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Biblical Reliability

Reliability of the Bible

Hidden in Plain View

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Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts revives an argument for the historical reliability of the New Testament that has been largely neglected for more than a hundred years. An undesigned coincidence is an apparently casual, yet puzzle-like “fit” between two or more texts, and its best explanation is that the authors knew the truth about the events they describe or allude to. Connections of this kind among passages in the Gospels, as well as between Acts and the Pauline epistles, give us reason to believe that these documents came from honest eyewitness sources, people “in the know” about the events they relate. Supported by careful research yet accessibly written, Hidden in Plain View provides solid evidence that all Christians can use to defend the Scriptures and the truth of Christianity.

The Question of Canon

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The regnant view of NT canon formation in academic circles holds that the canon is a late ecclesiastical creation, and one that is far removed from the mindset of Jesus, his apostles and even the church for at least the first century and a half of its existence. Kruger takes five major planks on which this view is built, subjects them to historical scrutiny, and, where there are any solid splinters of truth left after inspection, shows how they may be incorporated into a better empirical foundation for canon studies. This important study argues that an ‘intrinsic’ model for canon, which recognizes the canon as the product of internal forces evolving out of the historical essence of Christianity, is superior to the ‘extrinsic’ model that has dominated canon studies for too long. ~ Charles E. Hill

Inerrancy and Worldview

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Though the Bible presents a personal and relational God, popular modern worldviews portray an impersonal divine force in a purely material world. Readers influenced by this competing worldview hold assumptions about fundamental issues—like the nature of humanity, evil, and the purpose of life—that present profound obstacles to understanding the Bible. In Inerrancy and Worldview, Dr. Vern Poythress offers the first worldview-based defense of scriptural inerrancy, showing how worldview differences create or aggravate most perceived difficulties with the Bible. His positive case for biblical inerrancy implicitly critiques the worldview of theologians like Enns, Sparks, Allert, and McGowan. Poythress, who has researched and published in a variety of fields — including science, linguistics, and sociology — deals skillfully with the challenges presented in each of these disciplines. By directly addressing key examples in each field, Poythress shows that many difficulties can be resolved simply by exposing the influence of modern materialism. Inerrancy and Worldview’s positive response to current attempts to abandon or redefine inerrancy will enable Christians to respond well to modern challenges by employing a worldview that allows the Bible to speak on its own terms. ~ Product Description

Canon Revisited

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This study of the New Testament canon and its authority looks deeper than the traditional surveys of councils and creeds, mining the biblical text itself for direction in understanding what the original authors and audiences believed the canon to be. Canon Revisited distinguishes itself by placing a substantial focus on the theology of canon as the context within which the historical evidence is evaluated and assessed. In effect, this work successfully unites both the theology and the historical development of the canon, ultimately serving as a practical defense for the authority of the New Testament books. ~ Product Description

The Reliability of the New Testament

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This volume highlights points of agreement and disagreement between two leading scholars on the subject of the textual reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the best-selling book Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, and Daniel Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. This conversation between Ehrman and Wallace allows the reader to see in print how each presents his position in light of the other’s. Contributions follow from an interdisciplinary team featuring specialists in biblical studies, philosophy, and theology. The textual reliability of the New Testament is logically prior to its interpretation and thus important for the Christian religion. This book provides interested readers a fair and balanced case for both sides and allows them to decide for themselves: What does it mean for a text to be textually reliable? How reliable is the New Testament? How reliable is reliable enough? ~ Product Description

The Heresy of Orthodoxy

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Beginning with Walter Bauer in 1934, the denial of clear orthodoxy in early Christianity has shaped and largely defined modern New Testament criticism, recently given new life through the work of spokesmen like Bart Ehrman. Spreading from academia into mainstream media, the suggestion that diversity of doctrine in the early church led to many competing orthodoxies is indicative of today’s postmodern relativism. Authors Köstenberger and Kruger engage Ehrman and others in this polemic against a dogged adherence to popular ideals of diversity. Köstenberger and Kruger’s accessible and careful scholarship not only counters the “Bauer Thesis” using its own terms, but also engages overlooked evidence from the New Testament. Their conclusions are drawn from analysis of the evidence of unity in the New Testament, the formation and closing of the canon, and the methodology and integrity of the recording and distribution of religious texts within the early church. ~ Product Description

James McGrath on History and The Golden Rule

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One doesn’t have to be committed in advance to history’s inability to deal with miracles in order to begin to realize that one cannot claim that Christianity is grounded purely in history while other traditions are at best shrouded in myth. One simply has to apply the most basic Christian principle to one’s investigation of the competing claims … treating others as you would want them to treat you. The Golden Rule. And so what does it mean to do history from a Christian perspective? … It doesn’t mean defending Christian claims to miracles and debunking those of others, nor accepting Biblical claims uncritically in a way you never would if similar claims were made in our time. It means doing to the claims of others what you would want done to your claims. And perhaps also the reverse: doing to your own claims, views and presuppositions that which you have been willing to do to the claims, views and presuppositions of others. Once one begins to attempt to examine the evidence not in an unbiased way, but simply fairly, one cannot but acknowledge that there are elements of the Christian tradition which, if they were in your opponent’s tradition, you would reject, debunk, discount, and otherwise find unpersuasive or at least not decisive or compelling.

Terry Eagleton on Religion and Its Critics

Go Religion has wrought untold misery in human affairs. For the most part, it has been a squalid tale of bigotry, superstition, wishful thinking, and oppressive ideology. I therefore have a good deal of sympathy with its rationalist and humanist critics. But it is also the case, as this book argues, that most such critics buy their rejection of religion on the cheap. When it comes to the New Testament, at least, what they usually write off is a worthless caricature of the real thing, rooted in a degree of ignorance and prejudice to match religion's own... If the agnostic left cannot afford such intellectual indolence when it comes to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, it is not only because it belongs to justice and honesty to confront your opponent at his or her most convincing. It is also that radicals might discover there some valuable insights into human emancipation, in an era where the political left stand in dire need of good ideas. I do not invite such readers to believe in these ideas, any more than I myself believe in the archangel Gabriel, the infallibility of the pope, the idea that Jesus walked on water, or the claim that he rose up into heaven before the eyes of his disciples. If I try in this book to "ventriloquize" what I take to be a version of the Christian gospel relevant to radicals and humanists, I do not wish to be mistaken for a dummy. But the Jewish and Christian scriptures have much to say about some vital questions — death, suffering, love, self-dispossession, and the like — on which the left has for the most part maintained an embarrassed silence. It is time for this politically crippling shyness to come to an end.

The Big Book of Bible Difficulties

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Your most difficult Bible questions — answered. The Bible is full of difficult passages that are hard for believers to understand, let alone those who doubt Scripture. Where can you turn for solid answers on the thorny and complex parts of God’s Word? This comprehensive volume offers clear and concise answers to every major Bible difficulty from Genesis to Revelation, staunchly defending the authority and inspiration of Scripture. Written in a problem/solution format, the book covers over eight hundred questions that critics and doubters raise about the Bible. Three extensive indexes — topical, Scripture, and unorthodox doctrines — offer quick and easy access to the answers you need. Multipurpose in scope and user-friendly in format, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties offers the resources of five books in one: a critical commentary on the whole Bible, » an apologetics text, a Bible difficulties reference, a theology manual treating important doctrines, » and a handbook on verses misused by cults. Norman L. Geisler is cofounder and former dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary. He is the author of more than seventy books, including the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Thomas Howe is professor of Bible and biblical languages and director of apologetics at the Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College. ~ from the Back Cover

Robert M. Price on Biblical Harmonizing

Go The very admission of the need to harmonize is an admission that the burden of proof is on the narratives, not on those who doubt them. What harmonizing shows is that despite appearances, the texts still might be true.

Misquoting Truth

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Were the New Testament documents widely distorted by copyists as Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus, asserts? Can we in fact have no idea what was in the originals? Do we have no hope of knowing what
eyewitnesses said and thought? Are other documents left out of the New Testament better sources for understanding early Christianity? While readily conceding that Ehrman has many of his facts straight, pastor and researcher Timothy Paul Jones argues that Ehrman is far too quick to jump to false and unnecessary conclusions. In clear, straightforward prose, Jones explores and explains the ins and outs of copying the New Testament, why lost Christianities were lost, and why the Christian message still rings true today. ~ Publisher’s Description

Misquoting Jesus

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The popular perception of the Bible as a divinely perfect book receives scant support from Ehrman, who sees in Holy Writ ample evidence of human fallibility and ecclesiastical politics. Though himself schooled in evangelical literalism, Ehrman has come to regard his earlier faith in the inerrant inspiration of the Bible as misguided, given that the original texts have disappeared and that the extant texts available do not agree with one another. Most of the textual discrepancies, Ehrman acknowledges, matter little, but some do profoundly affect religious doctrine. To assess how ignorant or theologically manipulative scribes may have changed the biblical text, modern scholars have developed procedures for comparing diverging texts. And in language accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman explains these procedures and their results. He further explains why textual criticism has frequently sparked intense controversy, especially among scripture-alone Protestants. In discounting not only the authenticity of existing manuscripts but also the inspiration of the original writers, Ehrman will deeply divide his readers. Although he addresses a popular audience, he undercuts the very religious attitudes that have made the Bible a popular book. Still, this is a useful overview for biblical history collections. ~ Bryce Christensen for Booklist.

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

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This new book argues that the four Gospels are closely based on eyewitness testimony of those who knew Jesus. Noted New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham challenges the prevailing assumption that the accounts of Jesus circulated as "anonymous community traditions," asserting instead that they were transmitted in the name of the original eyewitnesses. To drive home this controversial point, Bauckham draws on internal literary evidence, study of personal names in the first century, and recent developments in the understanding of oral traditions. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses also taps into the rich resources of modern study of memory and cognitive psychology, refuting the conclusions of the form critics and calling New Testament scholarship to make a clean break with this long-dominant tradition. Finally, Bauckham challenges readers to end the classic division between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of faith," proposing instead the "Jesus of testimony." Sure to ignite heated debate on the precise character of the testimony about Jesus, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses will be valued by scholars, students, and all who seek to understand the origins of the Gospels.

Fabricating Jesus

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Craig Evans is a very well-respected New Testament scholar with a background in historical studies. Although Fabricating Jesus includes brief though able refutations of claims made by The Da Vinci Code, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, The Jesus Papers, and The Pagan Christ, the bulk of material addresses popularized claims made by more reputable commentators, such as J.D. Crossan, Bart Ehrman, James Robinson, the Jesus Seminar, and James Tabor. Evans begins by discussing his own religious background and how it was affected by the critical study of the New Testament and historical Jesus. He uses this personal reflection to try and understand why some respected scholars have embraced such far-fetched theories. One of his explanations is that some of these scholars came from strict, fundamentalist backgrounds. When exposed to the critical studies, they were not flexible enough to accomodate the new information in their existing religious mind set. As a result, their faith was shattered instead of modified. They see little middle ground betweeen strict fundamentalism and utter rejection of traditional positions. Evans points to himself as evidence of a middle ground that actually bases its opinions on better historical evidences. ~ C. Price at Amazon.com

What Have They Done with Jesus?

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With all the talk these days about a diversity of Christian beliefs in the first century, here’s a book designed to smack some sense into the dialogue. Traditional sense, that is. Witherington, professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, creates well-researched profiles of people in Jesus’ inner circle — profiles that stand up to the most rigorous biblical criticism. No flights of fancy — just the historical understandings as they can be agreed upon by the best and brightest evangelical biblical scholars. At times, there is a strong whiff of defensiveness about the orthodoxy of the canon as Witherington skewers views on early Christian beliefs made popular by Gnosticism scholars Elaine Pagels and Karen King (they being among the purveyors of the “strange theories and bad history” in the title). Readers seeking a uniform and conservative view of early Christianity will find a wealth of information about Jesus and his early followers, which offers an ardent corrective to recent popular works by Bart Ehrman and others. Others, however, may be so put off by Witherington’s polemical tones that they miss the meat of his research. ~ Publishers Weekly

Redating the New Testament

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Bishop Robinson, a theological modernist whose "Honest to God" made him controversial within the Anglican communion, began this book as what he labels "a theological joke": "I thought I would see how far one could get with the hypothesis that the whole of the New Testament was written before 70", the year in which the Roman army sacked and burned the Temple of Jerusalem. As it turned out, he got much further than he had ever expected, a journey made more impressive by his lack of any predisposition toward a "conservative" point of view. His conclusion is that there is no compelling evidence – indeed, little evidence of any kind – that anything in the New Testament canon reflects knowledge of the Temple’s destruction. Furthermore, other considerations point consistently toward early dates and away from the common assumption (a prejudice with a seriously circular foundation) that a majority of primitive Christian authors wrote in the very late First or early-to-middle Second Century under assumed names. ~ E.T. Veal at Amazon.com

Jesus and the Gospels

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The intertestamental and first-century background information alone is worth the price of the book. Blomberg offers a concise treatment of critical methodologies (Historical Criticism and Literary Criticism), and then an eminently readable and interesting intro to the four gospels. Blomberg’s survey of the life of Christ is as good or better than anything I have seen. What sets Blomberg’s work on Jesus slightly ahead of that of Robert Stein (Jesus the Messiah) is, again, readability. Blomberg offers a chapter on the external evidence for the reliability of the gospels which seems to be basically a summary of his work from 1987 (Historical Reliability of the Gospels). He sums up this great work with a challenging look at the theology of Jesus. ~ Buddy Boone

The Canon of Scripture

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Winner of two 1990 Christianity Today Awards: Readers’ Choice (1st place; theology & doctrine) and Critics’ Choice (1st place; theology & doctrine). A 1989 ECPA Gold Medallion Award winner! How did the books of the Bible come to be recognized as Holy Scripture? Who decided what shape the canon should take? What criteria influenced these decisions? After nearly nineteen centuries the canon of Scripture still remains an issue of debate. Protestants, Catholics and the Orthodox all have slightly differing collections of documents in their Bibles. Martin Luther, one of the early leaders of the Reformation, questioned the inclusion of the book of James in the canon. And many Christians today, while confessing the authority of all of Scripture, tend to rely on only a few books and particular themes while ignoring the rest. Scholars have raised many other questions as well. Research into second-century Gnostic texts have led some to argue that politics played a significant role in the formation of the Christian canon. Assessing the influence of ancient communities and a variety of disputes on the final shaping of the canon call for ongoing study. In this significant historical study, F. F. Bruce brings the wisdom of a lifetime of reflection and biblical interpretation to bear in answering the questions and clearing away the confusion surrounding the Christian canon of Scripture. Adept in both Old and New Testament studies, he brings a rare comprehensive perspective to his task. Though some issues have shifted since the original publication of this book, it still remains a significant landmark and touchstone for further studies. ~ Book Description

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels

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For over twenty years, Craig Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of the Gospels has provided a useful antidote to many of the toxic effects of skeptical criticism of the Gospels. Offering a calm, balanced overview of the history of Gospel criticism, especially that of the late twentieth century, Blomberg introduces readers to the methods employed by New Testament scholars and shows both the values and limits of those methods. He then delves more deeply into the question of miracles, Synoptic discrepancies and the differences between the Synoptics and John. After an assessment of noncanonical Jesus tradition, he addresses issues of historical method directly. This new edition has been thoroughly updated in light of new developments with numerous additions to the footnotes and two added appendixes. Readers will find that over the past twenty years, the case for the historical trustworthiness of the Gospels has grown vastly stronger.

F. F. Bruce on Scrutinizing the Gospels

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There is, I imagine, no body of literature in the world that has been exposed to the stringent analytical study that the four gospels have sustained for the past 200 years. This is not something to be regretted: it is something to be accepted with satisfaction. Scholars today who treat the gospels as credible historical documents do so in the full light of this analytical study, not by closing their minds to it. ¶ A problem arises in this television age from the exposure of the public to a bewildering variety of opinions about the gospels in particular and the New Testament in general, including both the current scholarly consensus (if such a thing exists today) and every sort of way-out interpretation of the data, with little or no guidance being given about the criteria by which competing views are to be assessed and a reasonable conclusion reached.

Flew, Miracles and History

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Basinger responds to Anthony Flew’s contention that: “the historian must maintain with respect to any alleged miracle that the event did not in fact occur as reported”. Basinger concedes that Flew’s argument has merit, but argues that it ultimately fails. And by the way, to save a trip to dictionary.com, “nomology” is the science of laws. Basinger concludes: “The fact that an alleged occurrence is incompatible with current nomologicals must indeed be seriously considered when the historian rules on its historicity. However, Flew has failed to demonstrate that a seeming counterinstance must be shown to be consistent with current nomologicals before the historian can justifiably rule that it can be known to have occurred. Alleged ‘miracles’ cannot be dismissed this easily.”

Who Chose the Gospels?

Go It is now widely said that the four Gospels rose to prominence only after a long battle within early Christianity, a battle finally won in the fourth century, after the establishment of the Church by Constantine the Great. In Who Chose the Gospels? Charles E. Hill demolishes this claim, providing a more historically accurate, alternative account of how the Church came to acknowledge four, and only four, narratives of the life of Jesus. Hill offers not only an informed critique of recent, overtly "political" readings of early Christian history, but also a more nuanced analysis of how and why, out of all the Gospels written in the early centuries of the Church, just these four "made it" into the Bible. In fact, the author shows that despite the profusion of Gospels, there was wide agreement among church leaders, in diverse regions of the empire, at least from the second century onward, as to the authority of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Thus it was not a conspiracy but common consensus that determined the books of the New Testament.

The New Testament Documents

Go This book is a fantastic guide for any person, Christian or otherwise, who would like to understand the level of historical accuracy that can be found in the New Testament documents. In that Christianity is a religion whose truth claims are allegedly rooted in historical fact, it is key that the works through which we read of those "facts" be considered reliable. Bruce does a great job of doing just that. No historical account, regardless of reliability, can prove miraculous events. However, Bruce argues, if a work can be proven to be historically and culturally accurate with respect to most of its content, that document then becomes-on the whole-more compelling. Any historian would then need to take more seriously the author's questionable claims such as the miracles, and Christ as God and savior of humanity. For if an author can be shown to be reliable in all other aspects of his work, why should he lie with respect to the documentation of miracles? This line of reasoning, and many other arguments, make Bruce's short book a compelling read for anybody interested in this topic. ~ guy-72 at Amazon.com

Francis A. Schaeffer on the Jesus of History

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The old liberal theologians in Germany began by accepting the presupposition of the uniformity of natural causes as a closed system. Thus they rejected everything miraculous and supernatural, including the supernatural in the life of Jesus Christ. Having done that, they still hoped to find a historical Jesus in a rational, objective, scholarly way by separating the supernatural aspect of Jesus’ life from the “true history”. Their search for the historical Jesus was doomed to failure. The supernatural was so intertwined with the rest that if they ripped out all the supernatural, there was no Jesus left! If they removed all the supernatural, no historical Jesus remained; if they kept the historical Jesus, the supernatural remained as well.