Theology Program: Reinventing Jesus

I was just part of a web discussion with these gentleman
presented by the Theology Program. I took some notes. Enjoy.

Reinventing Jesus:
What the DaVinci Code and Other Novels Don’t Tell You

Dr. Dan Wallace, Dr. M.
James Sawyer, Dr. Ed Komoszewski

Amount of Manuscripts

Greek New Testament 1514
(up to this time handwritten manuscripts)

48 Manuscripts through first 4 centuries

10 and 15 manuscripts through 2nd

They’re all fragmentary until the 4th

Generally they say the same thing

No two manuscripts agree exactly. Most mistakes
are easily detectable and scholars can readily dismiss. 99% of them don’t even
affect translation

Geographic Evidence

Spread out over geographic distance and no way
could they be copied because of that

Internal evidence:

Mark 6, 7, 8 (89 verses) Jesus isn’t mentioned
once by name but still center of attention. Several specific places Scribes
added the word Jesus.

The problem with textual criticism is that we
have 110% and trying to cut down the extras.

Marcion had a list but he was a heretic. Then
the Morotorium canon came out 2/3rd of the way through the 2nd
century. Even discussing later books that were considered orthodox though not


3 Criteria for

Were they written by Apostles? (Apostolicity)

Were they Universally Accepted? (Catholicity)

Did what the book say cohere with other books?


How do we know we
have the right books in the NT?

Was not immediately recognized as Scripture.

Distributed then Collected.

At least 20 of the 27 books were always on
orthodox list.

Fringe books were questioned (2 Peter, III John,
Jude, etc).

Council of Nicea in 325 AD: it’s significance
and how it differs in what’s being put forth in those books.

7 years before Nicea

—324 AD Constantine becomes sole ruler.

—Alexander says that Jesus Christ shared same
essential attributes as God the Father: eternality and thus began a big battle
between Alexander and Ireneus.

—325 AD Big discussions had: they already
believed that Jesus was already divine.



Composite Fallacy (combining several mystery
religions and saying it looks like Christianity)

Terminological Fallacy (writing that the mystery
religions talk about the same things as if they’re talking about it in the same
way as Christianity—ie: Zombification versus Resurrection).

Dependency Fallacy (that Christianity depends on
the mystery religions but these mystery religions changed their definitions
after Christianity)

Chronological Fallacy (what’s coming first and
what’s coming later)

Intentional Fallacy (what is the purpose of
these other religions and how does it compare to Christianity).


Early Apologetics

Justin Martyr went too far in terms of
accommodation but he did so to show that making Christianity illegal because of
X that is also in other religions was wrong.

Tertullion went too far the other way saying
there was nothing familiar with Christianity in other religions.


Can we trust the oral

40 years of no documentation but it doesn’t mean the time
was dormant.

The gospel spread early on with extreme
uniformity in the gospel that was spread.

Paul says that he was speaking the same details
of the gospel as those in Jerusalem:
the basic contours of Jesus’ life within 15 and 20 years of Jesus. He was
preaching the same gospel that was even later written down.

No one doubts today that Paul wrote Galatians

The Culture

Today we have a culture that does not memorize.
Up to Printing Press it was all memorization. From Press to Computer was books.
1st Century AD most memorizing culture were the Jews. Strong
emphasis on getting down the details.

Everyone was telling the same story so that
there was an oral check and balance. Continuity from end of Pentecost to end of
first century.


Bowing to Constantine?

These people had limbs cut, nerves seared, etc
by the government.

These people weren’t going to be manipulated
into believing something regardless of
whatever one said.


The Political Climate
of Constantinople

Paul Meyer believes that Constantine was a genuine believer.

Roger Olson thinks Constantine was an Arian and heretic.

A very different world from the one we’re living
in today.


Why there is a need to
know these things

There is a need for people to understand that the originals
are reliable. 20 years ago you could easily argue against Holy Blood and Holy
Grail if you understand the basic historical foundations of your faith. It is
also the best way for you to be prepared with people. We must understand that
there is a historical core to the gospel and Christianity.


People didn’t always go to this convenient quip: “that’s just
your interpretation” which intimates that all interpretations are created

The Incarnation, the idea that God entered space time and
history, demands that we look at the gospel historical as well as the doctrines
and documents. We find ourselves caught off guard when something like the
DaVinci Code comes around but it took us a couple of years to get caught up on
those types of things. There is something wrong when the basic historical background
of these things has been so ignored at the pulpit.



What was Constantine’s
Role During the Council of Nicea?

Vantage Point 1: The Bishops who had assembled
there to discuss the level of Christ’s divinity had been undergoing (for years)
severe persecutions. These bishops wouldn’t recant or change their minds; they
would die before getting bullied. They left the Council of Nicea and functioned
in Pastoral roles. It was not only the Bishops but they were going to preach in
their communities and the Christian community would decide.

Vantage Point 2: There is no way historically to
get to the idea that Constantine
had any real influence save gathering the group together.


Eerdman? Believer or not?

He is a confessed agnostic who recently has
taken a turn in his textual criticism that states we can’t know the historicity
of the biblical text—a position that many textual critics don’t align with.


Comparing the Movie to
the Book

Things were softened in the movie compared to
the book since even liberal scholars (Robert
Price who doesn’t even believe Jesus Christ existed) tore into the factual
errors of the book. Bart Eerdman wrote a book about the DaVinci code pointing
out the nonsensical thing.

“One Liberals and Conservatives agree on
something that deals with Christianity; it’s probably true”

The Movie couldn’t live up to the hype to
everything before it. As a result there were many negative reviews in the West.
The DaVinci hype took a nose dive. The movie let the air out of the balloon but
it did awaken people to a desire to discuss things about Christian Origins.

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