Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Biblical Scholars

This is a reference for my own convenience that I will update as and when. Occasionally when debating with Christians they cite some obscure people, and I have to do some research to find out who they are, what their beliefs are, etc.

I debate with Joe Hinman a lot, and he frequently cites various theologians, but as he is dyslexic, his spellings are erratic, so it is useful just to know the real spellings of these names.

To save me repeating that effort, I will record the results here. If they have decent Wiki writes, there is little more than a link to that. So far all the scholars listed are Christians born before the end of WW2.


David Hendrick van Daalen (1919-???)

There is a quote popularised by WL Craig by van Daalen, from Real Resurrection:
It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions
Why is van Daalen quoted as such an authority? I struggled to find much at all about David H. van Daalen (hence this post), however, it looks like was originally born in Haarlem, Netherlands, was a minister in Reformed churches over there before moving to England, as a Presbyterian minister, moving to Harrington, Cumberland (now Cumbria) in 1970. He has published a handful of books on theology. This review of The Kingdom of God is Like This gives some details, the rest are from the flycover of his book.

That is all well and good; most Christians believe the empty tomb as fact. However, somewhere along the way this quote by van Daalen is becoming mythology. First, the quote itself has changed. This is what van Daalen actually said (with bits Craig missed or got wrong in bold):
Nevertheless it would be extremely difficult to object to the grave story on purely historical grounds. Even if we assumed that it served the purpose if checking an incipient grave cult, that would not explain how the story arose in the first place.
A Google search for "it is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds" gives 288 hits, compared to zero for the actual quote, which gives an insight into how Christians fail to verify facts. Clearly Craig has copied down the quote wrongly, and I imagine has added his own comment at the end, and then later mistakenly added that to the quote, and some 200 Christians, have just assumed he got it right, and blindly repeated it.

I appreciate the meaning of the quote is not changed, but good scholarship does require that a quote be an exact copy of the original, not a paraphrase.

We can also see van Daalen morphing into a skeptic:
In the words of New Testament critic D. H. Van Daalen,
http://www.christcommunitycu.com/2013/12/12/role-of-women-in-the-discovery-of-the-empty-tomb/

Skeptic D. H. Van Daalen has pointed out,
https://chab123.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/atheists-and-skeptics-weigh-on-the-death-and-resurrection-of-jesus/

Because of the strong evidence for the empty tomb, most recent scholars do not deny it. D.H. Van Daalen has said
https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection

Actually van Daalen was a Christian, not a skeptic or critic of the NT and I for one would not call 1972 recent...

This is, as far as I know, a comprehensive list of his books.

A shorter commentary on Romans (1959)
The Real Resurrection (1972)
Paul's doctrine of justification and its Old Testament roots (1973)
The Kingdom of God is Like This (1976)
A Guide to Revelation (1986)
A Guide to Galatians (1990)

A further quote (p46):
The New Testament does not supply the material for the historial approach to the resurrection. It simple does not provide the evidence necessary to establish the resurrection of Chhrist as an historical event.

Jakob Kremer (1925-2010)

Kremer is much like van Daalen. Both were ordained, in his case as a Catholic priest, and both are known today because of a single quote made popular by WL Craig, and again taken from a book over 40 years old. Kremer's quote is from Die Osterevangelien--Geschichten um Geschichte (1977):
By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb.
Kremer is important enough to warrant his own Wiki page (in German; link to the translation), so one up on van Daalen. Looks like he was fairly liberal, rejecting fundamentalism.

Today, like van Daalen, he is pretty much forgotten besides that one quote popularised by Craig.

There is some evidence to suggest he later rejected the empty tomb, but it is rather suspect, and I have been unable to confirm it; currently I would say that this is not true.
https://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer/P80/jacob-kremer-on-jesus-empty-tomb

Kremer was born in Germany, and was a professor at Aachen Seminey until 1968. In 1972 he became a professor at the University of Vienna, dyng in Vienna in 2010. Craig and his followers describe Kremer as "an Austrian specialist on the resurrection," but it looks like he was German.

He also gets described as "a New Testament critic who has specialized in the study of the resurrection", by Craig here, which is quite a reach for an ordained priest. Craig seems to call him Jacob as often as Jakob.


Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976)


A German, but anti-Nazi, Bultmann was a member of the Confessing Church; a liberal Christian. More here.


J├╝rgen Moltmann (1926-)


Another German, another liberal Christian (German reformed). More here.


Raymond E Brown (1928-1998)

An American Catholic and professor, Brown was known for his work on John. More here. He wrote The Death of the Messiah (two volumes), in which (among other things) he expresses his belief that the Gospel of Peter was written by an author who had heard the other gospels, but did not have them to hand, so was repeating from memory. He also makes clear his belief that the guards in the tomb were made up.

These quotes are all from The Death of the Messiah vol 2.

After working with the table and lists above (...), I am convinced that one explanation makes better sense of the relationship between GPet and the canonical Gospels than any other. I doubt that the author of GPet had any written Gospel before him, although he was familiar with Matt because he had read it carefully in the past and/or heard it read several times in community worship on the Lord's Day, so that it gave the dominant shaping to his thoughts.
- pages 1334-35

I have argued that Matt broke up a consecutive guard-at-the-sepulcher story to interweave it with the women-at-the-tomb story, while GPet preserved the original consecutive form of the guard story. That does not mean, however, that the GPet story is more original. ... While I disagree firmly with Crossan's contention that much of the GPet passion account antedated the canonical passion accounts...
- pages 1305-06

Yet there is a major argument against historicity that is impressive indeed. Not only do the other Gospels not mention the guard at the sepulcher, but the presence of the guard there would make what they narrate about the tomb almost unintelligible. The three other Gospels have women come to the tomb on Easter, and the only obstacle to their entrance that is mentioned is the stone. ... There are other internal implausibilities in Matt's account (e.g., that the Jewish authorities knew the words of Jesus about the resurrection and understood them, when his own disciples did not; that the guards could lie successfully about the astounding heavenly intervention); ....
- pages 1311-12


John Dominic Crossan (1934-)


An Irish Catholic and former priest (more here), Crossan is notable for his rejection of the burial of Jesus, claiming it is more likely he was eaten by crows and dogs. He claims there was a "cross gospel" that pre-dates the canonical gospels, and is the basis for the Gospel of Peter.

His views are not generally accepted.


Francis Wright Beare (1902-1986)


Beare is notable to me because of this quote, on the Early Christian Writings web site, from  The Gospel according to Matthew:
It is generally agreed that it was written after the fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Titus (AD 70), and the widespread acquaintance with it which is exhibited in all the Christian literature of the second century makes it difficult to place its composition any later than the opening decade of that century. If the Sermon on the Mount can be regarded in any sense as 'the Christian answer to Jamnia. . . a kind of Christian mishnaic counterpart to the formulation taking place there' (Davies, Setting, p. 315), this would indicate a date a few years before or after the turn of the century.
Besides that he was a clergyman from Ontario, Canada, I have not found much about him at all. He has no Wiki page.


Luke Timothy Johnson (1943-)

I know Johnson from the Early Christian Writings web site too, where we find this quote from The Acts of the Apostles.
Such theories are demanded only if Luke is regarded as the sort of historian whose main purpose is factual completeness and accuracy. In fact, however, we have seen that everywhere Luke's account is selected and shaped to suit his apologetic interests, not in defiance of but in conformity to ancient standards of historiography. The questions are generated as well by the presumption that it is Paul's fate which most concerns Luke, and a failure to clearly indicate his end demands an explanation. But in fact, we have seen that Luke's argument involves far more than Paul's personal destiny. As important as Paul is to Luke and as dominant as he has been in the second half of Acts, he remains for Luke ultimately only another in a series of prophetic figures through whom God's message of salvation is brought to the people.
Johnson is (or was?) a Benedictine monk and Catholic priest, from the US. He has a Wiki page.


Henry Joel Cadbury (1883–1974)

Cadbury is famous (so the Early Christian Writings web site assures us) for: "Cadbury earned his doctorate by depriving Luke of his", i.e., Cadbury showed the supposed evidence that Luke was a physician is nonsense.

Cadbury was an American and a Quaker. Wiki.


Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)

A Protestant German scholar and expert on Luke, also cited by the Early Christian Writings web site. Wiki.

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