Re: Essay about errancy

From: george murphy <>
Date: Tue Feb 03 2004 - 15:36:39 EST

Rich Blinne wrote:

> 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.
     Of course there is no drop-dead proof that Matthew used Mark but if
one drops presuppositions which may be very traditional but for which
there is no evidence (e.g., see below)
it's a reasonable inference from the evidence. 1st, the similarity of
language where there is common material makes it very likely than there
is some transfer of material between the synoptics. The fact that Mt
seems to contain more material than Mk lead some (e.g., Augustine) to
think that Mk was essentially a condensation of Mt but that doesn't hold
up: Where there is common material, Mk is usually more elaborated than
    Saying that Mt & Lk used Mk implies only relative, not absolute
dating. There is nothing in this claim that requires Mk - & therefore
Mt or Lk to be "late." Mk could be ~ A.D. 40 as far as this argument is
concerned. Estimates of absolute dates have to be based on something
    The fact that Mt shows more developed christological language than
Mk is also significant. I know this is likely to raise a red flag but I
am NOT saying that Mk simply presents a "low" christology: The opening
v designates Jesus (according to the best mss) "Son of God." But it is
clear that Christian reflection about who Jesus is developed in the
course of time: It took 300 years to get to Nicea. & that's what we
have in, e.g., comparing Mt.16:16 & Mk.8:29.
    & this is not just a matter of christological titles. E.g., the way
Jesus' baptism is described is significant: In Mk it's straightforward
but in Mt there's clearly some puzzlement about why Jesus should have
received a "baptism of repentance." (Lk skips over the baptism itself &
Jn never does say that he was baptized by John.)
    I don't know what you mean by saying that Lk "reversed the
elaboration." Relative to Mk, Mt & Lk are both "elaborated" in quite
different ways.
    & finally let me repeat my major point here: It is quite wrong to
say that belief in Marcan priority depends in any way on the "errancy"
of any of the gospels.

        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)

> 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.

    The 1st fact proves nothing at all: The text of the gospel of Mt
doesn't call it "The Gospel of Matthew." The 2d carries very little

>> > 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_
>> historical.
> 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).

    OK if we are indeed in agreement.


Received on Tue Feb 3 15:40:22 2004

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