Video Debate with Peter Williams: Can We Trust the Gospels

This was a video debate I did last summer in London with British Biblical scholar Peter Williams.  Peter has been a friend for a long time, and is a real expert on the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.   He is also a committed evangelical Christian who does not believe there are mistakes in the Gospels.  I so disagree with that.  We had a debate about it on the Christian Radio program “Unbelievable” under their new series “The Big Conversation” ...

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A New Way of Explaining Contradictions in an “Inerrant” Bible

The other recent development in conservative evangelical apologetics – so far as I can discern as an outsider – is a real move to adopt serious historical scholarship on the Bible and apply it to the defense of the reliability of Scripture.   That may seem like a paradoxical move to non-evangelicals, since it is precisely serious historical scholarship that, since the 18th century, has been the major problem when it comes to the reliability of the Scripture.  In fact, it’s ...

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Modern Evangelical Christian Apologetics

This particular post is open-access.  Anyone can read it.  I post five times a week on all sorts of topics related to the New Testament and early Christianity.  To read these posts, simply join the blog.  It doesn’t cost much, and every thin dime goes to charities helping those in need.  No one loses, everyone wins, so join!!

 

I spent yesterday at a conservative evangelical apologetics conference outside of Chicago and, as you might imagine, I was the odd ...

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Modern Defenders of the Faith: Why Not Just Tell the Truth?

Next week I’m off to give a talk at an evangelical Christian conference that is dealing with contradictions in the Gospels; the other speakers will be explaining either why they don’t actually exist or why they are completely insignificant or how they can be comfortably explained given ancient writing practices or … or some other point that will assure their committed Christian audience that there’s nothing really to worry about.  It will be in Chicago and is called the Defenders ...

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When You Feel Like You’re Talking to a Wall

I wrote this post a while ago, and now that I reread it, I think I might be kicking a dead horse.  (Something, in case you wonder, I’ve never actually done.)   But, well, I suppose it’s sometimes OK to leave written twhat has been written, so to say.  So here ‘tis.

 

There are times when I debate a committed evangelical or fundamentalist Christian on whether the Bible is reliable or not, and I feel like I’m talking to a Martian.  Or ...

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Being Willing to Accept the Truth

Here I’d like to add just a couple of more reflections on whether critical scholars *have* to claim there are contradictions in the Bible because of their beliefs.  As I tried to state as strongly as I could in my previous post, I think the answer is absolutely not.

To begin with, let me stress that I started learning about serious contradictions when I was in a Christian theological seminary taking biblical studies courses with committed Christian teachers who were devoted ...

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Do My Biases Mean I *Have* to Find Contradictions?

I have now had a week to reflect on my debate with Matthew Firth about whether there are contradictions in the Bible.  Now I’d like to give my personal reactions.  I don’t mean for this to be a continuation of the debate per se —  I won’t be adducing more evidence or counter-evidence.  But I thought it might be helpful to put some thoughts on paper (well, on screen) about what a debate like this can show or at least ...

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Judging the Debate!

Now that my debate with Matthew Firth over the contradictions in the Gospels has ended, I would like to know your reactions.   Any reactions are fine.   There is the obvious question of which side you found more convincing, but also the less obvious question of why that is.  What about the argument, or counter-argument, was compelling or not compelling?

Part of the problem, of course, is that virtually everyone listening in on the debate already had a pretty firm idea of ...

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Contradictions and Contradictions: Final Response to Matt Firth

Matt: thanks for your additional comments.   I’ve given my replies below.  At the outset I should say that I’m not sure I understand what a “genuine contradiction” would look like for you.    If you have two authors who at least appear to contradict each other, surely the best explanation will not be one that:

  • Suggests an author / speaker really doesn’t mean what he says but means something else.
  • Suggests an option that has never ever ...
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Contradictions in the Gospels – Rev Matthew Firth’s Second Response

Thanks very much, Bart, for these interesting responses. I will get straight into explaining why I still don’t think you have shown that the examples you have offered are genuine contradictions.

In the case of Luke 24 you say that the grammar of the Greek indicates that ‘Luke is extremely careful to date the entire sequence of chapter 24, at the beginning of each major paragraph. It all happens on the day of the resurrection.’ But we know from Acts, Luke’s ...

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