Book Plunge: Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught Obstacle 1

What keeps us supposedly from knowing what Jesus taught? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am going to go through these one-by-one here as this is a part 2 to the book, but first, let’s quote how this begins.

In 2004, devout Christian scholar Ben Witherington III published a 400-page commentary on the apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It includes a 19-page bibliography of other works about Paul and his writings, and Witherington said, “…this list could go on for miles.” Indeed, the output of scholars—the results of their intensive study of the New Testament for decades—is nothing short of phenomenal.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 91). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

Why do I cite this? Because I disagree? Certainly not. Because this is the start of a powerful argument? Not at all.

It’s because this is the only time that Madison cites a conservative scholar and even then you don’t get any content of it except “This could go on for miles.”

Really doing the work there, Madison.

Madison starts with asking what we could know about an event like the Gettysburg Address. He talks about all the sources we could cite and then says this:

No such references exist for the Jesus story. The four gospels were written decades after the events depicted, and not once do their authors provide specific details about their sources.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 93). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

Because there’s nothing like comparing events that are 1800 years apart.

I mean, the only differences are the location, the time, the place, the languages spoken, the literacy of the people involved and how many of them were literate, the nature of the culture involved, the cost of writing materials, and what it would take to distribute writing materials, and those are just off the top of my head.

You know, little details like that.

And before I comment on that he says:

If you don’t identify your sources and cite contemporaneous documentation, the story doesn’t qualify as history.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (pp. 93-94). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

And who made up these rules? Certainly not ancient historians. Will Madison apply the same to Suetonius, Plutarch, Tacitus, Josephus, and many others? While sure some will tell their sources, many times stories will go without what Madison would consider proper footnoting. Many of them also wrote about events long before their time.

He then cites Carrier (Please stop laughing) talking about the long speeches in John. (I at this point have to be careful what I choose to cut and paste since apparently I have got close to my limits.) Naturally, Carrier says that since these don’t show up in the other Gospels, then John must be lying. Yep. That has to be it. Go ahead and attribute the worst motives to the ancient authors.

It couldn’t possibly be there are different reasons. It could well be Jesus taught in both forms and the Synoptics reported what is easier to remember. John wants to make a statement for his community to show why they are different and thus shows more of a back-and-forth dialogue going on on long and extended topics.

But what about Jesus’s words themselves. How do we know we have them right? Was anyone writing them down? Well first off, Matthew being a tax collector very well could have been writing down shorthand. Without that, these parables and stories would likely be told many many times and remembered and ancient people had much better memories than we do. Naturally, Madison doesn’t look at any sources on oral cultures or with modern scholars like Bailey, McIver, or Dunn.

So strike the first obstacle as a no-go.

But were the Gospels meant to be history? We’ll look at that next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)




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