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Showing posts from September, 2006

More Second-Century Evidence Against 1 Cor. 15:3-11 Being an Interpolation

In his critical review of The Empty Tomb, Stephen Davis points – as I did – to the second-century literary evidence of the apostolic fathers as evidence against Dr. Price's argument that 1 Cor. 15:3-11 is an interpolation. "The Counterattack of the Resurrection Skeptics," Philosophia Christi, Vol. 8:1, page 41. Davis and I both find Ignatius’ reference to the allegedly interpolated passage in the early second century to be powerful evidence against Dr. Price’s theory. It simply leaves no time for an interpolation to arise and spread to all of the manuscript evidence.

Although I also found Marcion’s use of the same passages to be conclusive, Davis does not mention it. Davis does mention two second-century Christian writings that I did not: the Shepard of Hermas and Against Heresies.

According to Davis, the Shepard of Hermas (dated from 140-155 AD) “clearly alludes (in a different context) to 1 Corinthians 15:6.” 15:6 states, “After that He appeared to more than fiv…

Christian Philosopher Reviews Skeptical, The Empty Tomb

Stephen T. Davis, author of Risen Indeed (reviewed by me here) has written a lengthy review of the latest skeptical assault on Jesus' Resurrection, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave. You can read excerpts from Davis' review over at Triablogue.

Just a reminder that the CADRE has its own online response to The Empty Tomb, here.

No More Attorney Fees For Establishment Clause Lawsuits

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed legislation which withdrew awards of attorney fees to plaintiffs who successfully bring suits against a governmental agency for Establishment Clause violations. If I recall correctly, present law allows persons who are successful in their lawsuits for civil rights violations to collect their costs of suit, including attorney fees, for having prosecuted the action. Violations of civil rights covered under the current law included violations of the Establishment Clause.

The reasoning for allowing attorney fees was simple: people who bring actions for violations of civil rights may be deterred from going to court if they have to spend thousands of dollars in attorney fees without any corresponding right to have those attorney fees reimbursed at the close of the case. This was especially true in certain types of civil rights violations where the person bringing the action suffered no direct type of damages as the result of the violation.

This…

"Dr." Bill Maher's Unenlightened Diagnosis

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Last night, I tuned into Bill O'Reilly's program in time to catch part of an interview with Bill Maher, former host of Politically Incorrect, and now hosting some other unwatchable program on some cable channel. Basically, Maher takes the position that "Christians and others who are religious suffer from a neurological disorder that 'stops people from thinking.'"

While I'm sure that Bill Maher is a very thoughtful person (he has to be, just look at the thoughtful pose he made in the picture to the right), I'm not sure he is being exceedingly thoughtful on this one. There are too many questions that need to be answered before I buy into the idea that I together with 90% of the American population that claims to be Christian are suffering from neurological disorders. Let me give you some questions that I would have asked Mr. Maher if I had been doing the interview.

First, Mr. Maher, you're a comedian are you not? Do you have a degree in medicine? Hav…

Just An Animal -- From Prothesis

I have been so busy lately with a project at the office that I have had little time to visit many of my favorite blogs. Today, however, I took a break and visited the blog of Macht over at Prothesis. Always interesting and insightful, I found an entry from September 3, 2006 entitled "Just An Animal" which I wanted to set forth in its entiretly here. (I would directly link to the article, but I don't think Prothesis has direct links to any of its blog entries.)

I've seen an objection to the pro-life position going around lately and it relies mostly on a misunderstanding of what (I think) most pro-lifers believe (although I think the arguments that many pro-lifers use don't often make their positions clear). The objection goes something like this:

"Pro-lifers arguments rest on the fact that a human life begins at conception. This is a biological definition and, as such, pro-lifers are advocating that we get our rights based on the type of DNA we have. Humanit…

The Pope, Muslims And Reciprocity

Christianity Today has gathered together a number of interesting articles related to the Pope's speech in which he quoted from some medieval ruler about Muslim which has incited so much ironic hate from the Muslim community. The individual articles collected are excellent and cover a wide-range of opinions as to what the Pope said, its meaning, the world's (over)reaction, and other opinions of interest. The Christianity Today page can be found here, or the individual subtopics related to this matter can be accessed through the following links:

All apologies
Mideast Christians worry
Muslims attack
Other Muslim reactions
Defending the Pope's comments
Jewish reaction
Other papal critics
Pope's upcoming Turkey visit
Did he know what he was doing?
Earlier Benedict XVI comments on Islam
Explaining papal infallibility
Other pope comments news
Editorials
Blame the Pope
Blame the Muslims
Blame religion in general
Blame the media
Other op-eds
Interestingly, the Pope met yesterday with a number of …

The Gospels Were Chock Full of Eyewitness Accounts

So argues, quite persuasively, a leading New Testament scholar. Apollos.ws recently announced that it was given permission to host Richard Bauckham's ground breaking article, The Eyewitnesses and the Gospel Tradition. They also have details, and a table of contents, for Professor Bauckham's forthcoming book on the same subject, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.

An Earmark Of Authenticity From John

Often, people argue that the Gospel of John was not written by the Apostle John. In the past, some even suggested John was written as late as 160 A.D. However, the discovery of the John Rylands papyrus (P52 = Papyrus Ryl. Gr. 457) that contained a few verses from the Gospel of John and which is dated to around 125 A.D. pretty much ended arguments about dating it any later than around 100 A.D. But, of course, the dating of the Gospel is secondary to the Christian contention that it was written by the Apostle John or one of his immediate followers.

Recently, something was pointed out to me in the Gospel of John that adds to the evidence that it is historic. In J.P. Moreland's Scaling the Secular City, Dr. Moreland lists five marks of historicity in the Gospel materials: (1) the form of Jesus' sayings, (2) Other distinctive features in Jesus sayings, (3) the presence of irrelevant material, (4) the lack of relevant material, and (5) counter-productive features. While Moreland'…

Is Carrier Wrong about Paul and the Pharisees?

In a section of his Chapter in The Empty Tomb entitled, “Paul and the Pharisees,” Carrier reviews the Rabbinic writings in an attempt to separate Paul from the Pharisees so as to drive a wedge between their firm belief in bodily resurrection and Paul’s resurrection views. As with previous sections of his chapter (about the Sadducees , the Herodians, Qumran, Paliggenesia , the Assumption of Moses, the Scribes, Philo, and the Pharisees) there are several problems with his analysis.

The Rabbinic Writings as Questionable Sources of Pharisaic Belief

Carrier mistakenly assumes that the Rabbinic writings reflect the Pharisaic views of Paul’s time. This assumption is inexplicable because Carrier contradicts himself by his speculation that at least one sect of Pharisees taught a two body resurrection belief that left no trace in the Rabbinic writings. In any event, the Rabbinic writings were composed 200 to 400 years after Paul’s letters. Those hundreds of years were not without signif…

The Lord's Prayer vs. Allah Ackbar: United 93

Over the weekend I finally saw United 93. It is an intense film that manages to convey the horror of that day without being sensationalistic when it comes to violence and language. After an opening scene in which the terrorists prepare themselves spiritually to carry out their plot, the film follows three tracks. First, United Flight 93, as passengers and crew load, take off, and began their transit. Second, the head of air traffic control and many local centers are shown going about their business and then dealing with the terrorist plot as it unfolds. Third, NORAD is shown preparing for an exercise but unexpectedly trying to defend the country from an unforseen threat with which they do not have the resources to deal.

The film is the ideal docudrama and avoids devolving into any sort of action flick or thriller. It comes across as a reenactment with as little artistic license exercised as possible. You do not get to know any of the characters as characters. Nothing of their…

Pope Says Mohammed Taught Violence, Muslims Prove Him Wrong by Burning Churches

The new Pope has caused a stir by giving a speech in which he quoted a medieval text which stated:

Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
You can read the full speech, here.

Although it has not (yet) reached the level of response caused by the Danish Muslim Cartoons, the Muslim world has reacted forcefully. In some cases, quite literally. Muslims in the Palestinian Territory attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza using guns and firebombs.

Update: Thanks to Carlson for the correction on the national origin of the cartoons.

Update2: Hospital-working Nun and her guard murdered by Muslim gunman in Somalia after arriving to help the sick and infirm.

Missionary To Planned Parenthood?

From the Institute for Religion and Democracy article entitled "United Methodist "Missionary" is Planned Parenthood Staffer":

In its 2004-2005 Biennial Report, the missions board of the United Methodist Church reported a total of 904 missionaries affiliated with the board.

However, it would be a mistake to assume that all 904 individuals are engaged in traditional Christian missions work.

One example is Susan Burgess.  According to the website of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), the “ministry” to which she is commissioned by the GBGM’s deaconess program is to be an administrative assistant at a Northern California affiliate of Planned Parenthood.

Few United Methodists would agree that secretarial work for America’s largest abortion provider qualifies as Christian missionary service.

Even aside from moral qualms about abortion, there is much about Planned Parenthood that most United Methodists would find quite objectionable.

Like its parent body, Planned Par…

An Unhelpful Anti-Jesus Myther Apologetic

Recently, Richard Hooper, a former Lutheran pastor and the author of "The Crucifixion of Mary Magdalene" and "The Gospel of the Unknown Jesus," posted a piece on the Religion and Spirituality Forum entitled "Hide and seek with the historical Jesus" in which he makes an argument for the historicity of Jesus. In reviewing this argument, I am once again reminded why I left the Lutheran Church. Pastor Hooper says:

Virtually all early Christian literature, and the movement that stood behind it, was of Greek, not Hebraic origin. Jesus' actual followers, all of whom were Jews, did not write a single word of the New Testament.

The New Testament was written entirely by Hellenistic Christians who rejected the Judaizing tendencies of the early (Jewish) Jesus movement. Even so, these non-Jewish Messianists (who were uniformly hostile toward Jews) did not make some Greek or Roman hero figure their Messiah and Son of God. Instead, their faith was built around Yeshua…

"Hi, I'm Larry, The Emasculated Cucumber"

I admit it -- I love Veggie Tales. When I first saw some of their videos for sale in a Christian book store about 10 years ago, I thought, "here's a loser idea." I mean, come on, who wants to watch a bunch of armless, legless vegatables preaching sermons at me? Well, it didn't take too much longer before I actually saw one, and I became hooked. While directed to kids, there's enough literary and movie references for adults that anyone can sit back and enjoy these animated works (unless, of course, they are television snobs). As a result, the Veggie Tales chain has been very successful (even if Big Idea apparently was unprepared to handle success and filed bankruptcy at one point) selling more than 50 million DVD and videotapes.

50 million DVDs and videotapes? Adding those numbers to the Veggie-related promotional products such as plush toys and books, and television naturally took notice. Thus, beginning this Fall there will be Veggie time on Saturday mornings on…

A Hindu Priest in the Anglican Church

An Anglican priest renewed his license with the Church of England even though he converted to Hinduism, "moved to India, changed his name to Ananda and daily blesses a congregation of Hindus with fire previously offered up to Nagar, the snake god." You can see Reverend Hart offering prayers to an Indian elephant God, here.

Rvd Hart sees no tension between his conversion to Hinduism and status as an Anglican clerif.

What is the Emergent Church?

I have asked that question many times. I have read blogs, Wikipedia, articles, and Emergent Church websites, in an attempt to understand this contemporary movement. Beyond a commitment to meeting society on its terms, I admit to still being perplexed by this phenomenon. Hopefully, help is on the way. New Testament scholar and blogger Darrell Bock is launching a multi-post series on the Emergent Church and looks to give it a fair overview.

Sonograms Saving Unborn Lives

The Southern Baptist Convention and Focus on the Family are spending millions to buy ultrasound machines for Crisis Pregnancy Centers so they can provide sonograms to expectant mothers, many of whom are deciding whether to abort their unborn child. This tactic in the abortion wars has garnered some rather favorable press coverage, a year ago in the NY Times and last week in the Washington Post.

The idea is to put meaning in the term "choice" by letting expectant mothers see what it is that they may decide to kill. Reports and surveys show that such information goes a long way in discouraging women from choosing abortion:

By many accounts, the ultrasound exams have proven effective in convincing women to stay pregnant. A 2005 survey by Care Net, a Sterling-based network of about 1,000 antiabortion pregnancy centers in the United States and Canada, found that 72 percent of women who were initially "strongly leaning" toward abortion decided to carry their pregnancie…

What Motivated the Crusaders?

Often times, such as in the recent movie Kingdom of Heaven, the Crusaders are presented as imperialists more motiviated by money and greed than by devout conviction. In a recent post I mentioned a book about the Crusades I had recently completed, which did a good job of preseneting the genuine if misguided religious zeal of the Crusaders. It also emphasized that a significant part of the Crusader's perspective was that Islam was invading and conquering Christiain lands.

A couple of days ago, Loren Rosson wrote a post entitled, Understanding the Crusades, which also focused on Crusader motivations. Therein, he concludes that "what motivated them wasn't money or material gain: on the contrary, they dreaded the dangers of travel and expensive costs involved over the trek to Palestine, and there were few rewards to be won in the Holy Lands. Crusaders were motivated by anything but economic interests. They were motivated by sincere religious zeal."

Quoting a Crusader scho…

The Jewish Jesus Paintings -- The Real Problem

A weird controversy has apparently arisen in La Crosse, Wisconsin, over the decision of an artist to try to hang paintings of Jesus in the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center. According to the story entitled "Another view of Jesus: Artist argues ‘Rabbi Jesus’ paintings appropriate", the paintings of Jesus seek to depict Jesus in light of His Jewish heritage. According to Clara Maria Goldstein, president of the Eastbank Artists,

"It's a series of paintings I wanted to display because they have meaning and a message," Goldstein said. "I don’t know why my paintings are not appropriate. Why are paintings of Jesus as a Jew not appropriate when paintings of a non-Jewish Jesus is acceptable?

"While some may say the paintings are controversial, they are actually more authentic," she said. "The problem is Jesus has never been portrayed in this way."

Her paintings include Jesus celebrating Hanukkah and his bar mitzvah, Mary preparing Jesus for circumc…

More Evidence that Luke-Acts Was Written by a Doctor?

In my article on Acts and in an earlier blog, I discussed some of the passages in Luke-Acts which suggest that its author was a doctor (such as prefaces showing familiarity with technical treatises, like those of a doctor, as well as greater interest in the details of medical conditions, and an interest in defending the honor of doctors). This is not a revisitation of W.K. Hobart's argument from precise medical language, but does demonstrate a unique interest in medical issues and healings. Said interest, however, is stronger than I had realized:

Luke's interest in healing is evident from the fact that he recorded all the Markan healing accounts, shared with Matthew the healing of the centurion's slave in Luke 7:1-10, and had five healings unique to his Gospel (7:11-17; 13:10-17; 14:1-6; 17:11-19; 22:51).
Robert H. Stein, Luke (TNAC), page 20.

For a point of comparison, I will turn to a my article The Miracles of Jesus: A Historical Inquiry, in which I note that "No…

No Atheists in Communist Foxholes & Other Religious Facts from WWII

I have been reading an excellent book by Richard Overy entitled Why the Allies Won. Rather than a history of World War II, it provides overviews of key theaters and battles, and much discussion and analysis of the reasons for the Allies' victory. It is a very good book, though the propensity of otherwise intelligent British historians to heap praise on General Montgomery still mystifies me. In any event, in a chapter on the competing philosophies and moral positions in the war, I ran across some information of which I was previously unaware.

I knew that the Soviet Union had played into the nationalist sentiment of its Russian population. But I had not known the extent to which the Orthodox Church -- which had been oppressed by the atheist regime of Stalin and its predecessors -- was not only tolerated after the German invasion of the USSR but promoted.

Even in the Soviet Union, where God had been officially proscribed, religion was revived by the war. On the day of the Germa…

Jesus v. Paul: The False Dichotomy

In reading through my morning e-mail alerts, I came across the following written by Emily Oliver, a theology graduate student at Xavier University, entitled "So many things Jesus DIDN'T say".

I had a startling thought the other night, and I think I need to explore it further: Jesus never said anything against women in leadership positions. I can't think of one time in scripture that Jesus is quoted as saying that women should be submissive or learn in silence. I can't think of a situation where Jesus told a woman that she was not to be in authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:9-15).

Here's a further thought: the Pauline epistles are generally thought to have been written before the gospels, with perhaps the exception of Mark, which was written concurrently. Why, if it was so theologically important to keep women out of leadership positions, did the gospel writers not make sure to include such points from Jesus' own mouth? I think it's a little funny that e…