Saturday, February 02, 2008

Jay Liar

Jay Liar…I mean…Dyer has posted a reply to Josh Brisby. It’s rather ironic that Dyer contributes to a blog entitled Nicene Truth, since his conduct during this debate has been more antonymous than synonymous with the operative noun, but I guess that’s a preemptive move on his part.

“Unfortunately, these were disregarded by many of his blog's commentators, and straw men were attributed to me, when ironically, I was quoting primarily top-notch Protestant scholars.”

i) A demonstrable falsehood. They were not disregarded. To the contrary, we pointed out that Dyer was deceptively picky and choosy in the way he quotes topnotch Protestant scholars to support his case.

ii) Dyer indulges in another ruse. He will use a third-rate figure like Ian Paisley as his foil. He will then quote first-rate figure like F. F. Bruce to disprove Ian Paisley.

As a philosophy major, Dyer must be aware of how dishonest it is to tip the scales in this fashion, but he does it anyway.

“That is, only if there is an infallible Protestant canon and if there are no certainly true religious propositions existing outside of its bounds, does he have a case.”

That’s an assertion in lieu of an argument. Why should anyone accept the way that Dyer has attempted to frame the issue?

“But my argument was merely that there are absolutely true religious propositions outside of the Scripture that Josh accepts, and that Protestantism cannot deal with this fact.”

i) Dyer failed to establish true religious propositions outside of Scripture.

ii) But even if he had, why would Protestantism be unable to deal with this fact? Here are some extrascriptural religious truths: Calvin was a 16C Protestant Reformer. Billy Graham is a Southern Baptist evangelist. Pius XII was a 20C pope. Benjamin Warfield was a Reformed theologian. The Vulgate is a Latin translation of the Bible. The Westminster Confession is a Puritan creed. And so on and so forth.

Is Protestantism unable to deal with these extrascriptural religious truths?

“Furthermore, he rejects the examples I gave of NT citations of Deuterocanonical texts, when top Protestant textual scholars, like F.F. Bruce, admit they are quotations and allusions!”

Except that Bruce also rejects the theory of an Alexandrian canon.

“1. Josh, why do you accept Hebrews as canonical?”

In part because it was written by a member, in good standing, of the Pauline circle (cf. Heb 13:23). And in part because we can historically align his theology with the Hellenistic wing of the NT church.

“2. How do you know, apart from patristic tradition, that Matthew, the disciple of Jesus, wrote Matthew's Gospel, if Apostolic authorship is key to canonicity?”

i) Dyer has been repeatedly corrected on this point, but he continues to falsify the state of the evidence by his deceptive presentation.

ii) Even if our knowledge of Matthean authorship were entirely dependent on patristic tradition, all that means is that we are treating some of the church fathers as historical witnesses. That doesn’t commit us to the authority of the church fathers. Their testimony must still be sifted. Some were better informed than others.

iii) Is Dyer asking if apostolic authorship is key to the canonicity of Mathew, or to NT documents in general? If Matthew originally claims to be written by that author, then that is a key feature of its canonicity.

However, it is not the case that apostolic authorship is a general criterion for canonicity. For example, not a single book of the OT canon was written by an apostle.

And several NT books weren’t written by apostles: Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, James, & Jude. It is sufficient that an extant writing be inspired to qualify for inclusion in the canon. Of course, in the providence of God, many inspired utterances did not survive the vicissitudes of time, so they are not live candidates for canonization. But if God had chosen to preserve them, then they would qualify for canonization.

“3. If the Apostles quoted and used the LXX in the majority of instances of NT citations of the Old (as all scholars admit), why do you reject the LXX, intending to follow wicked, Christ-rejecting Jews?”

i) Once again, Dyer has been repeatedly corrected on this point, but he continues to falsify the record by his deceptive presentation. He has not begun to establish that 1C copies of the LXX correspond to 4-5C copies of the LXX (e.g. Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus). And he ignores evidence to the contrary by scholars like Beckwith, deSilva, and Hanhart.

When someone speaks a falsehood the first time around, we might chalk that up to simple ignorance—but when he continues to peddle the very same falsehood after having been corrected, then he loses the benefit of the doubt and his untruth graduates from what was—at best—an ignorant mistake to a bald-faced lie.

ii) NT writers quote the LXX because they’re trying to reach as wide an audience as possible, and Greek was the lingua franca of the Roman Empire.

iii) Why does Dyer follow the wicked, heretical Origen on the canon?

“4. Explain in your system the lengthy, clear prophecy of Christ's persecution by the Jews in Wisdom 2 in your inspiration theory, which all admit was written prior to His Advent.”

i) Happy to comply. My theory of inspiration disallows the category of pious frauds. The Book of Wisdom palms itself off as a Solomonic writing (e.g. 9:7-8,12), but is clearly pseudepigraphal. Cf. D. de Silva, Introducing the Apocrypha (Baker 2004), 131-33.

It’s on a par with the Sibylline oracles.

ii) If we apply Dyer’s Septuagintal criterion to the book, then the book is falsified by his own criterion due to its post-LXX date of composition. As one commentator explains, “It was certainly written after the completion of the LXX of the prophets and the Writings (ca. middle of the 2C BC),” Jerome Bible Commentary, R. Brown et al. eds. (Prentice Hall 1990), 510.

iii) To claim that “all admit” Wisdom was written prior to Christ’s advent is a palpable lie. I say that because Dyer keeps citing Bruce. But as Bruce says, “Some students have dated it as late as AD 40,” The Canon of Scripture (IVP 1988), 165.

DeSilva also says “there is a wider debate concerning the date of Wisdom, which has been placed anywhere from 220 BCE to 100 CE,” ibid. 132.

Unlike his familiarity with Bruce, I don’t assume that Dyer is acquainted with deSilva’s standard introduction to the Apocrypha, given his general ignorance of the scholarly literature, but it does, once again, invalidate his sweeping claim.

iv) Assuming, for the sake of argument, that we accept Dyer’s messianic gloss on Wisdom 2, that would only be “prophetic” in the secondary and decidedly uninspired sense that Wisdom 2 is literarily indebted to certain OT prophecies. For example, “The picture of the just here (2:13), and in 3:1-9 is based on the fourth Servant song (Isa 52:13-53:12), as well as on Isa 42:1 and Ps 22:8,” JBC, 514.

For someone who keeps touting the Apocrypha and the LXX, Dyer hasn’t done his homework on either one of these sources.

“What is the nature of the quotes I listed, such as from the Book of the Wars of the Lord, Book of Enoch, etc. in your theory of inspiration, especially where St. Jude refers to a prophecy of the Second Advent?”

I, for one, have already responded to Dyer’s challenge by quoting from Witherington and Charles. Dyer simply denied their explanations rather than attempting to disprove their explanations.

“6. Explain with consistency 2 Thess. 2:15 in your system.”

i) Gene Bridges has done a dandy post on this very verse.

ii) Does Dyer interpret this verse independently of the Orthodox church, or is he dependent on the Orthodox church for his interpretation? If the former, then he doesn’t need the Orthodox church to interpret the Bible for himself. But if the latter, then it would be fallacious for him to rely on the traditional Orthodox reading of 2 Thes 2:15—only to turn right around and cite 2 Thes 2:15 to warrant Orthodox tradition.

Thus far, in his debate with Brisby, Dyer has demonstrated that you can make a case for the Orthodox faith as long as you persistently and pervasively misrepresent the actual state of the evidence.

5 comments:

  1. “1. Josh, why do you accept Hebrews as canonical?”

    In part because it was written by a member, in good standing, of the Pauline circle (cf. Heb 13:23). And in part because we can historically align his theology with the Hellenistic wing of the NT church.
    *******************************************

    If archaeologists unearthed a heretofore unknown ancient document that met the same standards of canonicity as Hebrews, would we add it to the Bible?

    Likely not, and I believe that is because our acceptance of the canon has far more to do with the inertia of tradition than any putatively objective analysis.

    The problem would be one of certainty. What if all our standards of acceptance are met only by accident, or what if we’re missing some critical item in our litmus test for canonicity?

    We’d wind up canonizing an uninspired test.

    I bet we wouldn’t risk that possibility; we’d remain undecided, at best.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i) Of course, this is all hypothetical, and hypothetically speaking, the risk cuts both ways. On the one hand, there’s the risk that you would canonize an apocryphal (i.e. spurious) text. On the other hand, there’s the risk that you would deny yourself the guidance of a genuine, public revelation.

    ii) By the same token, one could argue that if Christians really needed the guidance of this long lost book of the Bible, God wouldn’t not permit it to fall through the cracks in the first place.

    iii) There is nothing wrong with remaining undecided on an issue where there is, indeed, room for reasonable doubt.

    iv) That said, it is unreasonable to remain undecided on an issue simply because the evidence falls short of some abstract ideal of apodictic proof.

    No one can live that way, and God knows that no one can live that way. Certainty is not a condition for either believing or acting on what we believe. For example, the Mosaic law had inspired rules of evidence for acquitting or convicting a criminal defendant, but the application of those rules was distinctly uninspired.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "There is nothing wrong with remaining undecided on an issue where there is, indeed, room for reasonable doubt."

    Can one then not reasonably doubt the status of Hebrews, Jude, Revelation, James? What standard of "reasonable" are we to invoke?

    Why do we so confidently "hang our hats" on the collective judgements of folks who lived 1500 years ago? What makes their vantage point "certain enough" that they were justified in condemning as heretical anyone who disavowed their canon?

    Or do we have enough evidence in hand today for the canon that we don't need the corroboration of historic acceptance?

    Does it not stand to reason that the ancients were as likely as we would be to canonize the wrong text/s?

    Proximity in time could well be overshadowed by the possibly superior analytical tools and data that we possess today.

    ReplyDelete
  4. anonymous said...

    “Can one then not reasonably doubt the status of Hebrews, Jude, Revelation, James?”

    In my opinion, no. If you consult standard conservative commentaries, monographs, and NT introductions on all those books, they make a cogent case for their canonical status.

    “What standard of ‘reasonable’ are we to invoke?”

    What’s the standard of “reasonable” for anything? It begins with an intuitive judgment. It’s possible to spell that out in more detail, but ultimately, you can’t make someone else see that something is reasonable or unreasonable.

    And I’m not responsible for what other men may find reasonable. I have my own reasons, and if you want to know my reasons, I will give them. That’s all I can do, and that’s all I’m obligated to do. I can’t persuade someone against his will.

    “Why do we so confidently ‘hang our hats’ on the collective judgements of folks who lived 1500 years ago?”

    There’s some truth to what you say about the inertia of tradition. But many conservative scholars are not merely rubberstamping the collective judgment of the past. They cross-examine tradition. They don’t content themselves with citing tradition as having the final say, but sift tradition.

    Of course, you can always second-guess their motives and claim that they are using reason and evidence to defend traditional beliefs which they really hold for tradition’s sake, apart from reason and evidence, and no doubt there are instances where that is true to one degree or another. But this gets to be one of those Freudian circles in which, if you deny the charge, then that just goes to show that you are guilty as charged.

    “What makes their vantage point ‘certain enough’ that they were justified in condemning as heretical anyone who disavowed their canon?”

    Well, I haven’t framed the issue in those particular terms.

    “Or do we have enough evidence in hand today for the canon that we don't need the corroboration of historic acceptance?”

    That’s a false dichotomy. There are both internal and external lines of evidence for the canon. No one is rejecting historical corroboration. What we are rejecting is a blind appeal to ecclesiastical authority.

    “Does it not stand to reason that the ancients were as likely as we would be to canonize the wrong text/s?”

    One has to get far more specific. Which text? Which ancient?

    “Proximity in time could well be overshadowed by the possibly superior analytical tools and data that we possess today.”

    True. We need to consider all relevant factors.

    ReplyDelete
  5. calvinist smurf2/04/2008 11:04 AM

    "And I’m not responsible for what other men may find reasonable. I have my own reasons"

    Goddidit!!! Oh yes, that's a good reason!

    ", and if you want to know my reasons, I will give them."

    All you do is give reasons why the other guy can't be certain! Loftus is right - you promote improbability and as an alternative all you give is possiblity.

    :::YAWN!!!:::

    ReplyDelete