangelicals who believe the Gospel hold to CT it is quite wrong for it to be given preference like this in a book purporting to be written for a broad evangelicalism.

On his beginning page (41) the writer declares that by the Gospel he means “God’s eternal purpose to redeem a people for himself (1 Pet. 2:9) and to restore his fallen creation (Rom. 8:19-21),” though later he will define it as “the message of Christ.” (44).  1 Pet. 2:9 does not say what Bullmore states in that first clause.  It simply refers to those to whom Peter is writing (probably the whole Church but some say the Jewish Church), as “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” etc.  But CT teaches that all the saved in both Testaments are in the Church (thus “a people”).  Then he says, “God’s purposes in revelation can never be separated from His purposes in redemption.” (42).  In an important sense he is right.  But since very many are not saved and since the Bible presents to man the right way of looking and thinking about the world, this is too reductionistic.

He goes on to quote from Isa. 55 twice: first the famous verses about the efficacy of the Word of God, and then some slightly earlier verses which refer to the “everlasting covenant” God made with David and Israel.  Now, if God’s Word will “accomplish everything that God purposes it to do” then surely it will accomplish the promises in the Davidic covenant to Israel? (e.g. “He has glorified you”).  I say this in passing but it is worth filing away.

Is it correct to say that the Gospel is the cause of biblical revelation?  Actually, only in a secondary, though important sense.  You see Biblical revelation (Scripture) is necessitated because of the Fall.  Hence, the primary cause of biblical revelation is the separation that exists between the Creator and the creature – not all of whom will be saved.

What about the Gospel being the effect of revelation?  Yes.  The Bible exists for the Gospel, although it exists for more than the Gospel.  For example, the Gospel cannot be found in the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount.  These may help clarify aspects of the Gospel (e.g. justification by faith not law and sanctification after faith), but they are not the Gospel itself.  I’m sorry, but critical thinking is needed.

Pages 44-47 outline the attributes of Scripture and is very good, although I was surprised there was no clear statement about inerrancy there.  These pages are the best part of the essay.  Also, the section on our need of humility is well done.  But then we come a-cropper.  The section on “Hermeneutics” (i.e. interpretation) is pretty awful.  This may seem like a harsh statement because it reads so piously.  But therein lies the danger.  Let us examine a few things.

First, using Lk. 24:25-26, 44-45 and Jn. 5:39 Bullmore makes the common claim that “if we are going to read the Bible rightly. we must see it in all its parts as it relates to Christ.” (49).  What does “in all its parts” mean?  Well, he had just quoted Bryan Chapell’s claim that Jesus can be seen in every text of Scripture in some way.  Then he says, “Jesus’ words presuppose that every passage does indeed point to him.”  That sounds pious!  But which words of Jesus presuppose this?  Are we really to believe that on the two or three hour trek to Emmaus Jesus went through EVERY OT verse and showed Christ was there?  Do you know how long that would have taken, even if it were possible?  Conservatively, it would have taken several days!  No, this is NOT what Jesus’ words presuppose!  All Jesus was doing was going to every OT Book and showing predictions and illustrations of His person and work within them.  He is in Gen. 3:15 and 18:17 and 49:9-10 and Num 14 and 24 and Job 19:25-26 and Isa. 7:14, 9:6, 61:1f. and Mic. 5:2 and Zech. 9:9 etc.  But when Satan causes the deaths of Job’s children we don’t find the Gospel there!  When Doeg the Edomite shows his true colors Jesus isn’t seen.  Yes, like Spurgeon we ought to be able to get to Christ from any passage.  But not before rightly expounding the passage and THEN relating it to Christ.  But that is not what Bullmore is saying.  He wants us to read all the Bible through the lens of Christ.  That is, he is recommending we read Christ into every passage!  That’s typical CT and it leads to gross spiritualizing of Scripture.

Not surprisingly, he writes about “spiritual interpretation of Scripture” next.  This is not the same as spiritualizing but it often ends up in the same court.  This can be seen in the opening remark under that head on page 49: “The Bible is qualitatively different from every other book and requires that we read it in keeping with its nature.”   I entirely agree with the first part of that statement.  The Bible is the Word of God so it is qualitatively different than non-inspired books.  My problem is with what lurks behind the second part.  You see, he goes on to say (in a rather confused outline of “Illumination”) that not only does the Spirit help us to know the Bible is true.  he also states that one cannot understand the Bible without the Spirit (50).  That is not what Paul is saying in the 1 Corinthians passage and it is obviously untrue – otherwise Bullmore has undermined one of his earlier proof-texts (Jn.5:39) where Jesus exhorts unbelievers to search the Scriptures.  How could they unless they had the Spirit?  And how can any unsaved person read the Bible unless the Spirit helps him interpret it?  This is not the doctrine of Illumination!  Scripture addresses the lost in many places.  It even addresses Satan here and there!  Furthermore, the underlying assumption is that the Bible is only written to believers.  If that is true then an unsaved person cannot logically be condemned for ignoring it.  I hope you see this.

The illustration using Matt. 12:1-8 is poor and unenlightening.  Bullmore is right to say that Jesus was focusing the narrative on Himself.  But He did so because He was “Lord of the Sabbath.”  David was not above the Law – no king was (53?).  But Jesus should be followed by the religious leaders for who He is.  Will they join the disciples instead of condemning them?  That is the crux of the passage.

The last page is also the worst (sorry!).  the “plan of salvation” is not “what scriptural revelation is all about.”  It is a large part of it.  But only a covenant theologian would say such a thing.  And only a CT would be so bold as to announce “The good news is the singular and majestic theme of Scripture” which “should inform and control our “handling” of God’s Word.”  Sounds good doesn’t it?  For one thing, there seems to be more than one usage of “gospel” in the Gospels (e.g. how much of the death and resurrection of Jesus did the disciples understand at first? (Mk. 9:32).  Did Jesus preach it in Mk. 1:13 or Matt.4:23?).  But it is plain rubbish!  What he is recommending is that we come to every verse of Scripture with our mind already made up that we will find Christ in it.  That is not how we do exegesis.

Further, that is not how he got an understanding of the Gospel in the first place.  He did what we all should do: he read what the good news is to us in John 3 and Romans 3-5 and Gal. 1-3 and Eph. 1-3 and he believed what it said.  As all Scripture is equally God’s Word should it not be treated with the same respect?

Your brother,

Paul H.”

Postscript: I wanted to say something here about chapter 4 on “Creation” by Andrew M. Davis because I’m out of town till Tuesday night and may not get a chance to review it.  It is simply outstanding!  Without a doubt it is the best introductory presentation of the subject I have read.  His use of Scripture is superb, and as a piece of composition it is a marvel.   

On the Ending of Mark (revised)

The link below concerns the Ending to Mark’s Gospel.  Does that Gospel end with the words of verse 8, “for they were afraid”?  Were the last verses somehow lost?  Or has the methodology of Textual Criticism, with its preoccupation with “the oldest and most reliable manuscripts” ignored large amounts of textual evidence for these verse?

Call me naive (many will), but I am convinced of the authenticity of the last twelve verse of Mark as traditionally understood – i.e. verses 9-20.  I have read the works on Textual Criticism by Metzger (his Handbook, his Textual Commentary, and his fascinating Chapters in the History of NT Textual Criticism).  I have read the Aland’s and Comfort and essays by Dan Wallace, as well as the older works of Souter (Text and Canon) and Gregory (Canon and Text), and Lake, and Streeter (Four Gospels).  Despite all this reading I remain unconvinced that our Critical NT Texts, strengthened as they are with the evidence from Egyptian deserts, more accurately represent the “original text” than the so-called Majority Byzantine Text.

I still believe that the work done by Burgon and others toward the end of the 19th century, which was more self-consciously faith-driven than the so-called neutral “eclectic method,” more accurately reflects the Biblical Worldview.  My reading of Harry Sturz’s The Byzantine Text and NT Textual Criticism, together with three works by John W. Burgon (especially The Revision Revised) and the huge Plain Introduction by F. H. A. Scrivener convince me that we must have a methodology which comports with the testimony of Scripture rather than with the Enlightenment.

Anyway, here is a response in two parts to a critical paper on the last 12 verses.  The response is by Maurice Robinson, whose writing I always find clear-headed: Part 1; Part 2

Some Historical/Archaeological Evidences for the Reliability of the OT

I thought you might enjoy reading down this list.  I hope it gives a boost to your faith.

It is all very well to speak about Bible History, but can the claim be substantiated? Does the Old Testament stand up under scrutiny? This list represents a broad sampling of its impressive credentials in this area.

It is among the rubble and ruins of the ancients (where Scripture would soon fall foul if it erred), that it is so very impressive.  and although unbelieving, liberal scholarship tries to reevaluate the evidence;  continually proving the ironic quip, “If I hadn’t believed it, I would not have seen it with my own eyes,” all their assertions have been fended off many times by conservative scholars.

  • The Ebla Tablets verify the social conditions of Abraham’s time (c. 2000 BC).
  • They also identify numerous cities (e.g., Ashdod, Akko, Sidon, Alalakh, Lachish, etc.) which are mentioned in the OT.
  • One tablet was discovered which listed the five cities of the plain in exactly the same order as Genesis 14:2.
  • It is now known that there were at least six written languages extant at the time Moses wrote the Torah.
  • Balaam, the seer spoken of in Numbers 22-24 is actually known from an inscription discovered in 1967 at Tell Deir ‘Alla (8th century BC).  The encampment of Israel in Numbers 22 would be just 25 miles south of Deir Alla.
  • In 1994 the British revisionist P. R. Davies opined, “King David is about as historical as King Arthur.” At the same time the Tel Dan Stela (dated to the 9th century BC) was uncovered which mentioned the dynasty of Judah as “the house of David,” thus referring to David by name. The inscription reads:

“[I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab] king of Israel, and [I] killed [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram kin]g of the House of David.”

  • The Merenptah Stela, (c. 1220 B. C.) includes a clear reference to “Israel” as a foreign people.  This shows that by the late 13th Century Israel could be identified as a specific people group.  The relief at Karnak also shows an Israelite army with chariots.
  • The Assyrian King List records a list of continuous years that run from 892 B.C. to 648 B.C.  Wherever it mentions Israelite kings (e.g. Omri, Ahab, Jehoram, Jehu), it accords with the Bible’s chronology and history. This is the normal outcome when comparison is made with any ancient list (e.g. Egypt, Babylonia, and Assyria).
  • Comparison with Mesopotamian King Lists shows that, “the Hebrew writers of Kings, etc., have their Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs impeccably in the right order.” They also have their names right, which is in stark contrast to writers in the 4th to 2nd centuries BC, when the revisionists say that these Bible histories were written.
  • The “Ivory House” spoken of in 1 Kings 10:18; 22:39, and Amos 3:15; 6:4 has been excavated.
  • The city of Lachish was besieged by Sennacherib in 701 B.C. (2 Kings 13; Isa. 36); a date confirmed by Assyrian records.
  • Kitchen has shown that the death of Sennacherib mentioned in 2 Kings 19:37(and Isa. 37:38) is known from non-biblical records. The Babylonian Chronicle speaks of murder by a son. Esarhaddon’s archives (plus records from Nineveh) mention two sons by name, the names being the Babylonian equivalent of those in the Bible.
  • Menahem and Rezin of Damascus (2 Kings 15:37; 16:5-9) are mentioned by Tizlath-Pileser III, King of Assyria from 745-727 B.C.
  • Pottery fragments dating from the reign of Sargon II, show that Samaria was settled by people from Babylonia and elsewhere (2 Kings 17:24).
  • Again, the Assyrian List implies that for a time, Shalmaneser V and Sargon II acted jointly in battle. (See the plural in 2 Kings 18:10!). (more…)