Bible


We rightfully bemoan the rise of the gay hermeneutic in which Christians are reinterpreting the Bible to allow for committed same-sex relationships, but has anyone ever stopped to think that what these liberals are doing to the homosex texts we “conservatives” have already done to the divorce and remarriage texts?  We have mangled Jesus and Paul’s teachings to allow for divorce for reasons other than sexual immorality, and to allow those who have divorced or have been divorced without grounds to remarry because we don’t think it is fair for people to be unhappy or alone.  We understand the strong desire to be in a loving, sexual relationship.  Our emotions become the motivating factor for reinterpreting (or ignoring) what would otherwise seem to be a pretty straightforward condemnations for most divorces and remarriages.

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That’s an easy answer: p52 (a fragment of John 18).  Perhaps not.  P52 is typically dated to A.D. 125-175. There is a fragment of Matthew 21, p104, that is dated to A.D. 100-200.  The mean age of both manuscripts is A.D. 150, but if p104 is as early as its terminus a quo, then p104 may be the earliest NT manuscript.

P52

P52

 

P104

P104

Of course, there is still the possibility that we have a fragment of Mark’s gospel dated to before A.D. 90. The court is still out on this one since the research on this fragment has yet to be published. If it turns out to be a valid date, it would be the first NT fragment from the first century to be discovered – an exciting prospect indeed!

Open LoopSome believe the Biblical stories were myths or exaggerations.  At worst, everything is an invention.  At best, just the miracle claims were invented.  When you examine the Gospels, however, you find plenty of evidence that the authors were being faithful to what really happened, even when it was embarrassing.  Examples abound, including Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus calling Peter “Satan,” the disciples not understanding Jesus’ predictions of His resurrection, etc.  This is called the principle of embarrassment, and is one of the key principles historians use to judge the historicity of a report.

While reading Matthew the other day, another example of this principle stood out to me in a way it had not before.  We are told by Matthew that the chief priests went to Pilate “the next day” after Jesus had been crucified and buried to ask for guards to be posted at the tomb (Mt 27:62-63).  Why?  Because Jesus had predicted that He would rise from the dead, and they feared that the disciples might come and steal his body from the tomb and then claim Jesus’ prediction had come true (Mt 27:64).  (more…)

Telephone GameAre the words in the Bibles we read today the same words that the apostles and prophets wrote back then?  Many people assume that the words have been dramatically changed over the centuries, comparing the transmission of Scripture to the Telephone Game.  Daniel Wallace answers this challenge, showing how different the two really are: (more…)

jesus-is-truthPostmodern Christians who dismiss the veracity of propositional truth like to cite John 14:26 where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  “Jesus is the truth,” they say, “not doctrinal statements.  Jesus is the only truth that matters.”

This way of interpreting Jesus’ statement presumes that Jesus is saying He is identical to the truth, such that to speak of the truth is to speak of Jesus.  Linguists call this the “is of identity.”  An example of this use of “is” would be the statement, “Barack Obama is the president of the United States.”  There is an identity relationship between the man Barack Obama and the office of the president of the United States.  Clearly that’s not the kind of “is” Jesus is referring to.  When Jesus says he is the truth, he is not making an identity statement such that “Jesus = the truth,” otherwise, “to say that ‘2+2=4’ is true is to say that ‘2+2=4’ is Jesus. In other words, Jesus is claiming to be a mathematical statement.”[1]

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"Jesus said to them, 'My wife'" highlighted.

“Jesus said to them, ‘My wife'” highlighted.

I had previously written about the so-called Jesus’ Wife fragment that was brought to the public’s attention in 2012 by Karen King of Harvard Divinity School (here, here, and here). It was greeted by a lot of controversy regarding its authenticity, with the evidence leaning heavy in the direction of forgery. We had been waiting for tests to be performed on the papyrus and ink for well over a year to see if they also pointed in the direction of forgery. Those results finally came out in April 2014. It turns out that the materials are old (~8th century A.D.), but not nearly as old as King initially suggested and the paleographic evidence indicated (4-5th century A.D.).

Despite the ~300 year difference between estimated age and actual age of the papyrus, this seemed to be a vindication for King against those who argued that it is a modern forgery.  But is it?  Couldn’t it be a modern forgery using ancient materials?  After all, no forger buys his paper at the local Wal-Mart!  We would expect a forger to use an old papyrus for his forgery, so an analysis of the materials alone is not sufficient to tell us whether this is a forgery (it can confirm forgery, but not preclude it).  The analysis of the contents (vocabulary, grammar, writing style, etc.) is equally important, if not more important than the material composition itself for evaluating authenticity.

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Holy Spirith - The GhostAs anyone familiar with the KJV will notice, when speaking of the Spirit, the translators were not always consistent. The translators translated pneuma as “Spirit,” but translated pneuma hagios as “Holy Ghost.” Here are some examples where the difference can be seen within the same verse:

• Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
• John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
• John 7:39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
• Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
• 1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

I was tempted to conclude that, for some stylistic reason or due to cultural conventions, the translators preferred to translate pneuma by itself as “Spirit,” but pneuma hagios as “Holy Ghost.” But I have discovered that they did not always translate pneuma hagios (or its Hebrew equivalent) as “Holy Ghost.” Consider these passages:

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