FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 441 Responding to Dan Barker’s book LIFE DRIVEN PURPOSE ( “I think the probability of the existence of a historical person named Jesus…is very low”) FEATURED ARTIST IS Church

Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning

I have read articles for years from Dan Barker, but recently I just finished the book Barker wrote entitled LIFE DRIVEN PURPOSE which was prompted by Rick Warren’s book PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE which I also read several years ago.

Dan Barker is the  Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, And co-host of Freethought Radio and co-founder of The Clergy Project.

On March 19, 2022, I got an email back from Dan Barker that said:

Thanks for the insights.

Have you read my book Life Driven Purpose? To say there is no purpose OF life is not to say there is no purpose IN life. Life is immensely meaningful when you stop looking for external purpose.

Ukraine … we’ll, we can no longer blame Russian aggression on “godless communism.” The Russian church, as far as I know, has not denounced the war.


In the next few weeks I will be discussing the book LIFE DRIVEN PURPOSE which I did enjoy reading. Here is an assertion that Barker makes that I want to discuss:

The same is true with the existence of the historical Jesus. As I write in Godless, I think the probability of the existence of a historical person named Jesus, the founder of Christianity, is very low. I don’t think it is zero, but I definitely think it is below 50 percent—maybe I would put it around 20 percent or 30 percent. Although I might be wrong, I am comfortable calling Jesus a myth.

Dan you don’t think the Bible is historically accurate if you don’t even think Jesus existed! The critic Farrell Till like you was a Christian minister who later became a critic. I wonder if you ever a chance to cross paths with him. I had the privilege of debating him on the 6th century B.C. authorship of the Book of Daniel, and like you he tended to make assertions that he couldn’t back up. Jesus is considered a historical figure by the majority of historians. In my debate with Farrell Till he made the assertion that the Aramaic of Daniel MUST BE DATED to the 2nd century B.C. but I was unable to find the critics he cited actually said that. Here our response article on that:

Does Daniel’s Aramaic have a 2nd century Linguistic Style? (Co-authored by Everette Hatcher and Dr. Stephen R. Miller)

Steve Miller
Dr Miller

Skeptic Farrell Till (pictured below) graduated from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.

Farrell Till obituary

The skeptic Farrell Till started this discussion because he made the dogmatic assertion that scholars cite Daniel’s linguistic style (especially the sections written in Aramaic) “as evidence that the book was written at the extreme end of the Old Testament (no sooner than the second century)” (THE SKEPTICAL REVIEW {TSR}, Vol.4.3, p. 13, emphasis mine). Then later Till wrote the article “Primary Colors of the Bible, (TSR, Vol. 9.4,pp. 1, 5) where he observed: 
Till needs to follow his own advice. First, he should examine the evidence provided by scholars instead of attacking their motivation if they happen to work for evangelical seminaries (TSR, Vol. 12.3, p. 10). Second, Till needs to examine more closely the documentation from the works of scholars who have challenged the views about the authorship of Daniel because of, at least in part, linguistic studies. For instance, Till has said that H. H. Rowley, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, John J. Collins, Norman Porteous, Walter Baumgartner, and Samuel Driver will back up his assertion that Daniel’s Aramaic is in the 2nd century linguistic style (TSR, Vol. 12.3, p. 10). However, Rowley, Fizmyer, and Collins have no such statement. Norman Porteous did make the assertion that Daniel’s Aramaic may be “perhaps second century,” but he gave no evidence to back up his claim (Porteous, p. 13). Walter Baumgartner originally said that Daniel’s Aramaic required a 2nd century date (“Das Aramaische im Buche Daniel,” Zeitschrift fur die alsttestamentlich Vol. 45, [1927], p. 119), but he later retreated from this position (“ein vier teljahrhundert Danielforschung,” Theologische Rundzchau Vol. 11, [1939], p. 69). 
Samuel Driver held the view that the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits a date after 330 B. C. The conservative Zdravko Stefanovic of Walla Walla College, College Place, Washington, noted:Notice the force of his arguments in the verdict decreasing down to the level at which Aramaic only ‘permits’ this conclusion, in contrast to demanding and supporting it. It seems that, for Driver, the argument coming out of Daniel’s Aramaic was the last and weakest one. This leaves the impression that it may be the “Achilles heel” in his dictum (Zdravko Stefanovic, “The Aramaic of Daniel in the Light of Old Aramaic, Scheffield Academic Press, 1992, p. 18). In fact, the conservative Charles Boutflower reported:Before his lamented death this dictum, or at any rate the latter part of it respecting the Aramaic, was considerably modified by its author, owing to a remarkable discovery [i.e., the Elephantine papryi]…In his letter to The Guardian of November 6, 1907, Professor Driver admits that the Aramaic spoken in Egypt in 408 B. C. “bears many points of resemblance to that found in the Old Testament –in Ezra, Daniel, and Jeremiah 10:11” (Charles Doutflower, In and Around the Book of Daniel, London, [1923], p. 226).  Kenneth A. Kitchen, professor in the School of Archaeology and Oriental Studies at the University of Liverpool, confirmed that Daniel’s Aramaic could not be used for evidence of second century authorship in his excellent essay, “The Aramaic of Daniel,” Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel, pp. 31-79). Kitchen concluded:

The result is that nine-tenths of the vocabulary is attested in texts of the fifth century B.C. or earlier. The slender one-tenth remaining consists of words so far found only in sources later than the fifth century B.C. (e.g. Nabatacan Palmyrene, or later Aramaic dialects), or so far not attested externally at all…Where nine-tenths of the vocabulary is clearly old-established (fifth century B.C. and earlier), it is a fair assumption that the lack of attestation of the odd tenth represents nothing more than the gaps in our present knowledge–gaps liable to be filled by new material in the course of time The Aramaic of Daniel (and of Ezra) is simply a part of Imperial [Official] Aramaic–in itself, practically undateable with any conviction within c. 600 to 300 B.C.” (pp. 32,34,75). 
H.H.Rowley did contest Kitchen’s findings (H.H.Rowley, Review of D.J. Wiseman, et al, “Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel,” Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol. 11, [1966], pp. 112-116), but the criticisms of Rowley were scrutinized by the leading Israeli Aramaist E. Y. Kutcsher and were roundly refuted (E.Y. Krutscher, “Aramaic,” Current Trends in Linguistics; Vol. 6, ed. T.A. Sebock, The Hague, [1970], pp. 400-403).
 Furthermore, Kitchen’s paper has been favorably received by many critical scholars (Collins, pp. 14-15, L. Dequeker, The Saints of the Most High in Qumran and Daniel, Leiden, [1973], p. 131, M. Delcor, Le Livre de Daniel, [1971], pp. 31-33; M. Sokoloff, The Targum of Job from Qumran Cave XL, Rumat Gan, [1974], p. 9, note 1; John Goldingay, Daniel, p. xxv.), and Kitchen’s linguistic qualifications are very impressive. For instance, his command of ancient languages in research-work includes Ancient Egyptian, Biblical Aramaic, Biblical Hebrew, Old North-Arabian (Lihyanite, Dedanite), Akkadian, Hittite, Hurrian, Eblaite, Elamite, Urartian, & Old Persian, Sumerian, Moabite, Edomite and Ammonite (& Hasaean in E. Arabia). Kitchen was given the honor of both opening and closing the 2nd International Congress of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem in 1990. Almost one thousand scholars and students were in attendance, and his addresses from this meeting were published in Biblical Archaeology Today 1990, pp. 34-52.
Farrell Till should backtrack in light of the fact that none of the scholars he has named so far are willing to agree with the dogmatic assertion he made that the Aramaic of Daniel should be dated to the second century B.C. (TSR, Vol 4.3, p. 13), but instead he stood by his claim (TSR, Vol. 12.3, pl 10, column 2). Furthermore, he has even attempted to give evidence to bolster his claim (“Daniel and the Watchers, TSR, Vol. 12.3, p. 1; Notice that the above quote from Kenneth Kitchen exposed the tremendous weakness of Till’s linguistic argument in this article.). 
Later Farrell Till brought up another linguistic argument concerning Daniel 12:2 in his article “Daniel and the Resurrection,” (TSR, Vol. 12.4, p. 1, 16). Daniel states, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” 

Farrell Till notes: 

Zoroastrianism taught the concept of a general resurrection, and this religion flourished in Persia at the time of the Jewish exile. After the Jews had been repatriated, this concept, which had been unknown prior to the exile, because a widely held belief in post exilic Judaism. The Fact that Daniel is the only book in the Jewish canon to make such a clear reference to a general resurrection, although not conclusive, is certainly  one more indication that this book was compiled some time after the captivity (TSR, Vol. 12.4, p. 16). 
Many critics do hold to this view. Alexander DiLella has asserted that the author of Daniel “must be credited with giving the first sure teaching on life beyond the grave (DiLella, p. 109, Montgomery, p. 471; Heaton, p. 219). Yet the critic Lococque states that “the faith ‘in resurrection, immortality, and eternal life’ is very old in Israel” (Lococque, pp. 235-36). He explains that the position that these were late doctrines has now been overturned, particularly by the work of the critic M. Dahood, which was based on “linguistic parallels in the mythic texts from Ugarit (dating from about the thirteenth century BCE” (p. 236). 
Other Old Testament scriptures also teach this same doctrine of the resurrection of the individual. Many regard Job as the oldest book in the Bible. Job said, “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:26). Isaish said, “But your dead will live, their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning, the earth will give birth to her dead” (Isaiah 26:19). 
Farrell Till’s last two hearline articles concerning Daniel 4:13 and Daniel 12:2 were weak (TSR, Vol. 12.3, p. 1: TSR, Vol. 12.4, p. 1, 16). Both articles are attempts to bolster Till’s assertion that the evidence points to a 2nd century author, but Till needs to give up totally on these two particular arguments. Also Till will have great difficulty finding agreement with his radical assertion concerning the linguistic style of the Aramaic in any of the writings of the scholars he has named so far. Again  the question must be asked: Who are the scholars that cite Daniel’s linguistic style [especially the section written in Aramaic] as evidence that the book was written in the extreme end of the Old Testament (no sooner than the second century). 
During this entire debate on the date and authorship of Daniel, Farrell Till has not presented one solid argument that necessitates a late date for the Book of Daniel. Furthermore, Till has refused to abandon arguments that have been clearly refuted. For instance, I refuted Till’s observation that the statue in Daniel 3:1 was solid gold, but Till would not accept the evidence I presented (TSR, Vol. 12.2, p. 7) even though critics such as Collins, Hartman, DiLella, Montgomery, Jeffery, and Driver all point to other Old Testament passages that refer to images as “golden” though they were only gold plated (TSR. Vol. 12.2, p. 2-3). 
Will Till continue to defend refuted arguments” First, will Till or Matson provide us with an ancient source that backs up their dogmatic statement that history indicates that Belshazzar was not in command when Babylon fell? Second, will Till accept Samuel Driver’s reasonable explanation concerning Daniel’s training period? Third, will Till continue to insist that he can cite reputable scholars that will back up his claim that the Aramaic of Daniel is wirtrtne in the linguistic style of the 2nd century B. C.? Fourth, will Till, Matson, Wildish and Sieriches continue to insist that Belshazzar was not the ruling King of Bablyon Fifth, will till continue to insist that Daniel 3:1 is talking about a solid gold statue? Sixth, will Till continue to insist that the reference to the afterlife in Daniel 12:2 is evidence that the Book of Daniel is late? I predict that Farrell Till will not accept the evidence on these points that has been presented to him during this long running debate, but it is my hope that many of the subscribers of The Skeptical Review will take Till’s arguments and compare them to the details of history, archaeology, linguistics, and the tesxt. A closer study will shed light on the flaws that exist in even Thill’s strongest arguments. 
Everette Hatcher, Little Rock ArkansasDr. Stephen R. Miller, Mid-America Seminary, Cordova, Tennessee, (Dr. Miller is the author of Daniel, New American  Commentary Series, 1994).


Francis Schaeffer

Image result for francis schaeffer roman bridge

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Frederic Edwin Church: A collection of 206 paintings (HD)

1984 SOUNDWORD LABRI CONFERENCE VIDEO – Q&A With Francis & Edith Schaefer

Frederic Edwin Church - 1826-1900


Church represents the culmination of the Hudson River School: he had Thomas Cole’s love for the landscape, Asher Brown Durand’s romantic lyricism, and Albert Bierstadt’s grandiloquence, but he was braver and technically more gifted than anyone of them. Church is without any doubt one of the greatest landscape painters of all time, perhaps only surpassed by Turner and some impressionists and postimpressionists like Monet or Cézanne.

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