Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mefferd recap and book give-away

Well, I did appear on the Janet Mefferd Show yesterday. Here is the link to the hour long interview. She is a very good interviewer, with rapids questions. I do believe the questions are carefully crafted, which didn't leave much wiggle room. She did stump me on one question. She asked why the ESV was called "essentially literal," emphasizing the "essentially." I said that there are times when it doesn't stay very "literal." She asked for an example ... I knew it was Ephesians 1 and I thought it was verse 13 ... but I just couldn't find it. So, here is the verse I was looking for (verse 14b):

Greek:    εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως
Literal:    unto a redemption of the possession
NASB:   with a view to the redemption of God's own possession
ESV:       until we acquire possession of it

Even the NIV (2011) is more literal (remember: literal doesn't mean "better"):
NIV:   until the redemption of those who are God's possession

Also, Andy Naselli is giving away three copies of Which Bible Translation Should I Use? at his blog. If you don't already subscribe to his blog ... you should. I think all five of his "reflections" are very fair. So go there and enter the drawing!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Which Bible Translation Should I Use? and the Janet Mefferd Show

Next Monday a book I co-edited with Andreas Köstenberger will be released: Which Bible Translation Should I Use? A Comparison of 4 Major Recent Versions. Doug Moo (NIV), Wayne Grudem (ESV), Ray Clendenen (HCSB), and Philip Comfort (NLT) contributed chapters. Each chapter has an introduction explaining and defending the Bible translation philosophy used, followed by the discussion of sixteen of the same biblical texts. This provides readers with an opportunity to compare the translation principles and practices of each translation. has the book for sale for under $10 right now.

Today at 4pm EST, I will be interviewed on the Janet Mefferd Show about the book. I hope you find the time to tune in and listen as we discuss the Bible translations.

Update: Here is a link to the description of today's show.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Assembling the Responses to The Gospel of Jesus's Wife

Many have now responded to the Coptic fragment. Several of these responses are very well thought-out. Top of the line, I think, goes to Francis Watson, who compares this tiny fragment to certain sayings in the Gospel of Thomas and concludes that this text is probably a modern forgery of someone copying from the Gospel of Thomas. Peter Williams, a brilliant scholar, has also chimed in. Here are some links to others:
-Al Mohler
-Daniel Wallace
-Dirk Jongkind

Each of these make helpful contributions to this discussion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Michael Kruger weighs in on the "Jesus' Wife" fragment

Michael Kruger, Professor of New Testament and Academic Dean with Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, has weighed in on the Jesus' wife fragment. Dr. Kruger is an excellent scholar on issues related to canonicity and apocryphal writings.

Darrell Bock responds to the "Jesus's Wife" fragment

New Testament scholar Darrell Bock has responded to the fragment that (supposedly) says that Jesus had a wife. Dr. Bock is a wonderful scholar and has some great initial thoughts on this small fragment.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Did Jesus have a wife?

The Gospel of Jesus's Wife fragment
A newly discovered papyrus quotes Jesus as referring to his own wife. The line is translated from Sahidic Coptic as: "Jesus said to them, 'My wife ...'" Dr. Karen King, professor of divinity at Harvard Divinity School, calls the papyrus "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife." This is the earliest statement (4th century) referring to Jesus having a wife that is known to exist. Dr. King says that it proves that there was an "active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married." The papyrologists and Coptic linguists to whom she has shown the manuscript are all convinced that it is genuine and not a forgery. The papyrus is only 4 by 8 centimeters, smaller than a business card. According to the article in the New York Times, King cautioned that this was not proof that Jesus was married.

I have already been asked by students for my thoughts on this. First, I don't know Sahidic Coptic and probably never will. Second, I'm not a papyrologist. However, if the translation is accurate (and I have no reason to doubt it) and the dating is accurate (and dating these papyri can be controversial, but again, I have no reason to doubt it), then I still have some questions.

1) Why call a 4 by 8 centimeter fragment "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife"? The fragment is probably part of a larger manuscript that might have virtually nothing to do with this one line. The title of the fragment suggests that there is a whole narrative built around Jesus' wife.
2) Can this one tiny fragment bear the weight of the claim that there was an "active discussion" about Jesus' marital status? One fragment in the 4th century does not equal an "active discussion."
3) All we have so far is Jesus saying "My wife" but no verb and no object. Some might say that the most likely assumption was that Jesus (in the fragment) was referring to a literal wife. I ask this: could the Jesus figure in the fragment have been referring to a "spiritual" wife? Is it even possible that the Jesus figure in that fragment said, "My wife is the church and I am her groom"? Maybe something like that could be possible. When two words of a sentence are present, is that enough to make such wide sweeping claims. For example, what if we found a fragment that said: "Jesus said, 'I am a liar ...' People would then bring up the issue of whether Jesus sinned or not and say this was a widespread debate. However, maybe the sentence would finish with "I am a liar if I tell you I was not sent by the Father." These two words are not enough.
4) Finally, there were lots of heresies by the fourth century: Sabellianism (aka, modalism; ca. 3rd century), Docetism (rejected in 4th century), Apollinarianism (4th century), and Arianism (late 3rd century). Just because someone believed something in the fourth century, doesn't make it historically true about Jesus. Dr. King states this herself.

This fragment should not concern anyone in the Christian faith. It might make big headlines, but a 4th century fragment is no reason to allow your faith in God and His Holy Word to be shaken. The picture we have of Jesus in the four Gospels is reliable and accurate.

Monday, September 17, 2012

LU Biblical Studies Symposium

For those of you who will be watching the Symposium online tonight ( at 7:30pm, if you'd like to tweet in a question, use: #LibertyProphecy.

Does Biblical Prophecy Fail? Jonah prophesied that  "In 40 days Ninevah will be demolished." But it wasn't demolished in 40 days ... so did his prophecy fail? Was Jonah a false prophet? Get some answers tonight!

Liberty University Biblical Studies Symposium

I would like to invite you to take part in our semi-annual Biblical Studies Symposium, this Monday evening from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the Towns Alumni Lecture Hall. Dr. Michael Grisanti - Professor of Old Testament at The Master's Seminary and co-author of "The World and the Word" - will be speaking on the topic "Does  Biblical Prophecy Fail?"

If you are local to Lynchburg, Virginia, I encourage you to attend physically, but those of you not located in Central Virginia are invited to join us through a webcast that will stream through the School of Religion's home pageThe live stream will be made available shortly before the event's start at 7:30. On the day of the event, a banner will be displayed on the SOR homepage to allow you to join us during this exciting event. We will also provide an opportunity for you to tweet your questions for Dr. Grisanti during the event. We hope to see you all there, in some fashion or another!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Moo's review of Kingdom through Covenant

The Gospel Coalition has posted the first of (at least) three reviews on Kingdom through Covenant by Gentry and Wellum. In this volume, they attempt a middle ground between covenant theology and dispensationalism. This review is by Doug Moo. I highly recommend it. I look forward to reading the reviews by Darrell Bock and Michael Horton as well!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Children and Baptism

There has been a moderate amount of blog dialogue on the issue of baptizing children, which needs to be distinguished from baptizing infants. The question is not whether God can save young children or whether God does save young children, but whether or not a response of immediate baptism is necessitated by Scripture and whether or not it is wise to do so (once the previous question has been answered). Tim Challies has chimed in (again) on this topic. I've appreciated what he has said previously, and he continues on his same course from previous posts. I think Challies is pretty clear (despite the comments from some readers) that God absolutely can save young children. However, Challies gives an example of a two-year old answering his father's questions with a "yes". I think that is a pretty good example to process through: if you say that you wouldn't baptize that 2 year-old, then what makes you more comfortable baptizing a 5 or 6 or 9 year-old? What are the principles you would use to distinguish between saying "no" to baptizing a 2 year-old but yes to someone who is 6?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Christianity Today on the "Sinner's Prayer"

There is an editorial on Christianity Today's website about the "sinner's prayer." There has been some debate recently on the use (or, misuse) of this recent Evangelical evangelistic device. The subtitle of the article refers to this device as a "work of genius." The author apparently considers the sinner's prayer as part of "the faith once delivered to the saints" (unless that was sarcasm ... I couldn't tell). There was an interesting line near the end referring to those who have recently critiqued the sinner's prayer: "But we have to do better than theological snobbery or spiritual self-righteousness." 

So, what do you think of this article?

Monday, September 03, 2012

My Trip to the Grand Canyon

         Answers in Genesis, Master’s Seminary, and Canyon Ministries have provided an opportunity for Christian educators and influential pastors to travel down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Their purpose is to equip those leaders with a more intimate understanding of Noah’s worldwide flood through hands-on lessons in geology, paleontology, and Scripture to better grasp the age of the earth.
This year marked their fifth trip and is by invitation only. Master’s sent an Old Testament scholar, Dr. Bill Barrick, Answers in Genesis sent Dr. Terry Mortenson and Dr. Andrew Snelling, and Canyon Ministries sent Tom Vail. The trip is a ministry to Christian leaders and is nearly fully funded through scholarships.  Several School of Religion faculty members from Liberty University have gone in the past few years. The group this year had ministers from the United States, Russia, Romania, and Australia, with various views on the age of the earth represented. This led to many stimulating conversations about creation between the leaders and participants of the trip as we wrestled with God’s truths and science together. I had never been to the Grand Canyon. It was breathtaking. I found myself constantly singing songs of praise and adoration as I delighted in the majestic hues and the colossal cliffs that engulfed me.
The leaders of the trip defended a worldwide flood and creation from a young earth perspective. Evidence of animals being buried in a manner completely inconsistent with the secular perspective on the Grand Canyon was very compelling as I actually saw it with my own eyes. My soul will never forget that time meditating on Genesis 1 while quietly floating down the river with the splendor of the Grand Canyon surrounding me. One of the most indelible moments was when we were shown “creation rock,” which was explained to us as the rock God spoke into existence at the beginning of creation.  In the quietness of the canyon we broke out in song, all of the men singing How Great Thou Art and O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing.
The rapids were a blast! The hot weather exceeded 120 degrees at times, which was a sharp contrast to the cold canyon waters which were about 50 degrees. At times the rapids were intense. The waters claimed hats, glasses, and slippers. It was not partial to any particular clothing.
We mostly slept on cots under the stars, and at times my cot was only five feet from the Colorado River. One night we were awoken from our slumber as it began to rain on us. I was thoroughly soaked! It drizzled through the morning and culminated in a downpour at lunchtime.  As miserable as that might sound, one of the most glorious sites I have ever seen in nature resulted from it. As we floated down the river we spotted waterfalls–not just a couple, but dozens upon dozens decorating the canyon walls on either side of us; some were falling over half a mile down the sides of the cliffs! We endeavored to count them, but soon realized that it was useless to even attempt–there were too many!  Someone’s camera was destroyed in attempt to capture the grandeur, yet a picture could never encapsulate the magnificence of what we saw. We were awestruck at the site.
I wish I could truly share how incredible this experience was but words fall short of adequate expression. These ministries teamed up to provide an edifying experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am confident that the friendships forged in the Grand Canyon will last for years to come, as will the lessons learned.