Ken Ham: the lie – a review

Ham, Ken. The Lie: Evolution/Millions of Years. Green Forest, AR: Master books, 1987. Revised Edition, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2012.

I first encountered Ken Ham’s The Lie: Evolution when I was a Freshman or Sophmore in Bible College. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and found it to be incredibly useful. It affected my understanding of Biblical Creationism and though Ham did not use the term in the original edition, it was my first real introduction to presuppositional case-making (see on the term “presuppositional”). In the time since that first reading, I have grown and my thinking deepened, the new expanded and revised edition of The Lie has likewise deepened and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Analysis: Ham’s revision updates the book for its appropriateness to today’s issues. This work is not a scientific analysis as one sees from Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box or Luther Sunderland’s Darwin’s Enigma, nor should it be a substitute for these works. Rather, this book focuses on interpretational issues, and why Genesis matters. In discussing the issue of Evolution, the influence of philosophical naturalism is felt on what Ham refers to as “historical science,” as opposed to “operational science” (which appears to be the science based on the scientific method that we are familiar with from our high school textbooks). The Lie demonstrates how evolution and the concept of “millions of years,” “molecules to man,” “Goo to you,” etc. is the primary foundation for the attack on Christianity by the modern world.

One thing that I thoroughly enjoyed was the updated castle diagram. While I agree with Ken Ham’s assertions about the centrality of Genesis to Christian teaching and the importance of defending the creation accounts (since this is the chief offensive strategy of the modern pagan worldview), I have long viewed the resurrection as the central evidentiary foundation for Christianity (our positive case) and creation science as a point where we are being attacked (a negative case). Ham’s updated diagram (which still focuses on the modern theory of millions of years) demonstrates his argument applies to all of God’s truth, and presents a point of unification for multiple apologetic strategies. One could truly apply his discussion to more than the assault on God’s prerogative as Creator, and it becomes therefore more useful to understand for all areas of case making.

Conclusions: Ham’s book alone is insufficient for answering the attacks by Philosophical Naturalists. However, Ham provides a strategy for understanding the issue as no other writer today. This is absolutely a must read for all believers, and is perhaps the first book that all believers should read on this debate because of the strategy and its explanation of the importance of the issue. Because Ham roots his discussion in the Biblical worldview, his message is sorely needed for understanding the importance of Genesis.

42 thoughts on “Ken Ham: the lie – a review

  1. If you make Genesis central to Christian teaching, you do so at extreme peril and I offer a brief example to illustrate. In Genesis 1, birds were created on day five while man was created on day six. Genesis chapter two, which is taken to be a more detailed account of the events of day six, has man created first, then the animals are created and brought to Adam to be named, and finally the woman is created. There is, of course, a reason why this is so (Chapter 1 is a litany from the period of the Babylonian Vacation and chapter 2 is from the Yahwist source written just after the division of the northern and southern kingdoms) but if Genesis is taken to be historical then the seam between the two chapters becomes important.

    • Actually the so called discrepencies between Genesis 1 and 2 are translation issues. The Hebrew uses the same form for all past tenses, but this was not fully understood at a previous points. Translations are not as precise as I wish they were – some past tenses in Genesis 2 should be pluperfects.

      • It is difficult to see how playing with tenses would avoid the problem of sea animals and birds bracketed within the day five sequence, with more animals and humans bracketed within the day six sequence. I’m sure in a future reply you will elucidate, and I will be interested to hear your thoughts.

      • I may do an article on this one, even a lot of pastor’s have a tougher time with Hebrew than Greek because Semitic languages are so different from Indo-European ones (and I do not consider myself an expert, though I understand it better than many).

        Suffice it to say, the distinction in day five and six is really not a serious problem in and of itself – unless one assumes ahead of time a pattern. Genesis 2:19 (I gather this is the point of your contention) uses a verbal form that can be translated as something that comes before the current point in the narrative or as a continuation of the narrative, given the overriding context. Given the structure of the second account appears to be a telescopic reference to what happened on day 6 (with day 7 functioning as a capstone in a fashion that is distinct, but similar to the locations of the genealogies in Genesis – Whenever a geneology appears we see a change in focus in the principle human being God is relating to, this incidentally would appear to fit within Genesis’ theological purpose of noting the history of the dispute between God and Man, something we find in comparing the structure of the Decalogue to Hittite Suzerainty treaties), then the context would indicate additional information is being given (ie that animals like man came from the Ground), but that the actual action took place beforehand. (i.e. on day 5 and 6).

      • In other words 2:18 is not teaching that the animals were created when God declared Adam’s need for a helper who pertained to him, it is a reference to the fact that God had made the animals (previous in an indetermined past whether day 5 or day 6) and now he was bringing them too Adam to be named, it does not imply that the creation of animals was somehow related to Human marriage.

        What I believe God did in this pericope is pretty simple, God showed Adam that His natural order included a male and a female of each kind, corresponding to each other (a male and female of each archetype). In naming these archetypes, Adam would begin to realize through induction His own unique aloneness so that when woman was brought to Him in marriage, he would begin with an experiential understanding of her value (this indeed is what Adam expresses at the end of the chapter – this (as opposed to what came before) is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh, she shall be called Ishah (Feminine) because she was taken out of Ish (masculine). Though my exegesis might be a little influenced by my own experience – I married late in life, and my view of my wife is greatly influenced by this kind of process.

  2. If this is to be the tenor of your defense, you will run into another difficulty when you encounter Genesis 2:5, which in the NIV reads thus: “Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground,” Only after the man is created (presumably on day six) did God “make all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”. And since these plants were not brought forward to Adam to be named, no case can be made to say they were previously created and introduced to Adam later without twisting the text to destruction.

    • Actually this isn’t anymore of an issue, 2:5 moves to an earlier point in the narrative. This section is intended to introduce something we don’t see in chapter 1 – God’s personal actions (coming down as a mist, starting presumably after the creation of dry land just as the Spirit previously hovered over the waters). The text focuses not on the creation of plant life later, but on the creation more specifically of a garden for Adam to inhabit, so yes, the green things were created previously, but the plant life in verse 9 was arranged in a pattern conducive to Adam’s existence, enjoyment and testing – the reference to the tree in the midst of the garden indicates that this is a more specific reference to a given locale.

      • One of the real distinctions to keep in mind in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 is not merely the growth in defining information, but it also expresses the Christian assumption that God is both Immanent and Transcendent – Chapter 1 focusing on transcendent cosmology, chapter 2 on His care and Immanence to man.

      • Unfortunately for the YEC, the text clearly says, ” This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created” and not the account of solely the creation of the Garden. Genesis is proposed to be taught as an alternative to the scientific world-view of creation, but when a scientific claim is found to contradict the evidence, it is discarded (this is part of the method established by Galileo). When a biblical claim is found to contradict other biblical claims, it is not discarded, but an attempt to harmonize it is made by various methods such narrowing the scope of the claim as you are doing here in Genesis 2. This is precisely why we say there can be no such thing as creation science.

      • Actually the passage you refer to goes with the previous section (Genesis 1) not Genesis 2. Its the closing of a preamble. This should be obvious since no discussion of the creation of the heavens or the world itself is made in Genesis 2.

        As to Scriptural methodology that’s not precisely correct. But again you are assuming Christians begin with innerrancy. This is actually incorrect, we start with the resurrection, forgive me but discussing inspiration or exegetical technique with one who is not a believer is similar to discussing the influence of Versaille on World 2 with a toddler – they have a lot of things they need to understand first. I woild say most alleged contradictions in Scripture are typically related to long term misunderstandings of a text – whst is really contradicted is our poor understanding.

  3. Your claim that Genesis 2:4 should be grouped with the verses of Genesis 1 is very interesting, since in Genesis 2:4 we find the very first use of the tetragrammaton, which is not used in the priestly source, but is found throughout the Yahwhist, which is why nearly every scholar who can read Hebrew holds the second creation story to begin with that verse, and makes no claim that it really terminates the first one, which by the way would make Genesis 2:5 the first verse of the closer examination of the events of Day Six, and reading it as such, it begins too abruptly.

    • Wellhausen is highly speculative and is being abandoned even by the left. Its biggest issue is that it is founded on a misunderstanding of Hebrew poetry . Given finds of the Hittite Suzerainty treaties, a fifteenth century date for the Torah is almost certain.

      Either way identifying what is in hypothetical source documents is an rather bald assertion based on your previous reply.

      • I rather thought that grouping the verses based on the name used for God was sufficient explanation to support my counterclaim that the second creation story begins in Genesis 2:4, but I see that it is not. So please cite a scholar who accepts that Genesis 2 consists of a “telescoping” of Day Six but also considers verse 4 to be the end of the preamble of the first chapter.

  4. Reading Gleason Archer, I find him to be a man after my own heart.

    “Moses never intended the creative days to be understood as a mere twenty-four hours in length, and the information he included in chapter 2 logically precludes us from doing so. It is only by a neglect of proper hermeneutical methods that this impression ever became prevalent among God’s people, during the post-biblical era. Entirely apart from any findings of modern science or challenges of contemporary scientism, the twenty-four hour theory was never correct and should never have been believed – except by those who are bent on proving the presence of genuine contradictions in Scripture” — (Gleason Archer, quoted from “Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible,” International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, Summit II (1982), Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Prues, editors (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1984), 329.)

    • Actually, Gleason archer wasn’t being listed a source, the evening service was about to start and I was putting my phone away. What I was about to say is that Gleason Archer is a good starting point to understand the conservative rejection of the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis in the Old Testament, and a fifteenth century date for the Torah.

      Graf-Welhausen is sort of another example of the same phenomenon I’m discussing with evolution as applied to texts, along with the documentary hypothesis in the gospels and the now defunct Bauer Hypothesis, Bultmann’s work with New Testament communities, etc. All three are basically an attempt to impose the Hegelian Dialectic on the text (in at least Wellhausen’s case at least, along with a heavy dose of Social Darwinism inserted into his epistemology), and whatever source documents are needed to make the system work are created out of thin air; the logic of the dialectic is the primary evidence in favor of these systems.

      My work on Genesis 1 and 2 was a decade and a half ago, and some of it was in discussions with profs in seminary. The term telescoping came from a discussion by Randy Jaeggli, I believe in second semester of first year Hebrew as an application of the translational praxis we were applying, Genesis 1-3 was I believe part of the section we translated during that period. Additional discussions have occurred with Robert Bell in a class on the Pentatuch, and a lot of time with researching in Mack Library.

      As to Archer’s view, I actually experimented with a variation of this myself – there was a point where I was positing that the days of creation are actually a discussion of the “order of decrees” as it related the creation of the universe. I’ve since found three serious issues with the exegesis – the first is the juxtposition of day one with the evening morning dynamic, which would tend to mitigate the metaphorical uses of the term Yom – any attempt to argue these are not literal days, in my judgement must come up with a cogent argument to answer this particular issue. The second is with the connection between day and light after day one – this tends to mitigate the argument for a distance between the decree and the occurrence. The third is the sheer ingenuity of the arrangement – I came up with the material myself, it was late and I was tired, but I realized that this, along with Millard Erikson (an Evangelical who accepts theistic evolution, but argues for a literal Adam and Eve, along with a local Flood) would as a consequence make theistic evolution possible within Christian theology.

      Where I differ from Archer, Erikson and others is my work with the definition of religion, and further work that derived from this into the relationship between theology and philosophy – questions I can’t find anyone else who has really addressed elsewhere, this is sort of the first trial balloon on about a decade of thinking refining and developing these ideas. Their viewpoints are what this series of articles was intended to address. Ironically, and perhaps inevitably given the history I’ve had with blogging, the core audience of this blog (Evangelicals) are less engaged than those who are not Evangelicals.

  5. For what it is worth, in researching for my reply in this thread, I fell back on Harold Bloom’s “Book of J” where he strips the Yahwist source out of the Torah to present it in all its glory, and he begins with Genesis 2:5, so I must concede the point, because I acknowledge his ability to translate the Hebrew and discern where P ends. However, in some versions of the Bible, verse 2:4 is broken into “a” and “b” sub-clauses and presumably the two accounts are taken to be divided within the verse.

    • J and P are part of the Graf Wellhausen “Documentary hypothesis.” The religious left hasn’t completely abandoned the concept, though they are moving in that direction (largely they haven’t come up with a hypothesis to replace it). For this to work one would first need to prove that J actually existed.

      Genesis 2:4 is an example of Hebrew Poetry, the a b might be defining the parallel line structure.

  6. Bloom (following Wellhausen) argues that J was dated around 950 BCE, and attributes it to a literate female in the court of Rehoboam partly because of the very strong female characters that appear in Genesis and Exodus (think of how Judah comes off looking like a fool in the face of Tamar’s machinations). I find that intriguing, naturally, but archaeology doesn’t show Judah coming into significant power until the time of Hezekiah (coinciding with the collapse of Israel to the north) so Rehoboam was at best a tribal chieftain over perhaps 25 settlements. I find it difficult to picture J as an idle noblewoman in that event. But Wellhausen’s work is well entrenched as a framework for modern biblical studies and your claim that even the left is abandoning the JEDP thing strikes me as similar to attacks on “Darwinism” made by those who fail to realize the paradigm has itself evolved into the neo-Darwinian synthesis.

    • Actually, I do realize that Neo-Darwinianism is significantly different that what has come before – en-darwinian . Again, my issue is not with change, it is with the epistemological underpinnings. You might define Creationism as distinct from evolution based on its starting point (we assume a larger number of archtypes), the direction of change (we see change as predominantly negative rather than progressive). I would also not call Creationism a scientific hypothesis – remember my case is that evolution is an element of religious naturalism, and most religious naturalists happen to be poor at recognizing their own bias or that their beliefs are religious in nature.

      Wellhausen has always been controversial (particularly with Evangelicals – including evangelicals who accept the Mark/Q hypothesis for the gospels), you’re difficulty picturing it is part of the problem – there is a lot of imagination, speculation and very little actual evidence to support the theory and what evidence they do use inevitably is insufficient; its sort of like the various attempts among the religious left in the various “quests for the historical Jesus” – their approach inevitably comes up with same flaws (they select an arbitrary criteria for judging which texts they consider to be authentic, they then interpolate heavily to fill in the holes in the theory, etc., often after decrying previous attempts to handle the same evidence), and the “historical Jesus” discovered inevitably looks like the writer’s previously held philosophical beliefs. Archeological evidence often has multiple valid ways in which it can be interpreted. Its what we could call the myth of the unbiased interpreter – the moment you commit to a theory you have inherited a bias, and the question becomes one of being objective. Bultmann is a good example of this – he spent a hundred pages in his NT Theology detailing some communities of faith that we have no evidence even existed, and there is no evidence for Christian Gnosticism before AD 85 – later if you are a liberal (since the first reference to something that is definitively Gnostic is 1 John, previous theories can equally be understood to fit the Ebionites).

      Graf-Welhausen is almost (not completely) a canary – evangelicals generally reject it (though a few do not), and pretty much always have. Its still entrenched in the liberal seminary structure but that seems to be more of a default. I’ve seen notes by leftist theologians stating they are looking for an alternative, but they haven’t really come up with something that gets enough support to be a viable replacement.

      Like I said, its on the way out, its getting questioned, but I didn’t say its not entrenched in the left of center seminary system. Of course, part of that is they haven’t been able to come up with another theory.

      If you want to understand the conservative view on this, start with Gleason Archer’s introduction to the Old Testament, its not the end all be all, but its the standard starting point for evangelical seminaries.

  7. The position I’m coming from is that the texts that make up the scriptures were written by human beings, not God, and human beings have a tendency to write with an agenda. And so when I read the book of Acts and find that James is hardly mentioned at all, until chapter 15 when he suddenly stands up and renders the final decision for the Council of Jerusalem, I see a case where the role of James (who was the actual successor of Jesus, not Peter) is almost entirely written out of history except in the place where the author could not get away with it. And it seems to me that this would have suited Paul to a tee, especially after the big blowup in Antioch when Barnabas sided with Peter against Paul on the issue of eating with gentiles, which was the last time Paul had any interaction with the mainline Jerusalem church. These political considerations form part of my basis for accepting the authenticity of a section of scripture.

    • Actually, you are admitting the point I am making here – your view of the evidence is affected by your assumptions. My conclusions about the Bible is divine/human authorship (God wrote the Bible through men, using their natural abilities, styles etc). The difference is that this isn’t my starting point, its a conclusion (to put it another way, I am not an evangelical because I believe in inspiration, I believe in inspiration because I am an Evangelical).

      That’s why I discuss the positive case for Christ (as is true with a number of Christian apologists), the question with the positive case is one of historical reliability. As I noted, an archeologist named William Ramsey proved Acts was a historian of the first rank (by which he means I suspect Tacitus and Josephus). His initial work was done before he was a believer. (I discuss it in further detail at http://apologiafides.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/the-positive-case-for-christ-acts-1-liberals-zip/).

      As to Paul and James/Paul and Barnabus, sounds like a variation on the Bauer hypothesis. The problem is that 1 Corinthians (which is accepted even by most liberal scholars as Pauline – rejection of the authenticity of 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Romans) was written after the split (mid fifties), but his comments about Peter are generally positive. While the blowup in Acts 15 was certainly a big problem at the time, I would suggest that Paul and Barnabus split was settled amicably, but more importantly, this is an argument in favor of the the authenticity of acts on the basis of the criteria of embarrassment (http://apologiafides.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/positive-case-for-christ-internal-evidences-the-character-witnesses-of-the-gospels/) – the tendency of a fraud is to ingore the feet of clay of those he is advocating for.

      Lightfoot noted something about Galatians in reponse to the Bauer hypothesis, that I believe applies equally well here: “. It Presents not indeed a colourless uniformity of feeling and opinion, but a far higher and more instructive harmony, the general agreement amidst some lesser differences and some human failing, of men animated by the same divine Spirit and working together for the same hallowed purpose, fit inmates of that Father’s house in which are many mansions.”

  8. Since I do not make the assumption that everything Paul said was “from the Lord” I am free to see that he was making an emotional outburst by asserting that Peter and Barnabas were compelling the Gentiles to live like the Jews simply by getting up from their table and reclining at the table that was guaranteed kosher. It makes no rational sense. Paul mis-interpreted it as shunning when all Peter wanted to do was sit with James, since James certainly would not under any circumstances eat non-kosher food, and it is ironic in the face of Paul’s own preaching that he “became all things to all people so that some may be saved”. In Galatians Paul goes so far as to forbid Gentile converts from converting to Judaism, saying if they receive circumcision they are cut off from Christ (5:2-4). We pick up an undercurrent of these tensions in the letters to Corinth, but Acts records nothing of this, other than to mention a “sharp contention” between Paul and Barnabas, (15:39) which is no wonder, since the purpose of Acts is really to establish Paul’s credentials as an apostle, which would certainly be at question if he forbade converts from observing Torah. You cite the principle that if a work leaves embarrassing things about the author in a text it is probably authentic, but there is a deeper principle of pride which masks the self-assessment of embarrassing actions. Man is a rationalizing, not a rational, ape.

    • Actually the division between peter and Paul was earlier -the Galatians was likely written before the Jerusalem council. But the text is pretty clear that the issue was Peter’s issue was separating himself from gentiles and the use of the imperfect indicates a change in Peter’s habit not a one time event.

      As to Corinthians Paul is arguing against factionalism stating that he and Peter were basically in unity.

      There are a few theories of Acts purpose. The one that interests me (though I don’t count myself an adherent precisely) is that Luke Acts was written for Paul’s defense before Ceasar at his first trial. The reason for this is because it makes the sense in what events he chose to include and what events he chose not to include in the discussion.

      • To the contrary, Galatians must have been written well after the Council of Jerusalem of Acts 15, since it was recorded in the following chapter, Acts 16:3, “Paul wanted to take [Timothy] along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” By the time of Galatians, Paul had decided that obtaining circumcision actually disqualified a man for grace Galatians 5:2 “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.”

      • The reason for the circumscion of Timothy was different – because Timothy’s mother was a Jew, and because Paul began his work in any city in the synagogues, it was a necessary thing for outreach. This is why the case of Timothy and Titus were different – Titus was a gentile, to the Jews Timothy was a Jew. This is also why Paul made and kept a vow according to temple rites later in the book. Pail lived as a Jew while ministering to Jews.

        As to Galatians, no mention is made of the council’s decision, and only two journeys to Jerusalem are mentioned and Paul’s purpose is best served if help is comprehensive. Later dates are largely a hold over from the Northern Galatian hypothesis. See Ff Bruce on the dating.

    • Also note the presence of those who came from James, ie a group from Jerusalem who went beyond their mandate given statements about James and Peter earlier. Also note that Paul’s precise language with Peter accuses him of playacting – Paul apparently took pains to indicate that Peter’s actions did not match his previously stated beliefs.

      • We only have Paul’s account of the Antioch incident, but it is quite telling that he does not mention an acceptance, apology, or defense from Peter following the rebuke, which would have supported his point to the Galatians, and it might very well be that it was Paul who was the one who was rebuked. After all, Peter, by sitting at the Gentile table to fellowship with them, then moving to the kosher table to fellowship with the strict Jews when they arrived, demonstrated that kosher didn’t matter to him one way or another, and it was Paul who was being a dogmatic purist by growing offended at the move of Peter to eat kosher.

      • Pure supposition, and basically imagination rather than fact. Once we add imagination virtually any result becomes possible. Acts record as a historian mitigates against your position – and we have no good basis other than a general mistrust to support your position. Paul’s maintaining of his position in Romans, however, significantly detracts from any view that he backed down and 1 Cor indicates he and Peter maintained a working relationship – its more likely that Peter realized his concerns were mistaken.

    • You also leave yourself with the basic problem in Acts post Ramsey. Ramsey note that the author of acts presents precise and correct historical information in the details.

      What you are arguing is that Luke was very careful with the incidentals of his book, but fabricated important elements of his main point. Among other issues the Bauer hypothesis (which you appear to be following) is basically a conspiracy theory on that ground.

      • In Paul’s own undisputed epistles he only describes three trips to Jerusalem. In Acts 11, there is a fourth trip involving Paul hand-delivering a collection, almost as though he were checking off one of the labors of Hercules. Since there is a conflict, I must default to Paul’s account in Galatians of his three trips, and discount the account in Acts by a third party, particularly when the text of Luke-Acts (which is a single document) betrays a late composition, rendering a simplified account the census under Quirinius, which Josephus, in 94 CE and in a much more detailed form, used as a plot device to introduce the antagonists which he believed brought down Judaism. Acts, then, written after 94 but omitting the fall of Jerusalem and Paul’s death in Rome, attempts to pass itself off as a document that comes from the time when Paul was still alive. Since Acts is deceptive on that count, it cannot be trusted where it conflicts with Paul’s own writings.

      • I date Acts to AD 63. See my article on Luke 2 entitled how atheists get Christmas wrong. The whole issue stems from translating Koine as if it were Attic Greek. Additionally the complex of similarities and differences between Acts 12 and Josephus account indicates Luke did not use him as a source, though they may have had a source in common. You’re also still ignoring Ramsey.

  9. You said: “As to Galatians, no mention is made of the council’s decision, and only two journeys to Jerusalem are mentioned and Paul’s purpose is best served if help is comprehensive.”

    When I stated that Paul gave account of three trips to Jerusalem I am using his seven undisputed epistles as a source. I am interested how you take the non-mention of the Council of Jerusalem by Paul as a means to date Galatians rather than evidence that there never was a council, particularly when at least three years after this alleged council he said to the church in Corinth, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake” which directly violates the minimal food laws set down at the council for Gentiles.

    • As noted, Ramsey proved that the author of Acts is a historian of the first rank. Any view that argues that Acts is incorrect that cannot or does not answer Ramsey’s discoveries is automatically flawed. To argue the council did not exist is therefore a bit of a conspiracy theory – you must assume Luke was incredibly careful with incidental matters, but wholly inept in his central thesis (which is absurd) or that he conspired to falsify his central thesis but was faithful in his handling of the details – its literally a conspiracy theory with all the difficulties that implies.

      • As to Corinthians, there is a subtle shift in the language involved in these passages – Paul’s always seems to have objected to participation in the Idol Feasts, this predicates his discussion. There are questions about 1 Cor and Acts in these passages, though the compromise of Acts 15 was apparently a temporary one affecting territories where there was a high Jewish Population – I would check some conservative commentaries on this point, Bruce’s two are about the best, though I like his commentary on the Greek text better than the one on the English (though I am perhaps in the minority on that point). The best understanding though looks at why these concessions were made, and they were probably practical rather than moral when it comes to diet – trying to facilitate relationships between Jewish and Gentile Christians, without requiring Gentiles to become Jews. If these were concessions for pragmatic reasons, the reasons would not apply in Corinth. We also know the Apostles apparently had a large degree of discretion over churches in their territories, see some of Paul’s comments in Romans on the point, for example.

        My supposition is that Corinth was sufficiently different that the issues involving the Judaizers was not germane. Galatians was written most likely to South Galatia (the regions of Paul’s first missionary Journey, Lystra Iconium and Derbe, see Ramsey’s Historical commentary on Galatians for details), where there was a high Jewish population and a great deal of targeting by the Judaizers.

  10. At the bare minimum, I will not accept Acts where it contradicts Paul’s seven genuine letters. This is how your “historian of the first rank” handles the most important event in the early Church, the conversion of Paul:
    1. ACTS 9:7 – And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
    2. ACTS 22:9 – And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

    • Actual the last is a translation error – distinction between the declension of the noun with the verb in the two passages indicate differences in meaning between the two passages. They heard the sound, but didn’t comprehend it – answered a good century ago.

      Ramsey’s work on the topic is pretty definitive – you need more than an alleged discrepancy (remember inspiration is a later step in theology – we’re discussing reliability).

      • Acts 26 restates the account again, and specifies that the voice used Hebrew. It is difficult to believe that the thugs accompanying Paul in the persecution of followers of the Way, which he termed zealousness for the Law of Moses, which is written in Hebrew, did not themselves understand Hebrew.

      • Actually Jews spoke Aramaic at the time – they studied Hebrew as schoolers at one time studied latin, but unless like Paul they had Rabbinic training. Also some may have been non-Jews since the Sanhedrin had legal authority for a period during an interregnum.

        However, Acts was written in Greek and this case the syntax I’m discussing is unassailable.

        Again, an alleged contradiction as this is insufficient to set aside Ramsey’s work. One could posit a supernatural element to the voice as some do, one could posit that Luke accurately reflects an error made by Paul as some others have. Its not nearly enough to set aside Ramsey – again your answer to set aside Luke would need to be a comprehensive refutation of Ramsey’s books.

      • It is time to sleep, and I’m not prepared to go look up Ramsey and address all his points on the basis of a bare name check. You should “cherrypick” from Ramsey, then, and set those bottles up for me to knock down later. At the same time I won’t do you a disservice by rolling out fragments of websites such as this ( http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/lukepaul.html ) where the book of Acts is analyzed and found to be ahistorical, which would be like a copy/paste of the standard list of Bible contradictions.

      • I’ve seen a number of these list items – none have ever adequately answered Ramsey IMO but I may note it myself for some future articles. In general there is a tendency for old ideas in NT studies to be recycled long after they are answered and the answers go out of print. As an old saying when liberal theology was called German rationalism – in Germany no ghost is laid.

        I noted a link to an article I wrote on Ramsey, but obviously there is no substitute for his works. He was still working with an anti-supernaturalist bias in his seminal work ( though a note in his historical commentary on Galatians indicates a later shift).

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