Saturday, October 27, 2018

THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON: Human Invention or Divine Gift?

I recently did a presentation on the New Testament Canon (which is actually a revision of a presentation I did in March 2014). I plan to write out the presentation in article form in the coming week (which will simply be a revision of this article); but in the mean time, I wanted to make the resources from the presentation available online.


RESOURCES from my presentation....
"THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON: Human Invention or Divine Gift?":
(NOTE: These may be printed and distributed in their unaltered form for non-profit use.)

*The outline of my presentation used as handouts
*PowerPoint slides for my presentation
*A Chart on Early Canon Lists to 240 AD
*Flow Chart: "Who Are The Apostolic Fathers & What Did They Recognize as Scripture?"
*Confirmation of New Testament Books


RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY:


Video
*Kruger, Michael. "How Did the New Testament Canon Develop?(3 minutes)
*Kruger, Michael. "Why You Can Rely on The Canon" (9 minutes)
*An excellent series of short videos on the New Testament Canon by top experts like Darrell Bock and Dan Wallace being interviewed on the John Ankerberg Show.
*Blomberg, Craig. "The Formation of the New Testament Canon" (38 minutes)



Audio
*Kruger, Michael. Series of 4 Audio Lectures: (1) “The Definition of Canon,” (2) “The Origins of Canon,” (3) “The Artifacts of Canon,” and (4) “The Messiness of the Canon.” These are available for FREE online in MP3 format.

Blogs
*Kruger, Michael. “Canon Fodder

Website


Articles *Cooper, Brad. "Why 1 Timothy Was Written No Later Than 55 AD & Why That Matters"

*Pratte, David E. "The Authority of the Apostles' Teaching"


Books
*Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited. (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2012)
*Tregelles, Samuel Prideux. TheHistoric Evidence of The Authorship and Transmission of the Books ofthe New Testament. (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1881). Available for FREE!
*Charteris, Archibald Hamilton. Canonicity: A Collection of Early Testimonies to the Canonical Books of the New Testament. (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1880). Available for FREE!
*Westcott, B.F. A General Survey ofthe Historicity of the Canon of the New Testament. (London: Macmillan and Company, 1875). Available for FREE!
*Gamble, Harry A. The New Testament Canon: The Making and Meaning. A concise and helpful overview of the scholarly issues. A somewhat different perspective than mine, but by a top notch scholar in this field.
*McDonald, Lee Martin and James A. Sanders, editors. The Canon Debate. A large volume filled with essays of top notch scholars--though almost all of them are liberals and not conservatives (and none of the more important evangelical scholars who have done so much work in this field), so they are leaning strongly towards showing that the Bible is a human invention rather than a divine gift. So the title is quite misleading, but it is a great resource for a more in depth scholarly look at this subject.
*Gallagher, Edmon L. and John D. Meade. The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity: Texts and Analysis. The authors' conclusions may be different than mine, but this is an excellent resource.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

WHY 1 TIMOTHY WAS WRITTEN NO LATER THAN 55 AD & WHY THAT MATTERS

Luke Was Almost Certainly the Amanuensis (Secretary) for the Pastoral Letters


While listening to a lecture by Ben Witherington, I noted that about the 16 minute mark, he makes the observation that a close study makes it nearly certain that Luke was the secretary behind the pastoral epistles. He notes that there are about 50 words that are used only in the pastoral letters and Luke-Acts and nowhere else in the New Testament. And that there are 7 or 8 distinct phrases that are shared only by the pastoral letters and Luke-Acts. He also notes that in 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul says: "Only Luke is with me." So the obvious conclusion is that Luke must be the secretary for 2 Timothy and also the other pastorals (as Paul always uses a secretary). The great New Testament scholar C. F. D. Moule put it this way: “Luke wrote all three Pastoral Epistles. But he wrote them during Paul’s lifetime, at Paul’s behest, and in part (but only in part), at Paul’s dictation.” [p. 434 of Moule's essay “The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles: A Reappraisal,” Bulletin of John Rylands Library 47 (1965)].

Resources for Luke's relationship to the pastoral letters:
*"Luke and the Pastoral Epistles" by Sean at the Initial Explorations blog
*"Luke and the Pastoral Epistles": Excursus 2 of The Birth of the New Testament by C.F.D. Moule
*For info on how Paul used a secretary for all of his letters, see my article: "Who Wrote the Pastoral Epistles?"


So How Can We Know That 1 Timothy Was Written No Later Than 55 AD?


With that in mind, let's consider 1 Timothy: Based on the vocabulary of 1 Timothy, it seems that Luke was Paul's scribe, which would make the "we" passages of Acts the most likely time of writing (Acts 16:10–17; 20:5–15; 21:1–8; 27:1–28:16). That makes three periods most likely for Luke to have been involved in the writing of 1 Timothy. (Note: The "we" passages in the book of Acts are passages where Luke writes in the first person plural, saying "we" did this or that.)

Which of the Three Points in Paul's Ministry When Luke Is With Him Fits 1 Timothy?
So let's take a look at the two earlier options, Acts 16:10-17 (c.49-52AD) or 
Acts 20:5-15 (c.52-55AD):

What about the first option, Acts 16:10-17 (c.49-52AD)?:

As 1 Timothy 1:3 reveals, Paul is probably writing from Macedonia (or at least he has been in Macedonia recently). In Acts 16:12, Luke is with Paul at Phillipi ("the leading city of that region of Macedonia"). Maps of Paul's 2nd missionary journey do not include Ephesus because the Holy Spirit kept them from entering Asia (Acts 16:6). But perhaps after they went to Troas, Paul sent Timothy on down to Ephesus in order to keep with their original intentions: “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing” (Acts 15:36).

Perhaps Paul caught wind of the trouble there: "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith" (1 Timothy 1:3-4). And perhaps his response was to send Timothy at once since the Holy Spirit was leading them into Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10). This would make good sense of 1 Timothy 1:3, which is more literally: "Just as I urged you to remain in Ephesus--as I was departing for Macedonia--in order to instruct certain men not to teach heresy."


This seems like a possible option but highly unlikely, because (a) Timothy appears to be with Paul during Acts 16:10-17 and leaves for Macedonia after this period (Acts 17:14-15); (b) he is probably too new to Paul's ministry to be suddenly sent off by himself (joining Paul only in 16:1); (c) he is with Silas when he does leave Paul and appears to be with Silas (Paul's seasoned ministry partner) the whole time (though it is not certain, but see Acts 17:14-15; 18:5), which coincides with "(b)" and also would mean that any letters would have been written to both Silas and Timothy (or just to Silas).

The second option, Acts 20:5-15 (c.52-55AD), seems much more likely:


(a) Timothy is with Paul when Paul decides to go back through Macedonia himself (Acts 20:3-4). Again remember: 1 Timothy 1:3 reveals that Paul is probably writing from Macedonia (or at least he has been in Macedonia recently) (b) Paul makes a decision to avoid going back to Ephesus because of time constraints (Acts 20:16). (c) The elders of Ephesus have been appointed by this point in time, as Paul sends for them to meet him (perhaps as newly established elders; see Acts 20:17). (d) This is a period of time when Timothy is being sent off on his own to help with established churches (e.g., 1 Corinthians 16:10-11, which we will see has yet further implications here).

What about the usually accepted third option?:

Acts 27:1-28:16 has long been the time period during which 1 Timothy has been placed--the early 60s. But this does not make good sense. Here are some serious problems with that view:

(1) Timothy begins his ministry with Paul in Acts 16:1 on Paul's Second Missionary Journey (c.49 AD). So if 1 Timothy was written in the 60s, why would Paul tell him: "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,...." (4:12)? Would Timothy still be thought of as young 12 to 15 years later? By the early 60s he would surely be at least somewhere close to 30 years old (which is how old Jesus was when he began his ministry, see Luke 3:23).

On the contrary, such a statement clearly fits the context of Timothy's early years as Paul's ministry partner. As John A.T. Robinson notes about 1 Corinthians (written c.54 AD): "Earlier that same year he had felt it necessary to say to the Corinthians: 'If Timothy comes, see that you put him at his ease; for it is the Lord's work that he is engaged upon, as I am myself; so no one must slight him. Send him happily on his way to join me, since I am waiting for him with our friends' (1 Cor. 16.10f). Now he writes to his protege in very similar terms: 'Let no one slight you because you are young, but make yourself an example to believers in speech and behaviour, in love, fidelity, and purity. Until I arrive...make these matters your business and  your absorbing interest, so that our progress may be plain to all' (1 Tim. 4.11-15). It is not difficult to believe that these words were written six months apart." (emphases mine; p.83, J.A.T. Robinson. Redating the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1976, 2000) [Note: The word "slight" in these passages is a translation of two different Greek words that both have very similar meaning.]

(2) Secondly, why would anyone be looking down on Timothy in the early 60s? By then, he would be a very well established and well known part of Paul's team. This would be true not only because he would have been part of that team for over a decade. Even more than that he is mentioned in the letter to the Hebrews, to Philemon and 13 times in Paul's letters to the churches (that is in all but the letters to the Galatians and Ephesians). And we know that at least some of these letters were circulated among the churches at Paul's request (and probably all of Paul's letters to the churches). Colossians 4:16 is explicit about that. Galatians is not written to one church but to the churches of Galatia (1:2). And Ephesians is considered by many scholars to have been intended to be a circular letter. And as Paul's letters were considered to be Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16), it is more than likely that they were copied and circulated. And this would surely be true by the early 60s (which is very likely when 2 Peter was written), as Peter speaks of "all his [Paul's] letters" as if his readers would understand.

(3) Furthermore, he would be personally well known to the church at Ephesus, as he was with Paul on Paul's second missionary journey when they first went to Ephesus and spent more than two years there (see Acts 19:1-10).

(4) More than that, why would Paul be laying down the ground rules for selecting elders so late in the game--particularly at Ephesus? Elders had been selected at Ephesus in the early 50s, as can be seen by the fact that Paul meets with them in Acts 20:16-38.  

(5) After more than a decade of ministry with Paul, Timothy would certainly be well acquainted with how elders were to be selected and would hardly need for Paul to write a letter to him to explain it.

(6) Those who hold to this view have to imagine that Paul was released from prison and then went on yet another missionary journey for which we have no record. It does seem quite possible that Paul did make yet another journey; but the point is that it is completely hypothetical and we have nothing at all to indicate that it would have included Timothy at Ephesus or Paul in Macedonia.


SO WHY DOES ALL OF THIS MATTER?

The reason this is important is because Paul quotes the Gospel of Luke in 1 Timothy 5:18 and calls it "Scripture," which means two things: (1) it was already written down (as γραφή the Greek word for "Scripture" literally means "written") and (2) it was already considered to be an authoritative part of the Biblical Canon (as γραφή is always used as a technical term for the canon of Scripture)

And so....

(1) This establishes a date for the composition of Luke no later than 55 AD, putting it much closer to the recorded events and available eyewitnesses (cf. Luke 1:1-4).
(2) Since it is nearly universally agreed that the Gospel of Mark was one of the sources that Luke mentions in his prologue (1:1-4), this pushes the date of Mark to some time before 54 AD. And if Matthew is one of the other sources Luke mentions when he says: "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us...." (1:1), then the same applies to Matthew.
(3) It clearly demonstrates that New Testament books were already beginning to be recognized as "Scripture" and therefore as part of the canon no later than 55 AD (contrary to the prevailing idea that they did not have the status of Scripture until much later). Or in the case of the Gospel of Luke, it immediately had the status of Scripture (which I will show in more detail in an upcoming article on the canon was in fact the case).

Additionally, the beautiful way that all of these facts from 1 Timothy, Acts and Paul's letters all fit-together-like-a-hand-in-a-glove join the myriad of facts that:

(4) Establish the authenticity of 1 Timothy as one of Paul's letters.
(5) Establish the historicity of Acts.

As John A.T. Robinson concludes after carefully comparing and merging the historical data from Acts and the Pauline letters in order to arrive at accurate dates for their composition: "The working assumption we made to trust Acts until proved otherwise has been very substantially vindicated. There is practically nothing in Luke's account that clashes with the Pauline evidence, and in the latter half of Acts the correspondences are remarkably close. Even in the speeches attributed to Paul, and especially those at which Luke can be presumed to have been present (Acts 20 and 22-25), there are parallels to suggest that they are far from purely free compositions. This conclusion must also be relevant as we turn now to consider how close in date Acts stands to the evets which it records."
p.85, J.A.T. Robinson. Redating the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1976, 2000

Additionally, (6) this fits neatly with other evidence that I have been collecting over the last several years related to Paul's use of the Gospel of Luke in his letters.

Click here for a PDF version of this article.




Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Cross: Foolish to Some, Beauty & Genius to Those Who Will See

How great the love of God is!
While we here on earth
destroy his creation in a million ways--sometimes in big chunks,
sometimes little by little....
while we are
more interested in entertainment,
personal comforts
and pleasures
than in knowing and loving
the One who created us
and made it all possible....
he left the untouched majesty of heaven
with innumerable servants
doing his will and
singing his praise,
to become one of us
and to live in the midst
of the pain
we have caused....
more than that,
to die
an earth-blackening death
by which the suffering of the Eternal One
became the payment
for the sins of mortals
who enter into the New Covenant
by his blood.
A mystery in a mystery
in the mystery
of his all-surpassing love!

~~~~~

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

Romans 5:6‭-‬10 NIV

~~~~~

There is some sense in which the Gospel itself is an apologetic. On the one hand, "it is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18), yet on the other hand, there is a beauty and genius to it that surpasses every futile religious attempt in the entire history of humankind.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Peter Objected to Eating Animals That God Had Made Clean

Yesterday, I was thinking about one of the worn out arguments used by skeptics, who ask why Christians object to homosexuality yet eat shrimp, etc. (as commands about both are found in the book of Leviticus). And I was pondering how these skeptics are very uninformed about the Bible and have apparently never considered the impact of Acts 15, Acts 10 and Mark 7--which quite explicitly answer this very question. As I did so, an undesigned coincidence occurred to me. (If you are not familiar with the idea of undesigned coincidences, see my blog page on them.)

In Acts 10, the apostle Peter is up on a roof praying and has a vision in which he is confronted by a voice from heaven. A sheet is lowered down from heaven which contained all kinds of animals that God had said in the Old Testament were unclean for Jews to eat. Then this voice from heaven tells Peter to take them and eat them. Peter refuses and says that he has never eaten anything unclean. The voice speaks a second time and says: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). The Greek word translated "made clean" is in the aorist form, that is in the past tense. So the voice is explicitly saying that at some time in the past God made all these animals clean.

But when did God make all these things clean? It most certainly was not anywhere in the Old Testament. Neither was it at the time that the sheet was being lowered down. If so, it would make no sense for Peter to refuse to eat the animals in the sheet and say: “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (Acts 10:14). The voice from heaven speaks as if Peter should know that these animals had been made clean, so why does Peter respond as if he does not know?

It had to have been something previous in Peter's experience that he had not yet fully processed.

This could be one of those unanswered mysteries, in which we just don't have enough information to answer that question. But in chapter 7 of the Gospel of Mark, there is an editorial comment inserted after Jesus' teaching about his disciples not washing their hands when they eat. Jesus' teaching on the matter is summed up in Mark 7:15: "Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them." 

Then, when the disciples are alone with Jesus, they ask him to explain. He responds to them in Mark 7:18-19: "Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” Immediately following these words, we have this editorial comment from Mark: "(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)"

The words quoted above are the New International Version's attempt to translate the Greek. But the word "declared" is not in the Greek. The only verb here is the same one translated "made clean" in Acts 10:15: καθαρίζω, katharizō, "make clean." Literally, this editorial comment in Mark 7:19 reads: "...making all things clean." 

When did God make all things clean? He did it when Jesus spoke these words recorded in Mark 7. But he did not do so explicitly and Peter had not yet fully processed Jesus' words, bringing them to their logical conclusion. He does not do so until after confronted by the voice from heaven in Acts 10.

This is just one more interesting little "undesigned coincidence" that confirms that the Biblical writers are writing down things that actually happened and not simply manufacturing stories on the fly.

But wait, there's more! Curiously, though Jesus' teaching about washing hands is recorded in Matthew 15, only Mark records this editorial comment that Jesus was making all foods clean. Why is that interesting? Because Mark is recording the testimony of Peter and it is Peter who is confronted by the voice from heaven. Evidently, this confrontation with the heavenly voice brought Jesus' words about washing hands to mind and it all made sense. And so, this editorial comment reflects the impact of that interaction in Peter's experience. And by the way, guess who asks Jesus to explain the parable. Yep, Peter (Matthew 15:15). And he does it at Peter's house (see Howson's remarks below).

So this not only becomes another small piece of evidence in our overwhelming cumulative case for the historicity of the Gospels but also for the traditional authorship of the Gospel of Mark as passed on to us by the apostolic father Papias (that Mark is recording Peter's testimony). 

*******
Below is the full text of John Saul Howson's remarks on the this undesigned coincidence in his book Horæ Petrinæ: or, Studies in the Life of St. Peter (London: 1883), p.35:

Among the sayings uttered by our Lord which may be truly termed parables, though not always formally classed under that designation, was this: "There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man."1 The first part of this sentence, though only referring to outward things, carries with it large and far-reaching spiritual meanings. Hence it may correctly be termed a parable.

These words, too, like those with which we were occupied in the preceding chapter, were spoken at Capernaum. The Lord had come back from across the lake; and certain Pharisees, with some scribes from Jerusalem, visited Him, and found fault with His disciples for eating with unwashen hands. This led to a stern rebuke of formality and hypocrisy, and of that religion which consists of an observance of externals. And now the Lord, having finished with the Pharisees and scribes, "called all the people," and spoke the words above quoted, with one emphatic addition which made them more memorable: "Hearken unto Me every one of you, and understand: If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."'
1 Mark vii. 15.

Now we come to the point of special connection with St. Peter. In order to see it distinctly, we must put together the accounts of St. Matthew and St. Mark. Both these evangelists tell us that the disciples afterwards privately asked the meaning of the parable. But one of them informs us of the place where this conversation occurred; the other tells us who asked the question that led to Christ's answer. St. Mark says that it was "when He was entered into the house from the people" that this private conversation took place. That was the house of Simon and Andrew. But St. Matthew tells us of something still more definite and personal: "Peter said unto Him, Declare unto us this parable." Peter is, as usual, ready with his words; and while, doubtless, honestly eager for instruction, by no means retires behind the others into the background. We have to thank his impetuosity, if we may reverently say so, for a very important result. For, after our Lord has explained that what goes into a man's mouth merely follows physical laws, and has no necessary effect on his character, He declares to us the solemn truth that the evil thoughts and foul desires which come from within do defile him morally and spiritually. After this statement, St. Mark adds, according to the true reading of the manuscripts: "This He said, cleansing all meats," pronouncing all food pure. 1 Matt. xv. 1-20; Mark vii. 1-23.
This is not the place for any remarks in detail on the critical question here involved. But the fact of the true reading, which has been very curiously preserved, may be stated very confidently.1 And from this fact the mind passes, by a rapid process of thought, to another occasion on which St. Peter was afterwards concerned with the same subjects. Can we doubt that a remembrance of his Lord's words came into St. Peter's mind in connection with the case of Cornelius, if not with the flash of a sudden conviction, yet with a gradual, and, in the end, irresistible persuasion, during the vision at Joppa, or in conversation at Caesarea? The Lord had spoken the words in answer to a pointed question; and the question had been asked in Peter's house and by Peter himself. We should note, too, that the identical Greek word for "cleansing," or "declaring pure," is used in the two cases. It is a most expressive word, which, besides teaching the lesson for the moment of the worthlessness of all merely external observances, proclaims all caste to belong to temporary states of society, and to be out of harmony with the true spirit of the Gospel. This link of connection between Capernaum and Caesarea, between a parable, at first obscure, and the broad, luminous teaching of the universality of the religion of Christ, is full of interest, and has not been observed so carefully as it deserves.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

G.K. CHESTERTON: LOOKING BACK 111 YEARS

(From p. 731 of the Nov. 25, 1905 issue of the Outlook)



As I was preparing to sell an old magazine on eBay this morning, I came across a critique of a young G.K. Chesterton. It is interesting to reflect on the impact that Chesterton was already having at the age of 31 (born May 29, 1874/died June 14, 1936) and continues to have well over a century later. I am sure we can learn some things from this literary giant and great defender of the faith. 

I have scanned the article which has long been in the public domain because I have not seen it shared any place else and I know others will enjoy reading it and benefit from it. One thing that struck me as I was reading it is a striking resemblance to the work of Eric Metaxas, who has also been criticized for biographical inaccuracies (i.e., in his biography of Bonhoeffer). The example of Chesterton should remind us that we should not be so scathing in our criticisms of fellow believers.

The following scans are from the November 25, 1905 issue of The Outlook (a magazine that had formerly been called the Christian Union, but had left its roots as liberalism had begun to seriously infect the Church):










*MORE RESOURCES ON CHESTERTON (and other 20th Century apologists)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

DAVID MARSHALL'S JESUS IS NO MYTH!: Book Review

My review of David Marshall's latest book Jesus Is No Myth: The Fingerprints of God on the Gospels. This review is also posted on Amazon and Goodreads.:

"MARSHALL TURNS THE JOINT EFFORT OF THE SKEPTICS ON ITS HEAD"

Overall this book is a very enjoyable read, as David's wit and way with

words keeps the book moving along—often leaving you with a smile or a chuckle. But this book is far more than entertainment. To be sure, there are times when the detailed analysis does indeed cause the book to lag a bit, but such tedious work is sometimes important when digging for gold. And there is indeed gold in them hills!

Jesus Is No Myth is an important book for several reasons:

(1) Dr. Marshall engages the arguments of some of modern culture's most popular skeptics as they attempt to mythicize Jesus and discredit the Gospels that relate Jesus' teaching, miracles, death and resurrection. Marshall specifically engages the views of Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, and Reza Aslan. He provides brief (chapter long) analyses of each and skillfully makes note of some fatal weaknesses. As these skeptical detractors of Jesus are having a significant impact on our society and misleading many to believe things that are just not so, this section meets a clamoring need.

(2) In the second section, Marshall lays out 30 criteria for analyzing the historicity of the Gospels (which will serve as preparation for a serious comparison with the parallels alleged by the likes of Carrier and Ehrman in the third section). Marshall makes good use of recent work by great scholars like N.T. Wright, Richard Bauckham, and Timothy and Lydia McGrew. But he also provides his own original and helpful criteria for analyzing the Gospels' historicity. So this section is important for two reasons: (a) Helpful criteria for analyzing the historicity of the Gospels found nowhere else (so far as I am aware—and I have spent a lot of time studying this very subject). And (b) the collection of a large set of criteria into one place, which makes for a robust and powerful cumulative argument.

(3) In the third section, Marshall uses the criteria that he has just discussed related to the Gospels to see if the parallels offered by the skeptics stand up to scrutiny. Marshall carefully analyzes Apollonius of Tyana (who is most commonly offered as a historical figure parallel to Jesus), looking at his general historicity in one chapter and specifically at his miracles in the next. Then Marshall spends two chapters comparing the Gospels to ancient Greek novels--as skeptics have alleged that this might be the genre of the Gospels rather than historical biography. In the fifth chapter in this section, he compares the Gospels to the hagiography that arose in the 2nd Century and later. And finally, Marshall looks closely at a novel suggestion that Bart Ehrman recently proposed as a parallel to Jesus: the 18th Century Hasidic rabbi, Baal Shem Tov. In all cases, the parallels are clearly shown to be comical comparisons to Jesus. Again, I am not aware of anyone else who has taken the time to do this important and timely work.

(4) But perhaps the most important contribution that this book makes is that Marshall takes the skeptics' joint effort to mythicize Jesus and turns it on its head. The skeptics' desperate attempts to show that there were many others like Jesus instead reveal that Jesus is indeed unique among all persons of history. As Marshall notes: “If after ransacking your house for weapons, you challenge a thief with a butter knife, that probably means no more potent hardware lies hidden in your closet” (p.204). No one else ever claimed divinity like Jesus and left a lasting legacy...because no one else ever taught like him, performed miracles like him, showed compassion to outcasts like him, fulfilled ancient prophecies like him, died like him and rose again like him in a way that was experienced publicly and is therefore historically verifiable—and by hundreds of witnesses willing to suffer and even die for their testimony to these things. There is nothing else like this in history.

So this book provides important resources not only to anyone confused by the skeptics' claims but to anyone seeking serious analysis of the credibility of the New Testament Gospels and a mountain top view from which to see how truly unique Jesus truly is.


All that being said, David's book, How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test is probably still my favorite. You'll want to read it, too.

NOTE: This book does need some editing. Due to a rush to get this printed before his speaking tour, there are a significant number of typos and grammatical errors, which on a few pages show up in droves. But don't let that relatively minor issue stop you from a read that will be well worth your time.

FULL DISCLOSURE: David sent me a copy of this book for review. And David and I have been friends on Facebook for several years and are part of the same large Facebook group (The CAA: Christian Apologetics Alliance), where we first met. And I once saw him in person for a few hours at one of his speaking engagements. But that does not at all discredit my review. On the contrary, it is David's wide range of learning and his original insights into important topics that have time after time drawn me into conversation with him—along with his brilliant sense of humor! :)



Sunday, November 13, 2016

APOLOGETICS METHODOLOGY....HOW TO: Brief Article & Resources for Study

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone 
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 

But do this with gentleness and respect...." 

- 1 Peter 3:15b
~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~




Jesus Christ came "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Too often apologetics has been an emphasis on truth...and grace has been left out. The result has often been that the message of the Gospel has been robbed of its power and we have become as annoying as a "clanging cymbal"! (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). There must be a renewed emphasis on the whole command to "give the reason for the hope within us" by doing it "with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). And there must also be a renewed emphasis on listening before speaking and being slow to anger (Proverbs 18:13; James 1:19-20)--tough ones for me far too often! 

May we all continue to grow in Christ's likeness so that our proclaiming of the truth of the Gospel may be matched by the way we proclaim it. Bathe it all in prayer, combine with wisdom and strategies from some of today's leading apologists and build the kingdom of Jesus Christ for his glory! Below are some great resources for continuing to do just that.





VIDEOS
*"Argument Clinic" (4 minutes) a classic Monty Python comedy sketch
*Four excellent lectures by Voddie Baucham delivered at Dallas Theological Seminary: "The Pastor/Teacher/Counselor as Expository Apologist" (January 22, 2016); "Expository Apologetics 101" (January 21, 2016); "Apologetics, Holiness, and Suffering" (January 20, 2016); "Doing Apologetics in an Anti-Apologetics Age" (January 19, 2016)



AUDIO
*Apologetic Methodologies Past and Present: A series of 5 lectures by Phil Fernandes. Part of the Tabor Lecture Series at Western Reformed Seminary.
*"A New Kind of Apologist": Mikel Del Rosario interviews Darrel Bock, director of leadership and cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary and Sean McDowell, expert apologist and author of the new book A New Kind of Apologist.
*Also see audiobooks under "Books."

ARTICLES
*"Reaching Roger" an excellent article by my friend Nick Peters of Deeper Water Ministries, who draws lessons from his experience in using apologetics to strengthen a friend who was struggling deeply with questions and skepticism.
*"Are You Properly Motivated as a Christian Casemaker?" by J. Warner Wallace
*"Accessibility as an Apologetic Aim" by J. Warner Wallace
*"Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies": Nice interactive website on logical fallacies and you can even download a FREE! pdf file poster of them or buy a nicer printed one.


BOOKS
*Tactics by Greg Koukl. My #1 recommendation. A must-read. Available in Audible audiobook or MP3 CD (and this is one of those books where audio is an excellent way to take this book in) and also Kindle and paperback.
*Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion by Os Guiness. My other #1 recommendation. ;) Also a must-read. Available in Audible audiobook or Audio CD (and this is also one of those books where audio is an excellent way to take this book in). Also available in Kindle, hardcover and paperback.
*How Would Jesus Blog?: Answering Online Adversaries Jesus' Way by Tom Gilson
*Faith Has Its Reasons by Kenneth Boa and Rob M. Bowman, Jr. Read for FREE! online here.
*A New Kind of Apologist by Sean McDowell
*Relational Apologetics: Defending the Christian Faith with Holiness, Respect and Truth by Michael C. Sherrard. This book has received high praise from many top apologists.
*How to Talk to a Skeptic: An Easy-to-Follow Guide for Natural Conversations and Effective Apologetics by Donald J. Johnson
*Five Views on Apologetics edited by Steven B. Cowan. Contributors: Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, Paul D. Feinberg, Kelly James Clark and John M. Frame.


ONLINE COURSE
*Tactics (3 hours) taught by Greg Koukl