MARK 1:2 REVISITED: A Response to James Patrick Holding

© 2017, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.

 INTRODUCTION

 I have elsewhere described the story of a certain contestant on the television game show “Jeopardy.”[1]  He was doing very well, answering questions correctly one after the other, but then he missed an easy one about famous comedy teams.  The correct answer was, “Who is Laurel and Hardy,” but he mistakenly said, “Who is Oliver and Hardy.” When the host, perhaps taken aback that a good contestant had missed such an easy question and did not immediately say it was wrong, the contestant glared at the host and repeated, more loudly and stridently this time, “Who is Oliver and Hardy?”  The host then told him that answer was wrong.

The lesson from this story ought to be clear: A wrong answer does not become right simply by being reasserted more loudly and more stridently.  And it certainly does not become right simply by reasserting it is more loudly and stridently, while adding bald appeals to authority and levying puerile insults against those who give the right answer.  It is a lesson that James Patrick Holding, the librarian who maintains his own apologetics website, Tektonics.org, has obviously not learned.[2]  Claims are settled by actual facts, not by bald assertions, nor by insults.

Some time ago, we posted an article addressing the matter of a reading in Mark 1:2, viz.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” (Mark 1:1-3)

The prophets referred to here are Malachi, who wrote, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You” (Malachi 3:1), and Isaiah, who wrote, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”

This is how the reading appears in 96.7% of the extant manuscripts of the Gospel According to Mark.[3]  However, a small number of manuscripts read, instead, “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,” and this has been wrongly accepted by mainstream textual critics as the original reading.[4]

If mainstream textual criticism were correct, it would mean, of course, that there is an error in the original, God-breathed Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16), as “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You” is manifestly not “written in Isaiah the prophet.”  This, in turn, would put paid to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.[5]

Evangelical scholars who have foolishly accepted the claims of mainstream textual criticism, and so accept the reading “As it is written in the Prophets:

“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You” and believe in inerrancy are in trouble.  They must find some way to explain that this is, not, in fact, an error – though it manifestly is – and they have proffered a number of gambits to this end.

In September 2015, we posted in two parts an article called “Why There is an Error in Mark 1:2 in Your Bible: Another Example of the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible,”[6] in which we showed two things: (1) that every attempt by evangelical scholars to explain that “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet” is not an error is a complete failure, and (2) that this does not matter, since the original reading of the verse is undoubtedly “As it is written in the prophets,” which is correct.[7]

One of the gambits debunked in our article was the claim that “It was standard Jewish practice to string more than one prophet together and only cite the one that was making the main point,”[8] which was shown to be not true, and not to solve the problem at any rate, since Mark 1:2 would still be saying something not true; it seems to be a strange argument to say that an untruth is not an untruth if  people in the day had a standard practice of saying certain things that were not true.

One apologist who goes this hopeless route is James Patrick Holding, and his views were duly confuted in our original article.  Sometime after we posted it, Holding came across it and posted a response in which he sought to refute what we had said.

Of course, no responsible apologist would want to say something incorrect, so it is incumbent upon us to consider Holding’s post, and assess our original claims against it.  This is what we shall now do.

HOLDING’S ATTEMPTED REBUTTALS

The claim that “It was standard Jewish practice to string more than one prophet together and only cite the one that was making the main point”[9] seems to be the most common evangelical gambit in trying to deal with supposed problem, and it is this one that our librarian champions.

As shown in our original article, however, it is simply not a sustainable claim.  While many evangelical apologists make the claim, their only basis is to cite another apologist making the same claim.  One has to look long and hard before he can find any attempt to provide actual proof for the claim, and what is finally found does not even remotely constitute proof.

One attempt to do so is particularly risible, and that is to find such “misattributions” elsewhere in the Bible and claim that this proves that Jews had such a standard practice.  It would prove nothing of the sort, of course, as it could just as easily prove that the writers had simply made mistakes.  What is needed is objective evidence of such a practice, such as an ancient writing in which it is expressly stated that Jewish writers had such a practice.

Furthermore, there are no examples of such a practice.  The librarian risibly appealed to 2 Chronicles 36:21, although this verse does not contain any quotes at all.  The information in the first part is from the Law, certainly, and is a penalty spelled out in Leviticus 26:34-35, but a reference to information in the law is not a quote; otherwise every mention of, say, the Sabbath in the Old Testament must be considered a “quote” of Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5.

The word that was added by Jeremiah, who is specifically mentioned, was the seventy years of captivity, but he was not quoted either.  So this is not a composite quotation, and that was made clear in our article.  It should be clear even to Holding that a quotation requires an introductory statement such as “It is written” or “Jeremiah says” or some such thing, as we always see in the Bible, and there is no such thing in 2 Chronicles 36:21.

How does our librarian respond?  He says,

The example from 2 Chronicles is dispensed with no more professionally by Tors: He merely denies that the passages contains [sic] quotations, even as he admits that it contains elements from both. He is badly incorrect. 2 Chronicles contains a direct quote of a phrase from Leviticus.[10]

No, Tors did not “merely den[y] that the passages contains [sic] quotations”; he actually showed why these are not quotations, as should be obvious to any fair-minded person, so Holding’s comment is simply not true.

Holding tries to defend his position by claiming that “2 Chronicles contains a direct quote of a phrase from Leviticus,”[11] but this is demonstrably not true, as can be seen immediately:

Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it. (Leviticus 26:34-35)

And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. (2 Chronicles 36:21)

 

Notice that the tenses are different, the word order is different, and some of the word choices are different, so it is NOT A QUOTATION.  The mistake, then, is Holding’s, not mine.

Holding’s other suggestion for a composite quotation is Matthew 27:9-10, which is claimed to be a quotation from Jeremiah 32:6-9 and Zechariah 11:12-13, and about this, the librarian asserts that “For Matthew 27:9-10, Tors merely denies any connection to anything in Jeremiah, which is nothing more thsn [sic] denial”.[12]

Here, too, Holding’s statement is false.  Tors did not “merely deny any connection to anything in Jeremiah”; he showed that there is no way to get Matthew 27:9-10 out of those two passages.  To make it clearer for our librarian, here they are:

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” (Matthew 27:9-10)

Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.  And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter. (Zechariah 11:12-13)

And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.”’ Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver. (Jeremiah 32:6-9)

The first and obvious thing that should be noted is that neither passage is a predictive prophecy; both are instructions to prophets as to what they are to do, and they do it when told.  So there is nothing to fulfill here.

The second thing to note is that according to Jeremiah, the field was (note: was, not will be) purchased by Jeremiah, not the chief priests (a good guy, not the bad guys); the field was in Anathoth, not Jerusalem; it was bought for seventeen shekels of silver, not thirty; it was a right of redemption, not a purchase necessitated because it was blood money; and it was an object lesson to show that the Israelites would return from captivity (Jeremiah 32:15,25-43), not a prophecy of betrayal.

In short, then, this is NOT a predictive prophecy, and it is pointless to argue that it is, since if it were God would have gotten everything wrong its fulfillment.

It is the same with Zechariah 11:12-13.  It, too, describes an object lesson a prophet did in obedience to God’s command (in this case showing that God was giving up the Israelites).  It was not a predictive prophecy.  Furthermore, the money here was paid to the prophet (the good guy), not to a traitor (a bad guy); it was thrown by the prophet, not by a traitor; and it was thrown to a potter, not to chief priests who used it to buy a potter’s field.

This passage, too, then, is NOT a predictive prophecy, and it if were, God would have gotten most things wrong in its fulfillment.

It is regrettable that so much ink has to be spilled to point out what should be obvious to anyone who reads these passages and pays attention: Matthew 27:9-10 does not record the fulfillment of two prophecies, one by Jeremiah and the other by Zechariah, and ascribe them both to Jeremiah.  There is no such prophecy as is recorded in Matthew 27:9-10, not in Zechariah, not in Jeremiah, and not in the two combined.  It is quite clear that this is indeed a desperate attempt to solve a supposed problem, and Holding simply stultifies himself by pretending otherwise.

Holding stultifies himself further by saying, “Tors instead opts for an otherwise unevidenced oral prophecy of Jeremiah as the source, which is the only desperate move in evidence here.”[13]  This is not a “desperate move,” but a far more reasonable solution.

First, this solution is not bizarre, as is the idea of claiming that a prophecy written by one man is said to have been written in the book of another, simply because that man was more important or prominent; and this solution does not involve saying something untrue, as would saying that a prophecy written by one man is written in the book of another, where it is not, in fact, written – and it is not clear why we should so cavalierly discard 2 Samuel 7:28a: “And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true.”

Second, while Holding and all other apologists fail to find even a single instance of the prophecies of two different men being combined and attributed to only one of them (which is not surprising, as that would indicate a mistake or a lie), I showed two clear examples (Matthew 2:23 and in 2 Kings 14:25) of the fulfillment of a prophecy being recorded in Scripture although the original prophecy was not recorded; it seems the librarian missed those, too.  They provide the precedents and therefore the legitimacy for my proposed solution, in sharp contrast to Holding’s approach, which has been shown to be a nonstarter.

It is quite clear that Holding has offered nothing new here.  Like the hapless Jeopardy contestant, he has simply repeated his discredited argument again, more stridently and more rudely, but it was vacuous before and it remains vacuous now.

The only attempt at any objective proof for the claim that “It was standard Jewish practice to string more than one prophet together and only cite the one that was making the main point”[14] is, as we noted in our previous article, the appeal to Z.H. Chages’ book The Student’s Guide Through the Talmud.[15] Yet, as we pointed out, this book gives no support whatsoever to that claim.  What Chages tells is that ancient rabbis engaged in the bizarre practice of “calling different personages by one and the same name if they found them akin in any feature of their characters or activities or if they found a similarity between any of their actions.”[16]  Why did they do this?

The main reason for this method is to be found in the chief principle which the Rabbis laid down as a cornerstone or basis for their exegetical expositions, viz. that the lecturer may in all possible ways enhance the praise of righteous and pious men, and wherever the finds reference in Holy Writ to the worthiness of a particular righteous man he should attribute any other virtue to him which is found in any other outstanding personality, if only this can be given biblical support, however far-fetched.[17]

But that is ALL they did – equate righteous men (or evil men) to each other; that is all the evidence shows. Neither Chages nor anyone else shows any evidence that rabbis ascribed the quotations of two men under the name of one.  On the contrary, Chages shows only one example involving quotes, and in that case each man’s quote is attributed to himself, to show their similarity; indeed, the method would not work if each man’s quote were not attributed to himself.

So Chages gives no aid or comfort whatsoever to those who aver that “It was standard Jewish practice to string more than one prophet together and only cite the one that was making the main point,”[18] and so the only actual attempt to find objective evidence for the claim is an abject failure.

How does Holding respond to this?  He carps that “Tors denies that [sic] ‘applicability of Chages’ comments because it is not an example of two quotations from different sources being attributed to one person.”[19]  So Tors rejects Chages’ comments as proof for the claim that quotations from two different people can be attributed to one man because he gives no example – or proof of any kind – that the rabbis did such a thing (nor does he claim they did).  I have news for Holding: not just Tors but any thinking person would reject Chages’ comments as proof for something he neither claims or tries to prove!  One wonders why the librarian does not understand that assertions are not to be considered true simply because they are made; they require proof, and comments that do not provide proof nor claim to do so should indeed be rejected as proof.

Holding continues:

Tors, as a western fundamentalist, is oblivious to the point made by Chages: The practice of subsuming multiple identities under one name is a much broader phenomenon, of which the practice of quotation attribution is but one expression. Nor is the example of Malachi and Ezra meant to be an example of such quotation; it is an illustration of the broader phenomenon which leads to the practice of subsuming quotations.[20]

Why anyone should think that a “western librarian” is better equipped to understand Chages than a “western fundamentalist” is not clear, but never mind; the main point here is that Chages never made the claim that the practice of equating people “is a much broader phenomenon of which the practice of quotation attribution is but one expression.”[21] Again, Chages never claimed that this ancient rabbinic practice was part of a broader phenomenon, let alone attempted to prove it.

It is impossible, therefore, not to conclude that Holding is simply making stuff up out of whole cloth to maintain his view, and an apologist who does that has forfeited any right to be taken seriously.  By anyone.  Ever.

Holding should probably leave badly enough alone now, but he seems determined to bury himself, and proceeds to do so.  He returns to a story passed on by Noel Weeks who tells of an incident in which Jewish scholar Nathan Sarna opined that at one time Jeremiah must have been the first book of the Prophets, the proof being that

you have a quote from Zechariah quoted as being from Jeremiah because in the Jewish way of labelling things you call a book by its first few words, and you call a collection of books by the first book in that collection. Thus one of the evidences that we have of Jeremiah being the first book of the prophets in the first century is the New Testament.[22]

As I pointed out in our previous article, this gambit disintegrates almost immediately upon careful scrutiny.  Holding huffs that “Tors …. arrogantly declares that myself and Sarna are wrong, and he reaches this conclusion through no means that would impress anyone who was not also a fundamentalist.”  Yet Sarna’s argument is indeed so weak that anyone who is willing and able to think will dismiss it almost immediately, whether or not he is a fundamentalist.  This is easy to show, as we will now do.

Sarna claims that “there was a period in which Jeremiah was regarded as the first book of the prophets.”[23] And what is the evidence that Sarna gives for this claim?

One proof is that you have a quote from Zechariah quoted as being from Jeremiah because in the Jewish way of labelling things you call a book by its first few words, and you call a collection of books by the first book in that collection. Thus one of the evidences that we have of Jeremiah being the first book of the prophets in the first century is the New Testament.[24]

So Sarna says that Matthew attributed the quote from Zechariah to Jeremiah because the Prophets were collectively called Jeremiah (the first book in that corpus), and we know that it was the first book of that corpus because Matthew attributed the quote from Zechariah to Jeremiah.  That is textbook example of a circular argument (a.k.a. begging the question, a.k.a. petitio principii); it is a logical fallacy and a clumsy one, at that.  It is surprising that even Holding is taken in by it.  Be that as it may, though, the fact is that Sarna’s argument is utter nonsense.

Furthermore, it is also easy to show that Holding’s appeal to this argument is actually self defeating:  If such “dual prophecies” were attributed to the prophets who are designated by the name of the man whose book is first in the Prophets corpus, and that man is Jeremiah, as Sarna and Holding claim, then the supposed “dual prophecy” in Mark 1:2 should also be attributed to the prophets designated by the name “Jeremiah”!  So if Sarna and Holding are correct, Mark 1:2 should read, “As it is written in Jeremiah the prophet,” not “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet.”

 So Holding’s “solution” cannot work for both Matthew 27:9-10 and Mark 1:2, and that should be obvious even to our librarian.  Inexplicably, this was made clear in our original article, yet the librarian seems to have ignored it.  Either he was very careless in reading our article, or he has dodged this problem.  Neither of these possibilities enhances his already shaky credibility.

In light of this, Holding’s charge that Tors “merely denies Sarna’s point that Jeremiah was once regarded as the first book of the prophets”[25] is truly incredible.  Any person with even an average intelligence can see that I did not “merely den[y]” Sarna’s point; I showed that it was based on no evidence but instead on a logically fallacious circular argument, and that it is opposed by the wording of Mark 1:2.  Why the librarian cannot see this is entirely unclear.

Yet Holding has the chutzpah to say that “Such a bare denial from a relative nobody like Tors, against a seasoned scholar like Sarna, does not deserve to be taken seriously.”[26]  Again, it was not a bare denial, and, again, claims are vindicated by facts, not by logical fallacies, even if they are made by “a seasoned scholar.”  The only one here, then, who “does not deserve to be taken seriously” is surely Holding himself.

But our librarian is not finished demonstrating his complete incompetence to deal with such issues.  He says,

Tors misuses references from Josephus and the New Testament to say that “in the 1st century AD the second division of the OT was referred to by the title ‘the prophets,’ and not by the name of the first book in the collection,” which is utterly irrelevant: Tors fails to distinguish between referring to the books as a topical collection, and referring to them in terms of personal attribution.[27]

Now, Holding might find logical fallacies more persuasive than actual evidence, but reasoning people would not agree; evidence from Josephus and the New Testament as to what the Prophets corpus was called in those days is most certainly relevant in examining whether they were called “Jeremiah” or not, and this evidence shows that they were not; they were called “the prophets.”  That is certainly relevant.

But what is truly riotous here is that the librarian actually says, “Tors fails to distinguish between referring to the books as a topical collection, and referring to them in terms of personal attribution.”  He actually says that – even though Sarna’s entire claim was that the TOPICAL COLLECTION was referred to by the “personal attribution” of “Jeremiah”!  There was no separate “topical collection” name and “personal attribution” name.  Holding apparently doesn’t even understand the arguments he himself is adducing!  This cannot be taken seriously, folks.

It really isn’t necessary at this point for Holding to put another nail into his coffin, but he does so, saying, “Tors notes that Matthew clearly quotes other OT figures like Isaiah, but these are beside the point: None is a composite quotation where Matthew was referring to material from two different persons in the same collections of books.”[28]

Yet again, our librarian does not seem to understand how evidence works; observing Matthew’s attribution habits certainly helps us determine what he is doing in Matthew 27:9-10.  On the other hand, Holding’s bald assertion that this is a composite quotation is nonsense in light of the evidence we have seen, which decisively debunks any such possibility.

And thus ends Holding’s Grand Guignol.

CONCLUSIONS

In our original article, we looked at the wording of Mark 1:2.  We showed that the original reading is “as it is written in the prophets,” which is completely accurate, and the reading, “as it is written in Isaiah the prophet” is an erroneous textual variant.

Those who believe in inerrancy and also wrongly accept “as it is written in Isaiah the prophet” as the original reading find themselves in a dilemma, as they must explain away an obvious mistake Mark made if that is the original reading, viz. saying that “Behold I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You” is written in Isaiah the prophet when it is not, in fact, written anywhere in that book, but is written in Malachi.  We looked at every gambit designed to solve this problem and found that none of them is tenable, so if the erroneous variant is wrongly taken as the original reading, then the doctrine of inerrancy cannot stand.

Herein we have revisited the matter in response to a brief writing by James Patrick Holding in which he challenged our arguments; we considered it incumbent upon us inasmuch as we do not wish to say something incorrect.  However, we found that none of Holding’s objections is correct or even sensible, but each is utterly absurd.  He has offered no new arguments, but, like that unfortunate Jeopardy contestant, he has only repeated the same vacuous claims that have long since been debunked, doing so more loudly and more vociferously, and, unlike the contestant, replete with insults, as if that would change things.  It doesn’t.  He was wrong before, and he remains wrong now.

Thus we conclude that the statements of our original article remain correct, and we also conclude that Holding is not a man who can be taken seriously as an apologist or commentator on anything related to the Bible.  His writings should henceforth be avoided by all serious Christians.

APPENDIX: HOLDING’S INSULTS

The fact that Holding liberally sprinkled his response to our article with insults comes as no surprise.  We have elsewhere commented on his vicious verbal attacks on Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Paige Patterson for rightly objecting to the idea of non-historical additions in the historical narratives of the Gospel books (and Dr. Patterson for having the temerity to agree with the Bible on the proper role for women in the church).[29]  The sight of this academically underqualified apologist rudely attacking his betters is quite repugnant, but it certainly makes it inevitable that he would insult me.  We may as well look at his insults and see if there is any substance to them.

“I was recently alerted to a rather pathetic attempt to respond to the above by a wannabe fundamentalist apologist named John Tors.[30]

I will leave it to fair-minded readers of my original article, Holding’s response, and the current article to decide whose attempt is pathetic.  I do not think they will agree with Holding about this.  (And I certainly am an apologist, whether the librarian likes it or not.)

“After an insulting and rather bigoted description of the Jewish practice above as ‘bizarre’”[31]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “bizarre” means “very strange or unusual.”[32]  Now, Holding is free to consider a practice in which, for example, “the Rabbis state that Hirah and Hiram are one man, and that he lived almost 1,200 years”[33] to be quotidian if he wishes, but I think most people would agree that it is bizarre, and that this is a fair description, and not “insulting.”

The librarian’s claim that it is “rather bigoted” is reprehensible, however.  If a practice is bizarre, then it is bizarre regardless of who does it, whether Jew or Gentile.  Describing it as such is therefore not “bigoted,” and to hint that I did so because it was a Jewish practice is shameful.  On the other hand, to suggest that nothing done by any minority group should ever be described as “bizarre” no matter how bizarre it may be is sheer lunacy.

“Tors — who has no discernible credentials — arrogantly declares that myself and Sarna are wrong … a bare denial from a relative nobody like Tors, against a seasoned scholar like Sarna”[34]

I do not think academic training in Biblical studies is necessary to be an apologist (though I think knowledge of Koine Greek and Hebrew is extremely important) so I do not usually bring up such matters.  However, since Holding has brought it up, I will point out that my academic qualifications for apologetics are rather better than his own.  I hold a M.Div. (in addition to a B.A.Sc. in chemical engineering) and learned both Koine Greek and Hebrew at seminary.

Holding, on the other hand, has no relevant training; he describes his own qualifications thus: “I have a Masters’ Degree in Library Science. What the [sic] runs down to is, I’m trained in looking things up and answering questions.”[35]  Alas, “looking things up” is not nearly enough; critical thinking about what one looks up, based on the proper view of the inerrant Bible, is what is needed from a serious apologist.  (And, again, knowledge of the languages is certainly important.[36])

It is also passing strange that Holding should fault a “relative nobody” [sic] for challenging a “seasoned scholar” such as Sarna when our master of library science who can look up things himself not only challenges but foully insults Dr. Norman Geisler, B.A., M.A. (in theology), Th.B, Ph.D, author or editor of ninety-one books on Biblical topics, and accords the same treatment to Dr. Paige Patterson, B.A., Th.M, Ph.D.  The hypocrisy of this librarian is truly breathtaking.

“Frankly, Tors should leave apologetics and scholarship to the professionals and cease embarrassing Christians with his poor answers.”[37]

I am not sure what Holding means by a “professional” apologist, but I do not see why a librarian with a website should be considered one.  And inasmuch as his apologetic attempts have been shown to be risible, it seems clear that he is the one with the poor answers.  But we will let the readers decide.

For more information about the nature and quality of Holding’s apologetics, please see our article “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied Against the Trustworthiness of the Bible (Part 2).”[38]

[1] Tors, John. “Oliver and Hardy and Hahn: Debunking Greg Hahn’s Attempt to Salvage his Attack on Complementarianism,” at http://www.truthinmydays.com/oliver-and-hardy-and-hahn-debunking-greg-hahns-attempt-to-salvage-his-attack-on-complementarianism-4/

[2] For details about Holding’s approach to the Bible, see Tors, John. “The Three-headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied Against the Trustworthiness of the Bible (Part 2), at http://www.truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible-part-2/2/

[3] Pickering, Wilbur. The Greek New Testament According to Family 35. Lexington, KY, 2014, p.57

[4] For details on the problems with mainstream textual criticism, see Tors, John. “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism (In Manageable, Bite-sized Chunks),” at http://www.truthinmydays.com/a-primer-on-new-testament-textual-criticism-in-manageable-bite-sized-chunks/

[5] As shown in ibid., the canons of textual criticism, which were created by a German rationalist in 1796, are designed to ensure that variants that introduce errors into the text are proclaimed to be the original, so the doctrine of inerrancy will be destroyed as long as these canons are uncritically accepted.  Why almost all evangelical scholars do is exceedingly difficult to comprehend.  (For a detailed discussion, see

[6] Tors, John. “Why There is an Error in Mark 1:2 in Your Bible: Another Example of the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible,” posted at http://www.truthinmydays.com/why-there-is-an-error-in-mark-12-in-your-bible-another-example-of-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-part-1/ and http://www.truthinmydays.com/why-there-is-an-error-in-mark-12-in-your-bible-another-example-of-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-part-2/

[7] It does not matter as far as inerrancy goes.  It does matter as far as the credibility of evangelical scholars is concerned, for these attempts certainly diminish their credibility.

[8] Cosner, Lita in “Errors in the Bible?” (March 13, 2010), at http://creation.com/claimed-bible-errors.

[9] ibid.

[10] Holding, James Patrick. “Attribution Errors in the New Testament?” at http://www.tektonics.org/lp/mkone2.php

[11] ibid.

[12] ibid.

[13] ibid.

[14] Cosner, Lita, op.cit.

[15] Chages, Z.H. The Student’s Guide Through the Talmud. Second, revised Edition. Translated and Edited by Jacob Schachter. New York: Philipp Feldheim, Inc., 1960, pp.172-175.

[16] ibid., p.172

[17] ibid., pp.173-174.  Malachi and Ezra, for example, are equated in (Meg. 15a) because they both complained that the children of Israel had married foreign women (ibid., p.172).  In the same way and for the same reason, they equated evil men to each other (ibid., p.174).

[18] Cosner, Lita, op.cit.

[19] Holding, op.cit.

[20] ibid.

[21] ibid.

[22] Noel Weeks in Australian Presbyterian (February, 2009), cited in ibid.

[23]  ibid.

[24]  ibid.  It should be noted that Sarna calls this “one proof” and “one of the evidences.”  If he has any other proof, he has certainly not given it here, nor am I aware of any other such alleged proof.

[25] Holding, op.cit.

[26] ibid.

[27] ibid.

[28] ibid.

[29] See Tors, John. “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal Of The Bible: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied Against the Trustworthiness of the Bible” (Part 2), p.2, at http://www.truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible-part-2/2/. You can read these insults in their own words at http://tektonticker.blogspot.ca/search/label/Norman%20Geisler%3B%20inerrancy%3B%20Defending%20Inerrancy and https://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/paige-patterson-is-on-the-wrong-page/

[30] ibid.  Holding’s insults are in bold type.

[31] ibid.

[32] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/bizarre

[33] Chages, p.173

[34] Holding, op.cit.

[35] “About James Patrick Holding” at http://www.tektonics.org/JP-Holding.html

[36] For a demonstration of how Holding tries to deal with Biblical languages, see http://the-anointed-one.com/blunder.html.  Note that “Robert Terkel” is James Patrick Holding (http://www.tektonics.org/JP-Holding.html

[37] Holding, op.cit.

[38] Tors, John. “The Three-Headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal Of The Bible: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied Against the Trustworthiness of the Bible” (Part 2), p.2, at http://www.truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible-part-2/2/.

Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to MARK 1:2 REVISITED: A Response to James Patrick Holding

  1. Nick Peters says:

    “The claim that “It was standard Jewish practice to string more than one prophet together and only cite the one that was making the main point”[9] seems to be the most common evangelical gambit in trying to deal with supposed problem, and it is this one that our librarian champions.

    As shown in our original article, however, it is simply not a sustainable claim. While many evangelical apologists make the claim, their only basis is to cite another apologist making the same claim. One has to look long and hard before he can find any attempt to provide actual proof for the claim, and what is finally found does not even remotely constitute proof.”

    Ahem…

    https://www.amazon.com/Composite-Citations-Antiquity-Graeco-Roman-Christian/dp/0567657973/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490097842&sr=8-1&keywords=Seth+EHorn

    • John Tors says:

      You seem to be missing the point here. The issue is not about whether there are composite quotations in the New Testament; of course there are. Mark 1:2-3 certainly contains a composite quotation, one that joins Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3.

      The issue is whether the Jews in ancient times had a practice of ascribing composite quotations from two different people to only one of quoted people, as the Nestle-Aland text has it in Mark 1:2a. As I pointed out in my article, there is no evidence whatsoever that there was any such practice. The book you linked is about composite quotations, but as far as I have been able to determine it does not claim that composite quotations from more than one person were ever ascribed to only one of them. It is unclear, therefore, why you proffered a link to that particular book, which does not support your contention.

      • Nick Peters says:

        Note also this is only the first volume and I will be interviewing Seth Ehorn who is a contributor to that in June. The point is this research is being done right now as we speak. Still, I think the case has been made and you yourself have backed it. How? You have pointed to a composite quotation combining Isaiah and Malachi and yet, it is only attributed to Isaiah.

        • John Tors says:

          Yes, I did note that this was only the first volume, as the words “VOLUME ONE” on the cover indicated. Volume Two has not yet been published, though I did look up what I could about it in online sources, and there is no indication that Volume Two documents any sort of ancient Jewish practice of ascribing a composite of quotations of two different men to only one of them.

          It does no good to appeal to research that “is being done right now as we speak.” One cannot simply proclaim that there was such an ancient Jewish practice to get around the problem of Mark 1:2-3; those who make such a claim have an onus probandi on them to demonstrate that such a practice existed, and they have conspicuously failed to do so, and to point to ongoing research in the hope that someday someone might find probative evidence for this claim is useless. As things currently stand, there is no such evidence, so the alleged practice must be considered no more than a chimeric deus ex machina.

          Your final statement still seems to missing the point completely. You say, “I think the case has been made and you yourself have backed it. How? You have pointed to a composite quotation combining Isaiah and Malachi and yet, it is only attributed to Isaiah.” This composite quote is indeed only attributed to Isaiah in the Nestle-Aland Greek text, but that cannot be attributed to a putative ancient Jewish practice of ascribing a composite of quotations of two different men to only one of them unless there is actual evidence of such a practice – and there is none. In the absence of such evidence, the attribution to Isaiah of the words of Malachi is an actual error; THAT was my point all along.

          There is, in fact, no error here, however, because the original Greek text (see RP2005) correctly reads “As it is written in the prophets,” not “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet.” Check out http://www.truthinmydays.com/a-primer-on-new-testament-textual-criticism-in-manageable-bite-sized-chunks/ and my upcoming debate with Dr. Tony Costa.

          • Nick Peters says:

            Okay. Let’s spell this out again.

            Mark is a Jew.

            Mark takes a composite quotation combining Isaiah and Malachi.

            Mark attributes it to Isaiah.

            That is exactly what is being claimed is going on in composite quotations.

            The same happens with Jeremiah and Zechariah.

            Two Jews in Scripture on separate quotations using the exact same practice.

            Unless, of course, you don’t think the Scriptural practice should be taken seriously….

          • John Tors says:

            Let’s spell this out, but let’s do it correctly.

            If you could offer independent evidence that there was a Jewish writing practice in the first century AD wherein writers ascribed composite quotations made up of quotations from two different people to only one of them (and claimed that it was WRITTEN in that person’s book), you could then claim that it is not an error to do so (but if and only if you also appeal to epistemological relativism). However, neither you nor anyone else can show such evidence. (Simply “claiming” that this is what is going on is worthless).

            Without such evidence, what you have is Mark (according to the Nestle-Aland text) claiming that something that is not written in Isaiah but in Malachi is “written in Isaiah the prophet,” and that does not correspond to the facts and the truth, so it is an error.

            If Matthew made a similar error, as you claim, then you simply have two writers making the same sort of error. At the risk of sound trite, two wrongs do not make a right.

            What you are suggesting is like finding two children in your elementary arithmetic class who put down “2 + 2 = 5” and noting they are both Hungarian and then saying that it is a Hungarian practice to say that “2 + 2 = 5” and therefore it is not an error for them to say that. That is clearly a nonstarter.

            I cannot make it any clearer than this. If you still do not understand it, I cannot help you. I am quite confident that any fair-minded person who read the article does understand it.

            By the way, Mark did not make a mistake; he correctly wrote “As it is written in the prophets” in Mark 1:2, as in the Majority Text (RP2005), and not “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,” as in the faulty Nestle-Aland text. And Matthew did not claim that the quote from Jeremiah he was passing on was WRITTEN anywhere.

          • Nick Peters says:

            Wow. So when two independent writers in the New Testament do the same practice, that’s not sufficient? Amazing that Biblical evidence isn’t enough.

            No one is claiming an error here, at least not JPH or myself. We see Mark and Matthew combining quotations and going by the more prominent name.

            Your resistance to this makes no sense aside from a fear that the Bible won’t fit into neat little Western categories.

          • John Tors says:

            Your appeal to “neat little Western categories” is nonsense. Truth is what corresponds to the facts and reality, and so a statement that is not in accordance with the truth or the facts is untrue and an error – and that holds regardless of culture or era. That is what is known as OBJECTIVE TRUTH, and objective truth is not a “western category”; it is reality. I think that is obvious to most people. Do think carefully about this.

            So no matter how many people independently write something that is not in accordance with the truth or the facts, it does not change the fact that anyone doing so is committing an error. Nor would two examples of writers committing such an error establish any “practice” (it is like trying to determine a geometric shape given only two points on it), but if there were such a practice, it would still involve error; to suggest otherwise is to embrace epistemological relativism, something that no Christian should do.

            And it does no good to assert that “No one is claiming an error here, at least not JPH or myself.” You are both claiming that in Mark 1:2 the God-breathed word contains a propositional statement that is not in accordance with the truth or the facts” – and that is an error by definition. Denying that it is an error does not change the fact that it is an error. (As I have noted before, however, Mark did not make a mistake, as he did not ascribe the composite quotation in 1:2b-3 to Isaiah but, correctly, to “the prophets.”)

          • Nick Peters says:

            No silly. People in Non-Western cultures can agree with the correspondence theory of truth (Aristotle was one such) and still hold that your thinking is more Western in that the ancients must have done attribution of quotes just like modern Westerners do.

            Your claim of error is only according to Western standards. This is the same kind of thinking that gets people to think the value of pi is wrong in the Bible or the person who told me he doubts the 1 Corinthians 15 creed because it says 500 people, as if it had to be that many exactly.

            No error in the text. That Mark and Matthew use the same approach shows it’s entirely acceptable.

            You see, I let Scripture be more authoritative about what the culture allowed than your modern Western thinking.

            Keep it up. We could always use more Bart Ehrmans.

          • John Tors says:

            It never fails to amaze me that modern Western scholars admit that non-Western people “can agree with the correspondence theory of truth” yet glibly proclaim that such people would ignore this standard and accept a claim that does not correspond to facts and truth as not being an error anyway – something we would not do. I can’t decide whether this is simply hubris or actual cultural chauvinism.

            Be that as it may, Peters’ apologetic strategy seems to be clear now. Here is how it seems to operate:

            Skeptic: “Here is an error of fact in the Bible. It is saying something that is not true.”
            Peters: “Hmm.”
            Skeptic: “Here is another error of fact in the Bible.. It, too, is saying something that’s not true”
            Peters: “Wait! Actually, they’re NOT errors!”
            Skeptic: “Huh?”
            Peters: “Don’t you see? If there TWO things written in the Bible that are not true, that shows Bible authors had a PRACTICE of writing things that aren’t true. And if they have a PRACTICE of doing that, then the untrue things they write are not errors!”
            Skeptic: “I stand corrected. If there are lots of untrue things in the Bible, then it must indeed be inerrant.” [Things NO ONE ever said.]

            I trust the folly of this approach is now evident to all, and there is no more need to expose it, regardless of how many times Peters repeats it. So henceforth I will only respond if he says something new and different.

            Apropos to that, Peters says, “This is the same kind of thinking that gets people to think the value of pi is wrong in the Bible or the person who told me he doubts the 1 Corinthians 15 creed because it says 500 people, as if it had to be that many exactly.”

            The claim has been advanced by some that the Bible gives only an “APPROXIMATE” value of the numerical constant π (pi). That is a moot point here, since “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare Your way before You” is not written even APPROXIMATELY in Isaiah; it is written in Malachi. And since the Bible does not address the value of π (though there are some careless people who think it does), the comparison is irrelevant.

            The second statement – “…. or the person who told me he doubts the 1 Corinthians 15 creed because it says 500 people, as if it had to be that many exactly” – would be funny if it weren’t so important. That person should read 1 Corinthians 15 and pay attention this time so that he can note that it says, “After that He was seen by OVER five hundred brethren at once.” So the text does NOT say that it was “exactly” that many. (One wonders if Peters was able to correct him about that.) We note, meanwhile, that no apologetic method can overcome extreme careless or wilful stupidity.

            Finally, Peters says, “Keep it up. We could always use more Bart Ehrmans.” Ehrman (who can easily be refuted by competent apologists) is a stated unbeliever and enemy of Christianity. As such, he is far less dangerous to the health of the church than is the sort of evangelical scholar described in our three-part article “The Three-headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Church: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied Against the Trustworthiness of the Bible.” These scholars profess inerrancy yet undercut it and thereby undermine the credibility of the Bible. Such people are doing far more harm to the church than Ehrman could ever hope to do.

          • Nick Peters says:

            Gotta love the appeal to the audience. This is so funny. No. My approach is to point skeptics to the leading scholars on the issue. If they want to say the scholars are wrong, they need to give a better reason than “Doesn’t fit with my reading.” I also think it’s important to ask if this is an error by ancient standards or our standards. This is the same kind of thinking that says that even though the Gospels are Greco-Roman Bioi, we should be skeptical because they don’t read like modern biographers. Why should we hold the Gospel writers to 21st century standards?

            As for Pi, not at all a moot point. The point is that that was not exactitude, and yet it would be foolish to consider it an error. Who does? People who are stuck in modern standards. Consider also people who say that no insects have four legs. Duh. Of course not. Israelites eating insects could count the legs. What we learn is that for them, the jumping legs didn’t count as legs. Not a problem.

            As for the danger to inerrancy, the far greater danger is a rigid inerrancy fixated on modern standards instead of treating the Bible as it is, a Middle Eastern ancient work of literature. It was written in the language and culture of the time with the same writing practices.

            How did we get Bart Ehrman? We had people who had the case that their entire Christianity would be shipwrecked if they found an error in the Bible. Besides, I notice on one of those posts my comment is still awaiting moderation and yes, JPH’s here are still awaiting moderation.

          • John Tors says:

            Regarding the “appeal to the audience,” this ministry does not exist for a private debate between you and myself but for edifying those who take the Bible seriously as the inerrant word of God. Some of them will be reading these comments and I am teaching them how to respond to those who profess to believe in inerrancy but treat the Gospel books as if they were more Greco-Roman bios, complete with errors. Hence the “appeal to the audience,” as you put it.

            Talking about π is indeed a moot point, since the Bible doesn’t address the issue of the value of π; I am not sure how you missed that point last time.

            Regarding the number of legs insects have, it is not clear what your point is. If you are trying to suggest that the Bible was imprecise or incorrect by speaking of grasshoppers and beetles “that walk on all fours,” you are wrong. In fact, it was MORE precise than we are in this matter; Hebrew names limbs based on function, not form, so that the four legs upon which grasshoppers and beetles walk are called REGEL, and the two used for leaping are called KERA, and described as “legs above the feet.”

            So the suggestion that the Bible is erroneous or “inexact” to speak of insects having four legs (“Consider also people who say that no insects have four legs”) is nonsense. On the contrary, when the Bible speaks of “every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs (kera) above their feet (regel) with which to leap on the earth,” it is neither incorrect nor inexact; in reality, it is MORE exact than we are. A serious apologist (and one who has learned Hebrew) would have discovered that.

            But that is the difference between you and me, isn’t it? You are happy simply to accept what seem prima facie to be errors in the Bible. I, on the other, do careful research to find out whether these things are so – and they are NOT errors. That is how SERIOUS apologetics works.

            Regarding your repeated appeal to Bart Ehrman’s fall, that seems to be a mantra for you and that group of evangelical scholars you follow: “How did we get Bart Ehrman? We had people who had the case that their entire Christianity would be shipwrecked if they found an error in the Bible.” Not surprisingly, you didn’t really look into Ehrman’s fall, did you? Here is his own testimony (from “Misquoting the Bible”):

            “We had to write a final term paper on an interpretive crux of our own choosing. I chose a passage in Mark 2…how they went into the Temple ‘when Abiathar was the high priest’…it turns out that David did this not when Abiathar was the high priest, but, in fact, when Abiathar’s fathers Ahimelech was…I developed a long and complicated argument… based on the meaning of the Greek words involved…I was pretty sure Professor Story would appreciate the argument, since I knew him as a good Christian scholar who obviously (like me) would never think there could be anything like a genuine error in the Bible. …. But at the end of my paper he made a simple one-line comment that for some reason went straight through me. He wrote, ‘Maybe Mark just made a mistake.’…I finally concluded, ‘Hmm…maybe Mark did make a mistake.’ Once I made that admission, the floodgates opened. For if there could be one little, picayune mistake in Mark 2, maybe there could be in other places as well…The Bible began to appear to me as a very human book…This was a human book from beginning to end.” (Bart Ehrman, “Misquoting Jesus,” pp.8,9,11)

            Pay careful attention, Peters: Ehrman did NOT fall because he believed in inerrancy; he fell because a trusted scholar told him the Bible has errors in it. It is YOUR circle that does that, not mine. To be sure, you are not as upfront about it as Professor Story was; you try to pretend that errors are not really errors. Most people, though, are not dimwitted enough to engage in such self-deception; they know an error when they see one, and they turn their nose up at your attempt to explain that a patent error is not really an error. So it is your approach that creates Ehrmans, not mine.

            As to your comments and those of JPH that have not been posted, as I said previously, “I generally do not post comments that have nothing of substance to say, as there is no point in doing so.” This ministry is for the edification of people serious about the Bible, and substance-free comments do not edify. I have posted those comments of yours that made a point. JPH’s comments, on the other hand, simply consist of bluster and insults, such as “What a fraud you are, Tors”; “You’re so easy to manipulate. That’s why you’re such a budding cult leader”; “Mouth-foaming assertion, claiming to have used ‘facts and logic’when all you did was make cr*p up”; “better reserve your seat on the apostasy train now”; “typical fundy shimmying”; “What shall we call you? The Cornball of Canada?” Do you really think I SHOULD post such material? The irony is that JPH does not realize how bad it makes him look, so I did him a favour by not posting them.

            Now we come to the final point, Peters, and it is disturbing. You say, “My approach is to point skeptics to the leading scholars on the issue. If they want to say the scholars are wrong, they need to give a better reason than ‘Doesn’t fit with my reading.’” Now, it is passing obvious that I did not simply say “Doesn’t fit with my reading”; I gave reasons for everything I said. You raise the issue of Greco-Roman bios, for example. I denied that the Gospel books are Greco-Roman bios, and I listed nine significant differences between these books and Greco-Roman bios in support of that contention (http://www.truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible-part-2/3/). I did NOT simply say, “Doesn’t fit with my reading”; I gave substantive reasons.

            So we have a problem, Peters. If you honestly couldn’t understand the various reasons I gave for my claims, or even understand that I GAVE reasons, you are lacking even the rudiments of the intellectual apparatus required to be in this discussion.

            If, on the other hand, you are aware of the reasons but ignore them and act as if all I say is “Doesn’t fit with my reading,” you are intellectually dishonest. Which is it, Peters?

          • Nick Peters says:

            In comes John once again!

            Tors: Regarding the “appeal to the audience,” this ministry does not exist for a private debate between you and myself but for edifying those who take the Bible seriously as the inerrant word of God.

            Reply: Yeah. Got it. But of course, it’s more about your looking holy and taking the Bible seriously as the inerrant Word of God. As Francis Beckwith says, if they can’t win with logic, they’ll try to trump with spirituality.

            John: Some of them will be reading these comments and I am teaching them how to respond to those who profess to believe in inerrancy but treat the Gospel books as if they were more Greco-Roman bios, complete with errors. Hence the “appeal to the audience,” as you put it.

            Reply: Sure. Let me know when I refer to them as complete with errors. I know of no error in the accounts. Meanwhile, you’ll actually need to make a case against them being Greco-Roman bioi. “Disagrees with my worldview” is not a sufficient argument.

            John: Talking about π is indeed a moot point, since the Bible doesn’t address the issue of the value of π; I am not sure how you missed that point last time.

            Reply: The point is that many atheist fundamentalists will use the exact same idea of exactitude and argue against the text based on this standard. I reject the standard. It’s a modern one. Why should I treat modern Western ideas as the standard?

            John: Regarding the number of legs insects have, it is not clear what your point is. If you are trying to suggest that the Bible was imprecise or incorrect by speaking of grasshoppers and beetles “that walk on all fours,” you are wrong. In fact, it was MORE precise than we are in this matter; Hebrew names limbs based on function, not form, so that the four legs upon which grasshoppers and beetles walk are called REGEL, and the two used for leaping are called KERA, and described as “legs above the feet.”

            Reply: Not at all. I’m pointing out that the Hebrews did differentiate. You just pointed it out. Things were defined by function instead of form. Moderns look and see an error. Those who study the ancient context know that God was speaking according to the standards of the ancients. The same is done when speaking about the thoughts of one’s heart. We know the heart doesn’t have thoughts, but this isn’t a statement about anatomy.

            John: So the suggestion that the Bible is erroneous or “inexact” to speak of insects having four legs (“Consider also people who say that no insects have four legs”) is nonsense.

            REply; Sure. Let me know when I make that claim.

            John: On the contrary, when the Bible speaks of “every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs (kera) above their feet (regel) with which to leap on the earth,” it is neither incorrect nor inexact; in reality, it is MORE exact than we are. A serious apologist (and one who has learned Hebrew) would have discovered that.

            Reply: So amusing. Missing the point still. Yes. Greater context, including the social and historical context, explains the text more.

            John: But that is the difference between you and me, isn’t it? You are happy simply to accept what seem prima facie to be errors in the Bible. I, on the other, do careful research to find out whether these things are so – and they are NOT errors. That is how SERIOUS apologetics works.

            Reply: Hate to inform you of this, but I read several scholarly books constantly and interview the best in Christian scholarship and apologetics out there. That also means I don’t just agree easily with people. JPH and I disagree on some matters. Mike Licona and I disagree on some matters.

            John: Regarding your repeated appeal to Bart Ehrman’s fall, that seems to be a mantra for you and that group of evangelical scholars you follow: “How did we get Bart Ehrman? We had people who had the case that their entire Christianity would be shipwrecked if they found an error in the Bible.” Not surprisingly, you didn’t really look into Ehrman’s fall, did you? Here is his own testimony (from “Misquoting the Bible”):

            Reply: Yeah. I know about it. By the way, the book is called “Misquoting Jesus.” If you’re going to tell me a reference, could you at least get it right next time?

            John: “We had to write a final term paper on an interpretive crux of our own choosing. I chose a passage in Mark 2…how they went into the Temple ‘when Abiathar was the high priest’…it turns out that David did this not when Abiathar was the high priest, but, in fact, when Abiathar’s fathers Ahimelech was…I developed a long and complicated argument… based on the meaning of the Greek words involved…I was pretty sure Professor Story would appreciate the argument, since I knew him as a good Christian scholar who obviously (like me) would never think there could be anything like a genuine error in the Bible. …. But at the end of my paper he made a simple one-line comment that for some reason went straight through me. He wrote, ‘Maybe Mark just made a mistake.’…I finally concluded, ‘Hmm…maybe Mark did make a mistake.’ Once I made that admission, the floodgates opened. For if there could be one little, picayune mistake in Mark 2, maybe there could be in other places as well…The Bible began to appear to me as a very human book…This was a human book from beginning to end.” (Bart Ehrman, “Misquoting Jesus,” pp.8,9,11)

            Pay careful attention, Peters: Ehrman did NOT fall because he believed in inerrancy; he fell because a trusted scholar told him the Bible has errors in it. It is YOUR circle that does that, not mine. To be sure, you are not as upfront about it as Professor Story was; you try to pretend that errors are not really errors. Most people, though, are not dimwitted enough to engage in such self-deception; they know an error when they see one, and they turn their nose up at your attempt to explain that a patent error is not really an error. So it is your approach that creates Ehrmans, not mine.

            Reply: Sorry, but you’re incorrect. Did Mark make a mistake? No. But here’s the question, why did that answer have such an impact on Ehrman? It was because he’d placed too much emphasis on Inerrancy. That opened up the floodgates. Of course, for him the real clincher was not Inerrancy but the Problem of Evil, but today he’s still a stickler on Inerrancy and he still thinks like the fundamentalist he was back then. Even when he debated Tim McGrew, for the first debate they spent about twenty minutes talking about Inerrancy and McGrew rightfully did not fall for the trap. I know this because I did read “Misquoting Jesus.” I have no problem with teaching Inerrancy and affirming it. I have a problem with treating it as the central doctrine and placing all emphasis on it. I have encountered more than enough people who treat Scripture like an all-or-nothing game.

            John: As to your comments and those of JPH that have not been posted, as I said previously, “I generally do not post comments that have nothing of substance to say, as there is no point in doing so.” This ministry is for the edification of people serious about the Bible, and substance-free comments do not edify. I have posted those comments of yours that made a point. JPH’s comments, on the other hand, simply consist of bluster and insults, such as “What a fraud you are, Tors”; “You’re so easy to manipulate. That’s why you’re such a budding cult leader”; “Mouth-foaming assertion, claiming to have used ‘facts and logic’when all you did was make cr*p up”; “better reserve your seat on the apostasy train now”; “typical fundy shimmying”; “What shall we call you? The Cornball of Canada?” Do you really think I SHOULD post such material? The irony is that JPH does not realize how bad it makes him look, so I did him a favour by not posting them.

            Reply: So you think this will make JPH look bad, but yet you hesitate to post it. Interesting. If I had an opponent and his material made him look bad, I’d be more than happy to share it. Come to TheologyWeb and we’ll let you post whatever you like. Your refusal to post I take as more an admittance that you have nothing to say.

            John: Now we come to the final point, Peters, and it is disturbing. You say, “My approach is to point skeptics to the leading scholars on the issue. If they want to say the scholars are wrong, they need to give a better reason than ‘Doesn’t fit with my reading.’” Now, it is passing obvious that I did not simply say “Doesn’t fit with my reading”; I gave reasons for everything I said. You raise the issue of Greco-Roman bios, for example. I denied that the Gospel books are Greco-Roman bios, and I listed nine significant differences between these books and Greco-Roman bios in support of that contention (http://www.truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible-part-2/3/). I did NOT simply say, “Doesn’t fit with my reading”; I gave substantive reasons.

            Reply: I would be glad to respond to those another time, or you could do what JPH did with Geisler and issue a challenge. Oh wait. That got deleted from Geisler’s Facebook page and the person who put it up banned. If you want to discuss that though, it looks like you’ve already shown you’ll police any remarks. I’d be glad to discuss it at TheologyWeb.com.

            John: So we have a problem, Peters. If you honestly couldn’t understand the various reasons I gave for my claims, or even understand that I GAVE reasons, you are lacking even the rudiments of the intellectual apparatus required to be in this discussion.

            Reply: Or it could be that they weren’t in this post instead.

            John: If, on the other hand, you are aware of the reasons but ignore them and act as if all I say is “Doesn’t fit with my reading,” you are intellectually dishonest. Which is it, Peters?

            Reply: Neither. For one thing, that wasn’t about the genre of the GOspels. It was about the question of composite quotations. That would be you changing the topic suddenly and then bringing my comment over to something different.

            Quite intellectually dishonest don’t you think?

          • John Tors says:

            In order to save time, I will no longer respond to Peters’ repeated assertions of claims that have been discredited. An assertion that does not correspond to the facts and the truth (such as the claim that “Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, who will prepare your way before You” is “written in Isaiah the prophet”) is an error, by definition. To claim that there is such an assertion in the Bible is to say that there is an error of fact in the Bible, by definition. It does not matter how often Nick Peters plays Humpty Dumpty and insists that “error” means just what he says; he does not get to change the definition of the word. So he and his heroes are indeed teaching that there are errors in the Bible, and denying that they are doing so does not change that fact. Peters will continue to deny this obvious fact, but reasonable people know it to be true. Period. End of story.

            Does Peters say ANYTHING in his last comment that merits a response?

            PETERS: “But of course, it’s more about your looking holy and taking the Bible seriously as the inerrant Word of God. As Francis Beckwith says, if they can’t win with logic, they’ll try to trump with spirituality.”

            Here Peters goes into a Holding pattern, resorting to impugning my motives, and asserting that I hold to the Bible as the inerrant word of God in order to look holy. Actually, I hold to the Bible as the inerrant word of God because that is what it is. Second, I have already won with logic, so there would be no need for a Plan B. Third, taking advice from a man who threw away his salvation by embracing the false gospel of Roman Catholicism, as Beckwith has done, simply underscores Peters’ lack of acumen.

            PETERS: “Meanwhile, you’ll actually need to make a case against them being Greco-Roman bioi. ‘Disagrees with my worldview’ is not a sufficient argument.”

            Peters says this in response to my comment in which I pointed out, “You raise the issue of Greco-Roman bios, for example. I denied that the Gospel books are Greco-Roman bios, and I listed nine significant differences between these books and Greco-Roman bios in support of that contention (http://www.truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible-part-2/3/). I did NOT simply say, ‘Doesn’t fit with my reading’; I gave substantive reasons.” Can ANYONE take such a person seriously?

            PETERS: “The point is that many atheist fundamentalists will use the exact same idea of exactitude [of the definition of π]and argue against the text based on this standard. I reject the standard. It’s a modern one. Why should I treat modern Western ideas as the standard?

            Truth as the correspondence to actual facts is not a “modern” standard or a “Western” standard; it is reality. The epistemological relativism for which Peters is shilling, on the other hand, does not correspond to reality.

            And one wonders why Peters keeps appealing to his chimeric straw man of the value of π, since THE BIBLE DOES NOT ADDRESS THE VALUE OF π. Most people would understand that after being told once. So far we have had to tell Peters this three times.

            PETERS: “I’m pointing out that the Hebrews did differentiate [regarding insect legs]. You just pointed it out. Things were defined by function instead of form. Moderns look and see an error. Those who study the ancient context know that God was speaking according to the standards of the ancients.”

            It seems Peters does not even understand how language works. In Hebrew, insects have four “regel” and two “kera,” and that has nothing to do with the “standards of the ancients” but with the meaning of Hebrew words. There is no possibility of an error here, and only truly ignorant “moderns” would “look and see an error.” Once again, Peters is eroding his own credibility.

            But in case there is any lingering doubt about this, Peters goes on to say, “So amusing. Missing the point still. Yes. Greater context, including the social and historical context, explains the text more.” Naturally, Peters makes no attempt to show how “the social and historical context” explains this text, and no wonder, as it doesn’t. This is a matter of vocabulary, not “social and historical context.” Peters REALLY has no place in this discussion.

            PETERS: “Hate to inform you of this, but I read several scholarly books constantly and interview the best in Christian scholarship and apologetics out there.” It is not enough to read books and interview people; one must actually read critically and verify or reject claims based on actual evidence, and Peters shows no indication that he does this. My original take is correct; he is happy simply to accept what seem prima facie to be errors in the Bible.

            Regarding Bart Ehrman, Peters can twist and turn all he likes, but it won’t change the fact that what sent Ehrman to apostasy was a trusted scholar who told him the Bible has errors in it. And it is not me who is doing such a thing; it is those following the approach Peters advocates. Yes, Peters asserts that “I have no problem with teaching Inerrancy and affirming it,” but as we have already seen, his version of “inerrancy” allows for errors in the Bible and so is not “inerrancy” in any meaningful way.

            PETERS: “So you think this will make JPH look bad, but yet you hesitate to post it. Interesting. If I had an opponent and his material made him look bad, I’d be more than happy to share it.” Yes, another indication of the differences between Peters and myself.

            PETERS: “Your refusal to post I take as more an admittance that you have nothing to say.” Inasmuch as my articles and comments are substantive and evidence based, Peters comment is patently untrue, and that is obvious to all readers here. Peters does not seem to understand any better than Holding does that saying things that are patently untrue simply erodes one’s own credibility.

            And, finally, the heart of the matter. I said, “Now we come to the final point, Peters, and it is disturbing. You say, ‘My approach is to point skeptics to the leading scholars on the issue. If they want to say the scholars are wrong, they need to give a better reason than “Doesn’t fit with my reading.”” Now, it is passing obvious that I did not simply say ‘Doesn’t fit with my reading’; I gave reasons for everything I said. You raise the issue of Greco-Roman bios, for example. I denied that the Gospel books are Greco-Roman bios, and I listed nine significant differences between these books and Greco-Roman bios in support of that contention (http://www.truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible-part-2/3/). I did NOT simply say, ‘Doesn’t fit with my reading’; I gave substantive reasons.

            “So we have a problem, Peters. If you honestly couldn’t understand the various reasons I gave for my claims, or even understand that I GAVE reasons, you are lacking even the rudiments of the intellectual apparatus required to be in this discussion.”

            Now, this is important and requires an answer. What do we get from Peters?

            PETERS: “I would be glad to respond to those another time, or you could do what JPH did with Geisler and issue a challenge. Oh wait. That got deleted from Geisler’s Facebook page and the person who put it up banned. If you want to discuss that though, it looks like you’ve already shown you’ll police any remarks. I’d be glad to discuss it at TheologyWeb.com.”

            It is a simple question, but Peters dodges: “I would be glad to respond to those another time.” There is no reason not to respond now, since it was in THIS comments section in which he made those claims, not on TheologyWeb.com. Nor does what may have happened between JPH and Geisler bear in anyway on the question I asked of Peters. There is no reason for him not to answer. Why doesn’t he?

            PETERS’ LAST GAMBIT: “Or it could be that they weren’t in this post instead. …. Neither. For one thing, that wasn’t about the genre of the GOspels. It was about the question of composite quotations. That would be YOU CHANGING THE TOPIC SUDDENLY and then bringing my comment over to something different. Quite intellectually dishonest don’t you think?” [Block capitals added]

            Now, let’s look back at the comments and see exactly who changed to the topic of the genre of the Gospel books. Well, well! It was PETERS, in his comment previous to this one, in which he said: “I also think it’s important to ask if this is an error by ancient standards or our standards. This is the same kind of thinking that says that even though the Gospels are Greco-Roman Bioi, we should be skeptical because they don’t read like modern biographers. Why should we hold the Gospel writers to 21st century standards?”

            So Peters brings up the topic of the genre of the Gospel books, and then claims that I changed the topic when I talked about the genre of the Gospel books. Well, he finally got one thing right; it IS “Quite intellectually dishonest” – but on his part, not mine. The answer he finally offered to my question, “Neither,” is therefore obviously a wrong answer.

  2. J. P. Holding says:

    No, Tors, you miss the point, which is that your bare denials of facts and claims made by reputable scholars isn’t an argument. It’s an admission that you don’t have an argument. There were examples given, and your “responses” did nothing but further expose your serious lack of education.

    That’s the way it is: You’ll twirl up some excuse no matter how cockamamie. Read Nichols’ The Death of Expertise. Your biography is in it.

    I bet this comment never sees light of day. You’re too scared to allow it.

    • John Tors says:

      I am not “scared” to allow your comment, JPH; I generally do not post comments that have nothing of substance to say, as there is no point in doing so. However, since you really seem to want yours posted, here it is.

      It should be noted that what your comment reveals is that the only response you can make to the case I put forth consists of nothing more than bald assertions, ad hominem attacks, and an appeal to accept uncritically the claims of “reputable scholars,” though it seems that only applies to those with whom you agree; as we saw in our article, all you have for scholars who dare to disagree with you is vituperative invective.

      And a word of advice; it is not a good idea to assert that “you don’t have an argument” when it is evident to any reader of my article that every point I made I argued, and that I did so by means of facts and logic. Accordingly, this assertion you made simply hurts your own credibility.

      If in the future you are able to offer substantive responses to my arguments, I would be happy to interact with them. But if all you have are more bald assertions, ad hominem attacks, and the appeal to follow uncritically JPH-approved scholars, there will be no point in expending effort on them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *