Was Jesus Interested in the Old Testament?

I was astounded to learn that the Jesus Seminar claims that “Scripture was of interest to early Christians but not to Jesus” (Craig Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels [IVP: 2008], 38 [Kindle]).  “Therefore, when we encounter passages in the Gospels where Jesus quotes or alludes to Scripture, the Seminar thinks it is the early church that is speaking, not Jesus.”

But wherever they get that idea, it’s not from the text.  Evans points out some fascinating facts.

  • According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus quotes or alludes to twenty-three of the thirty-six books of the Hebrew Bible (counting the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles as three books, not six).
  • Jesus alludes to or quotes all five books of Moses, the three major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel), eight of the twelve minor prophets, and five of the “writings.” In other words, Jesus quotes or alludes to all of the books of the Law, most of the Prophets and some of the Writings.
  • According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus quotes or alludes to Deuteronomy fifteen or sixteen times, Isaiah about forty times and the Psalms some thirteen times. These appear to be his favorite books, though Daniel and Zechariah seem to have been favorites also.
  • Superficially, then, the “canon” of Jesus is pretty much what it was for most religiously observant Jews of his time, including–and especially–the producers of the scrolls at Qumran.


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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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Review of The Bible Among the Myths

Christians in Context reviews John Oswalt’s book The Bible Among the Myths.

Old Testament Israelite religion, as all fair-minded, non-fundies know, was just another ancient near eastern Semitic religion. Don’t let the fact that it caught on and stuck around fool you: OT Israel borrowed her creation myth, her ritual system, her tripartite temples, and even some of her Scriptures themselves from Egypt and Canaan. This silly idea of a uniquely revealed religion is for those folks who have naively left their brains back in the days before we did real science and history. Biblical religion is myth, just like the rest of ’em.

So says most of the scholarship on the OT and the Ancient Near Eastern world from the last fifty or so years. Which makes John Oswalt wonder: since for a long time even liberal scholars agreed that Israelite religion was mostly unique (even if it was wrong about God and the world), why this recent shift? And more importantly, is this newer wave of scholarly consensus correct? Does or does not the Bible present a religion that is essentially similar to or different than other ANE religions? (Continue)


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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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Did God Mandate Genocide in the OT?

Joe Gorra at the Evangelical Philosophical Society blog gives a sneak peek of the next issue of the Philosophia Christi journal, which is due out this summer.  (If you’re not a member of EPS or don’t have a subscription, many university libraries subscribe to the journal.)  This issue features a symposium on the question, “Did God mandate genocide” in the Old Testament.  I’m sure the debate will be lively.

Joe writes,

Contributors to this discussion include: Wesley Morriston, Randal Rauser, Joseph Buijs, Clay Jones and Paul Copan.

This discussion was originally prompted by Copan’s Philosophia Christi 10:1 (Summer 2008) article, “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster? The New Atheists and Old Testament Ethics.”

Here is a snapshot of each of the contributions in 11:1 (Summer 2009).
Subscribe today!

Did God Command Genocide? A Challenge to the Biblical Inerrantist
by Wesley Morriston

Abstract: Thoughtful Christians who hold the Old Testament in high regard must at some point come to terms with those passages in which God is said to command what appear (to us) to be moral atrocities. In the present paper, I argue that the genocide passages in the Old Testament provide us with a strong prima facie reason to reject biblical inerrancy—that in the absence of better reasons for thinking that the Bible is inerrant, a Christian should conclude that God did not in fact command genocide. I shall also consider and reject the attempts of two prominent Christian philosophers to show that God had morally sufficient reasons for commanding the Israelites to engage in genocidal attacks against foreign peoples.

“Let Nothing that Breathes Remain Alive”: On the Problem of Divinely Commanded Genocide
by Randal Rauser

Abstract: In this essay I argue that God did not command the Canaanite genocide. I begin by critiquing Paul Copan’s defense of Canaanite genocide. Next, I develop four counter-arguments. First, we know intuitively that it is always wrong to bludgeon babies. Second, even if killing babies were morally praiseworthy, the soul-destroying effect these actions would have on the perpetrators would constitute a moral atrocity. Third, I develop an undercutting defeater to the claim that Yahweh commanded genocide. Finally, I argue that we ought to repudiate divinely commanded genocide given the justification this provides for ongoing moral atrocities.

Atheism and the Argument from Harm by Joseph Buijs

Abstract: One line of argument commonly lodged against religion is that it is usually or alway sharmful, individually and socially, and for that reason should be abolished from our cultural landscape. I consider two variations of the argument: one that appeals to direct harm caused by religion and another that appeals to indirect harm on the basis of attitudes instilled by religion. Both versions, I contend, are seriously flawed. Hence, this so-called harm argument fails, both as a critique of theism and as a defense of atheism.

We Don’t Hate Sin So We Don’t Understand What Happened to the Canaanites: An Addendum to “Divine Genocide” Arguments

by Clay Jones
Abstract: Skeptics challenge God’s fairness for ordering Israel to destroy the Canaanites, but a close look at the horror of Canaanite sinfulness, the corruptive and seductive power of their sin as seen in the Canaanization of Israel, and God’s subsequently instituting Israel’s own destruction because of Israel’s committing Canaanite sin reveals that God was just in His ordering the Canaanite’s destruction. But Western culture’s embrace of “Canaanite sin” inoculates it against the seriousness of that sin and so renders it incapable of responding to Canaanite sin with the appropriate moral outrage.

Yahweh Wars and the Canaanites: Divinely-Mandated Genocide or Corporate Capital Punishment? Response to Critics

by Paul Copan
Abstract: The divine command to kill the Canaanites is the most problematic of all Old Testament ethical issues. This article responds to challenges raised by Wes Morriston and Randal Rauser. It argues that biblical and extrabiblical evidence suggests that the Canaanites who were killed were combatants rather than noncombatants (“Scenario 1”) and that, given the profound moral corruption of Canaan, this divinely-directed act was just. Even if it turns out that noncombatants were directly targeted (“Scenario 2”), the overarching Old Testament narrative is directed toward the salvation of all nations—including the Canaanites.

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Review of Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context

Nice review of this volume by Brevard Childs at Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.

It begins:

Brevard S. Childs was Sterling Professor of Divinity (Emeritus)  at Yale University until his death nearly two years ago on June 23, 2007.  Best known for his ‘canonical approach’ to Scripture, Childs left behind a legacy of impressive scholarship and theological reflection in the service of the academy and the Church.  Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context is Childs’ “understanding of Old Testament theology in a less technical form than [his] earlier commentary and introductions.” (p. xiii)  According to Childs the “most pressing need within the contemporary scene seems to be in suggesting a new manner of theological reflection rather than once again rehearsing in detail familiar lines of earlier research.” (p. xiii)  In enters his ‘canonical approach.’


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Forthcoming Commentaries Website

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Thanks to Summa Philosophiae for pointing out this great biblical commentary resource.

Check this out...it provides future Biblical commentaries categorized by book or commentary series.  This is truly a site for nerdy commentar-o-philes!

The site lists the commentaries and their authors by book of the Bible and also by series (Brazos Theological Commentary, New American Commentary, etc.).

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