What’s Wrong with the World

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January 2018 Archives

January 3, 2018

Ecce Homo: Only one Jesus

I've referred before to a 19th-century book on the Gospel of John by Stanley Leathes and, in particular, to a section of that book laying out similarities between Jesus as seen in John and Jesus as seen in the synoptics.

We need a catchy name for the argument that Jesus is the same man in all four of the Gospels, with the same personality, modus operandi, and even tricks of speech, and that he can be seen to be the same man very strikingly by attending to the texts. This was an argument known to those old 18th and 19th-century guys. J. J. Blunt discusses it. (Undesigned Coincidences, pp. 287-289.) William Paley has a section on it (Evidences of Christianity, Part II, Chapter IV "Identity of Christ's Character"). And as I say, Leathes shows it as well. And C.S. Lewis repeatedly talks about the Boswellian nature of the Gospels as memoirs of Jesus and the sense that one has met a very particular and vivid Person through these accounts.

I propose that this be called the Ecce Homo argument. Behold the man. When we look at Jesus in one Gospel and then in another, we see the same man, over and over again. "Critical scholarship," in its typical myopic fashion, obscures this fact by talking ad nauseum about the "Jesus of" Matthew, the "Jesus of" Luke, the "Jesus of" John, but in fact, an unprejudiced and attentive reader will come to see that there is really just one Jesus in the Gospels.

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January 8, 2018

"Six Bad Habits of NT Scholars and How to Avoid Them" on Youtube

My webinar called "Six Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars and How to Avoid Them" is now available on Youtube. Have fun watching!

Interestingly, my host for the webinar, Jonathan McLatchie, has taken some flak for giving me this forum to dispute the ideas of some NT scholars. He posted this comment along with the Youtube link to Facebook and has given me permission to post that comment to my blogs.

Here is the recording of Saturday's Apologetics Academy webinar featuring analytic philosopher Dr. Lydia McGrew. Her subject was "Six Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars (and how to avoid them)". I regret that some people seem to be rather upset that I have sided with Lydia in regards to this topic over Michael Licona, Craig Evans, et al. I have even lost Facebook friends as a result. May I emphasize that this is scholarship and there is no ill-intent towards any of the people whose views I and Lydia depart from. If you put scholarly argumentation into the public realm, then you need to learn not to take it personally when others disagree and publicly voice their dissent. I invite you to watch the webinar for yourself and make up your own mind.

Kudos to Jonathan for taking this attitude. Indeed, the attitude deserves commendation even if someone doesn't agree with me about my conclusions. Surely it's at least worth airing the arguments, as the stakes are pretty high.

Don't murder me


Dire Wolf. Original composition: mixed medium. Cella, 2017, [age 5].

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January 15, 2018

Let Ancient People Speak for Themselves

As I've noted before, New Testament scholarship seems to give rise to sweeping statements about "ancient people" and how vastly differently they thought about the matter of truth than do "modern people." The implication is usually that "ancient people" thought nothing of an author's changing boring, literal facts, even in the case of authors of putatively historical works, because the ancients thought that "higher truth" was more important.

In an earlier post I quoted several explicit statements in the New Testament that have as their prima facie meaning that the apostles and the Gospel authors were very concerned about literal truthfulness. These include 1 John 1:1-3, Acts 4:19-20, 2 Peter 1:16, and John 21:24, and John 19:35.

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January 20, 2018

Tangled Up in Blue

With apologies to Bob Dylan, this blog post has nothing to do with a book of poems written in the thirteenth century by an Italian poet! Instead, I wanted to talk for a bit about the nasty war of words being waged by two Democrats in my very blue home state of Illinois. A Democratic candidate for Governor started the nastiness (and really, he’s the only one keeping this blue on blue war of words going) by accusing the current Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, of being a racist:

Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy on Wednesday accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel of leading a “strategic gentrification plan” aimed at forcing African-Americans and other minorities out of Chicago to make the city “whiter” and wealthier.

“I believe that black people are being pushed out of Chicago intentionally by a strategy that involves disinvestment in communities being implemented by the city administration, and I believe Rahm Emanuel is the head of the city administration and therefore needs to be held responsible for those outcomes,” Kennedy said during a news conference about gun violence in North Lawndale.

“This is involuntary. That we’re cutting off funding for schools, cutting off funding for police, allowing people to be forced to live in food deserts, closing hospitals, closing access to mental health facilities. What choice do people have but to move, to leave?” Kennedy added. “And I think that’s part of a strategic gentrification plan being implemented by the city of Chicago to push people of color out of the city. The city is becoming smaller, and as it becomes smaller, it’s become whiter.”

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January 22, 2018

Long Strange Trip


Amazon Films has produced a solid documentary series on the Grateful Dead. These guys threw a ton of capital at this. High production values: who knows what the crew and subjects were paid, but I’m guessing it was sizable.

Long Strange Trip will be worth watching for a long time, but probably and in the main, only by those truly interested. For the rest, subjected against their will to someone else’s interest, rest assured that you’re not obliged to watch. You can nap.

So, Long Strange Trip.

One of its great virtues lies in the brutally frank portrayal of the toil of San Fran partying. More than once, a surviving band member weeps openly for the loss of another too early. Why too early? Overconsumption of dangerous intoxicants. Not a huge revelation.

Still, this candid depiction of loss is harrowing. How the producers set, carried out, and accomplished such raw interviews I do not know, but the effect is memorable.

Of course the soundtrack earns its magnificence. Nonstop fine versions of Dead and JGB songs. A notorious Senator (or ex-Senator?) supplies his favorite version of “Althea.” I despise the guy but it’s a damn fine “Althea” rendition. Sleep or perchance to dream.

The highlight of the entire series lies in interviews with the Dead’s tour manager, the wiry Brit Sam Cutler, also (in)famous for his role in the Altamont debacle in 1969. Still lively in his 70s, this dude — whose job it was to corral these miscreants and degenerates & get them playing every night — supplies the series’ finest performance.

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January 24, 2018

New Undesigned Coincidence: The women from Galilee

I've recently been enjoying reading Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses straight through. At some point I hope to have the time to write more about my big-picture assessment of the book. Right now I'm involved in some other publishing projects and don't have the time to do that at any length. So all I will say here is that Bauckham's book is worth reading, extremely interesting and well-written, and has some good information and arguments, but that I don't "buy" all of his arguments, even when their conclusions are congenial to me. For example, I'm unconvinced by his claim to have discovered a literary indicator that he calls "the inclusio of eyewitness testimony" by which the authors allegedly tagged their eyewitness sources. I'm afraid, much as I'd like to agree with him, that the inclusio of witness testimony is a mirage. Again, I hope to write more about Bauckham another time.

So far, one of the most valuable effects of my reading Bauckham has been to inspire me to notice things that I hadn't noticed before. The undesigned coincidence that I give here is based upon one of Bauckham's (ultimately unsuccessful, in my view) attempts to support an "inclusio of witness testimony," but by focusing on the texts in question, I noticed a previously un-noted coincidence among the documents.

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January 27, 2018

Choice devours itself: Proposal to kill the mentally disabled in Delaware

Recall that choice devours itself when something worshiped by ideologues--usually death or unmarried sex--is first promoted in the name of "choice" and "consent" but then pressed upon those who do not or cannot properly consent, and the ideologues look the other way or are enthusiastically in favor.

So choice devours itself when women are forced into abortions in China and the left is in denial. Choice devours itself when Planned Parenthood covers up statutory rape of a 12-year-old to promote abortion for minors. Choice devours itself when a facilitator of assisted suicide holds down the hands of a person who wants to breathe again after having set up suicide by asphyxiation. And choice devours itself when the mentally disabled are given the "choice" of assisted suicide, which has now been proposed in Delaware and is already a reality in Europe.

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