Over the last month or two I’ve been working on a written/audio debate with Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts. The topic of the debate was “Does the Christian God Exist?” I imagine the debate may have been released earlier had it not been for my delayed responses due to health issues and moving out of our house and preparing to embark on our move to Scotland. I have apologized to Mr. Schieber concerning this and I extend apologies to the readers and listeners.
I was actually expecting much stronger arguments from Mr. Schieber. Two arguments were off topic and the other one was a far metaphysical and modal stretch. You’ll be able to read his arguments in full but here are my thoughts :
Why do you believe in God when the Genesis creation account and the bible have been discredited? Why do you believe when there are no good arguments that don’t have some sort of counter argument? There is not one irrefutable proof or argument for God whether it be from archeology, history, textually, philosophy, theology, prophecy, science, mind, miracles and the supernatural. Not one. How can it be true if nothing stands up to critical thinking? Why believe?
Recently, Dr. Michael Licona (Houston Baptist University) spent time in Canada debating Yale professor Dr. Dale Martin on questions concerning the resurrection and self-understanding of Jesus. Below are links to the videos.
Dr. Michael Licona and Dr. Dale Martin discuss the question “Did Jesus Physically Rise From the Dead?” The first evening of the 2012 Religion Soup discussion took place Oct 18, 2012 at St. Mary’s University.
Below is just a brief abridged outline of the key distinctions among the four early Jewish groups: Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and the Essenes.
The Pharisees are the most often mentioned group in the NT. 100 BC to AD. The name means to separate (from the Hasmoneans? From ritually unclean?). They were very emphatic about the need to be clean (i.e. not touching a dead body). They were strict on tithe laws, the Sabbath, and divorce laws. It was voluntary participation to become a Pharisee. They were all over Israel. They wore distinct clothing and were as many as 6,000. They were Am-Haaretz (people of the land). Some were scribes and some were not. They were mentioned 100 times in the NT and were heavily criticized by the NT, rabbis after AD 70 and Qumran.
Pharisees were strict legalists. They were less into politics and more into religion. They focused on externals and not the heart.
I’ve seen Dr. Dan Wallace’s article on a possible copy of Mark dating back to the first century float around the blogosphere, Facebook, and Twitter.
These fragments now increase our holdings as follows: we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 43% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts. But the most interesting thing is the first-century fragment.
It was dated by one of the world’s leading paleographers. He said he was ‘certain’ that it was from the first century. If this is true, it would be the oldest fragment of the New Testament known to exist. Up until now, no one has discovered any first-century manuscripts of the New Testament. The oldest manuscript of the New Testament has been P52, a small fragment from John’s Gospel, dated to the first half of the second century. It was discovered in 1934.
Not only this, but the first-century fragment is from Mark’s Gospel. Before the discovery of this fragment, the oldest manuscript that had Mark in it was P45, from the early third century (c. AD 200–250). This new fragment would predate that by 100 to 150 years.
This is certainly exciting for Christians but I want to give a word of caution. Many people may have quickly read this sentence in the article: “How do these manuscripts change what we believe the original New Testament to say? We will have to wait until they are published next year… [continues on about what we can know now]” There are certain things we can derive from this manuscript but let’s not get overconfident about this. We need to let this be reviewed over and over. We need to let the scholars write papers, review the work, and debate these things. New information, especially like this, need to be reviewed and go through the process. Let’s use what we can know from it but we need to allow the process to take place before we go wild about it.
Paul’s use of the Old Testament is very evident in the book of Romans. There are 50 references to Old Testament Scriptures from thirteen different books. Paul does not seem to quote Scripture verbatim every time he refers to it. Paul paraphrases and contextualizes the Scriptures. One example of this is in 2:24:
For, “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written. (NASB)
The Old Testament reference is Isaiah 53:5 which states:
Now therefore, what do I have here,” declares the LORD, “seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?” Again the LORD declares, “Those who rule over them bowl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long. (NASB)
There are other times where he does give verbatim when he refers to the Ten Commandments and Exodus and Deuteronomy when to not covet, etc. (i.e. Rom 7:7). Paul will refer to certain personalities and books depending on what he is addressing, when he addresses Israel in chapter 9, it is mainly the prophetic books. When dealing with the word of faith and salvation in chapter 10, Paul usually sticks to the historical books. If Paul referred to any one personality the most, it would be Abraham when he is justified in his faith and to the prophet Isaiah as he refers to him thirteen times (tied with the most references with The Psalms).
The Word of the Week is: Heilsgeschichte (hiyels-ge-sheek-te)
Definition: When translated from German it literally means “salvation history.”
More about the term: Heilsgeschichte is an organizing principle developed by Oscar Cullman for the various New Testament titles for Jesus. Cullman’s Christology is centered on what Jesus has done in history.
It is a characteristic of New Testament Christology that Christ is connected with the total history of revelation and salvation, beginning with creation. There can be no Heilsgeschichte without Christology; no Christology without a Heilsgeschichte which unfolds in time. Christology is the doctrine of an event, not the doctrine of natures. (Oscar Cullman, The Christology of the New Testament, rev. ed. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963], 9).
I’ve provided a list of recommended books that will hopefully aid you in having a foundational Christian worldview by being knowledgeable in many fields. Today I’ve provided a list of my top ten recommended biblical studies books.
10. Bible Commentaries: Commentaries will aid you in gathering critical background information for your text as well as assisting you in contextualizing the material. Don’t become to reliant on commentaries for your exegesis, they should be used as a catalyst for deeper inquiry and to help you keep your contextual flow. (For NT Exegesis I recommend the Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament series and for the OT I recommend Word Biblical Commentary. I have found these two series to be quite beneficial, though there are several other excellent commentaries as well.)
9. Lexical Aids: Lexicons will aid you in handling biblical languages in more adept ways then commentaries. I was never a student of Greek or Hebrew (I’m a student of German) but I found that lexical aids helped me understand tenses, conjugations, moods, and other grammatical features of the text.
8. Diagrammatical Analysis by Lee Kanttenwein: I admit, diagrammatical analysis is my least favorite component of exegesis but it is critical to a fundamental understanding of the text. Getting down the grammar in absolutely critical for sound exegesis and will affect it more than you think. It’s not much fun but it’s very important.
7. Word and Works of Jesus by J. Dwight Pentecost: Words and Works of Jesus give a complete comparison of the Gospels’ references to Jesus words and works. You’ll be able to view side my side accounts, which is easy for noting comparisons, differences, and thematic elements/development when working through the Gospels.
6. An Introduction to Early Judaism by James VanderKam: This is an excellent book to aid you in understanding background information for Judaism. This will help primarily with intertestamental studies and New Testament backgrounds.
4. Reinventing Jesus by Ed Komoszewski et. al: Reinventing Jesus is not only excellent in helping you understand the authorial intent of the Gospel writers but it also aids in apologetics. It touches on types of literary, textual, and form criticisms and serves to aid in developing a sound model of historical reliability for the Gospels.
3. Jesus in Context by Farrell Bock and Gregory Herrick: I have found this book to be one of the most valuable works on historical background information when it comes to studying the Gospels and Jesus. This will provide historical background on passages and how it relates to what other historians have said. It will list a passage for you and then give you relevant historical data as provided by Babylonian texts, the Talmud, Josephus, and other historical figures and documents.
2. Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays: This book will teach you all the necessary steps and components for a sound biblical exegesis. You will learn what steps are taken in exegesis and when those steps should be completed. This also helps break down the different methods and requirements needed to exegete different biblical genres. This is an absolute must for biblical studies students.
1. Exegetical Fallacies by D.A. Carson: If you don’t have this book you need to click the link and buy it right now. This book will teach you the boundaries in your exegesis. This is not an introductory book for exegesis, you’re already expected to know hermeneutics, this will teach you to fine-tune your hermeneutic and caution you of the so-many fallacies that are often committed.
Below is a chart that compares popular ancient texts with the Bible in when it was written, the earliest copy we have, and the number of copies there are. This information is about a decade old so the number of NT manuscripts has most likely increased by now. This may serve as a simple illustration of a component to the textual reliability of the Bible.
No. of Copies
History of Rome
59 BC – AD 17
4th Cent. (Partial)Mostly 10th Cent.
400 yrs1,000 yrs
1 Partial19 Copies
AD 114 (fragment)AD 200 (books)
AD 250 (most of NT)
AD 325 (complete NT)
+50 yrs100 yrs
Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 1999.