Sola Scriptura? (From the Archives)

Although I am a Protestant, I must confess that the idea of ‘sola Scriptura’, of ‘Scripture alone’, doesn’t work. It could perhaps theoretically work in Islam, where one can (assuming one doesn’t take a critical approach to the text) assume the unity of the book as a given. In the case of the Bible, such assumptions are impossible. In order to speak of ‘Scripture’, one has to accept the authority not only of those Jews and Christians who made the decisions about what books would be included in the canon, but also the authority of those who produced the critical editions of the Hebrew and Greek texts and the judgment of the translators.

In order to treat the Bible as ‘inerrant’ one has to attribute inerrancy to not only those who made these judgments, but also to the authors (at least while they were writing). But of course, Protestants have a certain aversion to the idea of church leaders who can make infallible pronouncements but the rest of the time are fallible human beings, so this view shouldn’t appeal to as many Protestants as it apparently does.

Ultimately, one has to attribute inerrancy to someone or something other than God in order to take this sort of view of the Bible. But the real aim is not to connect ourselves with the inerrancy of God, but to be able to claim the inerrancy of our own views about God, claiming that they are just the teachings of the inerrant Scriptures. Any doctrine that ultimately serves the interests of individuals claiming their own certainty must be criticially evaluated.

“Sola Scriptura” still has a certain potentially valid meaning – one can still value these writings as our earliest Christian sources. But not studying them critically, or pretending they (or the table of contents that indicated what the contents should be) dropped down from heaven in a single package, is not an option. The time has come for us to stop speaking nonsense in the name of God, and to stop tolerating others who do the same. [UPDATE: To clarify, I did not mean that we should be "intolerant" or violent but that we should not stand idly and silently by when people do this]. Those whose views are expressed in the public sphere are open to rational discussion and evaluation – whether they are about science, the environment, the Bible, religion or anything else.

  • 1abacabb Abacabb1

    Well unless you believe in progressive revelation I don’t see how the biblical canon could be open for addition.  

    Of course, if the authors were not writing steeped in the revelation of God then their texts are fallible and any addition to these should be acceptable.  

    As it is, they claim to have received revelation from God himself.  If you don’t believe what they say about God giving them His Word, then why believe anything in his Word?

  • 1abacabb Abacabb1

    Well unless you believe in progressive revelation I don’t see how the biblical canon could be open for addition.  

    Of course, if the authors were not writing steeped in the revelation of God then their texts are fallible and any addition to these should be acceptable.  

    As it is, they claim to have received revelation from God himself.  If you don’t believe what they say about God giving them His Word, then why believe anything in his Word?

  • Gary

    “and to stop tolerating others who do the same”….can’t do it. I’d lose the few friends I have. Of course, the academic realm is different.

  • Gary

    “and to stop tolerating others who do the same”….can’t do it. I’d lose the few friends I have. Of course, the academic realm is different.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Gary, I perhaps should have said “don’t stand quietly by while others do the same” rather than sounding like I meant that one should be intolerant in the sense of constantly irritated to the point of being hostile. Or would even that not allow you to keep your friends?

    • Gary

      Just to follow up…for me, the upside, I go to what I consider a rather tolerant church that accepts liberal views like evolution, old earth, etc. based on its worldwide doctrine. But it also doesn’t rule out fundamentalist positions either. Suppose to be open to a wide variety of positions. However, the particular local church is full of people from El Cajon, CA….which happens to be a hot bed for ID, creationism, and extremely right wing politics. So as a result, most of the local people are fundamentalists. Been in many discussions (arguments), and I finally gave up trying to enlighten the fundamentalists. If I was attending a local church in England with more liberal people, I’d have more in common with the local’s doctrine. So is it worth arguing about? If I was an academic, I’d say yes. Just being a church member, I’d say no. I don’t want to convert the world. I just want to be comfortable with my own doctrine.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Gary, I perhaps should have said “don’t stand quietly by while others do the same” rather than sounding like I meant that one should be intolerant in the sense of constantly irritated to the point of being hostile. Or would even that not allow you to keep your friends?

    • Gary

      Just to follow up…for me, the upside, I go to what I consider a rather tolerant church that accepts liberal views like evolution, old earth, etc. based on its worldwide doctrine. But it also doesn’t rule out fundamentalist positions either. Suppose to be open to a wide variety of positions. However, the particular local church is full of people from El Cajon, CA….which happens to be a hot bed for ID, creationism, and extremely right wing politics. So as a result, most of the local people are fundamentalists. Been in many discussions (arguments), and I finally gave up trying to enlighten the fundamentalists. If I was attending a local church in England with more liberal people, I’d have more in common with the local’s doctrine. So is it worth arguing about? If I was an academic, I’d say yes. Just being a church member, I’d say no. I don’t want to convert the world. I just want to be comfortable with my own doctrine.

  • Pingback: Gregory Jeffers

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, I have to totally disagree with you. It is quite obvious that in your humanistic approach to the Bible, you completely reject the possibility of divine involvement. I know we have been over this a zillion times, but your recent post indicates that anyone who does not agree with your humanistic assumptions, (and they are fallible assumptions), is speaking nonsense and should not be tolerated. Sorry James, but that sounds like something you would hear from a medieval Pope. Maybe you should start re-writing or deleting our comments like Larry Hurtado does. ;-)

    I believe in God and I believe he inspired the authors, especially where they say their source was not a human source. The Bible has plenty of examples where God has directed people to do his will. I don’t find it at all problematic to conclude that God used certain men to compile his approved canon. I would even go so far as to say God was involved somehow in directing the production of the KJV to spread his word in English at the appropriate time. Along with many other activities that made God’s word more abundant and more accurate. Notice I am talking about the text only, not any specific interpretations or religions. But I do understand where you are coming from as I consider many of your views as nonsense too, but I can certainly tolerate them.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, I have to totally disagree with you. It is quite obvious that in your humanistic approach to the Bible, you completely reject the possibility of divine involvement. I know we have been over this a zillion times, but your recent post indicates that anyone who does not agree with your humanistic assumptions, (and they are fallible assumptions), is speaking nonsense and should not be tolerated. Sorry James, but that sounds like something you would hear from a medieval Pope. Maybe you should start re-writing or deleting our comments like Larry Hurtado does. ;-)

    I believe in God and I believe he inspired the authors, especially where they say their source was not a human source. The Bible has plenty of examples where God has directed people to do his will. I don’t find it at all problematic to conclude that God used certain men to compile his approved canon. I would even go so far as to say God was involved somehow in directing the production of the KJV to spread his word in English at the appropriate time. Along with many other activities that made God’s word more abundant and more accurate. Notice I am talking about the text only, not any specific interpretations or religions. But I do understand where you are coming from as I consider many of your views as nonsense too, but I can certainly tolerate them.

  • Andrew Bromage

    There’s plenty of precent for Protestants not buying sola scriptura. In particular, the English Reformation didn’t subscribe to it, and Anglicans and Methodists don’t subscribe to it today.

  • Andrew Bromage

    There’s plenty of precent for Protestants not buying sola scriptura. In particular, the English Reformation didn’t subscribe to it, and Anglicans and Methodists don’t subscribe to it today.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, I’m not sure if I understand your view, or exactly how you disagree with me. It sounds like you believe that God is capable of speaking clearly enough so as to get his message into Scripture, and capable of working in history so as to get that message translated and the texts correctly identified by some denominations but not others. Isn’t there something odd about this view? Why would a God who is capable of acting and does act in such ways leave people to wrestle with the translation of a book, rather than sending someone to speak authoritatively as he did in the past. It seems to me a rather arbitrary attempt to retroactively declare that God’s action is what gives you the book you believe is Scripture, rather than any consistent principle or conviction about how God speaks and acts.

    As I said, I regret having used the language of “not tolerating.” What I really meant was not simply putting up with it silently without comment, not sitting idly by.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, I’m not sure if I understand your view, or exactly how you disagree with me. It sounds like you believe that God is capable of speaking clearly enough so as to get his message into Scripture, and capable of working in history so as to get that message translated and the texts correctly identified by some denominations but not others. Isn’t there something odd about this view? Why would a God who is capable of acting and does act in such ways leave people to wrestle with the translation of a book, rather than sending someone to speak authoritatively as he did in the past. It seems to me a rather arbitrary attempt to retroactively declare that God’s action is what gives you the book you believe is Scripture, rather than any consistent principle or conviction about how God speaks and acts.

    As I said, I regret having used the language of “not tolerating.” What I really meant was not simply putting up with it silently without comment, not sitting idly by.

  • Pingback: Eric Gregory

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, Okay I am not sure what you are saying either. What exactly do you mean by “correctly identified by some denominations but not others”? And I am a little fuzzy about the rest too. The Bible is God’s authoritative word, we don’t need someone to be sent. Are you implying that different denominations use drastically different texts? And that translation is such a monumental task it can hardly be performed? I’m confused…

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, Okay I am not sure what you are saying either. What exactly do you mean by “correctly identified by some denominations but not others”? And I am a little fuzzy about the rest too. The Bible is God’s authoritative word, we don’t need someone to be sent. Are you implying that different denominations use drastically different texts? And that translation is such a monumental task it can hardly be performed? I’m confused…

  • Trey

    @Howard: My take on James post is that fallible men wrote the bible, fallible men copied and translated the text, fallible men decided what books to include or exclude from the cannon and it is fallible men who interpret the books that make up the bible. This much is evident when you read the bible and allow the individual author of each book to speak with a unique voice – sometimes they agree on minor and major points and at other times they do not quite agree. I frankly have never understood why “mainstream conservative” churches cling so steadfastly to the notion of biblical inerrancy when the evidence within the text itself goes against this thinking. This BTW in no way makes the book less valuable. 

  • Trey

    @Howard: My take on James post is that fallible men wrote the bible, fallible men copied and translated the text, fallible men decided what books to include or exclude from the cannon and it is fallible men who interpret the books that make up the bible. This much is evident when you read the bible and allow the individual author of each book to speak with a unique voice – sometimes they agree on minor and major points and at other times they do not quite agree. I frankly have never understood why “mainstream conservative” churches cling so steadfastly to the notion of biblical inerrancy when the evidence within the text itself goes against this thinking. This BTW in no way makes the book less valuable. 

  • Paul D.

    @Howard: why would God give us, say, two different versions of how Judas died, or three versions of how Saul died? That the Bible is a collection of books written by fallible humans is explains it much better.

    • 1abacabb Abacabb1

      The accounts of Judas’ death aren’t in contradiction: as he fell himself he fell headlong (jumping out of a tree) and his bowels burst out.

      There are actually 4 accounts of Saul’s death, which are resolved if the Amalekite was lying to David to receive a reward…which is what the narrative is saying.

      • Trey

        So did Judas fall or did he hang himself? And even if we engage in some verbal gymnastics and say that Judus hung himself but the rope broke how would we explain him falling headlong as Luke says in Acts? Then there is the issue of the 30 pieces of silver. Matthew says Judas threw it away but Luke in Acts says Judas used the money to buy a field. Why not just accept it for what it is – two stories that agree on some points but contradict on others.

  • Paul D.

    @Howard: why would God give us, say, two different versions of how Judas died, or three versions of how Saul died? That the Bible is a collection of books written by fallible humans explains it much better.

    • 1abacabb Abacabb1

      The accounts of Judas’ death aren’t in contradiction: as he fell himself he fell headlong (jumping out of a tree) and his bowels burst out.

      There are actually 4 accounts of Saul’s death, which are resolved if the Amalekite was lying to David to receive a reward…which is what the narrative is saying.

      • Trey

        So did Judas fall or did he hang himself? And even if we engage in some verbal gymnastics and say that Judus hung himself but the rope broke how would we explain him falling headlong as Luke says in Acts? Then there is the issue of the 30 pieces of silver. Matthew says Judas threw it away but Luke in Acts says Judas used the money to buy a field. Why not just accept it for what it is – two stories that agree on some points but contradict on others.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @Trey, I understand that James thinks along those lines, and I will agree with fallible men copying and translating the text, and fallible men deciding what books to include, and fallible men interpreting the text. However, I do not agree with fallible men writing the books. It goes completely counter to what the text actually says. There are numerous occasions where the Hebrew says, “This is what the Lord YHWH has said…” and the New Testament references to it being the word of God as opposed to the word of men. If what you say is true, then at worst these are outright lies against God, at best, they are mere opinions of fallible men. In either case, these writings certainly do not have a spiritual or truthful value with reference to God.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @Trey, I understand that James thinks along those lines, and I will agree with fallible men copying and translating the text, and fallible men deciding what books to include, and fallible men interpreting the text. However, I do not agree with fallible men writing the books. It goes completely counter to what the text actually says. There are numerous occasions where the Hebrew says, “This is what the Lord YHWH has said…” and the New Testament references to it being the word of God as opposed to the word of men. If what you say is true, then at worst these are outright lies against God, at best, they are mere opinions of fallible men. In either case, these writings certainly do not have a spiritual or truthful value with reference to God.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @Paul, There are always possible explanations to things like these. I never claimed that every word in the Bible was preserved perfectly. However, I feel that how Paul or Judas died is not an integral part of knowing and believing in God or being a Christian approved by God. The requirements that reap value from the Bible are found in the concepts it contains, not the exact words or stories. Let me ask you a question, How did someone become a Christian in the year 50 C.E. before most of the New Testament was written?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @Paul, There are always possible explanations to things like these. I never claimed that every word in the Bible was preserved perfectly. However, I feel that how Paul or Judas died is not an integral part of knowing and believing in God or being a Christian approved by God. The requirements that reap value from the Bible are found in the concepts it contains, not the exact words or stories. Let me ask you a question, How did someone become a Christian in the year 50 C.E. before most of the New Testament was written?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, you need to clarify some things. did you really meant to say that the Bible was written by inerrant people? How is that different than belief in the Papacy, for instance, except that it stops at an arbitrary point in the past? Also, is your stance that the Bible is inerrant or infallible only on important matters? Also, were you implying that if you find an error, it can be accounted for by positing that the error must represent a change from the original text, even if there is no evidence that this is the case?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, you need to clarify some things. did you really meant to say that the Bible was written by inerrant people? How is that different than belief in the Papacy, for instance, except that it stops at an arbitrary point in the past? Also, is your stance that the Bible is inerrant or infallible only on important matters? Also, were you implying that if you find an error, it can be accounted for by positing that the error must represent a change from the original text, even if there is no evidence that this is the case?

  • Pingback: Scott N

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James,

    “did you really meant to say that the Bible was written by inerrant people?”

    Not exactly, The Bible clearly shows that apostles could be in error, e.g. Peter. But there are different aspects to biblical inspiration. There is a difference between Old Testament prophets, a gospel or narrative and a letter. An OT prophet such as Daniel, may not have even understood some of what he himself had written, so this part of the Bible would have to be written almost exactly how God presented it to him. A gospel is a record of what a person witnesses himself, and along with God’s spirit to help him remember the details, he wrote this in his own words except where he was quoting someone else. The letters were to explain theology and Christian practices and responsibilities. These also were written with his own words, but God’s spirit made sure that the explanations were accurate. Some also provided their own opinions at times, but these opinions were in the spirit of the rest of the Bible and did not cover important ideas. It’s basically like this, if I tell you a story that inspires you, and if you really care about the story, and you later relate the story or write it down, you would probably do a pretty good job of repeating it and making sure you captured the intended meaning. It would be the people who later repeated you over and over that would create more errors.

    “Also, is your stance that the Bible is inerrant or infallible only on important matters?”

    No, but I’m probably not using these terms the same way you are. No one can be absolutely sure that every original word that was used by an author is God inspired, but I think there is a difference between the Christian requirement to love your neighbor as yourself and how Judas died. We can speculate on how Judas died, it changes nothing, but when we speculate and change the obvious meaning of love your neighbor, that does change something.

    “Also, were you implying that if you find an error, it can be accounted for by positing that the error must represent a change from the original text, even if there is no evidence that this is the case?”

    Not at all, I’m saying that we simply might not understand the connection in an apparent error. Also, there are explanations for apparent errors, but you simply might not agree with them. And yes, there are scribal alterations that have changed the text, and the fact that we do not have any evidence from the 100 year gap in the manuscript tradition, doesn’t mean it didn’t influence the text. Unless you believe the text was perfectly copied during this gap. These errors or contradictions can also be explained by the different perspective of the authors or the interpretations of the readers. For example, someone who believes the soul is some sort of immaterial part of man may come across a contradiction where someone who believes a soul is simply the person would not have a problem.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James,

    “did you really meant to say that the Bible was written by inerrant people?”

    Not exactly, The Bible clearly shows that apostles could be in error, e.g. Peter. But there are different aspects to biblical inspiration. There is a difference between Old Testament prophets, a gospel or narrative and a letter. An OT prophet such as Daniel, may not have even understood some of what he himself had written, so this part of the Bible would have to be written almost exactly how God presented it to him. A gospel is a record of what a person witnesses himself, and along with God’s spirit to help him remember the details, he wrote this in his own words except where he was quoting someone else. The letters were to explain theology and Christian practices and responsibilities. These also were written with his own words, but God’s spirit made sure that the explanations were accurate. Some also provided their own opinions at times, but these opinions were in the spirit of the rest of the Bible and did not cover important ideas. It’s basically like this, if I tell you a story that inspires you, and if you really care about the story, and you later relate the story or write it down, you would probably do a pretty good job of repeating it and making sure you captured the intended meaning. It would be the people who later repeated you over and over that would create more errors.

    “Also, is your stance that the Bible is inerrant or infallible only on important matters?”

    No, but I’m probably not using these terms the same way you are. No one can be absolutely sure that every original word that was used by an author is God inspired, but I think there is a difference between the Christian requirement to love your neighbor as yourself and how Judas died. We can speculate on how Judas died, it changes nothing, but when we speculate and change the obvious meaning of love your neighbor, that does change something.

    “Also, were you implying that if you find an error, it can be accounted for by positing that the error must represent a change from the original text, even if there is no evidence that this is the case?”

    Not at all, I’m saying that we simply might not understand the connection in an apparent error. Also, there are explanations for apparent errors, but you simply might not agree with them. And yes, there are scribal alterations that have changed the text, and the fact that we do not have any evidence from the 100 year gap in the manuscript tradition, doesn’t mean it didn’t influence the text. Unless you believe the text was perfectly copied during this gap. These errors or contradictions can also be explained by the different perspective of the authors or the interpretations of the readers. For example, someone who believes the soul is some sort of immaterial part of man may come across a contradiction where someone who believes a soul is simply the person would not have a problem.

  • Beau Quilter

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus 

    Though some (certainly not all) texts in the Old Testament carry your quotation from Yahweh, this is not true of the New Testament. The famous “inspiration” chapter from II Timothy 3:16 is a reference to the Old Testament, not the New (and that assumes you believe Paul actually wrote II Timothy).

    The important point is this: The notions of inspiration and inerrancy, applied to the bible as a whole, are not biblical notions. The Bible, as a whole, never claims that it is inspired by God, inerrant, or complete in revelation – these are ideas that were applied to the Bible in later centuries, by fallible humans.

    Also remember that there were far more gospels, letters, and revelations rejected from the bible in early Christian centuries than were eventually included.

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus 

    What do you think of William Lane Craig’s arguments for the probable historicity of the resurrection?

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      @Trey, Yes, I believe Paul wrote 2 Timothy, and I am afraid you are incorrect concerning 2 Tim 3:16. Peter puts Paul’s writings in the same class with the rest of holy Scripture – 2 Peter 3:16. First, I do not accept the inerrant part, but I can’t see how you can even say the Bible does not indicate its inspired source.

      2 Samuel 23:2 “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.

      Ezekiel 11:5 And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and he said to me,

      Matthew 10:20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

      2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

      See also, Exodus 31:3, Judges 3:10, 1 Samuel 10:6, 1 Samuel 11:6, 2 Chronicles 15:1, Micah 3:8, Isaiah 61:1 and many more.

      The situation in Acts was not that James was validating the Law of Moses, the situation was more of keeping the peace between Jews and Jewish Christians. Some were accusing Paul of teaching Jews to reject the Law of Moses. James wanted to disprove these claims by having Paul perform these customs. The bottom line is that it was not necessary to antagonize Jews and Jewish Christians by forcing them to stop practicing the Law that was so ingrained in their culture for thousands of years. Paul and James both knew that the Law could not bring the salvation they hoped for, but there was nothing wrong or idolatrous in continuing to practice it since it was a Law provided from God. So to keep the peace and help make disciples out of the Jews, they had no problem letting them continue in what they had known all their life. And to perform it along with them if it helped make peace or a disciple.

      • Beau Quilter

        In addition to the scriptural refutations I’ve listed here, I am not incorrect about 2 Timothy 3:16. Even overlooking the fact that historical and critical scholars almost unanimously consider 2nd Peter pseudepigraphal, whatever the writer means by scripture in 2 Peter 3:16, is not what Paul means in 2 Timothy 3:16. He clearly states of Timothy that, “from infancy you have known the “Holy Scriptures”. Nothing in the New Testament canon had been written in Timothy’s infancy. 

        When you make biblical assertions without providing context, you misuse the writing and (surely unintentionally) deceive your readers.

  • Beau Quilter

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus 

    Though some (certainly not all) texts in the Old Testament carry your quotation from Yahweh, this is not true of the New Testament. The famous “inspiration” chapter from II Timothy 3:16 is a reference to the Old Testament, not the New (and that assumes you believe Paul actually wrote II Timothy).

    The important point is this: The notions of inspiration and inerrancy, applied to the bible as a whole, are not biblical notions. The Bible, as a whole, never claims that it is inspired by God, inerrant, or complete in revelation – these are ideas that were applied to the Bible in later centuries, by fallible humans.

    Also remember that there were far more gospels, letters, and revelations rejected from the bible in early Christian centuries than were eventually included.

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus 

    What do you think of William Lane Craig’s arguments for the probable historicity of the resurrection?

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      @beau Yes, I believe Paul wrote 2 Timothy, and I am afraid you are incorrect concerning 2 Tim 3:16. Peter puts Paul’s writings in the same class with the rest of holy Scripture – 2 Peter 3:16. First, I do not accept the inerrant part, but I can’t see how you can even say the Bible does not indicate its inspired source.

      2 Samuel 23:2 “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.

      Ezekiel 11:5 And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and he said to me,

      Matthew 10:20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

      2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

      See also, Exodus 31:3, Judges 3:10, 1 Samuel 10:6, 1 Samuel 11:6, 2 Chronicles 15:1, Micah 3:8, Isaiah 61:1 and many more.

      @ Trey, The situation in Acts was not that James was validating the Law of Moses, the situation was more of keeping the peace between Jews and Jewish Christians. Some were accusing Paul of teaching Jews to reject the Law of Moses. James wanted to disprove these claims by having Paul perform these customs. The bottom line is that it was not necessary to antagonize Jews and Jewish Christians by forcing them to stop practicing the Law that was so ingrained in their culture for thousands of years. Paul and James both knew that the Law could not bring the salvation they hoped for, but there was nothing wrong or idolatrous in continuing to practice it since it was a Law provided from God. So to keep the peace and help make disciples out of the Jews, they had no problem letting them continue in what they had known all their life. And to perform it along with them if it helped make peace or a disciple.

      • Beau Quilter

        In addition to the scriptural refutations I’ve listed here, I am not incorrect about 2 Timothy 3:16. Even overlooking the fact that historical and critical scholars almost unanimously consider 2nd Peter pseudepigraphal, whatever the writer means by scripture in 2 Peter 3:16, is not what Paul means in 2 Timothy 3:16. He clearly states of Timothy that, “from infancy you have known the “Holy Scriptures”. Nothing in the New Testament canon had been written in Timothy’s infancy. 

        When you make biblical assertions without providing context, you misuse the writing and (surely unintentionally) deceive your readers.

  • Pingback: Friar 1 and Friar 2

  • Trey

    To add to the points raised by  Paul D it is not just minor discrepancies that we see in the Bible such as the glaringly different accounts given in Matthew and in Acts (by Luke) about what Judas did after betraying Jesus. On the matter of salvation and the requirements of  converts James and Paul disagree significantly. In Acts 21: 21-25 James upholds and defends the validity of the law in opposition to Paul insisting that it is in full effect and to be followed by “Jewish Christians” and declares a minimum requirement of adherence to the law by Gentile converts (the “Noahide Law”). It is interesting that Paul’s teaching on the Law is favored while James teaching is ignored though James was personally acquainted with Jesus.

  • Trey

    To add to the points raised by  Paul D it is not just minor discrepancies that we see in the Bible such as the glaringly different accounts given in Matthew and in Acts (by Luke) about what Judas did after betraying Jesus. On the matter of salvation and the requirements of  converts James and Paul disagree significantly. In Acts 21: 21-25 James upholds and defends the validity of the law in opposition to Paul insisting that it is in full effect and to be followed by “Jewish Christians” and declares a minimum requirement of adherence to the law by Gentile converts (the “Noahide Law”). It is interesting that Paul’s teaching on the Law is favored while James teaching is ignored though James was personally acquainted with Jesus.

  • RandallMorrison

    I am going to “stop tolerating” those who express views that I think are nonsense.

    The trouble is, they won’t stop.

    How can I stop them?

  • RandallMorrison

    I am going to “stop tolerating” those who express views that I think are nonsense.

    The trouble is, they won’t stop.

    How can I stop them?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    You can’t stop them. I think I will make a correction since I’ve already clarified in the comments that I meant that we nonetheless should not stand quietly by when people say nonsense, even if (or especially if) they are doing so in support of an overall worldview or stance that we ourselves share or agree with.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    You can’t stop them. I think I will make a correction since I’ve already clarified in the comments that I meant that we nonetheless should not stand quietly by when people say nonsense, even if (or especially if) they are doing so in support of an overall worldview or stance that we ourselves share or agree with.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @c73cdbf9ea5c764edd1be5c54a407c71:disqus So your view is that neither the account in Matthew nor the account in Acts is accurate, but only the one that modern fundamentalists create by trying to get the two to be harmonized with one another? Do you realize that, in order to make your doctrine of Scripture be correct, you are sacrificing the Bible’s accuracy in the process?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @c73cdbf9ea5c764edd1be5c54a407c71:disqus So your view is that neither the account in Matthew nor the account in Acts is accurate, but only the one that modern fundamentalists create by trying to get the two to be harmonized with one another? Do you realize that, in order to make your doctrine of Scripture be correct, you are sacrificing the Bible’s accuracy in the process?

  • Gary

    Differing stories, whether OT or NT, from my standpoint, are natural, considering the times. No CNN, reporters, etc….most people couldn’t read or write…so stories were told orally, until someone who was educated enough decided to write it down, after the fact…probably many years after the fact. So the key disagreement between liberals and fundamentalists,  = to what extent did God directly or indirectly influenced the writers, or the oral story tellers? Possible answers vary from 0% to 100%. The whole issue of how the various scriptures got into the bible reflect the same problem, God did, or did not get involved in influencing the PEOPLE who made the selection. Daniel is one I like, since the dispensationalists have a field day interpreting it. Maybe I’m wrong, but as I remember, part written in Hebrew, part written in Greek, historical up till the end, then gets the facts wrong. 600 BC, 150 something BC. The Jewish scholars didn’t want to include it in the OT, and probably only included a shorter version, plus its relation to the Maccabees, which the Christians (except the Catholics) dumped out. The evidence of politics is too heavy to say God would even want to be involved in the process. A teacher instructs a child in general concepts, and lets the child learn for him/her self. The teacher doesn’t do the child’s homework for him/her.

  • Gary

    Differing stories, whether OT or NT, from my standpoint, are natural, considering the times. No CNN, reporters, etc….most people couldn’t read or write…so stories were told orally, until someone who was educated enough decided to write it down, after the fact…probably many years after the fact. So the key disagreement between liberals and fundamentalists,  = to what extent did God directly or indirectly influenced the writers, or the oral story tellers? Possible answers vary from 0% to 100%. The whole issue of how the various scriptures got into the bible reflect the same problem, God did, or did not get involved in influencing the PEOPLE who made the selection. Daniel is one I like, since the dispensationalists have a field day interpreting it. Maybe I’m wrong, but as I remember, part written in Hebrew, part written in Greek, historical up till the end, then gets the facts wrong. 600 BC, 150 something BC. The Jewish scholars didn’t want to include it in the OT, and probably only included a shorter version, plus its relation to the Maccabees, which the Christians (except the Catholics) dumped out. The evidence of politics is too heavy to say God would even want to be involved in the process. A teacher instructs a child in general concepts, and lets the child learn for him/her self. The teacher doesn’t do the child’s homework for him/her.

  • RandallMorrison

    No explanation will ever suffice for those who prefer to see a contradiction.

    • Trey

      @RandallMorrison I have no theological ax to grind save for a commitment to the truth. I am not going to lie to myself and twist words to mean something that they do not in order to fall in line with church doctrine.

  • RandallMorrison

    No explanation will ever suffice for those who prefer to see a contradiction.

    • Trey

      @RandallMorrison I have no theological ax to grind save for a commitment to the truth. I am not going to lie to myself and twist words to mean something that they do not in order to fall in line with church doctrine.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    No contradiction will ever suffice for those who prefer to see harmony.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    No contradiction will ever suffice for those who prefer to see harmony.

  • Pingback: Dustin Hite

  • Beau Quilter

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus 

    You’ll notice that I said, “The Bible, as a whole, never claims that it is inspired by God”.

    Only a few of your “proof-texts”
    are about written books. To use all these verses as proof-texts for the inspiration
    of scripture is to use nearly all of them completely out of context:

    2 Tim
    3:16  – refers to Old Testament scripture
    (and not necessarily the same books in our canon).

    2 Peter 3:16
    – If you accept that a Galilean fisherman, could write in fluent Greek, even
    then, this verse only “covers” the letters of Paul – which leaves out the
    gospels, Acts, Revelations, and other epistles, especially since most of these
    hadn’t been written yet!

    2 Samuel
    23:2 – The only words claiming inspiration in this verse are the words to the
    song in Chapter 23 – about six verses.

    Ezekiel 11:5
    – Only refers to what Ezekiel said to the 25 men at the gate of the temple –
    about eight verses.

    Matthew
    10:20 – Even if you stretch this statement of Jesus to include any writings of
    the 12 (all he mentions is their “speaking”), it clearly can’t apply to
    everything they say and write. Not long after Jesus sent out the 12, Judas
    betrayed him and Peter denied him!

    2 Peter 1:21
    – this fluent Greek writer (Galilean fisherman?) is making a generalization
    about prophecy, but doesn’t reference any particular epistle or other writing.

    Exodus
    31:3  – refers to the craftsman Bezalel,
    who wrote no books of the Bible.

    Judges 3:10 –
    refers to Othniel son of Kenaz, a judge of Israel, who wrote no books of the
    Bible.

    1 Samuel
    10:6 and 1 Samuel 11:6 – both refer to King Saul, who wrote no books of the
    Bible.

    2 Chronicles
    15:1 – refers to what the prophet Azariah son of Oded said to Asa – about six
    verses.

    Micah 3:8 –
    a really curious “prooftext” – this verse refers to what the Lord says, and
    contrasts what He says with “the prophets, who lead my people astray”.

    Isaiah 61:1 –
    presumably Isaiah is speaking of himself; if you assume it’s retroactive 60
    chapters, then you’ve covered the book of Isaiah (hmmm does that include deutero Isaiah?).

    And what of
    all the “false” letters, gospels, and revelations rejected by the later church.
    You’re letting groups of city Bishops in the 3rd , 4th and
    later centuries determine for you which claims of inspiration are true and
    which are false.

    The only
    notion you have proof-texted is that sometimes (according to some biblical
    writers), the spirit of God will come upon a selected person in word or deed. Applying
    these verses to the entire Bible makes about as much contextual sense as
    applying them to the prophet Joseph Smith.

  • Beau Quilter

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus 

    You’ll notice that I said, “The Bible, as a whole, never claims that it is inspired by God”.

    Only a few of your “proof-texts”
    are about written books. To use all these verses as proof-texts for the inspiration
    of scripture is to use nearly all of them completely out of context:

    2 Tim
    3:16  – refers to Old Testament scripture
    (and not necessarily the same books in our canon).

    2 Peter 3:16
    – If you accept that a Galilean fisherman, could write in fluent Greek, even
    then, this verse only “covers” the letters of Paul – which leaves out the
    gospels, Acts, Revelations, and other epistles, especially since most of these
    hadn’t been written yet!

    2 Samuel
    23:2 – The only words claiming inspiration in this verse are the words to the
    song in Chapter 23 – about six verses.

    Ezekiel 11:5
    – Only refers to what Ezekiel said to the 25 men at the gate of the temple –
    about eight verses.

    Matthew
    10:20 – Even if you stretch this statement of Jesus to include any writings of
    the 12 (all he mentions is their “speaking”), it clearly can’t apply to
    everything they say and write. Not long after Jesus sent out the 12, Judas
    betrayed him and Peter denied him!

    2 Peter 1:21
    – this fluent Greek writer (Galilean fisherman?) is making a generalization
    about prophecy, but doesn’t reference any particular epistle or other writing.

    Exodus
    31:3  – refers to the craftsman Bezalel,
    who wrote no books of the Bible.

    Judges 3:10 –
    refers to Othniel son of Kenaz, a judge of Israel, who wrote no books of the
    Bible.

    1 Samuel
    10:6 and 1 Samuel 11:6 – both refer to King Saul, who wrote no books of the
    Bible.

    2 Chronicles
    15:1 – refers to what the prophet Azariah son of Oded said to Asa – about six
    verses.

    Micah 3:8 –
    a really curious “prooftext” – this verse refers to what the Lord says, and
    contrasts what He says with “the prophets, who lead my people astray”.

    Isaiah 61:1 –
    presumably Isaiah is speaking of himself; if you assume it’s retroactive 60
    chapters, then you’ve covered the book of Isaiah (hmmm does that include deutero Isaiah?).

    And what of
    all the “false” letters, gospels, and revelations rejected by the later church.
    You’re letting groups of city Bishops in the 3rd , 4th and
    later centuries determine for you which claims of inspiration are true and
    which are false.

    The only
    notion you have proof-texted is that sometimes (according to some biblical
    writers), the spirit of God will come upon a selected person in word or deed. Applying
    these verses to the entire Bible makes about as much contextual sense as
    applying them to the prophet Joseph Smith.

  • Paul D.

    @ccab71d7f599e94f2fe37ba3eb85654f:disqus 
    You cheater! Proof-texting only works when you don’t expect your audience to actually look up the references or know something about textual criticism and authorship. :)

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      @Tenorikuma:disqus Your brand of humor would be more suitable on Yahoo answers or something.

  • Paul D.

    @ccab71d7f599e94f2fe37ba3eb85654f:disqus 
    You cheater! Proof-texting only works when you don’t expect your audience to actually look up the references or know something about textual criticism and authorship. :)

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      @Tenorikuma:disqus Your brand of humor would be more suitable on Yahoo answers or something.

  • AaronRoss

    If you want to maintain there is a contradiction, you are going to no matter what explanation may be given.

    If you want to maintain there are no contradictions, you are going to no matter what explanation may be given.

    So you are back to presuppositions.

    It is also apparent that those committed to “truth”, quickly abandon that when it looks like the “truth” may be that God is doing something THEY DON’T LIKE.

    And maybe that is the case, and the truth.

    • RandallMorrison

      What is truth?

    • RandallMorrison

      What is truth?

  • AaronRoss

    If you want to maintain there is a contradiction, you are going to no matter what explanation may be given.

    If you want to maintain there are no contradictions, you are going to no matter what explanation may be given.

    So you are back to presuppositions.

    It is also apparent that those committed to “truth”, quickly abandon that when it looks like the “truth” may be that God is doing something THEY DON’T LIKE.

    And maybe that is the case, and the truth.

    • RandallMorrison

      What is truth?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @ccab71d7f599e94f2fe37ba3eb85654f:disqus Well your first problem, is that your statement of, “The Bible, as a whole, never claims that it is inspired by God” is utter nonsense. Could you explain how this would be accomplished? Would that require some sort of statement before every single verse in the Bible indicating the following words are from God? Or maybe God just needs to inscribe his name and credentials on the cover. Either way, it doesn’t appear that anything would convince someone like you.

    Again with the juvenile nonsense, You make claims about the Bible, with no support or evidence by the way, and when I show you what it says, you call it “proof texts.” Again, you are just playing juvenile games as you have already made up your mind on the issue and you’re just looking for ways to cause trouble. Why don’t you show me where the Bible claims it is not inspired by God. By the way, the Scriptures I provided are vary relevant, you just can not see it. You are looking for a direct statement from God saying that he inspired every word of his particular canon. Sorry, God does not cater to the wishes of man or even you. The Scriptures I provided show very clearly that God was involved with the people and the text. If that was not enough for you, then I suggest you read the Bible again, and this time ask God to help you understand it correctly. – Luke 8:10

    Now I think you have completely convinced me, I had no idea that historical critics reject much of the Bible as authentic. All hail the biblical critics!!! You sound like you belong to the mythicist camp?

    • Beau Quilter

      @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus 

      My response was by no means an attempt to be juvenile. In fact, I think most readers here will see that I clearly spent more time in my response with the actual context of the biblical scriptures than you did.

      In fact, I agree with much of your first paragraph. One cannot expect to find a statement of inspiration that could be applied to all of the diverse writings by diverse authors that have come to be collected in the protestant bible. This is exactly my point.

      For most conservative evangelicals, authority for faith and faith practices comes from within the bible alone (hence the title of this post – “Sola Scriptura”). But the basis for this belief, the inspiration of the set of writings we have come to call “The Bible”, is a concept that comes from outside the bible. It is a belief based on a series of decisions made by Christians centuries later. 

      You say, ” Why don’t you show me where the Bible claims it is not inspired by God.”

      But this question highlights the real fallacy we are addressing. You could just as easily ask:

      “Why don’t you show me where the Books of the Maccabees claim they are not inspired by God.”

      “Why don’t you show me where the Shepherd of Hermas claims it is not inspired by God.”

      “Why don’t you show me where the Secret Gospel of Mark claims it is not inspired by God.”

      It is this specific belief that we seldom review and question: 

      That a large group of writings were gradually collected by Christians, that they were evaluated by Christians long after the deaths of Jesus and his apostles, that some were accepted, many more were rejected, over a long period of time, by many different Christians with a variety of biases, and that the specific canon of writings finally approved four centuries later is now regarded as the inspired word of God.  

      This is not a point of utter nonsense. It is a vital matter for any believer.

    • Beau Quilter

      Let me add, in answer to your question, that I am not a mythicist.

      You say, “Sorry, God does not cater to the wishes of man or even you.”

      Well, I don’t actually wish for a direct statement from God about the inspiration of the Biblical canon. I am merely pointing out that the very concept of an inspired Biblical canon is a human concept.

      My point here is not that inspiration cannot exist. Only that the specific belief in an inspired Biblical canon is a human invention appearing centuries after Christ had left the earth.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @ccab71d7f599e94f2fe37ba3eb85654f:disqus Well your first problem, is that your statement of, “The Bible, as a whole, never claims that it is inspired by God” is utter nonsense. Could you explain how this would be accomplished? Would that require some sort of statement before every single verse in the Bible indicating the following words are from God? Or maybe God just needs to inscribe his name and credentials on the cover. Either way, it doesn’t appear that anything would convince someone like you.

    Again with the juvenile nonsense, You make claims about the Bible, with no support or evidence by the way, and when I show you what it says, you call it “proof texts.” Again, you are just playing juvenile games as you have already made up your mind on the issue and you’re just looking for ways to cause trouble. Why don’t you show me where the Bible claims it is not inspired by God. By the way, the Scriptures I provided are vary relevant, you just can not see it. You are looking for a direct statement from God saying that he inspired every word of his particular canon. Sorry, God does not cater to the wishes of man or even you. The Scriptures I provided show very clearly that God was involved with the people and the text. If that was not enough for you, then I suggest you read the Bible again, and this time ask God to help you understand it correctly. – Luke 8:10

    Now I think you have completely convinced me, I had no idea that historical critics reject much of the Bible as authentic. All hail the biblical critics!!! You sound like you belong to the mythicist camp?

    • Beau Quilter

      @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus 

      My response was by no means an attempt to be juvenile. In fact, I think most readers here will see that I clearly spent more time in my response with the actual context of the biblical scriptures than you did.

      In fact, I agree with much of your first paragraph. One cannot expect to find a statement of inspiration that could be applied to all of the diverse writings by diverse authors that have come to be collected in the protestant bible. This is exactly my point.

      For most conservative evangelicals, authority for faith and faith practices comes from within the bible alone (hence the title of this post – “Sola Scriptura”). But the basis for this belief, the inspiration of the set of writings we have come to call “The Bible”, is a concept that comes from outside the bible. It is a belief based on a series of decisions made by Christians centuries later. 

      You say, ” Why don’t you show me where the Bible claims it is not inspired by God.”

      But this question highlights the real fallacy we are addressing. You could just as easily ask:

      “Why don’t you show me where the Books of the Maccabees claim they are not inspired by God.”

      “Why don’t you show me where the Shepherd of Hermas claims it is not inspired by God.”

      “Why don’t you show me where the Secret Gospel of Mark claims it is not inspired by God.”

      It is this specific belief that we seldom review and question: 

      That a large group of writings were gradually collected by Christians, that they were evaluated by Christians long after the deaths of Jesus and his apostles, that some were accepted, many more were rejected, over a long period of time, by many different Christians with a variety of biases, and that the specific canon of writings finally approved four centuries later is now regarded as the inspired word of God.  

      This is not a point of utter nonsense. It is a vital matter for any believer.

    • Beau Quilter

      Let me add, in answer to your question, that I am not a mythicist.

      You say, “Sorry, God does not cater to the wishes of man or even you.”

      Well, I don’t actually wish for a direct statement from God about the inspiration of the Biblical canon. I am merely pointing out that the very concept of an inspired Biblical canon is a human concept.

      My point here is not that inspiration cannot exist. Only that the specific belief in an inspired Biblical canon is a human invention appearing centuries after Christ had left the earth.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, I think the point is that the Bible cannot be explicitly referring to its entire contents as a collection since at no point when any of the works that make it up were composed, was it already part of that collection.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, I think the point is that the Bible cannot be explicitly referring to its entire contents as a collection since at no point when any of the works that make it up were composed, was it already part of that collection.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, No, I don’t think that is the point at all. I never claimed or tried to prove that any single verse from any book proved that the whole accepted canon of today was inspired, the closest is 2 Tim 3:16, but it was written before the NT was closed. What I was showing is that in most books the author showed that God was speaking through him. And other books have other indicators that associate them with inspiration. And finally, like I said at the beginning of this post, the canon of 66 books was collected through inspiration of God. I don’t feel the need to put God to the test and doubt his word. The truth of the Bible is revealed to me in numerous other ways, I do not need the texts to spell it out for me and force God to say what I think he should say.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, No, I don’t think that is the point at all. I never claimed or tried to prove that any single verse from any book proved that the whole accepted canon of today was inspired, the closest is 2 Tim 3:16, but it was written before the NT was closed. What I was showing is that in most books the author showed that God was speaking through him. And other books have other indicators that associate them with inspiration. And finally, like I said at the beginning of this post, the canon of 66 books was collected through inspiration of God. I don’t feel the need to put God to the test and doubt his word. The truth of the Bible is revealed to me in numerous other ways, I do not need the texts to spell it out for me and force God to say what I think he should say.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus , I suppose the next question is how one gets to the point of knowing which text that claims to be God’s word is in fact God’s word, so that one can then refrain from testing it any longer. If you didn’t grow up with the assumption that a certain text is the word of God, then not testing it doesn’t seem to be an option, if one is to make any sort of decision in relation to it one way or the other.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus , I suppose the next question is how one gets to the point of knowing which text that claims to be God’s word is in fact God’s word, so that one can then refrain from testing it any longer. If you didn’t grow up with the assumption that a certain text is the word of God, then not testing it doesn’t seem to be an option, if one is to make any sort of decision in relation to it one way or the other.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus I don’t know if I had ever mentioned this before or not, but in the first 25 years of my life, I had no interest in the Bible or religion, it was nonsense to me. I didn’t even have much knowledge of the subject or any preconceived ideas, I actually studied science and I believed in evolution. Then a situation presented itself were I ended up investigating what the Bible had to say. I was presented with an interpretation that spans the entire canon of the Bible. It was a logical, coherent, and harmonious story. So I spent the next 20 some years investigating this interpretation with as much relevant information as I could obtain. Today, I possess literally thousands of scholarly books on the subject and just about any Bible translation you can think of, along with most of the published original language texts and numerous photographs and transcriptions of the manuscripts.  Most of this was done independently apart from any religious group. Through all this, nothing has been able to destroy this interpretation. Your field of literary historical criticism is just one small aspect out of the immense field of biblical studies. I have many reasons for believing what I do, so I have tested these texts repeatedly, and the fact that historical critics deny inspiration because they do not currently possess the information to explain certain problems in the texts holds very little weight with me. – 1 Cor 3:19

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus I don’t know if I had ever mentioned this before or not, but in the first 25 years of my life, I had no interest in the Bible or religion, it was nonsense to me. I didn’t even have much knowledge of the subject or any preconceived ideas, I actually studied science and I believed in evolution. Then a situation presented itself were I ended up investigating what the Bible had to say. I was presented with an interpretation that spans the entire canon of the Bible. It was a logical, coherent, and harmonious story. So I spent the next 20 some years investigating this interpretation with as much relevant information as I could obtain. Today, I possess literally thousands of scholarly books on the subject and just about any Bible translation you can think of, along with most of the published original language texts and numerous photographs and transcriptions of the manuscripts.  Most of this was done independently apart from any religious group. Through all this, nothing has been able to destroy this interpretation. Your field of literary historical criticism is just one small aspect out of the immense field of biblical studies. I have many reasons for believing what I do, so I have tested these texts repeatedly, and the fact that historical critics deny inspiration because they do not currently possess the information to explain certain problems in the texts holds very little weight with me. – 1 Cor 3:19

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus , I appreciate your perspective and can relate to your experience. But I have encountered people (in some instances through their writings from long ago) who could attest to life-changing experiences of God in connection with other texts and other traditions. And for me, that seems to weaken the claim that one can argue from one’s own religious experience to anything more than a shared experience with the authors of these texts. If they are written by people who genuinely had life-changing experiences, but were not as a result anything other than fallible human beings, would that in any way be incompatible with the data you are working with?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus , I appreciate your perspective and can relate to your experience. But I have encountered people (in some instances through their writings from long ago) who could attest to life-changing experiences of God in connection with other texts and other traditions. And for me, that seems to weaken the claim that one can argue from one’s own religious experience to anything more than a shared experience with the authors of these texts. If they are written by people who genuinely had life-changing experiences, but were not as a result anything other than fallible human beings, would that in any way be incompatible with the data you are working with?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @ccab71d7f599e94f2fe37ba3eb85654f:disqus If you would have read my very first comment, you would have seen my view on the matter. I have no idea if you even believe in God or not, but to even grasp my view, you would have to at least believe in God. For example, it was God’s will for Jesus to die. To fulfill God’s will, did Jesus kill himself? No. Did the apostles, who desired to do God’s will, kill him? No. He was killed by the Romans at the insistence of the unfaithful Jews. So, was Scripture fulfilled by coincidence or was God’s influence used to direct unfaithful men. I choose the later, and it was the same influence that was used to eventually compose the authorized canon. So it was God who chose which books to include, not man. And since I believe this, I have no interest in fighting against God and his decision of what is Scripture and what is not by re-evaluating the text in a humanistic manner. But you however, are completely free to do so if you must.

    • Beau Quilter

      I read all of your comments, Howard. You made a particularly valid point when you said to Paul D:

      “How did someone become a Christian in the year 50 C.E. before most of the New Testament was written?”

      Excellent question! To which the obvious answer is: without the Bible. 

      And this begs the question: Is an inspired Bible necessary for Christianity, and, if so, when, how, and why did it become so?

      You say, “It was the same influence [God's] that was used to eventually compose the authorized canon.” But why do you believe this? Is it simply the weight of history (how long the bible has lasted)? For many centuries, the vast majority of Christians were Roman Catholics who believed in Papal authority – they also had the weight of history to support their belief.

      I don’t think that James is trying to cause trouble or espouse humanism with his questions about scripture. 

      He is asking important questions of his faith, like many believers before him. If they had never questioned the authority for their faith, most Christians today would still be Roman Catholics.

      (Apologies to any Roman Catholic readers)

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        Beau Quilter, I wouldn’t say without a Bible, because they had the Hebrew Scriptures and the LXX. They were without a New Testament. Obviously, they were taught orally concerning NT issues. Did these teachers use the exact same words that would be used some time later in the NT writings? No, they taught using their own words and sayings of Jesus, but the point is that these words would have to relate the proper concepts regarding Jesus and the good news.

        You said: “Is an inspired Bible necessary for Christianity?”

        I would say yes. Not only did people in 50 C.E. become Christians without an NT, but poor people, and people in remote areas all over the planet have become Christians without a Bible. But the Bible is the story frozen in a concrete form for us to always look to for the truth. If it were left to man to relate this information orally for thousands of years, we would probably have much more variation than we do now.

        You said: “if so, when, how, and why did it become so?”

        The Bible purports to be from God and provides a history of man and God’s promises to restore man from his imperfect state. People read the Bible for a few reasons, 1) To get to know God and what he has done. 2) To find out how God is going to restore man and how they can be a part of that. So if there really is a God and if the Bible is really his word, it is only logical that he would present a true history and that he would act on his promises. He would also want us to accurately know these promises because we have a part to play in the outworking of his plan. To that end, God would have to provide the correct information and protect it, so that it can reach the prospective listeners in an accurate form for them to properly do their part. The Bible consist of two covenants or contracts, how do we enter into a contract if we do not accurately know what we are agreeing to, or what the terms are? If the Bible is not inspired of God, then the things I mentioned are questionable and unattainable and there is no contract and no reward. What would be the point of devoting your life to that? And No, its just not its long history, it is many things including what I have just said.

        • Beau Quilter

          Howard you treat the “Bible” as a single entity, rather than a collection of writings by men who lived centuries apart and later annotated by men who lived centuries after the events recorded occurred. 

          But to leap from the belief that “there really is a God” to the belief that “the Bible is really his word” is not logical. It is only supported by human presumptions about “what God would” do, “what God would want”, and “what God would have to provide”. These same presumptions could be used (and are used) to provide authority to the Pope, to the Qur’an, and to modern day claims of prophecy and miracles.

        • Beau Quilter

          I would add, again, that most Christians support their beliefs by pointing to a specific passage in a biblical writing that seems to state their belief – the more unequivocally the better. But in the case of one particular belief, that the bible (our accepted shorthand for a huge collection of writings) is the authoritative word of God, there is no such passage. 

          There are references to many types of inspiration (most having nothing to do with writing) in many of the writings of the bible, but there is no writing that tells us that one Book of authoritative collected scripture is to be (or prophetically will be) regarded as God’s Word. 

           Your earlier answer to this was the retort “”Sorry, God does not cater to the wishes of man or even you.” But in making such a statement, it is you who presume to know the mind of God.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @ccab71d7f599e94f2fe37ba3eb85654f:disqus If you would have read my very first comment, you would have seen my view on the matter. I have no idea if you even believe in God or not, but to even grasp my view, you would have to at least believe in God. For example, it was God’s will for Jesus to die. To fulfill God’s will, did Jesus kill himself? No. Did the apostles, who desired to do God’s will, kill him? No. He was killed by the Romans at the insistence of the unfaithful Jews. So, was Scripture fulfilled by coincidence or was God’s influence used to direct unfaithful men. I choose the later, and it was the same influence that was used to eventually compose the authorized canon. So it was God who chose which books to include, not man. And since I believe this, I have no interest in fighting against God and his decision of what is Scripture and what is not by re-evaluating the text in a humanistic manner. But you however, are completely free to do so if you must.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @ccab71d7f599e94f2fe37ba3eb85654f:disqus If you would have read my very first comment, you would have seen my view on the matter. I have no idea if you even believe in God or not, but to even grasp my view, you would have to at least believe in God. For example, it was God’s will for Jesus to die. To fulfill God’s will, did Jesus kill himself? No. Did the apostles, who desired to do God’s will, kill him? No. He was killed by the Romans at the insistence of the unfaithful Jews. So, was Scripture fulfilled by coincidence or was God’s influence used to direct unfaithful men. I choose the later, and it was the same influence that was used to eventually compose the authorized canon. So it was God who chose which books to include, not man. And since I believe this, I have no interest in fighting against God and his decision of what is Scripture and what is not by re-evaluating the text in a humanistic manner. But you however, are completely free to do so if you must.

    • Beau Quilter

      I read all of your comments, Howard. You made a particularly valid point when you said to Paul D:

      “How did someone become a Christian in the year 50 C.E. before most of the New Testament was written?”

      Excellent question! To which the obvious answer is: without the Bible. 

      And this begs the question: Is an inspired Bible necessary for Christianity, and, if so, when, how, and why did it become so?

      You say, “It was the same influence [God's] that was used to eventually compose the authorized canon.” But why do you believe this? Is it simply the weight of history (how long the bible has lasted)? For many centuries, the vast majority of Christians were Roman Catholics who believed in Papal authority – they also had the weight of history to support their belief.

      I don’t think that James is trying to cause trouble or espouse humanism with his questions about scripture. 

      He is asking important questions of his faith, like many believers before him. If they had never questioned the authority for their faith, most Christians today would still be Roman Catholics.

      (Apologies to any Roman Catholic readers)

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        Beau Quilter, I wouldn’t say without a Bible, because they had the Hebrew Scriptures and the LXX. They were without a New Testament. Obviously, they were taught orally concerning NT issues. Did these teachers use the exact same words that would be used some time later in the NT writings? No, they taught using their own words and sayings of Jesus, but the point is that these words would have to relate the proper concepts regarding Jesus and the good news.

        You said: “Is an inspired Bible necessary for Christianity?”

        I would say yes. Not only did people in 50 C.E. become Christians without an NT, but poor people, and people in remote areas all over the planet have become Christians without a Bible. But the Bible is the story frozen in a concrete form for us to always look to for the truth. If it were left to man to relate this information orally for thousands of years, we would probably have much more variation than we do now.

        You said: “if so, when, how, and why did it become so?”

        The Bible purports to be from God and provides a history of man and God’s promises to restore man from his imperfect state. People read the Bible for a few reasons, 1) To get to know God and what he has done. 2) To find out how God is going to restore man and how they can be a part of that. So if there really is a God and if the Bible is really his word, it is only logical that he would present a true history and that he would act on his promises. He would also want us to accurately know these promises because we have a part to play in the outworking of his plan. To that end, God would have to provide the correct information and protect it, so that it can reach the prospective listeners in an accurate form for them to properly do their part. The Bible consist of two covenants or contracts, how do we enter into a contract if we do not accurately know what we are agreeing to, or what the terms are? If the Bible is not inspired of God, then the things I mentioned are questionable and unattainable and there is no contract and no reward. What would be the point of devoting your life to that? And No, its just not its long history, it is many things including what I have just said.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus , I’m not sure your last comment is fair, since it just pushes back the question of how one knows when an act such as crucifying a man or collecting books is an unjust travesty and when it is a divinely ordained event – and whether it can be both simultaneously. For some the issue may be whether any events have divine influence or significance, but even among those who accept that, there is still the question of how it is to be identified, and whether our fallible human judgment is to be trusted to identify infallible texts even if there are such things. :-)

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus , I’m not sure your last comment is fair, since it just pushes back the question of how one knows when an act such as crucifying a man or collecting books is an unjust travesty and when it is a divinely ordained event – and whether it can be both simultaneously. For some the issue may be whether any events have divine influence or significance, but even among those who accept that, there is still the question of how it is to be identified, and whether our fallible human judgment is to be trusted to identify infallible texts even if there are such things. :-)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus Actually, I did not even relate my religious experience, I merely related my scientific approach to the Bible and the interpretation I was offered. But I guess the bottom line is like I told you in another comment, that after reviewing all the evidence, (including yours) I have come to the conclusion that God is real, and that he inspired the original documents. To me this is the same as believing the sun is going to rise tomorrow. It is not just one thing that makes me believe, it is the combination of many different things. I guess that’s what bothers me about your approach, you seem to be making your decision based on just one thing, problems in the texts. 

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus Actually, I did not even relate my religious experience, I merely related my scientific approach to the Bible and the interpretation I was offered. But I guess the bottom line is like I told you in another comment, that after reviewing all the evidence, (including yours) I have come to the conclusion that God is real, and that he inspired the original documents. To me this is the same as believing the sun is going to rise tomorrow. It is not just one thing that makes me believe, it is the combination of many different things. I guess that’s what bothers me about your approach, you seem to be making your decision based on just one thing, problems in the texts. 

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus Well, let me first say that I do not believe any biblical texts in existence today are completely infallible. Your question brings us back to an earlier discussion. As far as things being God’s doing or an unjust travesty, there probably will never be any definitive proof. But for someone like me, who believes in the inspiration of the Bible and what the Bible says, it is only logical to conclude that if God was really going to do the things he says, he would not allow the text to be corrupted where it was unusable, he would not allow the addition of books he did not approve. Simply put, he would not allow his will to go unfulfilled. If there truly is a God, this is the logical course. If this is not the case, then what? Did God provide a story that is full of lies just to try and get people to get along with each other better? What is the grand theme in your view?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus Well, let me first say that I do not believe any biblical texts in existence today are completely infallible. Your question brings us back to an earlier discussion. As far as things being God’s doing or an unjust travesty, there probably will never be any definitive proof. But for someone like me, who believes in the inspiration of the Bible and what the Bible says, it is only logical to conclude that if God was really going to do the things he says, he would not allow the text to be corrupted where it was unusable, he would not allow the addition of books he did not approve. Simply put, he would not allow his will to go unfulfilled. If there truly is a God, this is the logical course. If this is not the case, then what? Did God provide a story that is full of lies just to try and get people to get along with each other better? What is the grand theme in your view?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, I don’t think I am making an evaluation based only on errors and difficulties in the texts, and I do not think that the two options you list are the only ones. Might it not be that God is real, not precisely like any description or depiction of God in human minds or literature, and what we have in the Bible and elsewhere are expressions of faith in and experience of that God, and expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes and imagination?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, I don’t think I am making an evaluation based only on errors and difficulties in the texts, and I do not think that the two options you list are the only ones. Might it not be that God is real, not precisely like any description or depiction of God in human minds or literature, and what we have in the Bible and elsewhere are expressions of faith in and experience of that God, and expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes and imagination?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

     @James, If textual problems are not the only reason, it is sure high on your list. You said: “Might it not be that God is real, not precisely like any description or depiction of God in human minds or literature.” If your talking in absolutes, you are correct, God is infinitely more than how any person or text depicts him. However, the Bible only depicts a portion of his true being for the purpose of presenting him in a particular manner that is necessary only for the task at hand, which is to deal with mortal man.

    You said: “what we have in the Bible and elsewhere are expressions of faith in and experience of that God, and expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes and imagination?”

    I can not accept that for a number of reasons. One would be included in my comment to Beau Quilter. Is the covenant between God and Christians real? If so, are we presented with the accurate terms of this covenant, or are they merely expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes and imagination? Also the Bible almost always presents the authors words as facts expressed in confidence. I don’t think I have ever seen anything expressed in terms of perceptions, wishes and imagination, except in prayers to God, which is understandable. Also, lets be more specific, on more than 2 dozen occasions the Bible says: “and YHWH said to Moses” including the words that follow. Which of your categories would you put these under? Expressions of faith, experience of that God, expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes or imagination? Do you believe these were YHWH’s words? What were they?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

     @James, If textual problems are not the only reason, it is sure high on your list. You said: “Might it not be that God is real, not precisely like any description or depiction of God in human minds or literature.” If your talking in absolutes, you are correct, God is infinitely more than how any person or text depicts him. However, the Bible only depicts a portion of his true being for the purpose of presenting him in a particular manner that is necessary only for the task at hand, which is to deal with mortal man.

    You said: “what we have in the Bible and elsewhere are expressions of faith in and experience of that God, and expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes and imagination?”

    I can not accept that for a number of reasons. One would be included in my comment to Beau Quilter. Is the covenant between God and Christians real? If so, are we presented with the accurate terms of this covenant, or are they merely expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes and imagination? Also the Bible almost always presents the authors words as facts expressed in confidence. I don’t think I have ever seen anything expressed in terms of perceptions, wishes and imagination, except in prayers to God, which is understandable. Also, lets be more specific, on more than 2 dozen occasions the Bible says: “and YHWH said to Moses” including the words that follow. Which of your categories would you put these under? Expressions of faith, experience of that God, expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes or imagination? Do you believe these were YHWH’s words? What were they?

  • Pf

    I think we can safely dismiss Howard as a crank as soon as he wrote: “An OT prophet such as Daniel, may not have even understood some of what
    he himself had written…”

    This comports to the sad and ridiculous modern fundamentalist idea that the bible is a magic book that was written just for them in the present tense (even ignoring that he thinks of Daniel as an author).

    Obviously, whomever wrote Daniel knew exactly what he meant, as did his readers. It shows real disrespect (and frankly hatred) to that author to dismiss his meaning and intent in favor of some idea that fits the political and ideological views of someone 2200 years later. Yes, obviously Daniel is about the rapture. Not.

    pf

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      Maybe you should do a little research before you open your mouth in ignorance.

      “. . .Now as for me, I heard, but I could not understand; so that I said: “O my lord, what will be the final part of these things?”” (Daniel 12:8)

      12:8 There was much that Daniel still “did not understand” about the vision. He “asked” for further information either from Gabriel or more likely from “the man clothed in linen”

      (Miller, S. R. (2001, c1994). Vol. 18: Daniel. Includes indexes. (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (324). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)

      12:8 Daniel did not understand his own revelation (see v. 4).

      (The NKJV Study Bible. 2007 (Da 12:8-10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.)

      12:8*. I heard and did not understand: As in 8:27*, Daniel’s failure to understand emphasizes the mysteriousness of the revelation.

      (Collins, J. J., Cross, F. M., & Collins, A. Y. (1993). Daniel : A commentary on the book of Daniel. Hermeneia–a critical and historical commentary on the Bible (400). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.)

      In some languages the words I did not understand will be better rendered “I did not know the meaning of the words,” or “I did not catch the meaning of this message,” or “the answer was like a riddle to me.” Then: as a result of Daniel’s lack of understanding he is forced to ask another question. In some languages the relationship between the two sentences may be made clearer with a word like “Therefore” or “So” (NAB, NIV, NJV, NRSV, and NEB/REB, as well as TEV).

      (Pťer-Contesse, R., & Ellington, J. (1993). A handbook on the Book of Daniel. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators (332). New York: United Bible Societies.)

      8–10. Daniel, even though the recipient of this revelation, did not fully comprehend it. From our perspective, 2500 years later with several Old Testament books Daniel did not have (Zechariah, for example), and the New Testament as well, we have a much better idea of what these prophecies mean and how they will transpire.

      (KJV Bible commentary. 1997, c1994 (1659). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

      Though Daniel was a witness to this scene, he did not understand what he saw and heard. Daniel was puzzled and wanted to know how all of these things he had just witnessed would work out.

      (McGee, J. V. (1991). Vol. 26: Thru the Bible commentary: The Prophets (Daniel). Based on the Thru the Bible radio program. (electronic ed.). Thru the Bible commentary (196). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

      Confused by the visions, Daniel asked the angel to explain them further (12:8). The angel reassured Daniel that these things would not happen until “the time of the end” (12:9) and that God would resurrect him at the end of time (12:13). Yet he also left Daniel two more cryptic references to time to ponder:

      (Willmington, H. L. (1997). Willmington’s Bible handbook (439). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.)

  • Pf

    I think we can safely dismiss Howard as a crank as soon as he wrote: “An OT prophet such as Daniel, may not have even understood some of what
    he himself had written…”

    This comports to the sad and ridiculous modern fundamentalist idea that the bible is a magic book that was written just for them in the present tense (even ignoring that he thinks of Daniel as an author).

    Obviously, whomever wrote Daniel knew exactly what he meant, as did his readers. It shows real disrespect (and frankly hatred) to that author to dismiss his meaning and intent in favor of some idea that fits the political and ideological views of someone 2200 years later. Yes, obviously Daniel is about the rapture. Not.

    pf

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus , what you are missing in your comment is any mention of the fact that most scholars view Daniel as a pseudo-prophecy, like most apocalyptic works, rather than a genuine prediction by a historical Daniel. That is how we make sense of the fact that it describes the situation of Judaea in the Hellenistic era with increasing detail up until the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and then depicts his death inaccurately, to be followed by the resurrection of the dead and the last judgment.

    One has to start with what the Bible shows itself to be, and make sure that any doctrine of Scripture one formulates agrees with that evidence. The reverse will inevitably cause one to conform the evidence to preconceived notions and dogmas.

    The question should not be “Is God lying or telling the truth here?” but “Given the evidence that this is written by someone living during the time of Antiochus IV who writes in the name of an earlier person as though predicting the future, how do we make sense of the presence of such a work in our collection of Scripture?” assuming one is approaching this from a Jewish or Christian perspective.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus Sorry, I almost forgot for a minute that I was talking to people who do not believe the Bible is God’s word. But you’re right, many scholars agree with you on Daniel. The problem is that scholars, such as yourself, start with the assumption that Israel’s religion was of merely human origin like any other, and that it was to be explained as a mere product of evolution. In other words, You and your minions start with the assumption that the Bible was merely the word of man, and then you reasoned from there. In this rationalistic age, the assumption that the Bible is not God’s word but man’s looks plausible to intellectuals. It is much easier for them to believe that prophecies were written after their fulfillment than to accept them as genuine. They prefer to explain away the Bible accounts of miracles as myths, legends, or folk tales, rather than consider the possibility that they really happened. But such a viewpoint is prejudiced and gives no solid reason to reject the Bible as true. Historical criticism is seriously flawed, and its assault on the Bible has failed to demonstrate that the Bible is not the Word of God. As for me, I’ll go with what Jesus says:

    “Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, (let the reader use discernment,)” (Matthew 24:15)

    Oh wait, that can’t be right, pseudo-Daniel’s prophecy was supposed to be fulfilled in the second century B.C.E., so that pseudo-Daniel had a fulfillment to write about, this must be one of those pesky interpolations. No offense James, but how does your view of the Bible differ from Mythicists again?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @ccab71d7f599e94f2fe37ba3eb85654f:disqus You should really broaden your perspective of the language used in these discussions. I am using the term Bible to refer to the various separate writings that is usually accepted as the biblical canon of today. But if I do treat it as an entity, it is for two reasons. Jesus repeatedly referred to the Hebrew Scriptures as a single entity and as I already told you and you just keep ignoring, God is the real author of all the various writings so the word Bible also identifies God’s collection of approved writings.

    You said: “But to leap from the belief that “there really is a God” to the belief that “the Bible is really his word” is not logical.”

    Why do you feel the need to twist my words? Is the simple logic I presented too hard for you to swallow? I never once said that belief in God automatically leads to a belief in the Bible as his word. I said if two completely different things happen to be true, and those two things were God’s existence and what we know of as the Bible coming from this God. It was an exercise in circumstances, like if I say, If it rains tomorrow and if I have to go to work, It’s only logical that I will get wet. Tell me how you would get “if it rains tomorrow” somehow it would automatically mean I have to work? Try reading my comments for a change and stop assuming you already know what I am saying. So the rest of your comments are invalid because you did not understand what I said. How about you stop twisting my words and respond to the questions I actually asked?

    As we have already been over, no, there is not a single verse that explains it. But for someone who is not simply looking for ways not to believe the Bible, there is logic and continuity. Certain men wrote books concerning history and God, in these books at many places, God is suppose to have spoken to them in some fashion and they wrote this down. Then Jesus comes on the scene and claims to be from heaven and had lived in the presence of God. He says these writings were from God and they cannot be broken. Later still, Paul comes on the scene and claims to have encountered the heavenly Jesus and that he instructed him about many things including the fulfillment of the Hebrew writings. Paul showed how all the holy writings are harmoniously joined together.

    But hey, why should we listen to these punks, after all, they were not historical scholars!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, I am starting to think that saying you believe the Bible to be God’s Word is for you a sort of “get out of jail free” card, which you can introduce into discussion and expect it to eliminate the need to discuss any evidence someone else is bringing into the discussion.

    The fact that Jesus makes reference to the language of Daniel with respect to the future no more indicates the original meaning than does Matthew’s quotation of a line from Hosea 11. Christians today use Scriptural language all the time in relation to current and future events, but that doesn’t mean that the original reference may not have been to something else.

    If I were to ask you to look up an academic commentary on Daniel, such as that in the Evangelical Word Biblical Commentary series, would you be willing to do so? You might disagree with what it says, but hopefully you would at least see that I am not positing interpolations or making things up, but talking about what most scholars have concluded, even when their presuppositions pushed them in the opposite direction, because the evidence points strongly in that direction.

    1 Maccabees 1:54 shows what people understood the reference in Daniel to be to in the years before the rise of Christianity, for what it’s worth.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Since this post comments are mentioning the book of Daniel, I want to say I made an extensive study of it:
      http://historical-jesus.info/daniel.htmlhttp://historical-jesus.info/daniel.html

      Some of my conclusions:

      A first part was written around 321-301 BCE. In 167 BCE, it was added up with a second part, then some “updates” up to 164 BCE. Plus some interpolations.
      And the seventy “sevens”/heptads/”weeks” points exactly to 167 BCE.
      “the Anointed One, the Ruler” (9:25) is Jason, the last high priest of the quasi-dynastic Zadokite succession, and who exercised considerable power in Jerusalem before he had to flee.

      The four Kingdoms of part one: Neo-Babylonian empire, then Lydian kingdom, then Persian empire, then Alexander the Great empire (right before its division)

      The four kings of part two: Beshazzar, then Cyrus the Great, then Alexander the Great, then Antiochus Epiphanes

      That’s it folks.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, Why should I discuss your evidence when you have repeatedly refused to discuss mine? Here are just a few examples.

    The Bible has plenty of examples where God has directed people to do his will. I don’t find it at all problematic to conclude that God used certain men to compile his approved canon.

    No discussion and you did not disprove it…

    Not at all, I’m saying that we simply might not understand the connection in an apparent error.

    No discussion and you did not disprove it…

    What I was showing is that in most books the author showed that God was speaking through him. And other books have other indicators that associate them with inspiration.

    No discussion and you did not disprove it…

    I have many reasons for believing what I do, so I have tested these texts repeatedly

    No discussion

    it is only logical to conclude that if God was really going to do the things he says, he would not allow the text to be corrupted where it was unusable, he would not allow the addition of books he did not approve. Simply put, he would not allow his will to go unfulfilled. If there truly is a God, this is the logical course. If this is not the case, then what? Did God provide a story that is full of lies just to try and get people to get along with each other better? What is the grand theme in your view?

    No discussion and you did not disprove it and you did not answer my questions.

    Is the covenant between God and Christians real? If so, are we presented with the accurate terms of this covenant, or are they merely expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes and imagination?

    No discussion and you did not answer my questions.

    Also, lets be more specific, on more than 2 dozen occasions the Bible says: “and YHWH said to Moses” including the words that follow. Which of your categories would you put these under? Expressions of faith, experience of that God, expressions of fallible humans’ experiences, perceptions, wishes or imagination? Do you believe these were YHWH’s words?

    No discussion and you did not answer my questions.

    I did not use the verse in Matthew to necessarily point out the quotation, but to show that Jesus, the Son of God, the only one to see God, says it was Daniel the prophet who said it. And the Word Biblical Commentary agrees.

    “For Josephus, as for the Greek Bible, Qumran, Jesus, and the NT writers, Daniel is a prophet and has similar authority to the prophets within the Hebrew canon, though we do not know when the bounds of this canon were established and thus when Daniel became formally canonical. Associating Daniel with the prophets encourages a view of them that sees them as focusing on the End, a view that came to trouble Jews. Josephus, at least, saw this attitude to Daniel as a partial cause of the revolt with its disastrous consequences. The match between its prophecies and the abominations of the Romans perhaps made its place among the Scriptures secure, but in the Hebrew Bible it was finally located in its third section, the “Writings,” which suggested a more pedagogical reading of the book.” – Goldingay, J. E. (2002). Vol. 30: Word Biblical Commentary: Daniel. Word Biblical Commentary (xxx). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

    And that is exactly my point, the only way for you to refute that, is to either claim it is an interpolation or that Jesus is not who he said he was.

    John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

    John 8:23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

    John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

    John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

    John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    So if your going to reject that Jesus possessed knowledge that spans all of time and is from beyond this world, and would know if Daniel was the author or not, then I can not agree with any man who disagrees with Jesus. Just a note: The prophesy in Daniel was not fulfilled in the second century B.C.E.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, it seems to me that you are beginning from what you want or need the Bible to be, rather than from what the Bible itself provides evidence of being. Quoting Biblical texts that claim to reflect or offer God’s own speech is not the place to start, since there are other texts, both from within the Jewish and Christian traditions and others, which make similar claims. Why these? Because certain Christians reached a consensus about them? Does the consensus of Christians always reflect God’s will? Or does the “testing” of them that you say you have done seem to you to constitute sufficient evidence not only for yourself but also for others, even though you haven’t specified what this “testing” consists of? I have not ignored your claims, I just do not think they are the right place to begin. Lots of texts claim a great many things, and so in studying them we also need to ask what they are, what their genre is, who wrote them, and much else beside.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, I really don’t wish to argue with you about these issues, but you have been doing exactly the same thing you accuse me of doing. For most of our comments you have simply provided your view and I have provided mine, there really hasn’t been any discussion or exploring of possibilities. The problem is that I already understand your view, I do not need you to keep repeating it after everything I say. I am trying to show you some new thoughts to consider, but every time I start to explain something so to start a dialogue on the topic, you shoot it down with your view thinking I am just some unlearned fundamentalist and you are already familiar with what I am going to say next. I am not trying to convince you of anything, but just to provide some new ways of thinking if I can. The only reason I even came to this blog was to further test my faith by subjecting myself to the higher criticism view, thinking I would encounter some serious flaws in the text that I would have to face and see if my understanding and faith would hold out. But for the most part, all I have encountered is your view and the philosophy of historical criticism. For example, you said:

    “it seems to me that you are beginning from what you want or need the Bible to be, rather than from what the Bible itself provides evidence of being.”

    What evidence? give me specifics so I can investigate the claims. Here is the problem that I see. When ever someone needs to make a judgment on a complex issue, they gather as much evidence as possible and they evaluate it and try to come to a decision based on where the evidence leads them. All well and good, but the evidence itself can be tainted if the person interprets it with bias. For example, one of the pieces of historical criticism’s evidence against the book of Daniel is the three instruments with Greek names. Because as far as they can tell, these names shouldn’t have been known in that specific land in the 6th century B.C.E. So this, plus other so called pieces of evidence mount until the preponderance of evidence leans toward the book being written later on. But isn’t the evidence of the three instruments biased? Do we really have a clear enough picture of how things were 2,600 years ago in a foreign land, that we know with absolute certainty that these words were absolutely not used? If not, then this information needs to be removed from the mount of evidence. How many other pieces of evidence would be removed if scholars were honest and said, we don’t know the answer? When we are honest with the evidence, instead of weighing it down with educated guesses, the balance starts to even out. That is why I ask you for the specifics, not so I can show you that you are wrong, but to show myself it is wrong under my method of evaluating data. If you want to tip the scales with bias, that’s your business.

    Now to partially answer you as to why I use God’s words from the Bible as the weight of my arguments. That is because I have already evaluated and made a decision on who wrote the Bible and when it was written based on similar methods I pointed out above. Here is the part I don’t think you understand, I do not believe in God only because the Bible says it was from him. That is just the starting point. I believe in God because I can associate what I see in nature, in the world, in people, in history and in my own life, the influence of God that he spoke about in the Bible. I believe in God because no other religious text has survived so long and completely intact and has influenced so many people through history. I believe in God because the understanding I have of his purpose is completely logical, harmonious from Genesis to Revelation. For humans alone to provide this kind of harmony and logic would be a miracle in itself. I believe in God because countless millions have also seen fit to believe in the God of the Bible. So I can not discuss with you the issue of who wrote the text based only on looking at the text in a literary manner. The text has meaning and power, and it is meaningless to evaluate it by breaking it down to its words and phrases to see if they appear out of place. This kind of examination requires a completely accurate knowledge of all history, I don’t think we are there yet. So I feel your judgments concerning parts of the Bible are based on biased evidence.

  • Gary

    Howard, said, “That is why I ask you for the specifics, not so I can show you that you are wrong”, “I believe in God because I can associate what I see in nature, in the world, in people, in history and in my own life, the influence of God that he spoke about in the Bible”….Howard….first of all I have a lot of respect for you. Second, I agree with you in many ways….but also disagree with you in many ways. Since I am not a bible scholar, it is not worth you debating me….but because of nature’s complexity, I am pulled to a belief in God, i.e. anthropic principle (strong), it only makes sense. However, my doubts about specific writings in the bible, and human interpretations (specifically dispensationalists), have caused me to re-evaluate my positions over time. So I have a question for you (specifics) concerning an area in the bible that led me to my beliefs. The use of the word “soon” for predictions of destruction, 1st line in Revelation, and soon, “in this generation”, and “some of you standing here will be alive when this happens”, regarding Olivet Discourse, how do you interpret these? I say they refer directly to the destruction of Jerusalem in 66-73 AD (beginning of war, till end of Masada – as in 7 years). I’d like to know if you think Revelations and the Olivet Discourse refers to 70 AD, or some future, 2011+ event. Just curious, how you interprete the “soon” references in the bible. I won’t debate—-just interested in how another believer in Jesus reads this.

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      @648e12af5a5b0bf9cc8f0b9b4630360d:disqus If I am not mistaken, a majority of scholars, and others date the book of Revelation after the Jewish revolt, so it would be highly unlikely that the book would describe the revolt as a future event. So I do not think Revelation is talking about the revolt.

      The Greek word translated “soon” is (tachei), it is used in the LXX 8 times, 6 times it is translated quickly, one time speed, and one time flying. It is used in the NT 8 times as well, being translated in the ESV as speedily, quickly (2), shortly (3), and soon in Rev 1:1 and Rev 22:6.

      So there is some overlap between “quickly” and “soon” for the Greek word. Also, they do have a somewhat different meaning. For example:

      I’m going to eat dinner soon. (You are specifying WHEN you will eat)

      I’m going to eat dinner quickly (You are specifying HOW you will eat)

      And a very literal reading of this would be: “to show to the slaves of him which [things] it is binding to occur in quickness”

      These are just some things to think about, but just maybe this verse is talking about HOW these things will occur and not WHEN they will occur.

      Then again, if the understanding should be soon, as in a short time, there would be two reasons for stating it like that. 1. Is the sense of urgency, if it read “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must take place a very very long time from now…” that would not instill much urgency to the reader to change his way of life and become a disciple. 2. The perspective, even though it was to be many hundreds of years before these events would happen, to us we only have our relatively short lifetimes to take advantage of what the events represent.

      As far as Olivet Discourse, yes this did refer to the destruction of the temple. But, some believe, including me, that certain prophesies have a lesser and greater fulfillment. The destruction of the temple and the deaths of many unfaithful Jews, although having special meaning in itself, also symbolized the destruction of the world and the deaths of the unfaithful people of the earth as described in Revelation. That will be the final fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      About ‘Revelation’:
      I agree with Gary, somewhat. The main part of ‘Revelation’ was strictly a Jewish apocalypse written around 71 CE. But the author, an ex-priest, a certain “John”, pretended to have composed it during the (short) rule of Galba (68-69 CE). The apocalypse got christianised around 95 CE (the seven letters were added then) and some interpolations were made, such as the addition “of Jesus Christ” and “him” in the first verse.
      Here is my study of ‘Revelation’:
      http://historical-jesus.info/rjohn.html

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, I understand your view well, and suspect that it is not all that different from one I used to hold myself.

    As for Daniel, if it were only a matter of a few Greek words, I would indeed agree that that is a slim basis for drawing confident conclusions. But the heart of the matter is that Daniel “predicts” events up until the time of Antiochus IV and them gets the circumstance of his death at least somewhat incorrect, and follows with the final judgment. With any other apocalypse, we would have a reasonable explanation for this. Why should the same explanation not apply in the case of Daniel?

  • Gary

    Howard, just as a follow up to explain my point of view…1st, I don’t see any hard evidence of when Revelation was written. I could make a case for it, as Bernard said, before 70 AD. Just because some scholars think it was 90 AD, doesn’t mean much, since I have seen their evidence, and it isn’t rock hard. Although, I think where you and I split paths is in your belief STRONGLY in the words of the bible, and my belief the words were written by man….with inspiration, as in a teacher having a child do his homework. Sometimes the child cheats, sometime the child doesn’t quite get the concept as well as he should. So for me, a “pious fraud” committed by a person, does not necessarily mean I do not believe in God. So even if Revelation was written after 70 AD, I view it as referring to the 70 AD event. Maybe the author committed pious fraud, or maybe the author wrote what was an oral story going around the Christian community to explain the total destruction of the Jewish society. Maybe it was predicted, maybe not. I do not know. So I do believe in God, regardless. Although, unlike you….I might describe my belief as less than 100%, meaning there may be doubt, if presented with facts I can accept. I believe because of the complexity of nature around me, the magical laws of physics that make possible life (not random, if you please), and to provide meaning to our existence (I certainly hope not random either). I also go along with Bernard on the 4 kingdoms, with Greece being the last, since the evidence is that Daniel was written to bolster the Jewish morale during a rather bad time…and then a good time as the Maccabbees took back the temple. Pious Fraud or not.

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      @648e12af5a5b0bf9cc8f0b9b4630360d:disqus You certainly have the right to believe what you want, after all, many biblical issues, such as dating books is speculative. However, I feel that the numerous references to worldwide events in Revelation, speak of things outside the nation of Israel. Also, I think you might have picked up on an erroneous idea about my belief in the words of the Bible. I’m not exactly sure how you meant that I strongly believe in the words, but this is my view. To me inspiration roughly means that God communicated some idea to a man and the man is to communicate this idea to other people. As long as he accurately communicates the message, the particular words he uses are not important. We see a clear example of this in the events of Jesus life, where each gospel writer used different wording to describe the same event. You are definitely on the right track, If someone gave you a book to read and said to write a report on the book when you were done, as long as you understood the book in the spirit that the author intended, then your report should be accurate even though it is in your own words. My problem with James, is that as far as I can tell, he does not believe in inspiration, at least the kind I just explained, or that God has definitely communicated with man. And that is the part I just can not understand. If someone is unsure that God really communicated with man, this would cast doubt on everything the Bible says. Therefore, if the Bible is not a trustworthy source to receive accurate knowledge of God, where is the trustworthy source? Maybe some think we do not need accurate information about God, if that’s the case we certainly do not need the Bible either. Now if someone rejects inspiration, but also rejects the existence of God, I could understand, but James says he is a Christian. I guess he must mean that in the most literal sense, that he follows the historical fallible man from the first century who taught moral principles and that the miraculous promises to bring salvation to the world, were later myths added to the historical account. But I simply am not sure since he hardly ever gives a straight answer. ;-)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, And this is the other problem. After scanning over my comment for a whole 3 seconds, you must have missed the part where I said the three Greek words were only “one” out of the “many” pieces of evidence historical critics use to evaluate Daniel. I have to assume you missed the whole point of my comment.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-2e495af83153bef01b686a6c2268489d:disqus , and that’s why I tried to get you to address a clearer piece of evidence, since a case is decided not by the ambiguous pieces but the clear ones.

  • Gary

    Howard….”I think you might have picked up on an erroneous idea about my belief in the words of the Bible. I’m not exactly sure how you meant that I strongly believe in the words”…..I just meant more strongly than me. I do find it interesting that Jesus himself did not sit down and write any scripture, at least as far as we know… (wrote some notes in the dirt, but no one saw what they were). If he did, his disciples would surely have told/written about it. Maybe he knew that a variety of humans would interprete his written words differently, for their own benefit. Someone might go off and predict the end of the world (known world vs whole world vs age…tribes vs nations…etc…), instead of the end of Jerusalem in 70 AD :-)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, If you are referring to Antiochus IV, could you clarify what the specific problem is regarding Daniel referring to Antiochus IV? I’m having trouble pinpointing the problem.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Howard, what do you make of the argument that the “predictions” of Daniel are pseudo-prophecy, of the sort we generally find in apocalyptic literature? The author describes events of the Hellenistic age, including Antiochus’ desecration of the temple, but then gets the circumstances of his death incorrect and expects the final judgment after that. Scholars conclude in this basis that the book was written before, but not long before, Antiochus’ death. Are you familiar with this? What do you make of the evidence and arguments?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, Now I see the problem, but you are not going to like or agree with my answer. If you are referring to the death (Dan 11:45) going strait into the final judgment (Dan 12:1-3) here is my response to that. Did you noticed when I told Gary that certain prophecies have a two fold meaning? Well this is one of them. The battles mentioned between the kings of the north and south, also has a modern political fulfillment just before the final judgment. So not all of the statements are applicable to Antiochus, just like all the statements in Matthew about the end, are not applicable to the destruction of the temple in 70 C.E. They have yet future fulfillment.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    I typed a long posting and it did disappear. Is it normal?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      It got flagged as spam and I didn’t get internet access until now. But it should now appear.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        Thanks, James. It did reappear but I had to delete it because of duplication. I wonder what Patheos considers spam. Maybe long posting? Is there any guideline? 
        Have a good trip to Israel. I went there once.

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I have no idea – yours was the first that was flagged that way that I noticed!

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

     to Howard,
    “The battles mentioned between the kings of the north and south” are about the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria, before the rule of Antiochus IV:
    Daniel 11:2-20 is a very accurate & historically corroborated sequence of events from the third year (10:1) of the Persian era up to the predecessor of Antiochus IV (Hellenist era): some three hundred and sixty six years! Only the names and dates are missing. Most of the details are about the conflicts between the kings of the South (kS) (the Ptolemies of Egypt) and the kings of the North (kN) (the Seleucids of Mesopotamia/Syria). These later ones are shown to become stronger and stronger (despite some setbacks) all the way to (and including) Antiochus IV (11:21-31), described as the most powerful (and diabolic) of them all. Of course, Jerusalem was in the middle and changed hand (197, from Egypt to Syria). These alleged prophecies are unique in the O.T. relative to their accuracy and details!
    List of the main players of 11:5-20 and corresponding verses:
    11:5 Ptolemy I Soter (323-285) (kS) and Seleucus I Nicator (311-280) (kN), the first Seleucid king”Also the king of the South shall become strong, as well as one of his princes; and he shall gain power over him and have dominion. His dominion shall be a great dominion[the Seleucid kingdom].”11:6 Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246) (kS), his daughter Berenice, her new husband Antiochus II Theos (261-246) “king of the North” (kN)”And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement [marriage in 252]; but she shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he nor his authority shall stand [Berenice, Antiochus and entourage got murdered]; but she shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her [Ptolemy died at about the same time], and with him who strengthened her in those times.”11:7-9 Berenice’s brother Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221) (kS) and Seleucus II Callinicus (246-226) (kN)”But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress [Antioch] of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail. And he shall also carry their gods captive to Egypt, with their princes and their precious articles of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North. Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land [because Antiochus Hierax was trying to claim the throne of his brother Seleucus].”11:10 Seleucus III Ceraumus (226-223) (kN) and Antiochus III the Great (kN)(223-187)”However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress [Raphia] and stir up strife.”11:11-13 Ptolemy IV Philopator (221-203) (kS) and Antiochus the Great (kN)”And the king of the South shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy [at the battle of Raphia, 217. Antiochus' army suffered huge losses in the defeat]. When he has taken away the multitude, his heart will be lifted up; and he will cast down tens of thousands, but he will not prevail. For the king of the North will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment.”11:14-16 Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203-181) (kS), Jews who joined the Seleucid’s side and Antiochus the Great (kN)”Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South. Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall [Ptolemaic general Scopas crushed the Jewish rebellion]. So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city [Sidon]; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him [Ptolemy's army lost the battle of Panion]. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist. But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power [Judea changing hand in 198/197].”11:17 Ptolemy V (kS) and Antiochus’ daughter Cleopatra I”He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do. And he shall give him the daughter of women [got married to Antiochus in 193] to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him.”11:18-19 The Romans and Antiochus the Great (his end)”After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands [around the Aegean sea], and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end [battles of Thermopylae (191) in Greece and Magnesia (190) in Asia Minor]; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land [Elymais]; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.”11:20 Heliodorus (Seleucus’ finance minister) , the usurper of Seleucus IV Philopator (187-175) (kN)”There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle.”
    Then 11:21-35 is about Antiochus IV.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    To Howard:
    In Ant., X, XI, 7, Josephus gave his own interpretation of Daniel’s visions:
    “He said that the ram signified the kingdoms of the Medes and Persians, and the horns
    [Da8:3b "... was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher [the one of the Persians] than the other, and the higher one came up last [early on, the Medes were prominent].”]
    those kings that were to reign in them; and that the last horn signified the last king, and that he should exceed all the kings in riches and glory: that the he-goat signified that one should come and reign from the Greeks [Alexander the Great], who should twice fight with the Persian [Darius III], and overcome him in battle, and should receive his entire dominion: that by the great horn which sprang out of the forehead of the he-goat was meant the first king [Alexander the Great]; and that the springing up of four horns [the Hellenist kingdoms] upon its falling off, and the conversion of every one of them to the four quarters of the earth, signified the successors [the Hellenist kings] that should arise after the death of the first king [Alexander the Great], and the partition of the kingdom among them, and that they should be neither his children, nor of his kindred, that should reign over the habitable earth for many years; and that from among them [the Hellenist kings] there should arise a certain king that should overcome our nation and their laws, and should take away their political government, and should spoil the temple, and forbid the sacrifices to be offered for three years’ time.
    And indeed it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus [IV] Epiphanes”

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    To Howard,
    Here is the part about Antiochus IV, following my quote of Daniel 11:2-20

    “He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. 22 Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. 23 After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. 24 When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time.
    25 “With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. 26 Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. 27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.
    29 “At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. 30 Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.
    31 “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. 32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.
    33 “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @BernardMuller:disqus I already knew all that, but as I said, in my view that was only the first fulfillment of the prophecies. I only mentioned Antiochus IV because the focus of my comment was on the end of chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Howard,
      Daniel 11:36-45, as I explained in my website, are about what the writer predicted  Antiochus IV (after 167) will do next, including the conquest of the known world (which in theses days was not thought to extend too far westwards), including countries like Egypt (third try!), Nubia, Libya and Israel, with the exception of tiny Edom, Moab & Ammon (likely thought to be places of refuge because out of the way). And then Antiochus will die. And soon after resurrections and new divine order. That’s all.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PKVUVWTNIQUX3OAN6S5GFDQD7I Tom

    James writes: “In order to treat the Bible as ‘inerrant’ one has to attribute inerrancy
    to not only those who made these judgments, but also to the authors (at
    least while they were writing).”

    Bang on. And this is a problem for promoters of sola scriptura, because they also have to assume inerrancy (or at least credibility) to those who canonised the books. So for an evangelical, they have to on one hand, assume that, for example, the Jews who canonised the OT knew what they were doing, and that they were inerrant, but suddenly, when it comes to reading their OWN bible (and somehow missing all the OT prophecies of Jesus), those Jews suddenly have no knowledge of what the text actually means. An excerse in self-contradiction.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X