1galileo-galilei-165413__180 Everyone knows the story of how Galileo was persecuted by the church: after inventing the telescope, Galileo turns the lenses to the stars and proves that the earth revolves around the sun and not the sun around the earth. This greatly upset the Christian church and he found himself arrested, thrown in prison, tortured, excommunicated, and finally killed by the Catholic Inquisition. As Italo Mereu states in his History of Intolerance in Europe “to say that Galileo was tortured is not a reckless claim.”

One problem: NONE of this ever happened.

Over the next several posts I plan on engaging the cultural belief that science and religion are at perpetual conflict.  Sometime called the “warfare thesis.”

That science and religion are at each others throats is a very widely held belief and is propagated routinely upon culture.  For example, Sam Harris, chief executive of Project Reason, a non-profit that promotes science and secularism, opined that, “the conflict between religion and science is unavoidable. The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science.”

The history of the relationship between science and religion as conflict can be summed up in one word: propaganda.  Much of what is believed about Galileo, Giordano Bruno, the church and the development of science has been a series of repeated misinformation and confusion.  In order to clear away some of this confusion let’s examine the Galileo affair.

The Galileo Affair

Voltaire wrote in 1728 that “the great Galileo, at the age of fourscore, groaned away his days in the dungeons of the Inquisition, because he had demonstrated by irrefragable [indisputable] proofs the motion of the earth.” (source) Thus began the myth that Galileo was persecuted and rotting in a dark dungeon in chains.

Others have propagated this myth: George Bernard Shaw: “Galileo was a martyr, and his persecutors incorrigible ignoramuses.” (source) Italo Mereu, “to say that Galileo was tortured is not a reckless claim.” (source)  Even PBS in 2002 reproduced this image in the two-hour program Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens with a scene depicting Galileo being locked behind a door unable to leave.

The fact of the matter,  historians of science have recognized for some time that Galileo was

. . . never placed in jail

. . . not tortured

. . . never excommunicated, and

. . . definitely not executed.

This is quite different from the image that has been built up of a courageous lone scientist standing up against the massive edifice of the church.  The problem with Galileo was that he “openly mocked the pope in [Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems] through a fictitious dialogue between two people – himself and the pope. . . . Galileo named the pope Simplicio, which means ‘simpleton’ or ‘buffoon.’  Galileo’s character was articulate and elegant as he responded to the foolish and simplistic remarks of Simplicio.” (source, p. 36)  Galileo was placed under house arrest in Florence and was able to walk free in the villa’s gardens and to travel to the convent where his daughter resided.  In fact, he received a Church pension for the rest of his life.  In short, for calling his boss stupid, he was fired, placed under house arrest in Florence, Italy (a vacation spot today), and was paid until he died.  Now if I could insult my boss in order to get fired and be able to stay at home for a full salary, I  just might be tempted to do so.

Ronald Numbers, a respected historian of science, who was asked by salon.com if the “possible” execution of Galileo was false, stated plainly that “it was highly unlikely he faced execution. In fact, I don’t know of a single pioneer in science who lost his life for his scientific beliefs.” (source)  Note that not a single pioneer of science was executed for their scientific beliefs.  Not one.

It’s time to put behind us the idea that Galileo was a martyr for science.  He neither suffered torture or imprisonment.

P.S.  Galileo also didn’t invent the telescope.  That honor belongs the Dutch lens maker Hans Lippershey in 1605.

Resources on the Galileo Affair:

Quick Quotes by the Experts:

“The trial of Galileo was one of many trials. It had no special features except perhaps that Galileo was treated rather mildly, despite his lies and attempts at deception. But a small clique of intellectuals aided by scandal-hungry writers succeeded in blowing it up to enormous dimensions so that what was basically an altercation between an expert and an institution defending a wider view of things now looks almost like a battle between heaven and hell.” (Paul Feyerabend, Against Method, 4th ed. Verso. p. 127).

“The worst that happened to men of science was that Galileo suffered an honourable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his own bed.” (A.N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Cambridge University Press, 1926. p. 2).

“The myths of Galileo’s torture and imprisonment are thus genuine myths: ideas that are in fact false but once seemed true – and continue to be accepted as true by poorly educated persons and careless scholars.” (Maurice A. Finocchiaro, “Myth 8: That Galileo was Imprisoned and Tortured for Advocating Copernicanism” Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion, ed. Ronald L. Numbers. Harvard University Press, 2009. p. 78)

“For the remaining nine years of his life, Galileo was under house arrest, comfortably situated in his rented villa just outside Florence, with few restrictions on who could come and go. . . As punishment for his defense of heliocentrism, Galileo suffered neither torture nor imprisonment.” (David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers, When Science & Christianity Meet, University of Chicago Press, 2003. p. 71)

Books/Articles:

Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion, ed. by Ronald L. Numbers (Harvard University Press, 2009)

When Science & Christianity Meet, David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2008)

“Galileo: A Story of a Hero of Science” in 6 Modern Myths about Christianity & Western Civilization, by Philip J. Sampson (IVP, 2001)

“Are Science and Christianity at Odds?” in Is God Just a Human Invention? Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow (Kregel, 2010)

Seeing the light – of science.” by  Salon. Jan 2 2007.

The Galileo Legend” by Thomas Lessl. The Oxford Review. June 2000.

A Historical Analysis of the Relationship of Faith and Science and its Significance within Education.” (2014) by John Gerard Yegge Walden University.

Prof. Ronald Numbers, an historian of science and recipient of the 2008 George Sarton Medal by the History of Science Society for “a lifetime of exceptional scholarly achievement by a distinguished scholar,” and editor of the book Galileo Goes to Jail exposes the myth about Galileo (video is subtitled in Portuguese):

ScienceFaith1Anytime science and religion are brought up one can hear the proverbial announcer shout, “LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE!”

That science and religion are in conflict is commonly believed today.  Check out these quotes about the warfare between science and religion:

“The conflict between religion and science is unavoidable. The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science.”  –Sam Harris, chief executive of Project Reason, a non-profit that promotes science and secularism.

“I personally feel that the teaching of modern science is corrosive of religious belief and I’m all for that. If scientists can destroy the influence of religion on young people, then I think it may be the most important contribution that we can make.”  –Steven Weinberg, Nobel prize winning physicist of the University of Texas.

“Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.” –Victor Stenger, American particle physicist

These be fighting words!  Notice that Weinberg states that the most important contribution of scientists is not the mastery or understanding of nature, but the destruction of religion.

In this post in the Science Series, I want to address the myth that the Church has hindered the development of science.  In fact, the previous post on the Galileo affair and the flat earth are all part of the attempt to present the idea that science was hindered by the church.

A while back I found the following diagram (below) demonstrating that Christianity hindered the advancement of science.  That if it wasn’t for the church science would be much more developed than it is today.

advanceThis is a commonly held notion that anyone would run across online or in our culture at large.  This is also common amongst academics as well.  Robert Wilson in his Princeton University published book Astronomy through the Ages states that the “commitment to Holy Scripture was, and still is, the fundamental basis of Christianity, but there is no doubt that it was a discouragement to scientific endeavors and these languished for a thousand years after the military fall of Rome.” (p. 45) The original Cosmos series hosted by Carl Sagan provided a timeline of the development of science in which a thousand year period was left blank during the Middle Ages with the caption “a poignant lost opportunity for mankind.”  Henry Williams book Great Astronomers dramatically illustrates this myth by having the medieval chapter consist of two biblical epigraphs followed by several blank pages.

The history is quite different from these passive aggressive attempts to slander Christianity with the idea that the church attempted to suppress science.

In the much to be read book Galileo Goes to Jail, Michael H. Shank, professor of the history of science at University of Wisconsin-Madison, states in his chapter titled “Myth 2: That the Medieval Christian Church Suppressed the Growth of Science” that “Historians of science have presented much evidence against the myth [i.e. the church hindered science].” (p.21)

In fact, the conflict thesis was invented by John Draper in his book History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) and catapulted into popularity by Andrew D. White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896).

In fact, the opposite of this myth is true.  Here are some of the ways the church has actually supported science:

Universities – the medieval period gave birth to the university, actively supported by the church.  A third of the curriculum at medieval universities were over the natural world.  Shank states that “hundreds of thousands of students – were exposed to science in the Greco-Arabic tradition.” He goes on to observe that “If the medieval church had intended to discourage or suppress science, it certainly made a colossal mistake in tolerating – to say nothing of supporting – the university.” (p. 21-22)

Scientific discoveries in the Middle Ages:

1. use of the camera obscura to view solar eclipses

2. resolving the problem of primary and secondary rainbows

3. application of mathematical analysis to motion

4. impetus theory to explain projectile motion and acceleration of free-fall

5. Inventions: water mills, windmills, three-field system, chimneys, eyeglasses, stirrups,

Medieval Scientists:

1. Anthemius of Tralles (5th cent.) – mathematics and architecture

2. John Philoponus (6th cent.) – physics and inertia

3. The Venerable Bede (6th cent.) – tides and computus

4. Pope Sylvester II (10th cent.) – abacus, armillary sphere, and spread of Hindu-Arabic numeral system

5. Richard of Wallingford (14th cent.) – mathematician, astronomer, designed an astronomical clock, calculated the lunar, solar and planetary longitudes, predicted eclipses.

and of course the famed:

6. Roger Bacon (13th cent.) – an English philosopher and Franciscan friar emphasized the study of nature through empirical methods and observation.

Ground Support:

A. N. Whitehead of Cambridge University and later Harvard University, communicated in Science and the Modern World that “faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific  theory, is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology.”  Genesis chapter 1 states that when God created the world he called it “good.”  If it is good then it is worthy of study.  The Christian worldview provided the philosophical underpinnings necessary for science to develop.  C. S. Lewis, in Miracles, states that “men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected this because they believed in a Legislator [God].”  This theological foundation is one of the reasons science developed in Christian Western Europe.  Other worldviews say the physical world as an illusion, or at best a lesser reality.

Follow the Money“:

Nothing speaks as loudly as money.  Science can be an expensive endeavor.  Who funded this endeavor.  If you want proof positive that the church supported the growth of science, look no further than the bank account.  “The Roman Catholic Church gave more financial and social support to the study of astronomy for over six centuries, form the recovery of ancient learning during the late Middle Ages into the Enlightenment, than any other, and probably all, other institutions.” (John Helibron The Sun in the Church, p. 3)

Dollar Bill Sign - Clip Art LibraryThe church has given more money to science that any other institution.  It funded (and continues to fund) universities.  The Vatican has its own observatory.  Every time someone puts money into an offering plate at a church today, it supports science.  A portion of that money goes to the denomination of that church, they in turn give it to a university, and all the Christian universities in America have science buildings, science departments, and scientists.  Wheaton University’s Meyer Science Building cost $69 million to build and has a $11 million endowment. Baylor University’s new Science Building cost a $103 million to construct.  Who would have thought.  Every time a Christian tithes they are supporting science. Biola’s Lim Center for Science opened in 2018 costing $57 million to build and has a $8 million endowment.

In fact, the myth that the church hindered the development of science was the first myth busted in Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Harvard University Press).  David Lindberg in that opening chapter reveals that just the opposite of this myth is the case: “Augustine and other like him applied Greco-Roman natural science with a vengeance to biblical interpretation.  The sciences are not be loved, but to be used.  This attitude  toward scientific knowledge was to flourish throughout the Middle Ages and well into the modern period.  Were it not for this outlook, medieval Europeans would surely have had less scientific knowledge, not more.”

The idea that the church hindered science is far from the truth:  the church has historically, philosophically, theologically, and financially supported science.  It always has and it looks like it always will.

Resources:

Quick Quotes from the Experts:

“Between 1150 and 1500, more literate Europeans had had access to scientific materials than any of their predecessors in earlier cultures, thanks largely to the emergence, rapid growth, and naturalistic arts curricula of the medieval universities.  If the medieval church had intended to suppress the inquiry into nature, it must have been completely powerless, for it utterly failed to reach its goal.” (Michael H. Shank, “Myth 2: The Medieval Church’s Suppression of Science,” in Galileo Goes to Jail, p. 27)

“Theological assumptions unique to Christianity explain why science was born only in Christian Europe. Contrary to the received wisdom, religion and science not only were compatible; they were inseparable.” (Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God, p. 3)

“It must be emphatically stated that within this educational system the medieval master had a great deal of freedom. The stereotype of the Middle Ages pictures the professor as spineless and subservient, a slavish follower of Aristotle and the church fathers. . . . there was almost no doctrine, philosophical or theological, that was not submitted to minute scrutiny and criticism by scholars in the medieval university.  Certainly the master who specialized in the natural sciences would not have considered himself restricted or oppressed by either ancient or religious authority.” (David C. Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science p. 224, nook edition)

“The fundamental paradigm of science; its invariable stillbirths in all ancient cultures and its only viable birth in a Europe which Christian faith in the Creator had helped to form.” (Stanley L. Jaki, The Road of Science and the Ways to God, p. 243)

Books, Articles, and Videos:

Galileo Goes to Jail: and Other Myths About Science and Religion, ed. Ronald L. Numbers (Harvard UP, 2009)

For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery, by Rodney Stark (Princeton University Press, 2003)

The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, by James Hannam (Regenery, 2011)

The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450, by David C. Lindberg (Univ of Chicago Press, 2008)

Theology and the Scientific Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century by Amos Funkenstein (Princeton University Press, 1989)

Slaying the Dragons: Destroying the Myths in the History of Science and Faith by Allan Chapman (Lion Hudson Books, 2013)

“Science and the Church in the Middle Ages” by James Hannam, Medieval Science and Philosophy (website for the book The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution)

The Mythical Conflict Between Science and Religion” James Hannam, Medieval Science and Philosophy (website for the book The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution)

Video of John Lennox, William Lane Craig, JP Moreland, and Hugh Hewitt discussing science and religion:

Video Titled “Did the Church Suppress Science in the Middle Ages?” with Dr. Allan Chapman of Oxford University and Dr. James Hannam of British Society for the History of Science:

Covid-19 | New Scientist

The country has come to a screeching halt as we fight the spread of Covid-19 or the Coronavirus with social distancing. One question that obviously comes to mind is why did God allow the spread of the dangerous virus or any virus for that matter such as the flu. Below are some responses to Covid-19 by various apologists and academics that you might find useful:

McDowell and Jones: Why Does God Allow the Coronavirus?

Stand to Reason: A Message from Greg on the COVID-19 Upheaval

I know the recent public health crisis has caused concerns and complications for everyone. Kids are out of school, workers are stranded at home, public hangouts are vacated, and people are scared. These are unusual times. I understand. Read the rest here.

RZIM: Coronavirus: A Biblical, Historical Perspective

As COVID-19 suspends public life around the world, Austrian Christian Hofreiter reminds us of “the many times in history where the light of Christian charity has shone with dazzling brightness amidst dark times of infectious disease and societal upheaval. Read the rest here.

Free Thinking Ministries: Why Would God Allow COVID-19?

uppose you awoke tomorrow and the coronavirus pandemic had come to an end and all suffering had ceased. Not only are you no longer experiencing any suffering of any kind, but neither is anyone else. All suffering resulting from moral or natural evil — including COVID-19 – was nothing but a memory.

Is there any reason to think that it would stay that way? To answer this question, take a short quiz. To take the quiz and read the rest here.

CrossExamined.org: Dr. Dan Treats a Coronavirus Patient

Frank Turek and Dr. Dan on a podcast about the Coronavirus. Listen to it here.

The claim that Jesus rose from the dead is a central truth in Christianity. Much has been published and said about the evidence for this miracle. But what about today? When one reads the Bible, it is chalked full of miracles. This naturally causes one to aks “Why don’t we see miracles today?” While I am highly skeptical of some claims of miracles (such as the miracle healers at healing revivals, which have been demonstrably debunked as charlatans) there actually is solid evidence for miracles happening today. Today’s post explores the question: do miracles happen today?

Sean McDowell has recently spoken to this questions on this video:

The peer-reviewed medical journal article (pictured below) discussed in McDowell’s video is titled the “Case Report of Gastroparesis Healing: 16 years of a Chronic Syndrome Resolved After Proximal Intercessory Prayer.” The abstract for the article states:

For 16 years he was completely dependent on j-tube feeding. In November 2011, he experienced proximal-intercessory-prayer (PIP) at a church and felt an electric shock starting from his shoulder and going through his stomach. After the prayer experience, he was unexpectedly able to tolerate oral feedings. The g- and j-tube were removed four months later and he did not require any further special treatments for his condition as all symptoms had resolved. Over seven years later, he has been free from symptoms.

Craig Keener’s two-volume work titled Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Account (also mentioned in McDowell’s video) describes that “hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. . . . many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.”

A video of Keener presenting on the topic of miracles in general can be found in the video below. He talks about modern miracles beginning at minute 9:15:

Image result for the case for miracles

A good (and more accessible book in size) about miracles has been written recently by Lee Strobel: The Case for Miracles: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for the Supernatural. Strobel begins the book interviewing the skeptic Michael Shermer and then proceeds to interview Craig Keener as well as experimental particle physicists Dr. Michael G. Strauss and Detective J. Warner Wallace.

It seems evident that miracles can occur and do occur today. One more case to point out: Duane Miller

While Pastoring a church in 1990, Duane Miller lost his voice to an ordinary flu virus.  Over the next 3 years he saw some 63 specialists plus their teams, over 300 professionals, who arrived at the conclusion that he would never speak normally again, and, the raspy whisper he had would not last past another 18 months.

GOD had another plan…

Given the evidence of miracles, one might still ask, “why don’t we see miracles happen as frequently as we read them in the Bible?” This question needs to be answered in light of the context of miracles in the Bible.

There are approximately 250 miracles recorded in the Bible. When we read them, it seems that every time someone turns around there is another miracle being recorded. But if the Bible covers about a 10,000 year time period, that is about a miracle every 40 years. On top of that miracles tended to be grouped around three periods of time: Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and in the time of Christ and the apostles. None of those periods lasted longer than a hundred years. There is a reason they tended to be grouped in those time frames:

Miracles Confirm the Message

Those three time periods that miracles are grouped around involve extraordinary messengers of God. Each of those periods was an outpouring of God’s revelation such as the law to Moses for the children of Israel and Jesus as the Son of God. The healing of the paralyzed man in Mark 2:1-12 demonstrates this principle of the miracle confirming the message. Most remember that Jesus healed the paralyzed man when he was lowered to Jesus through the roof of the home, when in actuality Jesus said to him, “son, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus went back to teaching and it wasn’t until the teachers of the law said, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” It was then that Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.

Notice that the reason Jesus performed the miracle was to confirm that he had the authority to forgive sins which only God could do. Miracles confirm the message. A think that is true today as well.

Image result for dominion tom holland

Tom Holland, agnostic and popular award-winning historian, has changed his mind about Christianity. In his own words:

As an agnostic in terms of his religious commitments, Holland nevertheless describes the way that the birth of Christianity has shaped much of what we value in Western society in terms of human rights, culture and rule of law.

Recently releasing the book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, Holland reveals in depth how Christianity

Writing an article for the New Statesman titled “Why I Was Wrong About Christianity” Holland said that he had come to realize he was wrong to think that Western values such as human rights, ethics, rule of law, etc. where the result of Greek and Roman culture but where actually birthed from Christianity:

It took me a long time to realise my morals are not Greek or Roman, but thoroughly, and proudly, Christian.

Tom Holland, an award-winning historian, biographer and broadcaster, has authored numerous books on antiquity such as Rubicon and Dynasty (Roman history), and Persian Fire (Greek history). He has also written about the history of Christianity in Millennium and Islamic history with In the Shadow of the Sword.

Having translated Herodotus and writing a biography of Æthelstan, the first King of England, Holland has received the Classical Association prize for the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome.

He recently appeared on the Unbelievable radio show and podcast in a lively debate with atheist A. C. Grayling discussing the question: Did Christianity give us our human values? Holland arguing in the affirmative and Grayling in the negative:

Tom Holland is affirming what I have previously written about the positive impact that Christianity has had on science,and democracy. Tim O’Neill has written an extensive review of Holland’s book on his website History for Atheists. O’Neill, himself an atheist, states:

Tom Holland is the best kind of popular history writer. He is a good researcher who knows what can be stated with emphasis and what needs to be judiciously hedged. He is a fine story-teller, who can weave bare facts into a smooth and engaging narrative. He is provocative and startling enough to keep the reader on their toes and turning pages. And he is quietly and wryly funny. He displays all of these qualities in this fine new book, but it is his role as wily provocateur that will cause it to ruffle feathers in certain quarters.

O’Neill goes on to note:

Tom Holland is an unbeliever and also someone who was raised a Christian. And he too is someone who abandoned that belief early in life: he blames a fascination with dinosaurs – a gateway drug for many a budding young historian and religious sceptic. But in his latest book he turns his attention to Christianity’s impact on western thinking and to what will be, to many, an uncomfortable thesis. He argues that most of the things that we consider to be intrinsic and instinctive human values are actually nothing of the sort; they are primarily and fundamentally the product of Christianity and would not exist without the last 2000 years of Christian dominance on our culture.

This is not the first book to delve into the influence that Christianity has had on culture, but given that the author is agnostic and was influenced by the evidence to change his mind, it is one of the more interesting ones.

Other books on Topic:

How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt

The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi

What Has Christianity Ever Done for Us? How it Shaped the Modern World by Jonathan Hill

The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods

As Sean McDowell points out below, Prove the Bible is a site with short videos that offer evidence for the truth of Christianity. Prove the Bible is a storehouse of apologetic videos categorized by topic such as God, Bible, Jesus, and the Gospel along with a miscellaneous grouping that includes worldviews, ethics, creation, hard topics, etc.

Prove the Bible is as substantive as it is accessible. Populated almost entirely with videos, it provides access to apologetics for this generation. Clint Loveness, who runs the site, is doing too apologetics in the form of media what Lee Strobel did for apologetics in books.  By his consistent and determined drive to capture in video form the best of Christianity’s apologists, Clint has made a significant impact in the accessibility of the defense of the faith in the digital age. By his use of the power of video, apologetics is able to be delivered in a fashion that reaches those that is substantive as well as obtainable to the digital generation. Definitely give it a visit.

Students say the Bible Is more dangerous than the Communist Manifesto at George Washington University:

Even though it has been shown that religion is good for you, Christianity has supported the well-being than any other movement on the planet, and that Christianity has contributed to moralityfreedomdemocracyscience, and that the West actually owes its values of equality and human dignity to the religion.

According to John F. Kennedy, communist allow “no room for God.” He goes on to state: “The claim of the state must be total, and allow no other loyalty, and no other philosophy of life, can be tolerated.” They “make the worship of the State the ultimate objective of life.” President Kennedy spoke of the “struggle for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies: freedom under God versus ruthless, godless tyranny.”

“I see in communism the focus of the concentrated evil of our time.” – Whittaker Chambers

Cover: The Black Book of Communism in HARDCOVER

Harvard University Press’s Black Book of Communism shows that, “As the death toll mounts—as many as 25 million in the former Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia, and on and on—the authors systematically show how and why, wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established, it quickly led to crime, terror, and repression. An extraordinary accounting, this book amply documents the unparalleled position and significance of Communism in the hierarchy of violence that is the history of the twentieth century.”

In the video, they talked about the Crusades, but there is a flurry of myths and misunderstandings surrounding the Crusades. The Crusades were not about wars of unprovoked Christian aggression against a peaceful [Islamic] world or imperialist conquests lead by the Church interested in gaining riches and land. The Crusades were defensive wars, to stop [Islamic] military advancement. Christianity was able to survive this invasion and give us the world we have today in the west. A world in which we enjoy democracy and civil rights.

Also, one might point to the inquisition as an example of how the Bible is more dangerous. First, the inquisition is not the Bible. Second, the inquisition is also surrounded by a flurry of myths and misunderstandings. The Spanish Inquisition, the longest lasting and most fully implemented inquisition, only 125,000 people were put on trial by the Spanish Inquisition—and only about 1 percent of them were executed.

Resources:

“Why I Was Wrong About Christianity” by Tom Holland | The NewStatesman, Sept 14, 2016

Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism by Paul Kengor

“How Did Christianity Prevail in Ancient Rome and What Can We Learn From It?” by Sean McDowell | SeanMcDowell.org, Oct 10, 2016

“Jesus Built Western Civilization” by Amy Hall | Stand to Reason (str.org), Oct 5, 2016

“How Christianity Created the Free Society” by Samuel Gregg | The Public Discourse, Sept 29, 2016

“Why I Changed My Mind About Christian History” podcast | Unbelievable, Oct 8, 2016

The Real Inquisition” by Thomas F. Madden | National Review. June 18, 2004 

Ruthless Oppressors? Unraveling the Myth About the Spanish Inquisition” by Drek Ortiz| The Osprey: The Journal of Ideas and Inquiry. April 2005.

The Spanish Inquisition: Debunking the Legends” by Douglas Beaumont | Strange Notions

“The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy” Robert D. Woodberry, American Political Science Review May 2012 106: pp 244-274. This article received awards for the best article in Comparative Politics, Comparative Democratization, Political Economy (runner up) from the American Political Science Association and best article in the Sociology of Religion from the American Sociological Association.

“Religion and the Roots of Liberal Democracy” Robert D. Woodberry, The Center for Independent Studies 18 June 2015

“The World Missionaries Made”Christianity Today January 2014. This article won first place in the Evangelical Press Association’s General Article: Long category.

“The True Story of Christian Missionaries” by Amy Hall, Stand to Reason Jan 15, 2014

“Into Exile”World Magazine | Aug 25, 2012

Robert Woodberry’s presentation at Berkley Center at Georgetown University in Dec. of 2012.  (5 minutes)

______________________________________________________

Posts from this site on the contribution of Christianity

The Triumph of Christianity

Missionary Myths and the Roots of Democracy

Religion is Good for You

Is Christianity Good?


“LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

A controversy has been brewing over the past several years over interpreting the Gospels and how to defend their basic historic reliability. This match of the century is sure to interest those concerned with biblical accuracy, scriptural interpretation, and New Testament studies.

In this corner is:

And in this corner is:

  • Lydia McGrew
  • Ph.D. in English Literature at Vanderbilt University
  • Published analytic philosopher
  • Weighing in with “undesigned coincidences” and “harmonization”
  • Author of The Mirror and the Mask (DeWard, 2019)

Background of Match:

Michael R. Licona, after publishing his voluminous dissertation on the topic of the resurrection with The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, began to explore the possibility of explaining differences in the Gospel accounts by turning to Plutarch, the first century Greek historian who wrote on the lives of Greek and Roman individuals. The issue here concerns how the Gospels report on the same events in different ways.

There is no doubt that the reporting of the same event between two Gospels are different. For example, it is well known that the narrative of the empty tomb of Jesus being discovered by the women have divergent accounts. In Matthew 28:5-7 the narrative only mentions one angel at the empty tomb, while the same narrative event in John 20:10-13 mentions two angels being at the empty tomb. Another example is the servant of the Roman centurion that Jesus healed in Capernaum (which is recorded in both Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10). Matthew makes it seem that the centurion met Jesus face to face, while Luke explains that the centurion used the Jewish elders to speak to Jesus as emissaries. Traditionally, biblical scholars have attempted different harmonizations between the accounts.

Round One: Compositional Devices

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Entering the arena is Licona with his Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography (2016) in which he presents compositional devices (or literary devices) as commonly employed by ancient authors (such as Plutarch). This powerhouse of a punch was published by Oxford University Press, no less (hey, I haven’t published with OUP, but I have published with wordpress.com, yeah, that’s right, you envious). With endorsements from J. I. Packer, Scot McKnight, and Michael Kochenash, it looked like Licona was going to win the match with no one showing up to challenge him (except for Bart Ehrman, who is always good for a sparring match).

Licona applies this approach to various narratives that are in two or more of the Gospels, arguing that the major differences found there are likely a result from the same compositional devices employed by Plutarch. His aim is to “investigate compositional devices that are often inferred by classical scholars in order to see if the existence of these devices may be more firmly established and provide insights into many of the differences in the Gospels.” (3)

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The compositional devices apparently found by Licona in the works of Plutarch include: Transferal, Displacement, Conflation, Compression, Spotlighting, Simplification, Expansion of Narrative Details, and Paraphrasing.

Some of these devices are defined by Liconas –Compression: When an author knowingly portrays events over a shorter period of time than they had actually occurred. Transferral: When an author knowingly attributes words or actions to a person that he knew belonged to another. Displacement: When an author knowingly removes an event from its original context and places it in another.

So, returning to the example of the centurion in the narrative of Matthew and Luke, instead of harmonizing the accounts, Licona employs the compositional device called transference in which “Matthew simplified the story by transferring what one character said to the lips of another.”

In short, Licona says that some of the differences in the gospels (such as the baptism of Jesus by John the baptist, the man with the withered hand, the two blind men, the resurrection accounts, etc.) are explained by these literary devices.

Licona concludes that certain apparent points of difference in the gospels reflect common first-century narrative devices by which some events, sayings, and so on may be reported differently at different times for different purposes. Because these were common devices, Licona suggests that first century readers would not see that the gospels as needing reconciling, because ancient biographies employed this standard practice of compositional devices.

This approach to the Gospels “will require a paradigm shift,” according to Licona. “Especially for those outside academia who may tend to read the Gospels anachronistically as though ancient biographers and historians wrote with the same objectives and conventions as their modern cousins.” Traditional, straightforward readings of the text will have to be replaced with this new approach. “Fortunately, historical nearsightedness can be corrected with the proper glasses. We craft the proper lenses by reading a significant amount of literature from the period, which improves our understanding of the genre to which the Gospels belong. Like anyone who begins to wear glasses, some initial discomfort and adjusting will occur.” (201)

Round Two: The Challenger

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But, a challenger has arisen. Entering into the arena is Lydia McGrew. McGrew, the wife of esteemed husband Timothy McGrew, has turned her attention to the usage of compositional or literary devices by Licona, after publishing Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts (an aside: interestingly, the titles of Lydia’s books sound more like a British mystery novels than rigorous analysis of New Testament texts) which is a revival of an argument for the historical reliability of the New Testament that has been largely neglected for more than a hundred years. Undesigned coincidences are casual, yet puzzle-like “fits” between two or more texts, which the best explanation is that the authors knew the truth about the events they describe.

After writing her highly praised book on undesigned coincidences, she has donned the gloves once again and is challenging the current champion of literary devices. Lydia claims that Licona has has failed “to establish the existence and acceptance, even in non-biblical literature [i.e., Plutarch], of the fictionalizing devices he defines, and he fails a fortiori to establish that the authors of the Gospels ever employed such devices.” The term fictionalizing devices is McGrew’s term not Liconas. But that is McGrew’s point. She is pointing out that most of these compositional devices Licona is utilizing deliberately alters the facts, which Licona readily admits. For example, Licona states in a online published debate with Bart Ehrman over the reliability of the New Testament that “if Plutarch can alter the year in which Caesar wept in order to emphasize Caesar’s ambitious character, John could alter the day and time of Jesus’s crucifixion to symbolize the sacrificial quality of Jesus’s death and be well within the bounds of the literary conventions under which both operated.”

She began by jabbing at Licona’s thesis on her blog with numerous and extensive critiques. Her first blow was “A Gospel Fictionalization Theory Is No Help to the Gospel” landed just before the release of Licona’s Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?

It was shortly there after that Lydia began a volley of punches, one after the other, seeming to stun Licona with no response. From the beginning of 2017 to the end 2018, Lydia published 34 posts on the issue of literary devices (the total number of posts now exceeds 45). Some of the issues she wrote included:

Some of the issues of concern brought up in her posts include:

  • Did Jesus actually say, “I thirst,” or was that made up by John?
  • Did Jesus actually say, “It is finished,” or was that made up by John as a “redaction of the tradition”?
  • Did Jesus breathe on his disciples and say, “Receive the Holy Ghost,” or was that incident invented by John?
  • Did Mark deliberately suppress the conversion of the thief on the cross in order to make Jesus appear to have been rejected by all?
  • Did John deliberately change the day of the crucifixion to make a theological point?
  • Does Luke “put” all of the events of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday when he knew that all didn’t occur on that single day?

Tom Gilson, editor at The Stream (mentioned below for more detail), who is a personal friend of Licona, asks, “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.’ ” Gilson goes on to point out, “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.”

Some of the concerns caused by Licona’s literary devices deal with the historical accuracy of the Gospels. For example, Licona (as well as Craig Evans) doubts that Jesus uttered the “I am” statements in the Gospel of John; Luke “compressed” the location of Jesus appearance to Jerusalem when he knew they were in Galilee; and other alterations of the facts.

Licona believes this was the norm for ancient biography and that “it would be plausible that we would see the same amount of flexibility in the Gospels as we observe in other ancient biographies. So, I wanted to learn what those flexibilities were. By carefully reading ancient biographies written around the same time as the Gospels and comparing how they tell the same stories differently, I began to recognize that some of the differences resulted from compositional devices. Then when I went to the Gospels, I could see that the authors were probably employing the same compositional devices as other ancient biographers; specifically Plutarch. I began to realize that the differences across the Gospels are not so much contradictions but the result of compositional devices that were the standard practice in historical writing of that day.”

Nevertheless, Lydia has raised some major concerns with this approach to the Gospels. And the concerns are not just from conservatives or evangelicals, but also from skeptics such as Bart Ehrman. In a written exchange on the reliability of the New Testament, Ehrman notes that if literary devices are used in the Gospels to change details, that doesn’t lend itself to confidence in the historical accuracy of the accounts, it actually leds one to lose confidence in the accounts:

So, does Matthew accurately describe what actually happened in Jesus’s life? Mike [Licona] has already told us that he thinks in some cases the answer is no. Matthew has employed literary license in order to change details in his accounts so they didn’t happen as he described, and he tells some stories that are “non-historical” — that is, they didn’t happen at all. But Mike then wants to say that Matthew is, despite all that, historically reliable. I don’t think most people would think that this is what we today mean by “historically reliable.” And I think a lot of people — including many people reading this back and forth — would very much like to know how often Mike thinks this sort of thing happens in Matthew. Does Matthew frequently change his stories and make up other ones that he doesn’t think happened? How would we know? If an author is willing to change the details of one story, why not other stories? Why not lots of stories? Why not most of his stories? And how would we know? Moreover, if he is willing to make up a story and present it as something that happened when he knew full well that it didn’t happen (as Mike concedes Matthew did), then how often did he do that? A few other times? Lots of other times? If he did it lots, how is he accurate?

Returning the match between Lydia and Licona, we find Licona dancing around the ring as Lydia takes swing after swing after swing in her blog posts. Licona finally answers with a uppercut on his website Risen Jesus: “Are We Reading An Adapted Form of Jesus’ Teachings in John’s Gospel?” Blocking the barrage of punches from Lydia, Licona responds by stating:

One of my recent online critics, Lydia McGrew (Ph.D. in English Literature, Vanderbilt University), asserted that Professor Evans’s view of the “I am” statements in John is dangerous and that, in my explanation of why most scholars have arrived at a similar conclusion, I had thrown “all of the ‘I am’ statements under the bus.” For by saying John was paraphrasing Jesus with the “I am” statements, it was just another phrase for “making stuff up.” She then adds, “Licona is expressly arguing that Jesus would not and hence did not publicly, clearly, and overtly claim to be God in the real world. But in John he does do so. No use of the term ‘paraphrase’ nor the phrase ‘ipsissima vox’ (which I believe Evans originated) can get around this.” The error with Lydia’s statement is that I did not say this. Here is what I wrote: “Those are just some of the reasons why scholars see John adapting Jesus’ teachings.”

He goes on to counter punch by replying:

Throughout the book [Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?], I provide various options of what I think could be going on that resulted in one Gospel reporting an event differently than another. On most occasions, I state which option I think best explains the difference and why, while on others I reserve making a choice and merely note the difference. Lydia then writes, “Saddened as I am by what Dr. Licona is apparently endorsing, I’m afraid that I think this is a crucial enough matter that it needs to be known. Jesus’ claims to deity are, to put it mildly, important, and so people should know when scholars think he didn’t make them. I pray that the Lord will use any such publicizing and/or criticisms that come as a result to motivate Dr. Licona to reconsider.” To this concern I want to be clear: I have not denied that Jesus made claims of deity. I have argued in public debate that he did (http://bit.ly/2ydv1dA). And last week I submitted a chapter arguing the same in even more depth to be included in a book published by T&T Clark. So, it is not a matter of whether Evans, I, or another scholar think Jesus made claims of deity. I think that He did. It’s a matter of whether Jesus made those claims implicitly and John recast them in an explicit manner. In John, are we reading Jesus’ words or the message behind them? That’s the question. Asserting that I or Evans or another are denying that Jesus made claims of deity is simplifying the matter to a point that it borders on deceit.

After throwing this punch, and McGrew responding with a quick jab, Licona returned to his corner of the ring and something surprising occured (or should I say something didn’t occur):

-Licona never returned to the match.-

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The Match That Never Took Place

Here is where it gets interesting (if you haven’t found compositional devices, harmonization, and the reliability of the Gospels interesting enough). As the match was getting ready to enter the third round, Licona refused to continue.

Lydia posted about this on her website “Licona Declines Exchange in Philosophia Christi.” I will let her words fill in the details:

About a month ago, after J.P. Moreland had endorsed my work concerning alleged literary devices in the gospels, I made the suggestion to several people that Mike Licona and I might have a scholarly exchange in the pages of Philosophia Christi about his work. Phil. Christi is an excellent journal and has hosted symposia of this kind before. Over a decade ago, Tim McGrew and I had an exchange on the historical argument for the resurrection with Alvin Plantinga in the pages of Philosophia Christi. Phil. Christi was open to the idea. If Dr. Licona had been agreeable, the discussion would have come to pass. A third party made contact with him to suggest it. I have just recently been told that he has declined, without citing a reason.

At this point of the match, a referee enters the ring to officiate between Licona and Lydia. Enter: Tom Gilson.

Tom Gilson (mentioned above), is an author and speaker and senior editor and ministry coordinator at The Stream. He blogs at Thinking Christian. Gilson begins to narrate the issue between Licona and Lydia on his blog site with a series of posts about the disagreement. He begins with “On the Disagreement Between Lydia McGrew and Michael Licona Regarding Differences in the Gospels.” His candor and openness is evident in the first lines of his blog:

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Two friends of mine are in deep disagreement. Because it involves friends, it’s become one of the more painful things I’ve ever had to watch unfold. I’ve spoken at length with both of them about it. I’m in no position to judge their disagreement on the merits of their positions, and I won’t begin to try to comment on that part of it here. But I’ve been named publicly on Facebook as having been involved behind the scenes, so I think I need to say something more about it in public.

Gilson explains the situation by stating that Lydia is claiming that Licona is misreading Plutarch, and he is inaccurate in drawing the conclusions he’s drawn from Plutarch; and that differences in the gospels can easily explained through harmonization. “In essence he’s [Licona] using wrong means to solve problems that don’t need solving.”

Gilson explains that both Licona and Lydia had read earlier drafts of his post, except for the closing three points. The three points are a call by Gilson for Licona to respond to Lydia’s critiques: “I’m convinced it would behoove him to respond to Lydia’s critique, in the right public venue, for three reasons.”

The three points Gilson concludes with are:

  • Lydia’s position is much closer than Liconas to the traditional and natural reading of Scripture.
  • If Licona’s position is right, he has a duty to explain it in such a way that the rest of conservative Christianity can get on board with it, and begin teaching the Bible correctly.
  • The usual way hermeneutical disagreements work their way toward agreement — agreement the Church can own as its own — is through vigorous debate; and not just debate carried on between individuals but across a broader community of scholars. That debate doesn’t seem likely to happen unless Licona takes the next step.

Eight days after this post by Gilson, Licona returns to the ring with a response on Gilson’s blog page. His response was that he would not respond: “Allow me to explain why I have declined to engage her. My schedule is filled to the brim.” He goes on to explain:

Engaging with Lydia would require a significant amount of time. . . . I’d probably be looking at a solid week of work. Then, if Lydia’s past actions are indicative of what would happen next, she would write very long replies to my responses. And those now desiring me to reply would also want for me to reply to her reply. To do that would require another week’s work. . . . I’m virtually certain things would not end there, since Lydia would feel compelled to reply to my second reply. And the process goes on, requiring even more hours. (Even a back and forth for Philosophia Christi would require a chunk of time.)

Interestingly, Licona offers a pinch hitter (sorry for mixing my metaphors, but there wasn’t as good a term from boxing):

Therefore, I will leave to others the task of engaging with her. And there is one who is both qualified and willing to do just that. My friend Kurt Jaros has already engaged with Lydia in the CAA Facebook group.

As if on a tag team for wrestling, Licona taps in Kurt Jaros to enter the ring. Jaros runs a website and podcast called Veracity Hill and has gone on to host Licona’s podcast for Risen Jesus. (the entry music for this blog is the best entry music of any blog I have ever heard). Over at Veracity Hill Jaros begins to respond to some of Lydia’s critiques.

Lydia’s response to Licona is linked in Gilson’s post of April 21. She makes three points: 1) Dr. Licona appears to have not even read her critique of his work, 2) Dr. Licona’s repeated references to “what would happen”–to endless debates and so forth–are not addressed to the exchange in Phil. Christi, which would be limited in scope, and 3) “The reference to Mike’s personal friend Kurt Jaros as offering to debate me, and my alleged decline of that suggestion, is quite pointless.”

On of the more awkward issues to arise in this match was mentioned by Licona in his response to Lydia in Gilson’s post: Lydia’s tone. Licona says, “I do not feel a necessity to spend the sort of time and emotional capital required to engage Lydia, especially when her critiques are seasoned with a tone that I consider less than charitable, to put it mildly.” (emphasis added) Gilson comments that “I’m aware there are differences of opinion on whether Lydia’s approach, venue, and tone have been appropriately scholarly.” Jaros, who Licona tapped in (again mixing sport metaphors), began to blog on Lydia’s “tone.”

It seemed that the match was over before it even began. But, Lydia was not out for the count yet. Lydia went on to publish in Themelios, an International Journal for Students of Theological and Religious Studies a critique titled “Finessing Independent Attestation: A Study in Interdisciplinary Biblical Criticism” which she argues that “multiple attestation is crucial in biblical studies, particularly in historical Jesus studies. While doubts are often conceded about the historicity of a singly-attested incident, when there is reason to believe that an event has been attested in multiple independent sources it is often accepted despite a hesitation to affirm the strong historical reliability of the individual documents.” In this critique she interacted extensively with Licona’s work as well as other New Testament evangelical scholars like Craig Keener, Daniel Wallace, and William Lane Craig.

But that article was just a wind up for her real power punch:

Lydia’s Power Punch:

At the end of 2019, Lydia published The Mirror and the Mask: Liberating the Gospels from Literary Devices. Weighing in at 560 pages the book description states:

In recent years a number of evangelical scholars have claimed that the Gospel authors felt free to present events in one way even though they knew that the reality was different. Analytic philosopher Lydia McGrew brings her training in the evaluation of evidence to bear, investigates these theories about the evangelists’ literary standards in detail, and finds them wanting. At the same time she provides a nuanced, positive view of the Gospels that she dubs the reportage model. Clearing away misconceptions of this model, McGrew amasses objective evidence that the evangelists are honest, careful reporters who tell it like it is. Meticulous, well-informed, and accessible, The Mirror or the Mask is an important addition to the libraries of laymen, pastors, apologists, and scholars who want to know whether the Gospels are reliable.

With endorsements from scholars such as Peter J. Williams, J. P. Moreland, Craig L. Blomberg, and John Warwick Montgomery, The Mirror and the Mask is Lydia’s detailed and officially published critique of Licona’s literary devices. Tom Gilson posted the article: From Friend to Friend: My View on Lydia McGrew’s The Mirror or the Mask, and Why Mike Licona Won’t Want to Ignore It saying “Mike and his colleagues need to engage with Lydia in this. He’s put a set of questions on the table. Lydia has answered, and persuasively. Who’s right? The Church needs them to work toward an answer, one that all conservative, believing Christians can be confident of. It’s crucial to everything we know, or think we know, about the Gospels.”

In a follow up post Gilson asks a serious question: Does Mike Licona’s position require plutarch as the key to the gospels? He expands on the point of his question:

Mike’s position seems to require Christians to know and understand classical Greek and Roman models of authorship. It is the key to understanding the Gospels. Without that knowledge, we are absolutely certain to misunderstand what the Gospels are saying. Mike holds as firmly as ever to the essential facts of Jesus’ life and teaching, but he stands there by running the Gospel content through a Plutarchian lens. Certain facts in the Gospels are not what they seem to be. Jesus never said, “I thirst,” and we know he didn’t because we’ve studied the account with this classical literature filter in place.

But it isn’t just passages like “I thirst” that have this filter placed over them. It’s the entirety of the Gospels, all four of them. The filter has especially powerful effects on how we interpret John, where changes were made in the reportage to emphasize Jesus’ deity. But the reason we know the filter is more prominent there, and has less of an effect in the Synoptics, is because we understand the filter. It isn’t just because John differs in significant ways from the Synoptics; those differences could be explained in other ways. (That’s the subject of Lydia’s next book.)

And if you read the quote above carefully, you heard Gilson correctly, Lydia is coming out of the corner with a one-two combo. She is already writing a second book on the historical reliability of John’s gospel, tentatively titled: The Eye of the Beholder.

While my post is not an exhaustive blow by blow of this match (lots have been mentioned about Lydia’s tone, Licona’s refusal to swing back, and a swing and miss about Lydia’s credentials (here, here, here, and here). These punches aside, what really needs to be examined is the case that Licona and Lydia give for and against literary devices in the New Testament, and the consequences of historical reliability for the Gospels in particular and the New Testament in general. As Gilson ended one of his posts about this match, I also find that this is “an urgent question. I’d be interested to hear what Mike would say in response” [emphasis in original].

Blow by Blow (Resources):

Left Hook (Books):

By Licona:

By McGrew:

Right Hook (Articles):

Uppercut (Videos):

  • “Six Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars (and how to avoid them): Dr. Lydia McGrew” at Apologetics Academy. – McGrew talks about six bad habits frequently committed by New Testament scholars, and gives advice on how to avoid them on Jonathan McLatchie’s Apologetics Academy webinar.
  • “Undesigned Coincidences – Dr. Lydia McGrew” – McGrew presents on undesigned coincidences to the student group called Ratio Christi on Western Michigan University.
  • “Are there Contradictions in the Gospels?” – Dr. Licona presents on the differences in the Gospels at Kennesaw State University on October 11, 2017 for Ratio Christi.
  • “Is the Bible Inerrant?” – Dr. Michael Licona debates Dr. Richard Howe on inerrancy in which many of the issues concerning compositional devices arise in the debate and discussion.
  • “Gospel Differences & Compositional Textbooks” – Licona claims that training in rhetoric was part of the educational process for aspiring authors in antiquity. That process included work using compositional textbooks, also referred to as rhetorical handbooks. Exercises in these trained the student to alter texts in the interest of paraphrasing. Not surprisingly, when reading ancient texts, including the Gospels, we observe their authors altering their source texts as trained. This practice resulted in differences in the way a story was reported. The differences are minor but of interest.

I had the privilege of participating in an InterFaith Dialogue at the University of Texas at Dallas on Thursday night November 14. The local university chapter of Reasonable Faith UTD and the Muslim Student Association of UTD organized the event and had a great turnout. Thanks to both organizations and my interlocutor Fahad Tasleem for a lively, civil, and intellectually stimulating evening.

Fahad Tasleem is the the head of U.S. Outreach for iERA. We hit it off like old friends the moment we meet. It was an honor and privilege to participate in the event, dialogue on the nature of salvation from the Islamic and Christian traditions, and share the gospel in my presentation. It was recorded and below is a video of the event. Hope you enjoy.

We return to King Hezekiah in this series having already discussed the bulla. Today’s archaeological find, on our last day of 10 Days of Archaeology, is Hezekiah’s Tunnel. One of the great architectural features of Jerusalem, Hezekiah’s Tunnel which connects the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam.

Built over 2,700 years ago, Hezekiah’s Tunnel is the only fresh water source for the city. Apparently, two groups of masons worked digging the tunnel towards each other from both the tunnels water source at Gihon Springs and the tunnels destination at the Pool of Siloam. An inscription was discovered documenting the completion as the two groups of masons meet each other in the tunnel as the dug.

The Siloam Inscription

The Siloam Inscription is a six line Hebrew monument that describes the digging of Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  It was found carved into the wall of the tunnel. It was discovered in 1880 and housed as the “Archaeological Museum” in Istanbul, Turkey.

The passage

the tunnel … and this is the story of the tunnel while …the axes were against each other and while three cubits were left to (cut?) … the voice of a man …called to his counterpart, (for) there was ZADA in the rock, on the right … and on the day of the tunnel (being finished) the stonecutters struck each man towards his counterpart, ax against ax and flowed water from the source to the pool for 1,200 cubits. and (100?)cubits was the height over the head of the stonecutters …

Here is a couple of videos about the tunnel:

Scriptural passages referencing the tunnel include:

“As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?” (2 Kings 20:20)

“When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to wage war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. They gathered a large group of people who blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?’ they said.” (2 Chronicles 32:2-4)

“It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook.” (2 Chronicles 32:30)

This post wraps up the 10 Days of Archaeology series. Check below for the other posts that cover such finds the David Inscription, Caiaphas Ossuary, Pilate Stone, Isaiah Bulla, amongst others.

You can check out other archaeological discoveries related to the bible here:

____________________

Edom

A Guide to Internet Archaeology

Ziklag

Clay Seal of King Josiah’s Aide Found

Ring of Pontius Pilate Discovered

Caiaphas Ossuary

The Prophet Isaiah

23 New Testament Figures Confirmed

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

Bethsaida

53 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

New ESV Archaeology Study Bible