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Scrambled Skeptic X with Sausage, Part 2

More Pathological Literalism from the Former Fundy Farmstead

James Patrick Holding

In an article released parallel to this one we diagnosed Skeptic X with a case of pathological literalism, one to add to whatever other psych disorders than may afflict him this week such as the egotism that makes him think he knows better than scholars about things like the meaning of oikoumene and the presence of guilt in ancient rural societies. We here turn to Skeptic X's next manifestation of these disorders, in response to his treatment of preterism, and the focus now being on the symbolic nature of such passages as relate the tragedy of the sun, moon and stars (hereafter SMS). Skeptic X again sees these as predictions of literal cosmic events; we have shown that they symbolically represent the destruction of the governing bodies in Jerusalem. As has been recent practice we will put our original words in bold italics, Skeptic X's words in italics, and our responses in normal type.

If that's the case then one wonders about "non-inerrantist" liberal-moderate scholars like G. B. Caird who thought the same, describing such passages as "prophetic hyperbole" which used terms of cosmic collapse to describe God's judgment on nations.

Oh, well, if G. B. Caird agreed with [Holding], then I must be wrong. Whey didn't [Holding] let us know long ago what Caird thought about this?

It's not far off to say if Caird say X, and Skeptic X says Y, then Skeptic X must be wrong. Skeptic X as always lacks the intellectual cajones to take on a Caird, or a Rohrbaugh, and hence resorts to such whining rejoinders as "why didn't he say so" (who cares? would Skeptic X have replied any different six weeks ago?) and "...he made no attempt to support Caird's claim" (and Skeptic X makes no effort to refute it, he just thinks it's enough to sit in his La-Z-Boy and burp against scholars who have spent years studying the subject) and "[h]e didn't even quote Caird, so we don't even know if Caird himself even attempted to support this claim. I have found that many times references like these, if checked out, will turn out to be just assertions that the 'scholars' themselves made without bothering to try to prove them." Not that Skeptic X would ever soil his hands making such checks, until cornered, or that a scholar like Caird deserves such treatment from a cornpone ex-CoC preacher with round-trip tickets for his ego, or that what Caird actually said was more along the lines of instructions for care and feeding of budgies. Skeptic X is buying himself time with this sort of pathetic excuse-making and implication of dishonesty, but now it is time for the clock to strike 12 and for the mouse to vacate the premises. Skeptic X wants to hear from Caird? Let him go get Caird and educate himself if he has the nerve.

Saying nothing about the evidence for such symbols being used in the Biblical text, his sole justification for arguing that Isaiah, et al must have thought that these astral events would literally occur (and pay attention, X, I didn't quote MacArthur as "proof" but as a lesser example of the sort of hyper-literalism you are also victim to, and also try to explain your way out of) is a diatribe on how those stupid ancients thought that stars really were little cinders that could fall to the ground.

I believe the record will show that I correctly quoted [Holding], who had quoted MacArthur as saying, "(A)lmost no one expects stars to fall to the earth." What [Holding] did was to identify MacArthur as an anti-preterist who had made the statement above but had then gone on to "suggest" that Isaiah 13 "is also a scene of worldwide judgment." [Holding]'s intention, then, was to use what he considered to be the inconsistency of a "dispensationalist" to support the preterist position that the heavenly signs in Matthew 24:29ff were symbolic.

The issue, which Skeptic X evades because he has no other choice, is that I did not quote MacArthur as "proof" of anything (unless I was trying to "prove" MacArthur held the view he did, which I was not trying to do) and did not use him to "support" the preterist position in the least (but rather, to show the lengths gone to by to dispensationalists to support THEIR view). Skeptic X has been caught with his foot in his mouth again, and is here yet again blowing his nose as loud as he can to cover his embarrassing error in reading. But we'll probably never see him explain this one:

You'll Pay for Your Insolence! I quote myself from earlier work:

I pay for this site, so correspondent with the 90% fluff ratio I demand that Skeptic X pay for 90% of the costs of hosting any item he submits -- whether he meets challenge #1 above or not. Obviously the amount would have to be determined based on going rates for server space and the length of the article written. I also want payment for 8 years in advance (about the time I have the tektonics.org name reserved). Based on Skeptic X's behavior I am not so sure he'll be around that long before giving himself a coronary, and I think the security is a good idea.

I gave this as a debate condition before I knew that Skeptic X would soon have his own website, but I'd like to bring it up again. Note the highlighted phrases. Here is what Skeptic X gets out of the above, as he reports it to his TSR readers:

One condition was that I would have to pay 90% of the cost of maintaining his website, which would be 90% of $35 per month or $378 per year...in other words, [Holfing] was saying that he would debate me on my site and his if I would just agree to pay him $3024 before the debate begins.

Shall we correct this little episode of adult attention deficit disorder? Or is it obvious enough? The whole website? Did I say that? Skeptic X is verbose and wastes a lot of space with fluff, but I suspect the cost would have been no more than $5 over 8 years for even the longest, fluffiest item he could produce, which would never occupy my entire website.

And we'll also never see a real admission of error or an apology for this gaffe either, or for this one, or...are you kidding? Get real.

In his--er, DeMar's--"Olivet Discourse," [Holding] quoted Isaiah 13:10; 34-3-5; Ezekiel 32:6-8; and Amos 8:9, which all contained references to "astral" upheavals that would accompany the destruction of Babylon, Edom, and Egypt, and then argued that since none of these things happened, that shows that these signs were merely "apocalyptic." In other words, he was trying to prove inerrancy by assuming inerrancy.

No, I was trying to prove a trend by citing examples, and Skeptic X is trying to avoid engagement of the issue by hauling up this stale canard about inerrancy (as well as the "er, DeMar" notation, which is his manipulative way of avoiding dealing with the ideas, or covering his inadequacies in doing so, by focusing attention on a person). Inerrancy isn't at issue and doesn't come into the picture. If we were asking questions about rabbinic documents, and Skeptic X was uneducated enough to argue that a rabbi was being literal and not hyperbolic when he reacted to the news of his excommunication by saying, "The world was then smitten: a third of the olive crop, a third of the wheat and a third of the barley crop," part of the answer would remain citing other examples of such hyperbolic language until the brick Skeptic X uses for thinking either conceded, or, as is now the case, made a fool of himself not conceding. This is why Skeptic X also uses his canard of planting diversions on other topics (want to wag in Ezekiel 32? deal with this and clamp it until you have done so, in detail; want to wag in Isaiah and Tyre? My report here) to score points. I can do it, too. I propose Skeptic X debate me about my article here and Glenn Miller's article here, which I support 100% in argumentation. What? He hasn't responded yet? And then there's the old standby of putting words in your opponent's mouth and then criticizing "their" argument for polemical effect:

As for what the ancient Hebrews understood stars to be, is [Holding] actually contending that they knew that stars were actually other "suns" that were billions of miles away? If so, what is his evidence? Is it [Holding]'s position that the ancient Hebrews didn't think that streaking meteorites were "falling stars"? If so, how does he know? How does he think that the expression "falling star" originated unless people in prescientific times thought that streaking meteorities were falling stars?

Skeptic X whines that I "waved at this in passing" and "made no real attempt to reply to it," which is his spin, and irrelevant anyway. Regardless of what the Hebrews thought the stars were; regardless of what they thought such stars could do (and remember that by their definition, "stars" included meteorites and could indeed fall to earth) is irrelevant to whether or not this is a figure of speech. If they did know their were suns billions of miles away, Skeptic X would spin that into a case of them thinking of an even greater solar disaster. In short, it doesn't matter. Even if they did think that stars could literally fall from the sky, that doesn't change a whit whether these passages are literal or symbolic, any more than that the reality of us being able to get ants in our pants proves that we can't use that as a figurative expression. We'll see that it is Skeptic X who waves this off with his usual one-dimensionalism, and the "stars: tiny or big?" debate is nothing more than a diversion he uses to impute a measure of stupidity on the ancients for the sake of the gullible Skeptical reader.

None of these things literally happened to Babylon, Edom, etc.--and Isaiah, et al. did not think that they would. "These passages all tell a story with the same set of motifs: YHWH's victory over the great pagan city; the rescue and vindication of his true people who had been suffering under it; and YHWH's acclamation as king." [Wr.JVG. 356-7] Matthew 24:29 is symbolic for judgment, for the vindication of the new covenant over the old covenant, and their respective members, and Christ's new reign--and thus fits within the paradigm of a 70 fulfillment. Some points as proof [Dem.LDM, 143; Wr.JVG, 354ff].

So readers can see [Holding]'s method of "proving" a point. He quotes a writer, who makes an unsupported assertion, and then that becomes [Holding]'s proof.

Right! I quote writers with experience and scholarship that would make Skeptic X's head spin, and he doesn't provide contrary answers; he just calls them names and says bunk like, "Both writers are committed preterists and both books were written in defense of the preterist position. How is that for objective evidence?" Yeah! "X Skeptic X is a committed errantist and his newsletter books was written in defense of the errantist position. How is that for objective evidence?" It never occurs to Skeptic X that these same batches of malarkey can be thrown right back in his own face, and he justifies it by fantasizing that I would make the same cornpone mistakes he has: "What [Holding] has done here would be parallel to my quoting books by Dennis McKinsey or Dan Barker in support of my position. If I did this, it would take [Holding] about a second to challenge the objectivity of my supporting evidence." Like heck it would. I'd challenge it on Barker and McKinsey's credentials, but merely because they happen to be errantists or atheists? No. Skeptic X is having a delusional fantasy he needs to justify his own mistakes in thinking.

[Holding] quoted several Old Testament passages that prophesied the destructions of Babylon, Egypt, and Edom, which would be accompanied by the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars, and then concluded that these all had to have been figurative prophecies, because "(n)one of these things literally happened to Babylon, etc." Because none of these events literally happened, [Holding] arbitrarily declared that "Isaiah et al did not think that they would."

Arbitrary? No, it is a matter of pattern of examples that prove the point. In the linked article above we had this same discussion wherein Skeptic X continually argued for rampant stupidity by the Hebrews, which is really his only option to keep his boat afloat. In this case he is proposing that Hebrew prophets used this same imagery to predict literal events time and time again, and one would think that they'd a) have to switch images or stop using them; b) do what they could to cover it up. There is no evidence for either; if anything the pattern suggests that they had no qualms about it. With or without inerrancy, the most viable explanation for this continuation is not, as Skeptic X suggests, a parallel to his own past ignorance in reading the Bible (which is no match to begin with!) and that of others, but that the images meant something which was considered to have been satisfactorily represented.

Skeptic X says I offered no proof of this use of imagery; what he means is, I didn't provide anything he couldn't construct a bigoted excuse to explain away. He also says I never explained what literal message was behind these images; I did, and he didn't pay attention, or by now has forgotten: "The combined imagery of sun, moon and stars reflects complete political entities. Jesus' prediction refers to nothing more or less than the judgment upon the nation of Israel." I also provided examples of stellar imagery for political entities -- evidence we see even today in the use of stars on Old Glory, and the Rising Sun on the Japanese flag, and the crescent moon on Middle Eastern flags. Skeptic X answered none of this, because he can't.

Why this doesn't mean such events must be interpreted literally even so isn't explained.

If it isn't explained, then just how does [Holding] know that "such events" should not have been interpreted literally? What is wrong with applying the primary rule of literary interpretation that says that the language of a text should be interpreted literally unless there are compelling reasons to assign figurative meaning?

We also had this canard in the other article, and the response is the same: If this is true, then the repeated use of the SMS motif in the same situations (upheaval of a political entity -- and as Witherington adds, did eclipses only happen during such events?), and that the use of these symbols did not wear away in spite of obvious literal "failure", then we have our compelling reasons all by themselves. We have already our "contextual reasons why we should think that the writers were speaking figuratively when they referred to falling stars and the darkening of the sun and moon," and that is even WITHOUT the data on stellar symbols for governing bodies and the Hebrew use of idiom, which are just more nails in the coffin. What Skeptic X means is, "I want a reason that I can't find a hypothetical excuse to get out of" -- which means, he won't accept any explanation at all.

and that meteorites were called "stars" is irrelevant, for the word "star" did not mean "an enormous, flaming ball of gas; see also, Skeptic X"),

Well, of course, the ancient Near Eastern "Semitic mind" didn't understand star to mean that. The ancients of that time thought that they were specks of light fixed into the "firmament," so that is why they thought that streaking meteorites were "falling stars." If they had known that they were flaming orbs several times the size of the earth, they wouldn't have prophesied that "stars" would fall from "heaven."

Skeptic X's argument here is one of equivocation. He has faulted the ancients for using an umbrella term ("stars") to describe a variety of objects they had very little knowledge of, as though he expects new words to be created to differentiate between the objects just for his bigoted and narrow-minded convenience. This is misplaced since we still refer to "shooting stars" today in a popular sense with no concern that this terminology is technically incorrect. Skeptic X may as well say, "If we knew that they were flaming orbs several times the size of the earth, we wouldn't speaks of 'stars' that 'shoot'." But again, this is all a diversion, since regardless of beliefs about stars or about worldly objects, as noted above, language can still use literal objects and their actions in the form of a figure of speech. That it was a literal possibility in anyone's mind is not a determining factor, and it is Skeptic X who is trying to force modern knowledge onto ancient persons and make them use figures of speech and verbiage that conform to his own notions.

Next up, Skeptic X imagines to put me in a bind by crawling his way through Is. 13 and asking Stupid Skeptic Questions about "what the writer intended his readers to understand." So let's play Wheel of Fortune, shall we? To begin:

Isaiah 13:1 The burden against Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. 2"Lift up a banner on the high mountain, Raise your voice to them; Wave your hand, that they may enter the gates of the nobles....

Questions for [Holding]: There is an obvious mixture of both literal and figurative language in this part of the text. I'll be more than happy to give contextual reasons to support the language that I consider figurative, but I want to question [Holding] about the parts that I consider literal usages. Was this a prophecy against Babylon proper, or was Isaiah the son of Amoz simply using Babylon "apocalyptically" to mean Nineveh or Tyre or some other place? Was Isaiah even the son of Amoz, or was he just speaking metaphorically? Could Isaiah have been the son of, say, Oscar or Elmer?

"Babylon" itself has the ability to carry a figurative meaning for some other city; commentators think for example that "Babylon" means Rome or Jerusalem in 1 Peter 5:13. However, that is based on the obvious point that Babylon as a city was not a residence for Christians at this date and Peter would be unlikely to have gone to Babylon. There is moreover no example contemporary with Isaiah of "Babylon" being used that way, as there is evidence of stellar imagery being used to represent peoples and nations, and no data suggesting what "Babylon" would stand for if not Babylon itself, in Isaiah's time. Finally there is no repeated failure of Babylon not falling to suggest a figurative meaning.

"Isaiah" may also be a codeword for someone else, but he is a recognized figure in Hebrew history by that name (in the books of Kings) and he uses no other name for himself elsewhere. Thus there is nothing paralleling evidence of stellar imagery being used to represent peoples and nations. Likewise Amoz, and Oscar and Elmer are names that have never been found in Hebrew texts of inscriptions from any date. (I can be a fundaliteralist, too.) If Skeptic X wants to make a case, he'll need something like the evidence of stellar imagery being used to represent peoples and nations.

9Behold, the day of Yahweh comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. 10For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.

Questions for [Holding]: When Isaiah said that the "day of Yahweh" would come against Babylon, did he literally mean that it would be "cruel" and would be a day of "both wrath and fierce anger," or did he just mean that it would be a day with a little bit of discomfort but nothing particularly stressful? When he said that Yahweh would "destroy its sinners," did he mean that he would destroy them or was he just speaking figuratively? If the latter, then please explain to us what the intended meaning of the figurative term "destroy" was?

Gosh heck, that's hard. Now the phrase "day of Yahweh" is used throughout the OT text to refer to times of war, conquest, and vengeance. Anyone ever known of a war or conquest that was just uncomfortable and stressful? Not that that's all, a "day" can hardly be cruel. Days aren't people and don't do things. Did Yahweh mean "destroy" figuratively? No. Skeptic X doesn't tell us what would constitute a "destruction" whether literal or figurative, and doesn't even tell us what "cruel" would be, for that matter, but I'd say the big I-man was doing the same sort of rah-rah that Pharaoh Ramsses III was doing when he said:

I slew the Denyon in their islands, while the Tjekker and Philistines were made ashes. The Sherden and the Washesh of the sea were made non-existent, captured all together and brought on captivity to Egypt like the sands of the shore.

Hey, see, that's what knowledge of ancient war-imagery will get you. I suppose Skeptic X thinks Rammy put the Tjekker and Philistines in a BBQ grill and got rid of the Sherden and the Washesh by putting them through an anti-matter chamber. Then he also figuratively captured them all. Or maybe he burned the Tjekker in a fire and ground the Sherden to powder. Isn't that nice. Anyway, he did as much to them people as the Medes did to Babylon when they "destroyed" them. Now here's some more education in ancient trash-talk. Skeptic X is probably familiar with the Victory Stele of Merneptah, the first non-Biblical reference to Israel, since sometime in the past he surely wiped his nose on a picture of it. Check some of these lines:

Shu who dispelled the cloud that was over Egypt,
letting Egypt see the rays of the sun disk.
Who removed the mountain of copper from the people's neck,
that he might give breath to the imprisoned folk.
Who let Hut-ka-Ptah exult over its foes,
letting Tjenen triumph over his opponents.
Opener of Memphis' gates that were barred,
who allowed the temples to receive their foods.
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
the Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat.
The Sole One who steadied the hearts of hundred thousands,
breath entered their nostrils at the sight of him.
Who destroyed the land of the Tjemeh in his lifetime,
cast abiding terror in the heart of the Meshwesh.
He turned back the Libyans who trod Egypt,
great is dread of Egypt in their hearts.

Their leading troops were left behind,
Their legs made no stand except to flee,
Their archers abandoned their bows,
The hearts of their runners grew weak as they sped,
They loosened their water-skins, cast them down,
Their packs were untied, thrown away
The vile chief, the Libyan foe,
Fled in the deep of night alone,
No plume on his head, his feet unshod,
His wives were carried off from his presence,
His food supplies were snatched away,
He had no drinking water to sustain him.
The gaze of his brothers was fierce to slay him,
His officers fought among each other,

Their tents were fired, burnt to ashes,
All his goods were food for the troops.
When he reached his country he was in mourning 
those left in his land were loath to receive him

"A chief, ill-fated, evil-plumed",
All said of him, those of his town.
"He is in the power of the gods, 
the lords of Memphis The Lord of Egypt has made his name accursed;
Merey is the abomination of Memphis,
So is son after son of his kin forever.
Banere-meramun will be after his children,
Merneptah, Content with Maat is given him as fate.
He has become a [proverbial saying] for Libya, 
Generation says to generation of his victories:
It was never done to us since the time of Re;"
So says every old man speaking to his son.

Woe to Libyans, they have ceased to live
In the good manner of roaming the field;
In a single day their stride was halted
In a single year were the Tjehenu burned!

Seth turned his back upon their chief,
By his word their villages were ruined;
There's no work of carrying [loads] these days.
Hiding is useful, it's safe in the cave.
The great Lord of Egypt, might and strength are his, 
Who will combat, knowing how he strides?
A witless fool is he who takes him on,
He knows no tomorrow who attacks his border!
As for Egypt, "Since the gods," they say,
"She is the only daughter of Pre;
His son is he who's on the throne of Shu,
None who attacks her people will succeed.
The eye of every god is after her despoiler,
It will make an end of all its foes",
So say they who gaze toward their stars,
And know all their spells by looking to the winds.

A great wonder has occurred for Egypt,
Her attacker was placed captive (in) her hand,
Through the counsels of the godly king,
Who prevailed against his foes before Pre.
Merey who stealthily did evil
To all the gods who are in Memphis,
He was contended with in On,
The Ennead found him guilty of his crimes.
Said the Lord-of-all: "Give the sword to my son,
The right-hearted, kind, gracious Banere-meramun,
Who cared for Memphis, who avenged On,
Who opened the quarters that were barred.
He has freed the many shut up in all districts,
He has given the offerings to the temples,
He has let incense be brought to the gods,
He has let the nobles retain their possessions,
He has let the humble frequent their towns".
Then spoke the lords of On in behalf of their son,
Merneptah, Content with Maat:
"Grant him a lifetime like that of Re,
To avenge those injured by any land;
Egypt has been assigned him as portion,
He owns it forever to protect its people".
Lo, when one dwells in the time of the mighty,
The breath of life comes readily.
The brave bestows wealth on the just,
The cheat cannot retain his plunder;
[What a man has of ill-gotten wealth
Falls to others, not (his) children.]

This (too) shall be said:
Merey the vile foe, the Libyan foe
Had come to attack the walls of Ta-tenen,
Whose lord had made his son arise in his place,
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat.
Then said Ptah concerning the vile Libyan foe:
"His crimes are all gathered upon his head.
Give him into the hand of Merneptah, Content with Maat,
He shall make him spew what he gorged like a crocodile.
Lo, the swift will catch the swift,
The lord who knows his strength will snare him;
It is Amun who curbs him with his hand,
He will deliver him to his ka in Southern On,
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat".

Great joy has arisen in Egypt,
Shouts go up from Egypt's towns;
They relate the Libyan victories
Of Merneptah, Content with Maat:
"How beloved is he, the victorious ruler!
How exalted is he, the King among the gods!
How splendid is he, the lord of command!
O how sweet it is to sit and babble!"
One walks free-striding on the road,
For there's no fear in people's hearts;
Fortresses are left to themselves,
Wells are open for the messengers' use.
Bastioned ramparts are becalmed,
Sunlight only wakes the watchmen;
Medjai are stretched out asleep,
Nau and Tekten are in the fields they love.
The cattle of the field are left to roam,
No herdsmen cross the river's flood;
There's no calling out at night:
"Wait, I come," in a stranger's voice.
Going and coming are with song,
People don't [lament] and mourn;
Towns are settled once again,
He who tends his crop will eat it.
Re has turned around to Egypt,
The Son is ordained as her protector,
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat

The princes are prostrate saying: "Shalom!"
Not one of the Nine Bows lifts his head:
Tjehenu is vanquished, Khatti at peace,
Canaan is captive with all woe.
Ashkelon is conquered, Gezer seized,
Yanoam made nonexistent;
Israel is wasted, bare of seed,
Khor is become a widow for Egypt.
All who roamed have been subdued.

By the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat,
Given life like Re every day.

I doubt if Skeptic X takes any of these lines I highlighted any more seriously than he takes Isaiah 13, and he's right not to do so -- it's all an ancient version of "trash talk," a victory dance in the end zone, so to speak. The oracle of war was a place for the victor to strut his stuff and use neener-neener images to do so. Once Is. 13 is understood this way -- rather than in the paradigm of pathological literalism -- Skeptic X and his objections vanish in a puff of acrid smoke.

We have found lately one more example of such literature, this time from Assyria. In Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context Walton [207] offers these lines from the Neo-Assyrian period:

This is the word of Ninlil herself to the king, "Fear not, O Ashurbanipal! Now, as I have spoken, it will come to pass: I shall grant it to you. Over the people of the four languages and over the armament of the princes you will exercise sovereignty...The kings of the countries confer together saying, 'Come, let us rise against Ashurbanipal...The fate of our fathers and our grandfathers [the Assyrians] have fixed: [let not his might] cause divisions among us.' Ninlil answered saying, '[The kings] of the lands [I shall over]throw, place under the yoke, bind their feet in [strong fetters]. For the second time I proclaim to you that as with the land of Elam and the Cimmerians [I shall proceed]. I shall arise, break the thorns, open up widely my way through the briers. With blood I shall turn the land into a rain shower, fill it with lamentation and wailing....

Note that we have here a combination of literal, semi-literal, and figurative language -- unless someone wants to argue that this literally was predicting someone walking through a briarpatch for Ashurby's sake. Practically this is no different than an oracle of Isaiah in format. It is "trash talk" with heavy symbolism.

Now Skeptic X demands to know now what I think was the fulfillment of Is. 13:10. I already said what it was for Matthew 24, and maybe Skeptic X forgot. A little later he even throws a temper tantrum: "No, no, no, [Holding] did not explain what these meant. He merely asserted what they meant, but he has yet to take the relevant texts to explicate them and show why the astronomical signs must be understood figuratively. If he claims that he has explained them, then I say that he is either intentionally bluffing in hopes that some will think that he has indeed explained them, or else he has mistaken asserting for explaining." Blase squase, humpty dumpty. We did all of this, and Skeptic X is the confused one who does goofy stuff like say I changed my position on the Land Promise debate because he can't remember what I said in my first article. As a reminder -- please write it down, Skeptic X, repeat it three times, and tattoo it on your right leg if necessary -- the SMS imagery means the destruction of civil authority; so in Matt., it means the government of Judaea; in Is. 13, the government of Babylon. So fill in your own blanks where you have those memories of jingles for Mr. Clean stored away.

11"I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of Yahweh of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger. 14It shall be as the hunted gazelle, and as a sheep that no man takes up; every man will turn to his own people, and everyone will flee to his own land.

If the destruction of Babylon was going to be as complete as the description below, then at that time the similes in verse 12 would have been literally fulfilled. A mortal, or person, would have been more rare than fine gold and the golden wedge [pure gold, ASV] of Ophir. If the stars in the constellations, the sun, and moon didn't given their light, then certainly the heavens would be shaken. At any rate, if the language was figurative, as [Holding] claims, it still had intended meaning, so what was that intended meaning?

Um, yeah, just like if Rammy did what he said literally, he couldn't have captured all those people he "ashisized". Hmm, has Skeptic X ever been to a football game? Has he ever taken part in macho sports? Probably not, but if he ever did he'd all kinds of trash talk about how "we're gonna destroy you" or "we're gonna blow you out of the stadium" etc. Both Merneptah's victory stele, and Isaiah, can be clearly seen -- like Rammy's words -- as ancient warrior "trash talk". So what's the intended meaning? Essentially, "The Medes are going to win and you're going to lose." Now it's up to Skeptic X, with the parallel of war talk and trash talk in mind, to explain to us why Isaiah thought the earth would shake, etc. And in that view, here are some questions for Skeptic X to answer:

  • Did quakes and eclipses only happen at war time? Prove your answer. Do not quote a scholar.
  • Pretend you are a Median warrior attacking Babylon. If the sun goes dark, the moon goes awry, the earth shakes, and the stars stop shining or fall, do you keep on ravishing women, dashing children to pieces, and fighting the battle like nothing unusual is happening?

    That of course leads to these passages:

    15Everyone who is found will be thrust through, and everyone who is captured will fall by the sword. 16Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished. 17"Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, who will not regard silver; and as for gold, they will not delight in it. 18Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces, and they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye will not spare children.

    Questions for [Holding]: Did Isaiah mean that the statements emphasized in bold print would literally happen? Would everyone be killed as described? Was Yahweh speaking literally in Deuteronomy 22:16 when he commanded the Israelites to "save nothing alive to breathe" in their conquests of cities in Canaan? Were the passages in Joshua (10:40; 11:11) speaking literally when they said that the Israelites, in accordance with what Yahweh had commanded Moses, left none to breathe? If so, why would it be so difficult to assume that Isaiah was speaking literally when he prophesied that everyone in Babylon would be killed?

    Everyone? Hardly, since the children and women obviously aren't. Duh. Was Yahweh speaking literally in those other passages? Sure, but that's a command in a narrative setting, not a prophetic/poetic oracle. Maybe Skeptic X was absent the day they did genre study in Bam Bam Bible College. I also doubt that the Hebrews killed all the breathing insects and rodents in the cities. BTW, Deut. 22:16 says, "And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her..." So much for Mr. Perfecto's perfect day. Now how can we trust him ever again?

    Was Isaiah speaking literally when he prophesied that Babylonian children would "be dashed to pieces" before the eyes of their parents? If not, why not? Did Yahweh not inspire a psalmist to pronounce a blessing upon the person who would dash "the little ones" of the Babylonians against stones (Psalm 137:8)? With such examples of Yahweh's mercy and love toward children, why should we not believe that Isaiah was speaking literally as he prophesied the destruction of Babylonian children?

    Why should we believe Merneptah was speaking literally when he laid down all that trash talk? Isaiah, like Merny, used the image of a typical event of ancient war; to stretch this to say it would happen to every child like the Hebrews had some sort of War Instruction Manual ("1. Lift child. 2. Dash to ground.") that compelled them to do the same to every child, would be rather absurd, and suggests more trash talk, not a literal report. We recommend Skeptic X take lessons in multi-dimensional thinking.

    Were the wives of the Babylonians to be ravished literally? Didn't Yahweh say to David in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, "I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun" (2 Sam. 12:12)? If Yahweh would consider doing this to David, a man after his own heart, who always did that which was right except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite (1 Kings 15:5), why is it so hard to believe that Isaiah literally meant that the wives of the Babylonians would be ravished?

    Ditto here. I'm sure the Hebrews and other races didn't have an instruction manual, or a complete list they ticked off of all the women in Babylon, or that they ravished the wives after running them through as specified above. I also doubt the Medians would have been particularly into cheap sex with the literal stars falling on their heads and the moon scowling at them. Once again, also, 2 Sam. is a narrative genre.

    19And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. 20It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation; nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. 21But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, And their houses will be full of owls; ostriches will dwell there, and wild goats will caper there 22The hyenas will howl in their citadels, and jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, and her days will not be prolonged."

    Nothing literal here? Did Isaiah mean that Babylon would be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah only in an "apocalyptic" sense? If so, please tell us exactly what happened that fulfilled this "apocalyptically." What about the habitation of Babylon? Did Isaiah mean that Babylon would never be inhabited only in an "apocalyptic" sense? If so, exactly what happened that brought about this fulfillment? In other words, how are we able to know that this was fulfilled?

    In spite of some leanings by the likes of McDowell, who try to apply this prophecy as fulfilled in the modern-day site of Babylon, no -- little literal here. It's an image of desolation like those Merneptah used, indicating defeat and chaos (i.e., the wild animals -- as if hyenas could identify and pick out the citadels, or owls the houses, while avoiding the citadels and Wal-Marts), and Skeptic X sees it about as well as he would from one of those fou-fou art movies imported from France.

    We get now to where Hyper the Literalist had his talk, and we have him on the line again -- hey Hyper, where ya at?

    "I'm at the ballpark watching the Mudville McKinseys tar and feather the Skeptic X Titans. Boy, what a mess!"

    Tar and feather? What's the score?

    "Ain't no score. The McKinseys hauled out tar and feathers in the first inning and attacked the pitcher after the first strike."

    Oh. Well, anyway, we'll let you take over from here for a bit.

    "Thanks. Keep on Skeptic X for that crap he's pulling. Especially that part about paying for 90% of your website. The man needs reading lessons and I mean that literally."

    Of course you do, Hyper. Here we go:

    No, Skeptic X wouldn't have to say that this is obviously figurative, because the writer of Daniel took care of that. All I have to do is read what the writer said to know that the language was figurative. Daniel is an unusual prophetic book in that it frequently took the time to explain the meanings of symbols and figures of speech used in its prophecies. The interpretation of symbols began with the famous dream of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2, when Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed about a great image that was made of different types of metal. The mere fact that Nebuchadnezzar called upon the wise men in his kingdom to interpret the dream is compelling textual evidence that the dream was not to be understood literally. However, when Daniel revealed the interpretation, he clearly established that symbolism was intended in the text.

    "Sorry, Skeptic X, wrong again. I knew it was a dream, but Daniel 8 clearly says, "And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king." Not "represents" the king of Grecia, but IS. It's in plain English. And he's rapping about Daniel 2, while we're in Daniel 8. He needs to get his act together. I'm skipping to where he gets off his dead horse and actually talks about Daniel 8. You're right about him using distractions, Holding."

    Daniel asked the "one who stood by" to tell him the truth about the visions, and he [the one who stood by] told Daniel and made known to him the interpretation of the visions. In giving the interpretation, the one who stood by told Daniel that the "great beasts" were four kings that "arise out of the earth." The language of the text is clear enough, then, to show that the "beasts" were not intended literally but metaphorically (figures of speech in which one thing is called another). This brings us back to the literary principle that [Holding] seems unable to grasp. The language of a text is to be interpreted within the context of the words, and figurative meanings are to be assigned to the text if there are compelling reasons to reject literal meanings. If the text flatly says that the "great beasts" were "four kings," that settles the question of whether the language was intended to be figurative.

    "What the hell is Skeptic X trying to pull? Yeah, it's clear, it's clear that the man thought that the king of 'Grecia' would literally be a goat. He said, the goat IS the king of Grecia. And I already showed that the ancients thought animals could get into politics, so his 'compelling reason' just went down the toilet."

    The text clearly stated that Daniel was given an interpretation of his "vision," and the interpretation identified the horns on the ram as the kings of Media and Persia and the male goat as the kingdom [king] of Greece. Hence, we have compelling reason to understand that the basic components of this text were not intended to be understood literally.

    "Look at Skeptic X trying to get away with crap! It says clearly, 'And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.' Not 'kingdom' but king. Now watch him try to get into a 'quote different versions' argument. If he keeps up that crap he can prove anything he wants just by quoting different versions. Uh, hey, Holding! Quote that Editor's note, it has a great laugh!"

    [Editors Note: You'll have to scroll down a bit to find the section on Caligula, but if you're hoping that it will clarify whatever point [Holding] is trying to make, I'm afraid you'll be dissapointed.]

    "Haw haw! Holding, you're right about these lazy bums. It's such a tiring effort to scroll or to use your search function on the browser. And they spell "disappointed" with two s's and one p. Hey, isn't this the guy who couldn't find your article? What a loser. Well, since he has trouble with his own language, that means like Skeptic X says, we never have to listen to him again, huh?"

    I'll resist the temptation to comment on the stupidity of "Daniel and Jesus," because characters who probably didn't exist couldn't have been stupid. Their creators may have been stupid--superstitious would probably be a more appropriate term--but fictional characters could be no more than what their creators made them. As for what "Daniel" meant about animals, I have shown by linguistic analysis of the text that Daniel meant for readers to understand that the animals in his prophecy were metaphorical symbols.

    "Skeptic X didn't show bunk. He just asserted it and he didn't prove it. Just like he says you do, Holding. What a hypocrite! He's proving inerrancy by assuming it. Typical, and in the fundamentalist's pay yet again. Hey, Holding, maybe you ought to debate Skeptic X on Jesus existing."

    I think I will, Hyper. Skeptic X can consider that a challenge. Thanks for your input again.

    Back to the other world, then. In the next section, in addition to for the 5th time not "getting it" about his "90% of the website" comment (it may sink through in 2004, perhaps) Skeptic X inserts the hayseed comment that maybe now we can understand why "rational people don't give a rat's *ss what he or DeMar or Whitney or others with preterist axes to grind think about the meaning of Isaiah's astronomical signs. We want to see sound linguistic evidence, and that is going to be hard to produce for someone who often has trouble just writing coherent sentences." Um hm. We gave plenty, and Skeptic X forgot it or excused it away; and by the same token I suppose "rational people," Skeptic X thinks, should give a rat's patoot about what he, with an errantist axe to grind and no relevant training, thinks about anything at all. But then again, how about someone who has trouble remembering what persons are holding what positions? We cited Whitney on Jer. 7:22, not on preterism. Whitney said zip about preterism. Skeptic X has best check his socks and make sure they are both the same color. In the meantime, only freethinking arrogance can be so bold as to think to do things like dismiss Tacitean experts as Herbert Cutner did.

    but do you suppose that the Jews didn't look back on these oracles against Babylon, etc. and say, "Huh, that's funny. The sun didn't go black when Babylon fell."

    Well, the fact is that Babylon fell to the forces of Cyrus without a battle. There is no record of the land having been made desolate (Isaiah 13:9), of men becoming more rare than fine gold (v:12), of infants being dashed to pieces before their parents' eyes (v:16), of Babylonian wives being ravished (v:16), of Babylon becoming uninhabited (v:20), of Arabs being afraid to pitch their tents there (v:20), etc., etc., etc.

    Now Skeptic X is getting the drift. Just like there is no actual record of Rammy burning Tjekkers. It took him long enough to get that it was "trash talk". BTW, we already noted elsewhere that the Persians were referred to under the umbrella of the "Medes" in Isaiah's time. Skeptic X next whines that we "don't really know what nonbiblical writers of the time may have thought, because the literature of that period has gone the way of 'the acts of Solomon,' 'chronicles of King David,' 'chronicles of the Kings of Israel,' and other contemporary literature that didn't survive." On the contrary, we DO know what they thought, precisely because Isaiah DIDN'T go the way of these other documents, as he indeed would have, had he been in error on such an obvious and confirmable point and had indeed there been this consortium of conspiratorial priestly editors running around the dog track. "If books had been written to challenge the fulfillment of prophecy claims by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other revered prophets," Skeptic X recites simple-mindedly, "it isn't very likely that they would have survived in a culture dominated by the Yahwist victors." Now get that. He says we don't know all that other stuff, but he still knows all about those priests he imagines were in on the conspiracy. What a selective knowledge base. So after demanding proof yet again he has already been given about the meaning of the SMS, we get to where I did remind Skeptic X of this:

    They knew people had been metaphorically compared to stars, as in the cites we gave as parallels and which Skeptic X ignored (see also Is. 14:12, and Hag. 2:6 for more such imagery).

    I have explained umpteen times that my first reply to [Holding] was necessarily limited, because his cutting and pasting of truncated references from Gary DeMar and company had taken 10 pages, so I had only five pages left to reply. Since then I have replied in detail to his various "proof texts," so we will see if he will answer my rebuttals.

    Tough boogies. If Skeptic X didn't have the space to do a proper reply, he should have waited for the next issue of his junk rag to do a proper job, or not wasted space wagging in the Petrine reference as he did. That excuse resounds with the same hollow thud you get when you thump Skeptic X's noggin, and no, actually, he still hasn't replied to the material in question from my original article. He does, however, notice the refs to Haggai and Is. 14:12 in front of him, complains about a lack of "explication" (sorry! forgot that I needed to cover for Skeptic X's insensibility, yet again), then offers the cites:

    Isaiah 14:12 "How you are fallen from heaven, o Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! 13For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' 15Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.

    "Well," Skeptic X grumps, "I really don't see anything to discuss in this passage, because [Holding] said above that people were metaphorically compared to stars and then cited this text, so all I need to say is that I agree with him." He also agrees with Haggai being figurative. Whazzat? Did Skeptic X just have a revelation? Think he'll now figure out that SMS means people, not objects? Oh, you just lost that bet! Nah, he still thinks we need "compelling reasons to assign figurative meaning"! Well, he just got them, and has been getting them, and he doesn't like them, and has only excuses for them ("They were dumb enough to believe it could happen literally, so that is what they must have meant!") from the land of Pathological Literalism. He's been compelled like an inmate being dragged to confinement, but the kicking and screaming just keeps on and on. And he has another trap on his posterior to show us:

    Oh, by the way, [Holding], do you think that Yahweh literally rained fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24), or was this just another case of "apocalyptic" language? Do you think that Lot's wife was literally changed into a pillar of salt (v:26), or was this also just figurative language?

    Gosh, that was hard. Gen. 19 is written in a narrative format (though the language of the pillar of salt, actually, I do not take to be a metamorphosis, but a case of being covered up like the victims of Vesuvius). Not a prophetic oracle. Skeptic X did miss classes on genre at Bam Bam.

    Anyway, after Skeptic X repeats some of the same canards as before, we get to:

    It's especially a goofy assumption for McLiteralist Skeptic X to make since by this reckoning such events would have happened some 4-5 times in literal history, and no one, especially the Jews who should have been having to deal with the failure of such literal predictions over and over again, ever saw a need to explain the failure.

    Skeptic X's answer? Uh, NONE, actually. He offers instead a diversion about how I have "refused even to consider defending the fulfillment of biblical prophecies" (meaning of course, the specific ones he has in mind, since this very debate is an issue of "fulfillment of Biblical prophecies") and claims to have addressed it already, but he hasn't other than by positing a conspiracy. In short, back in the same circle. Skeptic X assumes errancy to prove errancy and fills in the gaps with unnamed conspirators as needed. What was that again? Ah:

    T: I went to the dentist today and had a tooth pulled.

    MCKINSEY: I don't believe it. I think you had that tooth knocked out in a fight.

    T: WHAT! Where do you get off with that?

    M: I think you're just covering up something and don't want to admit you got bested in a fight.

    T: Baloney! Do you see any other bruises on me? How could I have been in a fight?

    M: You probably lost after one punch, ya wimp!

    T: OH YEAH! Well, here's a card from my dentist showing I had an appointment today, plus the lollipop he gave me for being good. So what do you say to that?

    M: Big deal. You can get a lolly from any candy store and say it came from a dentist. And you could swipe a card from his desk and write your own appointment in it.

    T: Well, this is his handwriting! I can prove it! Here's a letter from him with the same handwriting.

    M: You probably paid him off to make that stuff, to get out of the embarrassment of being bested in a fight. Or maybe you're a good forger. Or you hired one. Heck, you probably even paid your dentist to say you were there today. You'll do anything to get out of jams like this, just like you did with Ezion-geber.

    T: &%$#*#!

    I'd suggest Skeptic X hook up with Acharya S and give her some suggestions for her ideas such as that the Jews were actually moon worshippers in the NT period, and all the documents that prove it were destroyed. Scholarship by paranoid implication! And now get this excuse:

    The winners always write history, so in the struggle between Yahwism and other Canaanite deities, the Yahwists won. How likely is it that they would have allowed the works of those who may have challenged Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, et al to continue circulation? [Holding] cannot possibly know that no one of that time ever challenged these prophecies. The book of Jeremiah told of prophetic competition that occurred in the time when Jerusalem was struggling for its survival against Babylonian forces. These rivalries were recorded in detail in 23:9ff; 27:9ff; and 29:24ff. If Shemaiah had won the prophetic struggle of this time, he would have been the hero and Jeremiah would have been the goat.

    Um, yeah. Well, if the winners wrote the history, why did they write it so badly so many times? Skeptic X breezes right by that it's not a matter of "challenging" documents (that are the invention of his own paranoid begged questions) surviving, but of the surviving documents not having the ability, if he is right, to have been winners in the first place. If this Paranoid Priestly Plot was for real (did they also blow up the World Trade Center?), Skeptic X wants to hypothesize that they were just smart enough to win out but just stupid enough to not get their documentation straight. He'll repeat this argument another 87,837 times (less than usual), along with the same bit about doing the same with the Qu'ran, etc. that we dealt with in the other article, but like all his stilted arguments, it never improves with age.

    Skeptic X then offers an oddball section in which he says he agrees that "such language as this is apocalyptic, but apocalyptic doesn't necessarily mean figurative." Amazing! Well, news, Skeptic X: if it IS apocalyptic, then it is a genre of "unreality" and weight goes to interpreting such things figuratively rather than literally. The rule, indeed, is stood on its head -- all is to be interpreted figuratively unless there are compelling reasons to interpret it literally -- and it is not following this rule that has dispensationalists reading tales of black helicopters into Revelation. So Skeptic X has just conceded my very point, and does the same with this example:

    Daniel 12:1ff is an example of an apocalyptic prophecy, and I'm sure that even [Holding] would agree with that.

    1"At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. 2And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

    "This is apocalyptic language," Skeptic X concedes, "but is it necessarily figurative--all of it?" When Skeptic X gets this polite, you know he knows he's in a jam, and he is. Not all, of course, but most, and we need a compelling reason to interpret any part of it literally. Skeptic X thinks he can get out of it by asking me if "this apocalyptic passage not prophesying a general resurrection from the dead". It was -- and we have a compelling reason to think so: The Jewish conception of the totality of the spirit and body as a fundamental unity, which means that any afterlife at all required a body. Hence a rez was the inevitable result a Jew would come to as our fate. But as even Skeptic X admits, this is laced with figurative language -- the use of the term "sleep" for death and "awake" for life. So much for that Skeptic X attempt. It's nothing but Skeptic X arguing errancy to prove errancy...now isn't that a fair assessment?

    As a matter of course, even liberal Biblical scholars recognize that such rampant stupidity is unlikely, and their usual tack is to say that the mundane parts of Isaiah's Babylon prophecy (for example) were what Isaiah or some other person only wrote, and the apocalyptic imagery was inserted by a later redactor who thought these things would literally happen.

    Do you think Skeptic X thinks he is smarter and more informed than these scholars? No, and that is why he evades the issue:

    Notice the word liberal here. That is supposed to mean that if "liberal biblical scholars" agree with [Holding] on this point, then he must be right, but I wonder if he will be willing to apply the same principle to preterism, the issue we are supposed to be debating. If I can find "conservative" biblical scholars, who fervently believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God but also believe that preterism is a false doctrine, will that prove that [Holding]'s position on preterism is wrong?

    Skeptic X resorts to his usual simple-minded ploy here, but sorry, it's not a matter of "my scholar versus yours" -- it never has been -- but that these intelligent and relevantly-educated people simply don't believe Skeptic X's absurd thesis. Their solution is surgery on the text, or a thesis of development, which is far more reasonable at any rate than Skeptic X's blindfolded surgery on history and common sense. As usual, though, Skeptic X is reluctant to meet actual arguments head on, because that is precisely where the bus runs him over.

    Caird [114] noted the insanity of such a position by those infected with "pedantic literalism"

    [Holding] is so forensically ignorant that he can't see that he has nothing here except an assertion that Caird made.

    Skeptic X is such a hayseed that he thinks he has the right to demand any more from a trained scholar who would send him into oblivion (figuratively) on any relevant subject, and that he doesn't need to provide a countering answer other than blowing smoke from his ego (and we don't care if he finds a scholar of his own, if he can). That's what freethinking arrogance will get you, as he and Stevie Carr learned the hard way here. He wants arguments? The book was Caird's Language and Imagery of the Bible and Skeptic X can find it at any number of libraries who will be glad to loan it to him once he pays those Waldo fines. Caird goes into great detail (but sorry, Skeptic X fans, no pictures you can color) about the Eastern mindset and the language produced in such settings. It is an educating read, and Skeptic X may even find some of it fascinating if the La-Z-Boy gets too uncomfortable.

    As it is, Skeptic X has the nerve to address Caird on only one issue at all, and it is a point of trivia that he uses to evade the issue at hand:

    Wiser and better read scholars like Caird note that the language of hyperbole is no different than a passage from Vergil's Fourth Ecologue [sic], which speaks of "summers of snakeless meadow, unlaborious earth and oarless sea" as expected benefits of the imperial rule of Augustus.

    I wonder if Caird referred to this as the "Fourth Ecologue" rather than the "Fourth Eclogue." Apparently, [Holding] doesn't know what an eclogue is (a short pastoral poem). At any rate, I love it when [Holding] puts his foot into his mouth. Although I am not at all familiar with Roman literature, I do have an academic background in American and British literature and 30 years of experience teaching college literature. My emphasis was on American literature, but I did happen to know enough about British literature to recognize that the quotation that Caird allegedly attributed to Vergil was in fact a quotation from a poem by Alfred Tennyson, a 19th-century British romantic poet. Here is Vergil's Fourth Eclogue, entitled "Pollio," which, as readers will see, contains no reference at all to "summers of snakeless meadow, unlaborious earth, and oarless sea."

    What an Eclogue is (Skeptic X has plenty of his own typos to worry about, beyond things like that "90% of my website" routine we're still waiting for him to admit to), and how Caird made the attribution, is of absolutely no relevance; Skeptic X admits that "Vergil wrote romantically of an idyllic time when the 'she-goats' would come home with udders swollen with milk, the serpent would die, prosperity would come when an 'untilled' earth would bring forth abundance, and mariners would no more have to 'ply' the sea, since all lands would bring forth alike…" In other words, Vergil used language that was comparable to the figures of speech used in Is. 13 and Matt. 24, and Skeptic X is using the citation issue as a distraction from his lack of ability to deal with the data the contradicts his thesis that the language of Is. 13 and Matt. 24 must be read literally. (In answer to the charge, however: Caird did not attribute the quotation to anyone; his full paragraph notes Is. 11:1-9 and that it has been "rightly compared with Vergil's Fourth Eclogue, the Pollio, which for all its air of enchantment ('summers of the snakeless meadow, unlaborious earth and oarless sea'), is an elegant piece of court flattery…" and gives no credit to Tennyson or Vergil for the quote - not that it matters, since the point is the same regardless, and Skeptic X is spreading only paranoia when he tries to spin this out as a case of citing Vergil to impress readers.)

    (Caird [114] noted the insanity of such a position by those infected with "pedantic literalism") [like Skeptic X] for like most charges of incongruous editing, this still forces us to "reckon with the editor who saw nothing incongruous in bringing them together. The application of surgery to a biblical text is more often than not an admission on the part of the surgeon that he has failed to comprehend it as it stands."

    Skeptic X again evades by playing dumb:

    We have no way of knowing exactly what "surgery to a biblical text" that Caird was referring too, because [Holding] is too forensically ignorant to know that a truncated quotation like this really doesn't explain anything except that Caird thinks that some "editors" perform "surgery" on biblical texts.

    Skeptic X, rather, is too contextually and dimensionally ignorant to "get" that it doesn't matter what text Caird referred to; he is stating a general principle ("a biblical text") about modern scholars who play Veg-o-matic like the liberals who slice Isaiah 13 into shards. Skeptic X seems to be the one having problems reading "fragments" -- just as he missed that little qualifying phrase that made him think I wanted him to pay for 90% of my website. How about some sloppy reading rather than sloppy writing? (As an aside, Skeptic X does no better than he accuses when he says that Caird "believes that the Bible is 'the word of God,'" -- that may or may not be his view -- from his works he appeared ambivalent on the subject, supposing only that the Bible may have contained the Word of God, and not inerrantly -- but Skeptic X offers no quote, no source, but ample hypocrisy!)

    Need another entertaining side note as a break? This will be fun:

    In contrast Skeptic X is a low-context hyperliteralist in a logocentric culture, separated by thousands of years.

    Of course, we are supposed to believe that [Holding], who has all kinds of problems trying to communicate clearly in his native language, is an expert on ancient languages, idioms, and nuances. Since he keeps wagging in his high/low-context nonsense, I will just cut and paste my previous reply to this in the men-with-David debate. My first rebuttal of [Holding]'s high/low-context quibble was made here.

    Problems communicating? More like Skeptic "pay for 90% of my website" X has problems with basic reading, which is why he has to resort to burning straw men. So if Skeptic X can't read a simple qualifying phrase clearly, how does he expect us to believe he can read the Bible clearly? As for that context "quibble" I flattened Skeptic X on that here -- we're still waiting for an answer, as we also are on this embarrassing gaffe, and this one -- all of which prove that Skeptic X can't even be trusted to do the laundry.

    We have an example of this which we recently used as part of a tongue-in-cheek Skeptical quiz:

    Is this one of Caird's examples of the "same sort of language" that is still used "aming [sic]" Eastern people even today? No, of course, it isn't. This is just more of [Holding]'s nonsense in the same vein as his "Hyper the Literalist" phone calls. When [Holding] can't reply to arguments, he resorts to this kind of stuff.

    When Skeptic X shows his ignorance, he really goes all out, does he not? No, the one about offering to allow a guest to sacrifice your children and burn your house down wasn't one of Caird's examples, actually -- Skeptic X says, "when [Holding] finds an 'Eastern person' who makes such a statement as this, we can then talk about it." He's got one. That example came from the classic work of Abraham Rihbany titled The Syrian Christ [108ff]. Rihbany gave numerous examples of such turns of expression from his native land, and today, Pilch and Malina in the Handbook of Biblical Social Values concur [52] and explicate. They note that in modern Western society, culture is tied to precision; time is a commodity, and dramatic orientation wastes time by not getting to the point. Unlike in the ancient world, when dramatic speech and eloquence were held in high esteem, "Creativity, imagination, and boasting are activities that waste precious time" and "have no place in a society driven by productivity: machines will tolerate no exaggeration, imprecision, or tardiness." That's why Skeptic X the bigot won't believe that people actually talk this way; he's too busy looking at his watch. (Though interestingly, a couple of his own fans who "answered" my quiz for Skeptics did indeed properly understand the phraseology as typical Near Eastern expression.)

    Those who would care to see an example from modern times of the difficulty in grasping Eastern idioms may find this site interesting. It's the sort of thing that would make the bigot in Skeptic X have a hissy fit, but as far as we are concerned, he can go pave the sea.

    Now for more Stupid Skeptic Questions. Here we go:

    1. When Lot proposed to send his two daughters, who had never "known man," out to the mob in front of his house demanding that the "angels" be sent out so that the men could "know them," what did he mean? Was he offering to let the men have sexual access to his daughters? If not, how do you know?

    The answer is yes, that's what he was offering. Skeptic X didn't ask an "If so..." question, so we'll wait for that. Questions 2 and 3 are just the same question repeated with Lot's story again and Judges 19, because Skeptic X likes to repeat himself to look impressive. Meanwhile here's another "d'oh" question from Skeptic X:

    An important point which Skeptic X slides right over is the observation of Caird that the advice given doesn't make a lot of sense if this is an "end of the world" scenario, but makes perfect sense if it is a matter of a real military and political upheaval.

    What advice is [Holding] talking about? Is he still ranting about Vergil's Fourth "Ecologue [sic]"?

    Skeptic X wastes a few sentences complaining about how lost he is, but I suspect he's playing dumb because he has no answer. Let me repeat it in a way we have above:

  • Pretend you are a Median warrior attacking Babylon. If the sun goes dark, the moon goes awry, the earth shakes, and the stars stop shining or fall, do you keep on ravishing women, dashing children to pieces, and fighting the battle like nothing unusual is happening?

    Hence Caird's question -- what's the point of advice like, "And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment," if this is a matter of the world coming to an end? If that's what's happening, where are you fleeing to? This advice, and other advice in the Discourse, only makes sense in the event of a regional political or military upheaval. If the sun is really going dark and the stars are really falling, are you going to keep watching Seinfeld? I doubt if even Skeptic X would stay seated in that comfortable La-Z-Boy if that were the case. Hence -- the language shows yet another signal of being figurative.

    Next up, I gave examples from Isaiah and Ezekiel of obviously figurative language which suggests by association that the surrounding language is figurative. Skeptic X bawls back with one of his usual canards, noting where I commit an offense against his grammar sense, and says, "someone who has difficulty with his own native language isn't very likely to be the expert in biblical languages that he continually pretends to be." Heck yeah. And someone who thinks I wanted him to pay for 90% of my website and misses qualifying clauses, and keeps reading guilt into Biblical passages contrary to reality...well, you get the picture. Skeptic X's name is Mud just by his own standard. Anywayz, he finally gets 2 the actual argument and beyond complaining that he can't understand what I'm saying, he admits, sure, these have figurative elements, of course, but bawls in with that same canard, "a primary rule of literary interpretation that says that the language of a text should be interpreted literally unless there are compelling reasons to assign figurative meaning." And he's got his compelling reasons. Let's list them:

    1. There is no evidence that these passages were understood literally by contemporary readers.
    2. If they were understood literally, they should not have survived for being so erroneous.
    3. There are clear examples of stellar imagery being used to represent persons and governments.
    4. If taken literally, they suggest grossly counter-intuitive behavior by the persons involved ("Hey Darius, lookit the sun!" "Shaddup, I'm running a sword through somebody!")
    5. They are surrounded by obvious figures of speech and are in a genre (poetic oracle) that favors figurative language.
    6. They come from a culture that was heavily "into" use of powerful idiomatic language.
    7. They are similar to other figures of speech found in war oracles and poems in secular sources of the period.

    Skeptic X has nothing but excuses of conspiracy, wave-offs, and games of playing dumb as a counter to these. And his "compelling" reasons to take the figures of speech literally?

    1. The ancients were dumb enough to think it could be fulfilled literally.

    Skeptic X, then, can take his "strong professional background in literary interpretation" (of modern and recent works of literature, not of ancient Eastern literature), match it up to his ignorance in areas like, oh, Biblical anthropology, and wash his socks in it.

    Skeptic X tries to salvage some decency out of his embarrassing hyperliteralism by asking snidely, if this was just apocalyptic imagery, then what was the darkness at the crucifixion? It was recorded, Skeptic X, in a narrative format; these oracles were recorded in a poetic format.

    Oh, come on, [Holding], even you can't be this linguistically ignorant. Are you actually claiming that Matthew 24:29ff is poetry? Are you claiming that Luke's reference to the ascension of Jesus in a cloud [Acts 1:9] was just a poem?

    Duh ah, no, Skeptic X, I was referring to Is. 13 there, though Matt. 24, being that it alludes to it, does fit in that room as well, and I said zip about Acts 1:9, which is in a narrative genre. Is Is. 13 poetry? Yes, it darned well is. As even Paine knew, these oracles were set to music; they were not just messages on the message pad, but art. And that means we have an immediate responsibility to NOT assume that the language is literal from the get-go. As I said, "That makes it prima facie inarguable that they were intended to be read metaphorically unless it was clear they were meant to be taken literally..." Skeptic X thinks he reached the bonus round and toots:

    Did [Holding] even notice what he said? Poetry is to be inarguably read metaphorically unless--notice the word unless--it was clear that it is to be taken literally. Well, in the first place, figurative language in poetry isn't necessarily metaphorical. Longfellow's poem "Nature" is an extended simile that contains no metaphorical language in the "commonplace"--a literary term that [Holding] won't understand. Not until the "application"--another term that he won't understand--is metaphorical language used. The language in the commonplace part of the poem is very literal.

    Kudos! Now Skeptic X can tell us how "commonplace" (I know the terms well enough, thank you, Mr. "B Greek is the Product of Someone Who Makes a Mistake a First Year Greek Student Would Not") it was for the sun to darken, the moon to blow out, and the stars to fall, and the earth to shake, especially at the convenient time of a battle. Not that this applies anyway. Skeptic X is pathetically ignorant if he thinks he can just blow over the rules of modern, Western interpretation and staple them to ancient Middle Eastern poetry. Skeptic X whines some more that we gave "no" evidence for the imagery theory, but we have indeed given seven lines of evidence which Skeptic X only blows smoke and flashes mirrors at; we have (despite Skeptic X's burdened memory and inability to keep track of things) explained what the literal fulfilling of the oracles would be. Skeptic X is playing a game of taking the matter of figurative only as far as he wants -- it's literal just to the level he wants it to be -- and hence assumes errancy to prove errancy. And if his canard of the same nature is worth attention, so is mine. When Skeptic X wakes up from his delusional fantasy of thinking canards like these constitute worthwhile points, we can try again.

    Now we reach where Skeptic X backs into his diversion on 2 Peter. Skeptic X knows that he's been caught wagging in an irrelevancy to distract the reader from his inability to answer the article as a whole, and he tries to excuse it first with a "you did it too" on Jer. 7:22 (though showing Skeptic X's pedantic literalism in action is of relevance to his understanding of figurative language in Matthew, whereas 2 Peter on the parousia is not relevant at all to the understanding of the Olivet Discourse), and second by barking that I "quoted from various biblical texts" outside of the discourse (though I did not devote half of my article to any one of these other texts as Skeptic X did). Also interestingly, Skeptic X takes advantage of his constitutional right to talk out of both sides of his mouth as usual, on the one hand saying I cited rather than quoted verses at times because I "probably know that if [I] quoted them some of [my] readers would likely notice that they don't support what [I] was trying to prove by them," and then in the next sentence backing his tricycle over a bed of nails and admitting, "I'm not at all complaining about his references to these passages, because if he thought that citing them was necessary to support his case, he had the right to refer to them. I, in fact, understand what he is doing, because I did the same thing when I was a preacher." And then he admits: "I would string together a long list of citations and quotations in my articles and sermons to create the effect I wanted, i. e. pulpit warmers gaping in awe at Brother [Skeptic X] for using so many scriptures." So in other words, Skeptic X merely assumes his own past dishonest stupidity on others, after the manner of his usual egotism and provincialism. As we have shown already, however, his accusation from his own past is baseless slander in context.

    Third up, where I note that Skeptic X wasted extensive space on Peter he didn't spend on addressing Olivet, he whines yet again about having limited space in TSR, which only makes his excuses for not addressing more of the original article even more transparent. It remains that he has been caught wagging in (despite his hypocritical complaints) a major distraction for lack of ability to answer the points at hand, and that he tries to stretch the subject like Silly Putty to make it "relevant" shows the levels of manipulation to which Skeptic X the Showman descends to keep himself from being slathered with mustard and eaten raw. It's the same old manipulation game of bringing in as many subjects as possible in order to make the debate as cumbersome as possible and engage as many distractions as possible in order to cause readers to be lost in the shuffle and fail to notice that he is running around stark naked. Too bad for Skeptic X, we see through his little games.

    We caught Skeptic X doing the same on the date and authorship of 2 Peter, and as before, he stretches the Silly Putty to its limits. He says it is related because if 2 Peter is late, preterism is doomed. No, actually, if 2 Peter is late, it is at best evidence (within his own paradigm) that one later writer didn't hold a preterist view. Beyond this Skeptic X waves off responding to Glenn Miller's article with the usual blatter from his quarter when he can't actually get to the tacks of arguments, in the main, repeating for the 65,8309,657th time his canards above abusing the CCBE quote that he still hasn't figured out the meaning of, but also alluding to bias. In imitation of his usual ignorance of thinking it is just a case of "my scholar vs. yours" he cites (very briefly!) a few folks who date 2 Peter late, including the eminent Bruce Metzger. Of course in Skeptic X's simplemindedness, he thinks as noted above that he doesn't have to actually critically compare arguments and bring them against each other. Skeptic X hasn't the guts, or the fortitude, or the education to take on such matters directly, which is why he pretends it is merely a matter of "citing vs citing" -- or else is pretending that that is all it is. Is it? No. Miller's article provides direct answers to each of the arguments Skeptic X uncritically pulls from his sources. If he has more guts than he has showmanship, let him address them directly rather than throwing broken pebbles. Skeptic X says he can "guarantee" that he "can match Miller scholar for scholar". No, he can't -- and he is showing his spinelessness and making excuses when he demands that we quote Miller's material. He says, if it's a worth it, quote it.

    Fine. We'll give Skeptic X another lesson in playing diversionary games. It's all worth quoting. Here it is. Now watch Skeptic X chicken out some other way.

    are 1st and 2nd Peter NOT by Peter, but by someone using his name?

    Question...are 1st and 2nd Peter NOT by Peter, but by someone using his name?


    I got his question:

    I was discussing 2Peter with a skeptical friend, reads alot of the Higher Criticism stuff...He/She writes:

    (1) The first, most BASIC pointer that NEITHER 1 or 2 Pet are from the the Palestinian Jew Cephas is the fact that they were originally composed in Greek...which no Galilean fisherman could do. A fisherman was at the bottom of the social ladder, and those with even higher social status couldn't read or write. The Greek of the epistles is of highly stylized form (more so than the Johannine writings), and reflects authorship of an educated gentile, and not a Jew.

    Your friend here is working on too little and too old data...

    a. Strictly speaking, Peter could have dictated the letter in Aramaic and had Silas/Silvanus (or someone else) do the translation. (Peter is reputed by the early church to have used "interpreters", and this could include translation, so this is entirely plausible):
      "The activity of secretaries is elsewhere intimated in the NT, especially in the letters of Paul. It was apparently Paul's custom to dictate his letters to a secretary. The 'oral style' of the letters is only one indication of this. In Rom 16:22, one Tertius expressly designates himself as the transcriber of the letter. Paul's practice in other letters of adding greetings (1 Cor 16:21, 2 Thess 3:17, Col 4:18), an asseveration (Phlm 19), and a summary statement (Gal 6:11-18) in his own handwriting implies that the letters themselves were written at the hands of amanuenses who transcribed at Paul's dictation. Indeed, 2 Thess 3:17 claims that Paul's appended greeting, written in his own hand, was a "sign" or "mark" employed in each of his letters. This practice suggests that these letters were normally in the handwriting of a secretary. A similar use of an amanuensis is also indicated by 1 Pet 5:12. In dictating his letters to a secretary, Paul was following a well-established practice in antiquity. Many papyrus letters preserved from the period were written in the hand of a secretary, with the final greeting or other closing matter written in the hand of the sender. In addition, classical literature often attests the use of a secretary. Cicero, a prolific letter writer, often dictated letters to his secretary, Tiro, and frequently alluded to this practice. Plutarch mentions it for Caesar (Vit. Caes. 17.3), Pliny the Younger mentions it for his uncle (Ep. 3.5, 9.36), and Quintilian objects to its widespread use (Inst. 10,3,19) [ABD (s.v. "amaneunsis")]

    "And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero. It was later, in the times of Adrian the king, that those who invented the heresies arose; and they extended to the age of Antoninus the eider, as, for instance, Basilides, though he claims (as they boast) for his master, Glaucias, the interpreter of Peter. (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 7.17)

    "This also the presbyter said: Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord's discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely." These things are related 16 by Papias concerning Mark. 16But concerning Matthew he writes as follows: "So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able." And the same writer uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise. (Eusebius HE 3.39.15)

    b. Indeed, there are distinct traces of Semitic features in 1st Peter:
      "In 1 Peter this abundance of diverse tradition has been skillfully integrated in a composition consistent in style and coherent in theme. The letter was written in a polished Greek revealing numerous traces of literary refinement. The near-classical employment of the article and exact use of tenses is coupled with a more semitic appreciation of rhythm and parallelism (2:14, 22-23; 3:18; 4:6, 11; 5:2-3); [ABD, First Peter]
    c. But elements of Greek style are QUITE EASILY explained (and even predicted, actually) by the use of an amanuensis (so BBC, in.loc. I peter 5.12):
      "Silvanus (the full Roman name for which the similar name Silas served as a short equivalent) appears to have been the amanuensis, or scribe. Most letters were written through the agency of scribes. As a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), Silas presumably came from a fairly well-to-do Jewish family that provided him a good literary and rhetorical education; Peter may have given him some degree of freedom in wording the letter.
    d. That Peter would have used others (Silas may only have been the letter carrier, as in the letters of Ignatius) is highly likely anyway:
      "If 1 Peter is, as it appears to be, an encyclical on behalf of the church at Rome to a wide circle of churches on the frontiers of the Roman Empire in five provinces of Asia Minor, then the author would likely have had scribal help with vocabulary and style, and his helpers would likely have remained anonymous." (NT:DictLNT:916]
    e. Secretaries often had commission to improve upon matters of style:
      "The author could permit the secretary to make minor changes in the form or content of the letter when preparing the final text from the rough dictation copy or from a preliminary draft prepared by the author himself....The implication is that it was part of Tiro's function to correct slips made by Cicero and to ensure the accuracy of the finished work. In a word, he acted as a modern copy editor, who points out errors and asks if a particular formulation really conveys precisely what the author wanted to say" [PLW:13-14]
    f. The arguments relative to the Epistle of James are relevant here:
      "The main objection to this proposal is the polished style of the Greek language of the letter, but this objection does not take account of several factors: (1) the widespread use of rhetoric and more than sufficient time for James, the main spokesperson for the Jerusalem church, to have acquired facility in it; (2) that as the son of a carpenter he had probably had a better education than Galilean peasants; (3) the spread of Greek language and culture in Palestine (e.g., Josephus, Justin); (4) excavations showing that most of Galilee was not as backward as was once thought; (5) the widespread use of amanuenses (scribes) who might, like Josephus's editorial scribes, help a writer's Greek. [BBC, into to James]
    g. The above would mean that Peter would NOT have needed to know Greek at all, but he probably did anyway:
      "In answer to the claim that the language of the letter is too Hellenistic for a man of Peter's background, we may reply that the extent of Hellenistic influence Peter had in his life is not known. He lived about five miles from the region of the Greek league of ten cities known as Decapolis. We do not know whether he was bilingual or how much he learned between the Resurrection and his martyrdom. [EBCOT, 2 Peter into]

    "Lower Galilee was a center for trade with the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee and the Decapolis regions. ..Besides being connected by a number of waterways, there was a road system that utilized a series of valleys to interconnect the Galilean region, tying together such important cities as Sepphoris and Tiberias, as well as trying the area to its surrounding regions. As a result, Galilee was a center for import and export as well as general trade, resulting in a genuinely cosmopolitan flavor...It [Capernaum] was a fishing village, with fishing apparently constituting its major source of economic gain. Nearby was Tiberias, a city built by Herod Antipas, where there was a population that was probably even more bilingual than Jerusalem...Many of his [Jesus'] disciples were fishermen who worked on the Sea of Galilee, including Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. They almost assuredly would have need to conduct in Greek much of their business of selling fish. It is also worth nothing that, of his disciples, Andrew and Philip had purely Greek names...This information helps to make sense of the scene in John's Gospel at 12:20-22, where Greeks asked of Philip, who was from Bethsaida (in Gaulanitis, across from Galilee), to see Jesus. He immediately went to Andrew, who was also reportedly from Bethsaida (John 1:44). [SHJ:135-136]

    "Meyers and Strange have made a persuasive case for the linguistic penetration of Greek into Galilee in the Greco-Roman period; they suggest that there is evidence for its use there before the coming of Alexander the Great and that ostracon inscriptions found at sites in the region, while predominantly in Aramiaic, are also biligual and in Greek only. From the third century B.C.E. , public inscriptions were regularly in Greek...Major inscriptions of import for Jews in this period were in Greek, from Caesar's decree in the Galilee regarding the sanctity of tombs to the public notice forbidding admission of the allogenai into various sections of the Jerusalem Temple...This means that for Jesus to have conversed with inhabitants of cities in the Galilee, and especially of cities of the Decapolis and the Phoenician regions, he would have had to have known Greek, certainly at the conversational level. The modes and forms of communication deriving from the Greek tradition would not have had to be acquired by Greek editors or writers of a later generation, as the form-critical school assumes....Nevertheless, the dominant medium of communication in the Jesus tradition seems to have been Greek." [Kee, "Early Christianity in the Galilee: Reassessing the Evidence from the Gospels" in GLA:20f]

    h. Knowledge and use of Greek was not in any way restricted to the upper/rich classes--it was ubiquitous in all commercial and geographic sectors:
      "There is general agreement that Greek was widely spoken in Palestine as a whole, even in Jerusalem and among nationalistic circles in New Testament times--a conclusion based on epigraphic, archaeological and literary evidence...Undoubtedly the beginnings of this language change took place in the Greek cities and among the new administrative and business personnel that entered Palestinian life already in Ptolemaic times. As we shall see in the next chapter these were not confined to the cities but were distributed throughout the villages and estates in charge of the affairs of the government. The frequent journeys of these officials, some of higher, others of lesser rank, ensured a network of communication that tied village life to the various cities and touched everybody from the poorest peasant to the various village officials....It has sometimes been suggested that Greek was the language of the upper classes and the educated, whereas Aramaic continued to be spoken by the unlettered especially in the country areas. However, this assumption has been seriously challenged by recent evidence and is based on a too intellectualist understand of the whole hellenization process in Palestine. The Greek documents from Waddis Murabbat, Habra and Seiyal are those of country people, and many ossuary inscriptions, both by the quality of the Greek and their craftsmanship, have no particular signs of sophistication or education....The question to be answered is whether this widespread change of language patterns, even among country people, is a real indicator of deep changes within their thinking and attitudes. Given the fact that the administrative and commercial life of the country was conducted in Greek from a very early stage, it is only natural that ordinary people would have some acquaintance with it, even use it, so long as no particular hostile overtones were associated with this. From being a lingua franca it could become a first language for many, even unlettered people, but without thereby necessarily indicating a radical break with older traditions." [ HI:GFAGH:139-141]
    i. And, just to be complete, fishermen were NOT on the bottom of the social ladder (they were poor, but there were occupations that were socially 'undesirable' ):
      "No stigma whatsoever was attached to fishing, no matter what the purpose, and it was even maintained that Joshua had stipulated after the conquest of Canaan that fishing with an angle in the Lake of Tiberias must be free and unrestricted" [HI:LCCAI:239] (Although fishermen were generally thought to be poor, the town of Tarichaea, famous for its importing of fish, was said to be wealthy in the rabbinic lit: T.Y. Taan. IV, 8, 69a; Lam. R. 2,2,4.)
    Overall, then, the data is overwhelmingly against your friend's opening statement...

    (2) The fact that the OT references made in 1Pet are to the Greek Septuagint, and NOT the Hebraic Massoretic texts makes it obvious that this is not from a Judean. Cephas would not be familiar with these writings...certainly not enough to be able to quote from them.

    There are major problems in this as well:

    a. It is fairly obvious that an epistle in Greek is not going to quote a Hebrew text (!), but use a Greek translation of it, and if the letter was intended as an encyclical, there is no reason at all that Peter's "staff" would not have made sure the texts were in the preferred Greek version of the day!
      From the Greek OT (LXX) use was made of no less than twenty-four texts or combinations of texts. Linking the eschatological community with the history of God's covenant people, this material served to stress the social estrangement and oppression of God's people as resident aliens in diaspora (1:1, 17-18; 2:11; 3:6 [Gen 23:4, cf. Gen 12:1-20, 20:1-18; Isa 52:3, 5]; 3:10-12 [Ps 33(34)]; 4:14 [Isa 11:2]; 5:8-9, 13 [Jeremiah 50:51]); their election and holiness (1:15-16 [Lev 19:2]; 2:5, 9 [Exod 19:6; Isa 43:20; Hos 1:6, 9; 2:1, 3, 25]); the rejection, suffering, and exaltation of the Messiah-Servant (2:4-8 [Isa 8:14, 28:16; Ps 117(118) :22]; 2:22-24 [Isa 53:4, 6, 9]); divine redemption of the righteous and oppressed (1:13 [Exod 12:11]; 1:17-19, cf. 1:2 [Exod 12-15; Isa 52:3, 5]; examples of Sarah, 3:5-6, and Noah, 3:20); fear of God rather than man (2:17 [Prov 24:21]; 3:6 [Prov 3:25]; 3:14-15 [Isa 8:12-13]); moral conduct (3:10-12 [Ps 33(34):13-17]; 4:8 [Prov 10:12]); the imminence of divine judgment (2:12 [Isa 10:3]; 4:17 [Ezek 9:6]; 4:18 [Prov 11:31 LXX]); and God's nurture (2:3 [Ps 33(34):9]) and exaltation of the humble (5:5 [Prov 3:34 LXX]; 5:7 [Ps 54(55):23]). [ABD]  b. I have documented elsewhere that at this time there WAS no "Massoretic Text" and that the LXX (and related semi-versions) were in use all over Judea at the time (e.g., Qumran, Josephus, Pseudepigraphical works), so Peter's being a "Judean" is totally irrelevant, and not enough to sustain your friend's point here.

    c. Cephas is familiar enough with the "Old Testament" (probably in three languages--Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) to both quote and allude to it. And, by this late time in his preaching ministry these passages would likely HAVE been committed to memory (and the allusions would have been part of standard Jewish heritage). But even if not, the content would certainly have been, and it would have been too simple for him to get his helper(s) to flesh out the quotes if desired. His preaching in Acts actually reflects both LXX Greek and non-LXX Greek elements (BEAP:86-88]

    Accordingly, this point is off the mark as well.
    (3) As early as the 4th cent. the authority of 2 Pet was cast out. Quoting Eusebius, "....the second Petrine epistle we have been taught to regard as uncanonical; many, however have thought it valuable, and have honored it with a place among the other scriptures." As if the very first point weren't enough to totally disqualify these letters as of Petrine authorship, which it most assuredly does (this is simple common sense) ,and the other two external points as well, we'll move on to the internal data of the text(s), and what the author(s) gives us about the historical events of the time......

    It is interesting to note here, first of all, that since the acceptance of First Peter was unanimous in the early Church, then the arguments in #1 and #2 would not have been "simple common sense" now, would they? The church clearly knew that Peter was a Galilean fisherman before meeting Jesus, and that his epistles were written in Greek, but that didn't constitute a problem for them...

    But Second Peter is clearly a different story...

    a. First, let's be clear about the church witness:
      "Such [Church] tradition uniformly ascribes the letter to Peter. There is no other name linked with it in the tradition." [CMMM:435]
    b. Now, let's look at the first mention of 2 Peter in history--from Origen (185-254):
      "It will be convenient to regard Origen as the pivotal Christian Father in this discussion, because reviews of the evidence so often commence with the statement that the epistle was not certainly known until his time and the authenticity becomes immediately suspect, especially as he also mentions doubts held by some about it. He uses the epistle at least six times in citations and shows little hesitation in regarding it as canonical...Some suggestion of doubt on Origen's part might be inferred from Eusebius' statement (HE 6.25) that he held Peter to have left one acknowledged epistle and 'perhaps also a second, for it is disputed'. But Origen mentions no explanation from the doubts which were apparently current among some Christians, neither does he give any indication of the extent or location of these doubts. It is a fair assumption, therefore, that Origen saw no reason to treat these doubts as serious, and this would mean to imply that in his time the epistle was widely regarded as canonical" [NTI:806]
    c. He also speaks of Peter "sounding aloud with the two trumpets of his epistles" (Hom. In Josh. 7.1)

    d. But disputes about the book (implying that the majority ACCEPTED it) are noted by Eusebius:

    "One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. And this the ancient elders used freely in their own writings as an undisputed work. But we have learned that his extant second Epistle does not belong to the canon; yet, as it has appeared profitable to many, it has been used with the other Scriptures. The so-called Acts of Peter, however, and the Gospel which bears his name, and the Preaching and the Apocalypse, as they are called, we know have not been universally accepted, because no ecclesiastical writer, ancient or modern, has made use of testimonies drawn from them. 3 But in the course of my history I shall be careful to show, in addition to the official succession, what ecclesiastical writers have from time to time made use of any of the disputed works, and what they have said in regard to the canonical and accepted writings, as well as in regard to those which are not of this class. Such are the writings that bear the name of Peter, only one of which I know to be genuine and acknowledged by the ancient elders. (HE 3.3.1ff)

    "And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, 'against which the gates of hell shall not prevail,' has left one acknowledged epistle; perhaps also a second, but this is disputed. (HE 6.25.8)

    e. Guthrie notes that this is actually quite favorable to 2 Peter's authenticity:
      "The most important of these [later witnesses to 2 Peter] is Eusebius, who placed this epistle among the Antilegomena. He makes it clear that the majority accepted the epistle as authentic, together with James and Jude, but he himself had doubts about it. In fact he mentions two grounds for his doubts: first, writers whom he respected did not regard it as canonical, and secondly, it was not quoted by 'the ancient presbyters'. Under the latter objection Eusebius may have meant 'by name'. ..As it is, we are obliged to conclude that Eusebius and certain others were doubtful about the epistle, although the majority regarded it as canonical. Even Eusebius, however, did not list 2 Peter within his 'spurious' classification, into which category he did place the Apocalypse of Peter." [NTI:808f]
    f. And this majority acceptance is enough to render the 'disputation' innocuous, as far as Petrine authorship is concerned. Since it was NOT in the spurious category (i.e., known to have been not from the apostolic circle), but in the disputed category (i.e., we are not sure about its apostolic authorship), one simply cannot use this as an argument AGAINST Petrine authorship.
      "Yet where the majority accept a given book, the minority opinion must be viewed with proportionate reserve. At the same time it must be admitted that the external evidence is not strongly favourable in the case of this epistle. A mitigating factor, which has all too often been overlooked, is the influence of the pseudo-Petrine literature upon church opinion. If Gnostic groups had used Peter's name to drive home their own particular tenets, this fact would cause the orthodox church to take particular care not to use any spurious Petrine epistles. Some of the more nervous probably regarded 2 Peter suspiciously for this reason, but the fact that it ultimately gained acceptance in spite of the pseudo-Petrine literature is an evidence more favourable to its authenticity than against it, unless the orthodox Christ fathers had by this time become wholly undiscerning, which is not, however, borne out by the firm rejection of other works attributed to Peter." [NTI:809]
    g. This lead us to reject your friends conclusion, simply because it is unaware of the distinction between "spurious" and "disputed":
      "It would seem a fair conclusion to this survey of external evidence to submit that there is no evidence from any part of the early church that this epistle were ever rejected as spurious, in spite of the hesitancy which existed over its reception." [NTI:811]

    We'll move on to the internal data of the text(s), and what the author(s) gives us about the historical events of the time......

    (4) 1Pet 1:1 addresses churches in Asia Minor. What persecution is the author speaking of? There was no persecution in that area at the time that Cephas was still alive. The ONLY persecution of that period was in Rome, under Nero (even the author of Acts says that there was no persecution of xtians BY pagans in the area at the time). These persecutions can only have happened at the very END of the first cent., almost 30 yrs AFTER (as tradition holds) that Peter died, when persecution was announced on an Empirical [sic!] scale!

    Your friend here has made the simple error of over-exegeting. In this case, he or she has decided that the references in First Peter apply to an "official persecution"--there is simply inadequate warrant for this.

    Even the non-conservative article in ABD (rejecting Petrine authorship) admits that this argument has been rejected by scholarship:

    "An attempt to link 1 Peter and the Christian suffering it describes to a general persecution of Christianity initiated by Rome (Beare 1970: 28-38; Windisch-Preisker Katholischen Briefe HNT, 76-77) has justifiably been rejected by the majority of scholars. 1 Peter speaks of Christians suffering "throughout the world" (5:9) but the first general imperial persecution of Christianity did not occur until 251 c.e. under Decius. Earlier anti-Christian actions under Nero in 64-65 (Tac. Annals 15:44; Suet. Ner. 16:2), possibly Domitian in 93-96 (Suet. Dom. 10-17), and Trajan (Pliny Ep. 10:96-97) were limited in scope to Rome or Pontus and were the product of sporadic local incidents rather than of universal legal proscription. Nor is a state persecution envisioned where respect for the emperor and civil law is enjoined (2:13-17) and a positive outcome of good behavior is anticipated (2:11-12; 3:13-17). The nature of the hostility encountered-verbal abuse and reproach (2:12, 3:16, 4:14), curiosity concerning Christian hope (3:15), anger at the severance of former social ties (4:4)-likewise makes the theory of a state-sponsored persecution both improbable and unnecessary. Details of the situation point rather to social polarization and conflict which was local, disorganized and unofficial in character.... As strangers and aliens belonging to a novel cult and exclusive minority actively seeking adherents, these Christians were the victims of the harassment and discrimination regularly experienced by those suspected of posing a disruptive threat to local peace and prosperity. [ABD, "Peter, first epistle of]So, this argument won't be adequate to force a late date on the Epistle...

    (5) 1Pet 2:22-24 is quoting directly from the greek version of Isaiah 53. Why would an eyewitness to the events have to use Isaiah to describe what happened? And again, the wording in the LXX and Masoretic are different.

    The logic in this is faulty. Why does he/she assume that Peter would "have to use Isaiah" instead of "choose to use Isaiah" to make the prophetic connection? ALL Jews of that time used OT imagery to describe current and future events, but this wasn't in any way related to 'eyewitness issues'.

    This is standard 'fulfillment' language and occurs throughout the literature of the day.

    This argument is simply confused.

    (6) 1Pet 5:12 states unequivicoly that the text is by Sylvanus (perhaps the 'Silus" of Pauls epistles?)This is not an issue of scribal introdution. If this were so, then he would have added his own greeting ( eg Rom 16:22). This is called pseudonymous (falsley hidden) authorship. Witten under the name of one author, and the original author identifies himself at a later point in the text (as oppossed to psuedopigriphal[falsley written] texts, where the claim of authorship is under the guise of a person that is dead).

    This is mistaken on a number of counts, but let me just go after the main point...

    Your friend seems to be arguing that since Silas actually penned the final document (assuming that 'through' means that--some understand that to be a reference to him as letter carrier--NT:DictLNT:916]), that he actually composed it also--or else the document would have had Silas' independent greeting at the end.

    The problem with this is that this is the very opposite of the historical practice!

    Scribes did NOT normally add their names!!!

    "Tertius" was a Roman name (often used for a third child), sometimes used by Jews. Most of the ancient world was too illiterate to write letters, certainly letters as sophisticated as this one; they depended instead on scribes. Those who were highly literate were also wealthy enough that they could dictate letters to scribes as well, sometimes their own secretaries, who were usually literate slaves. Paul's host may have lent him his scribe, or Tertius may have been a professional scribe; in any case, Tertius seems to be a believer, because scribes did not normally add their own greetings." [BBC, in.loc. Rom 16.22]

    "This is the only case in which one of the apostle's secretaries intervenes personally and identifies himself. That he felt free to do so says much for his relationship to Paul; no professional hired for the occasion would have taken the liberty." [PLW:6]

    Thus the conclusion he/she reaches is contradicted by the actual historical facts.

    (The points she/he makes about pseudox are neither here nor there at this point in the argument, so I won't discuss those here.)

    7) The constant use of Pauline themes thoughout the text indicate fiamiliarity with Pauline thought. Cephas and Paul held different theological views, particularly on judaism, as evidenced by Acts, and Galatians. Also, if this is authored by Cephas, it would be at the same time that Paul is in Rome, yet there is no mention of Paul being there, or being expected.

    This has a number of mistakes in it, the most significant of which is the alleged "different theological views" of Peter and Paul. On the basis of one incident in Galatians (and none in Acts!) which is later resolved by the Council of Jerusalem (see my piece on that here), your friend decides that Peter cannot agree with Paul on the basics of the faith?!

    Let me make some observations here:

    a. This alleged difference between Paul and Peter is more assumed than proven, and certainly taken to an extreme unwarranted by the single incident upon which it is based!
      "To this we should say that the differences between Petrine and Pauline teaching have probably been exaggerated. There is no reason for affirming that they were in contradiction on the essentials of the faith, and at least some of the passages in 1 Peter that are said to have been derived from Paul are better understood as part of the common tradition of the early church" [CMMM:422, see also point C below]
    b. 1 Peter shows familiarity with ALL of the NT traditions--not just Paul:
      "Relative to its length, 1 Peter has more affinities to more NT writings than any other NT document. Its apocalyptic perspective on the Christian social situation and the imminence of final divine judgment, its christological focus on suffering and its vindication, its stress on the distinctive corporate identity and responsibility conferred by baptismal conversion, its image of the Christian community as household of God, and the content of its moral exhortation link 1 Peter with a majority of the NT writings. (ABD)

    "Beyond the Paulines, similarities with James include 1 Pet 1:1 (Jas 1:1); 1:6-7 (Jas 1:2-3. cf. Wis 3:5-6); 1:23-2:2 (Jas 1:18-22); 1 Pet 5:5 (Jas 4:6); 1 Pet 5:8-9 (Jas 4:7) and the common OT citations of Isa 40:6-8 (1 Pet 1:24-25; Jas 1:10-11), Prov 10:12 (1 Pet 4:8; Jas 5:20), and Prov 3:34 (1 Pet 5:5; Jas 4:6). Affinities with Hebrewsinclude 1 Pet 1:1, 2:11 (Heb 11:13); 1:2 (Heb 12:24); 1:23(4:12); 2:24 (Heb 10:10); 2:25, 5:4 (Heb 13:20); 3:9 (Heb 12:17); 3:18 (Heb 9:28); 4:14 (13:13) and the themes of social alienation and solidarity with the suffering of Jesus Christ. Links with Mark and the Synoptic tradition include 1 Pet 2:4-8 (Mark 12:1-12 par.); 2:18-3:7, 5:2-5 (Mark 10:2-45 par. and domestic instruction for the household of God [cf. 1 Pet 2:5, 4:17 and Mark 3:20-35, 13:33-37 par.]); 1 Pet 1:19-21, 2:21-25, 3:18 (Mark 14-16 par.); 1 Pet 4:13 (Mark 13:9-13 par.); and 1 Pet 5:2-5 (Mark 10:35-45 par.). Affinities with specific dominical sayings include 1 Pet 1:10-12 (Matt 13:17; Luke 24:26); 1:13 (Luke 12:35); 1:17 (Matt 6:9; Luke 11:2); 2:12 (Matt 5:16); 2:19-20 (Luke 6:27-36); 3:9, 14; 4:5 (Matt 12:36); 4:13-14 (Matt 5:10-11, 39; Luke 6:22-23, 28); 5:6 (Luke 14:11); 5:7 (Matt 6:25-27). [ABD]

    c. But this is now understood as a shared tradition-source, instead of dependence on NT documents:
      "From such similarities, earlier scholars concluded that 1 Peter manifested direct literary dependence upon much of the NT or at least upon the writings of Paul (e.g. the representative positions of Forster [1913] and Beare [1970]). More recent form-critical and traditional-critical analysis of the NT and 1 Peter in particular, however, have made it evident that similarities between 1 Peter and other Christian writings were the result not of literary dependency but of the common use of a wide stream of oral and written tradition [ABD]
    d. This would make sense for an encyclical, of course--addressed to the church at large.

    e. For this argument to work, the conflict would have to be made stronger--but the data is otherwise:

    "At the same time, no serious student of Paul and Peter would deny that there is much common ground between them, which cannot wholly be explained by their common Christian background. Some Pauline influence on Peter's mind is generally supposed to be required by the content of the epistles, but this would be damaging to Petrine authorship only if two presuppositions can be established. First, it must be shown that the New Testament presentation of Peter makes it psychologically inconceivable that he was susceptible to outside influence, particularly from so powerful a personality as Paul. But the data available do not depict Peter as a man of fertile ideas, but a man of action. Paul's successful resistance to Peter's weak compromise at Antioch is sufficient indication of the direction in which mental influences were likely to flow. Indeed, traces of other New Testament literature such as James and Hebrews are further evidence of the receptive character of this author's mind, and such receptivity is not incompatible with the sympathetic character of Peter. Secondly, it must be shown that Peter and Paul represent divergent tendencies which are unlikely to have permitted close liaison between them. But his is a view of history which is a legacy from the Tubingen school of criticism, with no basis in the New Testament. That both made their own contribution to Christian thought and that Paul's was the greater must be acknowledged, but there is such singular lack of any real divergence between their writings that it is fortuitous either to charge Peter with lack of originality or to regard the epistle as an attempted reconciliation between opposing parties. The plain facts are that both represent vital aspects of early Christianity." [NTI:775f]
    This point is too speculative, and actually goes against the evidence we do have in the NT and early church history.

    Now, there is a second argument your friend mentions, about Peter having to "mention" Paul in the letter, since they were allegedly there at the same time.

    First of all, this argument is weak because it "legislates content", There could be a billion reasons why Peter decided not to mention Paul, and it is completely arbitrary to "decide" that he must (or risk being de-frocked from authorship!). This is a simple mistake of reading back our presuppositions as to "what Peter would have done" into the situation, and then drawing conclusions from those new "facts"!....

    Secondly, and more importantly, is the fact that his argument depends on dating schema for the lives of Peter and Paul--a notoriously difficult area! There are simply too many questions outstanding for us to be sure they were there at the same time. Indeed, some of the better chronologies I have seen place Paul coming to Rome in 60-61 A.D., but put First Peter on or before that (anywhere from 47ad to 62 ad):

    "Selwyn pointed out that the doctrine and ecclesiastical organization are fairly early and would suit a date not much after 60." [NTI:787]
    So, we really cannot address this second part of the argument, because his/her argument itself would require a defense--just to be maintainable.

    (8) 2Pet 2:1 - 3a; 3-4 are fraught with past, present, and future tenses. Where it speaks of false teachers in the future tense 3b-22;3:5-10 and 16b refer to them in the PRESENT tense. Its not even possible to see these verses as not applying to the time of the author. These alterations are transparent, and deliberate writing 'devices' The author at this points no longer assumes the guise of Cephas.

    First , let me point out that your friend seems to be reproducing Bauckham's novel argument (even citing the verses in the same manner!), although he makes a typo: the "3-4" is "3:1-4"--there is no chapter 4 in 2 Peter.

    Bauckham states it clearly:

    "Moreover, whereas the testamentary passages speak of the false teachers in the future tense, predicting their rise after Peter's death (2 Pet 2:1-3a; 3:1-4; cf. 3:17) the apologetic sections and the denunciation of the false teachers refer to them in the present tense (2 Pet 2:3b-22; 3:5-10, 16b). It is hardly possible to read 2 Peter without supposing the false teachers to be contemporaries of the author with whom he is already in debate. The alternation of predictive and present-tense references to them (most obvious in 2 Pet 3:1-10, 16b-17) is therefore best understood as a deliberate stylistic device by which the author conveys that these apostolic prophecies are now being fulfilled. In other words, Petrine authorship is a fiction that the real author does not feel obliged to maintain throughout this work. In that case it must be a transparent fiction, a literary convention that the author expected his readers to recognize as such. (That the author inadvertently slips into the present tense, forgetting that he is meant to be referring the false teachers from Peter's perspective in the past, is not plausible, because 2 Peter is a carefully composed work, and the alternation of future-tense and present-tense references to the false teachers follows a structural pattern.) [HI:DictLNT:924]
    First, let's look at the texts your friend refers to (bolding the refs to the teachers): But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, (future) who will (future) secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 And many will follow(future) their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned(future); 3 and in their greed they will exploit you(future) with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, (present) 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge(present) , will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure (present) to revel in the daytime. They are (present) stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse (present) with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way they have gone astray, (present) having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression; for a dumb donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These are springs without water,(present) and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires,(present) by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption (present) ; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known (past/perfect) the way of righteousness, than having known it, (past/aor) to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them (past/perfect) according to the true proverb, "A dog returns to its own vomit," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."(2 Peter 2.1-22)

    This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come (future) with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice (present) that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. ...16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, (present) as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3.1-16)

    The changes in tense are apparent, but has Bauckham made too much of this? a. There is simply too much flexibility in tense usage to allow this tight of an interpretation.
      Future tenses can all to easily have gnomic meaning ["the future may express a tendency or a likelihood that something will happen"] Examples would include:
      "Scarcely for a righteous man will one die" -- Rom 5.7
    "Each man shall bear his own burden"--Gal 6.5
    And present tenses can refer to future situations ["this present has much the force of the future, but it sometimes seems to have an air of immediacy and of certainty."]
      "The passover is going to come"--Mt 26.2
    "Christ...is not going to die again"--Romans 6.9
    or more likely customary or gnomic in this case ["there is a timelessness to this use of the present. It does not present action in progress, but makes a statement of general, timeless fact. It does not say something is happening, but that something does happen"]
      "God's wrath is revealed"--Rom 1.17
    "Circumcision profits"--Romn 2.25
    In the passages in question, this would yield at least two possible understandings that make perfect exegetical sense:
      a. The future tenses would reflect a present-and-ongoing, expected-as-normal (like the OT false prophet phenomenon)--"will forever arise among you", and the present tenses would describe the general characteristics and actual behavior in the 'first crop' of such false teachers. [This is the understanding in the Bible Knowledge Commentary]

    b. The future tenses would reflect a future outbreak or proliferation of false teachers, the general characteristics of which are described in the present tense phrases (very common). [This is the understanding in the EBCOT, by Edwin Blum]

    Accordingly, there is too much play in the tenses to draw such a tight exegetical conclusion from them.
    b. If the tenses are so significant, what in the world are we going to make of the PAST tense forms in 3.21-22! (Is this a third 'author'?!)

    c. Bauckham himself admits elsewhere in his Commentary (WBC) that the author uses the future tense "loosely", and it would therefore be very risky to make so much out of it later!

    "If spoudaso does refer to his diligence in writing 2 Peter, it is possible that the writer has used the future loosely because, as in v 12, he is thinking primarily of the work's future function 'at all times'" (in.loc. 1.15, p.201)
    d. Historical considerations also suggest another alternative understanding of the tense relations. In chapter 2, the reference to "will be" is qualified by "among you". This would allow the present-tense descriptions of the false teachers to apply to those in Peter's personal situation, and the future aspects to apply to a warning that this present heresy will surely spread and subsequently show up in the churches of the broader community. The description of the modus operandi of the false teachers (predicted for the "among you" in verse 2.1) makes most sense if it is based on personal (present) observation, as opposed to some rather detailed prophetic description of their future characteristics!

    e. Finally, it should be noted that the time frame for the "will come" in chapter 3 is "the last days". If the prophetic word was about this rather extended timeframe (resurrection of Jesus until final eschaton), then the "will" can apply to the readers' past, present, and future. The future tense in these cases are references to predictive prophecy of the time of Jesus, whereas the present tense is describing occurrences of fulfillment in the lives of the various participants.

    So, overall, arguing from the tense usage is precarious at best, and there are equally (or more) plausible ways to understand the text in question.

    But what of the allegations of 'deliberate devices'...did the author intend the readers to notice the change and realize him to be stepping out of character for a moment?

    This gets us deep into some of the problems with pseudonymity in epistolary literature...

    This passage  highlights one of the main challenges to theories of pseudonymity--the fact that it contains a huge contradiction at the core. To make a letter convincing that it was written by some fictional author, a writer simply cannot allow for 'slips' like this (deliberate or otherwise) to occur. To pass it off as written by another, it must contain no evidence of its fraudulent character. And, since writers generally have plenty of time to edit earlier drafts of letters, there is simply no way to account for 'errors' (esp. in cases involving secretaries, working as copy editors!) And closely related to this is the significant problem of motive! The data found in these epistles militate strongly against such usage.

    Here are some examples from 2 Peter (cites from NTI, except as noted):

    "Would a pseudepigraphist have adopted the view that Peter did not understand Paul's writings? It is strange, at least, that he has such an idea of Peter's ability in view of the fact that he considers it worthwhile to attribute the whole epistle to Peter. The history of Jewish and early Christian pseudepigraphy shows a marked tendency towards the enhancement of heroes and there is no parallel case in which the putative author is made to detract from his own reputation." (p.827)

    "If, in deference to the repeated demands of many modern scholars, the word 'forgery' is omitted from the discussion, we are left as our only alternative to suppose that a well-intentioned author ascribed it to the apostle Peter, presumably in order to claim his authority for what was said, but nevertheless supposing that no-one would have been deceived by it. The later supposition is difficult to substantiate, but even if it be taken as possible, the writer must have paid minute attention to the process of introducing allusions to give an air of authenticity. If the whole process was a contemporary literary convention, it is difficult to see why the personal authentication marks were used at all. The fact is that the general tendency among pseudepigraphist was to avoid rather than include supporting allusions to their main heroes. It was enough to allow them to introduce themselves by means of some ancient name" (p.839)

    "The fact is that no advocate of a pseudonymous origin for 2 Peter has been able to give a wholly satisfactory account of the motive behind it, and this must be taken into consideration in reaching a verdict on the matter. An attempt has been made [by Bauckham] to explain the pseudepigraphic device as a transparent fiction. Thus it is supposed that if 2 peer is a testamentary letter which was known to have come from the Petrine circle in Rome, the readers would not have expected Peter to have written it. But this explanation is not satisfactory unless evidence can be produced of what the readers would have expected, and this is impossible with the limited data at our disposal." (p840)

    "If the writing is pseudepigraphic, the question arises, Why was it written? There were Christian writings in which a great name of the past was used to give respectability to what was said, but these seem all to be books that promote unorthodox teaching. Second Peter does nothing of the sort. Its teaching is quite respectable and in line with what other Christian teachers have said. It could quite easily go out under its author's real name, or indeed under no name. We need a reason for choosing to send the little letter out under Peter's name if we are to accept the pseudepigraphic hypotheses, and so far no sufficient reason seems to have appeared. It is usually said that the author chose Peter's name to give authority to what he was writing. But he was writing orthodoxy, and for that no great name was needed." [CMMM:437]

    Bauckham attempts to minimize the 'deception' ethical issue, by appealing to the genre of pseudepigraphical "testament", but this identification is highly questionable, and aspects of it are even admitted by him as problematic: "Yet there is a great difference between this epistle and Jewish apocalyptic books in testamentary form, which all share the pattern of a discourse addressed to the immediate descendants, but which is really destined for future generation. This latter type of literature proceeded from a review of the past to a prophecy of the future. While both these elements may be found in 2 Peter, the epistle can be clearly understood without recourse to the testamentary hypothesis, which could certainly not be said of the farewell discourses of Jewish apocalyptic." [NTI:822]

    "Yet it is probable that 3:1 shows that the author of 2 Peter knew of 1 Peter...His relationship to 1 Peter, knowing it yet uninfluenced by it, is parallel to his relationship to the Pauline letter, but it is worth noticing that it is unlike the practice of most second-century writers of apostolic pseudepigrapha. In cases where writing attributed to their pseudonyms were extant, these writers usually echo such writings in their won pseudonymous productions." [2 Peter, WBC:146]

    (9) 2Pet 3:4 states that the apostles (and Elders, the 1st generation of christians) ('fathers') were all dead. If they are all dead (and tradition says that John lived the longest), how can this be from Cephas?

    This is a similar case of eis-egesis (reading INTO the text)...

    Here is the passage:

    "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3.3f)
    Your friend has decided that "the fathers" must mean all the apostles and all the Elders and perhaps even all the 1st generation of Christians, but this is not only arbitrary (and unsupported) but also contrary to normal NT usage: "The false teachers ask, "Where is this `coming' he promised?" Mocking the faith of Christians, they support their own position by claiming, "Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." Who are the persons Peter calls "our fathers"? Kelly (p. 355) and Schelkle (p. 224) argue that they were first-generation Christians. But Bigg (p. 291) and Green (Peter and Jude, p. 128-29) consider this unlikely. "Fathers" are much more likely to be OT fathers as in John 6:31, Acts 3:13, Romans 9:5, and Hebrews 1:1. This is the normal NT usage, and the other view requires a clumsy forger to have missed so obvious a blunder. "Our fathers died" (lit., "fell asleep") is a lovely metaphor for the death of believers (cf. Acts 7:60; 1Thess 4:13-14). [Blum, EBCOT]

    The relevant NT passages include:

    "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'" (John 6.31)

    "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, (Acts 3.13)

    whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Rom 9.5)

    God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1.1)

    And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, (Acts 13.32)

    Bauckham admits that the weight of the evidence is for this interpretation (WBC:290): "Those who wish to maintain that 'the fathers' are the OT patriarchs or prophets have the weight of usage on their side. In early Christian literature, continuing Jewish usage, hoi pateres ('the fathers') means the OT 'fathers,' i.e. the patriarchs or, more generally, the righteous men of OT times (John 7:22; Acts 13:32; Rom 9:5; Heb 1:1; Barn. 5:7; 14:1; Apoc. Pet. E 16; Ep. Apost. [Coptic] 28); apart from our passage, the only possible exception is 2 Clem 19:4, which could refer to dead Christians but most probably refers to the OT saints..."
    Accordingly, the data is against your friend's interpretation...

    (10) 2Pet 2:1-18;3:1-3 are almost EXACT quotes from vss. 4-13,16-18 of Jude. So much so that denying dependence of 2Pet upon Jude ludicrous.(Which of course brings into question the meaning of 'canon' and 'prophecy', as Jude uses the UNcanonical book of 1Enoch as prophecy in Jude 14)

    This argument is somewhat oblique to the subject of Petrine authorship, actually, because possible use of Jude as a source has no bearing on who is using it as a source! Unless it were conclusively demonstrated that Jude (or his material) did not arise until AFTER the death of Peter, this alleged borrowing has no relevance for the issue of authorship.

    Indeed, Blum can point out [EBCOT, intro to 2 Peter]:

    "The literary dependence of 2 Peter on Jude is not conclusively settled.... But even if Peter quoted or utilized a substantial part of Jude's letter, this would neither preclude Peter's authorship of the second letter nor its inspiration. For scholars to accept Mark's priority and Matthew's use of Mark is not incompatible with a high view of biblical inspiration and authority.
    And in his discussion of the various options and theories, points out that almost all of the options are compatible with Petrine authorship [EBCOT, intro to 2 Peter]: "There are so many similarities between 2 Peter (mainly ch. 2) and Jude that some kind of literary or oral dependence seems necessary. Mayor writes at length about this problem.

    "The common material almost entirely relates to the description and denunciation of false teachers. The majority view is that 2 Peter is dependent on Jude (so Mayor, Feine, Behm). Some scholars use this apparent dependence on Jude to deny Petrine authorship. But the use of Jude by the author of 2 Peter would pose a problem for Petrine authorship of the letter only if (1) the dependence of 2 Peter on Jude were conclusively proved, (2) the composition of Jude were definitely dated later than A.D. 64, or (3) it could be shown that an apostle such as Peter would not have used so much material from another writer.

    "Some students of 1 Peter find a large amount of catechetical material within it. If Peter in the composition of his first letter used material common within the church, there is no reason why he should not have done the same thing in writing his second letter. However, the dependence of 2 Peter on Jude is not a certainty. Mayor holds that 2 Peter uses Jude while Bigg finds that Jude borrows from 2 Peter. It is also quite possible that both letters used a common source.

    "Since the date of Jude is not fixed by any firm internal or external data, it might have been written by A.D. 60. In that case Peter could have used Jude. But would an apostle of the stature of Peter make use of material by one who was not an apostle? The utilization of material by ancient authors cannot be judged by today's standards of citation in writing. Tradition played a much larger role in the thoughts of writers and speakers then than it does today. This is evident (to go back to an OT example) from parallel accounts of Kings and Chronicles and also from the synoptic gospels. To sum up, the special problem of the relation between Jude and 2 Peter or their relation to some common source remains unsolved. The adoption of a particular position--viz., Jude as prior, 2 Peter as prior, or both Jude and 2 Peter used an earlier source--does not necessarily affect the authenticity, authorship, or inspiration of these letters. Any of the three views is compatible with an evangelical theology, and conservative scholars generally leave the question open.

    It is interesting that an older 19th-century commentator (E.H. Plumptre) had a quite plausible scenario (out of dozens available today): "[He] made the suggestion that Peter was sent Jude's letter, realized the seriousness of the dangers mentioned and wrote a letter about it to the recipients of I Peter, for whom his name would carry more weight than Jude's" [NTI:830n4]
    But your friend's "almost exact" (an oxymoron that I personally use often myself) is a bit off: "There are conspicuous similarities between 2 Peter and Jude (compare 2Pe 2 with Jude 4-18), but there are also conspicuous differences. It has been suggested that one borrowed from the other or that they both drew on a common source. If there is borrowing, it is not a slavish borrowing but one that adapts to suit the writer's purpose. While many have insisted that Jude used Peter, it is more reasonable to assume that the longer letter (Peter) incorporated much of the shorter (Jude). Such borrowing is fairly common in ancient writings. For example, many believe that Paul used parts of early hymns in Php 2:6-11 and 1Ti 3:16. [NIV Study Bible, Intro to 2 Peter]

    "Precise verbal correspondences between the two works is relatively sparse (much more so than in the "Q" pericopes of Matthew and Luke, e.g.)..." [Bauckham, Jude/2 Peter, WBC:140

    [The issue of Jude's use of material from non-canonical books is irrelevant to Petrine authorship, of course, so I cannot deal with it here. But, just for the record, the use of extra-biblical material that is true cannot compromise the truthfulness of a passage of scripture!]

    In any event, this "Hey, Jude!" issue is too gelatinous to be used to attack Petrine authorship, at any significant level.

    (11) 2Pet 2:15-16 suggest that Pauls writings are already long in existence. It assumes that his writings have all been distributed, and put into a collection. Realistically, there is no way that all of Pauls writings could have already been assembled, so that there would be such common knowledge of them. If the author was indeed Cephas, Paul wouldn't even be dead yet!

    Your buddy here is really following the party line of HiCritz--without even thinking critically about the assumptions teeming in their arguments...

    Here is the passage (adjusting for the typo--it is 3.15-16):

    "and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
    Now, your friend sees in this passage (specifically the words in bold), the following statements: 1. Paul's writings were already "long in existence"
    2. That Paul's writings have "all been distributed"
    3. That they have been "put into a collection"
    4. That they have "already been assembled"
    5. That the above steps 1-4 could only have occurred after Paul's death(!)
    When I compare that list to the passage above, I am at a loss to find any way to match those up. The passage has no reference to any of the above elements--your friend is eise-geting again, and creating a problem from assumptions being read into the text.

    There is no indication of a final, 'official' collection in the text--only a knowledge of Pauline letters;

    "But 2 Peter says nothing about a collection, authoritative or otherwise; 'all his letters' need mean no more than all his letters known to Peter." [CMMM:435:]

    "There is no suggestion that even these ['all his epistles'] were known to the readers...On the other hand, the epistles in question have had sufficient circulation for the false teachers to twist them from their true interpretation." [NTI:825]

    "The reference in 2 Peter 3:15-16 to Paul's letters need not refer to the complete corpus of his letters but only to those known to the writer of these verses. The collecting of Paul's letters would have begun as soon as a church or some influential person recognized their value. Paul's instruction about exchanging letters (cf. Col 4:16) and their public reading (1Thess 5:27) would have facilitated the collection of his letters. That Luke or Timothy were traveling companions of Paul makes them likely collectors of his writings. [Blum, EBCOT, Intro]

    The text refers to a previous Pauline epistle written to the readers (v.15), and by the time of the writing of 2 Peter, most of Paul's letters would have been informally circulated anyway.

    Again, this argument is a case of over-assumption...

    (12) The issues of false teachers (2Pet 2:1) obviously presuppose a problem that would only arise after all the apostles had been dead, and is an attempt to justify (apologia, in other words) that of the apostolic tradition of orthodoxy.


    This is so patently false--at least as it is worded here--that I cannot imagine where this came from. The NT is FILLED with references to current false teachers (Tit 1.11; 1 Tim 1.3ff; Acts 15.1), false prophets (1 John 4.1; Acts 13.6), false witnesses (1 Cor 15:15), false brethren ( 2 Cor 11:26; Gal 2.4), and false apostles (2 Cor 11:13). Most of the apostles are alive while these events were happening.

    [For a discussion of anti-orthodox systems and teachers, see the relevant section in the debate with James Still.]

    Now, if I back up for a moment and try to do some "source criticism" on your friend's comment, I could perhaps make a guess that he has omitted the word "Gnostic" from his argument. Since HiCritz have argued that the problem described in 2 Peter must be Gnosticsim, and with Gnosticism being 'late', this would make 2 Peter 'late' as well--certainly after the death of Peter. So, with a little imagination, I could reword his objection into something more reasonable:

    The issues of false teachers (2Pet 2:1) obviously presuppose a problem [with Gnosticism] that would only arise after all the apostles had been dead,


    There are numerous problems with this position, but the main one is that 2 Peter (and Jude, for that matter) do not give us enough detailed information to identify these teachers with later Gnosticism:

    "It is a legacy from the criticism of F.C. Baur and his school that a tendency exists for all references to false teachers in the New Testament in some ways to be connected up with second-century Gnosticism. In spite of greater modern reluctance to make this unqualified assumption, the idea dies hard that no heresy showing the slightest parallels with Gnosticism could possibly have appeared before the end of the first century. The facts are that all the data that can be collected from 2 Peter and Jude) are insufficient to identify the movement with any known second-century system. Rather do they suggest a general mental and moral atmosphere which would have been conducive for the development of systematic Gnosticism. Indeed, it may with good reason be claimed that a second-century pseudepigraphist, writing during the period of developed Gnosticism, would have given more specific evidence of the period to which he belonged and the sect that he was combating. This was done, for instance, by the author of the spurious 3 Corinthians and might be expected here. The fact that the author gives no such allusions is a point in favour of a first-century date and is rather more in support of authenticity than the reverse." [NTI:828]
    Plus, you have to remember that second-century Gnosticism does not arise "full-blown" in that century! "A common objection is that the writer is opposing Gnostic teaching, which does not make its appearance until well after Peter's day. But there is no Gnostic system known to us that matches what 2 Peter says; to say that the writer is opposing Gnosticism is to go beyond the evidence. It must always be borne in mind that when we meet Gnosticism in the second century, it is a group of eclectic systems that gathered their teaching from a variety of sources. There is no doubt that some of the teachings that were later to appeal to the Gnostics go back to apostolic times, but this does not mean that Gnosticism does. The fact that this writer opposes such teaching is no reason for saying he was not Peter." [CMMM:436-7]
    Indeed, the description best fits a different group altogether: "Given the reports of charlatans so prominent in antiquity and parallels to all the ideas in existing Greek and Jewish conceptions in the first century, it is likely that the opponents are simply Diaspora Jews almost completely overtaken by Greek thought [BBC, Intro to 2nd Peter]
    Again, the data is simply insufficient to support his/her argument.

    (13) Neither of the works are quoted in any christian documents until the early and mid second cent(c. 120ce). They should already have been in existence for nearly 60 years.


    There are just too many variables in the mix to turn this into an argument against Petrine authorship.

    "As for the contention that knowledge of 2 Peter was geographically limited, it could be that persecution, the brevity of 2 Peter, or its remote destination resulted in its not being widely circulated in the first hundred years of the church." [EBCOT, Intro to 2 Peter]
    And even this issue needs to be put in perspective: "The attestation for 2 Peter is weaker than that for most other New Testament books but stronger than that of early Christian books that did not become part of the New Testament, especially those claiming to be Petrine. [BBC, Intro to 2 Peter]
    Also, your friend needs to remember that we only have 2-3 Christian documents before 120 ad (e.g., Clement, Didache, Polycarp), and the themes of 2 Peter may not have lent themselves to use in those works. Given its brevity and specialized subject matter, it is not at all surprising that it was not cited by these few works.

    The historical situation is simply too complex for this objection to have any real force to it.


    I showed him your stuff on Pseudonymity, but he said that you completely left out the Pseudoepigriphal stuff, which was deemed "worthy".

    Of course I did--my article was on pseudonymous LETTERS...I did not get into the Pseudoepix at all...and this issue of First and Second Peter is a case of a LETTER--so it DOES apply to this question.

    [The larger issue of Pseudepix is less relevant (if at all) to the questions of epistolary lit--and that is my point of that article. Your friend would still need to answer the arguments in that piece, before he could maintain confidently his belief in the pseudonymity of the Petrine epistles.]

    This guy knows alot about the DSS, and he's making ALL sorts of claims about Revelation and other parts of the NT being dependant upon them.

    For example, 1QH 1:7 By Thy Wisdom all things exist from Eternity, and before creating them You knew their works forever and ever. Nothing is done without You.. // John 1:1,3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God...All things were made by Him, and nothing that was made was made. I *think* this can be resolved with OT verses like Proverbs 8:22, Psalm 33:9, and Job 28:12-27.

    Then he doesn't know a lot about the DSS (smile)...

    The issue of the relationship between the NT and the DSS is very complex, but you can be sure that we don't have many "dependent" situations at all! ALL the different "first-century Judaisms" shared massive amounts of worldview, language, theology, ethics, idioms, conventions, exegetical procedures--there are TONS of 'parallels' to be found between ANY of the various groups (e.g., Quman, Pharisees, Zealots, Christians, "Hellenistists", common folk, Herodians, Sadducees, and the many sub-groups reflected in the pseudepix and apocrypha). But the conclusions one derives from that are (1) notoriously difficult to substantiate; and (2) generally un-spectacular.

    The scholars have a term for it: "parallelomania"!

    This guy is so hasty. It seems like his Bible doesn't have footnotes...He sees something like an NT verse in the DSS, doesn't even BOTHER to check the OT...and goes into all the chat rooms convincing Christians that the NT is dependant upon the DSS.

    Yeah, I know the type (used to be one 10-15 years ago...smile)...but once you get busted up a couple of times (sometimes by humans and more often by God), you tend to listen to the other side more carefully (Prov 18.13), to examine things more carefully (1 Thess 5.21), and to represent their side more fairly (it's an anti-slander ethic)...

    And yeah, they do need to be more self-critical in their approach, especially if they are being evangelistic with hasty conclusions.

    It is good that your friend reads and thinks--but he/she needs to read and think more critically about the arguments in their sources and the counter-arguments from other sources...

    And now back to the secondary wag from Skeptic X's tail. Skeptic X's first case from the Petrine epistles against preterism runs along these lines: in 1 Peter 4:7, he tells us, the author warned of the end being at hand; when the end did not come, someone else later wrote 2 Peter to excuse away the missed field goal. Skeptic X tries to burp up a few reasons for this deluded and one-dimensional scenario, such as:

  • "First Peter refers to 'trials' of Christians (4:21) but doesn't describe anything that indicates the persecutions of Nero were in progress at the time. For this reason, those who accept the authenticity of 1 Peter date it between AD 60 and 64, which would be dates that put Peter in Rome before the persecutions began." That's cool with us. Skeptic X goes on to grant that Pete could have been in Rome in 55, but whines back that this won't matter, because:

    This scenario would have Peter warning his readers that "the end of all things is at hand," but then within just another decade telling them in his second epistle to be patient about the coming of the Lord, because "one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (3:8). If "Peter" had felt the need to describe the "coming" of Jesus in these terms in AD 60-64, why would he not have felt the need to use similar terms just a couple or so years earlier? Why was the end of all things at hand in AD 60-64, but just a couple of years or so later, it was presented in a simile that could have meant that the end was perhaps thousands of years away?

    The simile, as we show, meant no such thing, so Skeptic X's argument is buzzard bait already; beyond that Skeptic X quite frankly shows such idiotic ineptitude in this complaint that he ought to have a likeness of his brain printed on milk cartons. Gosh, let's think a minute, shall we? For 1 Pete, it is said that the end is "at hand" and Pete encourages good behavior on this basis. No problem. But now, why not use "similar terms" a few years later? Well, duh. Skeptic X has the same problem figuring this out as he does figuring out that when we offer argument A as an answer against B, it's not worth a potato pancake to just yell B back over again. 2 Pete is dealing with scoffers, yes? Scoffers who ask where his coming is? Yes? Now if they already scoff the idea of the parousia, then what the heck good does it do for Pete to merely repeat back the same thing they're already scoffing at? Pete needs some new blood in his argumentation, a re-affirmation or a new twist. Just saying back, "It's at hand, all right!" isn't an answer, except in Skeptic X's McFantasy state of how argumentation proceeds.

    Skeptic X then diverts again supposing he has found another passage that disses preterism:

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

    So, Skeptic X toots, "after using his thousand-year simile, Peter felt the need to make the statement above, which was obviously intended to convey that the 'coming' was going to be delayed a considerable length of time, perhaps as much as a thousand years or more, but people should not take this to mean that 'the Lord' was slack in keeping his promise." Well, to put the matter succinctly, baloney hooves. Skeptic X has started with the proud strut of thinking he has proven a 1000-year delay in 3:8, and now dons his ugly wrestling tights and Hulk Hogan outfit and tries to body-slam 3:9 into place accordingly. Bath-ackwards, after his usual fashion. Skeptic X continues, "The delay would just be 'the Lord's' way of showing his longsuffering toward us in his desire to have as many people as possible be saved. That statement makes no sense at all if the 'coming' was just a couple of years or so away when Peter wrote this. What would be so longsuffering about the Lord's delaying his 'coming' just a couple of years or so?" To start with, it would be more like 6 or 7 years, not just a couple; beyond that Skeptic X is trying to make a "long" out of "longsuffering" based on idyllic KJV-era bit of verbiage. "Longsuffering" merely means patience, or an enduring temper, and it doesn't need a "long" stretch of time like hundreds or thousands of years to be effected. 2 years, up to 7 years extra, are a sufficient demonstration of "longsuffering" (especially from a human perspective, in which even a year is an extended time to simply make a decision!). If that were not so, it could hardly be one of the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22) in our limited lifetimes.

    We had addressed 2 Peter 3:8 elsewhere on this site; after whining that we didn't tell him where else we addressed it (which doesn't matter, since we provided the same material in the reply anyway, just so Skeptic X wouldn't have to do something hard like use the site index), Skeptic X notes where we spoke of "Jewish scoffers in the 50s and early 60s, within the predicted 'generation...'" Skeptic X dons the Farmer Hayseed outfit and burps:

    What Jewish scoffers were these? Did [Holding] mean Jewish scoffers who ridiculed Christians for believing that Jesus would return? ([Holding] has a hard time explaining himself, doesn't he?) If so, then he needs to take another look at 2 Peter 3:1ff, which referred to the coming of scoffers.

    So it did, and so what? Skeptic X has basic reading problems to begin with ("Pay for 90% of my website, you cheapskate!"); just what the heck does he think I'm saying these people were scoffing about? Peter's necktie and hairstyle? At any rate, Skeptic X makes a cloud of digestive gas over some perceived injustice, saying that I "apparently expects us to believe that 'Peter' was just referring to scoffing Jews, who were not Christians, that were ridiculing Christians for still believing that Jesus would return..." Well, yes, and? The problem is? The scoffers' question in 3:4 is, "Where is the promise of his coming?," so that's the return part. Then Peter also has these scoffers speaking of "the fathers" -- a reference to the Jewish forebears (John 7:22, Acts 3:22, etc.), so the scoffers must be Jews, or else Gentiles with a reference problem. So what's Skeptic X's complaint? He refers to "New Testament warnings of the coming of false teachers and prophets referred to those within the church who would lead others astray" such as Acts 20:17, 1 Timothy 4:1, etc., and even quotes a passel of them to make you forget what was going on. And his point is? He has none, other than one that badly needs combing on top of his head. None of the passages refer to the scoffers as speaking of "the fathers" as though from the mouths of persons of Jewish descent. (There is more on this subject in the next section.) What point Skeptic X seems to want to barf out, after a few cites and paragraphs of ranting and raving, is that he thinks Pete is referring not to Jews, but to inside-the-church scoffers with a differing view of the parousia. As he sees it, there's no way Pete would "shift gears" from false teachers in the church to Jews outside the church in 2 Pet. 3. Um, yeah, sure. 2 Peter 3 begins a new section ("This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance...") and Pete is darned well able to shift as many gears as he wants. That's no blockade to the scoffers being scoffing, non-Christian Jews. Not that it matters. I really don't care, when it comes down to it, whether the scoffers were never-Christian Jews, or former-Christian Jews, or former-Jews-claiming-to-be-Christian janitors for the church's meeting places, and Skeptic X doesn't explain why it makes his case any better to have these scoffers be inside jobbers. Skeptic X is wasting his time on this diversion in an effort to make himself look like he's doing something worth paying attention to, but it's all a sham and a distraction from the fact that he can't deny the reality of the historical context. (He asks also as a diversion, "just out of curiosity," who I think the "lawless one" whom "the Lord" consumed with the breath of his mouth and destroyed with the brightness of his coming was. If Skeptic X is that curious he can stay in the litterbox until we are done with this subject. I have some candidates in mind, and no formal decision as yet, though Titus is a top dog for the present.) And deny it he does, as he says to where I note, that these scoffers would react as they do, "figuring that with the Romans still wagging their tails even as Jewish nationalism gets ardent, there isn't much to worry about where Jesus' predictions were concerned." This scenario draws from the way things were in the era just prior to the beginning of the Jewish war when it started in 67; Skeptic X asks in reply the Stupid Skeptic Question:

    Why would they have figured that?

    Why, duh uh? X has no answer for this, and knows as much about radical Jewish nationalism in the 50s and 60s as he does about classic surfing equipment of the 19th century, so he ignores the historical circumstances which make the interpretation solid and instead burps up his standard manipulation tactic, claiming we are "begging the question" of the preterist paradigm to begin with. Like heck. As much as Skeptic X "begs" (and begs, and begs, and begs) the question of his own paradigm in context. What it runs down to is that Skeptic X has no intellectual goods to refute the contention that this warning fits just fine in a pre-70 situation, so he goes off pulling his usual shebang of claiming a question is being begged (as well as demanding yet again, over several paragraphs, to be informed of what we have already told him 5,837 times now about how to interpret and explicate Matthew 24:29). Just in case, he also throws a few other "I have no evidence, but what the heck" ideas, such as that maybe Christians had not heard of Matthew 24 by the 60s, or that maybe space aliens wrote the Gospel of Luke. Um, yeah. So there was some other, unknown prophecy of Jesus' parousia, otherwise unattested (maybe it was stolen by those same priests who missed Jer. 7:22). Skeptic X only needs a red nose and a pointy hat to finish his wardrobe. But a D for trying on this one; Skeptic X rightly understands that we are "claiming that Christians would have been able to see in Roman activities that the fulfillment was coming." Then he asks the next Stupid Skeptic Question, "how does [Holding] explain what Jesus said just a few verses later?" Which one? Duh ah, this one:

    Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

    Gee heck. Skeptic X thinks that this is some kind of problem, because "if the Roman army had laid siege to Jerusalem and if Christians understood that the destruction of Jerusalem was going to be the fulfillment of Jesus's prophecy to 'come' within the lifetime of that generation, then they would have known when he was coming." Really, Skeptic X. That would have told them the day and the hour of the parousia? It told them all that? I don't think Skeptic X will disagree that "that generation" refers to a timespan within the next 40 or so years -- it looks to have been one of his premier arguments against Hutchinson's view of these things -- so how hard is this to "explain"? What needs explaining? Skeptic X's inability to discern between the general and the specific is the only thing wrong with this picture. In fact, even with Rome on the doorstep of Jerusalem, what good is that to anyone waiting as a sign of the big event? Sieges had a habit of lasting for years; Jerusalem held out for over three years as it was, which left plenty of space for sleepy heads to get back to their naps.

    Funnily enough, though Skeptic X throws into the air the suggestion that Pete's people had no idea about Matthew 24, out of the other side of his mouth he notes that Pete "used the same figure of the thief in the night in his thousand-year explanation." Sure did. And the answer is the same. General signs do not lend to specific and narrow prediction (day and hour) and can just as well be taken by the complacent to give an extra reason to kick back. Skeptic X whines that, "...[Holding]'s preterist scenario would have made [Jesus' return] very predictable. Christians, who presumably understood that Jesus had predicted only the destruction of Jerusalem to end the Jewish age, would have been able to anticipate Jesus's 'coming' by the gathering of the Roman army around Jerusalem, and [Holding] even said above that 'the predicted generation' could have figured by the 'wagging' of Roman tails that the fulfillment was going to happen." Uh, hold that phone: The wagging Romans would have been used by scoffers, Skeptic X, not by Christians, to suggest that the fulfillment wasn't coming, not that is was. Skeptic X must have banged his head against a wall again and for the 682nd time confused yet another of my arguments. It's more in line on the former part, but the answer is, yes, the same. Specific versus general. General warnings were obvious: false Christs, false prophets. Does this tell you that Jesus is returning on March 3, 70 AD, at 3:00 PM? Does it even tell you that March of 70 is a good guess? No. And based on Skeptic X's reading or memory skills, you can't even trust him to shine your shoes for you.

    Skeptic X briefly belts out a challenge in the dates of the Gospels as post-70, and says, "If [Holding] wants to dispute this, I will happily match him scholar for scholar if he wants to sling another website article by Glenn Miller at us and quote some claims of fundamentalist writers, who do, of course, date the gospels before AD 70." I'll sling one of my own instead, actually, and when Skeptic X extracts the rock from his forehead and grows up beyond the "published in Grand Rapids" dodge he likes to shovel, he can consider that another debate topic. Which he'll get to in 2007.

    So now on to that actual cite of 2 Peter 3:8. I quoted the words of an anti-preterist site; Skeptic X whines that we didn't inform his ignorance as to what site this was, as if he cared beyond that it gave him a chance to complain again. (Though of course, in his standard show of ignorance, he notes that I give the title of the site, and being too uneducated to even use a search engine, whines about the lack of a link. Fortunately for Skeptic X, he tells us he had previously seen this site.) He begins with one of his usual canards that I "quoted only a short paragraph from a much longer context" but as usual when it comes to showing it actually made any difference to the argument, Skeptic X has zip to say. Instead he quotes extensively from (dare we say, "plagiarizes"? -- BTW, Skeptic X, what happened to that proof you claimed you had of us plagiarizing for the Olivet article? Did we forget that?) the anti-preterist site's article, reminds his gullible Skeptical readers of our "chief interest" being "m-o-n-e-y" (as much as, um, Dan Barker's, Skeptic X?), denigrates the anti-preterist site for a few meandering sentences (pass the man his corncob pipe and rocking chair), whines about preterism being a "secret code," quotes Matthew 24:29-35, whines some about the dispensational view, re-re-re-re-repeats all of his arguments in brief about the SMS, tribes of the earth, etc.; once again idiotically attributes the preterist view (not a view on Jer. 7:22) to Whitney, and then, finally waking up after that long nap, wants to know why I allegedly didn't answer the question asked by the anti-preterist site, i.e., "If the 'coming of the Lord' was just a year or two away when 'Peter' wrote his second epistle, why would he have used this thousand-year explanation in reference to a 'coming' that was as imminent as just a couple of years?" We did answer the question; Skeptic X is just too out of it, as usual, to get it. To begin, again, it would be more like 6 or 7, not "a couple". Second, we answered the question by showing that the thousand-year reference wasn't a way of explaining the lateness of the coming, but an answer to the scoffers who claimed the signs were all wrong for the parousia and doubted that it would happen at all, even within the generally specified period. Skeptic X winds down by re-repeating his lame argument about "longsuffering" answered above, once again confusing my position about who looked at the Roman waggers and why, and then re-asserts his own view of the verse as "damage control". He closes with his usual shrimp sandwich of claiming he could "post a list of 'anti-preterist' sites as long as [his] arm that do a credible job of showing that the preterist spin on second-coming prophecies is too far-fetched to believe." Skeptic X can post whatever list he wants, as long as whatever appendage he has; it's all he can do, since critically comparing arguments is obviously beyond his means. He can't even read well ("Pay for 90% of this website") so why would he be any good at reading anti-preterist arguments?

    We stop here near the end of Skeptic X's part 7 and pick up here where I left off. It looks like Skeptic X's lackeys are trying to play a new game of uploading new stuff as close to my own upload dates as possible, so as to forestall my own response and give their master a few days of looking like he has the upper hand. Tough noogies, guys. We're on to you.

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