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Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Bible and the Coal Basket

The Bible and the Coal Basket    This is an old post that one never tires of reading!
                                                 
The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains
of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning,
Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old
worn-out Bible. His grandson, who wanted to be just like him,
tried to imitate him in any way he could.

One day the grandson asked, "Papa, I try to read the Bible just
like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand
I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading
the Bible do?" The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal
in the stove and said, "Take this coal basket down to the river
and bring back a basket of water."

The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out
before he could get back to the house. The grandfather laughed
and said, "You will have to move a little faster next time," and
sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time
the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he
returned home.

Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was "impossible to
carry water in a basket," and he went to get a bucket instead.
The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket
of water. You can do this. You're just not trying hard enough," and
he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to
show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the
water would leakout before he got far at all. The boy scooped the
water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket
was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, "See Papa, it's useless!" "So you think
it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket." The boy
looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the
basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it
was clean.

"Son, that's what happens when you read the Bible. You might not
understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will
change you from the inside out. That is the work of God in our
lives. To change us from the inside out and to slowly transform
us into the image of His son.

Take time to read a portion of God's word each day."

Allah vs. the God of the Bible

Allah vs. the God of the Bible

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


An honest and objective reading of both the Quran and the Bible reveals a significant clash between the two both in terms of how to conceptualize God, as well as in their respective depictions of the behavior of deity. Allah says and does things that the God of the Bible did not and would not say or do. The Quran’s representation of the sovereignty of God (like Calvinism) contradicts the character of God by attributing actions to Him that are unlike deity.
For example, the Quran repeatedly represents God, on the occasion of the creation of Adam, requiring the angels/djinn to bow down and worship this first human. All do so with the exception of Iblis (i.e., Satan), who refuses to do so on the grounds that Adam was a mere mortal:
Verily We created man of potter’s clay of black mud altered, and the Jinn did We create aforetime of essential fire. And (remember) when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am creating a mortal out of potter’s clay of black mud altered, so, when I have made him and have breathed into him of My spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him. So the angels fell prostrate, all of them together save Iblis. He refused to be among the prostrate. He said: O Iblis! What aileth thee that thou art not among the prostrate? He said: Why should I prostrate myself unto a mortal whom Thou hast created out of potter’s clay of black mud altered? He said: Then go thou forth from hence, for verily thou art outcast. And lo! the curse shall be upon thee till the Day of Judgement (Surah 15:26-35, emp. added; cf. 2:34; 7:11-12; 17:61; 18:51; 20:116; 38:72-78).
This characterization of deity is completely unacceptable. This one incident alone illustrates that Allah is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible simply would not do what the Quran says He did. Numerous Bible verses convey the complete impropriety—even blasphemy—that the worship of a mere human constitutes. Humans are forbidden to worship other humans (Acts 10:25-26; 14:14-15). Humans are forbidden to worship angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). And, most certainly, angels are not to worship mere humans. The Law of Moses declared that worship is to be directed to God (Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20). When Satan tempted Jesus, and Satan urged Jesus to worship him, Jesus quoted the deuteronomic declaration from the Law of Moses, and then added His own divine commentary: “and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10, emp. added). No one, and no thing, is the rightful object of worship—except deity!
Interestingly enough, Satan’s reasoning as reported in the Quran was actually biblical and right. Satan recognized that not only should angels not worship humans, but in view of his own angelic condition, Adam occupied a status that was beneath his own accelerated, celestial existence—a fact affirmed by the Bible: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5; cf. Hebrews 2:9). The Quranic depiction of God ordering Iblis/Satan to worship Adam is a serious breach of divine propriety and a further indication of the Quran’s conflict with the Bible. [Once again, the Quran appears to have been influenced by Jewish sources, since the Talmudists also represent the angels as bestowing special attention and honor on Adam (Sanhedrin 29; Midrash Rabbah on Genesis, paragraph 8)].





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Mark 16:9-20

The Strongest Argument Against Mark 16:9-20

The authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 has been the focus of much analysis and discussion over the years among textual critics and Bible scholars. While the academic interest of settling a fine point of textual criticism has been much belabored, it is important to recognize that the verses contain no teaching of significance that is not taught elsewhere. Christ’s post-resurrection appearance to Mary is verified elsewhere (Luke 8:2; John 20:1-18), as is His appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:35), and His appearance to the eleven apostles (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23). The “Great Commission” is presented by two of the other three Gospel writers (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-48), with both belief and baptism elsewhere pinpointed as prerequisites to salvation (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 22:16; et al.). Luke verifies the ascension twice (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). The promise of the signs that were to accompany the apostles’ activities is hinted at by Matthew (28:20), noted by the Hebrews writer (2:3-4), explained in greater detail by John (chapters 14-16; cf. 14:12), and demonstrated by the events of the book of Acts (see McGarvey, 1875, pp. 377-378). So, in one sense, the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 as it relates to knowing, with certainty, God’s will for our lives is superfluous. [NOTE: For a fuller discussion of the genuinness of Mark 16:9-20, see Miller, 2005.]
In ascertaining the genuineness of a textual variant, several factors are taken into consideration. The external evidence of age and geographical diversity of Greek manuscripts, ancient versions, and patristic citations are examined. Internal evidence is also weighed, taking into account transcriptional and intrinsic probabilities. The latter criterion centers on the style and vocabulary of the author in the book, as well as the usage of the author elsewhere and in the gospel accounts (cf. Metzger, 1978, pp. 209ff.).

Non-Markan Style?

The most persuasive piece of evidence that prompts some textual scholars to discount Mark 16:9-20 as genuine is the internal evidence. Though the Alands conceded that the “longer Marcan ending” actually “reads an absolutely convincing text” (1987, p. 287), in fact, the internal evidence weighs more heavily than the external evidence in the minds of many of those who support omission of the verses. Observe carefully the following definitive pronouncement of this viewpoint—a pronouncement that simultaneously concedes the strength of the external evidence in favor of the verses:
On the other hand, the section is no casual or unauthorised [sic] addition to the Gospel. From the second century onwards, in nearly all manuscripts, versions, and other authorities, it forms an integral part of the Gospel, and it can be shown to have existed, if not in the apostolic, at least in the sub-apostolic age. A certain amount of evidence against it there is (though very little can be shown to be independent of Eusebius the Church historian, 265-340 A.D.), but certainly not enough to justify its rejection, were it not that internal evidence clearly demonstrates that it cannot have proceeded from the hand of St. Mark (Dummelow, 1927, p. 73, emp. added).
Listen also to an otherwise conservative scholar express the same sentiment: “If these deductions are correct the mass of MSS [manuscripts—DM] containing the longer ending must have been due to the acceptance of this ending as the most preferable. But internal evidence combines with textual evidence to raise suspicions regarding this ending” (Guthrie, 1970, p. 77, emp. added). Alford took the same position: “The internal evidence...will be found to preponderate vastly against the authorship of Mark” (1844, 1:434, emp. added). Even Bruce Metzger admitted: “The long ending, though present in a variety of witnesses, some of them ancient, must also be judged by internal evidence to be secondary” (p. 227, emp. added).
So, in the minds of not a few scholars, if it were not for the internal evidence, the external evidence would be sufficient to establish the genuineness of the verses. What precisely, pray tell, is this internal evidence that is so powerful and weighs so heavily on the issue as to prod scholars to “jump through hoops” in an effort to discredit the verses? What formidable data exists that could possibly prompt so many to discount all evidence to the contrary?
Scholars direct attention to “the presence of 17 non-Marcan words or words used in a non-Marcan sense” (Metzger, p. 227). Alford made the same allegation over a century earlier: “No less than seventeen words and phrases occur in it (and some of them several times) which are never elsewhere used by Mark—whose adherence to his own peculiar phrases is remarkable” (p. 438). The reader is urged to observe carefully the implicit assumption of those who reject verses 9-20 on such a basis: If the last 12 verses of a document employ words and expressions (whether one or 17?) that are not employed by the writer previously in the same document, then the last 12 verses of the document are not the product of the original writer. Is this line of thinking valid?
Over a century ago, in 1869, John A. Broadus provided a masterful evaluation (and decisive defeat) of this very contention (pp. 355-362). Using the Greek text that was available at the time produced by Tregelles, Broadus examined the 12 verses that precede Mark 16:9-20 (i.e., 15:44-16:8)—verses whose genuineness are above reproach—and applied precisely the same test to them. Incredibly, he found in the 12 verses preceding 16:9-20 exactly the same number of words and phrases (17) that are not used previously by Mark! The words and their citations are as follows: tethneiken (15:44), gnous apo, edoreisato, ptoma (15:45), eneileisen, lelatomeimenon, petpas, prosekulisen (15:46), diagenomenou, aromata (16:1), tei mia ton sabbaton (16:2), apokulisei (16:3), anakekulistai, sphodra (16:4), en tois dexiois (16:5), eichen (in a peculiar sense), and tromos (16:8). The reader is surely stunned and appalled that textual critics would wave aside verses of Scripture as counterfeit and fraudulent on such fragile, flimsy grounds.
Writing a few years later, J.W. McGarvey applied a similar test to the last 12 verses of Luke, again, verses whose genuineness, like those preceding Mark 16:9-20, are above suspicion (1875, pp. 377-382). He found nine words that are not used by Luke elsewhere in his book—four of which are not found anywhere else in the New Testament! Yet, once again, no textual critic or New Testament Greek manuscript scholar has questioned the genuineness of the last 12 verses of Luke. Indeed, the methodology that seeks to determine the genuineness of a text on the basis of new or unusual word use is a concocted, artificial, unscholarly, nonsensical, pretentious—and clearly discredited—criterion.

CONCLUSION

For the unbiased observer, this matter is settled: the strongest piece of internal evidence mustered against the genuineness of Mark 16:9-20 is no evidence at all. Consequently, the reader of the New Testament may possess far more confidence that these verses are original than is typically given by current textual critics.

REFERENCES

Aland, Kurt and Barbara Aland (1987), The Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Alford, Henry (1844), Alford’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 1980 reprint.
Broadus, John A. (1869), “Exegetical Studies,” The Baptist Quarterly, [3]:355-362, July.
Dummelow, J.R., ed. (1927), A Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York, NY: MacMillan).
Guthrie, Donald (1970), New Testament Introduction (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, third edition).
McGarvey, J.W. (1875), The New Testament Commentary: Matthew and Mark (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Metzger, Bruce M. (1978 reprint), The Text of the New Testament (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, second edition).
Miller, Dave (2005), “Is Mark 16:9-20 Inspired?” Reason & Revelation, 25[12]:89-95, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=572&article=433.



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