Thursday, March 20, 2008

The God Who Wasn't Not There

I have begun a page for The Transparencies' music over at ReverbNation.

However, I have added a disclaimer there, saying that we don't necessarily endorse the ads that appear, especially (so far) the ad for the DVD "The God Who Wasn't There".

Here are a few comments on what I've seen of it so far:

Not to say that some of the scholars they feature are not intelligent and honest, but, based on the clip I watched, the film itself appears to me to be one of those pop-scholar things that bamboozles us with graphics and questionable strategies such as the following:

They have a chart in which event after event from the Gospels are listed as the narrator says "The Apostle Paul did not know about ... the Virgin Birth, Bethlehem, etc. etc.", just because those (and many other events) are not explicitly mentioned by him in the Epistles. That does not mean he did not know about them. I think this strategy is dishonest.

Then the narrator says that the three events (the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, if I recall correctly) that are mentioned by Paul are never placed on earth, but in a "mythical realm".

What!? Sure, he doesn't provide addresses, but a plain reading of the text describing such events (such as the opening verses of 1 Cor. 15) simply describes them as having happened, even in fulfillment of prophecy. They reveal an author who believed they happened in recent history (even if hypothetically speaking he was mistaken).

In fact the whole of 1 Cor. 15 is an argument for the historicity and importance of Christ's physical resurrection (witnessed, he says, by several people including himself), as a precursor of sorts to our own.

Then a unique and unacknowledged translation of Heb. 8:4 is used ("If he had been on earth..." instead of something like "If He were [still] on earth....") to suggest that the author of that book (possibly Paul) also believed only in a mythical Jesus.

But this flies in the face of that author's descriptions of Jesus' suffering as a human being like us (2:9,18; 5:8). Heb. 13:12 even comes close to providing an "address" for the event of his suffering ("outside the city gate").

Another astounding stratagem of the DVD is to say that the apocryphal Gospel of Peter places Jesus' trial during the reign of Herod the Great (thirty-something years earlier), suggesting a great deal of uncertainty about the time frame of the events.

But, no matter what we might think of the use of an apocryphal source, there is nothing in the text to suggest that the author does not mean the same Herod that appears in Luke, that is, Herod Antipas (son of The Great). This leads me to believe that the DVD writers are either so ignorant of their subject or so dishonest, hoping to slip that one by us, that they are barely worthy of consideration at all.

Yes, we need to weigh the evidence for the possibility that the New Testament authors were mistaken about these events or even possibly lying about them, but one has to bend over backwards to portray the authors as not intending to convey these events as recent history (in nearby geography).

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