As far as I can tell, St Paul quoted from the written Gospel of Luke. And since St Paul died in AD 67 or thereabouts, the Gospel of Luke must be younger than that. I’ve also reached the conclusion that what “critical scholars” say to overturn this observation is a whole lot of not very much based on even less.
The so-called pericope adulterae of John 7:53-8:11 has frequently been used to suggest that Jesus did not approve either of the application of the Mosaic Law or of the death penalty (or both). Christopher Marshall for example claims that “there is only one passage in the New Testament that refers directly to the legitimacy of the death penalty (John 7:53-8:11).”1 Marshall concludes that what we have in this crucial passage is an example of “restorative justice overthrowing retributive justice in the Christian age.”2 Thus, here Jesus overthrows the justice of the Old Testament in favour of a more gracious approach to social ethics. Arguing from a clearly different theological/ethical framework, Kaiser too appeals to this passage, viewing it as important evidence that “the morality of the law abides while the sanctions may change.”3Continue reading “The Woman Taken in Adultery”→
Existing near one end of the spectrum on biblical scholarship (where extraordinarily conservative fundamentalism is at one end and unreasonable scepticism for the sake of novelty, notoriety and ratings is at the other – you figure out which end Ehrman is at), Ehrman insists that he’s not out to destroy Christianity. Now, he’s definitely out to deny the resurrection of Jesus, he doesn’t think miracles have ever occurred, he doesn’t even affirm belief in God, and he thinks that the basic New Testament story about Jesus is false. But he’s not out to destroy Christianity.
How can this be? Like this: He starts out with a view of Scripture that most Christians don’t hold: Inerrancy. Then in the space of a couple of sentence he shifts (without telling the reader) to belief that what the Bible says is true. And then he moves (again without telling the reader) to the view that we should trust the Bible and not God. And since this last view is not a historical Christian view anyway, by attacking all the things I listed earlier, he’s not really attacking Christianity at all.
Here’s what he says. Oh, and because it won’t be obvious to those who are familiar with Ehrman’s work, where he uses the phrase “biblical scholarship,” he’s talking about his own work. Speaking of Christians who think that Christians should believe the teaching of the Bible, he says:
Throughout most of history most Christian thinkers would have been seen this view as theological nonsense. Or blasphemy. The Bible was never to be an object of faith. God through Christ was. Being a Christian meant believing in Christ, not believing in the Bible.
Here are the historical realities. Christianity existed before the Bible came into being: no one decided that our twenty-seven books of the New Testament should be “the” Christian Scripture until three hundred years after the death of the apostles. Since that time Christianity has existed in places where there were no Bibles to be found, where no one could read the Bible, where no one correctly understood the Bible. Yet it has existed. Christianity does not stand or fall with the Bible.
And so, biblical scholarship will not destroy Christianity. It might de-convert people away from a modern form of fundamentalist belief. But that might be a very good thing indeed.
So apparently, teaching people that what the Bible says is false and the Bible is unreliable is fine from a Christian perspective, because we’re supposed to trust God and not the Bible, and the early Christians didn’t have the compiled Bible that we now have?
That really takes the cake. Who, exactly, is saying that we should trust in the Bible instead of God? And while it’s true that the Bible wasn’t compiled for some time, it’s not true that the individual books weren’t written in the first century (even the most zealous of liberal wouldn’t push for later than the mid second century). Even the most liberal of New Testament critics must grant this much in order is to remain within the pale of respectability. It may be sexy and hip to throw out the canard that the Bible represents a much later faith, a faith of the power brokers in church history, that was imposed on the Christian world, but please Dr Ehrman. To play innocent on grounds like this is frankly embarrassing.
Did the Church conspire to hide the truth about other Gospels that did not make it into the Bible?
This time I’m discussing the claim that scholars have uncovered Gospels other than Matthew Mark, Luke and John, other Gospels that deserve to stand alongside the four canonical Gospels as having equal historical legitimacy, but which the churchTM has unfairly suppressed in its quest for dominance over the Scripture and what it is permitted to contain. These include the Gospel of Thomas, the Secret Gospel of Mark and others.
It’s the middle of the night, but some time in the next few days I’ll edit this post and add the reading list that I promised in this podcast episode.