"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 14, Number 4, April 2011
“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.
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.]
Twelve Established Historical Facts Regarding the Death of Jesus,
Which Even Secularist Scholars Acknowledge
“1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
2. He was buried.
3. The death of Jesus caused the disciples to despair and lose hope, believing that his life was ended.
4. Although not as widely accepted, many scholars hold that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered to be empty just a few days later.
5. The disciples had experiences they believed were the literal appearances of the risen Jesus.
6. The disciples were transformed from doubters who were afraid to identify themselves with Jesus to bold proclaimers of his death and resurrection.
7. This message was the center of preaching in the early church.
8. This message was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and was buried shortly before.
9. As a result of this teaching, the church was born and grew.
10. Sunday became the primary day of worship.
11. James, who had been a skeptic, was converted to the faith when he also believed that he had seen the resurrected Jesus.
12. A few years later, Paul was converted by an experience that he likewise believed to be an appearance of the risen Jesus.”
From Did the Resurrection Happen?
A Conversation with Gary Habermas and Antony Flew
Edited by David Baggett
Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books 2009.
Observations: Of course, these facts being established by ordinary processes of confirmation of historical events (i.e., without appeal to the supernatural or claims of inspired accounts and therefore beyond dismissal as merely “the affirmations of faith by ‘true believers,’ “), the issue must be faced by the candid observer: how are these historical facts to be explained? How did the tomb become empty? How were the disappointed and disheartened disciples so soon and so suddenly and so completely transformed into convinced and deeply committed proclaimers of a resurrected Jesus? How come disbelieving contemporaries of these events, resident in Jerusalem, could not disabuse the “deluded” disciples (if “deluded” they indeed were) of so monumental a claim? And what caused avowed skeptics, even enemies of the Messiahship of Jesus (such as James), and the claims of His resurrection (such as Paul) to become firm and zealous adherents of these claims? Only one explanation stands up to rational investigation: “He rose the third day,” as indeed the Scriptures plainly claim. If this necessary conclusion affronts the presuppositional anti-supernaturalism of the radical critic, then he needs to critically scrutinize his presuppositions, and yield to the evidence--Editor.
[Note: the book from which the above list of twelve facts was taken, Did the Resurrection Happen?, was pieced together from several divergent parts; the discussion between Habermas and Flew--their third such encounter over a two-decade-long friendship--is rather diffuse and non-systematic. Some account is given of how Flew, a long-time atheist philosopher, became a philosophical theist (or perhaps deist), and acknowledged that Christianity of all religions has the highest claim to being a Divine revelation. The editor’s lengthy assessment of the Habermas/Flew conversation is much more systematic than the discussion itself and rather philosophical and complex. The book contains, besides, a helpful bibliography. It can be read with profit.--Editor]
Never Too Old to Study a New Language: Abraham Lincoln’s Example
“ ‘Illinois State University’ offered its freshmen Latin grammar and when Bob [i.e., Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s oldest son] started that, his father, with the eager reaching out for all kinds of knowledge which he never lost, studied the language with him. A neighbor boy remembered Mr. Lincoln declining Latin nouns aloud as he went about his home duties. Doubtless he got fun out of it and did it with more boyish enthusiasm than Bob. The father may also have been trying in his gentle way to get his boy interested in his studies.”
Ruth Painter Randall, Lincoln’s Sons
Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1955; p. 50
On Chafer’s True Evangelism Once Again
In the previous issue, we reviewed briefly Lewis S. Chafer’s True Evangelism. Pastor Charles Baker reminded us of an extended account of the controversy generated (which controversy we alluded to) by a reprint of this book in the 1940s (which we incorrectly ascribed to Zondervan; it was in fact reprinted by Moody Press). That account, which I had in fact read in 1984 but failed to recall, is to be found in Robert L. Sumner’s Man Sent from God (Sword of the Lord Publishers, n.d.), a biography of his friend and colleague, John R. Rice. That account, found on pp. 208-216 of the updated edition of this book (and, apparently, on pp. 190-199 of the original 1959 Eerdmans edition) details the objections that Rice, Sumner and about 40 other evangelists voiced about Chafer’s book, much more fully than my own brief review. The reader should consult that first-hand account for “the rest of the story.”
A History of Transylvania by Stefan Pascu. Translated by D. Robert Ladd. New York: Dorsett Press, 1990. 317 pp., hardback.
This informative volume, titled in the original two-volume (1972, 1979) Romanian edition, Voievodatul Transilvaniei, traces the history of events in Transylvania from the pre-Roman era (the Romans gained control of the region by military conquest just after A.D. 100) into the 1920s.
Transylvania (a Latin term, literally, “across or beyond the forest”--a name given to the region by the Hungarians), occupies perhaps as much as 60-65% of modern Romania, and is a roughly horseshoe-shaped ring of mountains (the Transylvania Alps in the south and east, becoming the Carpathian Mountains in the north), opening toward the northwest, and the rugged land contained within this “cauldron” of mountains. This region has the highest elevations in Romania (and the second highest mountains in Europe, after the Alps), the heaviest annual rainfall (and a very extensive network of lakes and rivers), the greatest mineral wealth (metals, coal, salt and more) and the most extensive forests in the country, and because of the often rugged terrain and relatively few mountain passes, the historically most isolated part of the country.
When the region now called Transylvania first appeared on the “map” of history, it was occupied by a people called the Dacians, who also occupied most of what is today southern and eastern Romania. They were subdued by the Romans under Trajan between A.D. 101-106. The Romans heavily colonized the conquered region (as many as 40,000 Roman soldiers from diverse parts of the Empire were settled there), and inter-married with the remaining Dacian populace, keeping the region for centuries under Roman governance, until the collapse of the empire left the region to its own devices. Unlike the similar and contemporary centuries-long Roman occupation and rule in Britain, the Latin language and Roman culture took root in Transylvania (and the rest of Romania) and established a permanent legacy that survives to this day. Romanian is a Romance language, which preserves more of the archaic features of ancient Latin (such as case endings for nouns, etc.) than any of the other Romance languages (its vocabulary, is, however, less purely Latin than, e.g., Spanish or Italian, with heavy borrowing from Slavic, Turkish, Greek and other languages--about 35% of the total vocabulary).
Through the centuries, particularly in the Middles Ages, there were numerous invasions, conquests, occupations and settlements--by Huns, Goths, Magyars (Hungarians) and the possibly-related Szeklers, Slavs, Turks, Saxons, and to lesser degrees Jews and Gypsies--leaving 20th century Transylvania with a mixed population of mostly Romanians (65% more or less), Hungarians (or Szeklers--a point in dispute--about 24%), Saxons (about 10%--now mostly gone to re-united Germany), Jews (much larger before the Holocaust, and the re-establishment of Israel) and Gypsies (Tsigani). Pascu’s book is undeniably an “apologetic” for Romanian control of Transylvania (rather than Hungarian, as formerly under the Hapsburgs, i.e., pre-World War I), appealing to both history and present dominance of the Romanians in the region. In as much as the book was originally published while communism ruled in Romania, it is not surprising to find an occasional accommodation to communist theory and re-interpretation of history, but this is quite minor. The various attempts at unification of the Romania-speaking peoples inside and outside Transylvania under one government--briefly achieved around 1600, and re-established after World War I, with more abiding results--are among numerous events noted.
Along the trail of historical events, some interesting sidelights are uncovered. Though Romania and Transylvania have long been dominated by the Eastern Orthodox religion, yet John Hus in the 1400s, and Luther and Calvin in the 1500s had numerous followers in Transylvania, with not a few students traveling to Wittenberg for training. The first printed Hungarian Bible was printed by followers of Hus living in Moldova. (Though the book does not note this, it is of considerable interest that the change of borders for Transylvania after World War I--from part of Hungary to part of Romania--greatly facilitated the spread of the Gospel by Baptists within Romania. Before the change, Romanian-speaking Baptist churches were almost entirely confined to Transylvania, and particularly the far western fringes of the region. When Transylvania become politically part of Romania, these churches gained access to the whole of Romania for evangelism, and their numbers have increased many times over in the past 90 years).
I wish I had had this informative book when I first began working in Romania in 1991.
Messianic Expectations and Modern Judaism, by Solomon Schindler. Boston: S. E. Cassino and Co., 1886. 290 pp., hardback.
The author (1842-1915) was a German-born and German-educated Reform rabbi. He came to the U.S. in 1871 (his rationalistic views compelled his departure from serving among German Jews), where he led congregations in New Jersey and Boston. For the uninitiated, let me note that religious Judaism is divided into three camps, which may be generally characterized as--1. Orthodox, also called the “Chasidim” (lit. “pious, devout”) who accept the Divine authority of the Hebrew Scriptures (their term for what Christians call “the Old Testament”), plus the binding authority of oral tradition, as embodied in the Mishnah, Talmud and similar literature; 2. Conservative, which accepts the Hebrew Scriptures as Divine in origin, but rejects the oral traditions as obligatory; and, 3. the Reform or “modernist / liberal” branch of Judaism, which denies that the Bible is a supernatural book, denies miracles, or direct revelations from God, and indeed, differs little from modernist / apostate “Christianity” of the Yale, Harvard or Princeton Seminary type, in essence, “spiritual heirs” of the Sadducees, who yet somehow still try to find some “edifying” message in the Bible text. Further characteristics of 19th century Reform Judaism were a strong rejection of Zionism (the political movement seeking to establish a permanent Jewish homeland in Palestine) and a strong push for Jewish cultural and political assimilation in the free democracies of the West.
Schindler is decidedly of this third, rationalistic sort of Judaism called Reform (not “Reformed”--as though the task were ever completed). He of course dismisses the Messianic claims of Jesus or, rather, of the followers of Jesus about him--Schindler absurdly claims that Jesus was merely a mystic philosopher and idealistic dreamer, whose zealous but misguided followers transformed and misrepresented him as a Messianic aspirant, and made him into a God-figure he was not. Schindler all too easily dismisses as wholly non-credible the NT books and accounts of Jesus, yet, after excluding these, our only authentic and first-century sources for Jesus, His life and teaching, yet somehow claims to know what Jesus was like and what he did and did not claim regarding himself. Schindler insists that Jesus made a very poor candidate, indeed the poorest in history, for Messiahship since he had no aspirations for political power and kingship (Schindler unwittingly exposes himself as part and parcel with the Jews of John 6 who “wished to come and make Jesus king” to fulfill their misguided expectations). Caricature, misrepresentation, exaggeration and straw-men abound in Schindler’s account.
Schindler denies that there is any OT expectation of a dying, sin-atoning Messiah (or any Messianic expectation at all until after the Babylonian captivity; the “higher critical” arbitrary re-dating of the OT prophets on which this is based has long-since been discredited). He displays woeful ignorance--or disingenuousness--in this claim, since in reality ancient rabbinic Judaism recognized or posited two Messiahs in the Hebrew Scriptures, one the son of David to be king, and the other the son of Joseph or Ephraim, who would suffer and die. Anciently, among the Jews a suffering and dying Messiah was identified in Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Daniel 9:26 and Zechariah 12:10 (see “"Messianic Interpretation of the O. T. in Jewish Literature," AISI 1:2; and “A Remarkable Rabbinic Interpretation Regarding the Messiah,” AISI 7:11).
The “best” candidate to be the expected political warrior Messiah, according to Schindler, was Bar Kochba, who led the disastrous rebellion of the Jews against Rome in the mid-second century A. D. Rabbi Akiba, the “Elijah-figure” providing religious support for Bar Kochba, is alleged by Schindler to have suffered more than Jesus.
After Bar Kochba, Schindler skips over or touches ever so slightly on Messianic claimants (of which at least 64 have existed among the Jews), with a side-trail into Cabbalism, and the Spanish inquisition (wherein he mistakenly assumes that Roman Catholicism is genuine Christianity; he calls it a religion infested with lots of paganism--on that point he is correct) until the false Messiahs of the 1500s (David Rubeni and Solomon Molcho), and especially in the 1600s, namely Sabbatai Zwi.
Schindler’s bottom line: the expectation of a personal Messiah was always a misguided pipe-dream in Judaism. The five most prominent Messianic figures in Judaism were all utter failures. The “dream” / delusion is now dead, and good riddance. We don’t need it, and never did; inter-human ethics is what we need instead. (Just how corrupt, violent and vile humanity--things Schindler denies, by the way--is supposed to pull itself up by its bootstraps is never said). To adapt a famous line from the Humanist Manifesto: “There is no Messiah to save us; we must save ourselves.” This accurately characterizes Schindler’s views.
The treatment of Messianic expectations runs only to p. 169. The remaining 120 pages are published homilies of Rabbi Schindler, in which he espouses as sort of inter-faith ecumenical unitarianism, with aspirations and expectations of unending human progress, ever onward and upward. I wonder if Schindler’s unbridled, and unfounded “optimism” was shattered by what he saw of World War I before his death.
A merely human Bible, with mankind left to its own devices to resolve its self-created looming crises, without the hope of direct Divine intervention. Sounds like a recipe for utter despair.
(For a more systematic and thorough tracing from a Jewish point of view of Messianic expectations in Judaism in the past 2 millennia, one should consult Messianic Expectations in Israel by Abba Hillel Silver (New York: Macmillan Co, 1927), 268 pp.)
An Annotated Chronological List of Holy Land Pilgrimage Accounts
(continued from “As I See It” 14:2)
Burckhardt, John Lewis [1784-1817], Travels in Syria and the Holy Land. London: John Murray, 1822.
A native of Basel, Burckhardt was educated in Switzerland, Germany and England, and was sent out as an explorer by “The Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa.” He spent several years in the Middle East mastering Arabic and Islamic lore, and in disguise as though a Moslem, went on a hajj (Moslem pilgrimage), visiting Mecca and Medina, the first Christian European to do so. This book is part of a three-volume set of his journals, published by the association after his death. His journals, written in English and laboriously revised by him, are characterized as valuable. An excerpt was printed in Biblical Archaeology Review 34:1, January/February 2008, pp. 72 ff. See the Dictionary of National Biography for a succinct biographical sketch. Available in text only form (not a scanned facsimile) at www.archive.org.
Robinson, Edward and Eli Smith. Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petrea: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1838. 3 vols. Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1841.
Though we have neither consulted nor even seen this work, it is so widely and highly praised, I suspect that it, with the next listed title, may well be the most valuable works mentioned here. Accessible at www.archive.org.
Robinson, Edward and Eli Smith, Later Biblical Researches in Palestine, and in the Adjacent Regions: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1852. Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1856. 2nd ed., 1871.
We list this out of strict chronological order, because it is by the same authors as the previous work and is a supplement to it.
Bonar, Andrew, A Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1845. Third edition. 535 pp. (published elsewhere and earlier in 1842).
Andrew Bonar (1810-1892), the youngest brother of noted Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), was himself a preacher of some fame. This account is based on a journey to Palestine made along with the famous Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843; Bonar later wrote a biography of McCheyne), with the intention of inquiring as to the state and condition of the Jews living there. The book has a very detailed table of contents. Available on line at www.archive.org. O, for the time to read this narrative!
Kinglake, Alexander William [1809-1891], Eothen (“Towards the East”): Or, Traces of Travel brought Home from the East. London: Harison, 1849.
This travelogue of the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean lands) is the result of a tour made in 1844. The New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1899, edition, as well as an 1864 “new edition” by the original publisher, are available at www.archive.org. An excerpt was published in Biblical Archaeology Review 35:1, January/February 2009, pp. 62-3.
Lynch, William Francis, Narrative of the United States’ Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1849. Second revised edition, 1850. 815 pp.
This lengthy account, being more or less the official report of an expedition consisting of some 14 U.S. Naval officers and enlisted men, along with 2 civilian volunteers, is far more than the title might suggest. The narrative begins with the conception of the idea for such an expedition, its organization, and the travel to and through Turkey, Syria, and virtually the whole of Palestine. More than twenty woodcuts based on drawings made on site enhance the interest of this volume. As with many of these titles, it is available at www.archive.org.
Browne, John Ross, Yusef, or the Journey of the Frangi: A Crusade in the East. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1853. The author (1821-1875) was an American of small means, who visited the Mediterranean, traveling there by working on board a whaling ship. He narrates his adventures in Sicily, Greece, Turkey, Syria and Palestine (so, here, too, the title unfortunately gives almost no information about the contents of the book). About 40 engravings, based on drawings made by the author, enhance the book’s interest. An excerpt was published in Biblical Archaeology Review 35:2, March/ April 2009, pp. 60-1, describing the ruins of Caesarea. Available at www.archive.org
De Forest, John William [1826-1906]. Oriental Acquaintance, or Letters from Syria. New York: Dix, Edwards, & Co.,1856. 285 pp.
Here, again, the title scarcely conveys an idea of the book’s contents, which are a chatty personal account, in 13 lengthy “letters” (narratives, rather than personal missives) of the author’s travels in Asia Minor, Rhodes, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria (more on the last than any other place). An excerpt appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review 34:6, November/December 2008, pp.71-2. Available at www.archive.org.
Bonar, Horatius [1808-1889], The Desert of Sinai: Notes on a Spring Journey from Cairo to Beersheba. London: James Nisbet & Co., 1857. Also New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1857. 408 pp.
We have seen several commendations of this book by a well-known author, but have had no opportunity to examine it more than cursorily on line, where it is available at www.archive.org. It is exactly what its title says (how nice!), the notes often being taken while riding on camelback. It does not include any narrative of Palestine proper, though the author expresses a hope that he may one day make such a journey and produce such a narrative. If he ever did so, I have found no reference to it.
Hackett, Horatio B., Illustrations of Scripture: Suggested by a Tour through the Holy Land. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1859. 227 pp.
Described in AISI 14:1
Taylor, Bayard [1825-1878], The Lands of the Saracen, or Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain. New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1858. 451 pp.
The author, an American journalist, tells us that this is the second of three volumes narrating his travels (the first covers Central Africa, the third, the Far East; he in fact wrote a great deal more than these). The subtitle, far better than the title per se, characterizes the book, though word-pictures would have been even clearer. Available at www.archive.org. An excerpt was published in Biblical Archaeology Review 34:6, November/December 2008, p. 72
Tristram, Henry Baker, The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine. First edition, 1865. Third edition, 1876. Fourth edition: London: S. P. C. K., 1882. 651 pp.
The author (1822-1906), an Anglican cleric, is reported as having made several trips to Palestine between 1858 and 1881, including one of almost ten months’ duration with a small party in 1863-4, during which he studied the geography, fauna and especially the flora, on which he was a noted authority. He wrote several other similarly-focused volumes. An excerpt appeared in: Biblical Archaeology Review, 35:3, May/June 2009, pp. 56, 58. Naturally, the volume is available at www.archive.org.
Bryant, William Cullen, Letters from the East. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1869. 256 pp.
Bryant (1794-1878) was a famous American poet and newspaper editor. This narrative in nineteen “letters” was based on a journey made in the closing months of 1852 and the first six months of 1853 (one wonders why publication was delayed some 16 years). Once again, the title is too skimpy with information, and would have been better as “An Account of a Journey to Europe and the Middle East,” in as much as it recounts time spent in England, France, Italy, Malta, Egypt, Palestine (the lion’s share of the narrative) and Turkey. An excerpt was published in Biblical Archaeology Review, vol. 34, no. 6, November/December 2008, p. 72, and as per usual, it is available at www.archive.org.
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.
Described in AISI 14:1
Account of travels in Europe and the Middle East by John Albert Broadus published in “The Religious Herald.”
Described in AISI 14:1
Through Bible Lands, by Philip Schaff. 1878
Described in AISI 14:1
The Land and the Book, or Biblical Illustrations Drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery, of the Holy Land, by William M. Thomson. 1880.
Described in AISI 14:1
Sinai and Palestine, in Connection with Their History, by A. P. Stanley. 1881.
Described in AISI 14:1
Reflections in Palestine, 1883 by Charles “Chinese” Gordon. London: Macmillan and Co.,1883. 124 pp.
Gordon (1833-1885) was a famous British General who died at Khartoum, and is ‘memorialized’ in the name “Gordon’s Calvary,” the location north and east of the Damascus Gate which he popularized as an alternative to the traditional “Calvary” located at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. His book is based on a year spent in Palestine. I consulted it in a library some 25 years or more ago, and did not find it be of much interest. It is available in on-demand reprint hard- or paperback, and, no surprise, at www.archive.org.
“Pilgrimage,” by H. L Mencken. in Heathen Days. New York: Knopf, 1947
Described in AISI 14:1
And yet there is much more--in fact, much, much MORE! Todd Bolen in a blog entry for December 3, 2010, titled “My Favorite (Old) Travel Resources,” to be found at http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2010/12/my-favorite-old-travel-resources.html lists about 20 works from the 19th century, most of which I had not previously found or noted (a thank you to AISI reader Bill Soper for bringing this blog entry to my attention). And just recently, I came across an extensive listing of Holy Land pilgrimage accounts in Library of Biblical and Theological Literature, edited by George R. Crooks and John F. Hurst, vol. III, Theological Encyclopedia and Methodology (New York: Easton and James, 1894. New edition, revised). On p. 180, they introduce the subject by saying, “The itineraries of Christian pilgrims are not without historical importance, though they contain much fabulous matter . . . and this is especially true of the statements of the Crusaders.” They then give ten pages of bibliography, much of it directly relevant to our topic, of works in English, German, French, Latin and perhaps another language or two, and most of which I have not taken note of here. It is obvious to me, if not to the reader, I could go on almost endlessly expanding this list of published Holy Land pilgrimage accounts, but I have to stop somewhere, and this must be it.
Here, then, is a great and mostly unexplored and unknown field for study in which the reader will find much light cast on the Biblical text. While there is more than enough material here for a person to prepare a doctoral dissertation on 19th-century Holy Land pilgrimage accounts, to say nothing of the many volumes from earlier centuries, yet any serious student of Scripture could and should read at least two or three or perhaps a few more of these accounts for his own enlightenment and edification. Tolle, lege.