Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

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.”

Full article from Tony Burke, ‘Heresy Hunting in the New Millennium’, here.

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.

See now: Tony Burke’s Secret Scriptures Revealed

8 Responses to “Heresy Hunting in the New Millennium”

  1. watercat said

    The whole time I was reading the article, I kept hearing ‘McCain!’ ‘Obama!’ ‘Palin!’……

    (I’d just come from reading about the secret muslim fake Kenyan birth certificate of doom)

  2. steph said

    He’s right, but you’re right. It’s riddled with them and they’re an embarrassment and often I wish I’d enrolled in history.

  3. ntwrong said

    Together we shall overcome, Steph.

  4. Antonio Jerez said

    I think the good bishop is too optimistic. There is no chance in the world that we will be able to smoke out all those pseudohistorians that makes much of exegetics a laughingstock. I am glad I only stayed one year at the religion department here in Goteborg. And if Steph is still stuck in one of those places it is never to late to turn to a real history department.

  5. ntwrong said

    … well, yeah. But, that’s all the more reason to reform the field.

  6. steph said

    I’m not “stuck in one of those places” Antonio, I’m talking about the whole discipline.

  7. Rob Bowman said

    For an alternative point of view, please check out my blog on this subject:


    Rob Bowman

  8. steph said

    Alternative? I rest my case. We need a revolution.

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