Can We Trust the Text of the New Testament?

Posted by David Barron August - 17 - 2011 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

An upcoming debate between Daniel Wallace and Bart Erhman will take place at SMU in Dallas, TX on the above topic. I will be attending and wanted to invite any of interested to join me after for food and discussion. Anyone interested can contact me at dave at

Coming Analysis of “The Great Trinity Debate”

Posted by David Barron April - 12 - 2010 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Robert Bowman will be debating David Burke (from my understanding, a Christadelphian) on the subject of the Trinity at the Reclaiming the Mind blog.  Bowman has already posted an introduction, with him naturally taking the Trinitarian position.  Burke, as a Christidelphian, will take up the “Biblical Unitarian” (I’d originally said Socinian, but Dave Burke sent in an email correcting me) view of Christ, thus denying his preexistence.

As each side of the debate is presented I will provide my own commentary, available here, addressing necessary points in response to both (hopefully keeping up with their schedule, but no promises in this regard).  With respect to Bowman, it will be a response to his Trinitarian proof-texting, while with Burke it will be addressing his denial of Jesus’ preexistence.

Robert Bowman and I on The Janet Mefferd Show

Posted by David Barron February - 3 - 2010 - Wednesday 1 COMMENT

Most unexpectedly I found myself driving yesterday at a time I would normally be in the office.  Having my radio tuned into talk radio, to my surprise Robert Bowman was on The Janet Mefferd Show, discussing the deity of Christ as a person of the Triune God.   Hardly able to pass up the opportunity to call in I found myself the final caller.   I’ve posted the clip from our exchange and included my own comments following the clip.  As the format was strictly one of question and answer I did not get to follow up on the show.

Listen Here

A Bit of Confusion

Posted by David Barron January - 12 - 2010 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Over at there is a poll up for a debate challenge with Robert Bowman.  Essentially, it is asking non-Trinitarians whom they’d like to see Bowman debate.  Well, funny enough, there is a unitarian  Seventh Day Adventist who shares my name (actually, there are a lot of people with whom I share this name) and has his own website.  Well the confusion seems to be with just who debated Mike Felker from, for in the poll it identifies him as that one.  In reality it was I and the debate can be read at   Hopefully the poll administrators over at Reclaiming the Mind will be able to get this corrected shortly.

Update:  It appears the poll has been corrected.

The Bible Older than Previously Thought

Posted by David Barron January - 9 - 2010 - Saturday 1 COMMENT

Surprise, surprise…

By decoding the inscription on a 3,000-year-old piece of pottery, an Israeli professor has concluded that parts of the bible were written hundreds of years earlier than suspected.

Evangelical Sociolect and Shibboleth

Posted by Vlad December - 26 - 2009 - Saturday ADD COMMENTS

Every community has its own language, a way to affirm itself and demarcate insiders from outsiders. It is as true in high school cliques as in religious groups, and though it’s hard to fault people for simply being people in the latter case it is harder to swallow, especially when the jargon is clothed in personal piety (or superiority). The illegitimacy of it all is underscored by some concluding reflection in Bill Mounce’s brief discussion of emphatic pronouns in the Matthean makarisms. He writes (on his own site and, 12/14/2009):

Notice that it does not say, “Blessed are those who have had a conversion experience, for theirs is the kingdom.” In fact, Jesus later says that many who claim to have done great things for him are in fact strangers (Matt 7:23). What will you do with this?

My suggestion is to first of all confirm that I correctly understand the emphatic use of αυτος. (I am.) Secondly, ask yourself if your theology can handle this. If you have been following my blog for very long, you have probably gleaned that I am moderately reformed. But what I most try to be is biblical, and the Bible says that God shows mercy only to those who have shown it themselves. That the only people who will be filled are those who hunger and thirst for [His] righteousness. That the only ones who will inherit the kingdom are those who are poor in spirit and have been persecuted for that fact.

Talk of this kind is often met with angry blog comments, but the fact of the matter is that this is what the Greek text says. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs, and theirs alone, is the kingdom of God.”

If a person’s theology can’t handle that, then their theology is simply wrong. How does the emphatic αυτος fit your theology?

Why expect angry comments? I think the same exegetical theological point could be made in a way to avoid them, but Mounce is not clothing his insight in the right context, in the story that his moderately to myopically Reformed readers find self-affirming. I’m truly curious why this is so, since I don’t think Mounce’s rather broad theological point comes, straightforwardly, from this particular text. Indeed, he may be putting too much weight on this pericope, to say nothing of the pronoun.

James Dunn addresses the language game of saved-ness thus:

It would be a mistake to take any one of Paul’s metaphors and to exalt it into some primary or normative status so that all the others must be fitted into its mould. Something like this has indeed happened with the metaphor of justification in classic Protestant theology. In popular evangelism it has happened with the metaphors of salvation and new birth. In such cases there is an obvious danger. The danger is that the event of new beginning in faith comes to be conceptualized as of necessity following a particular pattern, the same for everyone. Equally dangerous is the assumption often made that the same language or imagery must always be used, that experience of individuals must conform to the language which describes it. Instead of diversity of experience and imagery there can be pressure to reduplicate both pattern and jargon, in effect to mass reproduce believers according to a standard formula. No so with Paul. For him the crucial transition was a many-sided event, and not necessarily the same for any two people. And it required a whole vocabulary of words and metaphors to bring out the richness of its character and the diversity of individual cases.—James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, 332

Torah Study, Pirkei Avot 6

Posted by Vlad December - 12 - 2009 - Saturday ADD COMMENTS

Torah is greater than the priesthood or sovereignty, for sovereignty is
acquired with thirty virtues, the priesthood with twenty-four, and
Torah is acquired with forty-eight qualities. These are: study,
listening, verbalizing, comprehension of the heart, awe, fear,
humility, joy, purity, serving the sages, companionship with one’s
contemporaries, debating with one’s students, tranquility, study of the
scriptures, study of the Mishnah, minimizing engagement in business,
minimizing socialization, minimizing pleasure, minimizing sleep,
minimizing talk, minimizing gaiety, slowness to anger, good
heartedness, faith in the sages, acceptance of suffering, knowing one’s
place, satisfaction with one’s lot, qualifying one’s words, not taking
credit for oneself, likableness, love of G-d, love of humanity, love of
charity, love of justice, love of rebuke, fleeing from honor, lack of
arrogance in learning, reluctance to hand down rulings, participating
in the burden of one’s fellow, judging him to the side of merit,
correcting him, bringing him to a peaceful resolution [of his
disputes], deliberation in study, asking and answering, listening and
illuminating, learning in order to teach, learning in order to observe,
wising one’s teacher, exactness in conveying a teaching, and saying
something in the name of its speaker.

The Father of God

Posted by David Barron November - 14 - 2009 - Saturday 4 COMMENTS

The Son of God is a common expression in the New Testament for Jesus, rooted in, among other things, his position as the Davidic king (cf. 2Sam. 7:14).  He is also God’s Son in reference to his preexistence, and Trinitarians would argue as second person of the Trinity.  If this is the case, however, why is the Father never identified as “the Father of God”?

John Hick on Credal Language

Posted by Vlad October - 16 - 2009 - Friday 3 COMMENTS

John Hick, The Metaphor of God Incarnate, second edition, page 45.

The metaphorical language of the Bible communicates
naturally to all who inhabit or can imaginatively enter its universe of
discourse. We still have fathers and sons and, less universally, kings
and shepherds as part of our conceptual world; and with only a little
effort of the imagination we can appreciate the ancient habit of
thinking of one who is spiritually close to God, a faithful servant of
God, as a son of God. Such metaphors communicate successfully because
they were formed within the ordinary discourse of the time. But the
Chalcedonian formula is a philosophical artefact having whatever
meaning it is defined to have. Such formulae are impressive precisely
because their sole meaning is technical and known only to the learned.
Critical philosophical scrutiny of such conceptual constructions must,
however, always be in order. And in this case the possibility that has
to be considered is that the formula, which at first seems so firm and
definitive, is incapable of being explicated in any religiously
acceptable way.

Hick is certainly not beyond updating the metaphors of the Bible or
using theological language. He’s simply pointing out that the language
used in credal formulation, particularly that explicating the mystery
of the Incarnation (prosopon, persona, hypostasis, ousia, etc.)
was forced, technical language. It makes sense because it is so
defined, not because it has a ground in accessible truth, as does the
Bible’s own ‘creeds.’ The theologian is reminded that when one’s
theology becomes laden with arcane language or too easily takes
recourse in tradition, it’s time to revise the system.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Posted by David Barron September - 29 - 2009 - Tuesday 6 COMMENTS

The purpose of this post is not to discuss the meaning of Jesus’ parable, but pose a series of questions regarding its derivation.  I will not defend that this is a parable other than to note the context of Luke 15-16 as but one, and preceding this parable is a succession of three other parables.

Is there Scripture prior to Jesus’ words that teach the poor who are not wicked (apparently) go to Abraham’s bosom upon death?

Is there Scripture prior to the New Testament that teach torment in fire for the wicked as a departed soul/spirit?

If the answer to the above two questions is no, did any sect of the Jews in Jesus’ time maintain the opinion that these things were true regardless of the scriptural silence?

If yes, from where was that opinion derived?

If the opinion was derived from a pagan source rather than God’s inspired word, are we to take Jesus’ use of this language to affirm that pagan religions taught a truth God did not reveal?

If his language came from pagan religions that had truth God did not reveal and certain Jews rightly adopted this, what other truths can we find among their teachings and how can we determine, as certain early Jews apparently did, which of their teachings are true?