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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:41 pm
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A fiery debate has erupted over a leading Southern Baptist apologist's questioning of Matthew 27. The question: whether Matthew's reference to many saints rising from their graves after Jesus' resurrection might not be literal history.

The theological war of words, spurred by high-profile open letters and retorts on the Internet, has raised questions about the meaning of biblical inerrancy. It has also led to the departure of Michael Licona as apologetics coordinator for the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

At issue is a passage of Licona's 700-page The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, published in 2010 by InterVarsity Press.

"Based on my reading of the Greco-Roman, Jewish, and biblical literature, I proposed that the raised saints are best interpreted as Matthew's use of an apocalyptic symbol communicating that the Son of God had just died," said Licona, former research professor of New Testament at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Licona voluntarily resigned from the seminary on October 4 after the print version of this article went to press.

In a series of open letters posted online, Norman Geisler, distinguished professor of apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, California, objected to Licona's characterizing the passage as a "strange little text." Geisler accused Licona of denying the full inerrancy of Scripture. He also called for Licona to recant his interpretation, labeling it "unorthodox, non-evangelical, and a dangerous precedent for the rest of evangelicalism."

In a 2,800-word blog post, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, praised Licona's book as "virtually unprecedented in terms of evangelical scholarship" and "nothing less than a masterful defense of the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

Yet Mohler devoted most of the post to criticizing what he called Licona's "shocking and disastrous argument" concerning the bodily resurrection of the saints.

Licona replied to Geisler that additional research has led him to re-examine his position. "At present I am just as inclined to understand the narrative … as a report of a factual (i.e., literal) event as I am to view it as an apocalyptic symbol," Licona wrote.

In the wake of the controversy, a number of leading evangelical scholars came to Licona's defense—some publicly, others privately.

"I know a good number of evangelical seminary professors who have privately expressed support for Mike Licona but cannot do so publicly for fear of punitive measures," said Paul Copan, an apologist and president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

In comments to Christianity Today, Craig Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary, complained of "the tragedy of 'witch hunts' of this nature." He accused Licona's critics of "going after fellow inerrantists with whom they disagree and making life miserable for them for a long time in ways that are unnecessary, inappropriate, and counterproductive to the important issues of the Kingdom."

Bill Warren, director of the Center for New Testament Textual Studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said Licona has earned more leeway than some in the evangelical academic community are affording him.

"What should be kept in mind," Warren said, "is that a person who has been well-received, written prolifically in multiple contexts, and taken firm stands in the apologetic arena in defense of orthodoxy surely should not be tossed aside based on his interpretation of one passage in a massive volume."

Daniel B. Wallace, New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, said he disagrees with Licona's interpretation but considers the issue hermeneutical, not a challenge to biblical inerrancy.

"If we view our own interpretation to be just as inerrant as the Scriptures," he said, "this could ironically elevate tradition and erode biblical authority."

Already, at least two Southern Baptist entities—the New Orleans seminary and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention—have rescinded invitations for Licona to speak at apologetics conferences, Licona said.

The NAMB, meanwhile, eliminated Licona's position. Licona said the decision came after he offered to resign rather than cast a shadow over the board and its president, Kevin Ezell.

"I love NAMB and Kevin and wanted to protect them," Licona said. "They then decided to make the call and eliminate my position. Now that the issue has escalated far beyond what I had ever expected, it was definitely a good decision."


This issue speaks volume. Now do people understand why "we" can never even consider the Christ Mythology theory in academia. Please note the names that sprung up in this article:

1. Michael Licona former research professor of New Testament at Southern Evangelical Seminary
2. Norman Geisler, distinguished professor of apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary
3. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
4. Craig Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary
5. Daniel B. Wallace, New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary
6. Bill Warren, director Center for New Testament Textual Studies

This issue ties in well with this thread:

Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History

Readers should also check out this response from an atheist:

Open Letter to Michael Licona: From Your Atheist Friend

"Dear Michael Licona,

You do not know me. I am one of those loud mouthed, non-believing, outspoken atheists. But here is the thing--I have a heart--and I have a brain--and I think what happened to you is extremely unfair.

Imagine my surprise when I read in Christianity Today that you had been forced out of your job, and let go from another lofty position, simply for a single paragraph you wrote in a massive tome you had written. A tome defending your faith and very beliefs no less!"

As a writer, who firmly supports the freedom of speech of all peoples, I found the reasons for your recent ostracism and subsequent dismissal to be wholly inadequate.

As I understand it, you theorized that a part of the Christan New Testament was written metaphorically--specifically Matthew 27--a strange little verse where the dead Saints reanimate, then march down the streets of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus' Resurrection.

I have often wondered about this strange little bit of scripture which seems to have its similarities to modern day zombie fiction than anything of the sort known to us in history. Even when I was a practicing Christian (of three decades) it made little sense to me. Moreover, the importance of the miracle seemed irrelevant--as it does nothing other than to glorify the power of the risen Christ. It doesn't seem to do anything more than that, in my opinion.

Open Letter to Michael Licona

PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:29 pm 
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Thanks for posting that, natselection1st. 8)

Well, this proves Acharya's point, for sure, about the severe biases and bigotry throughout academia when it comes to religion. Now, this is all really weird since Mike Licona has harassed Acharya in the past for her criticism of Christianity and religion in general. Now, he's feeling what Acharya S has been dealing with since 1995 from both theists and atheists. I'm curious to see how this may effect Licona in the future. I wonder if Licona will finally be motivated to wake-up to see the blatant selective perception and abuses tossed at those telling the truth about religion.

In the video below, Acharya mentions Matthew 27:51-53 (RSV) starting at time 6:30:

Matthew 27:51-53 (RSV): "And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; 52 the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many."

Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of the Christ (Reloaded)

"Scholars in general can also be notoriously cautious, particularly when it comes to stepping on the toes of mainstream institutions, especially those of a religious bent—and there have been many such establishments, including major universities like Yale and Harvard, both of which started as Christian divinity schools.1 Numerous other institutions in the Christian world were either founded specifically as Christian universities and colleges or had seminaries attached to them. As stated on the Princeton Theological Seminary website, regarding early American education:

"Within the last quarter of the eighteenth century, all learning…could be adequately taught and studied in the schools and colleges, nearly all of which were church initiated."2

- Christ in Egypt, page 505

1. See the Yale Divinity School website: “Training for the Christian Ministry was a main purpose in the founding of Yale College in 1701.” (“History of Yale Divinity School.”) See also the Harvard Divinity School website: “The origins of Harvard Divinity School and the study of theology at Harvard can be traced back to the very beginning of Harvard College.” (“Harvard Divinity School–History and Mission.”)
2. “About Princeton Theological Seminary–History of the Seminary.”

"As for this tiresome business about there being "no scholar" or "no serious scholar" who advocates the Christ Myth theory: Isn't it obvious that scholarly communities are defined by certain axioms in which grad students are trained, and that they will lose standing in those communities if they depart from those axioms? The existence of an historical Jesus is currently one of those. That should surprise no one, especially with the rightward lurch of the Society for Biblical Literature in recent years. It simply does not matter how many scholars hold a certain opinion... "

- Dr. Robert M. Price, Biblical Scholar with two Ph.D.'s

Mythicists United
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The Mythicist Position

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:17 pm
Posts: 2301
Location: Everywhere

Maybe this will be the little snow ball of doubt that quickly becomes an avalanche in Laconia's mind? Imagine Laconia eventually taking up the MP after the avalanche settles. :lol: :lol: :lol:

The Jesus Mythicist Creed:
The "Jesus Christ" of the New Testament is a fictional composite of characters, real and mythical. A composite of multiple "people" is no one.

ZG Part 1
Jesus: Hebrew Human or Mythical Messiah?

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