New Testament Questions Galore, Free Audio


For those who enjoy listening to free NT scholarship.

I think listening to these sites and podcasts beats listening to the maximally conservative Evangelical scholarship over at Apologetics 315. The questions raised, the uncertainties pointed out by the following scholars are well worth pondering. (Iʼve heard them all, great stuff).

I had heard Dale Martin via his free NT lectures at itunes U, so it was refreshing to see him debate Licona. After you listen to Daleʼs questions regarding the NTʼs resurrection stories you might want to read my post, A Carnival of Questions for Resurrection Apologists, which was posted before I had listened to the debate, though my questions mirror many of Daleʼs points.

Examples of Later Additions to Scripture, Including Pauline Interpolations

Also, there are some things even an Evangelical apologist canʼt help but notice and hence needs to try and explain away, like the endings that later Christians added to Mark (of which there are more than one, and even those appear in variant forms in different early texts).

Speaking of adding to Scripture, there is also evidence that Paulʼs letters feature interpolated material (1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). See this fascinating discussion and link to a slide show: These are basic questions raised by Pauline scholars, and arranged well by Richard Carrier. Worth pondering, along with William O. Walkerʼs arguments concerning additional interpolations in Paulʼs letters.

Furthermore, the Gospels, Matthew and Luke, Differ Most From Each Other in exactly those places where the ostensibly earliest Gospel, Mark, was silent, i.e., in their tales of Jesusʼ infancy and post-resurrection appearances (where Mark was silent, so neither Matthew nor Luke could maintain their closeness to one another by following Mark in those areas, hence they diverge the most from each other in exactly in those places).

Gospel Trajectories

Later Gospel stories certainly appear to depend on earlier ones, starting with Mark (with of course, a few later urban myths/tall tales about Jesus added to each freshly written Gospel as each appeared). Tracing obvious Gospel trajectories (developments in the story from Mark, Matthew, Luke and finally John).

Thereʼs even a trajectory in the Gospels involving the Judas character.

Gospel Improbabilities


  1. I tend toward the view that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet.

    I enjoyed the book, Five Views on the Historical Jesus. It begins with Robert M. Price's chapter on Jesus minimalism, and ends with Blomberg's (written by a maximally conservative Evangelical Christian scholar). Interesting book.

    Besides Price and Blomberg, some of the contributing scholars with "in between" views include Crossan and Dunn.

    Crossan believes Jesus was historical but argues that much of the NT contains historicized parables rather than history.

    As for Dunn, in his enormous tome, Jesus Remembered, he argued that The Gospel of John's narrative is not reliable, nor the claims it makes for Jesus' quasi-divine status. (In his earlier work, Evidence for Jesus, Dunn didn't imagine that Jesus spoke even one word reported in John.) Dunn admits there is little to support the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke, and little evidence that Jesus supported a mission to the gentiles, and no evidence that Jesus saw himself as any kind of messiah (the term does not even appear in Q), nor is there much left of the "Son of Man," except for a few uncertain eschatological allusions. Dunn argues that Jesus did not claim any title for himself. Jesus may have believed that he was going to die, but he did not believe he was dying to redeem the sins of the world. "If Jesus hoped for resurrection it was presumably to share in the general and final resurrection of the dead." There is astonishingly little support for what Jesus' last words were. There is a certain squirming as Dunn admits that Jesus believed in an imminent eschatological climax that, of course, did not happen. "Putting it bluntly, Jesus was proved wrong by the course of events." Then he goes on for four pages trying to argue that we shouldn't be too concerned about this. Dunn's account of the resurrection notes all of the weaknesses of the tradition: The link of Jesus' resurrection to a falsely imminent general resurrection, confusion as to what sort of Jesus the witnesses were seeing, a persistent theme of failure of the witnesses to recognize Jesus (in Matthew 28:17 the disciples are seeing him in Galilee yet "some doubted," not just Thomas), confusion as to where they were seeing Jesus (in Jerusalem and Galilee? on earth or in heaven?). Which is not to say that Dunn does not affirm the resurrection -- he does, but since he admits so many weaknesses and doubts concerning the written accounts he seems to prefer a visionary explanation.

    Luke Timothy Johnson is another contributor to the book, but he endorses a literary dependence view of the Gospels over time starting with Mark. And he strongly hedges over whether or not Jesus was literally "born of a virgin." And he also finds much in Greco-Roman religion that parallels what is found in the Gospels.

  2. The authors of Five Views of the Historical Jesus could have chosen other scholars, but most conservatives whose scholarship is well-respected do not affirm inerrancy:
    Richard Bauckham,
    Tom Wright,
    Scot McKnight,
    and Larry Hurtado, are a few examples.

    Larry Hurtado from the list above, started out as a young Assemblies of God pastor but after his further education he now holds a Barthian/Bultmannian view:

    "The theological question isn’t whether the biblical texts are 'correct' (and by the way 'correct' on what and in whose eyes?), but whether they witness to divine revelation, NOT whether they supply correct details of HISTORY [my emphasis], paleontology, botany, etc."

    "[The point I try to make] isn’t whether NT authors did or did not recognize the historically-conditioned nature of biblical texts but whether people today do."

    Hurtado adds, concerning the current state of Evangelical Christian academic institutions:

    "What kind of 'academic' institution handles matters in such a disgracefully unfair, unreasonable and unreasoning, and dictatorial manner? What kind of 'Christian' institution is so narrow, so ungracious, so unkind, so Stalinesque as to handle things this way? What does it say about the 'faith' held, how nervous, uncertain, jittery, and reactionary it must be? (As someone once said about such matters, 'With "friends" like these, Jesus doesn’t need enemies!')."