Oh, great. The one day that I accidentally post something, I get a rash of readers immediately in the morning. “Authorship in Hebrew Culture” was not supposed to go up. I set it as “draft” a couple days ago.
It’s not that I regret the post. It’s that the post needs an introduction … a long one.
Too late, though. It’s up, and it’s been read a lot. So here’s the introduction …
A few years ago, I was perusing the bookshelf of K.V. Daniel at his house in India. K.V. is a respected, mainstream, hard-working man of God who has devoted his life to preaching the Gospel, raising up missionaries, and helping widows and orphans.
On his bookshelf were reference books representing the worst forms of liberalism. Only they weren’t liberal. They were simply scholarly. Things are discussed in scholarly circles, in those colorful, cloth-covered books that sit on pastor’s shelves and look so terribly wise … things which are not always discussed among the average conservative Christian.
In fact, things which the elite are prone to hiding from the average conservative Christian.
Who wrote 2 Peter? Why is Paul’s language so much different in the pastoral epistles? Who really determined which books should be in the Bible? If Moses wrote the Pentateuch, then why are there names of cities that didn’t bear that name until much later? Is Jonah a parable rather than a real miracle?
Some of you never run into these questions. That is because you haven’t opened the books on your pastor’s bookshelf. You haven’t suddenly decided that you want to peruse commentaries, examine lexicons, and reference analytical concordances.
Did you know that Jim Elliot, the famous missionary who was martyred in Ecuador along with four others in 1956, has a journal entry in which he tries to explain the dating surrounding Abraham and his father? It’s a gallant attempt, but it had to be made because the it sure looks like the dates don’t work out.
The bulk of Christians, who sit in pews and listen to sermons and read their Bibles and nothing else–they don’t face these questions.
The day they find Do It Yourself Hebrew and Greek, though, and they find out what an analytical concordance is, and they begin to delve into the great commentators, they come face to face with things that are, well, shocking.
Who ever pays attention to the fact that in John 18:28 the Pharisees don’t go into Pontius Pilate’s hall because they were going to eat the Passover that night, and they didn’t want to defile themselves. What? I thought all the synoptic Gospels said the Passover was eaten by Jesus and his disciples the previous evening, before Jesus was brought to Pontius Pilate. Interestingly enough, John’s Gospel is the only one that doesn’t refer to that last meal as the Passover.
Some of these questions are tough questions. How nice not to be faced with them! If you don’t want to be faced with them, then dodge them. I don’t have any problem with that. Our business is to obey Jesus and to learn from the Scriptures, not to dissect them.
We have been given the freedom to explore and learn, however, and many of us have chosen to do so. When we explore and read scholarly writings, we come face to face with questions that shake us and maybe even shake our faith.
I wrote today’s earlier post for people like that. Actually, I wrote it a good two weeks ago, and I meant to go over it in January and provide an introduction like this one for it. With it, I would explore other controversial questions.
I want to give you an all-encompassing answer in this introduction.
If you faith is in Jesus, your faith will be untouched by controversial questions. If you walk with him, experience his life and power, then your faith will be unshaken by anything. God will build it through trials and make it stronger, and you will find him ever faithful, ever your deliverer.
If you faith, however, is in the intellectual truth of the Bible story, and you do not know Jesus, then controversial questions will tear your faith apart. Your object of worship, the Bible, is a book. It will not rush to your rescue. The person whom it declares, King Jesus the Lord of All, can rush to your rescue. (I LOVE Ps. 18!)
The Book was the Pharisees’ hope, and Jesus rebuked them for it.
He is the only hope. “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (Jn. 17:3).
- Authorship in Hebrew Culture (paulfpavao.wordpress.com)