How Does Narrative Teach Theology and Ethics? Dr. Darrell Bock

How Does Narrative Teach Theology and Ethics?
[Part 1 – Applying Biblical Ethics to Hot Button Issues]
with Darrell Bock, Daniel Carroll Rodas

In this episode, Dr. Darrell Bock and Dr. Daniel Carroll-Rodas discuss approaching ethical issues with a holistic view of Scripture, focusing on the relationship of Old Testament narratives to biblical ethics. From Dallas Theological Seminary.…

00:13 Dr. Carroll-Rodas’ background in Ethics and Old Testament Studies
04:01 Why are ethical statements not more prominent in creeds?
09:51 How can we begin to think about the Bible ethically?
12:39 How do Old Testament narratives teach us about ethics?
19:18 Learning from the narrative of Abram and Sarai in Genesis 12
24:23 How does one’s position on ethical issues impact one’s reading of Old Testament narratives?
31:25 How does one’s location impact one’s reading of Old Testament narratives?…


VIDEO by dallasseminary

…an excerpt from the pdf, a parallel to immigration, from the Old Testament:

So that means we’ve gotta be better readers and more careful readers, and we’ve got to think about narrative in a different way. You did something in what you presented today, even though this podcast is gonna go out weeks from now. You did something today that I thought was interesting, that I thought might be worth also getting people to think about how narrative works as we move to talking about ethics, and that is you told the story of Abraham as an immigrant. And normally in our circles, when we go to Genesis, we go to Genesis for the Abrahamic Covenant.

Here’s the promise made to Israel. And yeah, Abraham took a little bit of a journey, and it took a while and that kind of thing, but eventually worked its way there and the promise was planted. And that’s about all you get out of it. But you were trying to get us to think through if I can say it this way, where Abraham was, where his location was, what he was is God took him through what he went through and how that can be a lesson for us. Can you illustrate that and elaborate that for us for a little?

Yeah. Let me illustrate that and then tell you how I was taught it.

Okay, and there you’ll see the comparison or contrast. What I was telling this morning in chapel was the Genesis 12, where he’s been called out of Ur at the end of chapter 11, goes up to Harran and he then he comes into Canaan and receives the promise Abram does in Genesis 12-1:3 and we sit on that, rightly so. And then he begins to move into the land and build altars and call the name of God. All very good, but then you get about verse nine or ten and it says there was a famine in the land and he picks up the clan, because he’s the head of a clan, not a nuclear family.

And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. photo

And they begin to make the trek to Egypt because there’s food. You have the Nile. So you’ll have water, which means you have harvest, which means there is food to eat. And so Egypt was always having to deal with people trying to come in for food. And so we know from archaeology they’d set up a series of forts along their eastern frontier to help monitor the movement. So it’s very human, I mean, what’s going on. Nothing new on that.

That’s their border wall, huh?

That’s their border wall.

And so what happens is they get close to Egypt and does this mean he’s coming up to one of these checkpoints for it? Don’t know, but he tells Sarai, „Look, if they ask you, tell them you’re my sister, not my wife.” Now, we know from later in the narrative that they are related, but what you see – he’s trying to protect himself, right? But the driving point of the story is that they’re hungry and Abram is willing to lie to get across the border and to protect himself in that move.

But what is driving them to go there is hunger. And she’s willing to go through with it for the sake of the family. Now, it’s very wise. I didn’t get into this this morning because I was watching the clock, but as the brother, if anyone wanted Sarai, they would have to ask the brother for permission to marry her. So you could see where at the same time he is protecting her and they’re just pushing whatever bad thing happens down the road a little bit.

But I was trying to tell people this morning is that what you see is Abram is hungry, and this is why people move, because they’re hungry. And if it means lying to get across a border to feed your family, you’re willing to do it, and she’s willing to put herself at risk sexually, for being very blunt, for the sake of the family, okay? Now, so you’re reading this as an immigrant story, and I work a lot with immigration, as you know, so I’ve heard these stories. And they’re kind of like this, you know, where they lie to get across.

But I know when I went to seminary, the ethical debate was, was what Abram actually said a lie? And so there was all this kind of maneuvering to get Abram off the hook for not actually lying. Or if he did, it wasn’t really a bad a lie, right? So what you can see is though it is echoing immigrant stories, when I got taught, it was all about “is it a lie?”

Yeah. It’s with the search for the moral principal and whether or not it works or not.

And so what you’re seeing is the search for some kind of eternal, moral principal or whatever is totally, I think, missed –

The narrative.

The narrative and the power of the narrative, which resonates with a lot of immigrant stories today.

And of course the background of being an alien in a strange land emerges out of that story as a core metaphor that actually runs through the totality of Scripture. Well, this is supposed to be a podcast on narrative criticism, so we’ll leave it there.

But I think the point is well established that sets kind of the parameters for what we wanna discuss, and that is that we really are talking about – when we’re talking about ethics and the Scripture, we’re really talking about reading the Bible for the whole of what it is doing, for the way in which all of it addresses something, because what happens in ethical discussions is what I find happening. And you can almost pick your issue on this, where you can think, years ago, when we were debating slavery and they were very biblically oriented people who were defending slavery to the death. I mean that’s what the Civil War was about.

Literally, yeah.

That’s right. Or you think about the way in which gun control is discussed today, or immigration is discussed today, and what happens is people pick their place to start and land their discussion as a principle and in the process then, shut off anything that comes against that. My own take on working and thinking about this is that actually what you have in Scripture is a much more complex and actually lifelike situation. The Scripture addresses the tensions of life and stories tell or address the topic from those tension points.

Mark Dever – W.H. Griffith-Thomas Lectureship on Puritan Ecclesiology

From Dallas Theological Seminary

Dever delivered four lectures on the Puritan view of the Church’s two primary tasks: “the preaching of God’s Word and the right administration of the sacraments.” He began with the importance of preaching, drawing on the work of Richard Sibbes. In the second lecture, Dever addressed John Bunyan’s view of the proper place of baptism within the “spiritual church.” On the third day, Dever discussed Jonathan Edward’s understanding of the second sacrament, the Lord’s Supper. For his fourth and final lecture, Dever offered six reasons a right ecclesiology is important for the church day.

Dever received his Doctor of Philosophy in Ecclesiastical History from Cambridge University. He also holds a Master of Theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University.

Lecture 1: “Richard Sibbes and the Right Preaching of the Word”

  • Emphasis on the right preaching of the Word is a reaction to pre-Reformation practice.
  • Sibbes and the magesterial Reformers saw the commitment to understand the Word as the heart of the church.
  • The centrality of preaching should be a force for unity across denominations, not for dissent, if it is rooted in the Bible.

Lecture 2: “John Bunyan’s View of Baptism within the Spiritual Church”

  • The right administration of the sacraments is an act of obedience to Christ.
  • Bunyan: infant baptism is unbiblical but baptism isn’t necessary for participation in the Lord’s Supper.
  • For Bunyan, baptism is not a doctrinal point that should split the church as long as the motives behind the doctrine are good.
  • Dever suggests that Bunyan offered an overly subjective, individualistic view of baptism that allows churches to stray from Scripture.

Lecture 3: “Jonathan Edwards on the Lord’s Supper – For Believers Only”

  • Edwards: being a professing Christian is a prerequisite for participation in the Lord’s Table.
  • This was a distinction from the prevailing doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as a “converting ordinance.”
  • Dever argues that a church member should be someone who can “appropriately take communion without bringing disgrace to the church or condemnation on themselves or dishonor to God.”

Lecture 4: “Six Reasons a Right Ecclesiology is Important for the Church Today”

  • Pastors: the pastor’s primary purpose is the right preaching and teaching of the Word of God
  • Membership: commitment to a local church provides accountability and helps a congregation’s evangelism
  • Structure: authority in the church is a gift from God, and the church should follow biblical principles on leadership and formal structure
  • Culture: a culture of discipleship, evangelism, and missions creates a congregation where spiritual growth is the norm
  • Character: the recovery of the practice of church discipline, while difficult, will ultimately make the congregation healthier
  • Glory of God: believers bound together in community are the clearest representation of the gospel to an unbelieving world

The Reliability of The New Testament – Daniel Wallace PhD

Daniel B. Wallace, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and Recently his scholarship has begun to focus on John, Mark, and nascent Christology. He works extensively in textual criticism, and has founded The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (, an institute with an initial purpose of preserving Scripture by taking digital photographs of all known Greek New Testament manuscripts. He has traveled the world in search of biblical manuscripts. His postdoctoral work includes work on Greek grammar at Tyndale House in Cambridge, textual criticism studies at the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, and the Universität Tübingen, Germany. Photo credit –

 The Realiability of the New Testament

Wallace: Excerpt: If my New Testament doesn’t really tell the truth about who God is, or who Jesus is, or whether He was really raised from the dead, or if I can’t be sure that’s what the original text said, then I’ve got a few problems to deal with. What I want to give you today is a reason for confidence in the Scriptures. I will begin by quoting from some scholars who have disagreed with this confidence:

  1. We begin with well known scholar Dan Brown, who wrote in his book ‘The DaVinci Code”: The Bible has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.” You’ve all heard something like that, you may even have said something like that: The Bible’s been translated so many times, and retranslated, how can we tell what it originally said? We’re going to deal with this issue front on and you’re going to realize that’s a really stupid statement to make.
  2. But, there are others who have written something similar. Atheists are now joining the chorus: „We do not have any of the original manuscripts of the Bible. The originals are lost. We don’t know when and we don’t know by whom. What we have are copies of copies. In some instances, the copies we have are twentieth generation copies.” C. J. Werleman, Jesus lied P. 41. By the way, there’s a new kind of atheism out that no longer says that Christianity is wrong, that’s presupposed, but, what it’s now saying is that Christianity is evil. And that’s what we have to deal with: Atheism is good and Christianity is evil. C. J. Werleman also wrote a book titled „God hates you, hate him back„. It’s kind of a strange title for an atheist, don’t you think( for someone who doesn’t believe in God)? Now, he says: We don’t have any of the original manuscripts; he’s right. He says: The originals are lost and we don’t know when and by whom. He’s right. What we have are copies of copies. That’s true. However, I have no idea where he got the idea that some copies are 20th generation copies. I think he made it up.
  3. Muslims are saying the same thing, and Muslims are a huge group for us to have to deal with. They have their apologists who are making claims about the Koran. And, a very well known british muslim, M. M. Al-Azumi has written a book called „The history of the Koranic texts from revelation to compilation- a comparative study with the Old and New Testaments„. The book is very, very popular in Britain. He says, „The Orthodox church, being the sect which eventually established supremacy over all the others, stood in fervent opposition to various opposition (a.k.a „heresies”) which were in circulation… In each case this sect, the one that would rise to be the Orthodox church, deliberately corrupted the Scriptures so as to reflect its own theological visions of Christ, while demolishing that of all rival sects.” What’s he talking about? He is saying that the Bible that you have today is a corruption of the original. What he says elsewhere is that the deity of Christ is definitely not taught in the original New Testament, and (that) this group known as the Orthodox church, which is nothing that even resembles orthodoxy, made up things about Jesus and they demolished all the other views.Well, where are Werdleman and Al-Azumi getting their ideas from? They’re not New Testament scholars. They don’t know Greek, as far as I know. Well, they’re getting it from a number of New Testament scholars, but, principally, from one fellow who has become the #1 theologian in the country as far as the media is concerned. If you ever watch any of these stories, it’s typically around Christmas and Easter is when you will see these TV shows that are typically dealing with „well, Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead…” Somebody claimed just a few years ago that we actually found the bones of Jesus.

Well, Bart Ehrman was an evangelical, he went to Moody Bible Institute, he’s a graduate of Wheaton College- two very fine evangelical schools. He went on to Princeton Seminary to study under the great Dr. Bruce Metzger, who was one of the finest New Testament scholars of the 20th century and an evangelical himself. Ehrman got his master;s and his doctorate under Metzger at Princeton Seminary. And then he began to drift. Later on, he got out of evangelicalism, but still called himself a Christian, years later he called himself an agnostic, which is where he is at today. But, he has also said, „If there is a God, it’s definitely not the God of the Bible.” He’s not the God that I could possibly ever worship. Because of his spiritual journey, or unspiritual journey, Ehrman has become kind of the spokesman for liberalism and is the #1 theologian, as I said, in the media, newspapers, radio, television, they all interview him because (they say): Oh, here’s a guy who came out of evangelicalism and now he’s against it.” This is where these other people have gotten their ideas from about the text. Bart Ehrman is a bonafide New Testament scholar whose specialty is the New Testament manuscripts. In his book „Misquoting Jesus” he said, „Not only do we not have the originals, we do not have the first copies of the originals. We don’t even have copies of the copies of the originals, or copies of the copies, of the copies of the originals.” I am sure he is right in the first and second generation. But, Ehrman has made this claim and his writings have impacted tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, who are either marginally within the Christian faith, or were considering and they’ve abandoned it. That’s Bart Ehrman. (8:30)

Two attitudes to avoid

It reminds me of a couple of attitudes we need to avoid as we think about these issues of the text of Scripture.

  1. Radical skepticism or total despair. This attitude is the one I have just presented to you from these 3 writers:  That, basically, we can’t tell what the original text said, we might as well give up (cause) we don’t know.
  2. But, there’s another attitude that’s equally pernicious, and it’s found among Christians. King James only people have this attitude. Many of you come to church with your Bible in your hands, and you say, „This is exactly what the apostles wrote.” We don’t know for sure about some things, but we do have certainty about others. So there’s another attitude we need to avoid, which is absolute certainty. It makes us uncredible in the eyes of skeptics and sometimes when that absolute certainty gets dashed, people switch the pendulum way too far, over to radical skepticism. (9:00)

While there are 2 attitudes to avoid, there are 4 questions I want us to answer this morning:

  1. How many textual variants are there?
  2. What kinds of textual variants are there? Do they affect doctrine, are they spelling differences?
  3. What theological beliefs depend on textually suspect passages?
  4. Is what we have now what they wrote then?

The above notes are from the first 10 minutes of the video (there are 26 minutes remaining, in which Dr. Wallace answers the 4 questions)

VIDEO by Shulamitefire The Realiability of the New Testament

ABOUT THE VIDEO: Published on Jul 28, 2013

If you encounter someone who questions or doubts the accuracy and reliability of our Bible, the information Dr. Daniel Wallace provides in this presentation at Heights Baptist Church in 2013 will address those issues directly.

Dr. Daniel B. Wallace has been Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Seminary for over 25 years and is an internationally known Greek New Testament scholar. He has been a consultant for five Bible translations and founded the Center for the study of New Testament Manuscripts.

Darrell Bock Panel – Raising Children in a Sex-Saturated Society (Dallas Seminary)


Dr. Darrell Bock, Dr. Gary Barnes, Dr. Chip Dickens and Debbie Wade discuss sexuality and the family, focusing on advice to Christian parents raising children in a sex-saturated culture.…

00:28 Dr. Barnes, Dr. Dickens and Debbie Wade introduce themselves

04:44 The church and a biblical view of sexuality…

13:13 Tips for raising Christian children in a sex-saturated culture…

23:45 Advice to single parents raising children while dealing with dysfunction

32:05 Tips for raising teenagers in a sex-saturated culture…

VIDEO by dallasseminary Published on Aug 5, 2013

Dr. Darrell Bock – Culture Shock: How to live faithfully overseas

darrell bock

VIDEO Published on Jul 15, 2013 by dallasseminary

Dr. Darrell Bock and Dr. Scott Cunningham discuss cultural engagement on a global scale, focusing on the Christian’s challenge of faithfully living as a social minority in overseas contexts.

00:11 Faithfully serving Christ and society as a social minority overseas
11:22 The challenge of cultural engagement in the workplace
15:39 How courses help students integrate the Christian worldview and their careers
18:20 Cultural engagement lessons learned overseas
22:25 Examples of engagement in cultures which hold mixed values
32:33 Awareness, intentionality, and integration in overseas contexts
34:57 How cultural context impacts reading of Scripture

Christian Leadership Training Around the World

Dr. Darrell Bock and Dr. Scott Cunningham discuss cultural engagement on a global scale, including Christian leadership training in non-Western cultures and the Christian’s challenge of faithfully living as a social minority in overseas contexts.

Supreme Court Cases on Same-Sex Marriage: Where the Church Goes from Here [Part 1 – Supreme Court Rulings]

photo via

From Dallas Theological Seminary:

Mark Bailey, Darrell Bock, Judge Rollin Van Broekhoven – Published on Jul 1, 2013

Honorable Retired Federal Judge Rollin Van Broekhoven, Dr. Mark Bailey and Dr. Darrell Bock discuss in detail the Supreme Court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8, as well as what the current cultural shift means for how the church should approach its mission.
source –…

2:28Legal summary of the two Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage
3:43 The arguments for dissent in the cases
5:35 What was decided in the DOMA case, the majority argument, and preliminary observations about how decisions are presented to the public
8:07 How decisions get written and what they look to accomplish
8:58 What is the difference between what we hear in the press and what the Court decided? Kennedy’s opinion, the Prop 8 argument, and the Prop 8 dissent
12:26 How does jurisdiction work in normal decisions?
13:12 A closer look at the DOMA case: what was the actual decision?
16:20 Background to DOMA and the facts of this specific case
21:04 Federal vs. state law: if one state recognizes a same sex marriage, does that apply to all states?
22:42 Is the lack of a legal mandate in this case the same as a philosophical influence on culture?
23:38 Summary of the DOMA decision and its potential implications
24:23 The Scalia dissent
26:47 Does the law handle certain kinds of moral situations poorly, especially where a moral consensus is lacking? How the same sex argument is made in the Kennedy opinion
30:23 How the definition of marriage is handled in the decision
31:07 Explaining the cultural shift that created the space for this decision
32:20 The judge’s reflection on what is happening in the law in our shifting culture and when there is no public moral consensus
34:22 How Kennedy handles dissent to his view
34:57 What is the response of churches and believers in light of these realities in our culture? How do Christians engage people who may not accept theological argumentation?
39:50 The importance of winning both the heart and the mind to the gospel, to think and teach Christianly about marriage
41:06 How the homosexual community has successfully made their argument to the public and culture
42:43 Example of how this can be discussed and what the church has failed to do
44:55 One look at how our culture handled this discussion recently: Jason Collins versus Chris Broussard
46:08 What Catholics teach us about the mind, the concept of the Common Good, how we talk about marriage today, and what we should say about marriage
47:54 Discussing the value of Common Good
49:28 Opportunities to present a biblical case for marriage
50:32 Is something true because it is in the Bible or is it in the Bible because it is true? What is the point of this difference?
51:54 How a Christian living in a country where Christians are in the minority looks at this kind of engagement: lessons from John Dickson in Australia
55:15 A look at the first century: Mars Hill in Acts 17
58:31 Judge Van Broekhoven on Acts 17
1:01:15 Those who respond in Acts 17
1:02:35 How we discuss the need for God
Why marriage is important; the God-Christ picture as a mirror on marriage
An opportunity for pre-evangelism

Immanuel – God with us – Timothy Warren at Dallas Theological Seminary


Isaiah 7:14  (NIV)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).

Text: Isaiah 7:1-14 – Isaiah comes on the scene to warn Israel of coming judgement and to invite them to step into a world where God is present  even though He is transcendent. Although He is sovereign, He is immanent, here with us in this moment. And those who will repent, those who will acknowledge Him will be part of a remnant which will survive, and that He will bless and prosper. And those who will repent, those who will acknowledge Him will be part of a remnant which will survive and that He will bless and prosper.

Isaiah goes to a people who do not want to and will not see or hear the message. Really, Isaiah, then and today is presenting to us the choice between fear & fear induced behavior and faith resting in God, His promise of protection and His presence.

Preceded by
King of Judah
Coregency: 736 – 732 BC
Sole reign: 732 – 716 BC
Succeeded by

source (wikipedia)

Fact of life: Our natural response to threat is fear

There are a ton of things that can make us fearful and fear is a natural response in a time of threat. But, when we fear, when we’re overwhelmed with our fear, God shows up with a presence of his presence.

English: Ahaz was king of Judah, and the son a...

Verse 14 – ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.‘ Before verse 14 had any meaning in the New Testament, as we relate it to Jesus, it had meaning for Ahaz and for Isaiah, and for the people of Judah at that time.

The promise from God: God tells Ahaz, „Ahaz, you can be part of the remnant. Your soul can be at peace. This threat to my people will not happen. And the reason all of that is true is because I am with you.”

When our normal response to our life is fear, God steps in and gives us the promise of His presence. He says, ‘I will be with you.”

What is our response to God’s promise of His presence?

What is our response to God’s promise of His presence, even when we face the fear of the threat that we so often do and will face for the rest of our lives? Sometimes we lie. Sometime we make bad choices.

We need to reject fear based behavior that will come back and bite us. Lying will come back and bite you. Ahaz’s fear induced behavior was to make an alliance with the King of Assyria. When God said in the last part of verse 9, „if you do not believe, you will not last,” there is a play on words in Hebrew. It says, „If you don’t have faith, then you will not faithfully stand. If you do not believe, you will not survive.” Because Isaiah knew and God knew that Ahaz has a plan and his plan was to go to the King of Assyria and make an alliance so that the King of Assyria would come and beat up on Syria and Israel. and keep Ahaz and Judah from being destroyed by them. God says, „That will come back and bite you”.

Look at verse 7. He says, „If you go that route, the Lord will bring upon you and upon your people, and upon your father’s house, some days as has never come since the days of Ephraim separated in Judah. That is the King of Assyria. If you compromise, if you default in your behavior, the compromise of alliance rather than trusting me, that will come back to bite you.”

The lesson of Isaiah 7- Trust God. He will protect you and provide for you.

The Land of Judah during the reign of the Kings- source

A sidenote: King Ahaz did not trust God and went on to defile the temple. He died at the age of 36 and was succeeded by his son, Hezekiah. Because of his wickedness he was „not brought into the sepulchre of the kings” (2 Chronicles 28:27) (he was not buried with . An insight into Ahaz’s neglect of the worship of the Lord is found in the statement that on the first day of the month of Nisan that followed Ahaz’s death, his son Hezekiah commissioned the priests and Levites to open and repair the doors of the Temple and to remove the defilements of the sanctuary, a task which took 16 days (2 Chronicles 29:3-20). (via)

You can also read more about idolatrous King Ahaz here – Ahaz was twenty years old when he succeeded his father Jotham to the throne of Judea. He was a weak and idolatrous king. He even made his son walk through the fire of Moloch, aping the abominable custom of the Phoenicians. Another son, Hezekiah, who was to become king after Ahaz, was saved from the flames of the idol by his mother.

Published on Dec 6, 2012 dallasseminary Dr. Timothy Warren, Professor of Pastoral Ministries, DTS, explains how God is with His people.

Publicitate cu Cristian Barbosu la Dallas Theological Seminary

Recent, Dallas Theological Seminary a facut o reclama cu Pastorul Cristian Barbosu, aratand lucrarea Pastorului care a absolvit la DTS. Bineinteles ca este in Limba Engleza.

Dr. Cristian Barbosu a simtit mana lui Dumnezeu inca din vremurile timpurii ale vietii sale. El a fost instruit in mod special inca din copilarie ca sa vorbeasca  multimilor la festivalul de arta comunist, dar Dumnezeu a folosit aceasta abilitate pe care o avea, ca sa-l pregateasca pentru viitoarea sa chemare de a predica de la amvonul bisericesc. Astazi, Cristian slujeste ca Pastor Principal la Biserica Harvest Metanoia din Arad, Romania, unde peste 600 de adulti si 150 de copii se inchina in fiecare saptamana laolalta.

Dr. Cristian Barbosu felt God’s hand early in his life in Romania. He was specifically trained since childhood to speak before crowds at a communist art festival, but God used this skill to prepare him for his future vocation in pulpit ministry. Today, Cristian serves as Senior Pastor at Harvest Metanoia Church where 600 adults and 150 children worship together weekly in Arad, Romania. Published on Sep 25, 2012 by 

The Unique Jesus Story – DTS Prof. Darrell Bock

Who, why, and what of the Gospels

No one Gospel comes with ‘i’, ‘x’, (noting) whoever wrote this Gospel. So we have to figure that out. We determine it either internally, based on the kinds of things that they wrote. But, that doesn’t give us an identity. That gives us more ‘the kind of person that the author was.’ You know, were they Jewish, were they gentile? That kind of thing. Did they care about Israel right within Israel, or form outside?

The identity of our authors comes through the tradition, about what’s said about authorship. And so, the debate that rotates about how accurate that tradition is. There really are 2 models:

  1. One model is: Well, they really don’t know who the author is, so it was connected to a luminary to add status to a work who is anonymous but has the theology that they want.
  2. The other model is: No, the tradition has some knowledge of who the author is and has passed it on accurately.

And I like to challenge the idea of the luminary theory. I like to use the Gospel of Mark to do this, cause it’s such a good example of my problem.

The tradition tells us very consistently that Mark and Peter worked together in the production of this Gospel. Mark was the author, but Mark was working with Peter’s teaching and so, if you do the luminary theory. The luminary theory is- you don’t know who the author is. You put in ‘X’ and it’s gonna raise the status of this work. And you have the choice between Peter and Mark. At one level, just at the surface. Just hearing, who are you gonna pick? Well, you’re gonna pick Peter. But, it’s obviously worst than that, because if you look at Mark CV, if you look at what we know about him from his life, he went home to mom on his first missionary journey, according to Acts. He didn’t make it through persecution. And, the second thing that he did is he caused a split between Barnabas and Paul on the second missionary journey. Now, those are 2 not so stellar moments. He’s not one of the greats of the early church. In terms of what he did, the thing that gives him greatness is his association with the second gospel. So, you have a choice between this Mark with his track record on the one hand, and Peter, who obviously was a luminary apostle, a key disciple of Jesus and you could put whoever you want in there because you’re free to do what you want. That’s what the model says. And (if) you wanna lift up the status of the work, who you gonna pick? You’re gonna pick Peter.

Yet, the tradition is consistent. Mark wrote the Gospel, even though he had an association with Peter. It shows you how careful the tradition is about marking the authorship and where the credit comes from. So, to me, this alternative model that the author is made up is flawed and doesn’t work. In fact, I once asked a Jesus seminar scholar in a professional meeting about this. I said, „How do you explain Mark being the author of Mark’s gospel with the luminary theory? If you pick the luminary you’ve got the option of Peter sitting there because of the tradition. How do you explain the tradition says consistently ‘it’s Mark’? He was honest. His answer was, „That’s a very good question.”

Why were the Gospels written in the first place?

The Gospels were written to pass on the testimony of the apostles about Jesus by those who walked and talked with Him. In fact, it’s interesting that Justin Martyr, in the middle of the second century, calls the Gospels ‘Apostolic Memoirs’. I think that’s a very good title. We’re so used to calling them gospels, we don’t think about what they are. And so, they actually are the memories, the recording of the memories, the impression that the apostles had as a result of their experience with Jesus.

And, it’s an attempt to keep alive that voice of the early generations, to the rest of the church, for posterity. That’s what the Gospels are. And, the reason they’re written 30 years down the road is not because you wanna let time pass so you can let the tradition develop. The reason they’re written 30 years down the road is you’re gonna lose your eye witnesses. And so, now you wanna record the testimony for posterity cause you’re losing the live  voice, which in an oral culture was very, very important. It’s like what historians are doing today with holocaust survivors. They record them. Why do they record them? Because that generation is passing away and they wanna have that record for posterity.

Are these ancient documents and gospels unique in ancient literature?

The roots for the kind of writing that it is has come out of the Roman Greco biography drama, which highlights the thinking of someone and their great actions. And, that’s exactly what you have in the Gospels. A fellow named Richard Burridge has a study called ‘What is the Gospel?’ In the midst of doing that he compared it to the literary biographies in the Greco Roman world layout with the ways the Gospels’ layout saying, „This is a very close genre comparison in terms of what we’re getting.” So, the kind of lietrature that we’re dealing with wouldn’t be a surprise to someone that had a literary background in the Greco Roman world.

What about passages where disciples were not eyewitnesses, like Jesus’s trial?

There are lots of lines of witnesses where the disciples themselves are not present. I like to say, christians don’t struggle with this question, they say, „Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus was there and He knew what was said.” But, for someone who isn’t a christian and for whom resurrection is a question, that answer doesn’t work. So, the question is, „Are there other witnesses?” And the answer is, „Absolutely.”

You’ve got Paul, the chief persecutor of the church as Jesus was dying and as he (Paul) was converted. He certainly knew what the Jewish position on Jesus was. Joseph of Arimathea, who is a member of the counsel, who supplied the burial ground for Jesus’s grave, the tomb, and he certainly knew what was going on there as a member of the council. Even more importantly, someone suggested to me during this trip, while I was in New Zealand, – these luminaries have servants and people around them at events. They might be a source of information. That’s certainly a possibility.

And then, the last option that you find interesting is that there was kind of family feud going on between the 30’s and the 60’s Between the family of Anas, the high priestly family and bishop of Judaism and Jesus’s family because Caiaphas, his son in law was priest when Jesus was crucified and helped to pursue the catching of Jesus and his giving over to Pilate. And then, Anas the second was responsible  for the death of James, Jesus’s brother in ’60. So, these families would have been debating in Jerusalem, who best represented Judaism. Jerusalem had about 25-75,000 people at this time, being a small town. So, in the midst of this public debate, the positions of these two sides would have become very evident and would have become more pronounced. So, there are actually multiple ways to witnesses, particularly for this important event of the jewish examination of Jesus that would have become public.

Darrell Bock – The Unique Jesus Story from CPX on Vimeo.

Related articles

Oral traditions: a reason to trust the Gospels – DTS Prof. Darrell Bock

While some people question the reliability of the bible’s accounts of Jesus’ life, Prof. Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary argues that a proper understanding of oral tradition gives good reason to find them trustworthy.

Bock: People sometime compare story telling to Chinese whispers or the telephone game… that’s not the only model that’s at work in ancient times. There’s another model that Kenneth Bailey, a missionary to the Bedouins, who lived in an oral culture in the last century. He reported how they passed on material and he said that is was in an informal, but in a controlled way. Informal meant that there weren’t official story tellers. Anyone could tell the story. But, the controlling part was that there were elders or senior people, that if the story drifted too much from what the story was, would correct the storyteller and keep an eye on it.

And that’s exactly the kind of model we see in the early church. We have the apostles who knew Jesus and were a part of His ministry very early on overseeing the tradition and so we get stories that have some flexibility in detail. Just like a couple might mention their courtship in detail, but mention different details. But, at the same time there’s the gist of the story that’s the same. That’s what we see in the Gospel variation and that consistent core. And, that’s probably what drives the way orality worked in the first century. So, it’s not as wild and free floating as Chinese whispers.

….I think the gist of the story is the key point. And the key point of the story is, did they get, fundamentally, who Jesus claimed to be right? And the emphasis of the New Testament is that Jesus is unique. The point is they would have been on the mark, basically, knowing who Jesus was and what it was that He was saying about Himself. So, to claim that He was just a prophet, when He was going around saying, „I’m at the center of God’s program. I’m the annointed One and God’s gonna exalt Me.” The gist of the story means they’re gonna get those categories right.

….we have terrific textual evidence of what was written back then. That’s the first thing. The text is solid. And the second thing is that this line of tradition from multiple witnesses is telling us very clearly what christians believed about Jesus. Now, a person could choose to believe that or not believe that. That’s a judgment you make about the contentBut, I don’t think you can challenge that this is what christians believed in the first century. That comes through the materials loud and clear.

Oral Tradition: a reason to trust the gospels from CPX on Vimeo.

Chuck Swindoll – Facing the giants that tear us away from God at Dallas Theological Seminary

Published on Oct 12, 2012 by 

Dr. Charles Swindoll, Chancellor, Dallas Theological Seminary; Senior Pastor, Stonebriar Community Church, Frisco, TX, guides students in how to tackle some of the „giants” that tear us away from God.

Darrell L. Bock & Dr. Richard Taylor – ‘Jesus’ Wife’ papyri fragment at Dallas Theological Seminary

If you are not familiar with this supposed archaeological find (the fragment itself  has not been authenticated as of yet) please read the Tyndale House statement below the video.

Dr Darrell L. Bock (photo on left) – Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies and recently appointed Executive Director for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagements along with Dr. Richard Taylor (photo on right), Professor of Old testament Studies and Director of the PHD Studies Program, discuss the recent  ‘Jesus wife’ fragment at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Richard Taylor is also an expert on the Coptic language used in the fragment in question.

Tyndale House comments on the fragment

Originally posted September 19, 2012. This is starting to snowball in the news, so I thought I would post this email (Tyndale House encourages the forwarding of it) for clarification.


Did Jesus have a wife?

The Web is by now awash with stories of an ancient text in which Jesus says ‘my wife’. The story which broke yesterday in the New York Times and some other sources, is being carried today by outlets too numerous to list. Some of the reporting is responsible, but not all. Consider this extract from The Daily Mail:

“If genuine, the document casts doubt on a centuries old official representation of Magdalene as a repentant whore and overturns the Christian ideal of sexual abstinence.”

We are of course in a context where there is so much ignorance of basic facts about Christianity that even when the media properly relay facts they get completely distorted and misunderstood in popular perception. This can be seen in the way derivative media put spin on the story and in the online comments below the news items.

Here we try to establish a few facts.

The scholarly article upon which almost all knowledge of the fragment is based is here.

What do we know from this?
What’s in a name?

First, let’s start with the name. The scholar involved, Professor Karen King of Harvard, has decided to call this The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife. However, it might more appropriately be named The Fragment about Jesus’s Relations, since there’s no evidence that it was called a gospel and the text mentions at least two family members. Of course, such a name would not generate the same publicity. Despite this unfortunate choice of name, Professor King is to be commended for publishing a good photograph and detailed scholarly analysis of the fragment simultaneously with the press release. Usually in the case of controversial text the media hype comes long before the availability of the text.

Genuine or forgery?

Professor King has provided pictures of the papyrus, but it is not publicly known who owns it, or where it came from. If genuine, it almost certainly came from Egypt because that is where papyri like this are found.

Because it was not found in situ it is obviously possible to doubt its genuineness. Scholars at Tyndale House think that, on the basis of the limited evidence currently available, it is possible it is genuine, though there are good reasons for scepticism – see the comments of Dr Christian Askeland, an expert in Coptic manuscripts here.

It is written in Coptic, the language of Egypt which descended from the even earlier language of the Hieroglyphs. Coptic is Egyptian written in the Greek alphabet with a few extra letters. Because Coptic was only emerging as a written language in the third century and papyrus went out of use in the seventh century the 8 cm x 4 cm fragment has to be dated some time from the third to the seventh century and the scholars involved with this fragment have stated that it is fourth century on the basis of the handwriting.

Since we have virtually no firmly dated Coptic handwriting, this date is just an educated guess.

Then we turn to the date of the contents. Here Professor King puts the text in the late second century, but all that we really know is that the text is at least as old as the manuscript.

What does it say?This is King’s translation of the text, with square brackets used where the text does not survive:FRONT:1 ] “not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe…”
2 ] The disciples said to Jesus, “.[
3 ] deny. Mary is worthy of it[
4 ]……” Jesus said to them, “My wife . .[
5 ]… she will be able to be my disciple . . [
6 ] Let wicked people swell up … [
7] As for me, I dwell with her in order to . [
8] an image [BACK:1 ] my moth[er
2 ] three [
3 ] … [
4 ] forth which … [
5 ] (illegible ink traces)

We believe this to be a largely reliable translation. But is it evidence that Jesus had a wife? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. Not even Karen King is claiming that it is, though it’s inevitable that some of the news outlets will present it otherwise.

What we have here is a typical sort of text which arose after Christianity had become very popular and when derivatives of Christianity began to emerge. The language of the text is very similar to the Gospel of Thomas, sayings 101 and 114, and the Gospel of Thomas saying 101 shows influence of Luke 14:26, as the Gospel of Thomas does elsewhere. This way of speaking belongs to the mid-second century or later, in other words generations later than the books of the New Testament.

We asked Dr Simon Gathercole, an expert on apocryphal gospels and Senior Lecturer in New Testament in the University of Cambridge, for his comments.

He concluded: „Harvard Professor Karen King, who is the person who has been entrusted with the text, has rightly warned us that this does not say anything about the historical Jesus. She is correct that “its possible date of composition in the second half of the second century, argues against its value as evidence for the life of the historical Jesus”. But she is also right that this is a fascinating discovery which offers us a window into debates about sex and marriage in the early church, and the way Jesus could be adapted to play a part in a particular debate. If it is genuine.

You can read his fuller analysis here

Please feel free to forward this email.

Best wishes,

Peter Williams,
Warden, Tyndale House, Cambridge.

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Matt Chandler – Gravity The Weight of Pastoring to the Knowledge of Christ

April 7,2006

photo form

More Matt Chandler Sermon messages here

At Dallas Theological Seminary from April 7,2006 att Chandler is the Pastor of The Village Church in Highland, Texas.

I want you to just take a walk with me through the life of Jesus and see some things, because I think if you see them as we walk through this, then maybe some of your broken places could get restored.

In Hebrews 2:16-17 it says  For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the[o]descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, tomake propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Abraham here means you and I. In ‘He had to be made like His brethren in all things’ we find out that Jesus was the firstborn of many brothers (you and me being the brethren) that He had to be made like his brethren in all things.

For me there was a disjoint in studying the life of Jesus. The cross of Christ, the purchasing, the propitiation for our sins and the difficulty of life in which He lived didn’t always seem to add up for me. It seems that Jesus could have been born into that manger, could have lived a normal life, a life that we’re reading here (in the Bible) not so normal. It is a life filled with betrayal, and pain, and death, and hardship, and longing, and aching. I mean, you name it, it’s an extremely difficult life and I find myself saying, „Why? Why so necessary for Him to suffer so much? Why so necessary for Him to hurt so much? Why so necessary for such darkness to be around the walkings of Jesus on earth? Could He not just be slaughtered on the cross and let us have our propitiation?

The text says that Jesus knew the gravity of hate, of loss, of betrayal, of being overwhelmed, of being exhausted and being taunted as you seek God…so when I get that phone call (of someone who died, etc) He sits there with me and says, „I know, I know”.  And that in that moment when betrayal happens, and I promise you (that) church folk are like piranha. If you look strong they’ll leave you alone, but if you have a limp they will eat you alive. At that moment when betrayal occurs and you feel so angry and frustrated He’s not in the heavens saying, „Yeah, we need to figure out that I’ve got this thing”. Instead He goes, „… I know… I know”. So I know that you and I have choices on the kind of people that we are and the kind of people that we’re becoming and I know that when gravity strikes the soul there’s the chance that bitterness and anger and hurt begin to reign in the soul and I know that because it happens all over in the Scriptures .

In Ruth you find Naomi saying, „Quit calling me Naomi, you call me Mara”, after the death of her husband and her sons, Mara (being) the Hebrew word for bitter. She began to be owned by her own sorrow. And then job’s wife, who in the middle of her husband’s great despair would say, „Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die, you fool”. I know there is this idea, there can become this pretense that happens- the gravity of the fallen world weighs heavily on our soul and there has to be this pretense that we’re ok. There has to be the gravity that the world has fallen upon us and so we bury it and the root of bitterness begins to take root. And my hope is that maybe the simple knowledge that He knows, maybe the simple knowledge that Jesus endured  difficulty and pain and hardship ‘for such a moment as this’, when you have loss, or anger, or maybe in your journey you’re frustrated because it seems in the dissecting of theology and theology becoming systematic for you, you somehow have lost your heart… that maybe in the gravity of these things we may not find ourselves running from Him, pretending, but to Him in honesty. As the Scriptures say, „He knows and is able to be faithful and merciful to His brothers”.

Have the prophecies in Revelation 17–18 about Babylon been fulfilled? Part 1 Andrew M. Woods

Dallas Theological Seminary

Dallas Theological Seminary offers the PDF download for this article from Bibliotheca Sacra, here.  BIBLIOTHECA SACRA 169 (January–March 2012): 79–100

Andrew Woods writes on the Preterists contention that-

„the events in Revelation 4-22 were mostly fulfilled in the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. They believe that the book of Revela- tion was penned in the mid 60s and predicts God’s judgment in AD 70 on national Israel because of her rejection of Christ”. 

Preterists believe that the harlot in Revelation 17–18 represents first-century Jerusalem and that the beast represents first- century Rome. Thus the beast’s destruction of the harlot (17:16–17) represents Rome’s sacking of Jerusalem in the events surrounding AD 70. Gentry states, “I am convinced beyond any doubt that this Harlot is first-century Jerusalem.”2 Hanegraaff similarly explains, “What has puzzled me over the years is not the identity of ‘the great prostitute,’ but how so many could mistake her historical identity. . . . In biblical history only one nation is inextricably linked to the moniker ‘harlot.’ And that nation is Israel!” (Kenneth L. Gentry, “A Preterist View of Revelation,” in Four Views on the Book of Revelation) 

He concludes that – neither Rome’s alliance with Israel, Rome’s revival, or Rome’s seven hills argue convincingly that a relationship between Jerusalem and Rome in AD 66–70 is portrayed in Revela- tion 17:3b, 8–9, 11. Thus neither the prophetic information regard- ing Babylon’s harlotry nor her alliance with the beast is sufficient to equate the Babylonian harlot with first-century Jerusalem. 

Click here to read the entire article.

Dan Wallace – discovery of a Markan papyri fragment dating back to the first century and dialogue with Bart Ehrman

Dan Wallace writes that on 1 February 2012, as he debated Bart Ehrman at UNC Chapel Hill on whether we have the wording of the original New Testament today, mentioned that seven New Testament papyri had recently been discovered—six of them probably from the second century and one of them probably from the first. These fragments will be published in about a year. (source Dallas Theological Seminary) The article continues:

These fragments now increase our holdings as follows: we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 43% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts. But the most interesting thing is the first-century fragment.

It was dated by one of the world’s leading paleographers. He said he was ‘certain’ that it was from the first century. If this is true, it would be the oldest fragment of the New Testament known to exist. Up until now, no one has discovered any first-century manuscripts of the New Testament. The oldest manuscript of the New Testament has been P52, a small fragment from John’s Gospel, dated to the first half of the second century. It was discovered in 1934.

Not only this, but the first-century fragment is from Mark’s Gospel. Before the discovery of this fragment, the oldest manuscript that had Mark in it was P45, from the early third century (c. AD 200–250). This new fragment would predate that by 100 to 150 years.


How do these manuscripts change what we believe the original New Testament to say? We will have to wait until they are published next year, but for now we can most likely say this: As with all the previously published New Testament papyri (127 of them, published in the last 116 years), not a single new reading has commended itself as authentic. Instead, the papyri function to confirm what New Testament scholars have already thought was the original wording or, in some cases, to confirm an alternate reading—but one that is already found in the manuscripts. As an illustration: Suppose a papyrus had the word “the Lord” in one verse while all other manuscripts had the word “Jesus.” New Testament scholars would not adopt, and have not adopted, such a reading as authentic, precisely because we have such abundant evidence for the original wording in other manuscripts. But if an early papyrus had in another place “Simon” instead of “Peter,” and “Simon” was also found in other early and reliable manuscripts, it might persuade scholars that “Simon” is the authentic reading. In other words, the papyri have confirmedvarious readings as authentic in the past 116 years, but have not introducednew authentic readings. The original New Testament text is found somewhere in the manuscripts that have been known for quite some time.

These new papyri will no doubt continue that trend. But, if this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century, what a thrill it will be to have a manuscript that is dated within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection!

You can watch the Ehrman – Wallace debate in the video below:

Is The Original New Testament Lost?

:: A Dialogue with Dr. Bart Ehrman & Dr. Daniel Wallace

Uploaded by 

An evening of scholarly dialogue on the origins, the transmission, and the reliability of the New Testament. Do we have the original manuscripts? Can we trust the copies passed down to us? How accurate is our New Testament today? These questions and more were discussed by two top-tier NT scholars. Both Dr. Ehrman and Dr. Wallace presented their respective positions before opening the floor for a time of Q&A.

What is the Gospel? Darrell Bock moderates

This is a panel moderated by Dallas Theological Seminary’s Dr. Darrell Bock.

Participants –

Length 73 minutes. Subjects discussed – gospel, word vs. works, what are we saved from and what are we saved for and how to present the Gospel.

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What is the Gospel? – Panel with Darrel Bock, posted with vodpod

Mesaj prof.dr.Darrell Bock (Dallas USA) cu Cristian Barbosu despre cele 36 de evanghelii ‘pierdute’ la Bis. Penticostala Betel Crangasi

Profesorul Darrell Bock care a predat cursuri la Facultatea Baptista din Romania, a vizitat si Biserica Penticostala Crangasi din Bucurest impreuna cu Cristian Barbosu, unde a avut un mesaj despre evangheliile false si numite ‘pierdute’ in data de  Ianuarie 28,2011:
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1st collector for Mesaj deschidere Cristian Barbosu / Mesaj prof….
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