Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Is the story of the woman being stoned for adultery in John 7-8 authentic?

Here’s the leading conservative New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace to explain.

Excerpt:

One hundred and forty years ago, conservative biblical scholar and Dean of Canterbury, Henry Alford, advocated a new translation to replace the King James Bible. One of his reasons was the inferior textual basis of the KJV. Alford argued that “a translator of Holy Scripture must be…ready to sacrifice the choicest text, and the plainest proof of doctrine, if the words are not those of what he is constrained in his conscience to receive as God’s testimony.” He was speaking about the Trinitarian formula found in the KJV rendering of 1 John 5:7–8. Twenty years later, two Cambridge scholars came to the firm conclusion that John 7:53–8:11 also was not part of the original text of scripture. But Westcott and Hort’s view has not had nearly the impact that Alford’s did.

For a long time, biblical scholars have recognized the poor textual credentials of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11). The evidence against its authenticity is overwhelming: The earliest manuscripts with substantial portions of John’s Gospel (P66 and P75) lack these verses. They skip from John 7:52to 8:12. The oldest large codices of the Bible also lack these verses: codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the fourth century, are normally considered to be the most important biblical manuscripts of the NT extant today. Neither of them has these verses. Codex Alexandrinus, from the fifth century, lacks several leaves in the middle of John. But because of the consistency of the letter size, width of lines, and lines per page, the evidence is conclusive that this manuscript also lacked the pericope adulterae. Codex Ephraemi Rescriptusalso from the fifth century, apparently lacked these verses as well (it is similar to Alexandrinus in that some leaves are missing). The earliest extant manuscript to have these verses is codex Bezae, an eccentric text once in the possession of Theodore Beza. He gave this manuscript to the University of Cambridge in 1581 as a gift, telling the school that he was confident that the scholars there would be able to figure out its significance. He washed his hands of the document. Bezae is indeed the most eccentric NT manuscript extant today, yet it is the chief representative of the Western text-type (the text-form that became dominant in Rome and the Latin West).

When P66, P75, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus agree, their combined testimony is overwhelmingly strong that a particular reading is not authentic. But it is not only the early Greek manuscripts that lack this text. The great majority of Greek manuscripts through the first eight centuries lack this pericope. And except for Bezae (or codex D), virtually all of the most important Greek witnesses through the first eight centuries do not have the verses. Of the three most important early versions of the New Testament (Coptic, Latin, Syriac), two of them lack the story in their earliest and best witnesses. The Latin alone has the story in its best early witnesses.

Even patristic writers seemed to overlook this text. Bruce Metzger, arguably the greatest textual critic of the twentieth century, argued that “No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it” (Textual Commentary, 2nd ed., loc. cit.).

It is an important point to note that although the story of the woman caught in adultery is found in most of our printed Bibles today, the evidence suggests that the majority of Bibles during the first eight centuries of the Christian faith did not contain the story. Externally, most scholars would say that the evidence for it not being an authentic part of John’s Gospel is rock solid.

But textual criticism is not based on external evidence alone; there is also the internal evidence to consider. This is comprised of two parts: intrinsic evidence has to do with what an author is likely to have written;transcriptional evidence has to do with how and why a scribe would have changed the text.

Intrinsically, the vocabulary, syntax, and style look far more like Luke than they do John. There is almost nothing in these twelve verses that has a Johannine flavor. And transcriptionally, scribes were almost always prone to add material rather than omit it—especially a big block of text such as this, rich in its description of Jesus’ mercy. One of the remarkable things about this passage, in fact, is that it is found in multiple locations. Most manuscripts that have it place it in its now traditional location: between John 7:52 and 8:12. But an entire family of manuscripts has the passage at the end of Luke 21, while another family places it at the end of John’s Gospel. Other manuscripts place it at the end of Luke or in various places in John 7.

The pericope adulterae has all the earmarks of a pericope that was looking for a home. It took up permanent residence, in the ninth century, in the middle of the fourth gospel.

Wallace teaches at the ultra-conservative fundamentalist Dallas Theological Seminary, and is the foremost evangelical manuscript expert in the world.

Why is this important? I think it is important because this story is very prominent for a great many Christians, especially Christian women, who use this to justify a variety of positions that are inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. These Christians do not like the idea of anyone being judged and so they are naturally inclined to blow this disputed passage into an entire theology that repudiates making moral judgments on such things as capital punishment. In fact, in another post, I was accused of being the equivalent of one of the people who wanted to stone the woman taken for adultery because I oppose fornication and single motherhood. That’s how far this has gone, where some Christians, especially Christian feminists, have leveraged this passage to redefine the Bible so that women are no longer responsible to the Bible’s moral rules and can never be blamed for acting irresponsibly.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do Democrats act consistently with their own stated beliefs?

Do leftists always act as nicely as they tell us to act?

That’s one case, but are leftists always hypocrites?

Do As I Say Not As I Do

I recently listened to the audio book version of Peter Schweizer’s 2004 book “Do As I Say Not As I Do“. In that book, he profiles a number of leftist public figures, and he discovers that leftists don’t practice what they preach, because even they know that leftist ideas don’t actually work. I really recommend the book, so let’s take a closer look at it and you’ll see why you should read it, too.

Here’s a 32 minute 2011 lecture about the book:

And here’s an interview with the author from FrontPage magazine.

Excerpt:

FrontPage: Give us some of the best examples of the gulf between some liberals’ social criticisms and the ingredients of their private lives. Give us some insights, for instance, into the likes of Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Cornel West, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Barbra Streisand.

Schweizer: Looking for liberal hypocrisy is, as they say in the military, a target-rich environment. Noam Chomsky, for example, has attacked wealthy Americans who set up trusts to avoid paying inheritance taxes. But this self-professed “radical socialist” has a tax attorney and did the very same thing. (When I asked him about this hypocrisy he said it was okay because he and has family have been working on behalf of suffering people all these years.)

Michael Moore’s hypocrisy is pathological. He has said numerous times that he doesn’t own a single share of stock and that capitalism is not acceptable “on any level.” And yet, I found that, according to tax returns filed with the IRS, he has owned shares in Halliburton, numerous oil companies, defense contractors and other multinationals through a tax shelter. When it comes he race he’s also wildly hypocritical. He says that Americans who happen to live in largely white neighbhorhoods do so because they are “racists.” But he lives in Central Lake, Michigan, which according to the U.S. Census has more than 2,500 residents and not a single black person in the entire town.

Cornel West has numerous times condemned middle class blacks that abandon the “chocolate cities” for the “vanilla suburbs” but guess what, his flavour of choice is vanilla, too.

Ted Kennedy likes to pose as the Robin Hood of the Senate, forcing wealthy Americans to pay their taxes to help the poor. But I discovered that Kennedys record of actually paying taxes is horrible. Tax the inheritance tax. He says that Americans should pay 49% to the IRS when they die in the name of “social justice.” But according to public records, the Kennedys have almost completely avoided contributing to “social justice” by placing their assets in trusts that are located overseas. The Kennedys, over the past thirty years, have paid less than 1% in inheritance taxes on more than $300 million. Ted Kennedy, like Hillary Clinton and George Soros, loves higher taxes. On other people.

And:

FrontPage: Why do you think people are drawn to leftist ideals and what kind of people are they? Self-contempt appears to be a common ingredient, no?

Schweizer: Yes, self-contempt is a big part of it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German pastor who stood up to Hitler, wrote a book about “cheap grace.” Liberals are guilty of cheap grace in the political sense. They feel guilty and their form of penance is embracing the destructive ideas of the progressive faith. But it’s cheap grace because as I show it the book, they don’t actually change the way they live. I think that the religious comparison makes sense because in many respects the modern day left represents a religious movement. They are motivated by a sense of sin, guilt, and the need for salvation and absolution in the political sense. Socialism offers salvation to them. Of course, they don’t actually plan to live like socialists.

I would really recommend taking a look at this book. It’s similar to Paul Johnson’s “Intellectuals” if you’ve ever read that, but it’s better.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Did Jesus teach that it is wrong to judge other people?

Great post by Matt at MandM on an often misunderstood verse.

Here’s the passage in question, Matthew 7:1-5:

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Most people only quote the first verse, but they don’t look at the rest of the verses that come after.

Here’s what Matt has to say about those other verses:

The phrase translated in the NIV as, “do not judge, or you too will be judged,” was originally written by Matthew in Koine (a Greek dialect). The Interlinear Bible gives the literal translation here as, “do not judge that you be judged.” In other words, do not judge others in a way that leads one to put oneself under judgement.

[…]One is not to judge in a way that brings judgment on oneself. The reason for this (“for”) is that the standard one uses to judge others is the standard that one’s own behaviour will be measured by. Jesus goes on to illustrate, with a sarcastic example, precisely what he is talking about; a person who nit-picks or censures the minor faults of others (taking the speck out of their brothers eye) who ignores the serious, grave, moral faults in their own life (the log in one’s own eye). His point is that such faults actually blind the person’s ability to be able to make competent moral judgments. This suggests that Jesus is focusing on a certain type of judging and not the making of judgments per se.

In fact, the conclusion that Jesus does not mean to condemn all judging of others is evident from the proceeding sentences in the above quote. Rather than engaging in the kind of judgment Jesus has condemned one should “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words one should try to rectify the serious moral flaws in one’s own life precisely so one can assist others with theirs. One needs to avoid hypocrisy in order to make constructive and effective moral judgments about others. This would make no sense if Jesus meant to condemn all judging by this passage.

Judging happens all the time but it can be much easier for a person to accept if you do the judging in a professional way. After all, teachers tell students all the time that they are wrong, but these judgments are accepted because teachers know what they are talking about. If you are going to make a judgement, then try to do it in the way that an expert does.

This is an apologetics blog, so I feel that I should say that when you are trying to talk to someone about apologetics, then don’t talk about their personal lives at all. Just talk about what is true in the real world, or about moral choices in general. I’ve noticed that people get really mad when I say that some behavior is wrong because the Bible says it, so I don’t do usually that. But I’ve noticed that most are open to hearing the evidence for why a behavior is wrong, for example the harm caused by unwed motherhood to children. People are more likely to listen to you if you  stay away from judging their personal situation.

Second piece of advice: if you are going to talk about right and wrong, start by showing someone that just because there are differences of opinion on an issue, it doesn’t mean no one is right. If morality comes up as the topic, then I find it easier to first explain that just because people disagree, it doesn’t mean no one is right. What I like to do for this is to bring up something that is affirmed by one religion and denied by another, like whether the universe had a beginning. Jews (for example) affirm a beginning of the universe, Mormons deny a beginning of the universe. Who is right? We have to look to science to decide it. Once we’ve decided it, someone is going to be right, and someone is going to be wrong. You want to get them to see that telling someone they are wrong doesn’t make you a villain. In our case, if the universe had a beginning, and you tell a Mormon why you think it did using science, it’s no defense against you for them to call you “intolerant” for using evidence to show you are right. Sometimes people can be wrong, and they need to tolerate when others tell them they are wrong, even if they don’t agree.

Jonathan Morrow talks about that second point here:

However, true tolerance is usually not what people have in mind when they say people should be free to believe in whatever God (or no god at all) they want to. Here is the simple, but profound point to grasp—merely believing something doesn’t make it true. Put differently, people are entitled to their own beliefs, but not their own truth. Belief is not what ultimately matters—truth is. Our believing something is true doesn’t make it true. The Bible isn’t true simply because I have faith. Truth is what corresponds to reality—telling it like it is.

No point of view is correct just because someone believes it. Beliefs are made true if they correspond to reality. And it’s not “intolerant” to “judge” truth claims that don’t correspond to reality as false.

Finally, you want to get the other person to see that saying someone is wrong isn’t a bad thing – especially if their being wrong is going to get them into trouble. Suppose you tell someone “don’t take a nap on the railroad tracks” because they’ve been doing that. This is a good thing to do. It helps them to not get run over by a train. You’re not forcing them into anything, you’re just giving them information that they can use or not. It’s up to them to believe you or not, but they shouldn’t try to shut you down by saying “don’t judge me”.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Don Johnson: six reasons why people reject Christianity

Here’s a post on practical evangelism by Christian scholar Don Johnson.

His list of reasons why people often reject Christianity:

  1. Christians behaving badly
  2. Disappointment with God
  3. Weak or absent father
  4. Social pressure
  5. Cost of discipleship
  6. Immorality (especially sexual immorality)

And here’s the detail on #6:

Of all the motivations and reasons for skepticism that I encounter, immorality is easily the most common. In particular, sexual sin seems to be the largest single factor driving disbelief in our culture. Brant Hanson calls sex “The Big But” because he so often hears this from unbelievers: “’I like Jesus, BUT…’ and the ‘but’ is usually followed, one way or the other, with an objection about the Bible and… sex. People think something’s deeply messed-up with a belief system that says two consenting, unmarried adults should refrain from sex.” In other words, people simply do not want to follow the Christian teaching that sexual intercourse should take place only between and man and woman who are married, so they throw the whole religion out.

The easiest way to justify sin is to deny that there is a creator to provide reality with a nature, thereby denying that there is any inherent order and purpose in the universe.

Aldous Huxley admitted that this is a common reason for skepticism:

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption…. Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless. …

For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was …liberation from … a certain system of morality.  We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom…. There was one admirably simple method in our political and erotic revolt: We could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever. Similar tactics had been adopted during the eighteenth century and for the same reasons. (Ends and Means, 270-273)

Indeed, similar tactics have been used extensively up to the present day. If you are looking for two great resources that document the extent to which the work of the world’s “great” atheistic thinkers has been “calculated to justify or minimize the shame of their own debauchery,” (Spiegel, 72) I recommend Intellectuals by Paul Johnson and Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior by E. Michael Jones. The bottom line is that these skeptical scholars didn’t reach their conclusions by following the evidence where it led. They didn’t “discover” that the world was meaningless and then proceed to live accordingly. They lived sinful lives (usually involving some type of sexual deviancy) and then produced theories that justified their actions.

It’s important to understand that an atheist is not identical to a Christian, except not religious. There is something else going on in their minds when they reject very obvious evidences like the origin of the universe, the cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, the habitability arguments, etc. The something else that is going on is hinted at when you look at atheist attitudes to abortion. According to a recent survey of atheists, 97% of them were pro-abortion!

What kind of person likes abortion? The kind of person who wants to be sexually active with no consequences, even if it means taking someone else’s life. The desire to do as they please and retreat from obligations to others is the key. Now dispensing with God and his obligations is not an unreasonable view if there is no evidence for God, but it does provide a motive for people to not look for that evidence if happiness is their main goal. When I discuss these issues with atheists, I find that no work has been done to read anything. Not even debates, where there are two sides. They don’t want to hear the case for Christian theism, and they work hard to avoid stumbling across it by accident, too.

God and the cosmic authority problem

Tough Questions Answered has a quote from Christian philosopher Paul Moser that I think is relevant:

It would be a strange, defective God who didn’t pose a serious cosmic authority problem for humans.  Part of the status of being God, after all, is that God has a unique authority, or lordship, over humans.  Since we humans aren’t God, the true God would have authority over us and would seek to correct our profoundly selfish ways.

So we’re not dealing with unbiased truth-seekers here. The goal might not always be sex, but let’s be honest. Who wants to have to spend time reading the Bible, praying, going to church and reading thick books by Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Licona and Hugh Ross so that we can answer questions? No one. Who wants to give up premarital sex so that we can create a stable marriage for children so they can grow up in a safe place where knowing God is natural and easy? No one. We just don’t want to have to do stuff for God, even if it’s good stuff. We don’t want to have build a life that is a testament to God’s existence and character, especially if it means that other people will think that we are weird and maybe even a bit mean. We want to do what we want to do instead, and be liked by other people.

That’s the real challenge of Christianity: setting aside what you wanted to do, and letting God be your customer, instead. You’d be surprised how many Christians aren’t comfortable with the idea of serving God and being viewed in a bad way by non-Christians. They aren’t OK with the self-sacrifice, and they are really not OK with the social disapproval. It’s hard to be chaste, and to be known to be chaste by your peers, for example. Much easier to just give in and do what everyone else is doing.

Let’s illustrate with C.S. Lewis

And here’s a relevant quote from C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” to illustrate:

You must have often wondered why the enemy [God] does not make more use of his power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree he chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the irresistible and the indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of his scheme forbids him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as his felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For his ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve…. Sooner or later he withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish…. He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand…. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

— Uncle Screwtape, in The Screwtape Letters

I’m not a big fan of Lewis, but I think he is onto something there. That’s really what the Christian life is like, and no wonder more people don’t choose it. Who wants to do your duty for God, as part of a relationship with him, in a universe that seems so unfair? It’s a tall order, and most people prefer to do their own thing instead of building something nice for God with their lives.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are amnesty supporters willing to house illegal immigrants?

From Freedom Outpost.

Excerpt:

Dan Joseph of MRC TV visited Oldtown Alexandria, Virgina, whose demographics are largely liberal, and asked residents to sign a petition supporting bringing illegal immigrant children to their city.

The ones who agreed were also asked to sign another petition agreeing to house an illegal immigrant child in their own home or apartment.

As you can imagine, their ideology did not go over well with their practice.

There were several people that were not interested in the first petition, though there were several who were.

When it came to the second petition, there didn’t seem to be anyone that wanted to take in illegal aliens.

One of the funnier spots was around the 1:20 mark where Dan said that the illegals didn’t eat that much, but “were members of gangs.” That was not convincing enough to house any of them according to the young woman who signed the first petition.

One gentleman who signed the first petition was asked to house an illegal alien and he said, “No, no, I live at home with mom.”

One lady said that “in spirit” she agreed with the petition, but that it was “a little too vague.” You think? At least she was attempting to think, though I don’t know about that whole “spirit” thing.

Not one of the people that signed the petition, which would cost them an enormous amount in tax dollars, were willing to take care of one of the illegals coming across the border…. not one!

That’s one case of liberal hypocrisy.

Here’s another one:

There’s two. Are there any more?

Do As I Say Not As I Do

I had a long drive on the way to my parents’ house for Christmas and I decided to listen to the audio book version of Peter Schweizer’s 2004 book “Do As I Say Not As I Do“. In that book, he profiles a number of leftist public figures, and he discovers that leftists don’t practice what they preach, because even they know that leftist ideas don’t actually work. I really recommend the book, so let’s take a closer look at it and you’ll see why you should read it, too.

Here’s a 32 minute 2011 lecture about the book:

And here’s an interview with the author from FrontPage magazine.

Excerpt:

FrontPage: Give us some of the best examples of the gulf between some liberals’ social criticisms and the ingredients of their private lives. Give us some insights, for instance, into the likes of Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Cornel West, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Barbra Streisand.

Schweizer: Looking for liberal hypocrisy is, as they say in the military, a target-rich environment. Noam Chomsky, for example, has attacked wealthy Americans who set up trusts to avoid paying inheritance taxes. But this self-professed “radical socialist” has a tax attorney and did the very same thing. (When I asked him about this hypocrisy he said it was okay because he and has family have been working on behalf of suffering people all these years.)

Michael Moore’s hypocrisy is pathological. He has said numerous times that he doesn’t own a single share of stock and that capitalism is not acceptable “on any level.” And yet, I found that, according to tax returns filed with the IRS, he has owned shares in Halliburton, numerous oil companies, defense contractors and other multinationals through a tax shelter. When it comes he race he’s also wildly hypocritical. He says that Americans who happen to live in largely white neighbhorhoods do so because they are “racists.” But he lives in Central Lake, Michigan, which according to the U.S. Census has more than 2,500 residents and not a single black person in the entire town.

Cornel West has numerous times condemned middle class blacks that abandon the “chocolate cities” for the “vanilla suburbs” but guess what, his flavour of choice is vanilla, too.

Ted Kennedy likes to pose as the Robin Hood of the Senate, forcing wealthy Americans to pay their taxes to help the poor. But I discovered that Kennedys record of actually paying taxes is horrible. Tax the inheritance tax. He says that Americans should pay 49% to the IRS when they die in the name of “social justice.” But according to public records, the Kennedys have almost completely avoided contributing to “social justice” by placing their assets in trusts that are located overseas. The Kennedys, over the past thirty years, have paid less than 1% in inheritance taxes on more than $300 million. Ted Kennedy, like Hillary Clinton and George Soros, loves higher taxes. On other people.

And:

FrontPage: Why do you think people are drawn to leftist ideals and what kind of people are they? Self-contempt appears to be a common ingredient, no?

Schweizer: Yes, self-contempt is a big part of it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German pastor who stood up to Hitler, wrote a book about “cheap grace.” Liberals are guilty of cheap grace in the political sense. They feel guilty and their form of penance is embracing the destructive ideas of the progressive faith. But it’s cheap grace because as I show it the book, they don’t actually change the way they live. I think that the religious comparison makes sense because in many respects the modern day left represents a religious movement. They are motivated by a sense of sin, guilt, and the need for salvation and absolution in the political sense. Socialism offers salvation to them. Of course, they don’t actually plan to live like socialists.

I would really recommend taking a look at this book. It’s similar to Paul Johnson’s “Intellectuals” if you’ve ever read that, but it’s better.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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