Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bishop NT Wright - Surprised by Hope

John 20 verses 30-31 says 'Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.'

According to Bishop NT Wright , in chapter 4 of his new book, Surprised by Hope, 'The fourth strange feature of the resurrection accounts is the entire absence of mention of the future Christian hope.' (I paraphrase - the exact quote comes from a recent Wright speech)

Christian apologists will say anything at all if it suits them. The Gospels link the resurrection to eternal life for believers time after time, yet people like NT Wright will say that such links are entirely absent, whenever it suits him to say that.

And Wright appears to be claiming that nobody can find anything in the resurrection accounts which support his claim of Christian hope.

I'm sure Wright would be the first to claim that the resurrection accounts are evidence of a future Christian hope - after all, he has just written a book claiming that the resurrection of Jesus is support for the future Christian hope - a claim that he now says is not supported by anything in the texts of the resurrection accounts.

Is Christian scholarship worth the paper it is written on?

34 Comments:

Blogger Quixie said...

Seeing as you were paraphrasing a speech and not text, I'd say, "Yes! It's worth the paper it's printed on, worth every penny of it."

:)

9:10 AM  
Blogger Digter said...

Have you read the resurrection accounts? He's right dummy! Of course it is linked a lot in Paul's writings, but that's not what he's talking about is it?

8:51 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Let us quote from John 20, which contains a resurrection account.

John 20 verses 30-31 says 'Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.'

Only a 'dummy' thinks this links the resurrection accounts in John 20 with the future Christian hope?


Let us see what the Gospels say about linking the resurrection with the future Christian hope.

'I am the Resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even though he dies shall have eternal life.'

Wright can find no explanation for the 'strange absence' of mentions of eternal life in John 20 (as he cannot read John 20:30-31)

Perhaps because the link is made on a different page?

Perhaps Wright thinks Christians were so dumb they would read John 11, and totally forget what it said when they got as far as John 20.

And what exactly is the argument Wright is making?



Where is his evidence that false accounts of the resurrection would link the resurrection with the future Christian hope?

Perhaps he has read Paul and realised that false accounts of the resurrection really do link the resurrection with the future Christian hope?

10:07 PM  
Blogger Digter said...

My advice: read one of Wright's works, either Resurrection and the Son of God, or Surprised by Hope. That would give much more context to this debate, rather than simply pulling a phrase out of nowhere. The point of Wright saying this is to dispel one of the "scientific historical" explanations of the resurrection accounts, where it is said that because the early Christians wished so much for this resurrection, they imagined that it had already happened to the leader, Jesus Christ. Wright points out that this doesn't make any sense, because there are not frequent correlations made between Jesus' resurrection and the future resurrection in the gospels (notice that he does not say there are none). Notice that the first scripture you cite does not specifically deal with the resurrection (although it might be construed that it is an implication), and your second text does not deal with Jesus' resurrection, but is a statement by Jesus about the future resurrection. But to sum it all up, N.T. Wright is one of the foremost experts on the New Testament in the world, and I would make damn sure I was right before I called him a dumbass.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

I see Digter can't tell us what argument Wright is making.

Not surprising, as there is no logical argument in Wright's claim that the Gospel accounts of the resurrection do not link to the future hope , so they must be true.

The Gospel of Peter does not claim Christians will be resurrected in the future.

By Wright's 'logic', we now know that the Gospel of Peter's claim of a talking cross must be true, because there is no mention of the future Christian hope in the Gospel of Peter.

What absurdity.

Digter is left claiming that John 20 is nothing to do with the resurrection.

And Digter is left claiming that Wright must be right, because Digter says Wright is an expert, so he can't be wrong.

You've got to laugh, haven't you?

Perhaps Digter can just tell us the evidence Wright produces for his claim that false accounts of the resurrection would include references to people other than Jesus being resurrected.

Simply tell us the primary documents Wright cites which lead to that conclusion.

Or has Wright simply made that claims up, and then declared himself to be a 'leading expert'?

9:58 PM  
Blogger Digter said...

Please take the effort to read these works. You think the argument is absurd because it is a part of a larger argument that Wright is making--it's only a bit of the evidence he uses, part of a larger whole. But here, maybe I can simplify the argument for you so you can understand the logic:

1. Later accounts of the resurrection (e.g. Paul, Church Fathers) consistently link Jesus' resurrection with the future resurrection.
2. The New Testament accounts do not.
3. A possible historical explanation for this fact is that the gospel accounts we have were part of an early oral tradition that was latter written down, probably around the time the temple fell.

My comment about Wright being an expert was made to point out how absurd your thinking was--you assumed he was stupid and worthless Christian scholarship because of one quote, without even taking the time to understand what that quote meant.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Digter still cannot tell us what argument Wright is making, what primary documents Wright cites to support his 'argument' that false accounts of the resurrection link the resurrection to the future Christian hope.

Digter is now resorting to plain lies when he claims the NT does not link the resurrection to the future Christian hope

And he resorts to idiocy when he claims that Paul was a 'later account of the resurrection' than the Gospels!

I have twice quoted from John 20.

Wright can trumpet his false claim that the resurrection texts give no support to his claim of the future Christian hope, but anybody reading John 20 can see otherwise.

But what is Wright's argument? That the Gospels provide no basis for his hope of future resurrection?

Is Wright really and truly convinced that people should read the Gospels and then deny that they provide any textual support for any Christian hope?

11:45 AM  
Blogger A. D. Hunt said...

Yeah, it might be a good idea to read the guy before rampaging against him. Just a thought...

11:07 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Yet another commentator who is convinced that Wright is right, but cannot even say what argument Wright is making , let alone what primary documents Wright read which lets him claim that false accounts of the resurrection would have had references to Christian hope (like John 20 does indeed have!)

11:15 AM  
Blogger Digter said...

There are no primary texts because that is the point. The evidence is that there is no evidence. I hope that is clear. Once again, Wright does not say that there are NO passages that link Jesus' resurrection to our future resurrection. He says it is not FREQUENT. Once again, John 20 does not explicitly link Jesus' resurrection to humanity's future resurrection. It links Jesus' miracles to human belief in Jesus as the Christ to having "life in his name".

Steven Carr, I'm not quite sure what else you are looking for. You have found one passage that doesn't even say what you say it says, and you harp on that like it proves your argument. If I'm missing anything that will convince you, let me know.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

So Digter cncedes that Wright has zero evidence for any argument that false accounts of the resurrection would link the resurrection to future Christian hope (like Paul does!)

Wright simply made up that claim, knowing that nobody would ask for evidence that the argument is true.

And Digter desparately tries to claim that John 20 has nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus.


Of course, the Gospels claim that Jesus said 'I am the resurrection. Whoever believes in me shall never die.'

But primary texts from the period reveal that converts to Jesus-worship simply scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise corpses, and Paul never reminds them that their Lord and Saviour had explicitly linked his resurrection to the future Christian hope.

How could he? The Gospels had not been written when Paul was writing to tell the Corinthians that Jesus had become a spirit.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

DIGTER
HE says it is not frequent

WRIGHT
'The fourth strange feature of the resurrection accounts is the entire absence of mention of the future Christian hope.'

CARR
We see Christians lying through their teeth once again.

Wright says 'entire abscence', and Digter claims Wright said 'not frequent'.

Wright knows that Christians are so dumb that they will read John 20, get to the last 2 verses, and never link the claim that Christians will live for ever with what they have read in the verses above that.....

10:25 PM  
Blogger Digter said...

Steven, you were right to point out that Wright says "never"; I made this point a couple of times and am now embarrased as it seems my memory failed me. My apologies.

Let me quote from Wright's book Surprised by Hope so that we can get the actual argument on the table:

"The fourth strange feature of the resurrection accounts is the fact that they never mention the future Christian hope. Almost everywhere else in the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus is spoken of in connection with the final hope that those who belong to Jesus will one day be raised as he has been, adding that this must be anticipated in the present in baptism and behavior. Despite a thousand Easter humns and a million Easter sermons, the resurrection narratives in the gospels, never ever say anything like, "Jesus is raised, therefore there is a life after death," let along, "Jesus is raised, therefore we shall go to heaven when we die." Nor even, in a more authentic first-century Christian way, do they say, "Jesus is raised, therfore we shall be raised from the dead after the sleep of death." No. Insofar as the event is interpreted, Easter has a very this-worldly, present-age meaning: Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah, and therefore he is the world's true Lord; Jesus is raised, so God's new creation has begun--and we, his followers, have a job to do! Jesus is raised, so we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world, making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven! To be sure, as early as Paul the resurrection of jesus is firmly linked to the final resurrection of all people. Had the stories been invented toward the end of the first century, they would certainly have included a mention of the final resurrection of all God's people. They don't, because they weren't." (pp. 56-57)

Now we have something concrete to deal with. Stephen, John 20:31 says "by believing you may have life in his name." It does not say, as you said in your previous post, "that Christians will live forever." The "life" John is talking about is almost certainly this life, and this is actually the case. Those who believe in Jesus live life in his name: Christians. They are united under his name.

Even if you were to interpret life as some kind of life after this one, which is not warranted by the text, you still do not have the specificity of "Resurrection," and when Wright says "the future Christian hope," he means specifically resurrection. He does not mean Heaven. That should be clear if you have read the book.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

WRIGHT
Had the stories been invented toward the end of the first century, they would certainly have included a mention of the final resurrection of all God's people. They don't, because they weren't."

CARR
Wright is just making things up.

Where is his evidence for that statement?

Where is the evidence for that 'certainty'?

The Gospel of Peter was an invented story towards the end of the first century.

Wright claims it is a 'certainty' that invented accounts of the resurrectin at the end of the century would say that Christians would live for ever.

So where is this statement in the Gospel of Peter that Wright claims is a 'certainty' to appear?

Wright just makes things up!

And, of course, Wright has to concede that early Christians certainly did link stories of corpses rising with claims that Christians would rise.

Matthew even has stories of other people rising from the dead, yet Wright cooly states that the resurrection accounts have no references to people other than Jesus returning from the dead.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Digter said...

Steven, Wright is not claiming that the gospels were not written in the late 1st century. He would in fact agree about that. What he is saying is that what the gospel writers have recorded are early oral traditions. The evidence for this is primarily Paul, as Paul frequently links Jesus' resurrection to our resurrection. This connection was made by most Christian writers after Paul as well. Therefore, it is indeed logical to think that these stories were created before Paul (that is, before 50 a.d.). If the gospel of Peter has a resurrection story that does not tie Jesus' resurrection to eventual human resurrection, then this too is evidence that the story the gospel of Peter records is an early one.

What I think you're missing here is the idea of oral tradition. Wright of course does not claim that the gospels were written before 50 a.d. What he is claiming is that they report oral tradition from before 50 a.d.

You've also mistated Wright again in your last paragraph. What he claims is that the gospels do not link Jesus' resurrection to the future human resurrection, not that no other humans rise from the dead. This connection obviously would not be being made in the Matthew account because these 'rising from the dead' accounts occur BEFORE Jesus' resurrection.

Once again, Steven, if there are any other objections you can think of, let me know. But please don't object that Wright is 'just making stuff up'. He's certainly thought about this stuff a lot and done a ton of research, so at least give him the respect that is due.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

DIGTER
What he claims is that the gospels do not link Jesus' resurrection to the future human resurrection,...

CARR
So why on earth does Wright think that Jesus resurrection implies the future human resurrection, when he is prepared to state in public that there is no such link?

Let us see what the Gospels say '"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.'

No link!, claims Wright.

Does he think we are daft?

And Digter still cannot tell us what evidence Wright has for his claim that false accounts would 'certainly' include a reference to Christians being resurrected.

No matter how many times I ask Digter for the evidence Wright has assembled, Digter cannot find one document Wright has looked at which lets him conclude 'False accounts would certainly include references to other people being resurrected.'

Of course Wright has thought about that a lot. How could he make it up without thinking about it?

Where is the evidence?

There is none.

How Christians dodge and squirm when you ask for evidence for what they write in books - things that they claim are 'certainly' true.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Digter said...

Steven, the passage from John 11 is Jesus claiming that he is the Messiah, and that he will raise those who believe in Him at the last day. You'll notice that nowhere in this passage does Jesus link HIS resurrection with others. He, as the Messiah, will be responsible for the resurrection of those who believe in him at the last day. Saying "I am the resurrection" is not equivalent to "I will be resurrected"; it is claiming that you are the Messiah.

The answer to your first question is that there is no such link in the gospels, but there are plenty such links in Paul, as has been stated before.

Neither Wright nor I have said anything about 'false accounts,' if you'll look back through the text. What Wright is saying is that the lack of an explicit link is evidence that these stories are EARLY oral tradition. Later accounts are not 'false'. I would certainly not call Paul's teaching on the resurrection false because he links it to our future resurrection.

Steven, one more thing. Your rants about Christians in general being stupid are getting old fast. Not only is such a gross over generalization foolish, but it is also not supported by evidence of any kind, and actually shows ignorance on your part. There are plenty of brilliant individuals who have been Christians in the past (see Soren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoevsky) and today (some of the greatest philosophers, such as Alasdair MacIntyre or Charles Taylor). Intelligent people don't buy into the Dawkins b.s.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Wright claims the following is true :-
1) Early (ie the Gospels) = no linkage

2) Later (ie Paul) = linkage


The written record shows :-

1) Early (ie Paul) = linkage
2) Later (ie the Gospels) = no linkage (at least according to Wright's claim of no linkage).

This is a spectacular deception by Wright, as good as saying white = black.

DIGTER
What Wright is saying is that the lack of an explicit link is evidence that these stories are EARLY oral tradition.

CARR
Evidence please that this claimed lack of link (see John 20 for the falsity of Wright's words) is a sign that the stories are early oral tradition (like Q is supposed to be early).

Where is the early record of oral traditions of Jesus eating fish?

Evidence of somebody claiming to have heard somebody say that Thomas touched the side of Jesus.

What primary documents (eg the Gospel of Peter) let Wright conclude that later traditions would 'certainly' include references to Christian hope?

There is no evidence of this early oral tradition.

Wright has simply made up a claim that later accounts would 'certainly' include mentions of Christians being resurrected.

And he knows Christians are too dumb to ask for evidence of this 'certainty'.

Wright knows Christians are so dumb they will not bother to check if later traditions (like the Gospel of Peter!), always link the resurrection of Jesus to Christians being resurrected.

Wright knows Christians are so dumb they think the Gospels are earlier than Paul's writings, so he can talk of Paul as being 'later' than the Gospels.

And Wright thinks Christians are so dumb that they read the Gospels and do not link the alleged resurrection of Jesus with their belief that Jesus will give them eternal life.


Why were early Christians baffled by the concept of this alleged god choosing to raise a corpse?

Where is this early tradition when not even Paul mentions any tradition of two disciples meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus?

10:10 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

DIGTER
Later accounts are not false.

CARR
The Gospel of Peter is not false?

I forgot, it has no mention of Christians being resurrected, so all the stories of a talking cross are early oral tradition.

For Wright has spoken, and his word is infallible.


That is Wright's argument. No Christians being resurrected means it is early oral tradition....


So no Christians being resurrected in the Gospel of Peter means the talking cross is early oral tradition.


You have to laugh at how gullible Wright thinks Christians are, and how he knows from first-hand experience that they will swallow any rubbish he writes in a book.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

DIGTER
Steven, the passage from John 11 is Jesus claiming that he is the Messiah, and that he will raise those who believe in Him at the last day. You'll notice that nowhere in this passage does Jesus link HIS resurrection with others.

CARR
Does Digter think I am daft?

The resurrection of Jesus is not linked to claims that Christians will be resurrected.

All the claims of Christians being resurrected were just made up by Wright, because there are no such claims in the Gospels?

10:16 AM  
Blogger Digter said...

Steven, I've already answered all of these objections. Please go back and actually read my posts. And please actually read Wright's books before you claim that he is attempting to deceive gullible Christians.

Since you probably won't do either of those things, here is my challenge to you: find evidence in the gospels where Jesus' resurrection is linked to future human resurrection. I've already refuted your references to John 11 and 20. Good luck.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

DIGTER
find evidence in the gospels where Jesus' resurrection is linked to future human resurrection.

CARR
So where does Wright get this bizarre idea that humans are going to be resurrected in the future?

11:11 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

And where is this scholar NT Wright's evidence that later accounts of the resurrection 'certainly' include references to Christians being resurrected?

11:14 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

DIGTER
If the gospel of Peter has a resurrection story that does not tie Jesus' resurrection to eventual human resurrection, then this too is evidence that the story the gospel of Peter records is an early one

CARR
There you are.

The story of a talking cross is an early one.

And not one made up after Paul had written anything....

11:15 AM  
Blogger Digter said...

Still waiting.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Digter said...

By the way, while I'm waiting, the gospel of Peter stuff can be refuted easily. Obviously, the example we are talking about is only one piece of evidence in Wright's larger argument (at least, it would be obvious if you had read the book). There is other evidence for the gospel accounts being recorded early oral testimony, whereas I press you to find more evidence that the gospel of Peter is early. I do not deny that the fact that there is no connection between the Jesus' resurrection and our future resurrection is evidence that the gospel of Peter is early: it is evidence. But it is only one bit, whereas the canonical gospels have others to back them up as well.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

DIGTER
There is other evidence for the gospel accounts being recorded early oral testimony, whereas I press you to find more evidence that the gospel of Peter is early.

CARR
SO far, Digter has come up with zero evidence that the resurrection accounts are early oral testimony.

Wright's reasoning is as follows.

Paul's letters were written about 30 to 60 AD (very roughly)

The Gospels were written about 60 to 100 AD (very roughly)

The Gospels lack a feature that Paul's letters have.

Therefore, the Gospel accounts are earlier than Paul.

As arguments go, this is pathetic.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

I see Digter cannot tell us why Wright believes the following are true :-

1) Nobody can read the alleged words of Jesus in the Gospels and think that Christians will be resurrected

2) Christians will be resurrected.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Digter said...

Steven--still waiting.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return 'soon'

I'm sure Digter can wait a little while longer before reality strikes home.

So far, he has done nothing except claim that Christians read the resurrection accounts in the Gospels and are too damn stupid to realise that if Jesus really was resurrected, then perhaps they may be too.

No wonder Wright sells a lot of books!

12:30 PM  
Blogger Digter said...

Steven, I have answered all of your objections, yet you cannot deign to answer one of mine?

6:09 AM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

"...accounts are evidence of a future Christian hope - after all, he has just written a book claiming that the resurrection of Jesus is support for the future Christian hope - a claim that he now says is not supported by anything in the texts of the resurrection accounts." ~you

I am not sur eyou exactly read his book. That is not what he wrote about at all. He states that the Easter accounts, with different meat, lead to the same sum total which is the prototype for the future resurrection of all who are found by faith in Christ Jesus. It was actually an amazing section of the book, don't miss out on it! The absence of the hope is that our emphasis has now been placed on Christmas. It was not Christ's birth that has offered redemption and saved, it was the resurrection which occurred after the brutal death in which Christ endured on the Cross, for you and for me and for everyone. Pretty awesome!

Stay blessed and know that the utlimate Christian scholarship, the Loving Word, is the number one best seller around the World. Always turn to scripture when there is doubt. He will never leave you or misguide you.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Steven,
I sometimes get the impression that you find pleasure in exasperating others.

Your example above of Wright's "spectacular deception" is laughable as you so woefully misrepresent his argument.

Wright claims that the oral tradition is early, not that the Gospels are earlier than Paul!

12:58 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

I stand corrected by Sam (not!).

Sam says Wright is saying that the early traditions ie the oral traditions , do not link the resurrection with the general resurrection of Christians.


Perhaps Sam should read Wright again, before 'correcting me'.

And once again we have somebody who cannot produce one single primary document that lets Wright conclude that... 'Had the stories been invented toward the end of the first century, they would certainly have included a mention of the final resurrection of all God's people.'

Where is the evidence for Wright's 'certainty'?

There is none.

Ask Christians for evidence and they run a mile.

All Wright has to do is look at the Gospel of Peter before pronouncing that he is 'certain' that invented stories would have mentioned the general resurrection.

And, of course, the last chapters of John DO mention that Christians will get eternal life.

1:25 AM  

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