RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Bart Ehrman “Why should one think that God performed the miracle of inspiring the words in the first place if He didn’t perform the miracle of preserving the words?”

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

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Below you have picture of 1996 Chemistry Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Harry Kroto:

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Did Jesus Rise From The Dead -Bart Ehrman Vs William Lane Craig

Bart D. Ehrman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Ehrman” redirects here. For another historian, see John Ehrman.
Bart D. Ehrman
Bart-d-ehrman-2012-wikipedia.jpg

Professor Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D., M.Div.
Born October 5, 1955 (age 59)
Lawrence, Kansas, United States
Nationality American
Education BA (1978), MDiv (1981), PhD (1985)
Alma mater Moody Bible Institute
Wheaton College
Princeton Theological Seminary
Employer The Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Known for New Testament authenticationand textual variants, historical Jesus, early Christian writings, orthodox corruption of scripture.
Spouse(s) Sarah Beckwith
Children Kelly and Derek
Website www.bartdehrman.com

Bart D. Ehrman /ərmən/ (born October 5, 1955) is an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a leading scholar in his field, having written and edited over 25 books, including three college textbooks, and has also achieved acclaim at the popular level, authoring five New York Times bestsellers. Ehrman’s work focuses on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the development of early Christianity.

Bart Ehrman vs. James White Debate P1

Education[edit]

Ehrman grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and attended Lawrence High School, where he was on the state champion debate team in 1973. He began studying the Bible and its original languages at Moody Bible Institute, where he earned the school’s three-year diploma in 1976.[1] He is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, where he received his bachelor’s degree. He received his PhD and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under Bruce Metzger. He received magna cum laude for both his BA in 1978 and PhD in 1985.[2]

Was the New Testament Forged? Darrell Bock vs. Bart D. Ehrman

Career[edit]

Ehrman became an Evangelical Christian as a teenager. In his books, he recounts his youthful enthusiasm as a born-again, fundamentalist Christian, certain that God had inspired the wording of the Bible and protected its texts from all error.[1] His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages and also textual criticism. During his graduate studies, however, he became convinced that there are contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts that could not be harmonized or reconciled. He remained a liberal Christian for 15 years but later became an agnostic after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and suffering.[1]

Ehrman has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. He was the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope “Spirit of Inquiry” Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.[2]

Ehrman currently serves as co-editor of the series New Testament Tools, Studies, and Documents (E. J. Brill), co-editor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae, and on several other editorial boards for journals and monographs. Ehrman formerly served as President of the Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, chair of the New Testament textual criticism section of the Society, book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature, and editor of the monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers (Scholars Press).[2]

Ehrman speaks extensively throughout the United States and has participated in many public debates, including debates with William Lane Craig, Dinesh D’Souza, Mike Licona, Craig A. Evans, Daniel B. Wallace, Richard Swinburne,Peter J. Williams, James White, Darrell Bock and Michael L. Brown.

In 2006 and 2009 he appeared on The Colbert Report,[3][4] as well as The Daily Show,[5] to promote his books Misquoting Jesus, and Jesus, Interrupted (respectively).

Ehrman has appeared on the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, A&E, Dateline NBC, CNN, and NPR’s Fresh Air and his writings have been featured in TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times,The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.[6]

Bart Ehrman vs. James White Debate P2

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In  the second video below in the 86th clip in this series are his words and  my response is below them. 

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

 

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Quote from Bart Ehrman:

In the book THE TEXTUAL RELIABILITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: A DIALOGUE by Bart Ehrman and Daniel B. Wallace and in the film series RENOWNED ACADEMICS SPEAKING ABOUT GOD, Dr. Ehrman noted:

The Bible is the most widely purchased, most thoroughly read, most broadly misunderstood book in the history of human civilization. One of the things that people misunderstand, of course—especially my nineteen-year-old students from North Carolina—is that when we’re reading the Bible, we’re not actually reading the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or Paul. We’re reading translations of those words from the Greek of the New Testament. And something is always lost in translation. Not only that, we’re not reading translations of the originals of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or Paul, because we don’t have the originals of any of the books of the New Testament. What we have are copies made centuries later—in most instances, many centuries later. These thousands of copies that we have all differ from one another in lots of little ways, and sometimes in big ways. There are places where we don’t know what the authors of the New Testament originally wrote. For some Christians, that’s not a big problem because they don’t have a high view of Scripture. For others, it’s a big problem indeed. What does it mean to say that God inspired the words of the text if we don’t have the words? Moreover, why should one think that God performed the miracle of inspiring the words in the first place if he didn’t perform the miracle of preserving the words? If he meant to give us his very words, why didn’t he make sure we received them?

________

I have two responses to Dr. Ehrman’s assertions. First, the Bible is the most well preserved ancient historical document in the world today and you can look at the Dead Sea Scrolls if you want to see how well the Old Testament was preserved over the centuries or you can look the manuscript evidence that Matt Slick provides in the article below concerning the New Testament. In both cases it is amazing how well God preserved these manuscripts for us. I agree with Slick’s conclusion, “The Christian has substantially superior criteria for affirming the New Testament documents than he does for any other ancient writing.”

Second, I do have a “high view of Scripture” as Dr Ehrman used to when he was an evangelical  and I think that evidence from biblical archaeology backs up my view that the scriptures are historically accurate. I have included some of that evidence below and also a letter of April 14, 2015 written to Dr. Ehrman that included some evidence of that sort.

Manuscript evidence for superior New Testament reliability

by Matt Slick

The New Testament is constantly under attack, and its reliability and accuracy are often contested by critics. If the critics want to disregard the New Testament, then they must also disregard other ancient writings by Plato, Aristotle, and Homer.  This is because the New Testament documents are better preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writings. Because they are so numerous, they can be cross checked for accuracy . . . and they are very consistent.

There are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament.1 If we were to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient writings, we find that the New Testament manuscripts far outweigh the others in quantity.2

Author Date
Written
Earliest Copy Approximate Time Span between original & copy Number of Copies Accuracy of Copies
Lucretius died 55 or 53 B.C. 1,100 yrs 2 —-
Pliny A.D. 61-113 A.D. 850 750 yrs 7 —-
Plato 427-347 B.C. A.D. 900 1,200 yrs 7 —-
Demosthenes 4th Cent. B.C. A.D. 1100 800 yrs 8 —-
Herodotus 480-425 B.C. A.D. 900 1,300 yrs 8 —-
Suetonius A.D. 75-160 A.D. 950 800 yrs 8 —-
Thucydides 460-400 B.C. A.D. 900 1,300 yrs 8 —-
Euripides 480-406 B.C. A.D. 1100 1,300 yrs 9 —-
Aristophanes 450-385 B.C. A.D. 900 1200 10 —-
Caesar 100-44 B.C. A.D. 900 1,000 10 —-
Livy 59 BC-AD 17 —- ??? 20 —-
Tacitus circa A.D. 100 A.D. 1100 1,000 yrs 20 —-
Aristotle 384-322 B.C. A.D. 1100 1,400 49 —-
Sophocles 496-406 B.C. A.D. 1000 1,400 yrs 193 —-
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643 95%
New
Testament
1st Cent. A.D. (A.D. 50-100) 2nd Cent. A.D.
(c. A.D. 130 f.)
less than 100 years 5600 99.5%

 

As you can see, there are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than any other ancient writing. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. That is an amazing accuracy. In addition, there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.

Almost all Biblical scholars agree that the New Testament documents were all written before the close of the First Century. If Jesus was crucified in A.D. 30., then that means the entire New Testament was completed within 70 years. This is important because it means there were plenty of people around when the New Testament documents were penned–people who could have contested the writings. In other words, those who wrote the documents knew that if they were inaccurate, plenty of people would have pointed it out. But, we have absolutely no ancient documents contemporary with the First Century that contest the New Testament texts.

Furthermore, another important aspect of this discussion is the fact that we have a fragment of the Gospel of John that dates back to around 29 years from the original writing (John Rylands Papyri A.D. 125). This is extremely close to the original writing date. This is simply unheard of in any other ancient writing, and it demonstrates that the Gospel of John is a First Century document.

Below is a chart with some of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts compared to when they were originally penned. Compare these time spans with the next closest, which is Homer’sIliad, where the closest copy from the original is 500 years later. Undoubtedly, that period of time allows for more textual corruption in its transmission. How much less so for the New Testament documents?

Important
Manuscript
Papyri
Contents Date
Original Written
MSS
Date
Approx.
Time Span
Location
p52
(John Rylands
Fragment)3
John 18:31-33, 37-38 circa
A.D. 96
circa
A.D.
125
29 yrs John Rylands Library, Manchester, England
P46
(Chester Beatty Papyrus)
Rom. 5:17-6:3, 5-14, 8:15-25, 27-35,10:1-11, 22, 24-33, 35, 16:1-23, 25-27, Heb., 1 & 2 Cor., Eph., Gal., Phil., Col., 1 Thess. 1:1, 9-10, 2:1-3, 5:5-9, 23-28 50’s-70’s circa
A.D.
200
Approx.
150 yrs
Chester Beatty Museum, Dublin & Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan library
P66
(Bodmer Papyrus)
John 1:1-6:11, 35-14:26, fragment of 14:29-21:9 70’s circa
A.D.
200
Approx.
130 yrs
Cologne, Geneva
P67 Matt. 3:9, 15, 5:20-22, 25-28 circa
A.D.
200
Approx.
130 yrs
Barcelona, Fundacion San Lucas Evangelista, P. Barc.1

If the critics of the Bible dismiss the New Testament as reliable information, then they must also dismiss the reliability of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Homer, and the other authors mentioned in the chart at the beginning of the paper. On the other hand, if the critics acknowledge the historicity and writings of those other individuals, then they must also retain the historicity and writings of the New Testament authors, after all, the evidence for the New Testament’s reliability is far greater than the others. The Christian has substantially superior criteria for affirming the New Testament documents than he does for any other ancient writing. It is good evidence on which to base the trust in the reliability of the New Testament.

 

  • 1.Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakeable Foundations, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2001) p. 256.
  • 2.The above chart was adapted from three sources: 1) Christian Apologetics, by Norman Geisler, 1976, p. 307, 2) the article “Archaeology and History attest to the Reliability of the Bible,” by Richard M. Fales, Ph.D., in The Evidence Bible, Compiled by Ray Comfort, Bridge-Logos Publishers, Gainesville, FL, 2001, p. 163, and 3) A Ready Defense, by Josh Mcdowell, 1993, p. 45.
  • 3.“Deissmann was convinced that p52 was written well within the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 117-38) and perhaps even during the time of Trajan (A.D. 98-117)” (Footnote #2 found on pg. 39 of The Text of the New Testament, by Bruce M. Metzger, 2nd Ed. 1968, Oxford University Press, NY, NY). Bruce Metzger has authored more than 50 books. He holds two Masters Degrees, a Ph.D. and has been awarded several honorary doctorates. “He is past president of the Society of Biblical Literature, the International Society for New Testament Studies, and the North American Patristic Society.”–From, The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel, Zondervan Publishers, 1998, Grand Rapids, MI: pg. 57.

 

 

April 14, 2015

Dear Dr. Ehrman,

I have really enjoyed listening to your You Tube videos and I really liked the debate you did with William Lane Craig. In that debate you said you went to Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College. I WONDER IF YOU GOT TO HEAR MY HERO FRANCIS SCHAEFFER SPEAK IN PERSON?  I know that he visited both locations  both in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I just purchased 88 of his messages given on Moody Bible Radio Broadcasts and I know that his first three books were actually transcripts from his speeches at Wheaton in 1967.

As you can tell from reading this letter I am an evangelical Christian and I have made it a hobby of mine to correspond with scientists or academics like yourself over the last 25 years. Some of those who corresponded back with me have been  Ernest Mayr (1904-2005), George Wald (1906-1997), Carl Sagan (1934-1996),  Robert Shapiro (1935-2011), Nicolaas Bloembergen (1920-),  Brian Charlesworth (1945-),  Francisco J. Ayala (1934-) Elliott Sober (1948-), Kevin Padian (1951-), Matt Cartmill (1943-) , Milton Fingerman (1928-), John J. Shea (1969-), , Michael A. Crawford (1938-), Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), Sol Gordon (1923-2008), Albert Ellis (1913-2007), Barbara Marie Tabler (1915-1996), Renate Vambery (1916-2005), Archie J. Bahm (1907-1996), Aron S “Gil” Martin ( 1910-1997), Matthew I. Spetter (1921-2012), H. J. Eysenck (1916-1997), Robert L. Erdmann (1929-2006), Mary Morain (1911-1999), Lloyd Morain (1917-2010),  Warren Allen Smith (1921-), Bette Chambers (1930-),  Gordon Stein (1941-1996) , Milton Friedman (1912-2006), John Hospers (1918-2011), Michael Martin (1932-).Harry Kroto (1939-), Marty E. Martin (1928-), Richard Rubenstein (1924-), James Terry McCollum (1936-), Edward O. WIlson (1929-), Lewis Wolpert (1929), Gerald Holton (1922-), Martin Rees (1942-), Alan Macfarlane (1941-),  Roald Hoffmann (1937-), Herbert Kroemer (1928-), Thomas H. Jukes (1906-1999), Glenn BranchGeoff Harcourt (1931-) and  Ray T. Cragun (1976-). I would consider it an honor to add you to this very distinguished list. 

I just finished reading the online addition of the book Darwin, Francis ed. 1892. Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters [abridged edition]. London: John Murray. There are several points that Charles Darwin makes in this book that were very wise, honest, logical, shocking and some that were not so wise. The Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer once said of Darwin’s writings, “Darwin in his autobiography and in his letters showed that all through his life he never really came to a quietness concerning the possibility that chance really explained the situation of the biological world. You will find there is much material on this [from Darwin] extended over many many years that constantly he was wrestling with this problem.”

I THINK DARWIN OPENED UP ABOUT HIS MOST INNER FEELINGS MUCH MORE THAN HE HAS BEEN GIVEN CREDIT FOR AND THAT IS WHAT I WROTE YOU ABOUT TODAY SINCE YOU ALSO DEALT WITH THIS SAME ISSUE OF LOSING YOUR BECAUSE OF THE PROBLEM OF EVIL!!!!!! Since I wrote you about that issue last time, I am going to just focus on the evolution of his religious views and I thought you could relate to these. By the way there is an article by J. Warner Wallace that discusses some of your views that I thought you may be interested in (Investigating Bart Ehrman’s Top Ten Troublesome Bible Verses).

 Just like Darwin you lost your faith not  overnight but it was  over time. I am sure that you love music like I do and that would make you even more curious about Darwin’s later life.  I read the book Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters  and was surprised because of what Darwin said about science causing him to lose his aesthetic tastes. I am going to quote some of Charles Darwin’s own words and then include the comments of Francis Schaeffer on those words. I have also enclosed a CD with two messages from Adrian Rogers and Bill Elliff concerning Darwinism.

 CHARLES DARWIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Addendum. Written May 1st, 1881 [the year before his death].

“I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did….My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive….The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

Francis Schaeffer commented:

This is the old man Darwin writing at the end of his life. What he is saying here is the further he has gone on with his studies the more he has seen himself reduced to a machine as far as aesthetic things are concerned. I think this is crucial because as we go through this we find that his struggles and my sincere conviction is that he never came to the logical conclusion of his own position, but he nevertheless in the death of the higher qualities as he calls them, art, music, poetry, and so on, what he had happen to him was his own theory was producing this in his own self just as his theories a hundred years later have produced this in our culture. 

Darwin, C. R. to Fordyce, John7 May 1879

“I may state that my judgment often fluctuates . . . In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.”

Francis Schaeffer asserted:

What we find now is that he comes to the place in being agnostic, but as we read through this section on religion what we find is in reality his reason leads him against this position, which is interesting but his theory makes him accept the  position of agnosticism….. I think what you have in Darwin is a magnificent example, although a sad one of what I lecture on in apologetics,  and that is if a man takes a set of nonchristian presuppositions he is forced eventually to be in a place of tension. The more consistent he is with his own nonchristian presuppositions the more he is away from the real world. When he is closer to the real world then he is more illogical to his own presuppositions.

Darwin, C. R. to Doedes, N. D.2 Apr 1873

“But I  may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.”

Francis Schaeffer observed:

So he sees here exactly the same that I would labor and what Paul gives in Romans chapter one, and that is first this tremendous universe [and it’s form] and the second thing, the mannishness of man and the concept of this arising from chance is very difficult for him to come to accept and he is forced to leap into this, his own kind of Kierkegaardian leap, but he is forced to leap into this because of his presuppositions but when in reality the real world troubles him. He sees there is no third alternative. If you do not have the existence of God then you only have chance. In my own lectures I am constantly pointing out there are only two possibilities, either a personal God or this concept of the impersonal plus time plus chance and Darwin understood this . You will notice that he divides it into the same exact two points that Paul does in Romans chapter one into and that Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) will in the problem of existence, the external universe, and man and his consciousness. Paul points out there are these two steps that man is confronted with…

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Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is  “the universe and it’s form.”Romans 1:18-22Amplified Bible (AMP) 18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. 19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor andglorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile andgodless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]

In 1879 Charles Darwin was applied to by a German student, in a similar manner. The letter was answered by a member of my father’s family, who wrote:–

“Mr. Darwin…considers that the theory of Evolution is quite compatible with the belief in a God; but that you must remember that different persons have different definitions of what they mean by God.” 

Francis Schaeffer commented:

You find a great confusion in his writings although there is a general structure in them. Here he says the word “God” is alright but you find later what he doesn’t take is a personal God. Of course, what you open is the whole modern linguistics concerning the word “God.” is God a pantheistic God? What kind of God is God? Darwin says there is nothing incompatible with the word “God.”

This, however, did not satisfy the German youth, who again wrote to my father, and received from him the following reply:—

” Science has nothing to do with Christ, except in so far as the habit of scientific research makes a man cautious in admitting evidence. For myself, I do not believe that there ever has been any revelation.”

Francis Schaeffer observed:

So he has come to the place as an old man that he doesn’t believe there has been any revelation. In his younger years he held a different position.

The passages which here follow are extracts, somewhat abbreviated, from a part of the Autobiography, written in 1876, in which my father gives the history of his religious views:—“During these two years* (ft note *October 1836 to January 1839.) I was led to think much about religion. Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers (though themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality.

Francis Schaeffer noted:

So you find that as a younger man he did accept the Bible. As an older man he has given up revelation but he is not satisfied with his own answers. He is caught in the tension that modern man is caught in. He is a prefiguration  of the modern man and he himself contributed to. Then Darwin goes on and tells us why he gave up the Bible.

Darwin went on to write:

I suppose it was the novelty of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually come by this time, i.e. 1836 to 1836, to see that the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos. The question then continually rose before my mind and would not be banished,—is it credible that if God were now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, he would permit it to be connected with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Christianity is connected with the Old Testament? This appeared to me utterly incredible.

Francis Schaeffer asserted:

Darwin is saying that he gave up the New Testament because it was connected to the Old Testament. He gave up the Old Testament because it conflicted with his own theory. Did he have a real answer himself and the answer is no. At the end of his life we see that he is dehumanized by his position and on the other side we see that he never comes to the place of intellectual satisfaction for himself that his answers were sufficient.

Darwin continued:

“BUT I WAS VERY UNWILLING  TO GIVE UP MY BELIEF; I feel sure of this, for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels.

Francis Schaeffer commented:

This is very sad. He lies on his bunk and the Beagle tosses and turns and he makes daydreams, and his dreams and hopes are that someone would find in Pompeii or some place like this, an old manuscript by a distinguished Roman that would put his stamp of authority on it, which would be able to show that Christ existed. This is undoubtedly what he is talking about. Darwin gave up this hope with great difficulty. I think he didn’t want to come to the position where his accepted presuppositions were driving him. He didn’t want to give it up, just as an older man he understood where it would lead…

———–

The area of Biblical Archaeology has advanced so much since Darwin wrote these words in the 19th century!!!!! ASK YOURSELF THIS SIMPLE QUESTION BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR FAITH IN THE ACCURACY OF THE SCRIPTURES: Is the Bible historically accurate and have I taken the time to examine the evidence? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject and if you like you could just google these subjects: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.,

Darwin also noted:

“But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. THE RATE WAS SLOW that I felt no distress. Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life,”

Francis Schaeffer commented:

So there is something deficient in his position from the beginning. The word of God if it is going to mean something, must mean a personal God. The word “God” is without much meaning otherwise.

_________________

Francis Schaeffer noted that in Darwin’s 1876 Autobiography that Darwin he is going to set forth two arguments for God in this and again you will find when he comes to the end of this that he is in tremendous tension. Darwin wrote, 

“At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons.Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body; but now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become COLOUR-BLIND.”

Francis Schaeffer remarked:

Now Darwin says when I look back and when I look at nature I came to the conclusion that man can not be just a fly! But now Darwin has moved from being a younger man to an older man and he has allowed his presuppositions to enter in to block his logic, these things at the end of his life he had no intellectual answer for. To block them out in favor of his theory. Remember the letter of his that said he had lost all aesthetic senses when he had got older and he had become a clod himself. Now interesting he says just the same thing, but not in relation to the arts, namely music, pictures, etc, but to nature itself. Darwin said, “But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions  and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind…” So now you see that Darwin’s presuppositions have not only robbed him of the beauty of man’s creation in art, but now the universe. He can’t look at it now and see the beauty. The reason he can’t see the beauty is for a very, very , very simple reason: THE BEAUTY DRIVES HIM TO DISTRACTION. THIS IS WHERE MODERN MAN IS AND IT IS HELL. The art is hell because it reminds him of man and how great man is, and where does it fit in his system? It doesn’t. When he looks at nature and it’s beauty he is driven to the same distraction and so consequently you find what has built up inside him is a real death, not  only the beauty of the artistic but the beauty of nature. He has no answer in his logic and he is left in tension.  He dies and has become less than human because these two great things (such as any kind of art and the beauty of  nature) that would make him human  stand against his theory.

________________

Darwin like you was consistent with his view of the UNIFORMITY OF  NATURAL CAUSES in a closed system and it cost him the love of music, art and the beauty of nature. TWO OTHER ALSO HELD THIS SAME view  of uniformity of natural causes in a closed system in 1978 when their hit song DUST IN THE WIND rose to the top 10 in the music charts.

_______________________________________

IF WE ARE LEFT WITH JUST THE MACHINE THEN WHAT IS THE FINAL CONCLUSION IF THERE WAS NO PERSONAL GOD THAT CREATED US? I sent you a CD that starts off with the song DUST IN THE WIND by Kerry Livgren of the group KANSAS which was a hit song in 1978 when it rose to #6 on the charts because so many people connected with the message of the song. It included these words, “All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Kerry Livgren himself said that he wrote the song because he saw where man was without a personal God in the picture. Solomon pointed out in the Book of Ecclesiastes that those who believe that God doesn’t exist must accept three things. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life.  FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. The Christian can  face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.

Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on You Tube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible ChurchDAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.com, http://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221, United States

You can hear DAVE HOPE and Kerry Livgren’s stories from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Kansas – Dust in the Wind (Official Video)

Uploaded on Nov 7, 2009

Pre-Order Miracles Out of Nowhere now at http://www.miraclesoutofnowhere.com

About the film:
In 1973, six guys in a local band from America’s heartland began a journey that surpassed even their own wildest expectations, by achieving worldwide superstardom… watch the story unfold as the incredible story of the band KANSAS is told for the first time in the DVD Miracles Out of Nowhere.

_____________________________

Adrian Rogers on Darwinism

 

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

Below is a piece of that evidence given by Francis Schaeffer concerning the accuracy of the Bible.

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?, under footnote #96)

We should take one last step back into the history of the Old Testament. In the previous note we looked first at the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to around 100 B.C. Then we went back to the period of the Late Monarchy and looked first at the siege of Hezekiah in Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 B.C. and also at the last years of Judah down to about 600 B.C. Then we went further back to about 850 B.C., to Ahab and Jezebel, the ivory house, the Black Obelisk, the Moabite Stone and so on–then back again to about 950 B.C., to the time of Solomon and his son Rehoboam and the campaign by Shishak, the Egyptian pharaoh.

This should have built up in our minds a vivid impression of the historic reliability of the biblical text, including even the seemingly obscure details such as the ration tablets in Babylon. We saw, in other words, not only that the Bible gives us a marvelous world view that ties in with the nature of reality and answers the basic problems which philosophers have asked down through the centuries, but also that the Bible is completely reliable, EVEN ON THE HISTORICAL LEVEL.

The previous notes looked back to the time of Moses and Joshua, the escape from Egypt, and the settlement in Canaan. Now we will go back further–back as far as Genesis 12, near the beginning of the Bible.

Do we find that the narrative fades away to a never-never land of myths and legends? By no means. For we have to remind ourselves that although Genesis 12 deals with events a long time ago from our moment of history (about 2000 B.C. or a bit later), the civilized world was already not just old but ancient when Abram/Abraham left “Ur of the Chaldeans” (see Genesis 11:31).

Ur itself was excavated some fifty years ago. In the British Museum, for example, one can see the magnificent contents of a royal burial chamber from Ur. This includes a gold headdress still in position about the head of a queen who died in Ur about 2500 B.C. It has also been possible to reconstruct from archaeological remains what the streets and buildings must have been like at the time.

Like Ur, the rest of the world of the patriarchs (that is, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) was firm reality. Such places as Haran, where Abraham went first, have been discovered. So has Shechem from this time, with its Canaanite stone walls, which are still standing, and its temple.

Genesis 12:5-9New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the [a]persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they [b]set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the[c]oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your [d]descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord andcalled upon the name of the Lord. Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the[e]Negev.

Haran and Shechem may be unfamiliar names to us but the Negrev (or Negeb) is a name we have all read frequently in the news accounts of our own day. 

Negev Nuclear Research Center – Israel

The Negev – Israel’s Desert

This article was first published in the Spring 2005 issue of Bible and Spade.
“If the full meaning of a passage [in the Bible] is to be grasped, the context of the passage needs to be appropriately developed” (Greenwold 2004: 72). In his pithy study of Luke’s Gospel account of Elizabeth and Zachariah, Greenwold gives an example of what he means: “All too often in our church lifetime, we end up being given many theological and doctrinal factual ornaments, but seldom are we shown the tree upon which to hang them. It’s as if we have been handed dozens of pieces to a puzzle, but have never seen what the finished picture on the top of the puzzle box looks like” (2004: 73). I think that Greenwold has it right.
Jesus and the woman at Jacob’s well in John 4 is an excellent case in point. The story takes place near the Old Testament city of Shechem. Shechem is mentioned 60 times in the Old Testament. The city had been abandoned by New Testament times, but Stephen reiterates its importance in his speech in Acts 7:16. A small village, Sychar, was near the ruins of Shechem in New Testament times and is mentioned in the John 4 account (Jn 4:5). Unfortunately, most Bible studies of events at or near Shechem, and commentaries on the Book of John, omit Shechem’s pivotal role in Bible history and how it fit into God’s salvation plan.
 
The narrow pass where ancient Shechem is located at the modern city of Nablus, view west. Mt. Gerizim is on the left and Mt. Ebal on the right. Dr. James C. Martin.
Archaeological investigations have corroborated much of what the Bible has to say about Shechem’s physical and cultural aspects. Archaeology has confirmed Shechem’s location, its history, and many Biblical details. In this article I will integrate what archaeology has illuminated about this important place and its geographical importance with a macro look at Shechem’s place in revealing God’s promise and plan to restore believers to Him.1
Map of Shechem area showing the location of Tell Balata (ancient Shechem), Joseph’s tomb and Jacob’s Well. ASOR, 2002.
Location and Exploration
About 30 mi (49 km) north of Jerusalem is a low, 15-acre mound, known as Tell Balata. This nondescript ruin covers what was ancient Shechem. The tell rests in a long, narrow, east-west valley with the two highest mountains in central Palestine towering over it, Mt. Ebal on the north and Mt. Gerizim on the south. The Hebrew word shekemmeans “back” or “shoulder,” which probably refers to Shechem’s placement between the two mountains. Coming from the south, the major road from Beersheba, Hebron and Jerusalem splits here. One branch goes east, around Mt. Ebal, and provides access to the Jordan Valley and cities like Beth Shan. The western arm leads to the coastal plain and cities to the north such as Samaria and Dothan. Thus, ancient Shechem and its modern counterpart, Nablus, are in a very strategic location along the watershed road between Judah, the Jordan Valley, Transjordan, and the Galilee.2
In 1903, a group of German scholars under the direction of H. Tiersch examined Tell Balata and concluded it was ancient Shechem. Until that time there had been controversy over whether Tell Balata, or the modern city of Nablus nearby, was the location of ancient Shechem. Tiersch’s identification has never been seriously questioned.
E. Sellin led an Austro-German excavation team to Tell Balata in 1913 and 1914. His work was interrupted by World War I. Sellin began work again in 1926 and continued until 1936. Work was resumed in 1956 by an American team under the direction of G. E. Wright and B. W. Anderson. The latest season of excavations at Tell Balata was in 1973 under the direction of W. G. Dever (Campbell 1993: 1347; Seger 1997:21).
Aerial view of the ruins of Shechem. On the right is the Middle Bronze fortification wall and in the upper center the “Migdal,” or fortress, temple. Holy Land Satellite Atlas, 1999, p. 100.
Abram at Shechem
The first mention of Shechem in the Bible is Genesis 12:6, when Abram first entered Canaan. It is succinctly described: “Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem.” At that time, God promised Abram, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gn 12:7). The next mention of Shechem is 11 chapters, and about 200 years, later, when the Bible records that Jacob, Abram’s grandson, “camped within sight of the city” (Gn 33:18).
Assuming a conservative dating for the Patriarchal events in the Bible,3 note that Abram camped in Canaan about 2090 BC and there is no mention of a city. However, when Jacob arrived 200 hundred years later, around 1890 BC, the Bible notes that he “camped within sight of the city [Shechem].” In the original Hebrew, the word translated in our English Bible as “city” meant a permanent, walled settlement (Hansen 2003:81, Wood 1999:23). Genesis 34:20 and 24 report that Shechem had a city gate; therefore it was fortified.
Can archaeology clarify if there was or was not a city? Yes. The absence of a “city” and walls at Tell Balata when Abram came through and the existence of a city in the time of Jacob is in complete agreement with what the Bible indicates is Shechem’s early history.
Excavations have revealed that the earliest urbanization at Tell Balata was in MB I (Levels XXII-XXI), about 1900–1750 BC. MB I was when Jacob lived by the city of Shechem. Prior to MB I, in the time of Abram’s visit, archaeology has demonstrated that there was a gap in settlement and an absence of fortification walls. Thus, there was no “city” for Abram to reference, as the Bible correctly infers (Campbell 1993: 1347).
Jacob and Joseph at Shechem
What was the city like when Jacob settled there? Archaeologists have revealed that Tell Balata in MB I had structures with mudbrick walls on stone foundations and they have found an abundance of artifacts typical of domestic living (Toombs 1992: 1179). The Bible records that during Jacob’s stay he purchased land near Shechem. This parcel would become the place where his son, Joseph, would later be entombed (Jos 24:32). The tumultuous Dinah affair also occurred during Jacob’s stay at Shechem. Its aftermath resulted in the murder of Shechem’s male population by two of Jacob’s sons (Gn 33–34). Subsequently, God told Jacob to move to Bethel (Gn 35:1) and then on to Hebron (Gn 35:7).
The next Biblical mention of Shechem is in connection with the story of 17-year-old Joseph, Jacob’s son, who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers (Gn 37). In the account, Joseph’s brothers were grazing the family’s flocks near Shechem when Jacob sent Joseph to inquire of them. After looking for them at Shechem, he found them a short distance north at Dothan. There, the brothers conspired to sell Joseph into slavery, setting the stage for the subsequent accounts of Joseph’s rise to power, Jacob and his family moving to Egypt and, later, Israel’s oppression by Egyptian Pharaohs.
The earliest known extra-Biblical written record of Shechem comes from the Middle Bronze period. It is an inscription on a stele (an upright standing stone) of an Egyptian, Khu-Sebek, who was a nobleman in the court of Sesostris III (ca. 1880–1840 BC). It was found in 1901 by the renowned archaeologist J. Garstang at Abydos, Egypt. King Sesostris III became ruler shortly after Jacob was at Shechem, and he was probably the king when Jacob died in Egypt. Khu-Sebek’s stele describes how the king’s army campaigned in a foreign country named Sekmem (Shechem) and how “Sekmem fell” (Toombs 1992: 1179). W. Shea believes that the campaign on Khu-Sebek’s stele is none other than the Egyptians’ account of the military encounters experienced by the entourage accompanying Joseph when Jacob’s embalmed body was brought to Canaan for entombment at Machpelah (Gn 50:12–14) (Shea 1992: 38 ff.).
Khu-Sebek’s stele reveals that as early as the 19th century BC, Shechem was an important strategic location and a place worthy of mention in a notable Egyptian’s biography.
Stela of Khu-Sebek. He is shown seated, accompanied by members of his family, his nurse, and the superintendent of the cabinet. Discovered by British archaeologist John Garstang at Abydos, Egypt, in 1901, the stela is now on display in the museum of the University of Manchester, England. Mike Luddeni.
Joshua at Shechem
A little over 400 years later, God rescued the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and led them through the desert wilderness for 40 years. Near the end of this sojourn, their leader Moses said that once they entered the land God had promised them (at Shechem, see Gn 12:7!), they were to erect an altar on Mt. Ebal (Dt 27:4) and read portions of the Law while the people were assembled before Mounts Ebal and Gerizim (Dt 11:26–30; 27:12, 13).
As I noted above, the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim overlook the valley wherein lay Shechem. The mountains form a natural amphitheater in which the recitation of the Law could easily be heard. Despite the mountains’ heights (Ebal is 3,083 ft [940 m] and Gerizim is 2,890 ft [881 m]), there are many contemporary accounts of people speaking from the slopes of the mountains and being heard in the valley below. Even with the noise of the busy modern city of Nablus, I myself have been in the park at the top of Gerizim and clearly heard the voices of children playing in the Balata refugee camp at Gerizim’s base.
Joshua fulfilled Moses’ instructions and led the people directly to Gerizim and Ebal after defeating the stronghold at Ai (Jos 7–8). Assuming an “early Exodus” date (1446 BC), the Israelite entry into Canaan, after 40 years in the wilderness, was approximately 1406 BC, in the Late Bronze (LB) IB period.4 LB IB corresponds with Tell Balata’s Level XIV (Campbell 1993: 1347; Toombs 1992: 1178). During the 350 years of the previous MB period, the city had been fortified with earthen embankments and cyclopean wall fortifications. However, Shechem was destroyed around 1540 BC. The ferocity of the destruction resulted in debris covering the city up to a depth of 5.25 ft (1.6 m). It is surmised that the Egyptian armies of Ahmose I or Amenhotep I were the aggressors (Toombs 1992: 1182).
About 90 years after that catastrophe the city was rebuilt early in the LB I period, around 1450 BC. Level XIV corresponds to this date and is noted for the reconstruction of the city’s defensive walls, homes, and a well built, fortress-type, temple. This Level XIV occupation was the city at which Joshua and the Israelites arrived to fulfill Moses’ orders to read the Law before Ebal and Gerizim around 1406 BC.
The Book of Joshua makes an interesting observation about that visit:
All Israel, aliens and citizens alike…. were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the LORD, facing those who carried it…. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them (Jos 8:33, 35).
It appears that the crowd who heard the words of the Law that day was composed of both Israelites and native Shechemites (aliens)! The Bible implies that both Shechemites and Israelites co-existed at Shechem. This unusual situation can be further confirmed by the fact that Shechem became one of only three Israelite Cities of Refuge on the west side of the Jordan River, as well as being a city of the Levitical priesthood (Jos 20:7; 21:21). All this occurred even though there is no record in the Bible of it being taken in battle.5
Years later, Joshua again gathered the Israelites at Shechem (Jos 24). He reminded them of God’s promises and how He had fulfilled those promises and delivered them from diversities. Joshua then challenged the people to say whom they would serve and they promised to serve God (Jos 24:14–20). The renewal ceremony between the Israelites and God recognized the promises God made to Abraham (Gn 12:7; 17:7, 8), Jacob, and the people at Sinai through Moses (Ex 24:8).
The next event at Shechem in the Bible was the fulfillment of another promise: the burial of the Patriarch Joseph. Just before his death in Egypt, Joseph asked his brothers to bring his body back to the land “promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” when God delivered them from Egypt (Gn 50:24–25).
And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants (Jos 24:32).
Today, there is a place near Tell Balata venerated by the Jewish and Samaritan faiths as the traditional location of Joseph’s tomb. The shrine marking the tomb, and an associated Jewish school, were reduced to rubble in October 2000 in the wake of the most recent hostilities between the Palestinian Arabs and the State of Israel. Conflicting views have abounded as to whether this was, in fact, Joseph’s final resting place. Unfortunately, no archaeological excavations are known to have taken place at this site that could verify that this was the true location of the tomb of Joseph. Several ancient texts mention the site, but the exact location of Joseph’s tomb is still in question.
The discovery of a LB Egyptian library at Amarna has provided additional insights on the LB period. Letters in the library reveal Egypt’s relationship with Canaan’s rulers in the mid-14th century BC. Some of the letters disclose that the kings of Shechem were independent of Egypt. Further, Shechem’s rulers were criticized by other Canaanite rulers for cooperating with an invading group of desert people called the Habiru. Many conservative evangelical scholars (e.g., Wood 1997; 2003: 269–71) believe the Habiru were the Israelites of the early Judges period.
Letter from Labayu, king of Shechem, to the king of Egypt, probably Amenhotep III. It is defiant in tone, suggesting Labayu had a measure of independence from Egypt (Hess 1993). The letter, numbered El Amarna 252, is written in Akkadian cuneiform, albeit with Canaanite grammar and syntax, and is on display in the British Museum. Mike Luddeni.
Abimelech at Shechem
Later in Bible history, Abimelech, the son of Gideon’s Shechemite concubine (Jgs 8:31), colluded with some Shechemites to kill 70 of Abimelech’s brothers (Jgs 8:30–31; 9). However, Abimelech’s youngest brother Jotham survived (Jgs 9:5). Jotham climbed to the top of Mt. Gerizim and shouted to the Shechemites below. He foretold the destruction of the men of Shechem by fire (Jgs 9:7–21). Later in the same chapter we read that the people of Shechem rose against Abimelech’s leadership. In response, Abimelech fought against the city and razed it. During the attack the leaders of Shechem tried to save themselves in “the stronghold of the temple of El-berith” (Jgs 9:46). The story continues:
He [Abimelech] took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, “Quick! Do what you have seen me do!” So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire over the people inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died (Jgs 9:48–49).
Archaeologists (e.g., E. Campbell, B. Mazar, G. E. Wright and L. Stager) refer to the “tower of Shechem” as “the Tower (migdal) Temple or Fortress-Temple” of Shechem (Campbell 1993: 1348, Stager 2003: 26 and 68 note 1). Stager recently reexamined the work of Wright who, in 1926, excavated a large building that has been reported to be this Fortress-Temple (Stager 2003). Stager’s conclusions are that this Temple, “Temple 1, ” was, in fact, the migdal referred to in Judges 9. It is the largest such Canaanite structure found in Israel and was 70 ft (21 m) wide, 86 ft (26 m) long with stone foundation walls 17 ft (5.1 m) thick. The foundation supported a multistory mudbrick and timber temple with an entrance flanked by two large towers. Stager hypothesized that the courtyard of this temple could have been where Joshua “took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD” (Jos 24:26).
Stager (2003: 68) places the destruction of the Fortress-Temple around 1100 BC. So does Seger (1997: 22), who correlates the destruction debris found at Level XI as being from the Iron IA period. Campbell (1993: 1347) states that there was a “significant” destruction “around 1100 BCE” and guardedly concludes, “connecting Level XI with the story underlying Judges 9 is plausible” (1993: 1352).
Dating Shechem’s destruction to 1100 BC helps confirm the Biblical date of 1406 BC as the beginning of the Conquest in Canaan. To do this, it is necessary to know that immediately after we read in the Bible of Abimelech’s destruction of Shechem, Jephthah, the ninth Judge, appears (Jgs 11, 12). Jephthah was hired by Israelites who lived in Gilead, east of the Jordan River, to confront the Ammonites who had made war on them for 18 years. Jephthah first attempted diplomacy with the Ammonite king. He reminded the Ammonite king that the Israelites had been in the land east of the Jordan River for “300 years” (Jgs 11:21–26). Jephthah, of course, was referring to the time when Moses led the Israelites through that region and defeated numerous kings (Nm 21:21–31).
Thus, if Abimelech destroyed Shechem ca. 1125–1100 BC (Jgs 9), and Abimelech was a contemporary of Jephthah, the Conquest would have occurred about 300 years earlier, in ca. 1400 BC (1100 BC + 300 years = 1400 BC).
Shechem in the Time of the Divided Monarchy
The Bible sheds little light on Shechem’s role during the reigns of Saul, David or Solomon. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was next in line for the throne. All the Israelites assembled at Shechem to anoint Rehoboam king. Rehoboam, however, acted foolishly by chiding the northern tribes and telling them he would tax them heavily. In defense, the northern tribes retaliated by separating themselves from Rehoboam and the southern kingdom. The northern tribes made Jeroboam I king of their region. The country, formerly unified under David and Solomon, became divided. The northern region and tribes, led by Jeroboam I, was known as Israel. The southern area and tribes, first led by Rehoboam, is referred to as Judah in the Bible.
Levels X and IX at Tell Balata represent the Jeroboam I period and are noted for carefully built houses of selected stones. The discovery of stone foundations for stairs suggests two-story, four-room houses, typical homes of that period (Dever 1994: 80–81). Campbell concludes that Level IX (920–810 BC) has “tangible evidence of Jeroboam I’s rebuilding (1 Kg 12:25) and a return to city status” (1993: 1352–53).
The Assyrian invasion of Israel in 724 BC (2 Kgs 17:5–6) brought another destruction to Shechem. The evidence is in Level VII. Toombs noted that in Level VII the city was “reduced to a heap of ruins, completely covered by debris of fallen brickwork, burned beams and tumbled building stones,” typical examples of Assyrian thoroughness (1992: 1185). In addition to the destruction, the Assyrians placed exiled peoples from other nations into the region around Shechem, a common Assyrian practice (2 Kgs 17:23–24).
These new peoples added Yahweh to their own beliefs (2 Kgs 17:25–30). The new religion mimicked Judaism in many respects and Mt. Gerizim was made the center of its worship. New Testament practitioners of the cult are called “Samaritans,” which also referred to the people who lived in the vicinity (Mt 10:5; Lk 9:52, 10:53; 17:16; Jn 4:7, 9, 22, 39, 40; 8:48; Acts 8:25). A remnant of the ancient Samaritans still lives on Mt. Gerizim and they practice sacrifices there just as they did 2,700 years ago.7
Shechem in the Intertestamental Period
Between the Old and New Testaments, Shechem had a modest recovery and there is an abundance of evidence that excellent buildings were constructed in this, the Hellenistic, period (ca. 330–107 BC). It was during this time that the Samaritans built a large temple and sacrificial platform on Mt. Gerizim, the remains of which were still visible in Jesus’ day (Jn 4:20).
As fighting between the Ptolemies and Seleucids swirled around the country in the intertestamental period, physical decline again took place at Shechem. This decline culminated when the Jewish leader, John Hyrcanus, took advantage of the temporary absence of outside armies and destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim (ca. 126 BC). He leveled the city in 107 BC. Shechem never recovered from this destruction and lay in ruins until identified by Tierschin 1901.
Shechem in the New Testament Period
Samaritans continued to live in the area during the following years, the Roman period. This is confirmed by the discovery of human burials from the period on the lower slopes of Mt. Ebal (Magen 1993: 1358–59). It is known that Samaritans also made several attempts to renew their cult worship on Mt. Gerizim. The Romans suppressed their efforts and in AD 72 constructed a new city, Flavia-Neapolis, about 1 mi (1.6 km) west of Tell Balata (Magen 2001: 40). This new city is now Nablus, a modern Arab city of about 120,000 people8 whose name is probably a corruption of Roman city, Neapolis.
About 500 yd (460 m) southeast of Tell Balata is an ancient well, venerated to be a well that Jacob, the Patriarch, dug when he lived there. Such a well is not mentioned in the Old Testament. There is a small Arab village, Askar, just north of the well. Most scholars associate Askar with Sychar, the village in John 4 near “Jacob’s well” (Jn 4:6). The authenticity of the well is not only based on its physical identification in John 4, but also on “the fact that all traditions-—Jewish, Samaritan, Christian and Muslim-—support it” (Stefanovic 1992: 608). Several churches in Christian history have been built on the site of the well and today it is located under a recently constructed Greek Orthodox church. Access to the well is gained by going down steps from the apse of the new church.
Jacob’s well as it appeared in the 1870s. In the right background is Mt. Gerizim with the tomb of the Arab sheikh, where the ruins of the Samaritan temple were located in New Testament times, visible at the peak.Todd Bolen.
Jacob’s well, at the base of Mt. Gerizim, is at the junction of the main road leading from Jerusalem in the south. Here, the road splits with the eastern branch going toward the Jordan Valley and the western branch leading to Nablus, and in NT times, Samaria and the Galilee. It is an excellent setting for one of the most important passages in the Bible-—the account of Jesus’ verbal Messianic announcement in the fourth chapter of John. In this passage Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, dialogues with her, and tells her He is the long-awaited Messiah.
Mt. Gerizim (left peak) as seen from Jacob’s well. When the Samaritan woman said to Jesus, “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain,” she was no doubt referring to the ruins of the Samaritan temple on top of Mt. Gerizim. The small structure on the peak marks the location of the ruins of the Samaritan temple that easily could have been seen from Jacob’s well in Jesus’ day. Bryant Wood.
Significance of Shechem in Understanding John 4
This article began by stating that context in reading the Bible was important to full understanding of what the original writers wanted the original hearers/listeners to know. In the case of Shechem, it is clear that the writer of John’s Gospel was appealing to the hearer/reader’s understanding of Shechem’s unique historical and theological context.
First, the author established that the event took place at Sychar (Jn 4:6). By making reference to Jacob he reminded his readers/hearers that this is where Jacob first settled when he returned to the Promised Land from Paddan Aram (Gn 33:18). At this spot Abram received God’s promise that “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gn 12:7). In addition to God’s promise given here to Abram, the writer wanted the hearer/reader to remember that many human agreements were made at Shechem in Bible history. Unfortunately, most were corrupted because of man’s sin. For example, Jacob made a promise to spare Hamor and the Shechemites after Dinah was sexually violated. Jacob’s use of circumcision to confirm the agreement with the Shechemites was the same symbol God had ordained as “the sign of the covenant between Me and you” (Gn 17:11). To seal a human agreement in this manner and have it subsequently abrogated as Jacob’s sons had done (Gn 34), could not have escaped the attention of the original hearers/reader.
Later, we read in the Bible that Jacob did not destroy family idols: rather he simply placed them under a tree near Shechem (Gn 35). This whole account is a testimony to the human condition and our willful tendency not to obey God. Jacob, who even had the privilege of a personal revelation from God, still could not totally eliminate idol worship; he played on the edge and placed the idols under a tree rather than destroying them.
The reader/hearer also should have been reminded that Shechem was near the place where Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and then concocted a lie to explain Joseph’s absence to their father Jacob (Gn 37)—another example of man’s deceit and deception.
All of these accounts are, in themselves, mini-stories that illustrate the human condition and how incapable we are of making a lasting promise to God. As a result, we are in need of rescue and restoration and only God, with His patience, could develop and execute a plan, seen throughout Bible history, for accomplishing a restoration that did not rely on man’s fallible nature.
Juxtaposed against the human failings, lies and deceits, the hearer/reader’s attention was brought to the fact that Shechem was where God reminded the people that He is faithful. Having given Abram the promise of the land, the Israelites were to remember that promise by going to Shechem, building an altar worshipping and re-reading God’s Law. This would refresh in the minds of the Israelites how God had led them out of bondage as He had promised and into a land He had promised. The rededication ceremony was accomplished and is described in Joshua 8. Following the conquest, Joshua again assembled the people at Shechem where he reviewed God’s promises and Israel’s obligations, eliciting from the people an agreement that they would “serve the Lord our God and obey Him” (Jos 24:24). This promise was another one that was repeatedly broken as revealed in the succeeding books of the Old Testament.
Earlier in Israel’s history Joseph, as he lay dying in Egypt, reminded the people that God would lead them to the land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and his father Jacob. He asked that when they did return, they “carry my bones up from this place” (Gn 50:25). This was fulfilled in Joshua 24:32 when the body of Joseph was placed in a tomb in Shechem.
The Hebrew hearer/reader would also remember that Shechem became the center for the idolatrous worship practices that occurred following Israel’s capture by the Assyrians. Importing peoples from other lands and exporting Jewish believers, syncretism of pagan beliefs and Jewish practices resulted in a corrupted form of worship that became centered at Shechem and on Mt. Gerizim by people who were known as Samaritans. They chose to be worshippers of other gods despite their earlier promise in Joshua 24.

Ruins of a fifth century AD octagonal church on Mt. Gerizim, view north. The church, dedicated to Mary, was built on top of a temple built by the Samaritans in the late fifth century BC. John Hyrcanus destroyed the temple in the late second century BC. The small domed building at the northeast corner, the tomb of an Arab sheikh, is the structure visible from Jacob’s well in the valley below. IAA.
I believe the author of John wanted the reader and hearer to recognize and associate Shechem with God’s eternal unbroken promises, man’s corrupted state, the need for a Rescuer and how a Rescuer had been promised throughout history. In John 4 the Rescuer is revealed. The Samaritan woman makes known the promise: “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” And the Rescuer, Jesus, replied that the Messiah was at hand: “I Who speak to you am He” (Jn 4:26)!
The Samaritan woman’s response was to immediately run into the village, leaving her water jar behind, and tell everyone that the Rescuer was there. What glorious news! The Samaritans rushed to the well, welcomed Him and exclaimed that Jesus was the Rescuer, “the Savior of the world” (Jn 4:42).
It should challenge us to remember that shortly after Jesus’ declaration that He was Messiah, He would complete the promise and achieve the rescue through His death, burial and ascension. As He prepared His disciples for their duties, He told them that they would be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The story of Shechem and the Samaritan region had come full circle—from the promises to the Patriarchs to fulfillment of salvation as heard by the woman at the well and declared to the disciples.
Now we have the contextual history of Shechem. It is apparent that the original hearer/reader of John’s Gospel fully understood how Shechem had been a focal point of God’s unbroken promises and man’s fallibility. Hopefully, for the reader of this essay, all pieces of the puzzle of Shechem can now be understood and assembled so one can see the finished picture. And what a wonderful picture it is!
Footnotes
1. The author wishes to express his appreciation to Dr. James C. Martin for permission to use the photographs credited to him in this article.
2. For a discussion of geographical criteria that make for strategic locations in ancient Israel, see Hansen 1991.
3. For these dates, see Davis 1975: 29.
4. For a brief discussion of how this date is derived, see Hansen 2003: 80.
5. See Wood 1997 for his explanation of this unusual situation.
6. For a more thorough discussion of the Amarna tablets and the identity of the Habiru, see Archer 1994: 288–95; Wood 1995 and 2003: 269–71.
7. For a description of the modern Samaritans and how they practice Passover, see Bolen 2001.
Bibliography
Archer, Gleason L.
1994 A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, new and revised ed. Chicago: Moody.
Bolen, Todd
2001 Samaritan Passover. Bible and Spade 14: 41–42.
Campbell, Edward F.
1993 Shechem. Pp. 1345–54 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land4, ed. Ephraim Stern. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Davis, John J.
1975 Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis. Grand Rapids MI: Baker.
Dever, William G.
1994 Monumental Architecture in Ancient Israel in the Period of the United Monarchy. Bible and Spade 7: 68–87.
Greenwold, Douglas
2004 Zechariah & Elizabeth: Persistent Faith in a Faithful God. Rockville MD: Bible-in-Context Ministries.
Hansen, David G.
1991 The Case of Meggido [sic]. Archaeology and Biblical Research 4: 84–93.
2003 Large Cities that Have Walls up to the Sky: Canaanite Fortifications in the Late Bronze I Period.Bible and Spade 16: 78–88.
Hess, Richard S.
1993 Smitten Ant Bites Back: Rhetorical Forms in the Amarna Correspondence from Shechem. Pp. 95–111 in Verses in Ancient Near Eastern Prose, eds. Johannes C. de Moor and Wilfred G.E. Watson, Alter Orient und Altes Testament 42. Kevelaer, Germany: Butzon & Bercker.
Magen, Itzhak
1993 Neapolis. Pp. 1354–59 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land4, ed. Ephraim Stern. New York: Simon & Schuster.
2001 The Sacred Precinct on Mount Gerizim. Bible and Spade 14:37–40.
Seger, Joe D.
1997 Shechem. Pp. 19–23 in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East 5, ed. Eric M. Myers. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shea, William H.
1992 The Burial of Jacob: A New Correlation Between Genesis 50 and an Egyptian Inscription.Archaeology and Biblical Research 5:33–44.
Stager, Lawrence E.
2003 The Shechem Temple where Abimelech Massacred a Thousand. Biblical Archaeological Review28.4:26–35, 68–69.
Stefanovic, Zdravko
1992 Jacob’s Well. Pp. 608–609 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary 3, ed. David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday.
Toombs, Lawrence E.
1992 Shechem. Pp. 1174–86 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary 5, ed, David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday.
Wood, Bryant G.
1995 Reexamining The Late Bronze Era: An Interview with Bryant Wood by Gordon Govier. Bible and Spade 8: 47–53.
1997 The Role of Shechem in the Conquest of Canaan. Pp 245–56 in To Understand the Scriptures: Essays in Honor of William H. Shea, ed. David Merling. Berrien Springs MI: Institute of Archaeology/Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum.
1999 The Search for Joshua’s Ai: Excavations at Kh. el-Maqatir. Bible and Spade 12:21–30.
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Investigating Bart Ehrman’s Top Ten Troublesome Bible Verses

120On the final page of the paperback edition of Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman famously listed the “Top Ten Verses That Were Not Originally in the New Testament.” In an effort to discredit the reliability of the New Testament text, Ehrman offered this list to demonstrate the existence of many late insertions in the text. He found this reality troubling as a young man, and eventually walked away from his Christian faith as a result:

“The Bible began to appear to me as a very human book. Just as human scribes had copied, and changed, the texts of scripture, so too had human authors originally written the texts of scripture. This was a human book from beginning to end.”  (from Misquoting Jesus)

Let’s take a look at Ehrman’s list of troublesome verses and examine how they impact the reliability of the New Testament text:

1 John 5:7
There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.

John 8:7
Let the one who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.

John 8:11
Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.

Luke 22:44
In his anguish Jesus began to pray more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.

Luke 22:20
And in the same way after supper Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.“

Mark 16:17
These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons and they will speak with new tongues.

Mark 16:18
And they will take up snakes in their hands, and if they drink poison it will not harm them, and they will lay their hands on the sick and they will become well.

John 5:4
For an angel of the Lord went down at certain times into the pool and disturbed the waters; and whoever was the first to step in when the water was disturbed was healed of whatever disease he had.

Luke 24:12
But Peter rose up and ran to the tomb, and stooping down to look in, he saw the linen clothes by themselves. And he went away to his own home, marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:51
And when Jesus blessed them he departed from them and he was taken up into heaven

While this list may seem large (and even surprising for those of us who haven’t examined the presence of textual variants in the New Testament), I think this list does little to impact the reliability of the text. In fact, I think Ehrman is profiting from the unfamiliarity that most Christians have with the presence of textual variants. The list does seem shocking and daunting if you’ve never taken the time to examine matters such as these. But if you stop and think about it and examine each verse listed here, the impact is actually very minimal. I recognize four truths about these verses:

The Verses are Designated Earlier
Seven of these passages (John 8:7, John 8:11, Luke 22:44, Luke 22:20, Mark 16:17, Mark 16:18 and John 5:4) are already clearly designated in my Bible (I’m using the ESV for this blog post). It’s not as though these specious verses are hidden; most modern translations do an excellent job of including everything, then identifying those verses that are variants. Check it out for yourself. You’ll see that these verses, like many others in the text, have been clearly marked.

The Verses are Described Elsewhere
Three of these passages (Luke 22:20, Luke 24:12 and Luke 24:51) are simply reiterations of information that is given to us in other gospels. So, although these verses could be removed from Luke, their claims are found elsewhere in passages that are uncontested (see Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, John 20:3-7, Acts 1:9-11).

The Verses are Decidedly Extraneous
That leaves only one verse on Ehrman’s list (1 John 5:7) that begs for explanation. But even if this verse can’t be reconciled, it’s clearly extraneous. The doctrine of the Trinity it addresses is found elsewhere in the scripture. Like other scribal variants, it may have been included by a scribe to make the doctrine clearer, but with all the other Biblical evidence for the triune nature of God, this verse has no impact on our understanding of the Trinity. The superfluous nature of this verse is similar to the vast majority of all Biblical textual variants; they have no impact on the theological or historical claims of the text.

The Verses are Detected Easily
Perhaps most importantly, these late entries were easy to detect, given the large number of ancient Biblical manuscripts we possess. By comparing these texts, we are able to determine which verses should not be in our Bible today, and the same discipline that allows us to determine what is specious, allows us to determine what is special. The skill set that allows us to identify what doesn’t belong is the very same skill set that allows us to identify what does belong.

I’ve written a lot more about this issue in a chapter in my book entitled, “Separating Artifacts from Evidence.” It turns out that Ehrman has the ability to complain about the existence of these passages only because we happen to possess the accurate methodology to remove them from consideration in the first place. As a result, we ought to have even more confidence that we possess documents today that are a reliable reflection of what was originally written thousands of years ago.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

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