Friday, May 29, 2009

Matthew Biased Toward OT Prophecies?

How would you respond to allegations that the gospel writers had done a bit of "map-bending" in their gospel accounts to force the events in Jesus' life to conform to OT scriptures. For example, Matthew seems to have recorded that Jesus rode on a donkey and a colt on Palm Sunday, while the other synoptics recorded only one. Matthew seems to have recorded 2 donkeys to fit the prophecy in Zechariah. Also, in Matthew, Jesus is shown as a second Moses - the slaughter of the innocents parallels the circumstances around Moses' birth, and the escape to Egypt is also a parallel to Moses' situation. I might have missed it, but I don't think these things are in the other gospels. This would seem to undermine the credibility of the gospel. How would you answer this?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Apostle Paul's Role in NT and Christian Faith

I was wondering if you could give some historical/theological background and explanation to Apostle Paul's special role as the early Christian authority whose application of and exposition for much of Jesus' teachings (and OT teaching as well, as it is 'fulfilled' in Jesus' teaching and life), inform such a large part of the practical living out Christian life today? Perhaps including issues like: is there significance that Paul ended up writing most of the NT (or the other way around in terms of causation) though he was not one of the Twelve who lived with Jesus; how Paul distinguished between things that were "[he] and not the Lord" and "the Lord, not [he]"; what would distinguish Paul and a later Christian who also had a vision of Jesus and who decided to write similar homilies, explanations, and applications (since Paul's conversion experience was highly personal, one of the criteria used to determine the likely historicity of a spiritual encounter, as with Jesus' resurrection appearances)?

Uncomfortably Violent Passages

I was wondering about the topic of Divine Inspiration and Biblical Fallibility in the canonization of the Bible. There are some passages, like the supplication prayer of Psalm 137, that ask God to act as the avenger of Israel. Some of the things the psalmist prays for makes me squirm, like

8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays youfor what you have done to us-
9 he who seizes your infantsand dashes them against the rocks.

What would be the role of passages like these in the Bible? Is it also divinely inspired, or did it find its way into the Bible as a consequence of human fallibility? How should we treat such passages?