The Missing Links – April 1, 2012

The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Tes...

The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Testament manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew. Most likely originated in Egypt. Also part of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (P. oxy. 2).

Dr. Bryant G. Wood recently presented lectures on “Archaeology and the Conquest: New Evidence on an Old Problem.”  Wood is editor of Bible and Spade, and director of the Excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir (suggested as a possible site for Biblical Ai). Four separate talks cover:

  • Background and Chronology of the Exodus and Conquest
  • Digging Up the Truth at Jericho
  • The Discovery of Joshua’s Ai
  • Great Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Old Testament

Alexander Pruss points to a new blog on the philosophy of cosmology.

Daniel Wallace and Bart Ehrman debate on the topic: “Is the original New Testament lost?”

A new article on “Platonism and Theism” is up at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Alvin Plantinga lectures on “Religion and Science: Why Does the Debate Continue?” at Rainier Beach Presbyterian Church in Seattle Washington

Craig Blomberg writes on “Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters” (PDF). 

Peter S. Williams engages with the question “Can Moral Objectivism Do Without God?”

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The Missing Links – Feb. 19, 2011

  • A list of 50 philosophy blogs that cover a variety of philosophical topics.  Among the interesting titles are “The Philosophy Smoker” and “The Ethical Werewolf.”


  • Speaking of philosophy, UC-Berkeley has made available online three courses taught by well-known philosopher John Searle.  The courses are Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, and Philosophy of Society.


  • A number of free theology books in PDF format are available at the Online Christian Library of Virtual Theological Resources.  Titles include Charles Hodges’s Systematic theology, Creation in Old Testament Theology by Paul R. House, and The Divine Inspiration of the Bible by Arthur W. Pink.


  • Last Seminary has a tremendous collection of free material in the categories of New Testament studies, science and religion, and philosophy of religion, which are further broken down into articles, books, and courses.  A wealth of quality material here.


  • Several interesting papers from Baylor’s past Philosophy of Religion Conferences are available on the conference website.  Past presenters have included Paul Moser, John Greco, Jonathan Kvanvig, and Alexander Pruss.


  • Randy Alcorn’s book Why Pro-Life is free in PDF format here.  In this 144-page book he deals with questions such as Is the Unborn Really a Human Being?, Is Abortion Part of a Right to Privacy?, Does Abortion Harm a Woman’s Physical and Mental Health?, and several other related issues.



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Gary Habermas on the Pre-Pauline Creed of 1 Cor. 15

Empty Tomb

Image by abcdz2000 via Flickr

1 Corinthians 15:3-7 is widely recognized by New Testament scholars as a statement of belief (creed) that was systematized long before Paul quoted it.  If so, it represents the earliest historical account of Jesus’ resurrection, and goes back to the eyewitnesses themselves.  Gary Habermas comments on the very early date of this creed, which even skeptical scholars acknowledge.

Do critical scholars agree on the date of this pre-Pauline creed?  Even radical scholars like Gerd Lüdemann think that “the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion . . . no later than three years after the death of Jesus.”  Similarly, Michael Goulder contends that Paul’s testimony about the resurrection appearances “goes back at least to what Paul was taught when he was converted, a couple of years after the crucifixion.”

An increasing number of exceptionally influential scholars have very recently concluded that at least the teaching of the resurrection, and perhaps even the specific formulation of the pre-Pauline creedal tradition in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, dates to AD 30!  In other words, there never was a time when the message of Jesus’ resurrection was not an integral part of the earliest apostolic proclamation.  No less a scholar than James D. G. Dunn even states regarding this crucial text: “This tradition, we can be entirely confident, was formulated as tradition within months of Jesus’ death.

— Gary Habermas, “Tracing Jesus’ Resurrection to Its Earliest Eyewitness Accounts,” God is Great, God is Good (InterVarsity Press, 2009), 212.

For the sources quoted by Habermas, see here at Google Books.  For more on the pre-Pauline creed, see here.

This early dating seriously damages claims of long periods of time when legends about Jesus supposedly developed and became part of Christian proclamation.  It also puts to rest unfounded speculations about the purported role pagan mythology played as source material for Jesus’ resurrection.  William Lane Craig soundly critiques that position here.

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Recommended Resource – NT Gateway

The New Testament Gateway is an award-winning web directory of internet resources on the New Testament where you can browse or search annotated links on everything connected with the academic study of the New Testament and Christian Origins.

New material and links are being added all the time, and you can keep up with the latest additions through the NT Gateway blog.

You can also become a fan of the NT Gateway on Facebook and follow new developments there.


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The Veracity Of The New Testament

The Veritas Forum provides an excellent audio or video presentation by Dr Gary Habermas called:

“The Veracity Of The New Testament”.

View it here.

(Via Faith Interface)

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Philip Pullman to Publish “The Scoundrel Christ”

As if we didn’t have enough of these already . . .

He enraged America’s religious right with his portrayal of God as a senile old man in the His Dark Materials trilogy, and now Philip Pullman is set to court more Christian controversy – this time with a novel about “the Scoundrel Christ”.

The book will provide a new account of the life of Jesus, challenging the gospels and arguing that the version in the New Testament was shaped by the apostle Paul. “By the time the gospels were being written, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether new and extraordinary, and some of his version influenced what the gospel writers put in theirs,” said Pullman, who last year pronounced himself delighted that the His Dark Materials trilogy was one of the most “challenged” series in America’s libraries, boasting the most requests for removal from the shelves because of its “religious viewpoint”.

“Paul was a literary and imaginative genius of the first order who has probably had more influence on the history of the world than any other human being, Jesus certainly included. I believe this is a pity,” said Pullman. “The story I tell comes out of the tension within the dual nature of Jesus Christ, but what I do with it is my responsibility alone. Parts of it read like a novel, parts like a history, and parts like a fairy tale; I wanted it to be like that because it is, among other things, a story about how stories become stories.”

(Via The Guardian)

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Interview with Brian from Apologetics 315

If you’re like me, you read good blogs and then want to know more about the person behind the curtain.  Who are they, and why do they bother keeping a blog?

With that in mind, Brian at Apologetics 315 was kind enough to answer some questions about his life, blog, and views on apologetics for Cloud of Witnesses.  This is the first part of a two-part interview, the second part of which I will post tomorrow.

If you have follow-up questions or comments for Brian, feel free to post them.

* * *

Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Brian. Although I am originally from Michigan, I now live in Northern Ireland. This is the result of meeting my wife of the mission field. Now my time is taken up with being a husband, father, doing graphic design, and studying apologetics.

What prompted you to create the Apologetics 315 blog?

In studying apologetics I found that there was a vast amount of excellent audio resources available on the internet for free. However, they weren’t always the easiest things to find unless you already knew what you were searching for. So, I just started putting the stuff I found personally helpful on the blog.

After chatting with a couple of other bloggers I tried to imagine what I thought would be the ideal blog to develop: What sort of blog I would benefit most from personally? My answer was a sort of one-stop-shop for quality resources. This eventually came to include the idea of a quote of the week, weekly book reviews, and treatments of various arguments. And of course, lots of audio and numerous other resources.

In the early stages I didn’t post daily. But one week I came across a lot of good stuff and decided to schedule a series of posts – one for every day that week. Then, I thought, why not keep the ball rolling? The daily posting never stopped after that. Now there have been over 500 posts, with the goal that every post would be some sort of helpful nugget. If I don’t really benefit from it or I don’t think others will benefit from it, I don’t put it out there. In addition, pretty much the only thing that I publish of my own is book reviews and an occasional essay. There are much better thinkers than me, and the idea is to try to get the best ideas out there to the masses.

Do you see your blog as mainly directed toward believers or non-believers?  What has been the response? Do you receive many comments from skeptics of Christianity?  How do you handle those interactions?

The blog is geared to be an apologetics resource; a place for continual learning. This is of course going to be most appealing for believers. However, in gearing it primarily as a resource to believers, it is ultimately going to be a means for reaching unbelievers. So basically it is for equipping believers to reach unbelievers.

The response has been positive, for the most part. I occasionally get an email or two from people who are glad to have a good resource. That makes me thankful. One encouraging word can keep someone going for some time.

I aim to invest proper time with honest objections or discussion, but really try to limit my time with off-topic debate and personalities that seem just to be “in it to win it.” I think one must be both careful and prayerful when assessing the approach one takes, the amount of time invested, and just how fruitful a discussion has the potential to become. In the end, these interactions should be to win the person – not every objection needs to be engaged. I think of Francis Schaeffer saying, “honest answers to honest questions.” In addition, I think bloggers should be aware of the time they spend trying to “win” online, when they should be winning their wife and children. If I think that someone just wants to showboat his or her intellectual prowess and be a mocker, then that’s time that could be better used reading Cat in the Hat to my daughter or doing some laundry.

What areas of apologetics are people most interested in now?  Is the apologetics scene in Europe different from in the U.S.?

These are just my opinions here, but I think on a basic level, many people are interested in engaging the likes of the new atheism and the popular-level attacks on New Testament reliability. I think that the arguments that are faced today are in many ways no different than those you will find throughout the history of apologetics. The personalities behind the objections have changed, but many are just new incarnations of old issues. But I think most Christians are concerned with just meeting the cultural need of the moment and don’t realize that these are perennial issues of philosophy and textual criticism that are being recycled by new personalities that have pitted themselves against the Gospel.

Speaking of the apologetic challenges in Europe, my impression is that secularism, naturalism, and scientism are the biggest influences in Europe. These things are alive and well in the States, of course. But in Europe you don’t have to deal with counter-cult apologetics in the same way that you do in America. And, I would venture to say that this is because of the secularism. Again, that’s just my personal opinion and shouldn’t be taken as a particularly accurate assessment of the situation.

When I think of the apologetics “scene” in Europe I think of organizations such as Damaris Trust, the Oxford Centre for Apologetics, Ravi Zacharias International, radio programs like Premier’s Unbelievable?, excellent scientists and scholars like Dr. John Lennox and Dr. Alistair McGrath (both out of Oxford). Of particular note is the European Leadership Forum, which is held every May in Hungary, composed of a huge apologetics network and many scholars, theologians, and scientists. There are probably others I am either forgetting or haven’t heard of yet. I would love to find more.

To be continued . . .

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A Case for the Divinity of Jesus: Examining the Earliest Evidence

Thanks to Nick Norelli at Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth for passing on information about this forthcoming book.

Ed Komoszewski emailed me earlier today to point out a soon-to-be-released book entitled A Case for the Divinity of Jesus: Examining the Earliest Evidence by Dean L. Overman.  Here’s the description and some endorsements:

Whether Jesus was really the Son of God or not is a central question for Christians—and one that has provoked heated debate since the time of Jesus’ birth. Dean L. Overman examines the earliest Christian records to build a compelling case for the divinity of Jesus. Overman analyzes often-overlooked evidence from liturgies and letters written in the years immediately following Jesus’ death—decades earlier than the Gnostic gospels or the New Testament gospels. Addressing questions raised by books such as Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus and Elaine Pagels’ The Gnostic Gospels, Overman presents powerful evidence from the earliest Christian communities that will be new for many modern Christians and builds a carefully reasoned case for Jesus truly being the Son of God.

“Dean Overman covers a lot of very important ground in this well organized and easy to read book. He makes a solid case for the divinity of Jesus, as seen especially in the historically credible accounts of the resurrection. But Overman deals with many other important topics, such as the reliability of the New Testament Gospels and the unreliability of the second-century gnostic Gospels and the complicated question of how other religions of the world fit into the picture. Students, clergy, experts and non-experts alike will benefit greatly from this book. “—Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College; author of Fabricating Jesus

“Dean Overman has produced a carefully written, helpful book that investigates this exceptionally important issue in a persuasive and convincing manner.”—Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne, Cambridge University, author of Belief in God in an Age of Science, Templeton Prize recipient

“Dean Overman brings the investigative skill of a brilliant lawyer together with the insights of an outstanding Christian intellectual leader to make a compelling case for the divinity of Jesus and his resurrection. The careful argument he makes needs to be taken seriously by all who want to examine the foundations for the astonishing claim that Jesus uniquely is the Son of God. No assertion of truth is more revolutionary in the world’s history than this. Overman presents an accessible, persuasive case for why this assertion is historically grounded and intellectually trustworthy.”—Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary, Reformed Church in America; Co-founder, Sojourners

“Skillful lawyer Dean L. Overman has carefully marshalled the earliest evidence available from the early church’s earliest confessions and set out a compelling case for the divinity of Jesus. What results is not just an enjoyable ‘good read’–it is an excellent and perceptive ‘must read’ for laypeople and scholars alike, which calls for an intelligent response in the court of public opinion.”—Richard N. Longenecker, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, University of Toronto, author of The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity

“A clearly written presentation against the proposition that early Christians freely constructed the words and traditions of Jesus. The reader is in good hands.”—Birger Gerhardsson, Lund University, author of The Reliability of the Gospel Tradition

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The Top 50 Biblical Studies Blogs

If you’re interested in Old and New Testament studies and related areas, you’ll find many of these blogs to be good reading.  These are the top 5 by popularity.

1. Jim West

2. The Church of Jesus Christ

3. Punctuated Life

4. Beauty of the Bible

5. Vridar


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Biblical Studies Podcasts

It’s good to see some podcasts emerging in this area.  NT Gateway lists the ones below.  NT Pod especially has some interesting topics (e.g., “What is Redaction” and “Resurrection and After-Life in Paul”).

NT Pod

By Mark Goodacre. Regular podcast by the editor of this (NT Gateway) site on the New Testament and Christian Origins. Each podcast is a bite-sized 5-8 minutes long.

5 Minute Bible

By Tim Bulkeley. Five minute podcasts on the Bible, with special reference to the Old Testament, with archives going back to 2007. Many bite-sized blogs on a variety of themes from one of the pioneers of online academic Biblical materials.

Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean

By Phil Harland. 25-30 minute podcasts from Philip Harland of York University, Toronto, in several series, including Paul and his Communities (2007-8), Early Christian Portraits of Jesus (2008) and Diversity in Early Christianity: “Heresies” and Struggles (2009).

Jesus Films

By Matt Page. 5-10 minute podcasts offering reflections on several major Jesus films. From Matt Page of the Bible Films Blog.


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