20 May 2010 (Chamashee/Teruah)|
Day #66, 5934 AM
The Bias of Scholars
Do Not Be Blinded By Them
It is na´vely assumed by far too many people that scientists and scholars are unbiased people who interpret strictly according to the facts. Though I could share stories from researhers in Oxford with whom I worked when I was doing my thesis that would soon make you realise that academics are as prejudiced and influenced by presuppositions and biases as much as anyone else in any other profession, I was to limit myself in this short devotional to 'scholars' of the New Testament.
New Testament critics come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, depending on their respective biases. Many of these critics who either do not believe in a God at all, or if they do, do not believe in miracles or prophecy, are committed to proving that the New Testament is like any other classical document from antiquity - it has been subject to the pen of numerous editors who have modified the text to suit their particular belief system. What I find incredibly odd is the attitude of these scholars to other non-Biblical characters from Rome, Greece and elsewhere, whose acts and words are considerably less well-documented than those of Yah'shua and the apostles - why do they assume that these are genuine history whereas the New Testament (or even Old Testament for that matter) is not? The answer is simple: if the New Testament is validated as revelation from God then these scholars will be forced to repent and change their lives. And since the writers of the non-Biblical classics usually require no change in lifestyle, it is easier to 'confirm' their authenticity than it is the Bible's....according to our fleshy dispositions
In Oxford I met some prominent Bible scholars whose lectures I attended in my free time and sometimes socialised with (when I was not doing Biochemistry), both Christian and Jewish, and whilst they were geniuses in their specialised areas of study (like Geza Vermes of Dead Sea Scrolls fame, with John Crace claiming him to be the 'greatest Jesus scholar of his time') they as a rule did not believe the Bible was inspired. And their lives and lifestyles reflected that lack of belief. And whilst one of them taught me some classical Hebrew (I was in a class with other amateurs) and another gave me some useful insights into textual analysis, I turned to none of them for spiritual instruction, for in truth they were incapable of giving it. Some of them may very well be dead by now and I am truly glad I did not follow them.
John Stuart Mill, criticising the sceptics, wrote:
We do not need to doubt the authenticity of the Scriptures or believe the sceptics and detractros who have their several agendas. Yah'shua said:
"It is no use to say that Christ, as exhibited in the Gospels, is not historical, and that we know not how much of what is admirable has been super-added by the tradition of his followers. Who among his disciples or among their proselytes was capable of inventing the sayings of Jesus or imagining the life and character revealed in the Gospels? Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee; as certainly not St Paul, whose character and idiosyncrasies were of a totally different sort; still less the early Christian writers, in whom nothing is more evident than that the good which was in them was all derived, as they always professed that it was derived, from the higher source" (John Stuart Mill, Three Essays on Religion, 4th edn.(Longmans Green, London: 1975), p.253).
The words that we have in the New Testament are the authentic words of the Messiah and their background is authentic history. If you believe them, and apply them, they will change you as no other words ever have or ever could. Trust them and witness them come alive in you!
"Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:26, NKJV).
 Sir Normal Anderson, Jesus Christ: The Witness of History (Inter-Varsity press, Leicester, England: 1985)