Heresy Hunting in the New Millennium
Posted by NT Wrong on October 13, 2008
In a new article on the SBL Forum, Tony Burke looks at modern conservative Christian writers who attempt to ‘refute’ ‘enemies’ such as liberal scholars, the Jesus Seminar, Bart Ehrman, and non-canonical Christian Apocrypha. He compares them to the heresy hunters of old, such as Irenaeus and Hippolytus.
As Tony Burke shows, there seem to be a number of specious and misleading techniques which are shared not only by ancient heresiologists, but also by apologists such as Ben Witherington III, Darrell Bock, Timothy Paul Jones, J. Ed Komoszewski, Philip Jenkins, Stanley Porter, Gordon L. Heath, Craig Evans, and N.T. Wright.
“A cottage industry of books has emerged in the past few years responding to apparent “attacks” on the Christian faith by such perceived enemies as the Jesus Seminar, Bart Ehrman, Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, and the discoverers of the so-called Jesus Tomb. Targeted also in these books are the texts of the Christian Apocrypha (CA). The books are transparently apologetic with the aim of disparaging the CA and the Gnostics who (they say) wrote them so that their readers will cease being troubled by thei[r] texts’ claims. The problem with such books, at least from the perspective of those who value the CA, is that they often misrepresent the texts, their authors, and the scholars who study them. Proper research and sober argument take a back seat to the apologists’ goal of buttressing the faith.”
Mind you, the folk that Tony Burke exposes are perhaps just the most blatant offenders in a ‘discipline’ which is riddled with the type of apologetic reasoning which would just be laughed at in other branches of the Humanities.
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