Book Plunge: Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught Obstacle 3

Is oral tradition unreliable? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As Madison begins this chapter, does he reference any of the scholars of oral tradition in history? Of course not. No Bailey, McIver, Lord, Perry, Dunn, etc. Nope. He sticks with Helms, who is not a scholar, and then references Tom Dykstra. I had to do some digging to find out anything about him which took a bit since he is pretty much cited only on mythicist websites.

One site I found had this to say:

First, a little about Dykstra. He is an “Independent Researcher” who lives in Bellevue, Washington. Some of you may be familiar with his blog. The “About” page tells us that he “got a Bachelors degree in Russian language and history; a Master of Divinity from a Russian Orthodox Seminary, focusing on church history; and a Ph.D. in medieval Russian history.” He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Russian history, and published a book based on his dissertation (concerning Russian monks in the 16th century). Tom’s goal is to write “historical fiction,” by which he has in mind novels “meticulously researched and historically accurate,” such as Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts, a book that greatly influenced him. Tom believes that historical fiction brings the past alive in a way ‘straight’ history cannot, if only because we lack many facts and because history is a one-sided account generally written by the winners. So, he finds truth in the loser’s side of the story and appreciates “the flaws of the heroes and the goodness of the villains.”

But now for another crazy theory from mythicists. According to this site also, what is Dykstra’s hypothesis?

But I already digress. What I find remarkable about Dykstra’s book is not that Mark ‘canonizes’ Paul, but how Mark did it. You see, Dykstra argues that Mark patterned his central character—Jesus of Capernaum—on Paul! Now, I’ve not come across that thesis before. But I do find it intriguing.

Dykstra offers well-reasoned and detailed arguments as to why Jesus visits Gentile terrain (as did Paul), sits with foreigners (ditto), rejects Jewish legalism (ditto), has so much trouble with Peter (you guessed it) and, above all, why Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross (I’m working on that)—which event Paul taught was the key to salvation through belief.

By the way, the same site also says Christians park their brains at the church door.

Madison meanwhile contends Paul doesn’t seem to know anything about the traditions of Jesus since He says almost nothing about them.

Well, he refers to them thrice in 1 Cor. Second, why should he? That would have been background knowledge to the audience. There was no need to repeat what they already knew.

Unfortunately, that’s about it for this section. So let’s see, in an argument about oral tradition, Madison cites no scholars of oral tradition, doesn’t even mention any of their names, and we’re supposed to take him seriously?

These guys never seem to know a thing about what they argue against.

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