Monday, March 20, 2006


Listen to these wise words from the eminent historian Craig Evans

A rigid, conservative view of Scripture is suspicious of the data concerning scribal errors, corrections, glosses and the like, in the transmission of biblical manuscripts, and very suspicious of the data indicating the activity of early scribes, including the evangelists themselves, in editing the final product, before being transmitted as authoritative Scripture. In the conservative mind, Scripture is not supposed to be this way—and usually ideas akin to dictation theories of inspiration are entertained. Conservative Bible teachers may assure students that dictation is not correct, but their treatment of some of these critical aspects of Scripture may well leave students with the impression that Scripture should be viewed in such a way. I find it intriguing that the admissions of people like Robert Funk, James Robinson, Robert Price, and Bart Ehrman, who describe their drift from their conservative Christian roots, run along these lines. When they discover that the contents of the Bible did not in fact drop down from heaven, they have a crisis of faith. When it turns out that not everything attributed to Jesus in the New Testament Gospels actually derives from the historical Jesus, they collapse. What a pity. I invite them to read again Acts 2 and perhaps a few of Paul’s letter. Christian faith is a response to the good news of what God has done in Christ, including above all the resurrection. Christian faith is not suppose to be a response to an inerrant New Testament which contains four Gospels that can be perfectly harmonized, free from scribal errors, emendations, and glosses.
Christian faith does not rest on a particular view of Scripture, as though it must be inerrant if the gospel message is to be true. I remind my students that Peter in Acts 2 proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus and his divine sonship; he did not proclaim the inerrancy of Scripture. In my view, Christians create a lot of their own problems by advancing a dubious apologetic concerning Scripture. This dubious apologetic sometimes comes back to haunt students, who in later years and after more study find their earlier teaching unpersuasive.
Thanks to Alan Bandy for making this available to us.

1 comment:

Chris Tilling said...

Yes, yes, yes and yes!