This post concerns the site www.BibleWheel.com
It's an answer to George Murphy's post which doesn't seem to have appeared
on the Listserver.
> Richard -
> First I should say - for reasons to be noted momentarily - that
> going to be my last post on the matter. I appreciate the time you've
> respond to my points but we continue to be in basic disagreement
> about the arbitrary character of the structure you've developed. I
> you claim below to have proved that it isn't arbitrary but I simply don't
> that you have shown any such thing. & given this mismatch in what we
> been shown, it doesn't seem profitable at least for me to continue the
> discussion beyond this point. You may have the last word if you wish, and
> course anyone else who wishes to may continue the discussion. In the
> I give a few brief comments at appropriate points.
Wow! You completely missed the WHOLE POINT! You don't even address it! My
destruction of your argument had nothing to do with proving that the Canon
"isn't arbitrary!" I destroyed your argument by showing that even if the
Canon appears to be the arbitrary work of man, it does not mean that it it
is not the Work of God! In other words, your fundamental argument that the
Wheel is not the work of God because it appears to be the result of
arbitrary human choices UTTERLY FAILS.
Nothing you wrote later in this post even addresses the fundamental
question! All I got from you is "You're wrong, I quit!"
Yet there is more! Let me remind you of your own words. I quote from your
paper "Does the Trinity Play Dice?" published in Perspectives on Science and
Christian Faith 51 (MArch 1999) 18-25:
"As Prov. 16.33 suggests, phenomena which seem random to us today might be
known and controlled by God."
For those who don't have a Bible handy, Prov 16.33 says: "The lot is cast
into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD."
My position is therefore established on all sides. I have full Biblical
support, full theological support, and full logical support. And beyond
that, I believe I have strong arguments to show that the Canon is not nearly
as "arbitrary" as you would have us believe anyway. But get this! The only
point you address is the latter one ... which is not, and never was, my main
Note the LOGICAL FORM:
Maj: The Work of God can not appear to be due to arbitrary human actions
Min: The Canon appears Arbitrary.
Con: The Canon is not the Wok of God.
This is your argument in a nutshell, and it is WRONG!
Lets take a vote! ASA List -- did Richard WIN the argument with George
concerning his point that the APPARENTLY ARBITRARY structure of the Canon
implies that the Wheel WAS NOT designed by God?
Moving on to the next point:
> > To understand why I disagree, we need to review David's statement. He
> > "Although I would certainly affirm the current 66 books of the Bible as
> > only authoritative set, I think that the issue of how to count them is a
> > problem. Splitting Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles into two books has more
> > do with the length at which scrolls become unwieldy than with a
> > break in the narrative; one could also argue for merging Luke and Acts,
> > among others. Also, the Hebrew tally counts the minor prophets as a
> > book. This particular change alone would not substantially change the
> > opportunity for mathematical significance, as it decreases the total by
> > and thus merely requires a 2.5 fold rather than 3 fold use of the Hebrew
> > alphabet."
> > Note first of all that he specifically refers to the 66 books, _by
> > as authoritative. Here he is in complete harmony with my thesis. He then
> > goes on merely to argue that this structure MAY be do to natural
> > contingencies like the length of the scrolls, and that people could, if
> > wanted to, merge some books.
> I think you have misinterprted David's statement, though of course
> may want to correct me. But I understand his first sentence in context to
> that he affirms the content of the conventional protestant 66 books as
> authoritative, not that that conventional division and numbering is
> In any case, it seems odd at the least that you should argue
> that the Minor Prophets were once a single "book" as part of an attempt to
> them (incorrectly IMO) in a separate category, and also to argue that they
> to be treated as 12 separate books.
OK, you tell me -- 12 out of a set of 66 objects sit separated in a box
together for more than 2000 years, and whoever then puts them together in a
separate category from the rest is accused of being arbitrary? This is
hardly worthy of response, let alone argument. And besides, you again have
missed the FUNDAMENTAL POINT of my argument. My PROOF of your argument's
FAILURE does not rest on whether or not the Canon is arbitrary! It rests on
the fact that it doesn't matter if its arbitrary because God uses this means
to accomplish His ends, as you yourself have noted!
Yet I do feel I gave sufficient reasons to believe that the seven divisions
are not arbitrary, but before I did that, I PROVED that your whole argument
is absolutely EMPTY because God can accomplish His work through any means He
> > I am astounded that you would consider these to be "cogent reasons."
> > Consider the theology such an argument implies! Are you really saying
> > God can not accomplish His Work through anything that appears to be due
> > natural, contingent, seemingly arbitrary acts of humans? Are you saying
> > anything that appears contingent can not actually fulfill God's
> > plan? This flies in the face of the entire message of Scripture. The 66
> > books are nothing if not the story of how God has accomplished His Work
> > precisely this fashion. Consider the countless, seemingly arbitrary,
> > choices that led to the crucifixion of the Lord! In my opinion, this is
> > God's _primary_ way of acting in the world.
> Yes, God acts & reveals himself in the contingent events of
> But there is no reason to think that one particular way of counting the
> the Bible, and even less one out of several groupings of those books that
> Christians have devised over the centuries, possesses a kind of divine
> authority comparable with the content of scripture. Not everything that
> does in the world is in itself (a crucial qualification) revelatory.
Of course! But unfortunately, (for your argument) this has ABSOLUTELY
NOTHING to do with what we are talking about. It is yet another LOGICAL
FALLACY. Just because "Not everything that God does in the world is in
itself revelatory" says NOTHING about whether or not the structure of the
Canon is revelatory! Get with the program!
> > This means that your primary argument, which you have repeated many
> > (see below), that the Wheel can not be the work of God because the 66
> > and the seven canonical divisions appear to be the result of arbitrary
> > choices, utterly fails.
> No. You have not shown this & therefore your responses to several
> further arguments of mine fail.
Man oh man oh man! What do you mean "I have not shown this?" How many
different ways do I need to repeat myself? I have proven your argument to be
> > In response to my arbitrary choice not to mention the Apocrypha when I
> > referenced the KJV, you said
> > > Yes, the status of the Apocrypha is debated & the fact that
> > come
> > > down on one side of that debate doesn't in itself show that you're
> > But
> > > ignoring this issue, which is certainly relevant to a claim which
> > > critically on the number of books in the canon, means that a pretty
> > hole is
> > > left in your argument.
> > Yes, it is a significant issue that must be dealt with if I want to
> > an completely airtight case. But how many hundreds, or thousands of
> > have been spent by both sides arguing from History, Biblical Criticism,
> > Theology? And to what result? Few people are convinced by those
> > But if the Wheel can be established to be the Work of God through
> > independent means, then we have an extremely strong argument against
> > believing the Apocrypha to be Scripture.
> If. & evenb so, this would be true if it could also be shown that
> Bible containing the Apocrypha could not lead to a similar structure.
Good point. Go do some research and see if you can find anything like what I
have shared on my site.
> > > > > 3. Accepting the protestant canon for the sake of
> > the
> > > > > division of it into 7 parts as you do is arbitrary.
> > Note the repetition of the "Arbitrary" argument, which has been shown to
> > untenable.
> >> I did not do it. I merely reported the traditional divisions as
> > presented by
> > > > numerous scholars over hundreds of years.
> > >
> > > >E.g., there is no
> > > > > logical or theological reason for separating "major" and "minor"
> > > > > prophets. In the Hebrew Bible, e.g., all of those are included
> > > > > some of the historical books as "the former and latter prophets."
> > > >
> > > > This is simply wrong. The Tanach (pub by JPS) presents the "12
> > > > Prophets" as a separate category from the rest. Furthermore, this
> > division
> > > > is extremely ancient, being sited in the apocryphal book of Sirach
> > > > 48:8-10) and confirmed by the esteemed scholar Lee M. McDonald in
> > "The
> > > > Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon" (pg 34) where he wrote:
> > > > reference to the Twelve Prophets suggests that by the time of
> > the
> > > > "Minor Prophets" circulated in one scroll."
> > > > How can you argue against the obvious fact that the structure I
> > is
> > > > not arbitrary? It is an objective historical fact that I received. I
> > not
> > > > invent it!
> > >
> > > Of course "The Twelve" were grouped together - because, unlike
> > Isaiah,
> > > Jeremiah, & Ezekiel,
> > > the books of the individual "minor prophets" weren't long enough to
> > up a
> > > single scroll. I didn't challenge the grouping of the 12 together as
> > single
> > > book. What I questioned was your separation of "Major Prophets" and
> > "Minor
> > > Prophets" as two separate groups of books - a separation crucial for
> > 7-fold
> > > division of the protestant canon. But there is no basis in content,
> > of
> > > composition &c for this separation.
> > Again, nothing but the failed "Arbitrary" argument.
> You have not shown that it has "failed." & note that you have
> to present any theological or historical rationale for, e.g., the
> major & minor prophets - to note the just the most obvious arbitrary
What do you mean I have not shown it? Where, oh where, is your defense
against my DESTRUCTION of you argument?
> > > As I noted, in the Hebrew Bible both groups of prophets are
> > combined
> > > with Joshua, Judges, I-II Samuel & I-II Kings as "Former and Later
> > Prophets,"
> > > the 2d part of the Hebrew scriptures with Law and Writings. This
> > > probably goes back to at least the 2d century B.C. since it seems to
> > referred
> > > to in the prologue of Sirach, & is probably to be understood in Luke
> > 24:44,
> > > where "the psalms" stands for the whole 3d division (which begins with
> > Book
> > > of Psalms). Chapter 2 of F.F. Bruce's The Canon of Scripture is
> > here.
> > > Note that I am not claiming that this 3-fold division of the
> > > "inspired" or even that it's more logical than some other divisions.
> > is
> > > arbitrary, though convenient for some purposes.
> > > & that's really the point of my first few objections to your
> > > approach. It's not that your divisions are wrong but just that they
> > > arbitrary, though perhaps convenient for some classification purposes.
> > the
> > > fact that they have some tradition behind them (not nearly as
> > > tradition as you suggest) doesn't change this.
> > >
> > > > > One could equally well divide the epistles into the Pauline ones
> > > > addressed
> > > > > to specific churches or persons and the catholic epistles, or put
> > > > > Revelation in a separate New Testament category.
> > > >
> > > > Yes, one may do whatever one wishes, but one can not then expect
> > to
> > > > consider such actions the work of God. This is why I am so adamant
> > > > reiteration that this structure has been >discovered< after the
> > and
> > > > therefore can not be attributed to the deliberate design of any
> > >
> > > The grouping you use is one among many possible groupings.
> > most
> > > that can be said to have been "discovered" by you is something about
> > history
> > > of biblical study, not something intrinsic to the Bible itself.
> > >
> > Wrong. What I have discovered is absolutely incontrovertible pattern
> > objectively exists in untold millions of copies of the Bible. If you
> > any credibility, you must admit at least this point. You can argue all
> > want against its significance, but you can not argue against its
> > reality. Anybody with eyes and any modern version such as KJV, NKJV,
> > NASB, etc, etc, etc, can see it for themselves. It exists in our common
> > REALITY.
> Of course it's true that the pattern of 66 books is found in many
> Bibles. The 7-fold division of those books, which is what I've focussed
> quite a different matter. (& note that the fact that the 66 books are
> in the order you have is something different from putting any kind of
> between major & minor prophets, e.g.
> > > >
> > > > > 4. The claim that this "proof of the divine origin of the
> > Holy
> > > > > Bible" is "self-evident" raises immediate suspicion. (Vernon
> > > > > makes similar claims.)
> > > >
> > > > Sorry George, this is ad hominem. You should know better.
> > >
> > > I made no personal attack, which is what ad hominem means.
> > >
> > Was I mistaken to take your association of "Vernon Jenkin's" with
> > suspicion" as an _attack on a man_ rather than a _response to an
> > Also, this is the Fallacy of Association, as if my use of the same
> > someone else had anything to do with the truth of my argument!
> > its the Fallacy of mistaking Style for Substance! How I choose to
> > results has nothing to do with their validity!
> I was simply pointing out that Vernon made similar claims. Since
> had introduced your site I had the impression that the two of you were at
> sympathetic with one another's work, so that there was nothing "arbitrary"
> associating the 2.
I didn't say it was arbritary. (You might want to think about not using that
word for a few weeks! LOL) I said you made an association, which you did.
And besides what about the other TWO forms of logical error? You ignored
> But the basic point is that the claim that such an argument as
> "self-evident" is unjutified and, whether the claimant intends it so or
> seems like a form of intellectual intimidation: "Surely your smart enough
> see the truth of my argument."
> > Of course, I think you are probably right -- a lot of my style is
> > dangerously misleading. E.g. I am not a fundamentalist, but who could
> > that from my web site? And for that matter, I don't even assert
> > the ordinary sense. This lack of presentational clarity probably arose
> > because I have studied this topic for about ten years and have only now
> > begun to find intelligent interaction. That is why I TRULY value this
> > discussion! Please be patient with me.
> Patience is not my chief virtue but that isn't why I'm bowing
> the conversation. There are only so many hours in the day & I need to
> down to some other projects.
What about my admittence of my shortcomings? Can you not recognize a real
man when you see one? I am ABSOLUTELY DEDICATED to the TRUTH - I will lay
down everything , my ego and my pride, if only I can find a man with enough
grit and integrity to really go the distance on this!
> > > >
> > > > All I can say to this is that you have utterly failed to >apprehend<
> > even
> > > > the most rudimentary points of my argument. I challenge you to find
> > single
> > > > page where any of my arguments lack in Christological reference!
> > Everything
> > > > about the Wheel points to Christ and His work on the Cross. That's
> > the
> > > > whole Bible is structured on the Number 22, which corresponds to
> > > > pointing to the Cross. That's why there is a Cross at the center of
> > > > Wheel. Read Psalm 22 in light of 22 = Tav = Cross and you will
> > understand a
> > > > little of the depth of the Mind of God Who has given us His Eternal
> > Word.
> > >
> > > Undoubtedly you had the cross in mind in constructing this
> > argument but
> > > the mathematical argument itself is independent of it.
> > > & a less significant point: There is variation in the
> > of the
> > > psalms. The one counted as 22 in protestant Bibles is 21 in the
> > Septuagint
> > > because 9 & 10, which originally were a unit, are combined there.
> > the
> > > division into the present 9 & 10 is arbitrary.)
> > > Of course this doesn't at all change the importance of "Psalm
> > for
> > > understanding the Passion - but that has nothing to do with the fact
> > it's
> > > number 22.
> > The fact that there is a variation does not mean that the numerical
> > Psalm 22 is insignificant. Consider other textual variations, such as 1
> > 3.16, which gives Hos or Theos -- we must consider both, and the reasons
> > should be preferred over the other. We don't just say that _neither_ has
> > significance because there is a variation! Also, you failed to even
> > the many theologically significant lines of convergence relating to the
> > Number 22, the Letter Tav, the Cross, and the structure of Scripture. If
> > don't want to appear to be a knee-jerk reactionary who simply rejects my
> > whole thesis regardless of merit, you should at least acknowledge some
> > the profoundly beautiful and theologically significant points I have
> Speaking of intellectual intimidation ...
Speaking about lack of reasoned response! Where's your answer? I am giving
you fully reasoned responses, and what do I get in return? Null.
> > > > The fact that the Wheel proves the Bible is of God is an inevitable
> > > > side-effect of its true purpose, which is simply to >know God<.
> > >
> > > The Bible has a theological unity: "All scripture everywhere
> > speaks
> > > only of Christ" (Luther). Any mathematical unity that can be
> > (N.B.)
> > > can be, at most, be of some value for illustrating this theological
> > >
> > Actually, there is a lot more to it than merely illustrating the
> > unity. But if all it did was illustrate that, what a wonder it would be!
> > I believe I have addressed most of the points I had skipped. Let me know
> > I missed anything else.
> > Now lets move on to you last post:
> > >
> > > > One of your statements helps in this regard:
> > > >
> > > > > Note that I am not claiming that this 3-fold division of the OT
> > > > > "inspired" or even that it's more logical than some other
> > It
> > > > is
> > > > > arbitrary, though convenient for some purposes.
> > > > > & that's really the point of my first few objections to your whole
> > > > > approach. It's not that your divisions are wrong but just that
> > are
> > > > > arbitrary, though perhaps convenient for some classification
> > &
> > > > the
> > > > > fact that they have some tradition behind them (not nearly as
> > monolithic a
> > > > > tradition as you suggest) doesn't change this.
> > > >
> > > > I don't think you see how strongly your point argues for the
> > my
> > > > thesis! Consider the simple combinatorial mathematics of the
> > What
> > > > are the chances that anybody who takes 66 objects and combines them
> > > > seven ARBITRARY divisions will arrive at a structure that is both
> > radially
> > > > and bilaterally symmetric? I won't bore you with the details
> > > > since I haven't worked them all out yet) but I will assert that the
> > > > probability of such a structure arising by chance is EXCEEDINGLY
> > >
> > > Since you haven't worked this out yet there's no need for me
> > debate
> > > the point but it's not at all obvious that the probability is this
> > I still need to work this out ... its rather complicated.
> > > But more to the point is the fact that you have said nothing
> > to
> > > cyhallenge the point I made about the lack of theological, historical
> > > rationale for your 7-fold division. This being the case, you're just
> > doing
> > > math. & you can do all the math you want & still won't get theology
> > of it.
> > First - note that we have yet again encountered the defunct "Arbitrary"
> > argument. But there is more I should say. My study is much, MUCH, more
> > math. And besides, I have left your constant repetition of the supposed
> > arbitrariness of the canon go unchallenged, in the sense that I have yet
> > show how it really is not arbitrary at all. Strictly speaking, this is
> > necessary since your "Arbitrary" argument fails anyway, but I sense it
> > necessary in order for you to see what is really going on here.
> > You have conveniently left out the beginning of it all - the Pentateuch.
> > you assert there is no theological or historical reason to group those
> > books? How about the NT history? Many people, before I was born, thought
> > those five went together. And what of the 22 Epistles? Even if you want
> > categorize Revelation as Apocalyptic, you still need to recognize it is
> > Apocalyptic Epistle, and so the 22 Epistles stand as a NON-ARBITRARY
> > And what about the 12 Prophets? We have an ancient witness that these
> > been collected together as a unit for more than 2000 years! The more I
> > about it, the more your assertion of arbitrariness seems itself to be
> > arbitrary!
> Of course there are some traditional, and more or less natural,
> groupings of books. One of the most traditional groupings of the OT,
> (as I noted) in at least one verse of the NT, is 3-fold - Law, Prophets,
> Writings. Some of your categories have to do with content (e.g., history)
> some with form (e.g., letters). & the category of "letters" is really a
> catch-all, boiling down to the fact that you have a document sent by one
> to another person or group & having little to do with the content of the
> document. E.g., the "letter" to the Hebrews isn't really in epistolary
> it has something like the right conclusion but no salutation &c. It's a
> on Ps.110 intended to encourage it's hearers to persevere in the faith.
> send you a doctrinal sermon through the mail it's proper literary category
> "doctrinal sermon", not "letter."
So what? Why have you written all these words, and failed to even
acknowledge, let alone defend, your fundamental argument that I DESTROYED?
> > > > Yet that is but the beginning. How can we ignore the symmetric
> > > > structure of the Canon in light of the universally recognized
> > > > significance of the Number Seven? And how can we ignore the
> > > > significance of the line of bilateral symmetry dividing between the
> > Aleph
> > > > and the Tav, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet? And
> > can
> > > > we ignore that all of this is going on in a book that declares
> > be
> > > > the Word of God? The nimbus of divine associations is overwhelming!
> > >
> > > For a start, your "7-fold structure of the canon" is an
> > > structure imposed upon it, as I have shown several times. & all this
> > "going
> > > on" not in the Bible but in a classification scheme that you've
> > constructed for
> > > the books of the Bible.
> > >
> > Again, it is NOT MINE! And again - there's that failed "Arbitrary"
> > again! And how, tell me how, can you possibly assert that I am the one
> > "constructed" this classification scheme? It existed objectively in the
> > world before I was born!
> > > > Yet there is still more! Even if we ignore the incredible sevenfold
> > symmetry
> > > > of the Canon, we still have to deal with the underlying structure of
> > 66
> > > > books. Read my article called "A Great Cloud of Witnesses." In it, I
> > > > demonstrate how numerous scholars, innocent of any bias towards the
> > Wheel by
> > > > reason of complete ignorance of it, have borne witness to the
> > > > correlations linking the books on each Spoke. Most notable is the
> > > > thematic river that unites Genesis, Isaiah and Romans, which
> > > > Spoke 1 of the Wheel, as detailed in the article just cited.
> > >
> > > No doubt. There's also a literal, & yet profoundly
> > theological,
> > > "great thematic river" linking Genesis, Ezekiel, and John.
> > >
> > Yes - the Bible is an infinitely integrated book - from the mind of God.
> > Just like you could find endless relations between any part of the body
> > every other part ... but this does not deny that some parts are uniquely
> > related.
> > E.g. Read my article called "A Great Cloud of Witnesses." In it, I quote
> > Herbert Wolf who reports that Isaiah has been called the Romans of the
> > Testament. Can you find similar quotes relating your little threesome?
> > that's but one example. Go to the site to find many, many more.
> I have no wish to deny relationships between Isaiah and Romans.
> between Ezekiel and John are also strong - river of life (cf. also Genesis
> course), new temple, Good Shepherd (Ez.34) &c. & if someone put together
> structure that turned out to correlate these 2 books, he/she could
> beautiful &c.
Yes they are "strong" but they are nothing like the TITANIUM that binds
Genesis, Isaiah, and Romans.
> > > Yet there is still more! The thematic correlation can be
> > > > measured by the distribution of words throughout Scripture. A
> > > > example being given in my article called "Creation." (Select Spoke
> > Aleph
> > > > and go to the article called Creation.) In this article I
> > the
> > > > distribution of words based on the roots bara (Hebrew) and ktidzo
> > (Greek)
> > > > occur on Spoke 1 with a frequency that is TEN TIMES THE STANDARD
> > DEVIATION!
> > > > This is an example of how the _semantic content_ of Scripture
> > > > with the _geometric structure_ of the Canon.
> > > >
> > Where is you response to this mathematically measurable and highly
> > significant statistical result?
> Having granted that the books you refer to have important
> relationships, I'm not amazed that there is such a verbal correlation. I
> have guessed that there's be such a correlation with "creation" words
> Genesis & Isaiah without a formal analysis. (See, e.g., Chapter 2 of my
> The Tranbdemark of God).
I will look into it when I get a chance.
> > > > As a final note -- I must ask how a man with a PhD in Physics can
> > o
> > > > immediately recognize the profound significance of this symmetry,
> > > > symmetry is one of the most fundamental concepts that unites our
> > of
> > > > God's other great work, Creation itself?
> > >
> > > Probably because this particular physicist is also a
> > want's
> > > to see some theological content. Not all math symmetry is embodied in
> > real
> > > world, & the fact that your classification scheme has some symmetry
> > doesn't
> > > mean that it corresponds to anything of theological significance.
> > > But let's follow up the physics analogy. Where the
> > I.e.,
> > > does your scheme predict any novel theological result? (For
> > non-physicists:
> > > The correct prediction of the omega-minus particle, with strangeness
> > > three, was a major factor in convincing particle physicists of the
> > of
> > > Gell-Mann's SU3 symmetry scheme and ultimately the quark model.)
> > >
> > Ahhh ..... a beautiful question! Unfortunately, it is quite late, and
> > post is quite long, so I will answer it as soon as I get some more time.
> > Rest assured I am eager to discuss this as soon as I am able.
> It will indeed be interesting if you do arrive at any novel
> insisghts (in the sense I'm going to describe in a brief response to Iain
> Strachan's post). In that case they will of course have to be tested
> the body of fundamental Christian belief.
> > I want to thank you again for persevering through this discussion, and
> > hopes are still high that we will continue ...
> Sorry I can't persevere more but only so much can be done.
God bless you George, I wish you had more patience and perseverance!
But in any case, thank you for the time you gave me, and for confirming to
the world that Wheel of God is like that house that Christ spoke of when He
said: "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and
beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."
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