Brian McLaren and the Bible

Brian McLaren is well known as a leader in the North American ‘Progressive’ movement, which many are finding a refreshing change from the ‘culture wars’ amongst evangelicals about Scripture and authority and its implications for theology and discipleship. He came to prominence with his 2004 book A Generous Orthodoxy, which sought to cut through the polarisations … Continue Reading

How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem?

One of the obvious differences in chronology between John’s gospel and the ‘Synoptics’ (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is that John gives an account of Jesus in Jerusalem on four different occasions, two during a Passover (John 2.13, 12.12), one during an unnamed festival (John 5.1) and one at Hannukah (John 10.22). (The third Passover is … Continue Reading

Undesigned coincidences and historical reliability

Dr Tim McGrew of the Library of Historical Apologetics just posted a fascinating document in a private Facebook group of which I am a part:

Sometimes two historical records incidentally touch on the same point in a manner that would be very unlikely if one of them were copied from the other or if both were copied from a common source. For example, one account of an event may leave out a bit of information, leaving some natural question unanswered, while a different account indirectly supplies the missing detail and, in so doing, answers that question. When this happens, the best explanation is that both records are grounded in the actual historical event; that is why the two bits fit together so well.

Forgers do not want to leave loose ends like this that might raise awkward questions; they take care to tie everything together neatly. But these are just the sort of things we would expect to find in authentic records of the same real event told by different people who knew what they were talking about.

He then goes on to give some key examples from the gospels:

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Is the NT mostly forged?

Attacks on the reliability of the NT have moved in recent years from focussing on the question of historical reliability to the question of how the NT documents were written, handled and included in what was to become ‘Scripture.’ This is because of the continuing discovery of earlier and diverse manuscripts, and the related discipline of textual criticism.

Chief amongst the antagonists has been Bart Ehrman, about whom I wrote here in connection with the BBC’s ‘Beauty of Books‘ which began with a critique of Codex Siniaticus.

Last month, Ehrman’s latest work Forged was published, claiming that the majority of books in the NT were actually written by people other than the ones later attributed to them. Renowned scholar Ben Witherington has written a detailed eight-part critique of Ehrman’s book; links to all parts can be found here at the last one and I include the links at the bottom of the page here. They are really worth reading if you have the time, since they offer a great education in the facts of early Christian writing, and assumptions in the wider first-century world. But I cite his

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Was the text of the NT ‘unstable’ and ‘evolving’?

The BBC started their new series ‘The Beauty of Books’ looking at two epoch-making books, the Winchester Bible (from around 1100) and Codex Sinaiticus, from around 350. Sinaiticus is hugely significant, since it is the earliest complete Bible, and was the fruit of the stability for the Christian faith in the Roman Empire resulting from the Constantinian settlement. (Janet Soskice’s Sisters of Sinai about its discovery is supposed to be a ripping read.) You can view the manuscript for yourself in amazing detail at its website.

The programme highlighted what an extraordinary technical achievement its

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