Witherington, Carson, and Frame on Meaning of Inerrancy (Gupta)

When I was in the library yesterday, I happened to come across the latest issue of JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society; 57.1 2014). I don’t normally read JETS, but this issue involved the publishing of papers and a discussion about biblical inerrancy with Ben Witherington, Don Carson, and John Frame, with Tom Schreiner moderating.

The journal issue published the roundtable discussion under this title:

PLENARY DISCUSSION ON BIBLICAL INERRANCY . . . D.A. Carson, John Frame, and Ben Witherington III

It was really insightful to see Ben and Don go round and round on issues and to see where they agree (and they do agree on a few things!) and especially where they differ. It is hard for me to summarize the discussion, but I really enjoyed the engagement. Ben was definitely the odd-man-out in that group, but he handled it with grace and humility.

People often ask me why I bother with the subject of inerrancy at all, and I’d like to say that I am an “inerrantist” in a broader (lowercase “i”) sense, similar to folks like Ben Witherington, John Stott (who hesitated to use the word, but fits within that category), and Craig Blomberg. As Ben argues in the discussion, it is not helpful when it is used to exclude and condemn, but it is helpful when it affirms the trustworthiness of Scripture. Personally, I think we can live without the term, or a “Chicago Statement,” because all that needs to be said at the basic level is “Thy word is truth.” But because people like to explain what that means, sometimes clarifying terminology is useful. I will confess, it has been a long time since I was teaching at an institution with “inerrancy” in the faith statement, but you won’t hear any complaints from me! 🙂


Nine Books I’m Currently Reading (Skinner)

Ok, so I just checked and in my last three weeks of blog inactivity, Nijay has literally posted 14 different times. (I think he’s trying to make me look bad.) During that period I have been a little busy, first finishing exams and then finishing up a paper I’ll be giving at this conference in London in a little more than a week. When I return from London I have a bunch of stuff to post about, but for now, I thought I’d mention a few books that I am reading at the moment as I plan on reviewing them here on the blog. Summer is a good time to catch up on (late) book reviews and other books I have been too busy to pick up. Here are nine I’m currently reading, seven of which I plan to discuss here:

Black Book1.  C. Clifton Black, The Disciples according to Mark: Markan Redaction in Current Debate (2d ed; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012).

I am currently reviewing this one for Biblical Theology Bulletin. I received it awhile back when I was working on my book on Markan character studies and I found it extremely useful for my historical overview of Markan research on the disciples. This is a second edition of Black’s revised dissertation, which was an “instant classic” when it was first published back in 1989. Black’s insightful analysis of the different types of redaction criticism, as well as the failures and successes of redaction critical method remains poignant and thought-provoking. The substance of the original book remains the same, though Black has added a lengthy “Afterword” (43 pages) in which he discusses redaction criticism in the 25 years since the initial publication of his book. I have several thoughts about this book that I hope to share in due course.

Burke Book2. Tony Burke, Secret Scriptures Revealed: A New Introduction to the Christian Apocrypha (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013). 

I am currently reviewing this one for Catholic Biblical Quarterly. Tony (whom I have not yet met) has a very good blog named Apocryphicity, devoted to all-things-Apocrypha. If you’ve read his blog, you won’t be surprised by the quality of this book. Those who know me well know that I love to research and write, but they also know that I am a teacher first. That’s why I love getting solidly-researched, well-written books aimed at students. I am not finished with the book yet, but I can already tell you that it’s a great fit for the classroom. I do intend to try it out the next time I have an opportunity to teach a course on the non-canonical literature.

Ehrman.Plese Book3. Bart Ehrman and Zlatko Plese, The Other Gospels: Accounts of Jesus from Outside the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Like the previous book, I am also reviewing this one for Catholic Biblical Quarterly, though I have yet to do more than simply leaf through a few pages. Back in 2011, Ehrman (who is well-known to anyone who might read this blog) and Plese (a leading authority on Christian Gnosticism) published a book entitled, The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations, in which they provided original language texts–complete with text-critical discussions–and translations of non-canonical writings about Jesus. This book covers the same writings from that previous volume but with English-only translations and without all of the scholarly jargon. Like the Burke book, I think this has the potential to be a useful classroom resource. I will say more about this once I’ve had a chance to go over it in greater detail.

Keith Book4. Chris Keith, Jesus Against the Scribal Elite: The Origins of the Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013). 

I am reviewing this one for Theology. I read (and really liked) Chris’ related book, Jesus’ Literacy , and I have already read the first two chapters of this one. Chris writes that this book is part three of a three-part “Spielbergian” project (my words, not his) in which he deals with various issues and various angles related to the literacy of Jesus (see here and here for the previous two works). I have made no secret of the fact that I think very highly of Chris Keith’s scholarship. He is a creative, intelligent, and productive scholar, especially in light of his age. I look forward to working my way through the rest of the book.

Bennema Book5. Cornelis Bennema, A Theory of Character in New Testament Narrative (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014).

This book came to me in the mail awhile back. I have been asked by Fortress Press to provide a review here on the blog (which I will due by summer’s end) and was just asked today to review it for a journal. I have had a chance to look over several chapters (but, if I’m being totally and completely honest), I have only really perused the four or five sections in which Cor interacts with my own work. This is not as utterly self-serving as it sounds. In November I will be on a panel with Cor, Alicia Myers, Steve Hunt, Frank Moloney and others at SBL in which we deal with Johannine characterization. I already know that I have some strong disagreements with Cor, but I also find his work stimulating. One of the strengths of what I’ve already read is that Cor is definitely read up on all of the important research in this area.

Myers Book6. Alica Myers, Characterizing Jesus: A Rhetorical Analysis on the Fourth Gospel’s Use of Scripture in its Presentation of Jesus (LNTS; London: Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2014).

OK, I have to be honest and say that I haven’t even looked at this one yet. Like the previous book, I just received this in the mail so that I can read up for our November session at SBL. I recently had the chance to meet Alicia who is moving to Campbell University, right down the road from where I teach. I will likely provide a review of this one closer to November, but I did want to mention it.


Crump Book7. David Crump, Encountering Jesus, Encountering Scripture: Reading the Bible Critically in Faith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013).

I agreed to review this one for Biblical Theology Bulletin, but I am not really sure what to say or think about it. This book is different in focus and content from the volumes I typically review and I’m just not sure what to do with it. Crump wants to look at the Scriptures through a Kierkegaardian lens while giving a nod to issues like authentic faith and Scriptural authority (issues I am a little tired of discussing in public), all while questioning the value of the historical critical method. It’s been an *interesting* read thus far. Tune in and I’ll say more once I’m done.

Finally, I’m also reading the competing 8. Ehrman and 9. Bird (et al) volumes….but don’t worry, I don’t plan to review either one here on the blog. There’s much too much of that going on in the blogosphere right now.