Category Archives: bible

Astronomy in Early Christianity & the Scientific Revolution

This is a good survey of astronomy and the Christian faith going back to the New Testament, then the early fathers and stopping at Isaac Newton. It also has a nod to earlier Greek philosphers

On St Paul he reckons that as an educated Greek he’d be a typical Greek geocentrist of his day, but could go for a three-decker universe. I argue that Paul and Luke rejected a three-decker universe and were typical geocentrists. I would not be surprised if fishermen, tax-collectors and builders/carpenters in Galilee were flat-earthers. Not that would matter if we believe Phillipians 2.

See my chapter in Evangelicals and Science chap 3 ; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/a-history-of-evangelicals-and-science-part-3-of-12/

Now to the blog. Cleb Poston was a pastor in the Southern Baptists for a time and is now an english teacher.

He gives a good overview and my suspicion is that he is reacting to Creationism, which he has seen through. Much is standard to those familiar with the subject but it is good summary

Here it is and there are others to read.

https://medium.com/faith-science/astronomy-in-early-christianity-the-scientific-revolution-dbc02145a25b

Was Jesus born into a ‘poor’ family? | Psephizo

Just how poor was Jesus and his family?

So often we are told his family was desperately poor, but here Ian Paul stresses that simply ain’t true. Ian quotes this

Homelessness awaited them…Off to the stinking stable, the dank cave. Poverty does stink,

By today’s standards, including the poorer parts of Africa Jesus’ family were poor, but were of average wealth for the time.

(A little aside, we forget how much the so-called Industrial Revolution and the use of fossil fuels has enabled most people to live linger and with greater wealth and comfort. But don’t tell anyone!!)

Above all the popular myth that Jesus was poor and came for the poor is wrong. By our standards Jesus and his family were poor, but Jesus’ mission, ministry and message were for all people, whether rich or poor. His message in challenging for all.

We are all poor before God, whether we are rich or poor

P.S. I reblog Ian’s work because I find it helpful and deals with topics I’ve only dabbled in!!

Source: Was Jesus born into a ‘poor’ family? | Psephizo

Why do Matthew and Luke offer different birth narratives? | Psephizo

This is to shepherd your thoughts on the wise men of Christmas!!

DSCF1384

A blog (not mine) comparing Luke and Matthews’s accounts of the Birth of Jesus, one has wise men and the other has shepherds. Neither have a stable!!

Source: Why do Matthew and Luke offer different birth narratives? | Psephizo

It’s all Greek to me. Reading the New Testament in Greek

Many will have heard the quip about Bibles “If the Authorised Version (KJV) of 1611was good enough for Pau, then it’s good enough for me!!

Some take this seriously think the old version of the bible is the traditional. Others think it the most reliable – which it is not.

Why and how can we learn New Testament Greek? | Psephizo

Yes, the New Testament was written in Greek, not Modern Greek nor the Classical Greek of Plato and Aristophanes, but Koine, or everyday, Greek of the Ist  Century AD or CE if you prefer (CE= Christ’s Era).

The Importance Of Including The Greek Old Testament – The Septuagint – In  One's Study Of The Bible | biblicalexegete

Until recently most people training for ordination had to learn New Testament Greek as part of their course. Many found it a trial and often stopped after having floundered with Mark’s Gospel. Today, at least in the Church of England, fewer and fewer budding vicars are expected to learn even a little greek.

As a result, most clergy are totally dependent on translations. There are a vast number of English translations which vary in quality. Some are more literal than others. One serious issue is that translating committees can impose their biases, whether evangelical, catholic or simply being PC or woke! I use the NRSV with reservations, but get the impression that the latest version is trying to hard to be acceptable, thus rephrasing “slave girl” and “enslaved women” as it is less offensive. I reckon any kind on enslavement or being a slave is offensive! If parts of the Bible offend modern sensibilities then so be it. Some of the worst version are one-man band paraphrases like the Living Bible (now almost dead) and the Message, which pours the author’s interpretations over the text. At times the original meaning is lost.

There are those who argue that many trainee clergy, though having great potential, are not up to learning Greek along with everything else. Is that really so? As a vital part of ministry is preaching and teaching the Bible, then surely some grasp of the original language would be valuable? I can here some readers applauding me and others not.

Reading the New Testament in Greek is tough but very rewarding. It is tough, or very tough, for anyone who’s not a natural linguist. That includes me as I have never found learning foreign languages easy. At school I scraped French at O level/GCSE and failed Latin twice. I did better at German. When in Africa I picked up a smattering  of Swahili, Lutoro and Afrikaans!

At theological college I opted for an Honours degree in theology and was told to learn enough to read Mark’s gospel before starting. In my course I had to study Matthew, John and romans in Greek  and thus left college almost being able to read the Greek Testament.

During my ministry I used the Greek New Testament often, but read it regularly half the time. Some would say I should have used an Interlinear, but didn’t as the temptation is to look at the English rather than the Greek.

Most of the time, I used the 3rd Edition of the Aland, Black etc text of 1975 (United Bible societies). I like that as it had a mini dictionary at the back. If I wanted a bigger dictionary/lexicon the Mens’ Society at St Paul’s Wigan gave me the massive Arndt-Gingrich lexicon when I left in 1978.

The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (UBS5) with Concise  Greek-English Dictionary [Hardcover]: 9781619701397 - Christianbook.com

And so I have struggled on, reading a bit almost every day. Parts, like John’s writings, I find straightforward, but chunks of Luke and Paul are difficult. I find it valuable as when reading the NT in English it is so familiar that it washes over me and I learn nothing new. When I read it in Greek, I read very slowly because of my indifferent skills in Greek. I often have to look up a word or parse a verb. That means that in my struggle I understand it better.

At times I find translation inadequate, either by putting a bias on the translation , or that something is omitted in the translation. An example is at the end of John’s Gospel, where Jesus is putting Peter in his place. In most versions in Jn 21. vs 19 and 22 Jesus tells Peter “Follow me.” The Greek is much blunter. In verse 19 the Greek is to be translated “Follow me”, but in vs 22 after Peter was trying to be clever Jesus said to him “You follow me” , with an emphasis on YOU. I imagine Peter was annoyed with Jesus at that point. Jesus was telling him “Don’t look over your shoulder at John, look to yourself first and make sure YOU follow me.”

But I needed assistance!

Several decades ago in a Roman Catholic bookshop in Liverpool I found a book by Fr M. Zerwick A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. It was a great help, but the text was ting and some years ago I found a big print version, which is now somewhat battered.

Then this year I found The Greek New Testament; readers’ edition produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

It is not the most exiting binding!

Amazon USA https://www.amazon.com/Testament-Produced-Tyndale-Cambridge-Readers/dp/1433564157/ref=sr_1_1?crid=28VU64L00KULL&keywords=greek+new+testament+reader%27s+edition&qid=1639604731&sprefix=greek+new+testament%2Caps%2C245&sr=8-1

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Testament-Produced-Tyndale-Cambridge-Readers/dp/1433564157/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2GG9T0R5RC1TJ&keywords=greek+new+testament&qid=1639604864&sprefix=greek+new%2Caps%2C167&sr=8-1

Here is the description from Amazon (accurate)

This reader’s edition of the Greek New Testament text combines the new Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge with a running list of glosses of every word in the Greek New Testament that occurs 25 times or less.

Those with limited knowledge of Greek can smoothly read the Greek text without needing to constantly refer to other reference resources–accelerating their facility with the Greek text and making their time more rewarding and more enjoyable as they read the very Word of God.

  • Running glosses of any Greek word occurring 25 times or less in the New Testament, placed below the Greek text
  • Complete morphological parsing of Greek verbs used in uncommon or difficult forms
  • Dictionary in the back defining words occurring more than 25 times
  • 10-point Adobe text
  • Single-column format, in accord with the earliest Greek manuscripts
  • Ribbon marker
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Packaging: Slipcase
  • Parsing

This is what the pages look like. The text is in a clear font and below are words which occur less than 25 times in the NT and then parsing less well-known verbs.

Note, there is no apparatus of alternative readings as you find  in the UBS test. (It’s worth having both)

I have now been using my copy for a month. It does make my reading easier and more fluent. I still have to check out common words! The parsing helps me a lot. I still need to use a Lexicon and check the grammar. On the grammar this version makes it easier to understand the parsing and use of the verbs.

If I need to check alternative readings I have to look at my Aland/Black NT, but most of the time I don’t need too. Clearly, if I am doing detail reading I need to but most of the time I want to just read the basic text. It doesn’t make a great deal of difference most of the time as in John 18 vs 5 where most have Jesus saying “I am” rather than “I am Jesus”.

So, to conclude, I have found it a great help in making for easier reading.

To use an alpine climbing analogy, it is rather like climbing on a via Ferrata rather than the north Face of the Eiger!!

But using an Interlinear is like watching a video of an Alpine climb!!

I have found this a great help in my study of the Greek New Testament and it should make the Greek more accessible to far more people.

I hope it does something to reverse the decline of reading the Greek New Testament among clergy. It might even reduce the amount on banal preaching, where bible passages are used as pegs to hang out one’s own ideas rather than preach and teach what the New Testament writers wrote.

To help you more, you can take a DailyDose, a short 2 minute video on a verse of the Greek , explaining and parsing it. It soon adds up to a lot

DailyDoseofGreek.com provides ongoing accountability to busy pastors and other Christians, helping them to read the Greek New Testament daily and progress in their Greek skills.

It is well worth subscribe to the email

Happy Christmas! Cheer up! Jesus never lived!

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May be an image of text that says "SMILE THERE s FIELL Atheist Forum @ForumAtheist #AtheistForum Jesus christ isn't coming to save anyone because he doesn't exist. Jesus was created by The First Council of Nicea (325 A.D.). Do your research and stop believing in bullshit"

Viewing wacky fundamentalist and creationist social media is great fun and the source of many a cheap laugh. And so we have Jesus riding a dinosaur and the 15th century Bishop of Carlisle having a pet dinosaur.

However some atheists, especially of the village idiot atheist type are just as risible, as is the clever clogs who posted the tweet above. Along with its incoherence its shows really profound ignorance of the history and the claims of the Christian church.

By stating that “Jesus doesn’t exist” I assume he means that there was no Jesus who lived in Palestine at the same time Augustus was Emperor, rather than implying Jesus never rose so he may have existed once but now no longer! I’ll leave the latter as the resurrection is irrelevant if Jesus didn’t live on this planet for thirty odd years.

Few historians reject the existence of Jesus and one of the few is Richard Carrier an American. Almost all conclude that the was a Galilean wandering God-botherer who ended up being crucified. One of the most thorough works is Geza Vermes , formerly professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford. Rowan Williams thought his Christian Beginnings “a beautiful and magisterial book”. Vermes has a very historical Jesus but rejects “the deifying message Paul, John and the church attributed to him”. The decisions of the council of Nicaea were an even bigger mistake.

Image

Though he is highly erudite, Vermes argues that the human and divine saviour that is Jesus Christ is simply a mistake and that for 2000 years us Christians have got it wrong, though, perhaps he would argue, the Unitarians were closer to the historical Jesus. Vermes’ Jesus does not save.

Whatever wording you may prefer, the essence o Christianity is that

Jesus came to save

Despite Vermes’ erudition that is the claim of the New Testament , the early church up to Nicaea in 325 and right up to the present day, though there have been various departures like Servetus and the Unitarians, but these struggle to take over!

Most of the imagery of the New Testament are to stress that Jesus “came to save”. (That term “came to save” is often off-putting owing to its over-use by more fundamentalist Christians.) Those who collect Messianic labels like stamps can claim there a four hundred. The dominant one (ones) came to be ;

son of God

Saviour

Lord

In the context of the early first century  – the time of the Twelve Caesars, this can be seen as a sideswipe, or implicit rebellion, to the emperor who was often known by the exact same words, whether in Greek or Latin. So the Christians were say that the emperor was not the Son of god and not divine , nor a saviour, nor Lord, but the Galilean jobbing contractor was, or rather is, as the Christians didn’t change the saviour like underpants as did the Romans with their emperors, whenever they got a knife in their backs. The year 69 must have been amusing to Christians, though it heralded bad times.

then there is the Eastern prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

which sums up what Christian have believed for 2000 years.

But what is the evidence for Jesus?

There is some outside the New Testament but it is very terse

The first outside the church to mention Jesus was the Jewish historian  Josephus, writing in AD93 with two references to Jesus. One was suspected to be inserted by Christian scribes and the other referring to James, the brother of “Jesus, the so-called Christ”. Later  were Pliny and Tacitus, Tacitus says  Jesus was executed while Pontius Pilate was in Judaea (AD26-36)  which fits with the gospel timeline. Pliny says Christians worshipped Christ as a god. Both were almost hostile witnesses and the better for it.

Another favourite claim is that the emperor Constantine sorted out the canon, which books were in the New Testament, at the Council of Nicaea in AD325. That often crops up but notably in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code which is replete with fabricated church history about Nicaea, as is seen in this meme

Da Vinci Code Facts Vs Fiction

At times, others claim the New Testament was written at Nicaea. I don’t think it was

Our friendly village atheists have conflated the writing of the New Testament books with the final formation of the Canon. This took place at Nicaea and settled on the essential 27 books. This has been accepted by the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics and protestant and evangelical off-shoots , though some eastern churches add  to the number. However it was FINALISED at Nicaea  but for 300 years Christians were trying to decide which books were to be in the canon.

There was some variation but all recognised the 4 gospels , Acts, Pauls letters and most of the other letters. They often included some of the apostolic Fathers.

Comparison between earliest biblical canons[edit] from wiki

Books Marcionite canon[39] Muratorian fragment[40] Peshitta
[citation needed]
Codex Vaticanus[41] Codex Sinaiticus[42] Codex Alexandrinus[43] Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus[44]
Composition date c. 130–140 c. 170 ? c. 300–325 c. 330–360 c. 400–440 c. 450
Matthew No Probably[45] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mark No Probably[45] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Luke Marcion[46] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
John No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Acts No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Romans Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
1 Corinthians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 Corinthians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Galatians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ephesians Laodiceans[47] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Philippians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Colossians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
1 Thessalonians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 Thessalonians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe[44]
1 Timothy No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
2 Timothy No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Titus No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Philemon Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Hebrews No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
James No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
1 Peter No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 Peter No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
1 John No Probably[48][40] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 John No Maybe[48] No Yes Yes Yes Maybe[44]
3 John No Maybe[48] No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jude No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Revelation No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
1 Clement No No No No No Yes No
2 Clement No No No No No Yes No
Shepherd of Hermas No No No No Yes No No
Epistle of Barnabas No No No No Yes No No
Apocalypse of Peter No Yes No No No No No
Book of Wisdom No Yes No No No No No

These are the “books” of the New Testament, but when were they written. Few scholars would doubt that most were written in the first Century with some letters of Paul going back to the AD40s. Some, e.g. J AS T Robinson reckon they were written before AD70 – the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Most reckon that all were written by the 90s and a few take dates up to 135. all these dates are slightly earlier than the Council of Nicaea in AD325!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_the_Bible

Here is Prof John Barton of Oxford dealing with reference to the Da Vinci code

https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/blog/how-new-testament-was-created/

There are many more

An old (1946) but still valuable book is Are the New Testament Documents reliable? By Prof F F Bruce which is here for free!! It is where I started and most of the arguments in are still valid.

You could surf and find more recent scholars saying much the same.

In the list of Canons above , the last six did not make it! Four form part of the Apostolic Fathers (1 & II Clem. Shepherd of Hermas and Epistle of Barnabas) I am glad that Barnabas didn’t make as he argues for 6000 year old creation more explicitly than in any canonical scripture. That would have upset the geologists!

As well as those four, the Apostolic Fathers contain the seven letters of Ignatius, who was executed in Rome in about AD120, and the Didache which many reckon was written in about AD50, though some extend that by 200 years. The Apostolic Fathers  are mostly from the second century C.E.  (Christ’s Era!)  and cite all NT books except Philemon and 3 John. Several of the writers cite a good 20, so they must have been well known and widely copied.

Sadly many Christians who read their Bible never look at the Apostolic Fathers and there is a fine Penguin edition. They are well worth a read.

In the second century Irenaus quoted 21 of the final 27books and the next century Origen cited a similar number

So before Nicaea there was not unanimity of the content of the canon, all accepted over 20 of the final 27. Thus the decision at Nicaea was the culmination of three centuries of sifting

I think my brief summary above, shows the wrongness of claims that the council of Nicaea made up Jesus and the New Testament! But what was Nicaea all about.

Cryptically it was whether there was ever a time when Jesus was not. Most Christians at that time insisted there was never a time when Jesus was not, but the pugnacious group, the Arians, led by Bishop Arius, insisted there was a time when Jesus was not, and that Jesus Christ was created being and not from all eternity and thus not God.  The Arians saw Jesus not as God but the son of God, Their opponents saw Him as both..

This concerned Constantine greatly as he had only recently become the sole emperor and wanted peace. Many would say his concern was his own back rather than defending Christian belief. Hence he called the Council of Nicaea   to stop divisions in the church, which he saw as liable to cause instability in the empire. and so in the summer of AD325  the council of Christian bishops was convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea (now İznikTurkey)  800 bishops were invited and between 250  and 320 attended.

Their aim was not to discuss the existence of Jesus as  all sides accepted the 4 Gospel accounts. Thus there all accepted the earthly life of Jesus from the Virgin birth to the Resurrection. What was at issue was the nature of the relationship of Jesus Christ to God.

(Over)Briefly the essence of the disagreement was whether Jesus was fully God – which leads to doctrine of the Trinity – Father Son and holy Spirit. The Arians argued that Jesus was a created being , but an exalted one being the Son of God. As one of the anathemas (condemnations) put it;

  But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]

This hostile summary is fair as the majority believed that Jesus Christ was there before Creation, hence “there was not a time when he was not” and that he was “begotten, not made/created” and his nature was that he was “consubstantial with the Father” thus divine. And thus a little late the creed says “and was made man”. Here in the womb of Mary the pre-existent Jesus Christ, who was there before creation and thus God, was made man, which stress He is both God and Man i.e God in flesh i.e incarnate. ( A little story here. My theology professor H E W Turner (1907-1995) did not believe this when he was ordained deacon. A year later he concluded that he did and his vicar welcomed him into the catholic church!! After that he spent some years as chaplain of Lincoln College, Oxford, moving to Durham in 1950. He retired in 1974 and had to sell four fantastic oak bookcases which he brought with him from Lincoln. I bought them for £50, but was too late for lunch. I still have them. Hughie was a brilliant teacher and helped me to be totally convinced that the majority at Nicaea were right!! I suppose you could say that Hughie was Arian when ordained and then moved to Nicene orthodoxy. Sensible chappie.)

The key to the argument is Christ being the saviour of humanity. No mere human could do that and thus an Arian Jesus could not ultimately be the Saviour. Only God could save and thus Jesus Christ as Saviour could not be a created being but was God as well. Hence Nicaea re-emphasised what most of the churches had held since the resurrection that Jesus is human and divine. This comes out in the Proluge of John  (John chap 1) read at every Carol service and many other parts of the New Testament and is the thread, with Jesus’s death and resurrection, which runs through the 27 books.

This is, of course, contrary to what any hold, including among many worshippers, that Christianity is simply being good to others. It most definitely is, but if that is all and Jesus as Saviour, Lord and Son of God who died and rose to save humanity is quiwtly side-lined under a vague devotion  all that is left is MTD (Moralistic Therapeutic Deism)

Here’s the Nicene Creed. On the left is that produced in AD325 with a dismissal of Arius. On the right is how it was revised in AD381 nd is what is used in churches today. The ideas go back to the New Testament and were not plucked out thin air in 325.

We believe in one Godthe Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, [God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; by whom all things were made;
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heavenand sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead. ;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Ghost. And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.
In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
[But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]

[But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]

Conclusion

Like so much posted by twitting atheists this tweet is simply nonsense in every statement! The really need to improve their “research” and share material of substance rather than stuff so easily contradicted.

Yes , Jesus lived

But who was he? He lived for 30 odd years, a peripatetic teacher who got crucified – the most delightful of all Roman methods of execution.

For 2000 years Christians have said he rose from the dead and came to save us.

That’s enough for now.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Happy Christmas rather than Happy Holidays

Is John the Baptist in Luke 3 History? | Psephizo

Maybe the New Testament is better history than some think

Here’s a painting of his head after Herodias got him executed. Lovely family the Herod’s!!

Where is the Head of Saint John the Baptist? - HISTORY

A useful blog by Ian Paul on Luke’s detailed naming of roman governors of Plaestine and the tetrarchs.

Source: The announcement of John the Baptist in Luke 3 | Psephizo

October 23, 4004: The Creation of the World

Happy Birthday Earth according to Archbishop Ussher.

Jacobus_ussher

For his time Ussher was good as he was a fine scholar and according to Martin Rudwick introduced a proper historical understanding.

He published a decade before Steno and others began to understanding the geology and then time, so he seems out of touch.

Fewer followed him on time than we are led to believe

This book chapter of mine puts Ussher in a longer contexthttps://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2021/01/28/genesis-chapter-1-and-geological-time-from-grotius-to-thomas-chalmers-1620-1825/

Enjoy this short article , except for the last comment on scotch farmer!!!

Source: October 23, 4004: The Creation of the World

The War that never was. Evolution and Christian Theology

We are often told of the how the church opposed Galileo, Darwin, early geologists and almost every advance of science. There is a merest smidgeon of truth in it, but mostly they are stories invented to discredit Christianity. Much originated with Draper and White in the 19th century. Dawkins has fallen for it, among others. Over the lasty fifty years the idea of conflict between science and Christianity has been discredited.

World of Books - Science | A History of the Warfare of Science the Theology - War College Series By Andrew Dickson White

Recently there have been a spate of books on the conflict thesis of science and religion. Here is one coming to it from a catholic angle.

The War That Never Was: Evolution and Christian Theology Paperback – Illustrated, May 29, 2020

Kenneth W. Kemp is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the co-translator of Archbishop Jozef Zycinski’s God and Evolution: Fundamental Questions of Christian Evolutionism.

The blurb

One of the prevailing myths of modern intellectual and cultural history is that there has been a long-running war between science and religion, particularly over evolution. This book argues that what is mistaken as a war between science and religion is actually a pair of wars between other belligerents—one between evolutionists and anti-evolutionists and another between atheists and Christians. In neither of those wars can one align science with one side and religion or theology with the other. This book includes a review of the encounter of Christian theology with the pre-Darwinian rise of historical geology, an account of the origins of the warfare myth, and a careful discussion of the salient historical events on which the myth-makers rely—the Huxley-Wilberforce exchange, the Scopes Trial and the larger anti-evolutionist campaign in which it was embedded, and the more recent curriculum wars precipitated by the proponents of Creation Science and of Intelligent-Design Theory.

My review

As I read this book, I kept thinking of the Second World War hoax made into the film The man who never was

The Man Who Never Was By Ewen Montagu

A convenient corpse with a briefcase attached was allowed to wash up in Spain so Germans would read the documents giving false information about allied plans. The argument of Kemp’s book is that there was no war between Christianity and Evolution. The conflict thesis of religion and science has taken a battering during the last fifty years but many still believe it. Much will be familiar to some, but Kemp has re-packaged it in a different way as he leads from the ‘War’ started by Draper and White, through the Scopes trial to the various Creationism and ID trials of the last 40 years.   His emphasis is transatlantic, but the issues are worldwide. With the author being a Catholic philosopher he gives a new perspective The author says the book is a partial account focussing on the paleaetiological sciences (2, 3) i.e geology, palaeontology and evolution.  . That would be fair enough but it omits so much of those sciences and does not put geology into a full perspective – which can be done briefly, though he claims to leave it for another book. It is an odd claim to say that Lyell was the founder of geology.

180px-charles_lyell anning

Llyell (left) and his geology teacher Buckland looking at glacial striae at Rhyd Ddu in North Wales, 1841

The heart of the book gives a historical account of particular conflicts of evolution and Christianity, mostly of the more extreme kind. There is little on more atheistic questions but almost only on Christian opposition to evolution of the more extreme kind.  More on genuine wrestling by Christian thinkers would have been helpful as for example Adam Sedgwick,

300px-Adam_Sedgwick

Princeton theologians and Bernard Ramm. The introduction is a philosophical reflection with a succinct discussion of theology and naturalism. He concludes with recommending a ‘modest methodological naturalism’ for our theology and science and criticises Johnson’s appeal to ‘immediate divine action’. A good and nuanced account of the conflict thesis as it began in the 19th century follows, concluding with ways of assessing the various arguments.

Despite many who claim there was conflict over Genesis and geology, the author is right to say there was none, beyond the peripheral early 19th century Scriptural geologists. A sharper trajectory on how geology developed from Steno in the 1660s, would have shown the gradual dawning of the realisation of Deep Time and its relation to Christianity over the next 150 years. The presentation, which tends to flip backwards and forwards, makes it difficult to follow, if one does not have familiarity with the subject matter.

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Darwin and how some see him (statue in Shrewsbury)

The chapter on the aftermath of 1859 devotes much space to the Huxley-Wilberforce episode but sheds little new light.

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Wilberforce and Huxley, who got on quite well!!

It stresses its iconic position in the conflict thesis. Rather than consider the variety of Christian responses – Asa Gray is hardly mentioned, we are given four vignettes of evolutionists losing their university positions, hardly a large number

Chapter 5 is on the first Curriculum war of the Scopes era.

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The author first gives an account of events, which almost seem farcical. This undoes some of the myths surrounding Scopes. More importantly the Scopes trial is not seen as purely an anti-evolution crusade but wider than that.

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Andrea at the Dayton Courthouse and myself in the dock

There was a moral side and, in a sense, Bryan and others occupied the high moral ground despite their poor science. Part goes back to Kellogg’s visit to the German trenches in 1915, where German militarism was (wrongly?) traced back to Darwin. Bryan’s concern was more moral, which is why he could not accept evolution for humans. Kemp does not mention the anti-evolutionists opposition to eugenics in contrast to many biologists and modernist churchmen. Kemp regards the Scopes affair as not a battle between science and religion but rather between conservative Christians and also sees it as a three-way conflict between fundamentalism, modernism and scepticism (139). This spoils the cardboard cut-outs of Inherit the Wind, but brings out the complexities of Interwar American society. Anti-evolution was only part of it.

Chapter 6 deals with Creationism and ID in the last sixty years, termed the second curriculum war. Much is historical and familiar from Numbers The Creationists. Little is given on the renaissance of Creationism and more on legal aspects on the teaching of evolution as with the repeal of Scopes Laws and the Arkansas judgement of 1982.  The narrative moves on to Intelligent Design, which is wrongly seen as going back to Paley. The presentation is very last century with the focus on Johnson, Behe and Dembski. There’s a nod to the Dover trial of 2005, In a long section ofn the development of anti-evolutionist thought the difference between Creation ascience and ID is clarified but on ID focues on Johnson, Behe and Dembski in the 90s and omits later developments and thus gives little on how both Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design has evolved in the last fifteen years. Thus little is provided to understand anti-evolution in the twenties.

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Ken Ham, possibly the most significant Creationist of the 2020s, gets no mention

In conclusion Kemp emphasises that Scopes was over human evolution, whereas both creationism and ID challenge almost all of evolution and geology as well. He rightly says that the (187) NABT and new Atheists add to confusion by not distinguishing between methodological and metaphysical naturalism. He concludes this ‘war’ is doing damage to religion, as many readers must have discovered

The conclusion begins with a quote from Pope John Paul II on the Galileo myth, which is almost as pervasive. As with Galileo the Warfare Thesis fails on three grounds; it presupposes a clear demarcation between science and religion, assumes that scientists and Christians are neatly arrayed on opposite sides and. Finally, theologians were always opposed to new ideas.

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With such distortion the Warfare Thesis is not a good lens to understand the relation of science and religion. ‘The war that never was’ re-surfaces the whole time – whether  in churches or without. It thus needs wise engagement rather than dismissal.

As an Anglican priest I am frequently asked by those within and without the church how can I be a geologist and a Christian? Such is the indelibility of this myth.

This is not the easiest book to read, as rather than just give a narrative the author goes beyond a simple science versus religion explanation, and attempts to tease out various factors. As a result, this will help to give a better understanding of The War that never was and why there has been conflict over some aspects of science and some aspects of religion.

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Tall el-Hammam; an airburst of gullibility; it gets worse

Another appeal to proof of the Bible which must be taken with a pillar rather than a pinch of salt!

It’s a claim to explain the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is sciencey but emanates from a nutty establishment in Alberquerque or shall I say here alber quirky!!
Any attempt to tie an event into the scanty details of Genesis is always fraught as there simply so little to latch on to.
It is easier for later parts of the bible and the New Testament where there is mopre detail in the text.
This article which some fell for is a classic example of desperation in proof.
Paul has given a good and fair assessment and should be a warni
ong to naive Christians desperate for verification of the Bible.
(For myself I accept Abraham et al were historical figures but only have the very scanty statements in the bible. All we can say is that the accounts “fit in” with the sitz im leben of 2000BC and no more)

Primate's Progress

I shared the excitement when I read at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-97778-3 that

in ~ 1650 BCE (~ 3600years ago), a cosmic airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam, a Middle-Bronze-Age city in the southern Jordan Valley northeast of the Dead Sea

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Tall el-Hammam, overlooking Jordan Valley. Dead Sea and Jerico beyond it on horizon, to left. Creative Commons via Wikipedia

and that this event could have given rise to the biblical account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then I learned that the work was conducted by a group based on an unaccredited Bible college (Trinity Southwestern University, TSU), that the world’s leading authority on airbursts has denounced the claims as impossible, that eight separate major research groups have questioned the assumptions, reproducibility, and factual accuracy of related earlier work by the corresponding author, that there is an unusually active thread criticisng the work on PubPeer, and that Retraction Watch, which says that criticism…

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Why we should all be using printed Bibles | Psephizo

The bible has changed over the years. First it was on scrolls of papyrus or parchment, then codices and after Gutenberg in printed books. To begin with a printed Bible cost as much as a house but the price soon dropped.

Recently Bibles are available as electronic text and many have them downloaded onto their computers or phones. Some almost only read them on the phone.

That is all very useful but here Ian Paul makes the case that you read the Bible better in a hard copy than electronically.

I agree as I find reading electronically makes me skim rather than read, marm and inwardly digest

Source: Why we should all be using printed Bibles | Psephizo