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John W. Loftus

Wait just a minute. Without re-reading what Scott said, I didn't see where he referenced Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis. The fact that all scholars worth their salt know that there was a long process of editing going on is good enough. The history of this development is irrelevant, and there is no going back.

Take for instance what early NT higher critic have said and compare them with later higher critics. The earlier ones got some things wrong. But the basic approach is the same and even evangelicals now embrace much of it.

Here's one good book on the NT criticism which I reviewed on Amazon:


Hey John,

That there was a long process of editing is clear enough. Why that should bother a Bible-believing Jew or Christian is beyond me.

Scott Bailey

Thank you for your kind and charitable reading of my blog. It is a tad ironic and hyperbolic that in a post in which you point out that I am misleading my readers you elevate Bultmann and Wellhausen to oracles in my life. Now that would definitely be a misleading statement.

Bultmann has hardly been mentioned on my blog. The whole thing started because Joel (Unsettled Christianity) was posting on Sproul's new book and I found the press blurb to be significantly opposite to what I knew Bultmann had expressed one time.

In my own personal academic work, writing my MA thesis, I do some significant analysis in Genesis 6:1-4, and a couple of literary structures in Gen 1-11, and Gen 6-36. As part of this I try to analyze the methodology and conclusions of scholars who have come before me. So Wellhausen, Noth, von Rad, etc., but I tend to use some more modern theories and base my methodology off of Lester Grabbe, Joseph Blenkinsopp, Philip Davies, Christopher Heard, and E. Theodore Mullen. As you can guess, yes, this is primarily a historical study and not intended for the church. However, Wellhausen is hardly my 'oracle'.

While my goal is not mislead, if you think I have done so, I will include a brief 'fuller' understanding of what you have offered for Plantinga here. But it seems to me as I look at what you have offered that my main point still stands--I believe Plantinga finds the 'truth value' in the text through traditional Christian commentary--and I assume you can predict where the discussion will go as I will be talking mostly about what I favor in HBC methodology as opposed to philosophical speculation.


PS - I am taking a hard line with Peter, but Peter's theological speculations go to the absurd in my opinion when he defends Todd Bently and some of his outrageous claims. Fantastic claims require *some* evidence.

John W. Loftus

Why? Because it looks like a human not a divine process, that's why. Why would God inspire his word in ways that are indistinguishable from not inspiring it at all?

The divine hypothesis is unnecessary, that's all, Although some people get it others like you done see it.

The probability that God inspired the Bible is inversely proportional to the evidence that it developed in ways indistinguishable from a solely human process (i.e., the more probable it looks like a purely human process then the less probable it has a divine author), and there is overwhelming evidence that it looks indistinguishable from a purely human process.

G. Kyle Essary

I'm not untreated in books about higher criticism from German professors. Furthermore, why should an editing process be something that conservative evangelicals (like myself) fear? You should read Michael Fishbane's "Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel." It's one of my favorites and would give you a good introduction to the exegetical and interpretive traditions in the text.

Heck, read a Southern Baptist, conservative evangelical like John Sailhamer, and you'll still get a good discussion about the editorial process. Something that Sailhamer has consistently pointed out is that the tradtional evangelical interpretation of Scripture is as a text, and not just a pointer to events. As evangelicals, we hold that the events are true of course, but God's revelation is in a text, and thus must be interpreted using literary methods.

So yeah, I am not sure why an editorial process is a problem for evangelicals...because even our most conservative scholars embrace such a process and show how it's a value to believers.


Hey Scott,

Are you saying that the truth value of Scripture is arrived at through historical biblical criticism? That doesn't make any sense.

Rather, the truth of Scripture is imparted by virtue of the Holy Spirit, not only in the strength of one's relationship with God, but within the communion of saints, including the best traditional commentary on the texts. The comment of modern exegetes who have fully metabolized the results of critical scholarship and choose nonetheless to receive the text with reverent faith - not what you did in your MA thesis, as you imply - can also shed light on the truth value of Scripture.

Either the truth of Scripture is imparted to us in the fully embodied sense, or it is not imparted at all. Even John Loftus would agree with that.

The truth value of Scripture resides in things like its particular understanding of the good, the true, and the beautiful; the way the text chooses for God those whom it addresses; its conception of history as a comedy - a story with plenty of drama but with a happy ending - rather than a senseless tragedy; its realistic understanding of the centrality of vicarious suffering within the divine-human drama.

With few exceptions the practitioners of HBC either put these larger questions between brackets or with adolescent glee claim to show what childish notions of cosmology, history, and eschatology the ancients had, the beknighted Jews and Christians in particular. Add to the mix the inability of most moderns to appreciate the positive value of (1) divine torah; (2) traditioned ritual; and (3) the treasures new and old a canon like the Bible provides, and the result is that most modern biblical exegesis, critical and anti-critical, either avoids dealing with the Sache of Scripture or fundamentally misunderstands it.

Perhaps you misunderstand the significance of my naming of Wellhausen and Bultmann. I name them because they are the two most illustrious practitioners of the historical-critical method. If you regard HBC as a door which leads to the truth of Scripture, then they *are* your oracles, and if not them, their pale reflections in people like Davies and Heard and Blenkinsopp. I read these scholars and others you mention with profit, but with the exception of von Rad, most are best at pointing out what Scripture doesn't say, not what it says. Which, come to think of it, seems to be your forte as well.

I remain convinced that Plantinga is on much firmer ground than you are, and that you continue to misunderstand him.

But it sounds like you haven't read his argument yet, just the quotes others and now I have provided. Regardless, you will do better to square off against someone like Levenson, Fishbane, Childs, or Seitz than with someone outside the field, however interesting, such as Plantinga.


Hey John Loftus,

I am interested in knowing what a divine process looks like. Please tell. Your docetism is showing.

Judging from the biblical narrative (the shape of the Primary History; Isa 53; Job, the Passion), Luther was not far from the truth in his claim that God reveals himself sub contraria specie (under the form of his opposite).

The more it becomes clear that we receive treasure in human vessels, the more I am convinced that the kingdom of God is, as Jesus proclaimed as he went about his work, "in the midst of you."

Scott Bailey


It would be nice in a civil conversation if you let me answer and clarify myself before you assumed my position and answered for me.

I was intending to suggest that Plantinga would probably still find the ultimate value of the text, normative and formative, through traditional biblical commentary rather than HBC. I could be wrong though as I continue to misread him apparently and he assumes the highest value of the text is to be found through hbc?



All along I have been *responding* to comments of yours and trying to make sense out of positions you take. But sure: go ahead and point out where I misunderstand you.

That is what people do in civil conversation. No need to get bent out of shape by the prospect.

My attempt from the get-go: to point out the extent to which you misrepresent Plantinga's point of view; and to point out why his actual position is more balanced than the position you take.

It sounds as if Plantinga's argument is one you are not actually familiar with. Which is fine, but then, don't be surprised if someone calls you on it.

Patrick Mefford

I think Scott is far closer to the mark than you give him credit for John.

In my reading Plantinga, his two fold rejection of Troeltschian and non-Troeltschian HBC is his rejection of their presuppositions and the unlikely event of any a posterior evidence had from Troeltschian and non-Troeltschian HBC that could reasonably give Christians a problem (pages 420-421 of WCB).

In Bayesian terms, I think Plantinga allows his Reformed Epistemology to raise his a priori convictions far too high. I don’t think it would be a Herculean effort to show that a Historian could be an active confessional Christian and still find modern HBC much more fruitful than traditional exegesis from a strict confessional point of view.


Hi Patrick,

It's great to have you on this thread. You have a way of complicating the discussion in a fruitful way, as you have now done.

As I see it, Plantinga responds to forms of HBC which predetermine the outcome based on first principles in tit-for-tat fashion: given a different set of first principles, P points out, said forms of HBC need not be taken seriously.

It seems to me that P's argument is watertight. If you wish, you can critique P from a Bayesian perspective but then, that critique will apply with equal force to Troeltsch and company who also raise their a priori convictions "far too high."

On the other hand, I think you're right that "a [h]istorian could be an active confessional Christian and still find modern HBC much more fruitful than traditional exegesis from a strict confessional point of view." I almost fall into that category myself - but you probably knew that already.

For the rest, whereas I understand the fairness of Plantinga's arguments, the epistemology I prefer is more open and deliberately destructured than that of Plantinga, more along the lines of the one Wolterstorff presented in his classic "Reason within the bounds of Religion." You probably knew that already, too.

Peter Kirk

John, thank you for your sensible contribution to this debate. Your readers might be interested in what I had to say about Sproul and Bultmann at and about Scott Bailey and creationists at

Scott, I did not bring Todd Bentley into the current discussions. Indeed I didn't mention him, despite your provocation, until I suggested tongue in cheek that you followed him if you wanted to see things that would surprise you. It is not fair for you to respond to me on the basis of what I wrote about Todd mostly three years ago.

Scott, let me remind you of what Dean Inge said: "Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next." I think you married the dying spirit of the Enlightenment. That spirit will long be remembered and revered. But you will be a widower!

John W. Loftus

You said: "So yeah, I am not sure why an editorial process is a problem for evangelicals...because even our most conservative scholars embrace such a process and show how it's a value to believers."

Perhaps you should consider the trend that is clear:

Read Peter Enns, John Walton and Kenton Sparks and you see what I'm talking about.

Note that Bruce Waltke embraced evolution.

I wish people could live longer, and that day will come, when these trends from conservative to liberal will be obviously seen by people within their lifetimes.

G. Kyle Essary


You said,"I don’t think it would be a Herculean effort to show that a Historian could be an active confessional Christian and still find modern HBC much more fruitful than traditional exegesis from a strict confessional point of view."

I think that's close to Plantinga's point. He's not evaluating it per se as much as seeing whether or not it can count as a defeater for taking Christianity as properly basic.


Hi John Loftus,

I'm sure it's true that more and more believers are coming to the conclusion that faith has nothing to fear from the theory of evolution or the notion that the Bible is a multi-stranded, edited anthology.

In the largest component of the Christian family, Roman Catholicism, evolutionary biology and HBC have long been addomesticated - now with the approval of the highest echelons of the hierarchy.

Only an (ex-)fundamentalist could mistake these trends for a trend toward unbelief.

G. Kyle Essary

I'll go one up on you John. Not only have I read their works, but I've met them (except Sparks). I even had a fascinating meal discussing the various meanings of "create" with John Walton last fall while I was in the States. They are all conservative evangelicals who value historical criticism (within a proper framework). And the framework is the key isn't it?

John W. Loftus

"Only an (ex-)fundamentalist could mistake these trends for a trend toward unbelief."


Lots of Bibliobloggers were ex-fundamentalists, so what exactly do you mean?



Slow down already.

This is what we agree on: a growing number of believers are comfortable with evolutionary biology and the idea of a multi-stranded Pentateuch written not by Moses, but authors of a much later period.

This is what we don't agree on: that this portends a trend toward unbelief.

Of course there are plenty of ex-fundies. There are also plenty of ex-godless and know-nothings. Big deal.

Impartial Observer

I think what Scott Bailey has read of Alvin Plantinga doesn't extend to more than the one brief (out of context) quote that he keeps hammering on about. Anyone who puts Plantinga in the same category as Chuck Missler shows he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Benjamin Smith

From my layman's perspective, the discovery of HBC really rattled and almost destroyed my (modernistic) faith. Now I'm back to being a creed-affirming evangelical, HBC only serves to enrich it.

Patrick Mefford

Hello John!

Thanks for your kind words, I could hardly pass up a discussion about Plantinga and Hermeneutics.

I don’t think Plantinga’s argument is watertight, and I think there is a crucial distinction that needs to be made between Theism and that of God, so invoked by Plantinga. Theism is an abstract philosophical concept, merely one position among many in contemporary Anglophone philosophy, that is really only mutually exclusive with it’s negation (atheism), there isn’t a philosophical position I hold outside of atheism that a theist couldn’t realistically affirm too.

God is far more than theism, in my opinion. Pastors and Rabbis around the world don’t speak of the theism of Abraham, the theism of Isaac, and the theism of Jacob, they speak of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, because each man had an encounter and a relationship with the divine in such a way that goes far beyond basic warranted beliefs and ontological arguments. Plantinga just doesn’t affirm theism, he affirms the God who grants unmerited Grace, the God who regenerates fallen man giving him a heart of flesh, the incarnation of the Son and the need for the expiation of sins.

One may go ‘tit-for-tat ’ with the presuppositions of Troeltschian and non-Troeltschian HBC with the presuppositions of an abstract doctrine of theism, but I think Plantinga’s beautiful Reformed faith brings far more baggage to any hermeneutic than the most voracious minimalist.

At the end of the day John, I think Scott’s series about Higher Criticism is a solid reminder that all we have is the text. An amazing, confusing, exciting, and insightful ancient text, whose context is so far removed from our own, that we can barely begin to understand it. I maintain that the Troeltschian and non-Troeltschian HBC has much less baggage to check at the door, than Plantinga.

I just hope Scott ceases to see your post as being uncharitable, and begins to view more as a sign of respect, as any good argumentation is:


Hi Patrick,

I don't agree with you if you are saying that HBC has shown itself capable of understanding the Bible better than traditional believers have. Examples, please. But I agree with you on other points.

I don't actually find Plantinga very interesting. That's because I don't find the style of argument in which both he and his conversations partners excel very interesting.

It is much more of a joy to read Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas. They seamlessly integrated the best philosophy they knew into universal and fully theological discourse. Luther, Calvin, and Kierkegaard are more conflicted, in conformity with the ages in which they lived. They remain of interest as well (as do Kant and Hegel and so on).

As for our time, the post-WW II period, the age of Andy Warhol and the Beatles, now Harry Potter and Lady Gaga, the objective correlatives as far as philosophers and theologians are ...

Nietzsche, Camus, and Wittgenstein, Dostoevsky, Barth, and Bonhoeffer: I will spend a day with any of these long before I will spend a day with an analytical philosopher.

John C. Poirier


There's much about your position that I have problems with.

Why, for example, does it "not make any sense" (your words) to say "that the truth value of Scripture is arrived at through historical biblical criticism"? That position makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I take it as self-evident.

And why do you say "Either the truth of Scripture is imparted to us in the fully embodied sense, or it is not imparted at all"? Now *there's something* that doesn't make sense to me.

I agree with Patrick Melford's statement: ". . . a Historian could be an active confessional Christian and still find modern HBC much more fruitful than traditional exegesis from a strict confessional point of view." I see that you say you are almost there as well. But I wonder why an "active confessional Christian" should need "traditional exegesis" at all.

I'm a theologically conservative Christian -- in fact, I'm a Pentecostal -- but I don't understand why conservative scholarship can't move beyond these hangups about the nature of the text. It seems to me that a mature faith should be able to say "the Church was wrong, so let's get back to the text and see what it really says".


Hi John,

Before developing the point of view I outlined above, perhaps you can help me understand your point of view better.

(1) If the truth value of Scripture is derived from HBC, perhaps you will state what that truth value is.

(2) You say "the Church was wrong." What do you have in mind? Does that mean that you are unable to uphold the creed which says "I believe the Church?"

John C. Poirier

As for (1), I simply mean "truth", as in facts. I take it that the writers of Scripture wrote propositionally, even when writing in the form of a narrative. "Truth" means "what is true", as in "what is the case".

As for (2), I must say I'm not much for creeds. I affirm the apostolic kerygma as the basis of my faith. I certainly would never profess a creed that said "I believe the Church". Why should I? That represents an epistemic scheme that the New Testament did not prepare me for, and one seemingly based on a double misunderstanding of the gift of the Spirit as (1) epistemic in function, and (2) ecclesial in focus.

I have problems with any aspect of a theology that cannot claim to be underwritten by Scripture itself, and I think that a high ecclesiology is one such aspect.


Hi John,

Here are a few problems I see with your position.

You depend on a definition of truth which has no basis in scripture. "Truth" in the Bible is not about facts but about God's promises which, even if they stand in contradiction to the facts on the ground, are truer than any fact.

Truth in the Bible is given, not through collecting an ever greater number of facts, but in the divine-human relationship in which God addresses a "plural" or a singular "you." What Amos fears is a famine of the word of the Lord, not a dearth of HBC. The meaning of the past, present, and future was given to Amos within the context of God's election of Israel, in the strength of his relationship with that electing God, and on the basis of an inherited tradition of interpretation of the past.

Truth in the Bible involves the interpretation of facts, not the facts themselves, which are not self-interpreting. The kind of facts HBC traffics in, for example, who wrote the Pentateuch and when, matter far less than many seem to think. It doesn't matter whether Moses wrote most or all of the Pentateuch, as traditionalists claim, or whether the Pentateuch no less than later tradition is the product of those who sat in the seat of Moses, to use the terminology attested in the NT. Jesus says we are duty-bound to take the Pentateuch *and* ongoing interpretation of it by the Sages of it seriously (Matthew 23:2).

You say that the New Testament does not prepare you for the existence of a church which, however unfaithful in more ways than one, remains in possession of the divine gifts and calling. But if the gifts and calling of Israel are irrevocable, if all Israel will be saved (Romans 9-11), how much more are the gifts and calling of God's church irrevocable. The centrality of the church to God's plan is evident throughout the New Testament. Ephesians is a clear example. It is impossible to be faithful to Scripture and say, in the same breath, "I believe the Holy Spirit abandoned the church after the first century." That is a supremely odd position since it is well-known that the outer boundaries of the New Testament Scripture were not set until the 4th century and did not become effective in many parts of the Christian community except over the long duration.

If the historical-critical method is a necessary gateway to the truth of Scripture, then the generations of believers before HBC had no access to it - not even those involved in the events which led to the fixation of the outer limits of the canon. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but that sounds like the height of hubris.

Finally, if the truth value of Scripture consists of the facts you derive from Scripture on the basis of HBC, I would appreciate it if you listed the propositional truths vouchsafed to you, a Pentecostal, independent of the witness of the Spirit, on the basis of HBC alone.

A list of that kind would interest me very much.

John C. Poirier


(I'm having problems with my internet. I hope this goes through.)

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

You write that my "definition of truth . . . has no basis in scripture". But it does – its basis lies at the theological center of a Christian reading of the New Testament. As a Christian, the ground of my faith is the kerygma. The kerygma is a narrative of the Christ event: Christ died, was buried, rose again, ascended to heaven, and sent the Spirit. We are called to believe that those events really happened *in spacetime actuality*. This is the sense in which I refer to "truth": what is "true" is what happened in "spacetime". It is immaterial that the Bible does not spell this out, or use a particular word for "truth" in this sense: the kerygma is underpinned by an alethiology in which truth is a matter of spacetime actuality. Any attempt to say that this sort of alethiology does not impinge upon Scripture is in effect an implicit claim that the truth of the kerygma is not a matter of its spacetime actuality, which in turn is a docetic rendering of the Christ event, making its truth a matter of *storytime* actuality rather than *spacetime* actuality.

In what I wrote above, I would have used the word "history" for "spacetime actuality", but so many people then run off in the direction of some sort of verificationism, which is not what I mean. I want to avoid misunderstandings. When I speak of "facts", I also mean "obtainments in spacetime actuality", and not those things that can be known through some sort of scientific process.

You write that "'Truth' in the Bible is not about facts but about God’s promises which, even if they stand in contradiction to the facts on the ground, are truer than any fact." But "truth" applies to *everything* that is true – if David in fact danced before the Lord, then that is just as "true" as any promise that God made. It may well be that Scripture uses *emet* in a way that doesn't fit into my alethiology, but that would be a matter of defining a foreign term more accurately. It's immaterial how we use the English term "truth". If you want to deny that the word should be used for "spacetime actuality", that is well and good, but then you will have to supply a different word to stand in for the concept of "spacetime actuality", as the concept itself still exists, and it is implicitly invoked by the philosophical substructure of the kerygma itself.

You write, "Truth in the Bible involves the interpretation of facts, not the facts themselves, which are not self-interpreting." But "truth" involves the facts themselves. It includes their proper interpretation as well, but only because that is also a matter of rendering "what is the case". In fact, the kerygma itself is a series of *uninterpreted* facts! (See above on how I define "fact".)

When I say I don't believe in the church, I refer to the (late) idea of the church as a repository of truth. As far as I can see, nowhere in Scripture is there any hint of "ecclesial indefectibility". None whatsoever. I certainly believe the church exists, and that the gathering of the local church is the proper way to upbuild the saints. I believe in the clergy – I just don't believe that there is any guarantee that what the church says (whether episcopally, clerically, democratically, etc.) is always *or ever* right. We might say that the church was entrusted with the gospel, and thus to the degree that the church preaches the gospel it preaches the truth. But the truth of their preaching, in that case, would be tied to its entrustment, which the church is fully capable of neglecting.

I don't see how saying that “the gifts and calling of God's church [are] irrevocable" inveighs against anything I wrote. Where among "the gifts and calling" is there any mention of indefectibility?

You write that it would be "a supremely odd position" to say "I believe the Holy Spirit abandoned the church after the first century." But I never said anything about the Holy Spirit abandoning the church. That you make a connection between indefectibility (my term) and the Spirit shows that you construe possession of the Spirit in terms of some guarantee of truth. That's precisely what I'm saying is not in Scripture. It is a first-order mistake to tie ecclesiology to pneumatology, or to tie either of them to epistemology. I also have no idea why you mention that "the outer boundaries of the New Testament Scripture were not set until the 4th century and did not become effective in many parts of the Christian community except over the long duration." What does that have to do with anything?

You write, "If the historical-critical method is a necessary gateway to the truth of Scripture, then the generations of believers before HBC had no access to it - not even those involved in the events which led to the fixation of the outer limits of the canon." But I am not referring to HBC here as a method so much, but rather as a scientific capitalizing on the same historical principles that have always been in place, ever since the beginning of writing (and even earlier). I refer to the HBC in contradistinction to approaches to Scripture that view truth as a narrative (or readerly!) commodity – views that I think are pure whack! There is no hubris in my affirmation of HBC, as everyone who has ever read Scripture has had the same opportunity to think "That’s true because it happened."

Finally, you ask me to list "the propositional truths vouchsafed" to me "on the basis of HBC alone". Let me first say that *no* propositional truth holds a candle to the kerygma in terms of its theological relevance. As believers, we are called to affirm the kerygma – everything else is less important, although some things may also be important. And I hold that it is the overriding importance of knowing God the best we possibly can that gives *any* importance to anything even remotely theological. The importance of knowing God even gives importance to the work of figuring out who wrote the Pentateuch, or the synoptic problem, or the question of the extent of Pauline authorship. There are other factors that also lend importance to certain questions – e.g., gospel source criticism sets the table, so to speak, for the study of the historical Jesus. I'm not sure what good it will do to give a list of "propositional truths" that I accept on the basis of HBC, but let me offer three such "truths": on the basis of HBC, I accept that Jesus probably spoke Aramaic as his normal language, I accept that the book of Acts was written in the early second century, and I accept that there were two different hand-laying rites in the early church. (I feel funny about listing those, because I don't see what bearing they have on the questions we're discussing.)


Okay, John. Perhaps we are making progress.

At the very least, you admit that your definition of truth is not in Scripture, but one that you hold to be self-evident.

I think you are wrong to think that the facts to which the kerygma refers are uninterpreted facts. IMO there is no such thing as uninterpreted facts. I hold *that* to be self-evident, and yes, I realize this is not taught in Scripture, so I offer it as an aside. Aside from that, I agree with you: what is proclaimed in the Old and New Testaments is not self-referential. However, what is proclaimed are not raw events but events understood in a certain way, events understood to have a particular design and a particular objective.

The bigger problem is that you are messing with the term "historical biblical criticism" big time. HBC is a modern (as opposed to traditional) approach to the Bible whose conclusions have little or nothing to do with the facts to which the kerygma refers.

As you yourself now clarify, you are interested in obtainments that are not necessarily knowable through some sort of scientific process.

But HBC is, or at least is intended to be, a scientific process. And the most a scientific process might be able to state is that the events the kerygma asserts happened are not ruled out by what we know with some degree of certainty through historical research. It follows that HBC is of little to no help in establishing the facts to which the kerygma refers.

Re: the list of propositional truths HBC provides you with. I would note two things.

1) None of these truths - at the most, they are probabilities - have a connection with the kerygma to which the Spirit must bear witness before someone can accept it.

(2) HBC truths are of limited import. No one is going to witness to these truths in the sense of living and dying for their sake.

In short, you talk about two kinds of facts.

(1) Those at the heart of the creed, those which Christians proclaim took place. But HBC has not and by definition cannot establish things like "God raised Jesus from the dead" or "sent His Spirit." HBC at most plays a negative role, insofar as it gives its "nihil obstat" to the the possibility (not even the probability, of which it knows nothing) that the events of which the kerygma speaks took place.

(2) Stuff like the book of Acts being written in the early second century. This is the bread and butter of HBC. None of your examples are worth losing any sleep over. In the grand scheme of things, in terms of the truth scripture is concerned with, whether there was one, two, or ten different hand-laying rites in the early church is immaterial.

On occasion historical critics have asserted things which, if true, would blow the Jewish and Christian faiths as normally understood to smitherines. Some of the assertions of Wellhausen and Bultmann fall into this category. HBC in this sense is a stumbling block to faith. But HBC in the strict sense is best not identified with those assertions.

There is no reason why one can't be a historical critic of the highest caliber and a robust believer at the same time. On the other hand, it is absurd to suggest that one must be the former in order to be the latter.

We remain in utter disagreement about what the creed means when it says "I believe the church." Of course it implies that the church is indefectible: Jesus himself said that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Of course it assumes that, in the midst of great controversy and apostasy, as is also attested in NT literature, *the* tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6) continues to be passed down; if such were not the case, we would not have the NT or the ecumenical creeds.

On the other hand, the doctrine of the indefectibility of the church does not imply that it will not be necessary for Pauls to oppose Peters to their face within the body of Christ. Conflict of this kind is attested in the NT; it will continue for the forseeable future.

IMO, a non-creedal Christianity is a contradiction in terms, but Pentecostals in particular sometimes struggle with this, which is why there are a relatively high number who consider the doctrine of the Trinity beyond the pale. It is, if the NT is the only norm you accept.


John Poirier:

One more thing. You say:

It is a first-order mistake to tie ecclesiology to pneumatology, or to tie either of them to epistemology.

But that is exactly what John 14:26 does:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name [this is pneumatology], will teach all things [this is epistemology] to you [this is ecclesiology].

Another passage, John 15:26, adds alethiology to the mix:

When the Advocate comes, the One I will send you from the Father — the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father — He will testify about Me.

On this four-way nexus I stand. I can no other. As far as I can see, you are claiming in effect that Scripture is errant on this score.

John C. Poirier

John Hobbins,

I've heard this "there is no such thing as uninterpreted facts" more times than I can count, but I don't buy it. (What is the interpretation involved in my saying that the carpet is blue?) At any rate, it doesn't make a difference, because my use of "fact" includes the interpretations as well (as separate facts, that is), as the interpretations, if correct, are also indexed to "what is the case".

You complain about how I use the term "historical biblical criticism", saying that it is a "modern (as opposed to traditional) approach to the Bible whose conclusions have little or nothing to do with the facts to which the kerygma refers." I know, of course, that HBC is modern, but when I refer to the validity of HBC, I mean that it is a faithful heir of the understanding of truth that underpins the kerygma, and that it correctly dispenses with the traditional claim that the text is in some sense divine. This brings HBC nearer, in my view, to the way the apostles themselves wished their writings to be read.

You write that HBC "is of little to no help in establishing the facts to which the kerygma refers". But those facts are not *supposed to be* established. They are supposed to be preached and believed. The basis for belief in those facts in the first century was the credibility of the apostles – nothing more. The same is true today. We accept the kerygma by faith. HBC *can*, however, assess other aspects of the kerygma, as Dodd's book on the "apostolic preaching" shows.

When I speak of HBC's validity, I don’t mean to imply that I confine myself to "scientific facts" as a Bultmann or Wellhausen might define them. If one construes HBC as a sort of anti-supernatural approach, then obviously it has problems. But HBC, more broadly construed, is fully compatible with faithful interpretation of Scripture.

You write that none of my examples of propositions has "a connection with the kerygma to which the Spirit must bear witness before someone can accept it". But I didn't say they did! And I reject the Reformed principle that the Spirit "must bear witness" before someone can accept the kerygma. That, too, is a post-biblical overlay that gets in the way of the apostolic faith.

Secondly, you write "HBC truths are of limited import. No one is going to witness to these truths in the sense of living and dying for their sake." We are called to live and die for the gospel, but that does not mean that other truths are unimportant. Knowing God – which includes knowing *about* God – is itself a form of worship. What could possibly be more important to pursue than a detailed knowledge of the intended meaning of Scripture?

I've already addressed no. (1) in your bullets about "two kinds of facts": the kerygma is *not supposed to* be established by *anything*. We are simply to accept it. As for (2), the detail about hand-laying rites *can* be important. Don't you think we should try to line our rites up with the Bible, especially if we hold the first-century rites to tell us something about God?

How does the saying about the "gates of hell" have anything to do with a guarantee of truth? Read in its context, it means something more like "Hell will be unable to stop the spread of the gospel". This, the *gospel* (and nothing more), is the tradition that 2 Thess 2:15 and 3:6 says will continue. We have the New Testament because the church kept those books that it believed best represented the apostolic teaching. The Spirit did not create the New Testament.

You refer to those who "consider the doctrine of the Trinity beyond the pale". I'm one of those. (This has nothing to do with me being a Pentecostal. Probably everyone else in my church believes in the Trinity.)

My type of Christianity is non-creedal only if you don’t count the kerygma as a creed. But of course the kerygma *is* a creed. It's the *only* creed that the New Testament requires us to accept.

John 14:26 and 15:26, of course, refer to the apostles, not us. Jesus promised the *apostles* that they would be guided to all truth. We are called to believe *them*, not the church. You write that "you" in John 14:26 is "ecclesiology", but it's not – "you" refers to the apostles, who are logically prior to the church. (This recognition that the Bible often refers only to the apostles in places where it has traditionally been taken to refer to all believers is another significant gain won by HBC – cf. esp. N. T. Wright's discussion of 2 Corinthians 5.)



Thanks for the conversation. The way you limit the sense of NT parenesis to apply only to the apostles and the first readerships of the NT writers with your left hand and then propose to helicopter in to 21st century life hand-laying rites and whatnot from 1st century Christianity, as historians reconstruct it, with your right hand, is telling.

Post-1st century generations of Christians, precisely insofar as they have taken Old and New Testaments to be written for them, have done the opposite. To be more precise, the right and left hands of the Orthodox and Catholic traditions on one side, the Reformed tradition on another, and Baptists and Pentecostals on another have been intent on appropriating *all* of Scripture in context-appropriate fashion.

Consciously or unconsciously, the awareness that context co-determines the meaning of parts of a whole has been operative.

By refusing to appropriate scripture with both hands, in effect you are using HBC to de-scripturalize Scripture as Scripture: the norm that norms all other norms.

This is consistent on your part, since NT literature did not become Scripture until *after* the NT period. And, since you have no way of deciding what is true and what is false in the post-NT period, you need to put anything that derives from that period in brackets.

The fatal flaw as I see it is the way you decouple the dispensation of the Spirit from our ability to know and have faith and your apparent belief that the Spirit of Truth is not one of the gifts that God always gives to the Church (though not necessarily to some or all of its leaders) even and especially in the midst of controversy and apostasy.

In your last comment, you are clear that by HBC you have in mind the isolation of a kergymatic schema by Dodd and whatever else historical research comes up with that allows you to build a firewall between practices and beliefs among 1st century Christians and those current among later Christians.

The project you pursue has a long pedigree among Christians in the Anabaptist tradition. What sets you apart from most everyone else in that tradition is the fearless way in which you jettison whatever beliefs and practices are not attested among the first two or three generations of believers with a reasonable degree of certainty by *historical* research.

In the process you read the canon against the grain; in fact, you do without a canon (the boundaries of which were not established before the fourth century) in the sense that those who crafted it intended. The NT was not assembled in order to be a data dump to be mined in a project of historical reconstruction of 1st century beliefs and practices.

It was assembled because these writings, more than any others, were deemed to be faithful witnesses to an organic tradition of faith and practice God through the Holy Spirit had vouchsafed to the saints.

Nicholas Wolterstorff explains why uninterpreted facts do not exist in his class "Reason within the Bounds of Religion." He even takes up the very example you cite and shows why it, too, does not fall to the level of a brute fact.

I remain convinced that the way Scripture was intended to be read in the intent of those who defined its outer boundaries in the fourth century is the only historically consistent way to read it. Thus I throw my lot in with those Christians for whom the first four centuries of Christianity, as expressed in canon and creed, have normative value.

John C. Poirier


Thanks for continuing to respond.

I realize, of course, that my bibliology has little in common with the way nearly all streams of Christianity understand Scripture. That doesn't phase me. The deeper I dig into the bibliological implications of the apostolic faith, the more I am certain that the church took a wrong turn a long, long time ago.

I take exception to your claim, however, that I am "using HBC to de-scripturalize Scripture as Scripture". Your charge has much in common with Brevard Childs's loaded use of "Scripture" as a means of trying to imply that the historical criticism does not read the Bible as "Scripture", as in the title of his *Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture". (Others do the same thing, as in the title of Peter Ochs's edited volume on *The Return to Scripture in Judaism and Christianity*.) Childs's way of using the term "Scripture", I think, is frankly shameful. "Scripture" should simply denote any corpus of writing that is authoritative for a given religious tradition – as the Bible is for me. It should not be used in an artificially narrowed way to bake the recipe in advance in an attempt to understand the correct bibliology for a biblical theology. (And if "NT literature did not become Scripture until *after* the NT period", then what do you make of 2 Peter's labeling of Paul's writings as "Scripture"?)

You write of a "fatal flaw" in "the way [I] decouple the dispensation of the Spirit from our ability to know and have faith and [my] apparent belief that the Spirit of Truth is not one of the gifts that God always gives to the Church." I simply see no indication in Scripture of such a notion. I believe that idea probably sprang up as part of the constant human desire for hermeneutic closure. Just as many people today turn to the postmodernist promise to bring hermeneutic closure by situating "meaning" with the reader, so also many in the church have sought to find hermeneutic closure by attributing a hermeneutic function to the Spirit, thereby granting hermeneutic privilege to the church. The New Testament is completely innocent of such a gesture. I am comfortable knowing that wide swaths of NT theology are up in the air. Many people are apparently not comfortable at all with that idea.

You write, "The project you pursue has a long pedigree among Christians in the Anabaptist tradition." Actually, my program has more to do with Wesleyan-style primitivism than with Anabaptist primitivism – only I regret that Wesley didn't carry his primitivist hermeneutic far enough.

You write of what those who "crafted" the canon intended, and suggest that their intention should somehow guide our hermeneutic of Scripture. This is the same error that Christopher Seitz made in his Acadia lecture – he argued at length that Scripture contains a number of indications of the canonizers' intention as to how Scripture should be read, but he *forget to tell us why we should prefer the canonizers' point of view to the authors' point of view*. (Childs makes some similar mistakes in his last book – the one on Paul. I criticized him for those mistakes in a recent issue of the *Bulletin of Biblical Research* [I think from about a year ago].) The question thus arises whether we should prefer original authorial-intentionalist meanings over the meanings delivered by later (strong) rereadings. This is where my argument about the alethiological structure of the Christian faith – gleaned from a reading of 1 Corinthians 15 – comes into play. If NT theology is underpinned by an alethiology of spacetime actuality (as opposed to storytime actuality), then meaning is a matter of getting back to authorial intentions. Any movement from that point is necessarily a movement in the wrong direction.

I should point out, however, that the data before us in the form of the paratextual aspects of the NT canon strongly supports the notion that the NT *was*, in a sense, intended by its canonizers to be a sort of "data dump to be mined" by later readers. Childs tried, in what I think was a very foolish move, to argue that the canonizers put Romans first in the Pauline canon in order to say that the other books of Paul (spec. Galatians) should be read in the light of Romans, and not the other way around. To make this argument, Childs had to completely ignore the well known fact that the letters of Paul were organized in descending order according to length – Romans is first simply because it is the longest. Every attempt I have seen to find theological subtleties within the principles of organization for the NT canon has been similarly willfully blind to the facts of canon history.

Can you tell me, then, if the NT canonizers *had* intended the New Testament to be a "data dump" of the earliest and best apostolic writings, how would it have looked different from our present New Testament?


Brevard Childs uses "scripture" and "a canon of scripture" interchangeably. I have no issue with that, nor does anyone else, unless they want to make a distinction between textual features which reflect the way editors shaped pre-existent texts such that they would be more useful to later generations, and the pre-edited texts, in order to privilege the latter.

Until the rise of, and cross-fertilization of, romanticism, historicism, and primitivism, no one was in a position, truth to be told, to privilege the pre-edited, pre-canonized texts. You seem to recognize this. No wonder you take HBC to be a necessary approach to scripture. It is, for you.

Pray tell why we should prefer the authors' point of view to their editors' point of view. Insofar as we can distinguish the two, why do we need to choose between them? Why shouldn't we accept them all?

Already at the level of the literature before it was traditioned, even more so at the pre-canonical level, the parts are in tension. The idea that we can return to a golden age of a unitary system is truly romantic, in an anti-historical sense.

So far as I can see, the reason you respect and privilege the intentions of the authors and disrespect and demote the intentions of the canonical editors is that if you didn't, you would be inconsistent. You would no longer be a true blue primitivist.

At least you realize that your "this but not that" approach is idiosyncratic. You cannot of course appeal to Wesley who was a catholic Christian in at least ten senses of the word you are not.

Your spacetime vs. storytime binary is no less idionsyncratic, though it is symmetrical to positions of Bultmann and Brueggeman who are also "this but not that," in the opposite direction, that of storytime actuality.

A curse on both your houses.

*Both* actualities are perfectly fine points of departure. Each converts to the other over time. That is why Luther so correctly spoke of the Word as fundamental in three senses: the Word incarnate, the Word inscripturated [including the parts penned by canonical editors!], and the Word preached.

Each witnesses to the other in the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are claiming that the Word incarnate is logically prior and underpins the other instantiations of the Word, of course. But on the level of experience, and in spacetime actuality, the opposite is the case.

The scripture of which the NT speaks [except in 2 Peter] pre-existed and prepared the way for the incarnate Word, as did the preaching of the prophets all way down to John the Baptist.

Re: 2 Peter

The exception that proves the rule. As I expect you know, this is also the opinion of most and possibly all historical critics. 2 Peter is arguably the least primitive of the writings contained in the NT. For you to treat the letter to Philemon, for example, as scripture, you have to read it against the intent of the author. The letter was narrowly conceived; once it becomes scripture, it is read in a different - that would be "canonical" - fashion. The various gospels, to take another example, are also more or less narrowly conceived. Once they become scripture, they are read in light of each other. The need for a strong reader cannot be denied. The canon itself, its scope, is a framework for strong reading, and so are the creeds.

If those who crafted the NT canon had intended it to be a data dump of the earliest and best apostolic writings - as opposed to rule of faith and practice, a constitution, subject to strong readings by later generations as all constitutions necessarily are, it might have looked no different at all. So what?

It is well-known that the canonizers of neither Jewish nor Christian Scripture construed their collections as data dumps on the basis of which one was supposed to re-primitivize the life of synagogue or church.

They had more respect for the ongoing work of God in their midst than that.

John C. Poirier

John Hobbins,

You seem to miss my point about Childs. I know that he uses "Scripture" and "canon of Scripture" interchangeably. I was complaining that he defines "Scripture" not simply as a corpus of writings that is authoritative for a given religion, but rather as a corpus that is read in a particular way: intratextually and dialectically. In other words, he accomplishes his argument that Scripture should be read that way by smuggling his position into his very definition of Scripture.

It is inconsequential to say that "[u]ntil the rise of, and cross-fertilization of, romanticism, historicism, and primitivism, no one was in a position, truth to be told, to privilege the pre-edited, pre-canonized texts." Logistical encumbrances do not trump logical necessities. If not for centuries of the church's clunking about with a hermeneutic privilege over Scripture, HBC might have started a thousand years ago.

You write, "Pray tell why we should prefer the authors' point of view to their editors' point of view. Insofar as we can distinguish the two, why do we need to choose between them? Why shouldn't we accept them all?" The reason is simple: If the words are human (rather than divine), then there is only one way of reading them that is responsible to their originary moment. Words are moments of written-ness: to read them in a non-intentionalist way is to misread how they were written. Secondly, to accept that we can accept both is to suggest that the meaning of writings changes, and to do that logically unseats the alethiology that underpins the gospel.

The gospel's truth depends upon the historicity of that to which it refers. If we propose to change the gospel's ground to an alethiology of storytime actuality, then its truth would depend only upon the success of its internal (storytime) reference (a la Hans Frei). It is logically impossible to hold to both at the same time. In cases in which a narrative is historically true, its storytime actuality would be indistinguishable from its spacetime actuality, but the question of its ground could still only be answered by one or the other alternative. It is not a case of "[e]ach convert[ing] to the other over time." (I don't mind being "idiosyncratic".)

I don't follow Luther in his discussion of three types of "Word". I don't have a theology of the Word at all.

I take exception to your remark that the canonizers "had more respect for the ongoing work of God in their midst than" I do. There’s a difference between saying that God is actively working in the world today, and saying that God works in and through the decisions of a bunch of bishops, or of those who determine the liturgy. (Remember that I am a Pentecostal. I believe in the ongoing operation of the gifts of the Spirit.)

And if God is at work in those who work with Scripture, why couldn't one say that God is at work in and through the historical critics – that the critics are God's new apostles, calling the church to a more mature (and more accurate) faith? That's not my position, of course, but I've always been amused at how that God moves through the church are always ready to define "the academy" as something over against the church.



I am getting the impression that you realize how little your views are based on the NT. The idea that historical critics are God's new apostles is particularly ungrounded in the NT. If they are, furthermore, they are the last ones to know it. They have a different estimation of the place of their work in the divine economy, if indeed they understand their work to have a place in it at all.

Re: A corpus that is read intratextually and dialectically

Even if you are right that Childs asserts rather than shows this to be the case, it does not follow that he is in error. Michael Fishbane *showed* it to be the case with respect to the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in his classic Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: 1986). Intratextual, dialectical reading of pre-existent authoritative literature is constitutive of both the Torah and the Prophets. Interpretation was itself scripturalized, within the canon itself, until a point was reached in which interpretation was kept separate. Childs was right, plain and simple, even if the form his argument took was far from satisfactory.

Re: the words are human (rather than divine)

It is constitutive of canon in the Jewish and Christian sense that the words thereof are regarded as both human and divine. It sounds now as if you deny the plain sense of affirmations about prophecy in both Testaments, the way in which David is construed as a prophet, and so on.

Re: historicity and truth

No one is denying here - though historical critics like Bultmann and Brueggemann do - that the gospel's truth depends upon the obtainedness of that to which it refers. What I do deny is that HBC allows you to determine whether or not the assertion that God raised Jesus from the dead refers to something that has in fact taken place. If I'm not mistaken, we concur on that point.

Nonetheless, your either/or reasoning is once again profoundly unsettling. Once it is understood how things as different as mythology, protological narrative, and parable work, the issue is not about choosing between two forms of actuality, spacetime and storyline as you call them, but seeing how they relate.

An example of OT mythology (Ps 74:13-14):

It was you who split open the sea by your power;
you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.

That is storyline actuality for creation understood as the victory of divine order over chaos. The storyline actuality correlates with a variety of specific spacetime actualities. You seem to want to choose between spacetime and storyline actualities, but the Bible does not choose. It asks us, by representing realities rather often in storyline fashion (so Jonah; so the NT parables), to *relate* the two.

Re: a theology of the Word

You don't have a theology of the Word. I agree. But the gospel of John and Paul have highly developed theologies of Word and Spirit. They couple what you insist on decoupling. Both blocs of the NT show no signs that they expected that God would not persevere with future generations as He did with the apostles. Luther builds on their theologies in an organic fashion.

re: God's ongoing work

According to Ephesians 4:11 among the gifts Christ gives to the church are a range of leaders; in the Pastorals the range is different and not as multi-tiered but broad nonetheless. That you dismiss these gifts, which vary across time and space but serve a common function; that you refer to the leaders God gave the church in (say) the third and fourth centuries as "a bunch of bishops" - that is, in pejorative terms, is unsettling. As if the Pentecostal movement were known for a superior quality of leaders and leadership structure. In all honesty, I would argue that the opposite is true. Perhaps you agree, since you play off, not one leadership structure against another, but charism against office. In reality, the church thrives most when both are prized and encouraged.

John C. Poirier

John Hobbins,

In your opening words of this last comment, I have to say that you are starting to get way out there.

What in the world makes you say "I am getting the impression that you realize how little your views are based on the NT"? In every last thing I have argued with you these past days, I have grounded my view in the New Testament. *Every last thing.* If I'm wrong about that, show me where. On the other hand, YOU are the one who has appealed to councils, Luther, the development of the church up to the fourth century, etc. Show me one thing I have argued that is not "based on the NT". My entire position, in every detail, goes back to my attempt to reconstruct the view of the apostles as carefully as I can.

You write, "The idea that historical critics are God's new apostles is particularly ungrounded in the NT." Of course it is. I didn’t claim such a thing. I just put it forth to show how self-preserving the selectiveness of your position is.

So what if Fishbane showed that Scripture is read intratextually and dialectically? (I read Fishbane a long time ago. I accept that what he says is a historical datum.) It is difficult for any group of readers *not* to read intratextually and dialectically to some degree, but that in itself does not validate intratextual and dialectical reading. (Everyone makes errors in reading, but making errors does that validate making errors.)

You write, "It is constitutive of canon in the Jewish and Christian sense that the words thereof are regarded as both human and divine". At first I wondered what you mean by this, but in the next sentence I see that you refer *only* to the prophetic portions of Scripture. *Prophecy*, of course, *is* divine. (And that's all that 2 Peter says is "inspired": "every prophecy of Scripture".) All the other parts of Scripture, however, are merely human words, recording Israel’s and the church’s reactions to their encounters with God.

You deny "that HBC allows you to determine whether or not the assertion that God raised Jesus from the dead refers to something that has in fact taken place". I deny that as well. That's why I said (more than once) that we have to accept the kerygma on faith, on the basis of the apostles' testimony.

You find my "either/or reasoning . . . profoundly unsettling": "Once it is understood how things as different as mythology, protological narrative, and parable work, the issue is not about choosing between two forms of actuality, spacetime and storyline as you call them, but seeing how they relate." I think you are referring to instances in which the referential function of a passage is delayed, by way of the development of a narratival (but not historical) object lesson (a parable, etc.). These are simply, as I just said, instances in which the referential function is delayed. They are not exceptions to my claim that the Bible always and everywhere conceives of truth as spacetime actuality. (The "truth" of a parable lies in its validity as a true lesson, or something similar. Its message doesn't change. Jesus told it to say something in particular.) The same goes for the example of mythology that you gave. It is not an example of storytime actuality, because it is making a point about something that is *beyond the text*. The presence of an alethiology of spacetime actuality has nothing to do with the clarity or the one-for-one match of the referents. It has to do with whether the story *eventually* has a referential function. To say that the myth is about creation is to say that it *does* have a referential function. It isn't poetry for poetry's sake.

There are those, like Hans Frei, who argue that it is illegitimate to look behind the text, *viz.* at its referent, when determining its meaning or truth. Frei, in fact, derived that claim from his argument that the church, down through the ages, *failed* to recognize the difference between narrative coherence and "ostensive reference". He acknowledged (correctly) that the Enlightenment established that there is a difference between the two, and that one must then choose between one or the other. Unfortunately, Frei chose the wrong one, and he gave a very poor defense of his choice.

You write, "John and Paul have highly developed theologies of Word and Spirit". I agree that John does a lot with the word "logos", but I'm not confident that that is really "Word" in the way a Luther or Barth takes it. As for Paul, I see no sign anywhere of a theology of the Word.

You write that there are "no signs that [John or Paul] expected that God would not persevere with future generations as He did with the apostles." This again misconstrues my words. Of course God perseveres with future generations. No one is saying God doesn't. But that's different from saying that the church has a key to understanding Scripture. Where in the New Testament is there any hint of *that*?

And I do not dismiss church leaders. I just don't see where they are ever given a hermeneutic privilege. I nowhere play off charism against office – I'm just pointing out that none of the offices is implied anywhere in the New Testament to have an epistemic function, except perhaps the prophet, and there the epistemic "access to God" is always episodic at best.

I remember when I first heard the slogan "sola scriptura". I thought it was a perfect description of my own position. But then I found out that those who use that formula don't really mean it. They don't want people to follow Scripture alone, but rather Scripture as interpreted by the church, even where it can be shown that the church has historically misunderstood a particular passage.

G. Kyle Essary

Wow! What a thread. I'm just catching up.

I would say that "the carpet is blue" is very much interpreted. Suppose someone came in and responded, "No, it's more of a turquoise." You are making at least two judgments in the statement: 1) about the function of the material: "carpet" and 2) about the color of the material.

We usually cut the subjective out of our common speech, but really "The carpet is blue" is shorthand for "My experience of similar material used in similar function matches the formal substantial term 'carpet' and similar experiences deemed the color I am experiencing as the term 'blue' used to represent a universal concept of color." You can hope that your experiences match with the experience of others, but that makes the fact no less interpreted.

Furthermore, your experience of blue does not match up with another's experience of blue. Take for instance the nearly 1 in 10 partially colorblind males. They see blue in a vastly different way from the rest of us, yet know that this shade of grey usually corresponds with what color seeing people call blue. He is making an interpretation of the experience. The experience of blue is the same, and it's a fair question to ask whether the concept of blue exists at all apart from the subjective experience of it (I hold that it does, but it's a fair question nonetheless).

G. Kyle Essary

The final line should say "their experience of blue is NOT the same," haha.

John C. Poirier

Hi Kyle,

If we make "interpretation" so all inclusive (or "all invasive") that it reaches even to our ability to judge the blueness of carpet, doesn't that in itself trivialize the point of even saying that "there is no such thing as uninterpreted facts"? I mean, it makes applying that claim to the kerygma satisfiable simply in restating the points of the kerygmatic narrative.

Yet I still think that the claim is wrong. It is impossible for us to have any knowledge of the world without the data of that world to enter into our brains as an initially uninterpreted datum. At that point, even if it's just a blur of blue color, it is still a fact. There is a possible way of answering the question "Is the carpet blue?", and our means of assessing that begins with an uninterpreted datum.

I think the case is similar to that of the postmodernist claim that 100% objective interpretation is impossible. Strictly speaking, they're right, but I can rob them of their point simply by noting that 100% *subjective* interpretation is equally impossible. Interpretation completely void of the "furniture" of this world is unthinkable.

Anyway, I don't think this all matters for any of my arguments above, esp. concerning my general position on biblical hermeneutics.

G. Kyle Essary

John C.P.,
I partially agree...but the blur of color is still filtered through your subjective experience of it. It's only after others "name" this experience as blue, color or anything else that you can categorize it as an experience in line with other experiences.

So maybe I agree that the initial experience (which would be totally subjective) is uninterpreted, but as soon as those experiences become considered, remembered or named they move into the realm of interpreted facts.

I agree with your syllogism:
P1 Everything is subjective and therefore not objectively (or universally) true.
P2 On P1, the claim "everything is subjective" would be subjective

Therefore, P1 cannot be true without being self-defeating.

G. Kyle Essary

I meant to add after the syllogism, that I agree with the syllogism and struggle finding a way out of it when we argue from facts to ultimate reality. Thus, I think the better solution is to argue from first principles, and if that is the case then we cannot begin with the first principle that all truth is subjective.

John C. Poirier


I'd just like to make a slight adjustment of what you wrote, as I get really nervous when people refer to "truth" as subjective, when they're really talking about "knowledge". If we define truth as I have been defining it the past few days, it cannot be subjective. But our "knowledge" of the truth is always subjective.

G. Kyle Essary

John C.,
I agree completely with that distinction. Thanks for making it.


Hi John Poirier,

Let me try again.

Re: Childs and Fishbane and how canon works

I could be wrong but I think you misremember the shape of Fishbane's argument. You say:

It is difficult for any group of readers *not* to read intratextually and dialectically to some degree, but that in itself does not validate intratextual and dialectical reading. (Everyone makes errors in reading, but making errors does that validate making errors.)

This forgets what Fishbane on the one hand and Richard Hays on the other have demonstrated: that intratextual and dialectical reading of Scripture is built into the warp and woof of Scripture itself. You are free of course to suggest that, insofar as Scripture interprets itself in these ways, it is in error, but now you have placed yourself beyond the bounds of both Judaism and Christianity in any usual sense of those terms.

Here's the deal. If Fishbane and Hays are on the right track, so is Childs, and you are on the wrong track. Your take on Scripture applies at best to some subset of it whereas their take on Scripture works for all of it.

First you say:

"In every last thing I have argued with you these past days, I have grounded my view in the New Testament."

I remain convinced that your views on key topics - your decoupling of Word and Spirit, Spirit and Truth, your limitation of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to the manifestation of Pentecostal charismata, your assertion that the words of Scripture are human (not divine), your claim that HBC is the necessary point of entry into Scripture - are in contradiction with the clear teaching of Old and New Testaments. They are anything but grounded in Scripture.

You go on to say:

You write, "The idea that historical critics are God's new apostles is particularly ungrounded in the NT." Of course it is. I didn’t claim such a thing. I just put it forth ...

To which I have been replying, grounding my argument in Scripture, that what you *just put forth* is bunk. The authors of Scripture, when they read Scripture, read it in the way you denounce. The position I am preserving is not just my own and that of (1) synagogue and (2) church, but of (3) Scripture itself. In your great desire to distance yourself from the tree, the limb you have chosen to walk out on has broken.

Since you reject the way Scripture reads itself, by definition you have a low view of Scripture. You combine that rejection with what I take to be a toxic mix of romanticism, primitivism, and rationalism, the kind of thing Terry Eagleton in his Reason, Faith, and Revolution lampoons over and over again.

Sorry to be so forthright. I do not deny that we have a few partial agreements here and there, but I find the great bulk of the form and content of your system, in particular, your epistemology, worthy of severe criticism.

I am thankful for your defense of a version of the teaching of sola scriptura at odds with those who formulated it. It may serve as a reminder that the gap between those Luther called "enthusiasts" and the Reformers themselves is wider than the gap between the Reformers and the church they sought to reform.

In a sense, your claim that prophets alone have an epistemic function says it all.

As for me and my house, we will continue to believe that God has seen fit to build up his people in *knowledge* and *truth* through the offices of pastor and teacher.

I am startled that you suggest otherwise. It is as if you are unable to read Eph 4:11 in terms of its continuation in 4:12-13. It is the faith and knowledge referenced in that passage that is of salvific interest; the church, as articulated in its offices, is presented as the means by which said faith and knowledge are built up.

The knowledge an individual may acquire through HBC is useless by comparison.

John C. Poirier

John Hobbins,

I don't see the "Word and Spirit" thing in the NT. In fact, the "Word" thing, taken in a Lutheran or Barthian sense, is not there. Perhaps the problem is that you read a postbiblical understanding of "word of God" into the concept of "Word". The term "word of God" in Scripture has two possible meanings: in the OT, it refers to a specific prophecy ("Thus says the Lord . . . "). In the NT, it refers to the kerygma. Nowhere does "Word" refer to Scripture in general.

As Christians, we are called to believe the kerygma – we are to view it as infallible. The basic problem, as I see it, is that the church began, around the beginning of the third century, to look at Scripture in the terms that the apostles had reserved for the kerygma. Somewhere along the way, Christians got the idea that they were supposed to look at Scripture itself in those terms. A major shift seems to have begun with Origen. Although many of his missteps were anticipated by Clement of Alexandria, I think Origen did more than anyone else to get Christians to view Scripture through an Alexandrian paradigm.

You don't help your cause (with me, at any rate) to bring up Richard Hays. I'll explain through a personal anecdote. I took his course on "The Old Testament in the New Testament" when I was a student at Duke. It was an eye-opening experience, in that it first clued me in to how bad things were in the field of NT studies. I had an experience during that course that I still come back to now and again. Every week, after the course, Hays and a number of students from the course would go to a nearby Mexican restaurant. Once, while we were talking, I told Hays that I had trouble with the type of narrative theology that he propounded in his book *Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul*. I said that if narrative theology is right, then logically it would have been unnecessary for Christ to rise from the dead – it would have been sufficient (on the terms of Frei's theology, which formed the basis of Hays's thinking on this) for there simply to be a *narrative* that said that Christ rose from the dead. When I said that, Hays got a very puzzled look on his face, turned to a visiting doctoral student from Copenhagen, and asked him, "Is that what you’ve been trying to say?", to which the student replied, "Yes! Yes!"

So you can see that Hays, for me, represents a big problem. I never received an answer from him as to how one can affirm narrative theology and profess faith in the kerygma at the same time. That was seventeen years ago, and I have thought about this conundrum every day since then. I have read hundreds (if not thousands) of books and articles, trying to get to see if I could possibly be wrong -- to see if I misunderstood what people were saying, or if there is any conceivable philosophical escape from the conundrum. I have concluded that there is no escape. If one begins one's theology by affirming the alethiological lines implicit within the idea that the meaning of a passage of Scripture can change, then one cannot also accept the kerygma without backing into an irreducible philosophical conundrum – a conundrum that threatened the very structure of NT belief. I knew instantly – way back when I took Hays's course – that in order to take my faith in the gospel seriously, I had to be willing to think of the New Testament's use of the Old Testament as so much gangue – only of historical interest. (I had to leave the last remaining remnant of my fundamentalist past behind.)

By the way, N. T. Wright's recent differences with Hays seem to revolve around many of the same issues. Wright finally realized that Hays meant by "narrative" is not the same as what Wright means by "story".

Thus, I happen to agree with you when you write "The authors of Scripture, when they read Scripture, read it in the way you denounce." I know that's true – I have known it for a long time -- but I don't think we can realistically expect the authors of Scripture to have thought through the alethiological implications of their use of Scripture (Do you?), especially since they simply continued to use a hermeneutic that they had learned from their Jewish forebears. I say we should begin with the kerygma, and work our way out from there.

I don't care if that's a low view of Scripture. My view of Scripture is as high as my understanding of the kerygma allows it to be.

If that's "rationalism", then so be it. As far as I can see, it's also schematically clear and necessary reasoning.

And I too believe that "God has seen fit to build up his people in *knowledge* and *truth* through the offices of pastor and teacher." You are misunderstanding my position if you think your implication is a fair one. To say that one's office involves the teaching of knowledge and truth in no way implies that that office has a hotline to God's truth, any more than it would in the job description of a school teacher.

If you have a philosophical argument for how we can understand the kerygma according to its implied alethiology of spacetime actuality, and yet, at the same time, support a readerly or communal-readerly hermeneutic of Scripture, I would like to hear it. I think it is clear as a bell that this is a mishmash of incompatible alethiologies.


Hi John P.,

Here's the deal. There are two ways in which your approach to these topics is alarming.

(1) You make assertions about Scripture that are inaccurate. A couple of examples will have to suffice.

You say:

The term "word of God" in Scripture has two possible meanings: in the OT, it refers to a specific prophecy ("Thus says the Lord . . . "). In the NT, it refers to the kerygma. Nowhere does "Word" refer to Scripture in general.

Your summary is misleading. It is both the law and the prophets that are repeatedly understood as God's word in the Bible. David, too, is understood as a prophet, both in Judaism, the New Testament, and Christianity, by Christ Jesus himself among others. Scripture as the word of God has deep roots in the Hebrew Bible, and is the tacit understanding in the New (with some differences of opinion about what counted as citable scripture for the purposes of establishing faith and practice).

Whether you like it or not, it is the word of the LORD that Moses speaks when he legislates (Deut 5:5): the text of the Law and the Prophets, down to the last jot and tittle, according to Jesus, are without error and lead into all truth - see Matthew 5:17 and following, and note how Jesus and the apostles, whenever they proclaim (kerygma), cite scripture as the word of God = an infallible criterion of truth.

That they do not conclude each cite with "This is the word of the LORD," does not mean they did not take it as the word of the Lord. Surely you see this. The kerygma is not even conceivable without the validation of scripture.

You have an alethiology that has no need of the phrase "according to the Scriptures." It is on that account a non-Christian alethiology.

(2) You fail to understand that it is perfectly possible to

(a) hold to the kerygma in the sense of a proclamation that interprets events that took place in space and time - I so hold, and of course, so do Brevard Childs and Richard Hays both of whom you don't seem to get - and

(b) hold, *at the same time*, that the word of God incarnate, written, and proclaimed is the threefold means by which, in the power of the Holy Spirit working through the gifts given to the Church in general, and to evangelist, pastor, teacher in particular, God gives us knowledge of the truth unto salvation.

As for HBC, on the other hand, God gives us some wonderful tidbits through it, but we are talking about knowledge that will pass away.

Intersubjective knowledge - faith, hope, and love - the kind that endures, is available first and foremost in the life of the Spirit, which is why Anselm so rightly said, I believe in order to understand.

All of us, including those with offices in the church, are simul iustus et peccator; none of us, not even a prophet, has a hotline to God. For those very reasons, the classical Jewish and Christian understanding of scripture as the Word of God acts a *safeguard.* In place of it, you wish to erect HBC.

No matter how much I consider HBC to be of help in understanding various aspects of the Bible historically considered, the last thing I am willing to see happen is for HBC (and especially metaphysical claims that are often bundled with it) to become a sieve by means of which we separate the wheat from the chaff.

Bultmann took that path; Barth dissented. I dissent no less than Barth.

Finally, what you call a mishmash of incompatible alethiologies is in fact the way in which all knowledge worth speaking of is tested and metabolized.

*Any* alethiology that cannot find room for more than events in spacetime is anti-phenomenological and doomed to fail.

It reminds me of Eagleton's joke that everyone has an unconscious, except apparently, the rationally-minded English, who instead have common sense.

For a few hints in the direction of why common-sense realist philosophy is in need of serious correction, go here:

John C. Poirier

John Hobbins,

You write, "what you call a mishmash of incompatible alethiologies is in fact the way in which all knowledge worth speaking of is tested and metabolized." I don't get this at all. Are these two alethiologies incompatible or aren't they? If not, please explain *how* that can be. How can truth be a matter of spacetime actuality and *at the same time* a matter of storytime actuality? As soon as spacetime and storytime actuality move away from each other, doesn't that show these alethiologies to be incompatible?

If I'm wrong about that, show me.

Don't just tell me that I have to just make room for my two alethiologies. If they're incompatible, they can't both be right.

If they're *not* incompatible, then show how it is possible for truth to be *both* what it is on the terms of the kerygma, *and* what it is on the terms of narrative theology. You can't say truth is what the text points to while at the same time saying that you're not allowed to look at what the text points to. That's the conundrum. If you can find a way out of it, then please draw me a map.

You write, "*Any* alethiology that cannot find room for more than events in spacetime is anti-phenomenological and doomed to fail." You apparently misunderstand how I use the term "spacetime". As I use it, it includes all historical obtainments, including intentions, pre-intentions, possibilitating structures, etc.

If I say that something "is", then on one alethiology, I claim that it obtains in spacetime. On the other alethiology, I say that it is featured within the world of the narrative. If the narrative happens to describe spacetime, then it is possible to have a situation in which one can delay one's judgment about which alethiology is operative, as the answer to that would not be immediately apparent. (The referents of these two alethiologies would mirror one another.) If, however, one says that the meaning of the narrative can *change* according to the reception-history of the text, then one has thrown a pebble into the water, creating a situation in which the mirroring of the referents has ceased, so that the question of the operative alethiology becomes an urgent one. At that point, one can no longer sit on the fence -- one or the other alethiology has to be discarded.

If I'm wrong about that, show me.


John P.,

For example, the parables of Jesus are pebbles that he threw into the water. They are up for fulfillment, just as the entire law and prophets, every jot and tittle of it, the word of God in textual form, is up for fulfillment, not just then, but to this day, just as Jesus avers.

Storytime actualities, to take relatively easy examples: the book of Job, the narrative of Jonah, the parables - are communicated in spacetime actuality but more importantly, are designed to become spacetime actuality in a way that the divine author alone, not the human authors, has clear knowledge of.

Your rationalist originalism in which human authors, but not God, speak through scripture does not make room at all, or at least not enough, for God-directed trajectories in the interpretation of scripture, trajectories that make their way in the world in and through a body of believers by the power of the Holy Spirit. You are too worried about meaning *changing* to allow for that.

In your view, as I understand it, what God wants us to be is very diligent antiquarians; then we shall know the truth. As in: how many hand-laying rites there were among 1st century Christians. This is taking "ad fontes" in ab arid and unacceptable direction.

You seem unwilling to valorize the conversion process, its reversibility, with respect to the two kinds of actualities.

You also seem unwilling to accept that all knowledge worth speaking of is given in an interpersonal context; to put in starkly theological terms: outside of the church there is no salvation.

It is completely unnecessary to discard one alethiology for the sake of the other. This is a preposterous notion, in particular, from the point of view of the Christian faith, in which the truth value of any space-time event is ultimately judged in the light of an event which has yet to happen, Judgment Day, the creation of a new heavens and new earth, the harrowing of Hell, none of which, truth be told, will take place or took place in space time actuality as usually understood.

In short, *whether or not* what is featured within the world of narrative describes past spacetime straightforwardly (quite unusual in the Bible) or in a complex sense (as in protological narrative, and legend in which history as lived by an individual and a nation are collapsed into a single story of, say, Abraham or Jacob; whether or not biblical narrative describes past spacetime or predicts future spacetime; whether or not it describes spacetime or, with greater emphasis, the realities that underlie spacetime reality (Psalm 82, for example) - none of this is the point.

The one who tells the truth about all of these realities and events through the storyline is God himself according to both Jewish and Christian theology; that same God elects a polity to proclaim it, dor ledor, from one generation to the next, in a complex and ever-changing history of reception. The criterion of it all, the fulfiller of scripture par excellence, is, according to Christianity, none other than Christ Jesus.

You may wonder how God gets away with it, since there is far more to truth and how truth is obtained than you want in your philosophy, but he does.

John C. Poirier

Wow. After all this time, you still don't have a clue to what I'm talking about. (Your remarks about "spacetime" in your last post have nothing at all to do with my use of the term.) I just don't know how to make it any clearer.

Here's what I believe: "A" is not "not A". Any theology that allows "A" to be "not A" is whack. Pure whack! I don't care who holds to it. I don't care how many popes or Luthers or Barths give implicit assent to it. If it reduces to "A" is "not A", it's whack.

We don't find that kind of whack in the New Testament. It was up to the church to come up with that. (That should be proof enough that the church is not infallible.)

And yet, Western theology has always insisted that "A" cannot be "not A". It has always (rightly) insisted that even theology does not allow one to posit nonsensical relations. The proposition that both alethiologies can be held together within a single theology is one such nonsensical relation.

I asked for your explanation of how these two alethiologies can be held together. If your best answer is "there is far more to truth and how truth is obtained" (which is really a non-answer), then I'll take that as a sign that you really don't have an answer. Nothing new there -- no one else, in seventeen years of searching -- has had an answer either.

But how you can believe that all of those Reformed and Lutheran add-ons are in Scripture, or presupposed by Scripture, is beyond me.


I think you're right, John. What you're looking for, if you haven't found it in 17 years, you probably never will.

Scripture is a world in which A is often said to be non-A. Not in the sense of mathematical logic, but in a real sense nonetheless, a life-transforming sense. For example.

"This is that" (Acts 2:16). A, it is asserted, is non-A. One more example of whack in your terminology. (You know as well as I do that there is no one-to-one correspondence; that an analysis of human authorial intent would not serve to close the gap).

At times you seem to suggest that there is no whack in the New Testament; I guess that means you are certain there is whack in the Old. In reality, both the OT and NT are full of whack in the very sense you are so afraid of.

"This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt." "This is my body broken for you."

A is not-A in both cases. More whack.

For the rest, what the creeds say, the insights of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and so on, they are not in Scripture or presupposed by Scripture. The whole is an organic extension of Scripture which contributes to preserving the truths Scripture teaches in changed circumstances.

John C. Poirier

You write, "Scripture is a world in which A is often said to be non-A." This is not at all true – not in the sense of a logical impossibility. The examples you give have nothing to do with the sort of thing I'm talking about. Scripture nowhere consciously asks as to believe that two mutually incompatible things must be held to be compossible. As far as we know, when Peter says, "This is that", he did not think that he was resignifying Scripture at all.

I don't think there is any whack in the New Testament or Old Testament. Not in the sense that I have been using the word.

When Scripture sets up the logical conundrum by suggesting that the meaning of Scripture has changed, I take that as theological gangue. It's just the sort of thing we should expect from a bunch of writers reared in traditional Jewish hermeneutics. The conundrum is certainly not being laid out with the authors' eyes wide open to it. We should not expect the apostles to be so philosophically aware that they would have recognized the hermeneutical impact of the kerygma – particularly its alethiological aspect. Inculturated habits are the hardest of all to deconstruct.

In other words, the conundrum, within the New Testament, is partly the fault of the apostles' inability to apply a proper cultural hermeneutic to their own belief systems. For me, that's not a big deal. It doesn't invite a charge of "whack". It only becomes whack when scholars reduce the two ends of this conundrum to their mutually exclusive alethiological dimensions, and *then* say, "We gotta believe both at the same time." The Bible doesn't do this – only modern scholars do.


Hi John P.,

This is where I come down.

(1) Your claim that the Bible is full of theological gangue - worthless dross surrounding a core of supposedly non-theological kerygmatic facts in accord with your (utterly idiosyncratic) epistemology - amounts to a full-scale rejection of the Bible's truth claims.

It's a free country, and you are welcome to your views, but I can't think of one good reason for following you on this.

(2) Your claim that the biblical authors and John Poirier share a common understanding of alethiology whereas the post-first century Church and contemporary scholars John Poirier disagrees with are guilty of sinning against one of the most basic axioms of elementary logic - A is not-A - is preposterous on its face.

There is a fundamental absurdity in your position. It's as if you went to your 50th high school reunion and walked up to person after person and told them, "You are not the person I knew back in high school."

To which one might respond, "That's both true and untrue." To which you respond insistently, as you have on this thread, "No, it's true and that's all there is to it."

To which one can only respond, "Get a grip."

John C. Poirier


I'm not sure why you would label the "kerygmatic facts" as "non-theological". They are in fact the most important "theological facts" in the Bible. Did you really mean to say that? They are the *only* thing that the apostles insisted that believers must hold to!

The (possible) truth and untruth of saying someone is "not the person I knew back in high school" is owed to the way in which one's way of identifying someone is a set of compartmentalizable aspects. Some may have changed, and some may have remained the same. This has nothing at all to do with the law of non-contradiction. Surely you can see that?

A *single-article* proposition can only be true or untrue. It cannot be both simultaneously. For the same reason, a given religion cannot be underpinned simultaneously by an alethiology and its conceptual opposite. What is so hard to understand about that?


John P.:

Sigh indeed.

You say:

"This [the parable I present] has nothing at all to do with the law of non-contradiction."

Agreed. And neither do the things you talk about, in your attempt to discredit 19 centuries of Christian tradition, the Reformation, and countless scholars and theologians including Luther and Calvin and Childs and Hays. The latter centuries represent the *same religion* as that of the first century, with wrinkles now, perhaps some wisdom that comes with age, and a touch of amnesia.

You on your part are seeking to dictate, ex cathedra, what counts as a well-formed alethiology consonant with the New Testament, and what counts as its conceptual opposite, in logical contradiction to it.

I doubt that you will find any followers. As I've tried to make clear, you have not proposed a convincing alethiology; regardless, your sense of what counts as truth overlaps to a minimal extent with what counts as truth in the Old and New Testaments.

Your avowed primitivism not only has little or nothing in common with Wesley's primitivism - Wesley was a catholic spirit of the first order - it has nothing to do with NT Christianity, which was not primitivist over against its coeval competitors.

Finally, your suggestion that the apostles treated everything but the kerygma as adiaphora is patently false, even if you exclude Paul from the number of the apostles.

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  • Jewish Philosophy Place
    by Zachary (Zak) Braiterman, who teaches modern Jewish thought and philosophy in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University
  • kata ta biblia
    by Patrick George McCollough, M. Div. student, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena CA
  • Ketuvim
    Learned reflection from the keyboard of Jim Getz
  • Kilbabo
    Ben Johnson’s insightful blog
  • Kruse Kronicle - contemplating the intersection of work, the global economy, and Christian mission
    top quality content brought to readers by Michael W. Kruse
  • Larry Hurtado's blog
    emeritus professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology, University of Edinburgh
  • Law, Prophets, and Writings
    thoughtful blogging by William R. (Rusty) Osborne, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies as College of the Ozarks and managing editor for Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament
  • Lingamish
    delightful fare by David Ker, Bible translator, who also lingalilngas.
  • Looney Fundamentalist
    a scientist who loves off-putting labels
  • Menachem Mendel
    A feisty blog on rabbinic literature and other Judaica by Michael Pitkowsky, Rabbinics Curriculum Coordinator at the Academy for Jewish Religion and adjunct instructor at Jewish Theological Seminary (New York)
  • mu-pàd-da
    scholarly blog by C. Jay Crisostomo, grad student in ANE studies at ?
  • Narrative and Ontology
    Astoundingly thoughtful comment from Phil Sumpter, a Ph.D. student in Bible, resident in Bonn, Germany
  • New Epistles
    by Kevin Sam, M. Div. student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon SK
  • NT Weblog
    Mark Goodacre's blog, professor of New Testament, Duke University
  • Observatório Bíblico
    wide-ranging blog by Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica/Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, Brasile (in Portuguese)
  • Observatório Bíblico
    Blog sobre estudos acadêmicos da Bíblia, para Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica / Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, SP.
  • Occasional Publications
    excellent blogging by Daniel Driver, Brevard Childs' scholar extraordinaire
  • old testament passion
    Great stuff from Anthony Loke, a Methodist pastor and Old Testament lecturer in the Seminari Theoloji, Malaysia
  • Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Blog
    A weblog created for a course on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, by James Davila (archive)
  • On the Main Line
    Mississippi Fred MacDowell's musings on Hebraica and Judaica. With a name like that you can't go wrong.
  • p.ost an evangelical theology for the age to come
    seeking to retell the biblical story in the difficult transition from the centre to the margins following the collapse of Western Christendom, by Andrew Perriman, independent New Testament scholar, currently located in Dubai
  • PaleoJudaica
    by James Davila, professor of Early Jewish Studies at the University of St. Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland. Judaism and the Bible in the news; tidbits about ancient Judaism and its context
  • Pastoral Epistles
    by Rick Brannan and friends, a conceptually unique Bible blog
  • Pen and Parchment
    Michael Patton and company don't just think outside the box. They are tearing down its walls.
  • Pisteuomen
    by Michael Halcomb, pastor-scholar from the Bluegrass State
  • Pseudo-Polymath
    by Mark Olson, an Orthodox view on things
  • Purging my soul . . . one blog at a time
    great theoblog by Sam Nunnally
  • Qumranica
    weblog for a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, taught by James R. Davila (archive)
  • Ralph the Sacred River
    by Edward Cook, a superb Aramaist
  • Random Bloggings
    by Calvin Park, M. Div. student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton MA
  • Resident aliens
    reflections of one not at home in this world
  • Revelation is Real
    Strong-minded comment from Tony Siew, lecturer at Trinity Theological College, Singapore
  • Ricoblog
    by Rick Brannan, it's the baby pictures I like the most
  • Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
    Nick Norelli's fabulous blog on Bible and theology
  • SansBlogue
    by Tim Bulkeley, lecturer in Old Testament, Carey Baptist College (New Zealand). His Hypertext Commentary on Amos is an interesting experiment
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages
    texts and files to help people learn some ancient languages in self study, by Mike Heiser
  • Midrash, etc.
    A fine Hebrew-to-English blog on Midrash, by Carl Kinbar, Director of the New School for Jewish Studies and a facultm member at MJTI School of Jewish Studies.
  • Phil Lembo what I'm thinking
    a recovering lawyer, now in IT, with a passion for a faith worth living
  • Roses and Razorwire
    a top-notch Levantine archaeology blog, by Owen Chesnut, a doctoral student at Andrews University (MI)
  • Scripture & Theology
    a communal weblog dedicated to the intersection of biblical interpretation and the articulation of church doctrine, by Daniel Driver, Phil Sumpter, and others
  • Scripture Zealot
    by Jeff Contrast
  • Serving the Word
    incisive comment on the Hebrew Bible and related ancient matters, with special attention to problems of philology and linguistic anthropology, by Seth L. Sanders, Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Singing in the Reign
    NT blog by Michael Barber (JP University) and Brad Pitre (Our Lady Holy Cross)
  • Stay Curious
    excellent comment on Hebrew Bible and Hebrew language topics, by Karyn Traphagen, graduate, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia PA (archive)
  • Sufficiency
    A personal take on the faith delivered to the saints, by Bob MacDonald, whose parallel blog on the Psalms in Hebrew is a colorful and innovative experiment
  • The Sundry Times
    Gary Zimmerli's place, with comment on Bible translations and church renewal
  • Sunestauromai: living the crucified life
    by a scholar-pastor based in the Grand Canyon National Park
  • ta biblia
    blog dedicated to the New Testament and the history of Christian origins, by Giovanni Bazzana
  • Targuman
    by Christian Brady, targum specialist extraordinaire, and dean of Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University
  • Targuman
    on biblical and rabbinic literature, Christian theology, gadgetry, photography, and the odd comic, by Christian Brady, associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
  • The Biblia Hebraica Blog
    a blog about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the history of the Ancient Near East and the classical world, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, New Testament interpretation, English Bible translations, biblical theology, religion and culture, philosophy, science fiction, and anything else relevant to the study of the Bible, by Douglas Magnum, PhD candidate, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • The Forbidden Gospels Blog
    by April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University
  • The Naked Bible
    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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