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Tom Gilson endorses scholarly dialogue on Gospels theories

I'm pleased to say that Tom Gilson, senior editor for The Stream, has endorsed on his personal blog the proposition that Mike Licona should be willing to engage in scholarly dialogue with me about the topic of literary devices in the Gospels.

One might think such a proposition is uncontroversial, but one might be surprised. Tom is extremely evenhanded and does not even stake out a side on the object level topic, but he says that I have "mounted a criticism that needs a response" and also points out that "the position Lydia is defending is much closer than [Licona's] to the traditional and natural reading of Scripture." He also notes that the matter is important:

Where the text says Jesus says, “It is finished,” can we we be confident he actually said that? Lydia’s position is to say yes; Mike’s position takes that as a possibly a redaction or summary of some other saying, for example “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”

Now, I’ve heard plenty of sermons on “It is finished.” If Jesus didn’t actually say that, then a whole lot of conservative pastors and churches need to know that their sermons on this — in which they confidently claim Jesus spoke these very words — are uninformed, incorrect, and misleading. They are wrong, that is, to the extent that they attribute those very words to Jesus. But this is really quite important, isn’t it? It’s too important to pass by.

My deepest thanks to Tom for endorsing the ideal of vigorous dialogue on an important topic and also for making my work on this subject known more widely.

Comments (3)

Tom Gilson's post is very strong support for Dr. Licona to engage Dr. McGrew. And it is very well spoken: he doesn't rant and rave, and he doesn't use a manipulative power play to force Dr. Licona into something. Good solid explanation, without theatrics.

Other than the issue of mechanics (whether Licona has the time for it, etc), there is no very good reason NOT to have such a debate. If the evidence for one position or another is strong enough, then that evidence should be presented and then accepted. That's what scholarly debate is supposed to do. Dr. Licona could have no plausible fear that the debate would descend into snarky nonsense like exchanges with those who have no respect for reason or for religion, since Lydia is in every way a champion of both.

I just tweeted support that Dr. Licona should engage Dr. McGrew on their differences over Licona's book and approach to Gospel history:

I agree with @TomGilsonAuthor thoughtful assessment here that @MichaelLicona should engage Dr. McGrew on their differences on the historicity of the Gospels, https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/disagreement-mcgrew-licona-differences-gospels/

I look forward to the exchange when/if it happens as it would further help clarify what type of documents the Gospels are - in so far we can discern this from ancient documents.

Thanks, Jason! We need to get the word out that there are questions about this. Too many people are under the impression that there is nothing controversial.

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