Archive | March, 2013

“Run Away Naked Mark” – The First Streaker

One of the great tragedies in cinematic history was the show LOST. It was not a tragedy in the sense that there was something wrong with the acting, screenplay, camera work, visuals, character development, or the like. All of those elements were among the best I have ever seen. It would have been hard to improve any of them. But what kept people like me coming back for more each week was the intrigue. We were all captivated by the story. “What could all of this mean?” That was the question with which I was left each week. I could not wait to see how they were going to pull it all together. For the last five or six episodes, the previews of the final week kept us coming back with this promise: “All your questions will soon be answered.” Of course, I believed them. One does not create a fictional story where the individual parts do not fit into a bigger picture, do they?

In season 1 episode 2 of LOST, the writers introduced this polar bear. On the mysterious tropical island where the plane crashed, the survivors run into a polar bear. Why? Well, we did not know, but we could not wait to find out. This, along with a thousand other odd things, created the intrigue. However, many of us found our hopes turned into tragedy as we finished the final minutes of the last episode, and virtually nothing was explained. Nothing! From September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, we anticipated the moment when all the blanks would be filled in. We wanted it all tied together. It was like we were given a thousand pieces to a jigsaw puzzle without a picture from which to work. We had the individual pieces of the puzzle distributed to us, one by one, for six years, and we expected that the creators knew how to put it together. As the final episode came to a close, we had to accept the tragic reality that the writers themselves did not really know what the big picture looked like. On May 23, a day that will live in infamy in the history of television, fans of LOST had dozens of leftover puzzle pieces in their laps. One of these pieces had a picture of a polar bear on it.

Live and learn.

Seconds after the final episode, Twitter and Facebook exploded with outrage. Fans were crying for explanations. Immediately, blogs and YouTube videos were produced listing the dozens of unanswered questions. Some of those who were holding out hope, in a last-ditch effort to keep LOST as one of the great shows of all time (which it could have been), cried, “Genius! They meant to leave everything unanswered. Now, we can fill in the blanks.” Are you kidding? No. I won’t have any of that. I don’t want to fill in the blanks, not in fiction anyway. You see, when we are dealing with fiction, we don’t like incidentals. We don’t like puzzle pieces that don’t fit into the big picture. And this is the difference between history and fiction. In fiction, there are no incidentals. Everything is told with a purpose to fit into the fabrication of the story. However, in real life, incidentals are plenty. They endear us to the truthfulness of the story. They are a sign to us that what we are hearing is probably not made up. In short, a characteristic of stories that represent true history is that they will often have incidentals and we don’t mind. Continue Reading →

14 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ—and 14 References

In this article I will summarize, as briefly as possible, fourteen evidences for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The summaries of each point are deliberately brief and undeveloped. No pretense is made here of having anticipated every response that skeptics might make. Nor is this an exhaustive list of evidences. Rather, it is a simple overview of many of the factual elements that contribute to the historical case for Jesus’ resurrection. No one point is by itself absolute proof that Jesus rose from the dead, but the evidence is cumulative (that is, each piece adds further weight to the total) and integrative (that is, the various facts fit together in a meaningful whole). The result is a very strong case that Jesus (a) died, (b) was buried, (c) rose from the dead, and (d) appeared alive to a variety of persons (1 Cor. 15:3-8). At the end of this article is an annotated bibliography of 14 books that examine in great detail the issues touched upon in the list of 14 evidences.

 

14 EVIDENCES

  1. JESUS’ EXISTENCE. That Jesus was a historical individual is granted by virtually all historians and is supported by ancient Christian, Jewish, and pagan sources. Yet modern skeptics often feel that their best strategy for denying the evidence of his resurrection is to deny that he even existed.
  2. JESUS’ DEATH. The most popular counter to the Resurrection in non-Christian and heretical beliefs is to deny that Jesus died on the cross (e.g., this is the position of Islam). However, historians regard the death of Jesus by crucifixion as ordered by Pontius Pilate to be as historically certain as any other fact of antiquity.
  3. CRUCIFIED MESSIAH. Crucifixion was a horrible, shameful way to die, so much so that it would never have occurred to anyone in the first century to invent a story about a crucified man as the divine Savior and King of the world. Something extreme and dramatic must have happened to lead people to accept such an idea—something like his rising from the dead. Continue Reading →

A GPS Easter (31.77849852, 35.22985115)

Do the numbers in the title look familiar? If I had tattoos, there’s a strong chance I’d have “31.77849852, 35.22985115” etched somewhere on my body. For six hours on Good Friday, between 9am and 3pm, Jesus hung on the cross at the GPS coordinates of: 31.77849852, 35.22985115.

In this post let’s walk through Holy Week in a fresh way. Let’s journey with Jesus through the lens of GPS coordinates. For each day I’ll give a quick overview of the day followed by significant GPS coordinates related to the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. Let’s start with Palm Sunday…

Palm Sunday

    What Happened?

  • Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem. Fully God and Fully Man. The Creator, standing in His creation, is headed for the cross. On Sunday He enters the city where He will die. He will never really leave this city. He came to earth to save you, to save me. Our sin has brought us separation from God and He is entering Jerusalem to take care of that once and for all. He is God so He can save us. He is also fully man so he can represent us.
  • How do people greet Him as He enters the city on Sunday…thankfully they give Him the honor He is due. John 12:12-15
  • Remembering Sunday

  • What is Jesus to you? Is He just a character in a Bible story? Or is He the living Savior of your life? As He stands overlooking Jerusalem on this day, where does He stand in your life?
  • GPS Coordinates of Jesus Weeping over Jerusalem: Latitude: 31.77801513 Longitude: 35.24187684 (see map below)


    View Palm Sunday in a larger map

Monday

    What Happened?

  • Matthew: 21:12-15… Jesus cleanses the temple in Jerusalem, he overturns the tables of money changers… the leaders don’t care… the Son of God steps into their world overthrowing their religiosity and then proving who He is by healing people and the religious people have lost all sensitivity to the living God. They are apathetic to a Savior seeking to change their worship.
  • Remembering Monday

  • If your life was laid out on several tables would Jesus come and overturn any of them? If so, repent. Don’t be like the indignant religious people who may have been convicted for just a second but then went on with their day no better for meeting Jesus. Be convicted of anything Jesus needs to overturn in your life and then let Him do it.
  • GPS Coordinates of Jesus Overturning the Tables: Latitude: 31.77887245 Longitude: 35.23601889 (see map below)


    View Holy Week – Monday in a larger map

Tuesday

    What Happened?

  • Jesus will spend these two days teaching people in Jerusalem. Matthew 21, 22, 23 will be rich reading during these two days. As you’re driving around town, periodically think to yourself…I wonder what Jesus is teaching people right now?
  • Remembering Tuesday

  • If you knew you only had 4 days left to live what would you spend your time doing? Jesus spent two days teaching. He places a huge value on our understanding of Him. Are you sitting at the feet of your Savior? Are you seeking to continually learn from Him?
  • GPS Coordinates of Solomon’s Portico where Jesus certainly did some teaching on Tuesday and Wednesday: Latitude: 31.77763207 Longitude: 35.23479580 (see map below)


    View Holy Week – Tuesday in a larger map

Wednesday

    What Happened?

  • The tempo of the Holy Week increases. This day is known historically as “Spy Wednesday”. For it is the day when Judas turns betrayer agreeing to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Jesus.
  • Remembering Wednesday

  • We can betray Jesus. We can make it all about us instead of about Him. Why did Judas betray Jesus? There could be many reasons. At the root of it He was selfish. He chose money over Jesus. He was in it for himself, not in it for Jesus. Are we “all in” in our relationship with Him?
  • GPS Coordinates for the Sanhedrin where Judas sells out Jesus: Latitude: 31.77524245 Longitude: 35.23138403 (see map below)


    View Holy Week – Wednesday in a larger map

Continue Reading →

My Hope for the Resurrection

(Lisa Robinson)

In a nutshell, my hope for the resurrection is that it be prioritized, remembered, embraced and identified for what it truly is – our Christian hope.

I hope it is prioritized…

In a week, that the Supreme Court examines DOMA and the gay marriage agenda is at the forefront, I fear that holy week has taken a back seat. Whatever challenges this hot-button topic brings to bear on the church it pales in comparison to remembrance of the signifying event in Christianity.

And it is our priority because the resurrection shows that God is sovereign over the events of this life.

I hope it  is remembered…

The resurrection gets so much attention at Easter time. But afterwards we go back to the cross. We embrace the cross, look to the cross, cling to the cross. Christ paid a tremendous sacrifice on the cross, serving as the subtitutionary sacrifice for our sins. It is there that the penalty of sin was paid. But our hope is in the resurrection because that is where our forgiven sins is truly expunged and new life experienced. As Paul reminds us,

Therefore, we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection. (Romans 6:4-5)

I suspect that the resurrection gets buried in the shadow of the cross because of what Tim Challies writes here, that we become more focused on putting off our sin than putting on the new man. But that is where are hope for Christ-likeness resides – in the new man, which comes by way of life in Christ because he is risen and sits at the Father’s right hand. That is resurrection!

This Christian life is one of continually putting off the old man with all its traits and putting on the new man. But our ultimate desire is not to be not-sinful but to be truly godly. We are not to aim at being not-sinful but to aim at being marked by Christian character. We experience the greatest success in battling sin when our desire is not only to stop sinning but to have our lives marked by the opposite character trait. The thief needs to do more than stop stealing; he needs to learn to be generous. The porn-addicted young man needs to do more than stop looking at pornography; he needs to learn to love and honor younger women as sisters. The angry mom needs to do more than stop lashing out at her children; she needs to learn to display patience and kindness. In each case the aim is not to stop sinning, but to be a display of Christ-like character.

Let’s keep the resurrection at the forefront after Sunday to put on Christ.

I hope it is embraced…

The resurrection of Christ points ahead to our bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-49) and acknowledgment that what is experienced in the present is not all there is. If there’s anything that the pains of contemporary society should reveal is that creation is groaning and longing for new life (Romans 8:19-22). And so we groan, in the already-but-not yet, “even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23-24). So we embrace the resurrection looking forward to the day when groaning, pain, death, dying, disease, evil, discouragement, tragedy and every form of godless evil ceases (Revelation 21:1-4)

Because it matters so much…

Even at a time when at a time when we should be most hopeful, we can be endlessly distracted, discouraged or fearful. But my hope is that we look to the resurrection of Christ…because it is our hope.

Check out my blog at http://theothoughts.com/

Is Limiting Marriage to Unions of a Man and a Woman Discrimination?

I’m not a legal scholar or an expert on the issue of same-sex marriage, but I’d like to offer some thoughts I have had on the subject for some time. Specifically, I want to address the complaint that the traditional restriction of marriage to unions of a man and a woman are discriminatory against gay and lesbian persons.

same-sex-marriage

I would suggest that laws prohibiting two men to marry one another, or two women to marry one another, are not discriminatory at all. They do not even discriminate based on sexual preference or orientation. If you’re homosexual, you can still get married, as long as it is to a person of the opposite gender. To understand why this is not discrimination, consider a far more common sexual orientation and its relevance to the issue of marriage.

A fairly typical male has natural inclinations or proclivities toward sexual relationships with multiple females. That is, he has biological urges that cause him to find women sexually attractive other than his wife. Moreover, this typical male doesn’t seem to be able to eliminate these feelings. They appear to be natural to him. For some reason, he has not yet been added to the alphabet soup of persecuted groups, LGBTQIA, but perhaps he should be. After all, there are a lot of guys in this category, and they get no respect. Admittedly some females have a similar desire to be united sexually with multiple males, and we don’t want to ignore them. Call these people, both males and females, the polyamorous, or the promiscuous, and add them to the mix. Now we have the LGBTQIAP.

At the present time the law allows Ps to pursue sexual relationships with any number of females that they might like as long as they are adults and consent. However, a P cannot be married to more than one woman. He can set up house with each one, if he can afford it, and procreate children by each one, but the fact is that he would not be allowed to marry any of them except one. The law does not allow him to marry anyone else as long as he is already married. Is this “discrimination”? No. The law is not discriminating against promiscuous men. The fact that he may feel that he sincerely “loves” more than one woman does not make the law discriminatory. The P is free to marry; but he is free to marry only one person. The male P is free to marry one person, and that person must be (a) female, (b) not a biological relative within certain parameters, (c) an adult, and (d) consenting to the marriage. So the law is not discriminating against him personally, nor is it discriminating against a class of people (the Ps).

A promiscuous man, then, may marry if he chooses. In doing so he is choosing to renounce his natural inclinations toward multiple sexual partners in the interests of a higher purpose. Billions of Ps have done just that throughout history; thousands of Ps are doing this every week. If a man simply finds refusing his promiscuous inclinations too painful, he is also free not to marry. But it would be ridiculous to claim that marriages with multiple partners needs to be made into a legally sanctioned and protected form of marriage on the grounds that not doing so “discriminates” against the P class of people. At least it seems ridiculous now to most of us. I suspect it already seems sensible to a few of us and that it may seem less ridiculous as our society abandons the traditional understanding of marriage. However sensible or ridiculous one may find such an idea, the fact remains that laws limiting marriages to unions of just two persons are not discriminatory.

Similarly, laws against incest discriminate against no one. Suppose a man and his sister feel that they are in love and want to live together, share property together, have each other in their wills, procreate or adopt children together, etc., etc. Is the law discriminating against them by refusing to recognize their relationship as a marriage? No. Refusing to sanction certain types of unions as marriages is not discrimination. Our law refuses to sanction as marriage sexual unions between an adult and a child, between two consenting adults who are siblings, and between any two individuals if one or both of them are already married to someone else.

Likewise, the lack of legal sanction for same-sex marriages does not constitute discrimination against any individual or class of individuals. No law currently requires anyone to identify his or her sexual orientation prior to getting married. Any consenting adult may marry any other consenting adult within certain limitations: the other adult must not be a close biological relative, must not already be married to someone else, and must be of the opposite gender. The law does not ask how you feel about sex with persons of the same gender or of different gender; it does not ask how many persons you find sexually attractive. It therefore does not discriminate against a class of persons based on their sexual orientation. It does, however, limit the government’s official sanction of marriage in specific ways. One may not like those limitations, or one may argue on some other grounds that they should be eliminated, but they are not discriminatory.

The main objection to the above line of reasoning is that it would mean that prohibiting people of different races to marry one another would not be discriminatory. After all, anti-miscegenation laws, so the objection goes, prohibited no one from getting married, but only prohibited certain kinds of unions, namely, interracial marriages. There are a lot of problems with this objection, not the least of which is that race is an amorphous construct that cannot be defined in a clear enough way to be coherently applicable to marriage laws.[1] It is really not even possible to find an arbitrary standard by which anti-miscegenation laws can be consistently enforced. Those laws, which were on the books in some states in America for two to three centuries, were unjust laws, but not because they “discriminated” against a particular class of people; they applied to ALL people and were nevertheless unjust. Anti-miscegenation laws were irrational on their face: supposedly a single drop of “Negro” blood made a person a Negro, but many drops of “White” blood did not make a person a White. We now know that far more Americans commonly classified as “White” have ancestors of African descent than one could guess by looking at them or even looking at a typical family tree going back a few generations.[2] There is simply no valid comparison between anti-miscegenation laws, which were themselves legal innovations, and the traditional view of marriage as a societally sanctioned union of a man and a woman.

Another problem with this objection is that miscegenationist marriages entail no differences in potential functionality than any other marriages. A black man and a white woman who are married can potentially perform any function normally associated with marriage in the very same way as a white man and a white woman. The claim here is not merely that each and every mixed couple can procreate; it is that a couple, by virtue of its being mixed, is in no way hindered from procreation. By contrast, each and every same-sex couple, simply by virtue of its consisting of two persons of the same gender, is by definition hindered decisively from procreating. Thus a normal function of the marital union is at least possible in most marriages regardless of race or ethnicity but is by definition impossible in any same-sex union.

Also, any heterosexual couple by definition will have one parent of the same gender as any child the couple might procreate or adopt, whereas approximately one-half of all children adopted by same-sex couples (assuming an approximately equal number of gay and lesbian adoptive couples) will necessarily have no parent of the same gender. About half of the adopted boys in such households will be raised with no father. The empirical evidence is overwhelming that the lack of a father will be disadvantageous for boys. This fact cannot be swept aside by citing exceptional circumstances; there are bad heterosexual parents and I would assume by contrast admirable homosexual parents, but overall children do better if they have parents of both genders, and particularly if the boys have fathers.[3] I have nothing but admiration for women who through no fault of their own are doing their best in raising their children without husbands, and I acknowledge that homosexual parents would all things being equal be better than no parents or abusive parents. But these qualifications do not change the fact that same-sex unions, by their very nature, cannot provide the normal dynamic of child-rearing produced in families that have a father and a mother. Obviously, this potential problem does not apply to racially or ethnically mixed marriages, so once again the analogy to anti-miscegenation laws is invalidated.

Having given some reasons why restricting marriages to heterosexual unions is not comparable to anti-miscegenation laws, the argument I presented above stands that shows that disallowing same-sex unions as marriages is not discriminatory. It is more like disallowing incestuous unions as marriages, or disallowing polyamorous associations as marriages. Any consenting adult may marry any other consenting adult, but “marry” here has a specific, recognized, historic meaning, namely, to enter into a publicly-sanctioned, exclusive, perpetual union with a person of the opposite sex. If the couple are siblings, or if their expressed intent is only to enter into a temporary living arrangement, or if the persons forming the union number three or more, or if the union includes two persons of the same sex, then by definition it is not a marriage. It is not arbitrary to define marriage in this way, nor is it discriminatory.

NOTES

[1] On the difficulties inherent in defining race, see, for example, C. Loring Brace and George W. Gill, “Does Race Exist?” Nova, 15 Feb. 2000 (presenting opposing viewpoints); Michael J. Bamshad and Steve E. Olson, “Does Race Exist?” Scientific American, 10 Nov. 2003.

[2] For an interesting article on this subject, see Steve Sailer, “Analysis: White prof finds he’s not,” UPI, 8 May 2002. The article reports that an estimated 30 per cent of “White” Americans have “Black” ancestors.

[3] See the National Fatherhood Initiative’s webpage on research data on the consequences of father absence, which includes helpful citations. Only some of the data can be explained as the result of only one adult in the household.

 

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ in a Nutshell

resurrection

(NOTE TO READER: We are going to do something special for Easter and attempt to encourage each other instead of getting into eternal debates which need heavy moderation (which we have already done on the non-revised version of this article). I want everyone to comment, believer and skeptic alike. But all I want you to post is what you personally find to be the most convincing evidence about the resurrection. It could be something listed here or it could be something else. All comments that don’t follow this rule will not be approved.)

Just as we test the historicity of any event, not through emotional conviction, but with historical evidence, I would like to devote some time to laying out a brief historical case for the Resurrection of Christ, the central issue of the Christian faith. If Christ rose from the grave, it is all true and we just have to work out the details. If Christ did not raise from the grave, Christians are to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:13-19).

Here is what we need:

1. Internal Evidence: Evidence coming from within the primary witness documents.

In this case, the primary witness documents are the twenty-seven works that make up the corpus that Christianity has traditionally called the New Testament with the most particular emphasis on the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Please not that these works stand or fall individually from an historical standpoint. The corpus or canon called the “Bible,” the “Scriptures,” or “the New Testament” is a theological designation, and one the historian must ignore. Therefore, they provide twenty-seven sources of documentation, not one.

2. External Evidence: Collaborative evidence coming from outside the primary witness documents.

This includes writings that substantiate historical claims through cross-referencing, archeological witness, and the witness of cultural impact. Some historians may include the non-Gospel works of the New Testament in this category (i.e. 1 Peter, Pauline epistles, etc.). However, since most of the works seem to come from eye-witnesses of the events in question, it is proper to keep them primary.

Internal Evidence:

  • Honesty
  • Irrelevant Details
  • Harmony
  • Public Extraordinary Claims
  • Lack of Motivation for Fabrication

I am not going to spend the time up front to catalogue references to the bodily resurrection of Christ, explicit and implicit, in the primary witness documents. While there are some who would dispute that a bodily resurrection is even being proclaimed, they are such a minority that it is not worth mentioning in this short defense. Let us just assume that the authors of the Gospels and Acts, the Pauline epistles, and the general epistles (including Revelation) proclaim and assume a resurrected Jesus.

Honesty:

One option to explain the rise of the resurrection story is that they are all embellishments. In this case, everyone involved fabricated this story in the first century. Therefore, it is a lie.

However, genrally speaking. a hallmark of embellishments and fabrications is that they display people (usually the author[s] along with associates of the authors) in a positive light, focusing primarily on their successes and triumphs. A hallmark of true history, on the other hand, is that it will often contain accounts that might cause some embarrassment. This is what we find in our own life. Rarely do people confess to a short-coming that is not true. If a student confesses to her teacher that she cheated on the test, the teacher has every reason to believer her and not accuse her of lying. However, when a teacher confronts a student, asking them if they have cheated, and the student says they have not, there is often continued reason to suspect foul play as people are more apt to covering up their sin rather than bringing them to light.

Let me back up for a moment and talk about the nature of the majority of the Scriptural witness, both Old and New Testament. With the possible exception of a couple of books the Scriptures are incredible transparent and very often self-indicting. It records both successes and failures of the heroes. It never paints the glorious picture that you often expect from embellished material, but shows the authors and their close associates in all their worst moments. The Israelites whined, David murdered, Peter denied, the apostles abandoned Christ in fear, Moses became angry, Jacob deceived, Noah got drunk, Adam and Eve disobeyed, Paul persecuted, Solomon worshiped idols, Abraham was a bigamist, Joseph was a bragger, Lot committed incest, John the Baptist—the greatest man who ever lived according to Christ–doubted in his final hour, Abraham doubted and lied, Sarah doubted and laughed at God, Nicodemus doubted, Thomas doubted, Jonah ran, Samson . . . I don’t know how Samson made the cut, and John, at the very end of the story, when he should have had it all figured out, worshiped an angel (Rev 22:8). I love it! I have never seen or heard of such a pitiful history as the book of Judges. It is very rare that historical embellishments would consistently claim such negative character indictments, especially when it is the Jews, who normally come across as very prideful, who wrote these books about their own history and then accepted them into their religious canon. Continue Reading →

The Father, Son, and the Holy Bible

The problem with many Evangelicals is that we can come dangerously close to worshiping the Bible. As Evangelical theologian James Sawyer once said in jest, we worship the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Bible.

Now, by this I do not mean we actually set the Bible up in a shrine in our house, throw it away if it ever touches the floor, or put our hand on it when swearing an oath. Of course we are above that, right? What I think people like James Sawyer are talking about is that we put our Bibliology (study of the Bible) ahead of Christology (study of Christ), Pneumentology (study of the Holy Spirit), and Paterology (study of the Father). We hold the Bible in such high esteem that firm adherence to an Evangelical Bibliology (verbal plenary inspiration, inerrancy, and authorial intent hermeneutics) becomes the unashamed anchor to the Gospel. But, eventually, it can (and often does) become the Gospel itself. One may be perfectly orthodox in every area about which the Bible speaks (deeply believing in the deity and Lordship of Christ, the sinfulness of man, and Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection), but if they are not perfectly orthodox about the Bible, to many of us evangelicals, they are not orthodox at all.

Now, let me cease with the self-deprecation for a moment. When straw men are not being built against us (and when we are acting our age!), a high view of Scripture is easy to justify. For example, for many years the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) had only one point in their doctrinal statement that members had to sign every year—inerrancy. And, in my estimation, this was not a bad thing. After all, where do we get our high Christology? The Bible. Where do we get our high view of God? The Bible. Where do we get the Gospel? The Bible. So, in our best moments, we will condemn anything that smells of idolatry concerning the Scriptures. We know that the Bible is not the fourth member of the Trinity. The Bible is not actually alive, but it does accurately reflect the movements of a living God.

How does this translate into our witness? When we are sharing Christ with someone, I have never heard anyone require that they invite the Bible into their heart (although, to be fair, asking Jesus into their heart might cause some problems too!). At baptismal confessions in the early church, there was a renouncing of Satan, but no renouncing of those who deny inerrancy. There was a confession of Christ as Lord, but no confession of Paul as the author of the Pastorals. There was a symbolic burial of our old life but no burial of old books you used to read besides the Bible. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the early church had a low view of Scripture. Far from it. I even believe that they held to a seed form of inerrancy. What I am saying is that one’s bibliology was not an essential component of the Gospel. Continue Reading →

Fifteen More Myths about Bible Translation

1. Perhaps the number one myth about Bible translation is that a word-for-word translation is the best kind. Anyone who is conversant in more than one language recognizes that a word-for-word translation is simply not possible if one is going to communicate in an understandable way in the receptor language. Yet, ironically, even some biblical scholars who should know better continue to tout word-for-word translations as though they were the best. Perhaps the most word-for-word translation of the Bible in English is Wycliffe’s, done in the 1380s. Although translated from the Latin Vulgate, it was a slavishly literal translation to that text. And precisely because of this, it was hardly English.

2. Similar to the first point is that a literal translation is the best version. In fact, this is sometimes just a spin on the first notion. For example, the Greek New Testament has about 138,000–140,000 words, depending on which edition one is using. But no English translation has this few. Here are some examples:

RSV           173,293

NIV           175,037

ESV           175,599

NIV 2011   176,122

TNIV        176,267

NRSV       176,417

REB          176,705

NKJV      177,980

NET         178,929

RV           179,873

ASV        180,056

KJV        180,565

NASB 95   182,446

NASB      184,062

NLT, 2nd ed  186,596

TEV         192,784

It’s no surprise that the TEV and NLT have the most words, since these are both paraphrases. But the translations perceived to be more literal are often near the bottom of this list (that is, farther away from the Greek NT word-count). These include the KJV (#12), ASV (#11), NASB (#14), NASB 95 (#13), and RV (#10). Indeed, when the RV came out (1881), one of its stated goals was to be quite literal and the translators were consciously trying to be much more literal than the KJV.

Some translations of the New Testament into other languages:

Modern Hebrew NT             111,154

Vulgate                                    125,720

Italian La Sacra Bibbia      163,870

Luther                                     169,536

French Novelle Version2   184,449

La Sainte Bible (Geneve)    185,859

3. The King James Version is a literal translation. The preface to the KJV actually claims otherwise. For example, they explicitly said that they did not translate the same word in the original the same way in the English but did attempt to capture the sense of the original each time: “An other thing we thinke good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that wee have not tyed our selves to an uniformitie of phrasing, or to an identitie of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men some where, have beene as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not varie from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places (for there bee some wordes that bee not of the same sense every where) we were especially carefull, and made a conscience, according to our duetie.” Continue Reading →