Saturday, November 10, 2007

Further Abuse of the Oxford Professor

There is another passage from A.N. Sherwin-White that is frequently cited by apologists. Arguing that historical information can be gleaned from the gospels despite the fact that the authors were not writing history, the Oxford professor wrote:

For Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Yet Acts is, in simple terms and judged externally, no less of a propaganda narrative than the Gospels, liable to similar distortions. But any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted. (RLRSNT p. 189)

This is used by the apologists to argue that everything in Acts can be considered historical just as everything in the gospels can be considered historical.

It is perhaps not surprising that the apologists almost universally omit the middle sentence which refers to "propaganda" and "distortion." The only evangelical Christian I found quoting the passage in full, who I cannot help but congratulate for his or her intellectual integrity, was at Among the host of apologists who edited the passage were David Guzik , Judah Etinger, Larry Chapman, Randy Thomas, Joseph P. Gudel, David A. Noebel, Richard Deem, Dale P. Kruse, and Jeffrey Grant. These writers at least deserve some credit for inserting ellipsis to indicate that they were dropping part of the original passage. William Lane Craig and John Ankerberg simply made Sherwin-White's original reservations undetectable by quoting him as writing "For Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd."

However, the real prize has to go to Josh McDowell who not only omits the ellipsis, but also expands the canon. He quotes Sherwin-White as writing "For the New Testament of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming." (emphasis added) Now I generally like to think that I am above jumping on typographical errors, but I find it hard to believe that McDowell couldn't catch this one. Surely he might suspect either that the quote was wrong or, if it wasn't, that this Sherwin-White guy might be someone not worth quoting. His consolation must be that many others adopted this misquotation without question.

According to several apologists, the late Professor Sherwin-White was not a Christian. This is no doubt pointed out to boost his credentials as an objective scholar. Of course, this would mean that he is currently suffering eternal damnation. I suspect that his punishment is being forced 24-7 to read the botched and misleading citations of his work by Craig, Strobel, Ankerberg, McDowell, and all the other apologists who could not be bothered reading what he actually wrote.

No comments:

Post a Comment