Thursday, December 28, 2023

The Significance Of Referring To "The Sea Of Galilee"

Luke refers to "the Lake of Gennesaret", but Matthew, Mark, and John refer to it as "the Sea of Galilee". Luuk van de Weghe offers a potential explanation:

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

An Update To An Argument From The Names In The Gospels And Acts

Luuk van de Weghe is a New Testament scholar who's recently done some work on an argument for the historical reliability of the gospels and Acts based on the names that appear in the documents. I'll quote some of what Richard Bauckham has written about the argument, then quote some more recent comments from van de Weghe, updating Bauckham's material:

"Thus the names of Palestinian Jews in the Gospels and Acts coincide very closely with the names of the general population of Jewish Palestine in this period, but not to the names of Jews in the Diaspora. In this light it becomes very unlikely that the names in the Gospels are late accretions to the traditions. Outside Palestine the appropriate names simply could not have been chosen. Even within Palestine, it would be very surprising if random accretions of names to this or that tradition would fit the actual pattern of names in the general population....Onomastics (the study of names) is a significant resource for assessing the origins of Gospel traditions. The evidence in this chapter shows that the relative frequency of the various personal names in the Gospels corresponds well to the relative frequency in the full database of three thousand individual instances of names in the Palestinian Jewish sources of the period. This correspondence is very unlikely to have resulted from addition of names to the traditions, even within Palestinian Jewish Christianity, and could not possibly have resulted from the addition of names to the traditions outside Jewish Palestine, since the pattern of Jewish name usage in the Diaspora was very different. The usages of the Gospels also correspond closely to the variety of ways in which persons bearing the same very popular names could be distinguished in Palestinian Jewish usage. Again these features of the New Testament data would be difficult to explain as the result of random invention of names within Palestinian Jewish Christianity and impossible to explain as the result of such invention outside Jewish Palestine. All the evidence indicates the general authenticity of the personal names in the Gospels." (Jesus And The Eyewitnesses [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2006], 73-74, 84)

"Simply put, these works [The Infancy Gospel Of Thomas, The Gospel Of Nicodemus, etc.] do not hold up to scrutiny based on naming patterns, and we can see the card player's bluff. From my survey of twenty-three sources in Appendix A, the only extra-biblical works that display onomastic congruence [alignment between a database of ancient name usage and the source it's being compared to] are the works of Plutarch, Suetonius, and Josephus….These authors' works are the very same ones that the biblical scholar Craig Keener suggests mark the height of historical sensitivity for the genre of Greco-Roman biography when expectations of historical reliability were at the highest. Onomastic congruence appears to be a byproduct, however unintentional, of the information-driven nature of these historiographical works.…In my 2022 PhD Dissertation (University of Aberdeen) as well as in my article, 'Name Recall in the Synoptic Gospels,' I discuss the problem that Ilan I [a database of ancient Jewish names gathered by Tal Ilan] does not provide an onomastic snapshot of Jesus' Palestine, since her database covers approximately five hundred years. This seems too broad to determine onomastic patterns. I refine Ilan's database to the years 30 BCE to 90 CE and confirm that onomastic congruence can still be demonstrated. Incidentally, Richard Bauckham is currently working on a new prosopography (50 BCE to 135 CE) with the aim of acquiring greater accuracy, correcting further errors discovered in Ilan I, and supplementing her data with new inscriptions being published by the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae. My thanks to Dr. Bauckham for providing his unpublished material for me to review; it is apparent that the efforts of acquiring more precise data will lead toward the further justification of onomastic congruence in the Gospels and Acts." (The Historical Tell [Tampa, Florida: DeWard, 2023], 35-36, n. 42 on 146)

Monday, December 25, 2023

Jacob's Ladder

"in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go" (Genesis 28:14-15)

"'they shall call His name Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us.'" (Matthew 1:23)

"The promise of an accompanying presence of God that would never fail, first given to Jacob, is now renewed and extended, by implication, to the nations that become Jacob's offspring through faith in the Messiah. This happens through a form of the divine presence that Jacob could never have anticipated: the presence of God in the midst of human life as the human Jesus, Jacob's own descendant, who thus brings blessing to the nations. Jesus himself is God-with-us." (Richard Bauckham, Who Is God? [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2020], 23)

"you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (John 1:51)

"He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it." (Genesis 28:12)