New Series: Does the Bible Ever Get it Wrong? Facing Scripture’s Difficult Passages

Mistake

From Christianity’s earliest days, the Scriptures have had their critics. Porphyry, a third-century neoplatonic philosopher, was particularly aggressive in his attacks on the historical veracity of the Gospels, often pointing out what he deemed to be their inconsistencies, contradictions, and historical problems.

For example, he pointed out how Mark 1:2 is not really quoting (just) Isaiah as the passage seems to indicate (frag. 9).  Instead, it is actually a composite quote of Isaiah 40:3 and Mal 3:1 (with a little Ex 23:20 thrown in). Porphyry also attacked the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke, claiming they contradict one another (frag. 11).

Feeling the weight of Porphyry’s attacks, Christian thinkers began …

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Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: A Festschrift for Larry Hurtado

Larry Hurtado

It is now public knowledge that there is a new Festschrift coming out for my friend and doktorvater at the University of Edinburgh, Larry W. Hurtado.  It is entitled: Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism (T&T Clark, 2014). Originally the big announcement was going to be made at SBL this November (with all the contributors present), but the cat was accidentally let out of the bag early.

The collection of essays in this new volume, edited by my fellow Edinburghers, Chris Keith and Dieter Roth, are centered around the themes of the Gospel of Mark, ancient Manuscripts, and early Christology–three subject areas that have dominated Larry’s research. While most of the …

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Two Recent Reviews of “The Early Text of the New Testament”

EarlyText-cover

I was pleased to see two recent positive reviews of my co-edited volume (with Chuck Hill), The Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford, 2012).  As a side note, the book is now out in paperback for only $45 (which I mentioned in a prior post here).

Over at the Review of Biblical Literature, Amy Donaldson concludes her review:

For anyone interested in the early text of the New Testament, the state of research, and further avenues of study in this topic, this book is a valuable introduction and reference tool.  For those interested in specific books of the New Testament or patristic authors, the individual chapters on

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Gospel Critics and the Argument from Silence

Contradictions in the Gospels

“You can’t say everything.”  This is one of the refrains I often cite to my students as we discuss historical documents.  When ancient authors put quill to papyrus (or parchment), we need to remember that they had a limited amount of space, a limited amount of time, a limited number of goals, and often a very specific purpose for which they wrote.

Inevitably, therefore, an historical account will include some things that other historical accounts (of the same event) might omit, and they might omit some things that other historical accounts might include.

This reality is particularly important to remember when the Gospel accounts are analyzed and compared with one …

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