Re: Essay about errancy

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Tue Feb 03 2004 - 12:52:37 EST

George Murphy wrote:

>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.
The text tells us that one author may have used the other. It doesn't
tell us who used whom and it is that latter distinction that is
influenced by presuppositions with regard to the nature of the text.
Markan priority was used to push the date back. The same
presuppositions was used to push John back into the second century and
the Gospel of Thomas forward into the first. The Rylands fragment and
the discoveries that gnostic literature is by its very nature derived
proved both datings to be untenable. The dating assumed that Matthew was
later because he "elaborated" on Mark. Thus the argument we are
discussing is circular because the dating assumed that Matthew
elaborated and said dating was used to prove Matthew elaborated.

Now we have some examples of where texts are being used by others and we
can test the presupposition that more "elaborated" equals later and
derived. In the case under discussion, Luke used the Markan version.
Now under both Markan and Matthean priority theories Luke is considered
later than both. Why did the later version reverse the elaboration?
Could it be that simpler is an indication of derivation rather than the
other way around? Take the Gospel of Thomas. It is for the most part
just a list of sayings with the context removed. Because of this a very
early dating was originally given to it. Studies of gnostic literature
have shown that such literature was not only derived from Christian
sources but Jewish sources as well. So, the actual date of Thomas is
now considered much later than the theory under consideration would
suggest. An even better example can be found in 1 Clement. Here we have
something that is considered authentic by the early Christians but
clearly was presented as derived and a non-eyewitness who had no access
to eyewitnesses. How 1 Clement quotes earlier literature should be an
indication of whether Matthew was derived and not an eyewitness.
Clement quotes more exactly the earlier literature than either Matthew
allegedly quoted Mark (or vice versa) or Luke quoted the other
synoptics. The other characteristic of 1 Clement is the total lack of
any theological development.

These are the reasons why I question Markan priority. I don't buy the
"assured results" of higher criticism any more than I do the "assured
results" of ICR. The history of backtracking of both groups has just
been too overwhelming.

>>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.
Matthew is the only place where Matthew is named Matthew rather than
Levi. Matthew also shows more understanding of financial matters than
the other synoptics. This stands to reason given his supposed occupation.

>>3. It is altogether consistent that when:
>> A. The centurion heard his cry and saw how he died
>> AND
>> 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_
I don't think sophisticated inerrantists fail to understand that. What
inerrancy does is to say interpret the text according to what the text
is trying to do. By that, the purposes of the various accounts need to
be taken into account. An external a priori interpretation that does
not take into account intent violates inerrantism. For example, an
external a priori interpretation on say Genesis 1 not only violates the
best scientific understanding but also the base principles of inerrancy
itself. Thus, I contend that many YECs are not only inconsistent
scientists but also inconsistent inerrantists. Please pardon my slight
change of topic, but I wanted to show that we are in violent agreement
here (and to save inerrancy from the Fundamentalists).
Received on Tue Feb 3 12:53:21 2004

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