Extracurricular Activities 1.10.15 — Two Takes on the Newsweek Bible Article, Eschatology, More
Kurt Eichenwald’s Christmas missive in Newsweek, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s A Sin,” has predictably gotten it’s share of strong reactions.
As others have pointed out, Eichenwald’s rhetoric is inflammatory, and his grasp of the issues is second-hand–at points rather naive, at least from the point of view of those who have been around the block a few times on the issues he raises, and especially those who work with the Bible for a living.
But he’s still basically right…
Every year, at Christmas and Easter, several major magazines, television programs, news agencies, and publishing houses love to rattle the faith of Christians by proclaiming loudly and obnoxiously that there are contradictions in the Bible, that Jesus was not conceived by a virgin, that he did not rise from the dead, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. The day before Christmas eve (23 December 2014), Newsweek published a lengthy article by Kurt Eichenwald entitled, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” Although the author claims that he is not promoting any particular theology, this wears thin. Eichenwald makes so many outrageous claims, based on a rather slender list of named scholars (three, to be exact), that one has to wonder how this ever passed any editorial review…
There is a widespread meme at work in how Christian theologians are now talking about the future — about heaven or the new heavens and the new earth or about the final state. It has three parts:
Part A: Most Christians — seemingly all — think they go to heaven when they die and that heaven is a kind of hyper spiritual existence.
Part B: The Bible teaches not that heaven is our final destiny but that it is a (1) new heavens and new earth and (2) it will be on earth, not in the sky in heaven.
Part C: We should care therefore about creation and culture, holistic salvation, if we have a new heavens and a new earth theology of the Age to Come.
N.T. Wright, in his book Surprised by Hope, and now [the focus of this post] J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, both illustrate in full argument this two- and three-part contention. They are right and they are in part wrong, and I will do the wrong part first…
Tommy Wasserman (long-time friend and colleague in the field) contributes a fresh study of textual relationships of Codex Washingtonianus and P45 (P.Chester Beatty I) that largely confirms the results of my own study done some forty-odd years ago: “P45 and Codex W in Mark Revisited,” in Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado, eds. Chris Keith & Dieter T. Roth (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014), 130-56.
The two main conclusions of my earlier analysis confirmed are these: (1) Codex W and P45 have a special relationship in GMark that sets them off from other “control” witnesses, and other major textual clusters, and (2) these two manuscripts don’t actually have any special relationship with the key witnesses to the so-called “Caesarean text” of Mark, and are not, thus, the early stage of that “Caesarean” text…
From imprisonment to torture to beheadings, more Christians worldwide live in fear for their lives than at any time in the modern era.
That’s the message from Open Doors USA, which released its annual World Watch List on Jan. 7. Christian persecution reached historic levels in 2014, with approximately 100 million Christians around the world facing possible dire consequences for merely practicing their religion, according to the report. If current trends persist, many believe 2015 could be even worse…
Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don’t necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.
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