Dagood is like a bulldog who unfortunately mistakes a firecracker for a stick. He hangs on to that firecracker for dear life. Even after it blows up in his face, he runs off to fetch another firecracker.
“In my last blog I discussed David’s census.”
Yes, we remember.
“Once we concede that the manuscripts we have contain errors that were not in the original, it is difficult to be persuasive that the originals were either inerrant, or even inspired. How can we determine what we have now is error or not?”
There’s a word for this: lower criticism.
“If the believer agrees that the numbers we see conflict were due to error, is it not equally as likely that numbers that stand alone may also contain copyist error? Is it persuasive that the ONLY numbers that ever had any copyist error are the ones that we just happen to catch by two differing accounts? Could a copyist, for example, bolstered some numbers, to make a story sound more dramatic? Have David killing 10’s of thousands?”
This is simplistic. For one thing, the probability of numerical mistranscription depends on whether there are any contextual clues regarding the right or wrong number. If a number standards in isolation, then a mistranscription may be difficult to catch.
But if a number is part of a numerical sequence or part of a numerical sum, then an error is easy to catch.
“And why should it be limited to numbers? We also see names that conflict. Certainly if a copyist can introduce error in a number, they equally can introduce error in names. Or what about geography?”
Yes, names can also be miscopied. Indeed, anything can be miscopied.
However, many errors are obvious. If a scribe uses the wrong noun or verb form, the sentence will be unintelligible.
Likewise, place names are not the same thing as numbers. If people live in the same region that Scripture is writing about, then they will know the geography; they will know what a town or region is called. So errors like that are easily correctible except in the case of archaic place names.
“You see, once we concede there are any copyist errors, without the originals to compare, the best we can do is extrapolate back to the closest copy to the original, and even that becomes a matter of speculation.”
Once again, this is simplistic. Certain textual phenomena are more prone to mistranscription than others, such as the interchange of similar letters in Hebrew. And certain errors are more detectable than others.
“All of which is well and fine, if we were talking about a human book. But Christians proclaim that the Bible is unique. Different. Divine. I thought the idea was to propel its divinity, not indicate it is comparable to human efforts. The worst arguments that the Bible is unique are the ones that say it is like everything else.”
This is a straw man argument. The uniqueness of Scripture was never indexed to the process of textual transmission.
“It is not until the Early Third Century that we begin to have large portions of scripture to begin to compare textually for these copyist errors.”
Note the abrupt shift from OT textual criticism to NT textual criticism, as if these were interchangeable. Clearly Dagood doesn’t know what he’s talking about. What else is new?
“We lose any ability to determine what is inspired and what is not. God did not leave any distinguishing marks on those original inspired books. Nothing by which a human could say, “Hey, that’s God’s signature, so we know it was inspired.” The Wisdom of Solomon could be inspired. The Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, the Shepard of Hermas all qualify. 2 Peter may not be. Revelation is up for grabs.”
Notice the sudden shift from evidence of textual integrity to evidence of divine inspiration. These are separate issues, with separate lines of evidence.
“And this method must include areas besides numbers. However God treated numbers, the method must either make an exception, for some reason, for numbers, OR it must equally treat other areas, such as names, places and events as to how God chose to preserve them or not.”
No, we don’t need a method for divining God’s providence. All we need are text-critical methods.
“Seriously, by what means can we possibly come up with any way in which to determine where God was involved in the preservation or not? I cannot fathom, nor have I seen any such system proposed. How can we account for the variations in every single manuscript?”
A straw man argument.
“What I see is a method by fatigue. To avoid the hard work of actually coming up with a method, one throws up one’s hands, and says, “God is involved with what we have today.” What we see is what God was involved in. If there is an error, then God was not involved. If there is not, God was. What we have comes from the inspired. If we don’t have it, it wasn’t inspired.”
From a Reformed perspective, God is involved in everything that happens. But maybe Dagood was an open theist before he became an atheist—assuming there’s a difference.
So a Calvinist doesn’t need to devise a method of distinguishing between divine involvement and divine noninvolvement. We reject the underlying assumption.
“Same thing with the Bible. After the fact we have it, it is defined as unique for its properties.”
True, we judge the Bible after the fact. We don’t judge the Bible before it was written. Only a brain-donor like Dagood would have a problem with this.
“One of the claims that the Bible is unique is how various writers all agreed on the same principles. O.K. Then why not add 1 Clement (another writer) and make it even MORE unique because there are even MORE writers? Or add the Gospel of Peter? Or the Gospel of Thomas? Seems to me, if agreement among various writers is the qualifier, we can find a whole bunch more to REALLY make the Bible stand out. The only reason this is used as an indicator of the uniqueness of the Bible is that it already has a number of different writers.”
Fails to distinguish between a necessary and a sufficient condition.
“This is the same act performed with inspiration. An ad hoc determination that what we have stems from the inspired originals, when we have no clue what the originals stated, nor any method to determine original inspiration, nor any method to determine how God was involved in maintaining accurate copies.”
We have “no clue” what the originals statement? What Bruce Metzger or Emanuel Tov do for a living is purely ad hoc?
Hey, it’s fine with me if Dagood wants to advertise his elementary ignorance of lower criticism.
“What I see is a defendant, scratching their head and coming up with the same excuse that millions of other human endeavors have stated.”
What I see in Dagood is a slick lawyer trying to get a guilty defendant off the hook by using the Twinkie defense.
BTW, why is Dagood once again using a plural possessive (“their”) with a singular noun (“a defendant”)? Is this a transgender defendant?
“I would agree that the “hands-off God” or the “spell-check” God are strawmen. I have never met a Christian that held to either proposition. (Having said that, watch one pop out!) What I was trying to figure out, if it is not Black, nor is it White, what shade of gray is it, and how do we determine it? Where, in the middle, can we come up with a system?”
We aren’t looking for a mediating position. The evidence of inspiration is one thing, while the evidence of textual integrity is another.
“Where did God indicate that you will have “reasonable confidence” that the teaching you receive are apostolic?”
It doesn’t have to be apostolic. It can also be prophetic.
“Why is apostolic a requirement?”
“Couldn’t the Spirit teach non-apostles?”
Yes, he could.
“The entire Tanakh is written by non-apostles. Can you explain the sudden shift?”
Shift in what? Inspiration is the common denominator.
“This is one of those after-the-fact definitions.”
Yes, we define evidence after the fact, which is easier than defining evidence in advance of the fact, unless you happy to be the Red Queen.
Apparently, Dagood takes his rules of evidence from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, which would explain a lot about Dagood’s state of confusion.
“Because early authors attributed writings to apostles, Christians later defined “apostolic authorship” as a basis for canonicity.”
External attestation is not the only basis for such an attribution. There is the internal evidence or self-witness as well. Dagood is such a klutz.
“Yet nowhere is that requirement spelled out.”
Maybe because it was never a requirement. Duh.
“ Is every teaching that appears “apostolic” a basis for entering the Bible? 1 Clement, and the Epistle of Barnabas qualify.”
Other issues aside, Clement and Barnabas were not apostles—not in the technical sense. And the “Epistle of Barnabas” is apocryphal.
“The Gospel of Thomas purports to be from an apostle. Or are we going to limit which apostles the teaching must come from?”
For the Gospel of Thomas to be authentic, it would have to date to the 1C. That’s just for starters.
“Let’s see if we can stay consistent in this methodology. Mark was not an apostle. He got his information from Peter, according to Papias.”
Actually, Mark had two sources of information available to him. Since Jerusalem was his hometown, he could have been an eyewitness to the preaching and healing ministry of Christ whenever Jesus was in town. And since his home was also a founding house-church, frequented by the Apostles, for the nascent church of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), he could also have interviewed Peter, James, John, and so on.
“Scholarship is veering away from Mark as either being an apostle (no one has claimed he was) or that he got his information from an apostle.”
i) Since scholarship never said that Mark was an apostle, it can hardly veer away from that nonexistent proposition.
ii) Notice that Dagood doesn’t cite his sources. Presumably he’s alluding to some liberal source.
“We know Luke was not an apostle.”
Yes, everyone knows that.
“Nor do we know where he obtained his information (other than Mark).”
It’s clear from the Book of Acts alone that Luke was a well-connected historian who had a wide circle of contacts from all the early churches, including informants from the mother church of Jerusalem.
“It should get the axe.”
Putting an ax to a straw man.
“The fact that Matthew relies upon Mark demonstrates this author was not an apostle.”
Even assuming Markan priority, which is just one theory for resolving the synoptic problem, how does this literary dependence disprove apostolic authorship?
Mark is hardly Matthew’s only source of information. There’s a tradition of later Bible writers using earlier Bible writers. If the Chronicler can use Samuel-Kings, why can’t Matthew use Mark? Jews respected literary precedent.
“Hebrews has always had an unknown author. Can an unknown, as long as it follows apostolic authority, be inspired?”
Yes. But while he’s unknown, we also know where to place him since he’s a friend of Timothy (Heb 13:23).
“Recent study demonstrates that Colossians, Ephesians, the Pastorals, and 2 Thess. were not written by Paul.”
i) Once again, Dagood doesn’t cite his sources.
ii) How would recentness be relevant? Have we made some stunning new discovery which overturns traditional authorship? Is Dagood getting his information from Dan Brown?
iii) Actually, recent study reaffirms traditional authorship. Read O’Brien on Colossians. Read Hoehner on Ephesians. Read Mounce on the Pastorals. Read Beale on Thessalonians. Read Guthrie’s NT introduction. Read the second edition of the Carson-Moo NT introduction.
iv) Incidentally, one doesn’t need to be a conservative to affirm traditional authorship. For example, G. B. Caird defended the Pauline authorship of Ephesians.
“Do they get the “grandfather” clause because we always thought they were? Even Eusebius determine Revelation was not written by John the Apostle.”
Really? Is that what Eusebius determined? I thought Dionysius was the one to deny its traditional authorship.
In any event, read Beale and Smalley on Revelation, as well as Guthrie and Carson-Moo.
“2 Peter is a copy of Jude, an unknown, but presumed apostle.”
i) The order of literary dependence between 2 Peter and Jude is an open question.
ii) Jude was hardly an unknown figure, and he was not an apostle, presumed or otherwise. Rather, he was a half-brother of our Lord.
Read Charles and Schreiner on 2 Peter-Jude.
“1-3 John are unknown authors.”
Sheer assertion in the teeth of contrary evidence.