Give me some of that ol’… New Testament scholarship?

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Roger E. Olson has deigned to reply to me! He says that every fule know there are multiple Jesuses in the New Testament. All the same, Rog is sure he has a pretty clear picture of the real one, even if this is only in his own head. Then I hit the jackpot! Rog treats me to one of the Christian apologist’s top retorts: those with dissenting views know nothing about New Testament scholarship.

Here’s his response in all its glory:

I hear your suggestion, but I’m not sure what it has to do with atheism. All serious New Testament scholars–including the most conservative Christian ones–already know and admit that the gospel portraits of Jesus differ somewhat from each other. But very early in Christian history all attempts to reduce them to one portrait (one united gospel stitched together from the four in our New Testament) were rejected as heretical. We Christians already know what you say and it doesn’t bother us. I have read numerous biographies of Abraham Lincoln, for example, and the “man himself” stands out in spite of differences of description from different points of view. Your point is simplistic and displays that you know little or nothing about New Testament scholarship.

My reply to this, which Roger hasn’t seen fit to post:

So you think one has to be fully cognizant with New Testament scholarship to be a Christian? Funny, I don’t find any of the Jesuses in the bible saying that. Doesn’t one of them suggest we ‘become as little children’? Still, I expect you’re right: if you need a level of understanding that’s the equivalent of a doctorate to follow Jesus, then I guess I don’t qualify.

As for what my comment has to do with atheism, you were the one who said we see God most clearly in Jesus. I responded by saying I don’t see God in any of the interpretations. If Jesus is the best reflection we have of God, as you suggest, then his failed prophecies, false promises and general ignorance make it probable that the God he, and you, promote doesn’t exist.

If you can cherry-pick which bits of the bible are relevant to your understanding of the divine, Roger (you dismiss, for example, the barbarity of the Old Testament), then it is not unreasonable for others to do the same, even if we aren’t as well versed in Christian mumbo-jumbo theology as you.

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4 thoughts on “Give me some of that ol’… New Testament scholarship?

  1. Being a good Christian is knowing what to overlook. You can’t know unless you know, you know?? Where does one draw the line between fact and fable? You can’t. You must reject all of it if you want to live a consistent and self empowered life. Nice work Sir Neil. Another fine post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “if you need a level of understanding that’s the equivalent of a doctorate to follow Jesus, then I guess I don’t qualify.”

    Exactly. I just finished with a post of my own speaking to this. If you need overly complicated explanations to explain Jesus or have to be well-educated in all sorts of theology, most people wouldn’t qualify. The Bible says nowhere that you need any of that to follow or understand Jesus. Those who say you do are lying through their teeth because they know they have nothing. They have zero evidence to stand on yet somehow claim they have all of the knowledge and understanding.

    Excellent post. I’d be very interested to see if and how Roger responds to your comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We shall see. As a courtesy, I have let Roger know that I’ve moved the discussion here. I have long thought intellectual faith to be a contradiction in terms, on a par with the endless analysis of the Harry Potter books; fun perhaps but of no ultimate value. A blatant case of the emperor’s new clothes.

      Your own latest post is excellent. I will add a comment.

      Liked by 2 people

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