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"Six Bad Habits of NT Scholars and How to Avoid Them" on Youtube

My webinar called "Six Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars and How to Avoid Them" is now available on Youtube. Have fun watching!

Interestingly, my host for the webinar, Jonathan McLatchie, has taken some flak for giving me this forum to dispute the ideas of some NT scholars. He posted this comment along with the Youtube link to Facebook and has given me permission to post that comment to my blogs.

Here is the recording of Saturday's Apologetics Academy webinar featuring analytic philosopher Dr. Lydia McGrew. Her subject was "Six Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars (and how to avoid them)". I regret that some people seem to be rather upset that I have sided with Lydia in regards to this topic over Michael Licona, Craig Evans, et al. I have even lost Facebook friends as a result. May I emphasize that this is scholarship and there is no ill-intent towards any of the people whose views I and Lydia depart from. If you put scholarly argumentation into the public realm, then you need to learn not to take it personally when others disagree and publicly voice their dissent. I invite you to watch the webinar for yourself and make up your own mind.

Kudos to Jonathan for taking this attitude. Indeed, the attitude deserves commendation even if someone doesn't agree with me about my conclusions. Surely it's at least worth airing the arguments, as the stakes are pretty high.

Comments (9)

"I have even lost Facebook friends as a result."

Schoolarly reputation seems to be like a cult....

What was funny was that, as you'll see if you watch the video, Jonathan was extremely low-key in the whole thing. He was just the host. Very hands-off. I did virtually all of the talking (and a lot of talking). One wouldn't even have known for sure (I think) from the webinar whether he agreed or disagreed with me. Most of the questions he brought up were about inerrancy and a few other things. He mostly read questions people had submitted. It's true that he didn't get in there and defend Licona's position or that of the other scholars I criticized, but that would be (at most) an argument from silence.

In this Facebook post he uses the term "sided with," and I think his Facebook friends realize independently that he is sympathetic to my position, but what he lost FB friends for apparently was giving me this forum for airing my opinions and arguments. He could have done *that* even if he *didn't* agree with me. It really looks unfortunately like the goal is to suppress debate on this nexus of issues.

I don't facebook any more than I am a twit, but it seems likely to me that any 'friend' you lose over allowing a scholar on your program who argues, in a civilized manner, that the gospel writers meant what they wrote as being so outré, so beyond the pale that it is no longer permissible to associate with you - good riddance, I would say. People who would find offence at this probably need to be offended. To be shocked, really. Because they are not thinking, they are merely reacting the way they've been programmed to react.

The sociology of the NT evangelical world is very weird.

These guys have a sort of niche in which I believe they think of themselves as sort of "despised by both the left and the right." They are more conservative than the mainstream, secular NT scholars, which is to say they actually believe that miracles occurred and that Jesus rose from the dead, etc. (Though in my opinion several of them unintentionally undermine the *basis* for believing that, but they don't realize that.) And several of them go out there and actually debate Bart Ehrman and so forth. So they really think of themselves as bold Christians who are willing to be looked down on for the faith. And in a sense that is true. In the NT scholarship world, to be considered an "apologist" is to be considered almost by definition intellectually dishonest.

On the other hand, there was the big dust-up with Norm Geisler about five years ago which no one will ever be allowed to forget, and also back in the 1980s, in which different scholars were tackled for their lack of adherence to classic inerrancy. Well, they really *weren't* inerrantists, and unfashionable as it is for me to say so, I understand why a college or other organization (such as the ETS back in the 80s) that had inerrancy in its statement of faith would consider that they were dodging and were not accepting the statement in the right way. But anyway, there were some job losses and one guy back in the 80s was kicked out of the ETS. (That was Robert Gundry.)

So now the ghost of that hangs over everything, and if anything the "niche" of "moderate" evangelical NT scholarship has become even more defensive concerning any "attacks" that are perceived to come from the "right" of the ideological spectrum, as of course mine do, even though I'm not an inerrantist! I'm viewed as part of a phenomenon in which we "eat our own" and don't appreciate those who are out there debating the bad guys in the name of Christ and so forth. Someone will go back and forth with me and agree with my critiques but suddenly stop and feel the need to imply that I'm not saying enough *positive* about Licona and Wallace and what they have done for the Christian community. (Wallace, whose ideas on redaction criticism I discussed a bit in the talk, is a *textual* scholar and has debated Bart Ehrman quite ably on the transmission of the gospel texts.) And that's at the mildest. Someone else postponed more or less indefinitely even reading my critiques and more or less admitted that he was shying away because he didn't like the title of one of them and mumbled something about the meanness of Norm Geisler.

It's a little bit astonishing to me that people don't realize the danger of this a priori insular attitude. Surely if we don't civilly criticize each other the skeptics will be happy to do it for us! And on these very points; pointing out how these perspectives undermine the historical reliability of the Gospels. Indeed they are already doing so.

Hi Lydia,

Do you have a transcript of your Webinar? Some readers over at The Skeptical Zone are requesting one. Thanks.


No, it was just done on the 6th, and I don't know of any speedy typist with the motivation and time to sit down and transcribe it. I talked (aside from Q & A) for about an hour and a half!

I myself prefer reading transcripts to watching long things on Youtube, so I sympathize, but it just doesn't exist right now, and AFAIK Jonathan doesn't generally get his webinars transcribed. Feel free to put it on high speed and make my voice a little squeakier, though! And if anyone wants to transcribe it, that'd be wonderful. :-)

Vince, I'm sorry your comment got caught in our spam filter. Be sure to let me know via e-mail if that happens again, because our automatic e-mail alerts don't always work. We've had to take the allowed number of links way down to get rid of things offering people products and so forth.

Thank you so much for the transcription! That's great!

Wow, great job. That's a lot of work!

Just one correction: The scholar who hypothesized that John changed "My God, why have you forsaken me?" into "I thirst" is Dan B. Wallace.

He teaches at the conservative Dallas Theological Seminary and is known primarily as a textual scholar who has debated Bart Ehrman on whether we have a reliable text of the New Testament. So he's regarded as quite conservative and in fact as something of a defender of the faith against a skeptic like Ehrman. Of course, being an expert on textual variants (sometimes called "lower criticism") doesn't make one at all an expert on such things as whether John made these broad theologically motivated changes to Jesus' words.

I talk *way* too fast! :-)

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