"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 13, Number 11, November 2010
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”
Earl of Kent
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org
All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only. Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand. Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given upon request.]
The Obvious Evidence for Intelligent Design in Nature
“What value has wildlife from the standpoint of morals and religion? I heard of a boy once who was brought up atheist. He changed his mind when he saw that there were a hundred-odd species of warblers, each bedecked like to the rainbow, and each performing yearly sundry thousands of miles of migration about which scientists wrote wisely but did not understand. No ‘fortuitous concourse of elements’ working blindly through any number of millions of years could quite account for why warblers are so beautiful. No mechanistic theory, even bolstered by mutations, has ever quite answered for the colors of the cerulean warbler, or the vespers of the woodthrush, or the swansong, or--goose music. I dare say this boy’s convictions would be harder to shake than those of many inductive theologians. There are yet many boys to be born who, like Isaiah, ‘may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this.’ “
Aldo Leopold (1886-1948)
Round River, p. 246
(NorthWord Press, Minocqua, Wisconsin; 1991; from original 1953 edition)
[Note: Aldo Leopold was an avid hunter, fisherman, and the first professor of wildlife management at the University of Wisconsin. His most famous book--really a compilation made after his death of articles and journal entries--was A Sand County Almanac, an epic book in promoting a “land ethic,” or what may be termed “wise use conservation” as opposed to either exploitative, extractive plundering of natural resources on the one hand, or tree-hugging, non-use, hyper-preservationism on the other. While A Sand County Almanac is peppered with Biblical quotes and allusions, it is also tainted with the presumption of evolution--theistic evolution, to be sure--when a presumption of Intelligent Design would fit the facts far more readily--Editor]
Becoming a True Christian Scholar:
While there is and has long been in run-of-the-mill conservative Christianity in general and Baptist Fundamentalism in particular an indigenous and deeply in-grained distrust and suspicion of highly educated men within our ranks, this does not in the least reduce or detract from the great service and essential value such men have provided to Biblical Christianity through the centuries. If we may quote Erasmus (1466-1536) on Christianity’s debt to scholars:
Let it be remembered that the heretics were refuted by the scholars, and much more by the scholars than by the martyrs. By dying for a conviction a man proves only that he is sincere, not that he is right.
Erasmus of Christendom by Roland Bainton
New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1969,
In spite of this historic and continuing debt, there has been a parallel perverse distrust of and contempt for Christian scholars, even devout and spiritually-minded ones by much of conservative evangelical Christianity. I recall well a conversation I was party to some 25 years and more ago with an independent, fundamental Baptist pastor--a man who himself had been unable to complete even a basic, un-demanding three-year Bible institute degree, a deficiency he had not remedied by extensive personal study in succeeding years--in which he told me that “I just don’t trust men with a lot of education.” As though abject ignorance somehow made a man more spiritual and useful to God!
John Gill (1697-1771) wrote a scathing rebuke of this absurd perspective nearly 250 years ago:
Here I cannot but observe the amazing ignorance and stupidity of some persons, who take it into their heads to decry learning and learned men; for what would they have done for a Bible, had it not been for them as instruments? and if they had it, so as to have been capable of reading it, God must have wrought a miracle for them; and continued that miracle in every nation, in every age, and to every individual; I mean the gift of tongues, in a supernatural way, as he bestowed upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost; which there is no reason in the world ever to have expected. Bless God, therefore, and be thankful that God has, in his providence, raised up such men to translate the Bible into the mother-tongue of every nation, and particularly ours; and that he still continues to raise up such who are able to defend the translations made, against erroneous persons, and enemies of the truth; and to correct and amend it in lesser matters, in which it may have failed, and clear and illustrate it by their learned notes upon it.
A Body of Divinity
Sovereign Grace reprint,1971
All other things being equal--zeal, dedication, faithfulness, opportunity, personal ability--, the man with the better education will do the better, more effective and more far-reaching work. Consider the case of the Apostles. All of the original twelve, as far as we can tell, apparently came from what today would be called “blue collar” occupations, rather than from the “professional” or “academic” classes (Matthew Levi, as a tax collector, may be an exception, depending on how one classifies government bureaucrats!). Peter and John were expressly described by their adversaries as uneducated and ordinary men (Acts 4:13). Even so, the Apostles did excellent work in evangelizing Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to some degree further afield. But who was it that planted the Gospel throughout Asia, Greece, the islands of the Mediterranean and beyond? It was the formally- and highly-educated former Pharisee and student of the learned Rabbi Gamaliel, Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle. And what was Paul’s testimony in this regard? That, by the grace of God upon him, he labored more extensively, and effectively, than the rest (I Corinthians 15:9-10). It is a certainty that Paul’s extensive training in Hebrew Bible and Rabbinics were essential to his accomplishing what he accomplished, and in writing what he wrote--the doctrinal heart of the New Testament, Romans through Philemon.
Reaching back to the Old Testament, let us not forget that when God brought His people out of Egypt, His chosen leader was Moses, a man educated in “all the wisdom of Egypt,” (Acts 7:22). And the leading spokesman for God during the Babylonian captivity was the man Daniel, who providentially was trained at the king’s expense in the learning and language of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1:5).
In ecclesiastical history, we often see that the highly educated made contributions that greatly overshadowed the achievements of men of lesser training.
Wycliffe, a university professor at Oxford, produced the first complete English Bible, which he could not have done without his mastery of Latin.
All the leading Reformers in Europe, and many of the less prominent ones, were highly educated men, men thoroughly versed in Latin, Greek, often Hebrew and sometimes Aramaic and Syriac, and with a strong familiarity with both classical and Christian literature stretching back to antiquity (which constituted virtually the whole of collective “knowledge” in that era)--Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Tyndale, Melanchthon, Beza, even Menno Simons and many more. Without their extensive knowledge of languages and literature, they could not have made their vernacular Bible translations (which gave the unlearned masses access to Divine revelation), nor written their treatises, commentaries and tracts that shook Europe, and beyond.
In the following centuries, highly educated men were the leaders in Christianity. Some were formally trained--the men of the Westminster Assembly, the Puritans in general, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Adoniram Judson--, while others, lacking “higher education,” were self-taught: John Gill, William Carey (who never spent a day in college, yet mastered numerous languages and was in his day acknowledged as the world’s greatest living linguist), and Spurgeon, to note only a few. And even men who began with essentially no education at all nevertheless saw the need to inform their minds in preparation for God’s service--John Newton (the converted slaver who studied Latin and Greek after entering the ministry), D. L. Moody, and Gipsy Smith to list some few obvious examples. None of these men decried learning and learned men, but valued their own education and prized what other men’s minds had made available to them through their writings.
The truth be told, Christian scholars of the 19th and previous centuries were as a class far better educated individually than today’s scholars. Consider Henry Alford’s famous commentary in 4 volumes, The Greek Testament. Published in the 1860s, it regularly quotes various texts and authors in Latin, Greek, German, French and other languages, with the unspoken assumption that of course his readers had no need of translation of any of these. That we collectively fall far short of the achievements of earlier generations of Christian scholars is to our great loss, and embarrassment. Our need is not for fewer scholars today--we very much need many more than we have.
I am by no means arguing that education is a substitute for spirituality, or that it can make up for defective devotion or commitment, but I am arguing that extensive education can be a mighty adjunct to spirituality, devotion and commitment in the work of God, and we are desperately in need of a continually-maturing “crop” of new Fundamentalist scholars, if we are to do the work of the ministry as effectively as we ought in this and future generations. Education is not an end in itself, but a means to a very important end.
Beginning in 1977, I have been more or less continually involved in the educating of men in or preparing for the ministry in a variety of Bible colleges, seminaries, and Bible institutes, besides seeking to educate myself as well, and have concluded that certain areas of study will yield the greatest benefits, if diligently pursued, to those seeking to become well-prepared and useful Bible scholars. What specific areas of study would I recommend for a budding young scholar-in-training who wishes to maximize his usefulness in the service of God?
Of course, a general Bible course in college and seminary or graduate school is presumed, but specifically in such a course, I strongly urge, even insist, that for a scholar-in-training, there is no substitute or alternative to knowing and knowing competently well both Greek and Hebrew, as well as Aramaic, the three Biblical languages. There is no getting around it: the Bible was originally written in these three ancient languages, and if we are to be truly masters of this book (as far as that is humanly possible)--“homo unius libri” [“a man of one book”] as John Wesley famously declared he wanted to be (The Works of John Wesley, 3rd edition. Peabody, Mass.; Hendrickson, 1991 reprint of 1872, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, London, edition; vol. 5, "preface," p. 3),--then we simply must study these languages extensively. And that may--in fact, definitely will--require the foregoing of other study and activity to a not inconsiderable extent. Historian and biographer Douglas Southall Freeman wisely affirmed, “In deciding what you’re going to do, your first decision must be what you’re not going to do. To do, you must leave undone.” (Quoted in Douglas Southall Freeman by David E. Johnson. Pelican Publications, 2002, p. 206). Priorities, priorities.
Nineteenth century Scottish theologian A.M. Fairbairn is quoted by A. T. Robertson in the “Preface” of his A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research as having said, “No man can be a theologian who is not a philologian. He who is no grammarian is no divine,” (4th edition, p. x). Robertson himself adds:
There is nothing like the Greek New Testament to rejuvenate the world, which came out of the Dark Ages with the Greek New Testament in its hand. . . . The Greek New Testament is the New Testament. All else is translation. Jesus speaks to us out of every page of the Greek. Many of his ipsissima verba are here preserved for us, for our Lord often spoke Greek. To get these words of Jesus it is worth while to plow through any grammar and to keep on to the end.
Robert Dick Wilson (1856-1930), noted American Presbyterian Old Testament scholar, wrote similarly:
Many of the ambiguities of the Scriptures arise from this almost insurmountable difficulty in making a correct translation from the original text. To coin new words, or to take over a word from the original, is often to make the version unintelligible to the ordinary reader for whom the version is primarily prepared; while, to use an old word in a new meaning is to lay the reader open to a misunderstanding of the true sense of a passage. This is the fundamental reason why all appeals in matters of biblical doctrine should be made to the original languages of the Scripture. This is the true and sufficient reason why all discussion among scholars as to the meaning of disputed passages should be based upon the ipsissima verba. This is a firm and ever existing ground for the insistence of the church, that her teachers shall be thoroughly conversant with the original languages of the Word of God. Translations must err, because no given language has terms expressing thought which exactly correspond to the terminology of another.
Studies in the Book of Daniel
Baker Book House, 1972 reprint of 1917 edition
Vol. I, pp. 84-5
Luther recognized that for him and others, the knowledge of Hebrew and Greek was absolutely essential:
While a preacher may preach Christ with edification though he may be unable to read the Scriptures in the originals, he cannot expound or maintain their teaching against the heretics without this indispensable knowledge.
Quoted in Bernard Ramm,
Protestant Biblical Interpretation
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1970,
(If I may make a “sidebar” observation: it certainly seemed from what I could observe at the time that the development of the Master of Ministry--M.Min.--and Doctor of Ministry--D.Min.--degrees in the latter part of the 20th century, in lieu of or along side of the traditional M. Div. and Th.D. / Ph.D. degrees, besides aiming to prop up declining seminary enrollments--and income--as the baby-boom surge ebbed, was at least in part to accommodate those who wanted master’s and doctor’s degrees without the trouble and labor of learning Greek and Hebrew, and the obligatory two modern languages standard to Th.D. / Ph.D. programs. Whatever the value of these programs in other respects, in this they serve de facto as a means of denying oneself the acquisition of the most valuable of Biblical study tools, the capacity to read the original text. And developments in M.Div. curricula over recent decades are similarly blameworthy for a general and substantial lowering of language requirements for that degree at various institutions).
In my experience, it usually takes at least three good years of study of a language before one can with confidence make an independent judgment on the meaning of a particular grammatical construction. I remember the first time I felt comfortable dissenting from A. T. Robertson on the interpretation of the grammar of a particular NT passage. I had had a year of beginning Greek (10 hours), a semester of intermediate Greek, exegesis of Philippians, and a year of classical Greek. Before completing these, I could have noted various grammarians’ opinions, but could not have honestly formed an independent one myself. Indeed, a balanced approach to NT Greek should include beginning Greek (completing the first year grammar book--a thing most courses don’t do), intermediate Greek grammar (Wallace, Dana-Mantey and similar works), some NT exegesis courses (from several different authors and genres), but also at least one course reading the Septuagint, one course reading the Apostolic fathers, and a year or two of classic Greek. These will give a breadth and depth of knowledge that will spare the interpreter from tunnel-visioned abuse of the NT text.
As for Hebrew, besides beginning and intermediate Biblical Hebrew courses, plus some exegesis courses (including narrative, poetry and prophecy), a course reading ancient inscriptions, seals and such in Hebrew, Moabite, and Phoenician will give one better perspective on the historic development of the language than anything else (I had such a course early on at Hebrew Union College and still consider it the single most valuable Hebrew course I had there, or anywhere, for that matter). Further, one would do well to study rabbinic Hebrew (as found in the Mishnah and Talmud) as well as the Medieval Hebrew (used by such commentators as Rashi, Kimchi, Ibn Ezra and more); dabbling a bit in Modern Israeli Hebrew also has real value.
Beyond Hebrew, there is Aramaic, and not just the limited corpus of Aramaic in the OT (Daniel, Ezra and Jeremiah). Ancient documents, inscriptions and more, contemporary with the OT period in Old and Imperial Aramaic will shed light not only on the Aramaic of Daniel and Ezra, but also on the Hebrew language. Further, attention to Qumranian Aramaic, Rabbinic Aramaic (used in the Targums, Talmuds and other related literature), plus the related dialect of Syriac are invaluable.
Completing this level of linguistic training is a real labor of several years’ duration, of course, but it has the recompense of enabling the student to directly address the meaning and content of the Biblical text as originally written, and to learn and discover things that he will not find in any commentary, topical study, or learned journal article. There is a considerable level of satisfaction in knowing that one can, with effort and the necessary study tools (grammars, lexicons, etc.) derive from the text everything that an A.T. Robertson or J. B. Lightfoot or K. F. Keil could, and in some cases advance beyond them because of modern discoveries. I cannot see any way for one intending to be a competent and qualified Fundamentalist scholar to avoid learning the languages--and why would he want to pass them by?
Having laid this essential foundation of linguistic competence, the scholar in training will need to specialize in one or more areas of knowledge, since it is true, as the old saw affirms, “nobody can know everything.” Indeed, nobody can know everything even in a relatively limited compass of material, as, say “the Old Testament,” or the much shorter “New Testament.” The field is too wide, the information too vast, and human capacity in intellect and time is too short. For the Old Testament specialist, as for the New, to attain true competence, there must be further specializing in some more limited area within this broader “specialization.”
For the Old Testament, several areas of focused studies strike me as of eminent value. First, there is my own favored field, that of OT texts and versions. A strong acquaintance with the ancient Greek, Aramaic, Syriac and Latin versions of the OT is front and center in such matters as textual criticism, the canon, ancient exegesis and the history of interpretation. I personally think that a knowledge of these versions is of considerably more value than a similar knowledge of the flood of “secondary literature” that is being published today. I commonly find that careful examination of the Hebrew text, plus the ancient versions--the Septuagint, the Vulgate, the Peshitta and the Targum(s)--often leaves precious little more to discover about the passage in commentaries, topical studies and journal articles. We need men devoting themselves to this important area of study.
And there is comparative Semitics. Because of the relatively limited extent of OT Hebrew texts plus contemporary extra-Biblical texts (compared, say, with total extant literature in ancient Greek), attention to languages cognate to Hebrew is quite useful in casting light on the language of the OT. Besides the Phoenician and Moabite texts already noted (these and Hebrew are in essence merely variant dialects of “Canaanite”), plus Aramaic, there is Ugaritic, a second millennium B.C. language and literature that has cast much light on the OT, both linguistically and literarily. Further afield, there is Akkadian, and more remote still are Arabic and Ethiopic. I have found Akkadian (of which I had but one year) of limited use in my particular focus in OT studies, though it would be essential for the specialist in Semitic languages as well as Ancient Near Eastern civilization (another valuable area of focus, for illuminating both the history and the culture of the OT); Arabic and Ethiopic, being considerably more remote in time and place are of comparatively limited direct use, generally speaking. Naturally enough, if one were specializing in Egyptian studies (as K. A. Kitchen has) or Hittite studies, those non-Semitic languages would have to be learned as well.
And I would be remiss if I did not also suggest Biblical archaeology as another field of specialization that needs the attention of devout scholars. Other disciplines, such as OT theology, have linguistic studies as their absolutely essential foundation.
I would also highly recommend three specialized areas of focus that I think are of the utmost value for NT studies, and the individual seeking to become a competent scholar in NT studies would do well to give special attention to at least one of these areas and seek to become thoroughly versed in it (and to not entirely neglect the other two).
First, there is the very obvious area of Greek and Roman antiquities. The events of the NT occur in a largely Greek culture under Roman political control, meaning a thorough acquaintance with Greek and Roman antiquities--their language, history, culture, political and intellectual systems can only enhance one’s understanding of the NT. It is notable that eminent NT scholars of the 20th century William Mitchell Ramsay and F. F. Bruce, were first classical scholars by training and profession before they focused their attention on the NT. Indeed, part of the intellectual equipment of most of the pre-eminent Bible scholars of the 16th to 19th centuries was extensive training in classical antiquity. That this is no longer the case is to our considerable collective loss. Had I the opportunity--and sense--to “do all over again” my education beyond high school, I would start with a B. A. in classical studies (with a couple years of German thrown in for good measure)
A second area of specialization that has high value to the intended scholar of the NT (and of the Old, too) is ancient Jewish and Rabbinic literature. This massive body of literature--the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the Qumran literature, Philo, Josephus plus the Mishah, Tosefta, Targums, Talmuds, Midrashim and even the medieval commentators--casts a flood of light on both testaments, their terminology, culture and interpretation. John Gill, no mean scholar, declared of the Mishnah (codified Pharisee-ism, compiled around A.D. 200), that “no one book in the world, excepting the Holy Scriptures, has been of that use and service to me as this has been,” (see the preface to his commentary on the NT). And yet most conservative seminary graduates today have never read any of it or perhaps even seen a copy.
Nearly the whole of the OT and all but two books of the NT were written by Jews by birth and culture, and, need I say, these authors did not live or write in a vacuum, but inherited a culture and religious heritage that affected their thinking, language, perspective and understanding. Studying this literature can facilitate our understanding of Scripture in a thousand ways. Some Christian writers have been wise enough to make extensive use of this literature: John Lightfoot of the Westminster Assembly, J. J. Wettstein and the aforementioned John Gill in the 18th century, Adam Clarke and later Alfred Edersheim in the 19th century, and Herman Strack and Paul Billerbeck in the first part of the 20th century. Had I my graduate studies to do over again, I would give considerably more attention to Rabbinic studies than I did.
Third, another focus of immense value to the Biblical scholar-in-development is early church history, say from the late 1st through early 4th centuries. Yes, later church history has its interest, too, but the first couple of post-Apostolic centuries--“primitive” pre-Constantine Christianity--, when the martyrs, apologists, and theologians were defending and systematizing and synthesizing orthodox theology, and discerning the limits of the canon, all the while propagating Christianity in a dark and pagan world is of utmost interest. Every time I have delved into this literature and period, I have wished for more, and regret that I have given it too little time and attention. I could wish for a year of doing nothing else so that I could devote my whole study to this period and literature.
I would recommend, then, to any NT scholar in training to give close and extended attention to one of these areas--classical studies, Jewish and rabbinic literature, or the earliest Christian centuries--and not neglect the other two. I wish someone had counseled me 40 years ago to do so.
And let me add a word about modern languages. Typically, Ph.D. programs for either Testament commonly require German (usually) and French (often) as the requisite modern languages. The former I use almost exclusively in examining Luther’s Bible version; most of the worthwhile German literature (and much of German theological writing is theologically and philosophically tainted, often extremely so) gets translated in pretty short order. French would be of more use in the area of archaeology (Italian would come in second in this regard); I occasionally use it consulting Calvin’s writings, and in the examination of French Bible versions. Spanish would be a desideratum if one were studying the Targumim, since a considerable amount of literature on that topic in recent years is in Spanish. Modern Israeli Hebrew is the language employed in a substantial amount of literature on the Hebrew Bible and Holy land archaeology. (One continuing frustration: It seems to me that no matter how many languages you “know” [whatever that means! Some today speak of “controlling” French or Akkadian or Latin--which I take to mean they have a working knowledge of it and can use it for research purposes], you could always make good use of just one or two--or three--more!). It is far better to plan ahead and gain competence (two years or more each) in a couple of foreign tongues during undergraduate studies (a thing I didn’t have enough sense, or counsel, to do), than to try and find time to cram them into a Ph.D. program
One abiding danger in any study program toward a Ph.D. or similar degree in Biblical studies, or for that matter in self-directed private study, is too great a pre-occupation with secondary literature, of which the published torrent grows apace with the passage of each hour. Yes, familiarity with the major secondary literature of Biblical studies is necessary, but I see too often those who substitute a knowledge of the secondary literature for a direct, first-hand, close familiarity with the Bible itself. Far too many have wandered off into tangents, and sometimes into heresy, by too great an attention to the literature about the Bible, while comparatively ignoring the Bible itself.
And then there is the neglect of older literature in favor of the new. Yes, there are new discoveries and new perspectives that merit attention, but there is a huge mass of still worthwhile literature from the past 5 centuries that modern scholarship has not superceded, or has done so only in part.
(I have been focusing here on the need for thoroughly prepared Biblical scholars, focusing on linguistic studies, and areas of specialization. I of course recognize the need beyond and in addition to these areas for trained specialists in other fields--church and denominational history, apologetics, systematic and contemporary theology, scientific creationism, counseling and a whole lot more. But in all of these, a strong foundation in Biblical studies and languages is of prime importance and usefulness).
In closing, let me encourage the man who is considering devoting his life and energies to thorough Biblical scholarship, or who has already begun to do so, to press on with his chosen, sometimes under-appreciated, labors, not for human praise or for money, but because the work must be done, and cries out to be done well.
Consider briefly the experience and example of Edward Gibbon, 18th century English historian, famous for his massive history of the Roman Empire’s decline and fall--
[Gibbon] had pursued knowledge with single-hearted loyalty and now became aware that from a worldly point of view knowledge is not often a profitable investment. A more dejecting discovery cannot be made by the sincere scholar. He is conscious of labour and protracted effort, which the prosperous professional man and tradesman who pass him on their road to wealth with a smile of scornful pity have never known. He has forsaken comparatively all for knowledge, and the busy world meets him with a blank stare, and surmises shrewdly that he is but an idler, with an odd taste for wasting his time over books.
Gibbon by James Coter Morison.
London: Macmillan and Co., 1895;
Nevertheless, the Fundamentalist scholar knows that his work is necessary to the work of God. While its monetary compensations are commonly small, or even non-existent, and notoriety and fame are regularly absent among the results of his toil, even so, it brings a large measure of contentment and satisfaction to the one who pursues it wholeheartedly, so that he may make a wider impact for good, for the Lord’s sake.
A Correction or Two
We have been informed by a reader that the page numbers we gave in our previous issue for the quote from A. A. Hodge regarding the inevitable degeneration of public schools into atheism, may be incorrect. In at least one edition of Popular Lectures on Theological Themes, the correct page references are 281, 283-284, rather than 280, 288. Since we quoted this passage from a secondary source and do not own this particular volume, we are unable to check the reference directly ourselves. As was suggested to us, perhaps there are different editions of this work.
Secondly, in our citation from Keil’s Introduction to the Old Testament, we quoted his comments on p. 42 regarding the frequent incompleteness of genealogies in the OT, and incorrectly supplied the name of the book for the passage he was referencing; we ineptly supplied “I Chronicles” for the correct “Ruth.”--editor.
Don’t You Believe It! Poking Holes in Faulty Logic by A. J. Hoover. Chicago: Moody Press, 1982. 132 pp. paperback.
Daily as we study, read, listen and learn, we are bombarded with a whole host of arguments and reasons why we should adopt some particular point of view or reject another. Sad to say, much of the argument and reasoning that is used in these attempts to persuade us, by no means excluding the realm of theology and Biblical studies, is defective. It is often inaccurate, irrational, irrelevant or otherwise unsound, but if we are not alert to these defects, we can be easily “taken in” by what seems to be at first blush convincing proof.
Almost three decades ago, I first read this delightful little book that describes and illustrates in a highly entertaining way (sometimes with comic-strip illustrations) in 25 brief chapters some 30 different types of fallacious arguments, such as “the argument of the beard,” “poisoning the wells,” “the slippery slope fallacy,” and more. For example, the old Bible critic’s trick of asking “Can God make a rock bigger than He can lift?” is a case of “the principle of contradiction,” wherein the arguer presupposes at one and the same time two mutually exclusive things, in this case that God is both omnipotent and not omnipotent. He simply cannot have it both ways. And it is not just Bible critics who use these defective reasonings to bolster their case. I have found in pro-KJVOnly literature virtually (and perhaps actually) every single category of bogus logic and argument presented here used to bolster the case for KJVOism.
I don’t think this book is still in print, but it is obtainable via the internet used book dealers; however, the cheapest copy I found was over $30 with postage--it was priced at $5.95 when first issued. I would try inter-library loan instead. An hour or two spent reading this little book will sharpen your reasoning skills, and help you, as it has helped me, to see the false and defective nature of the arguments in what I read and hear and see. And it has spared me frequently from employing such arguments myself.