Re: Essay about errancy

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Feb 02 2004 - 19:32:33 EST

Rich Blinne wrote:
> On Mon, 2 Feb 2004 11:01:12 -0500, "Gough, Joshua" <> said:
> > According to Biblical scholars, the book of Mark was written first 1.
> > Notice how similar the account is in both books. Notice that in
> > Matthew, there is a line about tombs opening and many saints coming out
> > of these tombs after Christ's resurrection and then being seen by many
> > in Jerusalem. After seeing these miracles, the centurion cries out that
> > this was the Son of God. However, look at Mark's earlier account. It
> > says that when the centurion saw his cry and saw how he died he said he
> > was the Son of God. There is no mention of him being terrified. The
> > words are changed a little bit as well.
> 1. The Bible scholars you are referencing used their belief of errant
> Gospels as a basis for the dating. Thus, you cannot use the alleged
> date of Mark in your argument because you would be begging the
> question. Bible scholars who don't hold to Q theory usually date
> Matthew first.

        This is false. Marcan priority is not dependent upon belief in "errant gospels"
but results from careful verse by verse comparison of Mt & Lk with Mk. In turn, the
idea that Mt & Lk used Mk as a source does not require one to belief that the former are
either uninspired or "errant." & while belief in Matthean priority is very old, there
are really no firm grounds for it.
> 2. Matthew was the eyewitness. Mark wasn't. It stands to reason he would provide more detail.

        Where in the Bible is it said that (a) the "Gospel of Matthew" was written by
the Apostle Matthew & (b) where in the Bible is it said that that gospel was written by
an eyewitness? I'll save you the trouble of looking: (a) nowhere & (b) nowhere.
> 3. It is altogether consistent that when:
> A. The centurion heard his cry and saw how he died
> B. The centurion saw the earthquakes etc
> he made his statement. As long as the two whens are the same time, then
> the two statements do not contradict each other. In fact we know that
> they ARE simultaneous. Matt. 27:50 has Jesus cry out and Matt. 27:51
> starts with "At that moment". The two whens refer to the exact same
> moment in time. Thus, they do not contradict each other.
> 4. Inerrancy theory does not call for exact quotes. Take the following
> from the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy:
> So history must be treated as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and
> metaphor as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as
> what they are, and so forth. Differences between literary conventions
> in Bible times and in ours must also be observed: Since, for instance,
> nonchronological narration and *imprecise citation* were conventional
> and acceptable and violated no expectations in those days, we must not
> regard these things as faults when we find them in Bible writers. When
> total precision of a particular kind was not expected nor aimed at, it
> is no error not to have achieved it. Scripture is inerrant, not in the
> sense of being absolutely precise by modern standards, but in the sense
> of making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth
> at which its authors aimed. [emphasis mine]
> Note the last sentence I quoted. This is key if you don't want to be
> attacking a straw man. There may be naive Christians who view Scripture
> as being absolutely precise in the modern sense. This belief also
> results in the incorrect conflating of YEC with inerrancy. But,
> technically speaking it is not inerrancy.

        This statement strains at a gnat & swallows a camel. It recognizes what is
obvious to any careful reader, that there are differences in the exact wording of what
are supposed to be the same speeches in different gospels, but fails to recognize that
some parts of the gospels (& other biblical books) should not be understood as
historical accounts at all but as theological commentary on the events which _are_

        & that's also the basic problem with the original "essay about errancy." Of
course it is correct in saying that the 4 gospels are not all accurate historical
narratives written by eye witnesses. There is nothing new in that - I've pointed it out
a number of times on this list. But Mr. Gough says,
        "Does the evidence presented lend itself to belief that these
        accounts are an absolutely infallible recollection of history, or could
        they be something else? What that something else is I will not attempt
        to definitively conclude. It could be that they are the best
        recollection of rumored or seen events; it could be fiction; it could be
        based on history, but embellished for political and theological
With his "I will not attempt ..." he is (at least for the purposes of that essay)
ignoring what is in fact the purpose of the gospels. They are not history "embellished
for ... theological purposes" but theological documents based on historical
persons and events.



George L. Murphy
Received on Mon Feb 2 19:35:56 2004

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