1Co 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
The Bible clearly claims divine inspiration for itself. Its claims are abundantly substantiated by (1) fulfilled Bible prophecy, (2) the power for good that the Bible exerts upon individuals and nations who properly receive it, (3) its internal doctrinal consistency though written by nearly 40 different writers on several continents over a period of 1500 years in three languages, (4) the authenticity demonstrated by its accurate historical and geographical record, (5) the testimony it receives from Jesus Christ Himself–the one Person who has experienced physical death and returned to tell us about it, having been raised physically from the dead by God after three days in the tomb, all in accordance to specific Bible prophecy.
But some do not believe, and cite modern scholars and scholarship to the contrary, as in the following portion of a discussion on the “Islam and Christianity Debate Group” to which I responded today.
The Opening Claim:
Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, a renowned Bible scholar and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, writes in his book “Jesus Interrupted”, “The Bible is filled with discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable contradictions. Moses did not write the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) and Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not write the Gospels.”
The further claim:
There are many contradictions and discrepancies in the Bible that become evident to you when you look at the Bible with an open mind from an unbiased perspective. These contradictions are plain and clear to such an extent that you wouldn’t need to consult a Bible scholar to point them out to you. For instance, in John 13:36, peter says to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” A few verses later Thomas says, “Lord, we do not know where you are going” [John 14:5]. And then a few minutes later, at the same meal, Jesus upbraids his disciples, saying, “Now I am going to the one who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?'” [John 16:5]. Now either Jesus had a very short attention span or there is something strange going on with the sources for these chapters, creating an odd kind of disconnect.
The way you are citing Scripture fails to heed the context. You do not seem to understand the subject of hermeneutics. Anyone can come along and take a bit of text here, and another bit of text there, and come up with a contradiction or an absurdity.
The Bible states,
Judas went and hanged himself.
What thou doest do quickly.
Go and do thou likewise.
But that is not a proper way to cite the Bible to come up with anything resembling what it actually teaches.
The odd kind of disconnect is your reading the Bible in a manner that does not legitimately represent how the Bible or any other work of literature was ever intended to be read.
I have written of Dr. Ehrman on these discussion threads here before.
His scholarship is slipshod and unreliable. I have been pursuing studies in the reliability of Scripture on a scholarly level since before 1958, and for all the intervening years since then.
Careless readers may find many so-called discrepancies in the Bible. I have two four-foot shelves right here in my personal library of books written by unbelievers, agnostics, and atheists that are full of such nonsense.
Anyone who makes such claims against the Bible has not studied the subject of Biblical Introduction. Such a person has not studied and carefully digested the subject of apologetics. They have likely never read one solid work of meticulous scholarship written to defend the truth of the Bible.
Have they read and thoroughly studied William Paley’s little volume, Horae Paulinae? No.
Have they read Leslie’s Short and Easy Method with the Deists? No.
Have they read David Nelson’s work, The Cause and Cure of Infidelity? No.
Have they read Irwin H. Linton’s work, A Lawyer Examines the Bible? No.
Have they read Simon Greenleaf’s The Testimony of the Evangelists? No.
Have they read Robert Dick Wilson’s Is the Higher Criticism Scholarly? No.
Have they read Mark Hopkins, Evidences of Christianity? No.
Do they really know anything about the subject? No.
It makes for a very instructive Bible study to learn what the Bible says about itself.
1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
This statement in the Bible is one of many of its claims to divine inspiration.
This is a specific claim to verbal inspiration. Divine inspiration of Scripture is asserted also at 2 Timothy 3:16, as is the divine inspiration of the Scripture writers, 2 Peter 1:21.
Failure to accept the Bible’s own testimony to itself has closed this Book to so-called “modern scholarship” (a misnomer if ever there was one!). Much modern scholarship is dishonest, for instead of explaining the Bible, it attempts to explain away the Bible, refusing to honestly come to grips with its claims and message.
In an effort to escape the Bible’s obvious message, dishonest scholarship has tried to deny its authenticity and authorship, ascribing, for example, the books of Moses to multiple late authorship; denying the unity of Isaiah; asserting that the gospels, particularly John, are of late origin, and do not reflect the so-called “historical Jesus,” but views and traditions of the early Church of the third or fourth century—not explaining, of course, how books can be quoted or translated before they were written, or how such stupendous claims could be foisted upon a gullible public long after the possibility of disproof by eyewitnesses has passed.
The only way to get at the message of the Bible is to be completely open to its message. To approach Scripture with humanistic and naturalistic (i.e. anti-theistic) presuppositions is to try to twist Scripture to fit a world view which it most emphatically will not support. The only valid approach to Scripture is to be honest to its claims and message and grant its right to set forth a theistic, supernaturalistic world view.
To deny the possibility of miracle (as Hume and his modern counterparts) is to deny the possibility of history, for both are based upon the record of eye-witness testimony, and such denial is absurd.
There are more pathways to truth and knowledge than an arbitrarily narrowly defined so-called “scientific method.” Like missing the right exit on a freeway, continued advance in the wrong direction is not progress; genuine progress will require a return to where we went wrong, and a fresh start in the right direction.
Much “scholarship” needs to recognize it has pursued a wrong path, and recognize that it needs to return to sound principles of former generations of reverent, truthful, believing scholarship.
It is neither truthful nor fair scholarship to approach a work of literature from a consistently unsympathetic and hostile world view in the attempt to legitimately understand its message. Rather, in our attempt to understand a work of literature, we must let it speak for itself.
The task of scholarship is to place the reader as close as possible in sympathetic relationship to the viewpoint of the original writer and recipients of the literary work, and not to attempt to explain it away in an effort to force it to agree with popular contemporary philosophical presuppositions.
Much more could be said to directly answer the apparent discrepancies pointed out in the Gospel of John, but that would make this already 1303 word long post too long for most readers, but if any who read this suppose there is not an answer available, just post a comment below.
Well, I’ll break down and post the answer to the alleged conundrum Dr. Bart Ehrman thinks he found, since the solution is so direct and simple after all:
The answer to the supposed discrepancy between the three passages in John that Dr. Ehrman cites, namely, John 13:36, John 14:5, and John 16:5 is simple.
Peter had asked, “Lord, thither goest thou?” and Thomas much the same in John 14:5, both of whom had received an answer.
But now, at the time when Jesus was speaking this at John 16:5, none of them asked this question, because, as the next verse states, their hearts were filled with sorrow.
Notice the prominent characteristic of John’s witness to the events he records: he is a careful listener, even at times an eavesdropper, so what John records here is hardly a discrepancy or contradiction worthy of any notice at all. To see discrepancy here is the mark of a very careless, unobservant reader, grasping at straws, trying to make an argument which is unsupportable by the evidence in context.
John tells us early in his Gospel, John 2:22, that not until after the resurrection of Christ did the disciples more fully understand some of the things Jesus said while they were with Him.
Now why couldn’t Dr. Ehrman figure this out?
But now this post is 1522 words long!