Showing posts from August, 2009

Typology as Apologetics: A review of Darek Barefoot's "Gospel Mysteries"

Before the rise of historical criticism, one of the most widely used arguments in support of Christianity was fulfilled prophecy. In the apostolic and patristic period this was not limited to direct predictions from the Hebrew Bible of the Messiah's origin and activities, but included typological foreshadowing of the life of Jesus in biblical narratives: the story of Isaac carrying the wood for his own sacrificial fire, for example, anticipated the time when another 'beloved son' would carry his wooden crossbeam to the place of sacrifice. Before the so-called 'grammatical' or 'plain' meaning of the biblical text came to be privileged as a result of the Reformation, readers of the Bible had no problem believing that the texts carried additional, divinely inspired meanings that could be uncovered through careful (we would say imaginative) investigation. As James Kugel elegantly shows (see How to Read the Bible, pp. 1-46), this approach to the interpretation o…

Too many Jesuses?

Tom Gilson over at Thinking Christian has a post inviting believers to reflect on who Jesus is for them. As I was writing a response I started thinking about the bewildering variety of scholarly portraits of Jesus out there. Writers often introduce lives of Jesus with a prefatory acknowledgment of the embarrassing number of similar books with titles like Jesus the Magician, Jesus the Jew, Jesus the Healer, etc. and apologize for adding yet another tome to the already creaking shelves of historical Jesus studies. The implication is supposed to be that scholars cannot avoid projecting themselves onto their portraits of Jesus, leading to the twisting of scholarly methods to (re)produce the picture of Jesus they already held. This often leads to skepticism about our ability to know anything about Jesus and, perhaps ironically, further license to become yet more eccentric in the application of historical method.

There are two problems with this piece of common 'wisdom': 1) the numbe…

Does Ignatius Demonstrate Reliance on the Acts of the Apostles?

I recently discussed whether Ignatius relied on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians when he wrote his own letters. During my review of the letters and secondary literature, I revisited the issue of Ignatius’s awareness of Luke-Acts. I had previously touched on this issue in my article about the the Acts of the Apostles and concluded that the points of contact were insufficient to establish awareness of Luke or Acts. Upon further review, I believe the issue deserves more in-depth discussion and a stronger case for Ignatius’ dependence on Luke-Acts can be made.

Knowledge of Paul’s Connection with Ephesus

The most important piece of evidence that prompted my review of this issue was Ignatius’ reference to the Ephesian Church and Paul’s martyrdom.

You are a passageway for those slain for God; you are fellow initiates with Paul, the holy one who received a testimony and proved worthy of all fortune. When I attain to God, may I be found in his footsteps, this one who mentions you in every e…

A Translation Proposition Concerning "Elohim"

While commenting on the unique relevance of trinitarian theism to moral grounding elsewhere (the original thread, over at Dangerous Idea, is more of an interChristian partisan discussion about soteriology, but here it is anyway for reference sake), I received a reply from a thoughtful commenter on a topic, any reply to which I thought would take the thread too far off-base from Victor's original intention.

But it was an interesting comment, so I'm porting it here for discussion (minus the few connections back to interChristian partisan discussion {g}).

Daniel Gracey, the commenter, wrote as follows:


Hello Jason,

Thanks for the helpful clarification about time not preceding God. Your post is interesting, and I will reread it and be mulling further over it. In the meantime I wanted to get your opinion about a hypothesis I haven’t yet tested thoroughly... and I’m still exploring the idea. Namely, why shouldn’t English translations have r…

Adult Ed Study: The Abolition of Man

When I first read The Abolition of Man, I found it to be one of C.S. Lewis' more intriguing books. Beginning with what appears to be a rather innocuous reference to Coleridge's comments about a couple looking at a waterfall, the book builds a case for traditional values (what Lewis calls "the Tao"). Since I often learn the most when I prepare for a class and have to defend my understanding to a group of educated people, I undertook to teach a four week class on the book in the Adult Education program of my church.

The results were great. Having discussed the book within the study, I found that I have a much better grasp of the problems that C.S. Lewis was addressing.

Thus, I am sharing on the CADRE site the material that I prepared for the class. Besides for the book itself (the text of which can be found entirely on-line), the only other resources that I used in the course were the first two chapters of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and a short essay from C.S. …

Ignatius' Reliance on Paul's Letter to the Ephesians And More

In an earlier post, I responded to the arguments of an online skeptic -- Quixie -- that 1 Clement showed awareness of none of Paul’s letters. He has since conceded that his analysis was greatly flawed and that the author of 1 Clement at least knew 1 Corinthians. Indeed, his “analysis” of 1 Clement can be fairly described as a massive failure of analysis because he simply ignored several of 1 Clement’s chapters. Nevertheless, Quixie appears to still claim that Ignatius lacked any knowledge of Paul’s letters except possibly a few allusions to the “opening” of 1 Corinthians.

As an initial matter, Quixie does not explain why Ignatius’ awareness of at least part of one of Paul’s letters is insufficient to sink the “Dutch Radical” ideas with which he is enamored. If Ignatius is clearly dependent on the “opening” of 1 Corinthians -- whether by allusion or quotation -- does that not mean that Paul is a historical figure and at least one or more of his letters took a prominent place in e…

I believe in the existence of Satan and demons

And this is part of the reason why:

Male Rape Victims in the Congo

Oh, but that's not all the article talks about. You want to know the meaning of hell? How about toddlers thrown on open fires, men being castrated, gang rapes, village burnings, massacres...the list goes on and on, right out of the worst cannibal gore B-movies of the 70s. As Greg Boyd says in his work on spiritual warfare, if this world resembles a war zone, that's because it probably is.

I know that such behaviors are also observed among other primates in the wild. In his book The Lucifer Principle, Howard Bloom documents in gruesome detail the atrocities that apes, gorillas, orangutans and our other simian relatives engage in. But human beings have a moral sense and reflective intelligence. We do not have to succumb to such vile impulses. That we get caught up in this behavior anyway strongly suggests to me demonic influence.

In contrast to many other Christians who have had a crisis of faith, I never felt that m…

JRP vs. Bishop Spong vs. Judas Iscariot: Round Five (4 of 4)

In Parts 2 and 3 of this Round, I demonstrated that the actual data of the texts does not indicate the authors were using the name "Jud-", including with Judas Iscariot, to heap derision on orthodox Judaism; that there is no clear progression across the texts of exonerating Pilate while blaming the Jewish religious authorities; and (most problematic of all, perhaps), that Bishop Spong himself has less than no problem admitting that there was a fatal rejection of Jesus and his teaching (even on Bishop Spong's theologically truncated notion of Jesus' teaching) by the mainstream Jewish authorities of his day: a rejection leading to Jesus' death at the hands of the Romans via the Sanhedrin. Which admission of historical accuracy, radically undermines Bishop Spong's theory for the reason why the authors would invent a fictional character of 'Judas Iscariot', in order to promote rejection of orthodox Judaism among Jewish Christians.

There is, of course, the …

JRP vs. Bishop Spong vs. Judas Iscariot: Round Five (3 of 4)

Click here for Part 2 of this Round, where I cross-check Bishop Spong's theory about "Judas" being a codename used for denigrating orthodox Judaism in the eyes of the Jewish Christian audience of the Gospels, with actual textual details. (Readers can follow links back to the beginning of this Round, and of this series of analysis, too.)

In an attempt to make this theory sound like it has a shred of credence, Bishop Spong writes:

“The leaders of the orthodox party of that nation, who defined the worship of the Jews, were by the time the gospels were written increasingly the enemy of the Christian movement. It is simply too convenient to place the blame for Jesus' death on the whole of orthodox Judaism by linking the traitor by name with the entire nation of the Jews. […] The Romans killed Jesus, but by the eighth decade of the Christian era, when the story of Jesus was being written, something compelled the gospel writers to exonerate the Roman procurator, Pilate, and t…