Are Some Bible Passages More Inspired than Others

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Are some words in Scripture more directly from God than others? Or even if some words aren’t “more inspired”, do we treat some words in the Bible differently than others? I believe that this happens more often than we think and it stems from an improper understanding of inspiration.

Let me give some examples of ways that some parts of the Bible are treated differently. Some people put a considerable emphasis on the Ten Commandments “because they were written with God’s own finger.” I often hear this point made when discussing the status of the Mosaic Law. People see the Ten Commandments as God’s Law and the remaining Old Testament Commandments as Moses’ Law, placing eternal status on what came directly from God and temporary status on what came from Moses. This misses several key points. The most obvious is that we don’t have the tablets written by God’s finger, so we rely on Moses’ account of what the tablets say just the same as we rely on Moses’ account of what God told him on Mount Sinai. The second key point builds on that; in what possible way is God’s spoken word less authoritative and accurate than what He writes? God is the direct source of the command in both cases.

This is not the only example of treating one part of the Bible differently than another. The recorded words of Christ are viewed differently than the remainder of Scripture. The implication being that since God couldn’t convey the message with complete accuracy through the writers of Scripture, He had to come and say it Himself. This has one problem at a very basic level. Jesus didn’t write the Gospels; men recorded these sayings years after the events. So we are still left with the question of whether mortal men can completely and accurately convey the message of God.

All of this stems from not understanding the nature of Scripture and its inspiration. Jesus declares that Scripture is the “word” of God (Matt 4:4; Matt 15:6; Mark 7:13; Luke 8:21; Luke 11:28; John 10:35). Jesus did not call it the “idea” from God or the “principle” from God.  Since Jesus repeatedly describes Scripture as the word of God, if Scripture is not literally God’s word then we must question how accurate everything that Jesus told us is.

 2 Tim 3:16 makes it clear that the inspiration of all Scripture is the same. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” All of Scripture is the word of God. How does this leave room for Scripture being more accurate in some areas than in others?

 What does Scripture say about the word of God? That Scripture cannot be broken; that the word of God, every word of God is true:

 John 10:35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken
 2 Sam 7:28a And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true
 2 Sam 22:31 This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him
 Prov 30:5a Every word of God is pure (KJV) Every word of God proves true (ESV) 
 Isa 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

The inspiration of Scripture comes through the Holy Spirit. 2 Pet 1:21 tells us that “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”. Jesus declares that the Holy Spirit would guide His followers into all truth (not just some or most truth). John 16:13a “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” Furthermore Jesus promises that the Spirit will provide an accurate remembrance of all things. John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Was Jesus’ promise less than completely true and accurate?

If a prophet attributes something to God that is not completely true, God commands that this prophet be put to death ( Deut 18:18-22 and Deut 15:1-5) Does God hold himself to a lower standard than He demands of the prophets? Notice also that Deut 18:18 clearly tells us that God will put His words in the prophets mouth.

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”

Seventh-day Adventism follows along with many liberal theologians today by denying  that Biblical inspiration works through God’s direct words, concluding instead that God inspired people who communicated ideas using imperfect words. But this verse says something quite different.

One of the best arguments in favor of the individual words of all Scripture being completely accurate can be found in Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 

“Scripture uses Scripture in a way that supports its inerrancy. At times an entire argument rests on a single word (e.g., John 10:34 – 35 and “God” in Ps. 82:6), the tense of a verb (e.g., the present tense in Matt. 22:32), and the difference between a singular and a plural noun (e.g., “seed” in Gal. 3:16). If the Bible’s inerrancy does not extend to every detail, these arguments lose their force. The use of any word may be a matter of whim and may even be an error.”

The attack of Satan in Eden was about whether the word of God is completely true.

Gen 3:1-4 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

Questioning the absolute accuracy of God’s Word is the foundation for sin entering our world. When we conclude that one part of Scripture is more accurate or inspired than another we inadvertently bring the accuracy of God’s Word into question.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://blog.lifeassuranceministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Rick_1_5x2.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Rick Barker is a native of Southwestern Ohio and facilitates a weekly Bible study for former and transitioning SDAs in the Dayton, OH area. Rick graduated from Andrews University in 1987 and received a Masters degree from the University of Dayton. He serves on the staff of the Thomas Bilney Institute for Biblical Research and is an active member of his local Lutheran church. Rick was a volunteer on the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website for 6 years and remains a participant on the discussion boards. Rick and his wife Sheryl formally left the SDA chuch in 2004. Prior to this they had been active in the Miamisburg and Wilmington Ohio churches.[/author_info] [/author]

Rick Barker

Rick Barker

Rick Barker is a native of Southwestern Ohio and facilitates a weekly Bible study for former and transitioning SDAs in the Dayton, OH area. More information on this study group can be found at www.gracediscovery.org. Rick graduated from Andrews University in 1987 and received a Masters degree from the University of Dayton. He previously served on the staff of the Thomas Bilney Institute for Biblical Research and is an active member of his local Lutheran church. Rick was a volunteer on the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website for 6 years and remains a participant on the discussion boards. Rick and his wife Sheryl formally left the SDA chuch in 2004. Prior to this they had been active in the Miamisburg and Wilmington Ohio churches.
Rick Barker

7 comments

  1. Rick, great post! I’ve recently come across some people, still Seventh-day Adventist, who have a twice-weekly internet broadcast that teaches Paul was a false prophet, and the most reliable words in the NT were the words Jesus spoke in the gospels of Matthew and John.

    Unless we allow God to be bigger than our own analyses and critiques, we can explain away everything that doesn’t make sense to us. God is bigger than our intellects, though…and if we believe His word to be the word He intended for us to have in order to know Him, we will “see” things we had never expected.

    His word is truth.

  2. Colleen & Rick,

    Thanks for a well-written & thoughtful pair of posts.

    Can I set the cat among the pigeons with two separate items?

    A. – The issue of the Canon of the Tanak, and “Are there ‘degrees’ of Biblical inspiration?”.

    What do you make of this….

    In the wake of the defeat of Antiochus IV (the “epiphanes”), and the imposition of the LXX on the Jews by the Selucids, Judas Maccabeus effectively closed the Canon of the Tanak. With its apparent terminus ad quem at 331 BCE – the rise of the Macedonian Alexander the Great – so as to forever exclude from Canonical Status anything either written in Greek or translated into Greek.

    The Conservative Jews were delighted at this exercise of anti-Hellenism, but were concerned that Judas may have been too generous in what he included. This debate bubbled along for many decades – during the time of Jesus’ ministry, and finally came to a head in c80 CE at Jamnia.

    What in fact happened at Jamnia was far from a “council” in the sense in which the word was used in the Church. It was not a body which came together for the purpose of issuing authoritative findings on matter of faith, doctrine, or practice. Rather, it was a convocation of many learned rabbis who had fled Jerusalem after the destruction of that city in 70 CE. The exact purpose of the gathering is to this day speculated upon. The actually agenda which the rabbis carried out was a series of discussions on several books in the Jewish canon which, for various reasons, were considered doubtful in their canonicity by some (but which had not been previously rejected as non-canonical). From the evidence below, it would appear that this questioning was from some ultra-reactionary elements of Judaism in alliance with the Saduccees. The Sadducees wanted it challenged so as to affirm their Torah-only position.

    The three parties to this discussion were: (A) the ultra-reactionary Sadducees etc, (B) the Conservative “Jamnia mainstream” and (C) the Hellenised Liberal supporters of the LXX (outside the convocation but baying for more to be included in the Canon).

    As best as can be understood from latter rabbinical literature – including the Talmud (the only reliable source we have for the proceedings at Jamnia), the discussion centred on the following books:

    # Esther – Questioned by some because of the lack of reference to the name of God. Doubts were dispelled by the fact that, though it lacks direct reference to God, the overriding providential hand of God can be clearly seen throughout the book.

    # Song of Solomon – Doubted by some because of the “erotic” nature of certain passages in the book. This book was cleared by the rabbis after they accepted a Midrash interpretation composed of non-gematria elements of Sod – as applied in a Remez to the relationship between Yahweh and Yahweh’s Covenant Community.
    (In Hellenistic Gentile Language, this methodology was misinterpreted as being a more allegorical interpretation of the book (much like some modern Evangelicals).

    # Ecclesiastes – Questioned because it supposedly contained statements which contradicted other portions of scriptures. These difficulties were dispelled by careful cross-study of the scriptures in question.

    # Ruth, Proverbs, Ezekiel, and possibly Daniel and Ezra were also discussed, but doubts which may have been entertained by certain rabbis were dispelled during the course of the discussions.

    What is important to keep in mind about Jamnia is that it was NOT a “council” which was convened to determine the limits of the canon of the Jewish scriptures. The participants already understood what the limits of the scriptural canon were – they were ALREADY Circumscribed and CLOSED by Judas Maccabeus (c130BCE), and their discussions took place under the assumption that the books being discussed were in his Canon, and that the maximum extent of the Canon as it traditionally had been defined by Judas Maccabeus was being generally affirmed and defended.

    The question was: “Was Judas Maccabeus too generous in what he chose as Canon?”

    This explains why there was no mention of the apocryphal books made at this council. Quite contrary to Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox claims, the Council of Jamnia did not “remove” the apocryphal books from the Jewish Canon – they were never there in the first place! Rather, the Council merely discussed a few “questionable” books already in the canon (and accepted as such by all, with varying degrees of surety). The Deuterocanon/Apocrypha was never (as we’ve seen above) in the canon, and hence it did not even enter into consideration at this time.

    What the Council of Jamnia implicitly did was affirm something which Judaism had known since the days of the Maccabees, that Tanak Canonical material had ceased to be written during the time of Artaxerxes’ reign, and only those books accepted up to that time were rightfully in the canon. In fact, Jamnia’s effect on the Old Testament canon was roughly equivalent to that which the 3rd Council of Carthage in 397 AD had on the New Testament canon for the Pauline / Imperial Roman Church: Affirmed what those who had already been using the scriptures in question for hundreds of years already knew.

    Since the Jewish Community has never seen fit to revisit this issue of Biblical Canon in the same manner and/or to the same degree as at Jamnia, the Tanak of Judas Maccabeus – no more and no less, was ultimately accepted as Canonical, but with qualifications in some places.

    B – Re: Paul as a “false teacher”.

    Are you aware of the background to most of this? And are you aware that this issue is far wider than Adventism! (Even though Adventism has its own twist to this). And it is not “Liberal” as you would superficially think!

    It stems from two distinct but related streams, and the Acts 15 incident regarding Paul:

    (a) – distinctiveness of Paul as compared to the rest of the Bible.

    (b) the Nazi Shoah (Holocaust against the Jews – 1935-1945CE).

    The first (a) is too long to deal with in a short post, but I will do so if requested. It integrally ties in to what follows here.

    The second (b) was triggered by the four questions below (similar to those asked in the Pesak Seder) and followed (a):
    1. “How could the Church be so wilfully blind to, or worse – so collaborative with the Nazis?”
    2. “What was it in the Church’s theological DNA that made this Nazi nightmare and collaboration possible?”
    3. “Who within the Church was ultimately responsible for this state of affairs?” and
    4. “What do we in the Church need to do theologically to see to it that a new Nazi Shoah can never happen again – especially with ostensible “Biblical” support?”

    Remember, it was Church Liberalism with both anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism over many centuries that led in a straight line to Nazi support.

    These four questions ultimately led back into the time before the Temple destruction in 70CE, specifically to the Acts 15 Council, and caused a re-reading of this event, inter alia, especially in the light of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

    In spite of centuries of pro-Pauline propaganda, this Acts 15 “council” must now be re-read both Jewishly and in the light of who was “Orthodox” at that event? Was it Paul or was it the Jerusalem-Central Church headed by St James the Just?

    If we affirm the first, we are required to disregard the “Apostolic Succession” of this Church – composed of: Jesus’ mother (only passed 5 years earlier, and still enormously influential posthumously), the remainder of 11 disciples, St Mary Magdalene, St Joseph of Arimathea, St James the Just (the “president” of that council), and others too lengthy to enumerate.

    If we affirm the second, we are required to regard Paul as being under challenge by, inter alia, St James the Just and the rest. And that Paul came close to being expelled from this Church at that time. And that it was truly an act of charitable magnanimity that allowed him to remain therein thereafter.

    The questions that are now being asked in the wake of this charitable magnanimity at that time revolve around the issues: “With 20/20 hindsight, especially in the wake of the Nazi Shoah, was this charity misplaced – notwithstanding its “It seems good to the Spirit.. . . (v28)”?” and: “At that ‘council’, who was Liberal, and who was Conservative?”

    Remember, Jesus’ magnanimity towards Judas was ultimately betrayed.

    Finally, you need to also know that only the most extreme, reactionary elements in the Church refuse to deal with these Nazi and Nazi-related issues.

    I think that this will do for now.

    Pax Vobiscum.

  3. John,
    Thanks for responding. It is always pleasing as an author to see that people read and respond to posts. And you certainly lived up to to your intent of setting the cat among the pigeons.

    Point A. I’m really not sure what point you are trying to make relative to the idea of whether some Scripture is more inspired than others. It appears instead that you are raising the question of whether we have the correct set of books in Scripture. These are really two separate questions.

    Point B. Does Paul belong in Scripture. I have had this conversation with a number of Messianic Jews on discussion boards. The typical argument is that God never changes therefore God’s commands can never change (as a result the New Covenant has no changes from the Old Covenant beyond being written on the heart). Everything that follows in Scripture must agree with Moses and since Paul doesn’t agree with Moses, Paul is false and doesn’t belong in Scripture. I credit these Messianic Jews with actually paying attention enough to Paul to see that there is a difference (SDAs generally fail to see these differences). I would contend that the answer lies in the change accompanying the covenants, and that Paul’s writings do belong in Scripture.

    Peter certainly affirms Paul’s writings as being Scripture in 2 Pet 3:16 as also in all his (Paul’s) letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    The fact that it is Paul’s letters and the “rest of the Scriptures” is exceedingly straightforward.

    Finally the idea that some part of Scripture is false because that part was misused by evil men to commit atrocities is a non sequitor.

  4. Rick,

    Thank you for responding so well, and in the spirit in which I intended it to be taken. I was in some degree of fear and trepidation in posting this. Fearing that it might be misunderstood and taken the wrong way by many of the readers of your site who are still coming to terms with the non-Adventist idea of the authority and Canon of Scripture; and some, in reaction thereto (fully understandable, may I add in the light of their ‘Clear Word’ (sic)), swinging in the opposite direction and to the same degree and taking a too-strong position i.e. fundamentalist “Inerrancy”.

    Yes, you & Colleen are right, Adventism in general, and Berrien Springs in particular – despite its hype, is utterly clueless and witless when it comes to sound Church theology and history. And from what I can see, both the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed totally nonplusses them. As an aside, I am treated by respect by some MA graduates from St Vladimir’s Seminary (OCA).

    I trust that this follow-up “pleases you” – as you said at the outset, and will not leave too many conniptions in its trail . . .
    Can I enlarge just a bit on both, hopefully keeping it both sufficiently short to meet attention-spans, yet being sufficiently sound to pass muster. So that you will begin to see where I am coming from.

    On (A), I was suggesting that in Jesus’ time there were three “Levels” of Canon:
    (i) The Torah (Pentateuch) – of unquestioned inspiration and authority above even the Neviyim and Ketubim.
    (Ii) The “Undisputed” Neviyim and Ketubim – i.e. anything not under challenge at and in the lead-up to Jamnia, and
    (iii) those regarded as “Disputed” books going into Jamnia.

    After Jamnia, the distinction between (ii) and (iii) disappeared with those in (iii) being elevated into (ii), thus arriving at the position we have today for the Tanak. And so, there is already “hierarchy” in the Tanak.

    Yet at the time prior to Jamnia, (iii) acted as a legitimizer for such books as the Book of Jasher, the Book of Enoch, 1 Maccabees, etc which, while written after that critical year of 331 BCE and at least in parts, were originally written in Greek, were sufficiently free of Hellenisms as to warrant consideration as a valid “Deutero-Canon” and thus be eligible for inclusion into (iii). Jasher to this day remains the principal source of much sound Jewish tradition for its period of coverage [Here I am thinking of inter alia Louis Ginzberg, “Legends of the Bible”, Jerusalem JPS, 1909 (reprinted pb: ISBN 0-8276-0404-1].

    Pre-Jamnia, (iii) was certainly “Deutero-Canon”. John the Evangelist certainly thought that this “legitimating” principle was a valid idea, as he quoted extensively from Enoch in his Apocalypse, as did Jude (once). More generally, 1 Maccabees was known as *the* definitive source for the Hanukkah narrative. After Jamnia, these books remained at level (iii), and whilst formally they were not fully “Canon”, they were at least regarded as Quasi-Canon. And so, whilst post-Jamnia our ALL of our Tanak is indisputably at the level of authority of full Canon, there still remains some degree of “hierarchy” *within* this Canon. With Jasher & co resting cosily as Quasi-Canon just outside the door of the full Canon.

    As a “bridge” into (B), we need to know that the body of Jewish leaders known as the “Men of the Great Congregation” were responsible for the commendation of most of the now Tanak as worthy of “Canonical Authority.” [Talmud – Tractate : Baba Bathra 14b (order) & 15a (authorship)] And that the unbroken chain of leadership of this body – as far as the Holy Spirit is concerned, is given for us in the genealogy of Luke (3:23-38).

    Mattathat (v24) adopted the Jacob of Matt 1:16, and renamed him “Heli” Luke 3:22), Mattathat had two sons: Joachim, and some years later, Joseph. Joachim married an Anna and they had three girls: Mary (Jesus’mother), Salome (wife of Zebedee) and a second Mary (wife of Cleopas who was Joseph of Nazareth’s younger brother). Joseph had, inter alia, a son – also named Joseph. It was this younger Joseph (jnr) that buried Jesus in his new tomb, and set up the Messianic Bet Din (known to us as the “Jerusalem Council”).

    We now turn to the non-Pauline NT.

    Using their more familiar English names most of the time:
    (the approximate date of the release of their writing is given in brackets):
    a. A member of Yeshua’s close blood family, or
    b. One of Yeshua’s extended blood family, or
    c. A member of Yeshua’s distant extended blood family by marriage, or
    d. A member of Yeshua’s foster-family, or (finally)
    e. An intimate associate of Yeshua’s close or extended blood family, or

    With #a and #b we are also with the direct blood family of this Joseph of Arimathea. Yeshua’s sole blood-grandfather was Yehoachim, uncle to this Joseph of Arimathea.

    This gives us:
    1. Gospel of John (65 – assembly start 37), Hebrews (c75), Apocalypse (Revelation) of John (96 – visions 80-95), Epistles of John (80’s)
    The Apocalypse was written by Prochorus, John’s disciple and scribe in exile.
    [Yochanan (John) – first cousin to Yeshua – his mother Zelomi was full sister to Miriam, Yeshua’s mother]

    2. Gospels of Matthew (64 – 1st two chapters 61) and Mark (60),
    [Levi Matthew – son of Miriam and Cleopas of Emmaus &
    John Mark – son of Aristobulus (from Cyraenica)
    – nephews of Yosef of Arimathea through their parents mother Miriam and father Aristobulus respectively (Yosef & Miriam brother & sister, Aristobulus – younger brother of Yosef)
    – Mark – was “supervisor” of Shimon(Peter)]

    # At this point we already have the “4 Gospels” of: Matthew, Mark, John, Apocalypse.
    Hebrews, John’s three Epistles.

    When we move to the more distant relatives of this Joseph of Arimathea, we add:
    3. Epistles of Peter.
    [Shimon = Peter). His wife, Perpetua, was daughter of Aristobulus, brother to Mark and grand-daughter of Joseph of Arimathea(snr) through her father.]

    Working with Mattathan’s adoption of Heli (Jacob), we add:
    4. The Epistles of James and Jude
    [Ya’akov & Yehuda – “brothers” – children of Joseph – the Nazarene to his previous marriage.

    With a direct and trusted employee of this Joseph of Arimathea, we can add:
    5. Gospel of Luke (62), the Acts of the Apostles (64), and Hebrews (64).
    [Luke – personal doctor and lawyer to Joseph of Arimathea. First Church Iconographer.]

    # At this point we have all the commonly-accepted NT except Pauline Literature. Paul features nowhere here.

    Thus, these were, de-facto, “Canonical” ab inito as they flowed out of the quills and onto the parchments as they emerged from the inner “Orbit” of St Joseph of Arimathea. This House of Arimathea certainly had “form” in discerning and promoting Canonical material – as we have seen above.

    And, had the Jewish-Arimathean “Jerusalem-Central” Church been solely responsible for the assembly of the NT Canon – as they would most certainly have been, had Paul been kicked out at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), we would have had the following in the NT Canon (& none of Paul):

    *Protevangelium of James – c 5CE – James the Just
    History of Joseph the Carpenter – c 5CE – James the Just
    The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea – (Joseph of Arimathea – released c80CE)
    The Dormition of Mary – (written by St John, jointly-released by St James the Just and St John the Evangelist c55CE)
    The Gospel of the Birth of Mary – compiled by Matthew
    Epistles of Jesus Christ and Abgarus, King of Edessa
    **Gospel of Philip
    **Gospel of Thomas
    **Gospel of Mary Madgalene
    The Didache – (Oral Tradition from Luke taken over, added-to and released by John c90CE)
    1 Clement – c96CE
    Acts of John the Evangelist. – c96CE

    * most of the Protevangelion (1ANF8:361ff) is incorporated into the Menology of St Dimitry of Rostov (in Russia), and is the basis for much of the the “extra-Biblical” narratives for the Church’s Feasts of:
    # The Nativity of the Theotokos (8 Sept)
    # The Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple (21 Nov)
    # The Annunciation of the Theotokos (25 Mar)
    # The Nativity of Jesus (25 Dec).

    ** these three are really Hebrew “Wisdom Literature” in the tradition of Proverbs and Ecclesiasties, when approached in a Semitic/Hebraic manner, and are not really “gnostic at all”. The Semitic Wisdom theology of these three suffused the Arimathean Celtic Church. And the Semitic/Hebraic Mystical Union praxis promoted therein re-emerged as the eastern Orthodox doctrine of Theosis (vaguely similar to the Western notion of sanctification, but much stronger).

    We now move directly to (B).

    Whilst Paul “borrowed” enormously from Jerusalem-Central, he nevertheless had significant swathes of his own material, and remained forever his own man. And after careful examination, Pauline literature was regarded by the Jerusalem-Central Church as capable of occupying three different ‘Levels” in different places, even within the same book (!):
    (a) – equal to what would be (ii) at Jamnia,
    (b) – equal to what would be (iii) at and after Jamnia, and
    (c) – something below what would be (iii) at and after Jamnia – to a greater or lesser degree.

    Jerusalem-Central persisted with this “hierarchy” of Pauline Literature well after Jamnia. This is a technical matter, and so I will not pursue it here.

    As a “parenthesis” observation, which feeds into Paul, we are now well aware of the polemics which Qumran directed at the Jerusalem High Priesthood in comparison with themselves. Qumran called their leader the “Teacher of Righteousness”, and the Hellenised and Romanised High Priestood of, inter alia, Annas and Caiaphas the “Spouter of Lies”.

    Initially, this polemic had nothing to do with the Church but was quite capable of extension into it. Indeed, as far as I can ascertain, the Essenes were sufficiently well-disposed towards both St James the Just and St John the Evangelist to regard them both as a “Teacher of Righteousness”.

    Now this idea of an “opposite” – i.e. a “Spouter of Lies” caught on within the Jerusalem-Central Church. This prompted a quest for the “Spouter of Lies” with a Church-connection. Ultimately, the Ebionites after the fall of Masada would provide the answer in reaction to his level (c) teaching: Paul of Tarsus! While the Ebionites were definitely heretical in other places, here they were being prophetic with Divine Sanction, in much the same manner as Baalam’s donkey, drawing attention to Pauline failures (Level (c) ) in some places of his writings.

    As a non-Protestant, I am less drawn to the Calvinist “Covenant Theology” approach to justify Paul’s inclusion into the Canon, preferring to take a more nuanced and less monolithic approach.

    And so, to bring this post to a close, how do I regard NT and putative-NT Literature, and a potential “hierarchy” therein? Contrary to some Messianic Jews who you mentioned who would disregard Paul altogether, and regard him as a “false teacher” altogether, I see three levels:

    # Level 1: The “5″ Gospels of Protevangelion, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John = the 5 Books of the Torah.
    # Level 2: the remainder of non-Pauline NT + the putative NT (above) + level (a) Pauline Literature, = Neviyim & Ketubim
    # Level 3: level (b) Pauline Literature – as interpreted by non-Pauline sources. = Jasher et al. (Level (iii) @ Jamnia.

    I will spell out the why behind the Pauline Level (c) if you want me to do so in a later post.

    I trust this further expansion of my earlier post puts a little more meat on the bones on it. And establishes that indeed, (to subtly rearrange your heading) Some Bible Passages Are More Inspired than Others. And that this is not a “Liberal” idea.

    I may address your “non sequitur” issue in a subsequent post. It is not altogether black and white, and requires a careful study of the “genealogy of ideas” to do it justice.

    Again: Pax Vobiscum.

    1. John,

      Since this is a discussion of biblical inerrancy, dealing with the inspiration of books primarily written in the first century or before, you may wish to review Godwin’s Law and it’s applications before wading back into the use of 20th century Nazi’s to bolster your position. Not only is your inference a non-sequitur, but on some internet forums, once Godwin’s Law comes into play the thread is closed and the first person invoking Nazi’s is declared to be the loser of the debate. Of course that’s a bit of a fallacy in itself, but it does help to promote more intellectually rigorous argumentation.

  5. John,
    First you should know that I embrace and defend Biblical inerrancy. I believe placing the term “fundamentalist” in front of that is pejorative and meant to discredit by association. As a student of church history you should be well aware of the differences between fundamentalism and evangelicalism and that not all of those who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture aree fundamentalists. In fact many wouldn’t fit the typical understanding of evangelical, which is one of the problems with labelling.

    Understanding at the outset that we have substantially different views of the reliability of Scripture, I hope that there is room for meaningful dialogue nonetheless.

    Let me start by pointing out that you have done nothing towards addressing the point that I made where Peter includes Paul’s writings along with other Scriptures. I think that it is quite reasonable to look at how one of Christ’s closest associates and disciples responded to Paul’s writings. Paul himself pointed to his interactions with Peter, and Peter accepting his rebuke as evidence of his apostolic authority.

    You appear to point towards the geneology of Luke as some basis for the succession of authority after Christ. I would disagree with this assumption, pointing instead to the traitional and historical understanding that the geneology was written as evidence establishing Christ as the Messiah. Luke records Christ’s words later indicating that “geneology” and “family relations” change with the arrival of the Messiah.

    Luke 8:21 But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

    This is consistent with Paul’s teachings both on being descendents of Abraham based on faith not geneology and Paul’s teaching on adoption and being co-heirs with Christ. I’m not using Paul as an authority here, since I realize we are debating that question, but instead pointing out wys in which the core aspects of his theology that are consistent with the other NT authors.

    Your argument relies heavily on what would have happened IF “Paul been kicked out at the Jerusalem Council”. This is revisionist history and requires denying that the Holy Spirit was leading the early church.

    Acts 15:28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials

    At the risk of over-simplifying your argument, your position is that the Jerusalem Council was mistaken in their conclusion and in their belief that the Holy Spirit was affirming their decision. Instead, a few second century heretics and modern intellectuals can make a better determination than the Jerusalem Council did.

    Finally, the idea of a new covenant is not a Calvinist theological idea but a teaching that can be found in both the Old and New Testaments. Calvinists have a specific understanding of what this covenant is, but I made no reference to that. But if we want to unpack this issue a bit further perhaps we can start with what you believe the covenant described by Moses contains.

  6. Chris,

    Thank you for your contribution. Can I suggest that the use of Godwin’s law in the higher reaches of academia re Nazis would silence more than half the fruitful research on this matter, and so it is quietly ignored in the interests of intellectual integrity. It would have the same effect as a Papal “silencing” within the Catholic Church, and today would be as controversial.

    Rick,

    Than you for your thoughtful response. Rather than continue this discussion on this topic on this blog, and get bogged down in multidisciplinary technical discussion (and thus bore your readers), I will refrain from further postings on this. If you wish to continue off-line, I am only too happy to do so.

    To both of you, thank you for your responses, and may God be with you.

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