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Undesigned coincidences vs. Literary Devices on Bellator Christi [Updated]

[Update: I've decided to put into this post itself a list of some counterexamples to Licona's misleading claims about his, and others' positions. See below. These are also in the podcast on Bellator Christi.]

I had the privilege today to be on the Bellator Christi podcast with Brian Chilton discussing the contrast between the view of the Gospels supported by undesigned coincidences and that of the "literary device" theorists.

The link to the podcast is here. It was great fun being on the show and bringing these various strands together. These really are very different views of what kind of documents the Gospels are. I say this not because I start from an unargued assumption that the Gospels are artless, historical reportage but rather because this is what I find the Gospels to be upon investigation. Undesigned coincidences are just one portion of that argument. Brian was an excellent host, and we had a great conversation.

The podcast is a good introduction generally to undesigned coincidences, and the first good-sized segment of the show is devoted to that positive argument.

Brian introduced the discussion by mentioning the fact that the apologetics community is divided concerning the merit of the literary device theories. Brian mentioned that Tim Stratton has recently hosted a series of conversations with Michael Licona about his (Dr. Licona's) views and suggested that listeners give both sides a hearing.

Naturally, this doesn't mean that I was giving a point-by-point response to what Dr. Licona said in those interviews. For my detailed response to Dr. Licona's actual views, which he has not rebutted or confronted, please see the wrap-up post here of my series and browse from there to posts as your interest and time allow.

One point that I did want to reply to, though, is a completely incorrect characterization that Dr. Licona has made of the views that I (and Esteemed Husband, see here) are criticizing--those of himself, Craig Evans, and Dan Wallace, for example. At minute 23 and following here, in one of the interviews with Tim Stratton, Dr. Licona states that none of these evangelical scholars "who have become targets" (as he puts it) are saying that Jesus did not say the things reported in the Gospels but rather only suggesting that Jesus may not have used those words. They are, he says, saying that some of the reports in the Gospels might be a "loose paraphrase."

This is just false, and even a quick look at my wrap-up post will give examples to the contrary. I do reply to that point in this interview with Rev. Chilton. Please listen to the entire podcast, but that portion begins at about minute 31 in the podcast, here. Here are the counterexamples I give there:

--One idea promoted by scholars Dan Wallace and Mike Licona is that Jesus did not historically, at all, say, “I thirst” while he was on the cross. This isn’t just saying that he really said, “Please give me some water” instead but that there was nothing like that at all. Instead, he said, “My God, why have you forsaken me” and John changed that into “I thirst.” "I thirst" is not even a "loose paraphrase" of "My God, why have you forsaken me."

--Licona has argued (most recently in a debate with Bart Ehrman) that Jesus did not appear first to his male disciples in Jerusalem at all but rather first in Galilee and that Luke “moved” the first appearance to Jerusalem in his gospel for literary reasons. This is not just a matter of our not having Jesus' exact words, nor is it a loose paraphrase of something else. Indeed, this claim of "moving" itself calls into question the historicity of the entire Doubting Thomas scene, since John makes it quite clear that that occurred in Jerusalem before they went to Galilee, and Thomas would have been very unlikely to travel to Galilee if he hadn’t yet seen Jesus at all. This is part and parcel of Licona's theory that Luke "made" all of the resurrection appearances occur on one day rather than forty days.

--One theory, promoted by Craig Evans, is that Jesus never historically said “I am the light of the world” or “I am the bread of life.” Not because he used somewhat different words and said, “I am the lamp of the world” or something instead, but because these sayings didn’t occur historically at all. They were just dramatic portrayals by the “Johannine community” of their theological reflections on Jesus’ other teachings. See video for several minutes here. This is not just a matter of a loose paraphrase, much less of our not having Jesus' very words.

--Another idea, which Dr. Licona attributes to “many Johannine scholars,” is that Jesus would not have been as explicit about his deity as we find him being in John, and saying things like, “Before Abraham was, I am” or “I and the Father are one.” Instead, he just presented himself as God as we find him doing in Mark, by claiming to be able to forgive sins and do these other deeds, and John wrote up these other scenes, which didn’t really occur, in which Jesus makes these “more explicit” claims to deity for himself. See the argument Licona presents for that view here, particularly this statement: "Now, if Jesus was hesitant to announce publicly that He is the Messiah, we would not expect for Him to be claiming to be God publicly and in such a clear manner as we find John reporting." Obviously, this is not just a matter of John's making a "loose paraphrase" of Jesus' historical words and deeds as we find them in Mark but rather of his inventing whole sayings and scenes in which Jesus claims to be God publicly and in such a relatively clear manner as reported in John.

I would like to emphasize again, in addition to what I said in the podcast with Brian, that these examples are not even "loose paraphrases." Jesus' saying, "I thirst" is not even a "loose paraphrase" of "My God, why have you forsaken me." And so forth.

One example I didn't mention in the podcast (but again, there are so many) to the contrary is Dr. Licona's own suggestion on pp. 180-181 of his Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? that John may have invented the scene in which Jesus breathes on his disciples and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Allegedly he did so in order to "weave mention" of Pentecost into his own Gospel, since he would not be writing about that event directly. (Were the many references to the coming of the Comforter in Jesus' words in John 14-16 not enough of a mention?) Obviously, if that event didn't happen at all, this is a great deal more than merely saying that Jesus may not have used those words! Nor is it even to say that we have a "loose paraphrase" of an historical teaching of Jesus in that real, historical context, where Jesus engaged in a real action (breathing on the disciples). It's an invention of an entire incident.

If we are going to discuss these matters intelligently and with care, it's very important that we be clear about what we're discussing. It is extremely unhelpful for Dr. Licona or anyone else to suggest that these are mere matters of verbal changes or paraphrase or even "loose" paraphrase. When entire sayings of Jesus or events in Jesus' life are said not to have occurred historically at all, these do not turn into "paraphrases" of something else merely because we say that these invented events are true to the general meaning or spirit of Jesus' completely different teaching or self-presentation in other events. That is simply not what is meant by any sort of "paraphrase." And that is aside from all of the alleged literary devices in which other factual matters besides Jesus' words are changed.

Those considering these matters, both scholars and laymen, should not be chivvied by way of a false dilemma. The false dilemma is the insinuation that either you are opposed to reasonable paraphrase such as what can occur in real, literal historical reportage or else you must adopt the theories of Licona, Evans, et. al., including those "many Johannine scholars" that Dr. Licona keeps talking about who think that the real Jesus would not have claimed to be God in such a clear and public manner as we find John reporting. (See Dr. Licona's own characterization of that argument in those terms to the effect that Jesus would not have claimed to be God in such a clear and public manner, here.) That is not a paraphrase view. That is an outright dehistoricization of Jesus' unique Johannine claims to deity.

We must be clear, and I think that once we are clear, it will become evident that these questions are worth looking into. They are not just trivial differences of opinion. Do the results of scholarship really force us to believe that the Gospels are like bio-pics, including made-up dialogue, made-up scenes, and factually altered events? I have argued, in detail, that there is no such evidence--not from Plutarch and not from the Gospels themselves. And there is much evidence to the contrary. That argument has not been answered. Again, I strongly urge those who are interested to look into these matters for themselves.

Comments (13)

Good stuff Lydia—thanks. I wonder if the conservative NT guild isn’t engaging your concerns because ultimately, they think that the “bio-pics, including made-up dialogue, made-up scenes, and factually altered events” are minor enough and still in the overall spirit of the truth of the gospel narrative that no grave error has been committed on their part. As you have aptly pointed out, however, I think if we allow “made-up dialogue, made-up scenes, and factually altered events” to be a part of the Gospel narrative one can always wonder what else might be fiction in the Jesus story—and as some more liberal-minded Christians will tell us—even, perhaps, the ultimate miracle, the resurrection itself.

The other thing is that I've pointed to *specific* sayings and scenes that aren't minor. It just really is not minor if the unique Johannine "I am" statements are made up, invented. I say this here speaking as a probability theorist and epistemologist: The case for the deity of Jesus Christ is notably weakened if we have to treat the Johannine material on this subject as ahistorical. I'm not saying there is no case. I'm not saying Jesus never does or says anything that implies deity in Mark and the other synoptics. But it is a notably weaker case.

Similarly, the case for the resurrection is notably weakened if the documents are what this theory would hold them to be. To give just one example, if Jesus did not first appear to his male disciples in Jerusalem but rather in Galilee, what becomes of the Doubting Thomas sequence, which is important for the strength of the case for the resurrection?

I certainly agree that the overall effect upon the gospels' reliability is important. As I said in the interview, a low-resolution Jesus is not something we should settle for if we don't have to settle. Moreover, the theorists really have not given us a reason to think that only the passages they have discussed are invented or altered. To the contrary, they have given us principles that mean that alterations were invisible and would look realistic, so that the only way we "catch" the authors making things upis by comparison. And even then, if there were ultimate dependence on some false earlier tradition, which was itself invented, even overlap is not particularly useful.

But it's worth bearing in mind that the theorists *themselves* are casting doubt on important passages already, right now.

This is especially important for doctrine. For example, there's a lot of doctrine taught in unique passages said by the so-called "Johannine Jesus." If the default position is to question unique sayings and discourses of Jesus in John, then this does have *already* quite a serious effect upon soteriology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and the deity of Christ, to name just three. I have actually had one scholar use so strong an argument from silence with me that he said, of the portrayal of Jesus in John, "It's three against one." As though the synoptics attest that Jesus *didn't* say and do things merely by not including them!

"I have actually had one scholar use so strong an argument from silence with me that he said, of the portrayal of Jesus in John, "It's three against one." As though the synoptics attest that Jesus *didn't* say and do things merely by not including them!"

This has to be one of the dumbest "arguments" regarding the gospels I've recently heard.

1) It's not "three against one", since those "three" witnesses depend on each other (or rather, two of them depend on Mark), and

2) the "one" is the only one that explicitly purports to be by an eye-witness.

That's a rather blatant misrepresentation of what happened on Licona's part. I also note that he is clearly playing the victim there with the certain scholars being "targets". Since when is respectful criticism "targeting" someone? Maybe there are some doing some "targeting", but they don't seem to be the ones offering up in depth criticism.

I'm listening to Licona's video here. https://www.risenjesus.com/are-there-contradictions-in-the-gospels-2

I don't get how he can't see how someone would get the Titanic breaking in half, or going down in one piece wrong if they were there. Simply being in a different spot than the others could very easily explain how it looked like one piece going down rather than breaking.

He kind of shoots his own literary device idea in the foot with mentioning Aristobulus and Alexander the Great's reaction to the biography written about him.

Aristobulus inserted in his history an account of a single combat between Alexander and Porus, and selected this passage to read aloud to the former; he reckoned that his best chance of pleasing was to invent heroic deeds for the king, and heighten his achievements. Well, they were on board ship in the Hydaspes; Alexander took hold of the book, and tossed it overboard; 'the author should have been treated the same way, by rights,' he added, 'for presuming to fight duels for me like that, and shoot down elephants single-handed.' A very natural indignation in Alexander, of a piece with his treatment of the intrusive architect; this person offered to convert the whole of Mount Athos into a colossal statue of the king--who however decided that he was a toady, and actually gave him less employment in ordinary than before.

13The fact is, there is nothing agreeable in these things, except to any one who is fool enough to enjoy commendations which

p. 116

the slightest inquiry will prove to be unfounded; of course there are ugly persons--women more especially--who ask artists to paint them as beautiful as they can; they think they will be really better-looking if the painter heightens the rose a little and distributes a good deal of the lily. There you have the origin of the present crowd of historians, intent only upon the passing day, the selfish interest, the profit which they reckon to make out of their work; execration is their desert--in the present for their undisguised clumsy flattery, in the future for the stigma which their exaggerations bring upon history in general. If any one takes some admixture of the agreeable to be an absolute necessity, let him be content with the independent beauties of style; these are agreeable without being false; but they are usually neglected now, for the better foisting upon us of irrelevant substitutes.

Notice the second underlined part of Lucian's "How to Write History". These "independent beauties of style" are "agreeable without being false". Doesn't sound like Licona's fictionalizing literary devices to me.

Listened to this while mowing the lawn today (yes, people still mow their own lawns) and it's fantastic. A new point (at least for me) was the many coincidences with St. Paul's letters in Acts, even though the latter book never once mentions Paul writing important letters. Yet important letters they truly were. The most important of all.

On the polemical matter: I'll say no more than that a little smirk crosses my lips every time I think of those poor critical bible scholars oppressed by Lydia's tone. "Oh Lord, spare us the tone of Mrs. McGrew!" So weak.

Rev. Chilton handled the whole thing superbly. It was great to listen to him, live on air, as it were, start to make the same undesigned textual connections that Lydia's has so brilliantly expounded. I've had the same experience of excited discovery.

Finally, can I say a good word for Chilton's Southern accent? I work in a field where folks try to eliminate their accents in favor of a bland unrecognizable unregional undistinguished English. But English is supremely a regional language and it's a shame that we're losing that.

1. In addition to your own work, what books do you recommend on how we should approach the Gospels and the NT as a whole? Any must-read hermeneutical guides?

2. Have you written anything on the relevance or non-relevance of "Q"?

Thank you.

Notice the second underlined part of Lucian's "How to Write History". These "independent beauties of style" are "agreeable without being false". Doesn't sound like Licona's fictionalizing literary devices to me.

To me as well, Ben.

I have read the theory of the fictionalizing devices several times, now, and I remain unconvinced that even if we were justified in thinking that some writers of the day employed these devices acceptably to their audiences (which is not proven), that this would mean the gospel writers would have felt the same way about using them. Or that the evidence shows us that the gospel writers did in fact think that way - indeed the evidence we have seems to be in the opposite direction.

Michael, I have not delved deeply into the "Q" material, but every time I looked at any of it, I came away with the exact same impression: they are building whole continents of projections on the thinnest of assumptions and somewhat plausible but not very probable (much less certain) hypotheses. I personally do not think that it is worth one's time to bother with "Q", unless you are a professional historian / forensic literary critic looking into something worth picking apart and debunking. Even if there were some written early source that helped the 3 synoptic writers (or one of them), it is the gospels they produced that are deemed inspired and protected by the action of the Holy Spirit, not the earlier source. And in any case, it is incredibly difficult to use a purely hypothetical, purely guessed at prior source to helpfully interpret the exact meaning of Mark or the other synoptics, i.e. to employ the LESS known to understand the MORE known. The single largest purpose to which Q is put seems to be to drain given passages in the gospels of orthodox meaning or reliability, so all that material is not helpful anyway.

Michael, on the question of Q, my own opinion right now, subject to revision (but I haven't seen any reason to revise it), is that it's an unnecessary construct. The main reason for this is that the common material between Matthew and Luke can, if there is literary dependence at all (which there may be) be explained by the theory that Luke had access to Matthew, which seems entirely plausible independently anyway. In that case, why bring in another entity that is purely hypothetical?

Certainly the entire two-source hypothesis needs to be held much more lightly and tentatively than most scholars hold it. But the worst problem with the *way* that too many scholars hold the two-source hypothesis isn't their thinking there was a Q or that Mark wrote first. The worst problem is their redactive assumptions that Matthew and Luke are constantly editing Mark or editing Q *rather than* having independent access to the actual events. Hence every difference is spoken of as a "change" and given a heavy, deliberate explanation, often a fictionalizing explanation, rather than activating our real-world imagination and treating them as *normal variants of reportage*.

An example here comes from one of Licona's recent interviews. He's speaking of the extremely minor, normal difference between God's saying from heaven, "This is my beloved Son" and his saying, "You are my beloved Son." The former is Matthew and the latter is Mark. He says that we should think that Matthew deliberately changed the words in order to "make them more personal" so that the reader/audience is thinking of them as directed at themselves--God's calling our attention to Jesus.

This is way, way, overinterpreting. It is not allowing that a variation can be just a normal variation. It also seems anachronistic. Why think that an ancient writer (while we're thinking about ancient writers) thought the way that we do about the psychology of the readers and how the precise wording will have an impact on readers? But this is the way that Mike *constantly* thinks, and indeed it's the way that redactive critics *constantly* think. They seem to have lost their ability to understand how normal reportage works *without* heavy literary or theological assumptions or redaction. Matthew has to have had Mark open in front of him and to be pondering ponderously over how he will *change Mark* in order to make some delicate little point.

Instead of which, it's far more likely that one of two things has happened there: 1) Perhaps Matthew (who wasn't yet a disciple at that time) talked to a different person who was present than Mark did, and that person recounted the words of the voice from heaven with the *absolutely normal variation* of memory and reportage that we get in normal life, or 2) Perhaps Matthew took notes from Mark that did not write down those words precisely and wrote with a slightly imprecise memory of what he had taken from Mark.

Redaction critics never remember: No tables. Almost certainly a gospel author using a written source was *not* writing with two scrolls spread out in front of him, scurrying back and forth and either copying each thing or heavily changing each thing.

And in other places, it's entirely plausible that Matthew was personally present, but the critics always take the "two-source hypothesis" in this heavy sense that treats that option as irrelevant. Similarly, Luke is almost never treated as having his own witnesses to the events, separate from Mark or Matthew.

So even if there was a Q, and even if in very weak, broad outlines something like the two-source hypothesis is correct, it needs to be separated from these rigid assumptions that Luke and Matthew didn't have their own knowledge of any event that is also found in Mark. There is evidence against that stronger assumption.

On your other question, Michael, I don't have any books that spring to mind on general hermeneutical practice, but I'd strongly urge a couple of things. One is, if you haven't already, go and watch my webinar on "6 Bad Habits of New Testament Scholars and How to Avoid Them." I give quite a bit of hermeneutical advice there. :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9fUKdpPl6k

Second, as I mention there, read older books that don't have the pathologies of reading that current critics (and some older critics as well) have. Here I would recommend J.J. Blunt on undesigned coincidences.

https://archive.org/details/undesignedcoinci1851blun

Another example is Paley's Horae Paulinae on the gospels and Acts, and the appendix to one edition of Paley's Horae Paulinae called Horae Apostolicae, by T.R. Birks.

https://books.google.com/books?id=YJPN9C1LpvAC&pg=PP5&lpg=PP5&dq=birks+horae+apostolicae&source=bl&ots=FMZJYMNj_E&sig=hc4nClRniUFK5cSdJDvDQbXPTcA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjSlJSgzfPaAhXpzIMKHcnhD-EQ6AEIRTAF#v=onepage&q&f=false

These show a different, epistemically healthier habit of mind and help to activate one's real-world imagination.

While going through one of the other articles here I found the following from Richard Burridge, and thought I would say something about it since it seems to be this mindset that drives the literary device theory.

We must not transfer these modern concepts to ancient texts without considering their understandings of truth and myth, lies and fiction. To modern minds, 'myth' means something untrue, a 'fairy-story'; in the ancient world, myth was the medium whereby profound truth, more truly true than mere facts could ever be, was communicated. The opposite of truth is not fiction, but lies and deception; yet even history can be used to deceive, while stories can bring truth.

Well, maybe some ancient people thought that way, but the writers of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus all see myths as something negative.

1 Timothy 1:4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.
1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
2 Timothy 4:4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Titus 1:13-15 New International Version (NIV) 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Then in 2 Peter "cleverly devised stories" are said explicitly to not be part of their message, and an emphasis on eyewitness testimony is made.

2 Peter:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[b] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

In fact an emphasis on eyewitnesses is made in several Old Testament works as well.

Numbers 35:30 “‘Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.
Deuteronomy 19:15 [ Witnesses ] One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
Deuteronomy 19:18-20 New International Version (NIV) 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you.

There are a total of 64 uses of the word witness in the NIV in the OT, and 48 in the NT. The emphasis on someone, or in a few cases something being a witness is rather strong. Being a false witness in ancient Israel got you punished with whatever punishment you sought for the person you lied about.

I see no evidence of the ancient Israelites seeking a "higher truth", and a lot of emphasis on eyewitness testimony throughout the Bible.

Have you ever seen the meme where a burning house is shown, and the caption reads "It took some work, but I got rid of that spider!"? Licona's theory seems a bit like that to me. I mean sure, there are no "discrepancies" anymore, but at what cost?

Lydia,

Maybe you know this already, but Dr. Craig responded to the critique of his methods.

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/an-objection-to-the-minimal-facts-argument/

Working very hard on a response. Hope to have it up tonight or tomorrow.

It's really weird, but when I read WLC's written words, I usually have a lot of respect for him and his work, even though I generally agree with only part of what he says, and disagree with numerous individual bits and pieces. But when I listen to his talks and debates, invariably he drives me up a wall. I am not sure I can put my finger on what it is that does this, but my suspicion is that in reading him I can "tune out" his tone of voice, which I can't do in listening, and somehow or other his tone, together with all those little bits and pieces that I disagree with, just set me off. And it's not that his "tone" is nasty (like Licona thinks of Lydia's tone - that's a literary tone anyway, not a verbal tone), it's something else.

Maybe it ultimately has to do with all the bits and pieces that I disagree with, because maybe I get the feeling (when listening, more than reading his written word), that either he knows darn well that he is mis-stating a concept, or that at least he ought to know it even if he doesn't. Take his comments about Luke telescoping the Resurrection appearances "all into one day". WLC mis-places and confuses the use of a-chronological story-telling with simply leaving out details - not the same issue at all, and he ought to know better. Or, perhaps one could put it that a full chronology involves both order of events as well as

amount of time. A-chronological story telling lacks both - it is when you say "Jesus said 'blessed are those who sorrow,' ... and he said "take up your cross and follow me', and he said 'those who do not hate their father and mother for my sake..." He did say all these, and in my repeating them, I am not asserting ANYTHING AT ALL about when he said them or the order in which he said them. What Luke does, however, keeps what Christ did after the Resurrection IN THEIR CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, he just did not mention that there was, in addition, considerable time between verse 43 and verse 44. Luke does not assert that verse 44 occurs on the same day as 43.

What gets me riled, though, is that when WLC goes through the passage noting how Luke brings in all sorts of "chronological markers" he is very specific and detailed all the way up to verse 43 - and then stops cold and ignores the issue of time (and markers) after that - the very point at which there is no longer any reason to think Luke must be talking about the same day and Luke fails to include any markers, even though he had them sprinkled in earlier. The only reason one might have for coming away thinking that Luke was talking about the last verses occurring on the same day is negative - he fails to say anything at all about exact timing after that. But that is not the same thing as telling stories out of order because you are not saying anything about the order in which they occur - Luke isn't putting the Ascension in, then some of Jesus's earlier sayings, as if backing up and covering earlier stuff out of order. He is just NOT REPORTING some intervening stuff. It's negative, not positive. Because he is not saying that the last verses occurred on the same day, he is not compressing the actual time down to a smaller time than was actually used (which would be fictionalizing), he is merely leaving out details - the detail of amount of time. Leaving out details is a negative act, telescoping and compressing characterizing positive devices in which the author makes the story seem to be something different from what happened in the way it happened by making it seem to take a shorter time. What, specifically, makes us think that Luke wants the reader to think verse 44 happened on the same day? Nothing - because Luke didn't say anything. Only the lack of saying anything positive one way or another. That's negative. If the reader mistakes that and reads into it "the same day", that's the reader's error, not Luke's positive act of telescoping.

Is that a fair way to debate the problem? It bothers me, I can tell you. If chronological story-telling recounts order and time taken, and a-chronological story-telling lacks both, Luke's account of the time after the Resurrection is not a-chronological, it is partly chronological

, and only partly. Attributing lack of detail about amount of time taken to being a-chronological is confusing the issue. Calling it "compression" or "telescoping" is unhelpful, because in other contexts those are used to describe devices that employ POSITIVE words and language to alter the sense of the amount of time it took. If Craig can't figure out something as straightforward as this, then he isn't being as careful as he ought to be. Maybe it was just accidental, but why did Craig stop his analysis right where Luke STOPS giving chronological markers?

Just wait for it, wait for it. I have a long post coming, probably tomorrow. That'll all be in there. I'm workin' on it. Should "Long Post Coming" be the name of a rock song?

I really do believe that Craig really does believe that Luke is being dyschronological rather than achronological, since he says so explicitly. So...that's interesting. And I think wrong. But also interesting that he seems to have thought something different at a much earlier time. But I won't steal my own thunder.

Anyway, I'm really glad of the positive engagement. That's refreshing.

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