Tag Archives: Charles Quarles

What about all those other books that the Church left out the Bible?

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data

You may sometimes hear the objection that there were lots of other gospels and books floating around at the time when the 27 books of the New Testament were standardized. The right way to answer this problem is to ask for a particular book that the challenger would like included and then to take a look at factors like the date it was written, who wrote it, and where it was written. When you look at these factors, it becomes obvious why the other books were left out.

Consider an article by Dr. Charles Quarles, who has written against an early dating of a “left out” book called the “Gospel of Peter”. Why was it left out? Because Christian are mean? Maybe there’s a historical reason why these books are not included.

Excerpt:

An impressive number of clues suggest that this gospel [Peter] postdates even the latest New Testament book and belongs to the mid-second century. First, a close analysis of verbal parallels shared by the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Matthew suggests that the Gospel of Peter postdates Matthew and utilized that Gospel as a source… an examination of the vocabulary, grammar, and style of the two documents strongly favors the dependence of the Gospel of Peter on Matthew. Robert Gundry, one of the most respected experts on issues related to Matthew’s style, called the phrase a “series of Mattheanisms” (Gundry, Matthew [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 584). Similarly, John Meier noted “when it comes to who is dependent on whom, all the signs point to Matthews priority. . . . The clause is a tissue of Matthean vocabulary and style, a vocabulary and style almost totally absent from the rest of the Gospel of Peter” (Meier, Marginal Jews, 1:117). This is consistent with a number of other Matthean features appear in the Gospel of Peter that all point to the dependence of the Gospel of Peter on Matthew.

Second, other features of the Gospel of Peter suggest that the gospel not only postdates Matthew, but even postdates the latest book of the NT canon, the Book of Revelation. For example, although Matthew indicates that the Roman guard sealed the tomb of Jesus, Gospel of Peter 8:33 adds that it was sealed with seven seals. The reference to the seven seals conflicts with the immediate context. Gospel of Peter 8:32-33 states that all the witnesses present sealed the tomb. However, a minimum of nine witnesses were present leading readers to expect at least nine seals. The best explanation for the awkward reference to the seven seals is that the detail was drawn from Revelation 5:1. This allusion to Revelation fits well with the Gospel of Peter 9:35 and 12:50 reference to the day of Jesus’ resurrection as the “Lord’s Day” since this terminology only appears in Revelation in the NT and first in Revelation out of all ancient Christian literature. The reference to the “Lord’s Day” in the Gospel of Peter is a shortened form that appears to be a later development from the original form appearing in Revelation.

Still other features of the Gospel of Peter fit best with the historical data if the Gospel of Peter was produced in the mid-second century. The Gospel of Peter assumes the doctrine of Jesus’ descent into Hades to preach to the dead. However, this doctrine first appears in the words of Justin Martyr around AD 150. The talking cross is a feature of other second-century literature. The Epistula Apostolorum 16 states that during the second coming Jesus will be carried on the wings of the clouds with his cross going on before him. Similarly, the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Peter 1 describes the returning Christ as coming in a glory seven times as bright as the sun and with his cross going before his face. In a similar fashion, beginning in the late first century, Christian texts describe Christ as possessing gigantic stature. In an allegorical depiction of Jesus’ supremacy and authority over the church, Shepherd of Hermas 83:1 described Christ as of such lofty stature that he stood taller than a tower. 4 Ezra 2:43, a portion of 4 Ezra dating to the middle or late third century, referred to the unusual height of the Son of God. These shared compositional strategies and features make the most sense if these documents and the Gospel of Peter were composed in the same milieu.

It turns out that Quarles has actually debated the views he presents in this article against John Dominic Crossan, the main proponent of the view that the Gospel of Peter is early. You can buy the audio on CDs here, or you can get the book. The CDs are highly recommended, but the book leaves out all the dialog, so I don’t recommend it.

And you can read about two more rejected books, the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas, as well. The authors of those two articles are Craig Blomberg and Craig A. Evans, respectively. Craig Evans is also involved in the debate I mentioned with Crossan. He was able to debunk another “lost book of the Bible” called “Secret Mark”, which turned out to be a hoax.

What about all those other books that the Church left out the Bible?

You may sometimes hear the objection that there were lots of other gospels and books floating around at the time when the 27 books of the New Testament were standardized. The right way to answer this problem is to ask for a particular book that the challenger would like included and then to take a look at factors like the date it was written, who wrote it, and where it was written. When you look at these factors, it becomes obvious why the other books were left out.

Consider an article by Dr. Charles Quarles, who has written against an early dating of a “left out” book called the “Gospel of Peter”. Why was it left out? Because Christian are mean? Because we’re hiding the decline using Mike’s Nature trick to avoid losing billions of dollars in taxpayer money? Not quite.

Excerpt:

An impressive number of clues suggest that this gospel [Peter] postdates even the latest New Testament book and belongs to the mid-second century. First, a close analysis of verbal parallels shared by the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Matthew suggests that the Gospel of Peter postdates Matthew and utilized that Gospel as a source… an examination of the vocabulary, grammar, and style of the two documents strongly favors the dependence of the Gospel of Peter on Matthew. Robert Gundry, one of the most respected experts on issues related to Matthew’s style, called the phrase a “series of Mattheanisms” (Gundry, Matthew [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 584). Similarly, John Meier noted “when it comes to who is dependent on whom, all the signs point to Matthews priority. . . . The clause is a tissue of Matthean vocabulary and style, a vocabulary and style almost totally absent from the rest of the Gospel of Peter” (Meier, Marginal Jews, 1:117). This is consistent with a number of other Matthean features appear in the Gospel of Peter that all point to the dependence of the Gospel of Peter on Matthew.

Second, other features of the Gospel of Peter suggest that the gospel not only postdates Matthew, but even postdates the latest book of the NT canon, the Book of Revelation. For example, although Matthew indicates that the Roman guard sealed the tomb of Jesus, Gospel of Peter 8:33 adds that it was sealed with seven seals. The reference to the seven seals conflicts with the immediate context. Gospel of Peter 8:32-33 states that all the witnesses present sealed the tomb. However, a minimum of nine witnesses were present leading readers to expect at least nine seals. The best explanation for the awkward reference to the seven seals is that the detail was drawn from Revelation 5:1. This allusion to Revelation fits well with the Gospel of Peter 9:35 and 12:50 reference to the day of Jesus’ resurrection as the “Lord’s Day” since this terminology only appears in Revelation in the NT and first in Revelation out of all ancient Christian literature. The reference to the “Lord’s Day” in the Gospel of Peter is a shortened form that appears to be a later development from the original form appearing in Revelation.

Still other features of the Gospel of Peter fit best with the historical data if the Gospel of Peter was produced in the mid-second century. The Gospel of Peter assumes the doctrine of Jesus’ descent into Hades to preach to the dead. However, this doctrine first appears in the words of Justin Martyr around AD 150. The talking cross is a feature of other second-century literature. The Epistula Apostolorum 16 states that during the second coming Jesus will be carried on the wings of the clouds with his cross going on before him. Similarly, the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Peter 1 describes the returning Christ as coming in a glory seven times as bright as the sun and with his cross going before his face. In a similar fashion, beginning in the late first century, Christian texts describe Christ as possessing gigantic stature. In an allegorical depiction of Jesus’ supremacy and authority over the church, Shepherd of Hermas 83:1 described Christ as of such lofty stature that he stood taller than a tower. 4 Ezra 2:43, a portion of 4 Ezra dating to the middle or late third century, referred to the unusual height of the Son of God. These shared compositional strategies and features make the most sense if these documents and the Gospel of Peter were composed in the same milieu.

Read the rest here.

It turns out that Quarles has actually debated the views he presents in this article against John Dominic Crossan, the main proponent of the view that the Gospel of Peter is early. You can buy the audio on CDs here, or you can get the book. The CDs are highly recommended, but the book leaves out all the dialog, so I don’t recommend it.

And you can read about two more rejected books, the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas, as well. The authors of those two articles are Craig Blomberg and Craig A. Evans, respectively. Craig Evans is also involved in the debate I mentioned with Crossan, and in the debate he also reveals that another left out book called “Secret Mark” is actually a 20th century hoax, and Crossan had no response to that revelation in the debate.

Here are some ideas for your Christmas gift giving this year

I was supposed to work all through Thanksgiving on a project, but I ended up doing all my Christmas shopping. If you have a lot of people on your list like I do, you might want to consider the “Ministry Give-away” offers from Randolph Productions. They sell intelligent design DVDs and the new Illustra Media production of the Craig-Hitchens debate that occurred in Aptil this year at Biola University.

Here’s what I bought:

The ministry give-away packs are neat because they give you the DVD in a simple envelope. It doesn’t have the fancy packaging but then again, it costs $3 per DVD!! (or less, if you buy a bigger pack). I bought the 11-packs, which come with 1 full sized DVD ($20) and 10 give-away DVDs ($3 each!). Shipping is FREE. They have packages up to 100 give-away DVDs! But they don’t yet have Darwin’s Dilemma in Ministry give-away packs yet, so I bought a bunch of those at a discounted price from Amazon.

I have seen the Lee Strobel DVDs they are offering and I do not recommend them, as they are not as detailed as the Illustra/Coldwater DVDs. They try to cover too much in too little time, and some things get missed. Also, they are a bit too stylish and slick for my taste, with too much about Lee’s personal life experiences.

I haven’t actually got the DVDs from Randolph Productions yet, so… you might want to wait and see if mine are done right before you order anything from them! This is my first time ordering from them.

UPDATE: They shipped it by FEDEX ground and e-mailed me again.

Greer-Heard lectures

The Greer-Heard Point/Counterpoint forum is an annual debate run by the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The only ones worth buying are the 2005 and 2009 ones, and they are both really, really worth buying. I will be writing about both of these pretty soon. The 2005 ones come on CD, although I e-mailed them and asked them to put up an MP3 version of it so y’all could all get it for a better price. No response yet on that.

The 2005 Greer-Heard forum is available on CDs for $38:

  • J.D. Crossan and N.T. Wright — Jesus’ Resurrection – opening speeches and dialogue
  • R. Douglas Geivett — “What Should We Believe about Belief in the Resurrection”
  • Chuck Quarles — “The Gospel of Peter: A Pre-Canonical Resurrection Narrative?”
  • William Lane Craig — “Resurrection: Does it Matter?”
  • Gary Habermas — “Mapping Recent Trends in Critical Resurrection Theories”
  • Craig Evans — “The Place of Wright and Crossan in Jesus Research”
  • Ted Peters — “The Future of the Resurrection”
  • Concluding Comments from J.D. Crossan and N.T. Wright

Wright laid out his standard case for the 6 mutations, and Crossan tried to explain the resurrection as metaphor. Crossan was hard to pin down, but he eventually did come clean in the discussion time, and even allowed the empty tomb. Doug Geivett’s response was the jewel in a magnificent crown of debate. He was merciless. Chuck Quarles and Craig Evans were very effective and Craig and Habermas were OK. Ted Peters supported Crossan’s view.

The 2009 Greer-Heard forum is available for MP3 download for $15:

  • Harold A. Netland and Paul F. Knitter — Religious Pluralism – opening speeches and dialog
  • Paul Copan — “Is the World Religiously Ambiguous? No, and Neither Is Religious Pluralism”
  • S. Mark Heim — “No Other Name: The Gospel and True Religions”
  • R. Douglas Geivett — “The Futility of Neutrality: The Uniqueness of Jesus in a World of Religions”
  • Millard J. Erickson — Evangelical Philosophical Society Plenary Address
  • Terrence Tilley — “Principles for Assessing Theologies of Religious Diversity”
  • Keith Yandell — “Does Religious Pluralism Have Sufficient Rationale?”
  • Concluding Comments from Paul Knitter & Harold Netland

I just downloaded this set and it is extremely addictive. I’ve listened to it THREE TIMES! Netland was pretty moderate, and Knitter was a pretty typical religious pluralist – irrational and indifferent to evidence. Copan’s response was the best of a great bunch – it was vicious. Yandell’s paper a close second (his paper had to be read by someone else – if he had read it, he might have surpassed Copan!) Geivett was pretty moderate this time, but still good. Heim was OK and Erickson just made some general comments about postmodernism that were OK. Tilley supported Knitter’s view.

The upcoming 2010 forum on “The Message of Jesus” is set for February 2010. They got Crossan to come back, which is great, because he is a fine speaker and a good participant in these dialogs. I can’t stand his positions, though. And his opponent is Ben Witherington, who is a well-respected historian. Non-Christian respondents are Amy-Jill Levine and Alan F. Segal. Christian respondents are Craig A. Evans, Craig Blomberg, and Darrell L. Bock. All 3 of them participate in debates before.

  • John Dominic Crossan & Ben Witherington III — opening speeches and dialog
  • Darrell L. Bock — response
  • Amy-Jill Levine — response
  • Craig Blomberg — response
  • Craig A. Evans — response
  • Alan F. Segal — response

I’ll probably get this set as MP3s if they keep the price down. It looks like this will be a good one.

I like Craig Evans and Darrell Bock MORE than Witherington and Blomberg, because I think they”ll be more aggressive. All four of these Christian scholars have participated in debates before. Blomberg and Witherington were respondents to the Craig-Crossan debate (the book version). Craig Evans responded to Crossan in the 2005 Greer-Heard forum. And Darrell Bock responded to Borg in the Craig-Borg debate.

You can probably find free lectures from many of these scholars at the Veritas Forum web site.

The best books of 2009, and some older ones you might have missed

If you haven’t bought “Signature in the Cell” yet, what are you waiting for? This is the book of the year. It was named to Amazon’s top 10 science books and to the Best Books of 2009 list compiled by the UK Times Literary Supplement, (selected by the brilliant and honest atheist Thomas Nagel, who is the atheist I would most like to see become a Christian, now that Anthony Flew has left atheism).

For apologetics, get William Lane Craig’s “Reasonable Faith“, 3rd edition, “Contending With Christianity’s Critics“, “Passionate Conviction“, “God Is great, God is Good” and “Tactics” by Greg Koukl. For economics, get “Money, Greed and God” by Jay Richards. For the resurrection, get “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona. For bio-ethics, get “The Case for Life” by Scott Klusendorf. For marriage, get “Taken into Custody” by Stephen Baskerville, and also “Love and Economics” by Jennifer Roback Morse. For politics, the book of the year is “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark Levin.

Charities

For the person who has everything, you can always donate to charity on their behalf.

This year I donated to the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, the Ruth Institute, Reasonable Faith, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and Michele Bachmann. I also donated to specific debates and conferences that featured Christian scholars in dialog with non-Christian speakers, in non-Christian settings. My goal is to address non-Christian audiences with scholarship that is consistent with and supportive of the Christian worldview. I favor charities that use sound logical arguments supported by objective, verificable evidence.

Something just for fun

I recommend the 1960s spy series “Danger Man“, starring Patrick McGoohan. They’re about $25 from Amazon. McGoohan’s character John Drake is the anti-James Bond. He always put the mission first – he never allowed himself to be manipulated or distracted by enemy agents. And it’s filmed in black and white – exactly the way secret agent John Drake operates.

Here are a couple of videos to give you an idea of what it’s all about.

John Drake infiltrates a murder-for-hire ring based in Italy:

John Drake attempts to kidnap a professional assassin behind the Iron Curtain:

I hope talking about Danger Man doesn’t prevent Brian Auten of Apologetics 315 from adding this post to his Twitter feed. His list of recommended books is here.