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Publication Date: 2012
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Serious Bible readers all recognize that there are differences between accounts of the same events in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and no responsible reader can simply sweep these differences under the rug. But can all of the accounts still be reconciled with a belief in biblical inerrancy?
Responding to the questions surrounding the gospel narratives, New Testament scholar Vern Poythress contributes a worthy case for inerrancy in the gospels and helps readers understand basic principles for harmonization. He also tackles some of the most complicated exegetical problems, showing the way forward on passages that have perplexed many, such as the centurion's servant, the cursing of the fig tree, and more.
All those interested in the authority of Scripture will find in this volume great encouragement and insight as Poythress has provided an arresting case to stem the tide of skepticism.
Research Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary
Vern Poythress has written what I consider to be definitive books on many subjects, including biblical interpretation, language, science, and sociology. In Inerrancy and Worldview, he brings his insights from these disciplines and more together to address the relation of biblical inerrancy to worldview. He shows quite convincingly that the issue of inerrancy is not just a matter of asking whether this or that biblical passage is factual. Rather, our attitude toward the claim of biblical inerrancy depends on our general view of how God is related to the cosmos and to us as individuals and societies. And that general view, in turn, depends on our relationship to Jesus Christ. The book gets deeper into the question of inerrancy than any other book I know.
-John M. Frame,
J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida
Every new item that Vern Poythress writes is thoughtful, creative, and worth reading. This book is no exception. Among the many things I like about it is his emphasis on the personalist worldview of the Bible, as over against the impersonalism that dominates modern Western culture. Besides its crucial contribution to his own subject in clarifying how it is that God communicates to us through the Bible, I think this basic idea will be fruitful for a good number of other topics as well. Thanks, Dr. Poythress, and thanks, God, for giving him to the Church.
-C. John Collins,
Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary; author, The God of Miracles
Vern Poythress has provided both the church and the academy a remarkable service with Inerrancy and Worldview. Recognizing that the modern objection to Scripture is neither univocal nor objective, but rather varied and religious, he helpfully reframes the discussion in terms of competing worldviews. By surveying the various options for the allegiance of the modern mind, Poythress shows that not only is an inerrant Bible a reasonable expectation of a personal God, but our rejection of it is rooted not in evidence, but in our sinful rebellion against that God. With clear logic and pastoral care, Poythress leads us through an amazing tour of both the wisdom of our age and the follies of our hearts, bringing us at last to the God who speakshumbling our pride and setting our hearts free.
Senior Pastor, Hinson Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon; author, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church
To our shame, the response of Christians to challenges to our faith can often be dismissive, shallow, defensive, or disrespectful. On the other hand, we can err too much on the side of tolerance for error when truth is under siege. In Inerrancy and Worldview, Vern Poythress shows us how to be neither fools nor cowards. Through intelligent, informed, insightful, and respectful engagement, key foundational faith defeaters taught in many disciplines at every secular university are explained and critiqued from a biblical perspective. Poythress challenges the challenges to biblical belief at the root of their assumptions. We are left with a solid basis and defense of the Christian way of thinking. Inerrancy and Worldview should be required reading for all who want to think more deeply about their faith and defend it within a skeptical culture.
Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada, California
Chris LandWichita Falls, TxAge: 25-34Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Great Reference for the inerrancy of the GospelsDecember 5, 2012Chris LandWichita Falls, TxAge: 25-34Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 4Meets Expectations: 5Back in July, I reviewed Vern Sherdian Poythress' Inerrancy and Worldview, which looked at the challenges of the issue of inerrancy on how it is looked upon from different points of view. Poythress has written a follow-up to Inerrancy and Worldview called Inerrancy and the Gospel. This book deals with the issue of the Gospels as part of the inerrant word of God.
Poythress addresses the issues regarding the harmonization of the Gospels, which can be a difficult task to do because three of the four are about the same (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and the fourth gospel (John) is clearly different. Poythress uses examples of similar events in the gospels that are told not in the same way, such as Jesus healing the centurion's servant in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. Poythress address the principles of harmonizing along with dealing the order of events in the Gospels especially in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In one chapter dealing with the synoptic gospels, Poythess talks about the sources that each synoptic gospel comes from. How the sources are used and also weighing the options on how each source is used.
There is a section of the book where Poythress looks at more cases of the differences of explaining events in the four gospels. For example, Jesus being rejected at Nazareth is addressed differently in the synoptic gospels. Another example is Matthew records Jesus cursing the fig tree almost as similar as the gospel of Mark.
This book is great tool to have for pastors, lay people, and seminary professors who defend the Bible need to have in their library. Poythress once again has chapters that are short, sweet, and to the point, which makes it an easy read and easy to look up references.
JudeLondon, ONAge: 35-44Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5A helpful intro to Gospel harmonizationNovember 21, 2012JudeLondon, ONAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Book Review - Inerrancy and the Gospels
I am not overly interested in biblical inerrancy though I certainly hold to it and have read several books, as well as essays and articles, discussing it; that is not why I requested to review this book. Neither did I request a copy of Inerrancy and the Gospels: A God-Centered Approach to the Challenges of Harmonization from Crossway because I needed convincing of the legitimacy of the Gospel accounts. My main interest in this book had to do with its author. Vern Sheridan Poythress, professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philidelphia, has impressed me with his brilliant mind, his precise teaching, and most of all his love for God's Word. I wanted to hear what he had to say about reconciling the differences in the Gospel narratives. His work on this topic as expressed in this book is notable, in my opinion, for three reasons: its presentation of principles for harmonization, its practically helpful examples, and its clear respect and reverence for God and his Word.
Obviously, a book discussing the harmonization of the Gospels should introduce and explain some of the various principles that theologians and apologists use to reconcile difficult passages in these canonical narratives. Poythress elucidates many of these principles in a manner that is interesting and easily understandable, even for a layman such as I. Most of these principles are covered in Part Two of the book which is simply Principles for Harmonization. Poythress introduces initial principles that discuss the trustworthiness of the Bible, the use of help from past scholars, differing incidents confused as the same event, omission of details, and the theological emphasis of the writers. He moves from these to consideration of history, theology, artistry, and the genre's effects on harmonization. His chapter on mental-pictures and how we use and misuse them in regards to interpretation was very enlightening for me and it alone made reading the book worthwhile. Explanations of the principles of contrast, variation, and distribution are elaborated as are ideas of compression and precision. Principles are adeptly explained by the author and examples from Scripture anchor these concepts for the reader. This material will provide solid reference fodder for future study.
Inerrancy and the Gospels delivers what many readers will be looking for; examples. Throughout the book, Poythress demonstrates harmonization and addresses many of the seemingly erroneous or contradictory passages in the Gospels that those familiar with their Bibles will recognize. These are tackled with intelligence and an approach that endeavours to be realistic in terms of the difficulties that really exist. Some of the parallel passages that Poythress engages with are: the healing of the Centurion's servant, the cleansing of the Temple, the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth, the cursing of the fig tree, the commissioning of the twelve, the stilling of the storm, the rich young ruler, Jarius' daughter, blind Bartimaeus, and several others. These examples are necessary when you consider the topic at hand, but they are also successful in demonstrating how the principles brought forth work in the harmonizing of the passages.
The most enamouring aspect of this book is the attitude that Poythress takes in regards to Scripture. The professor's stance goes beyond a high view of Scripture; it is clear the author admires and adores God's Word as he admonishes and advocates for the reader to do the same. This is evident throughout the book, but is most poignant in the third section entitled Attitudes in Harmonization. The author reminds readers that though we wrestle with doubt, neutrality is not an option. One should read the Bible with submission and receptivity while rejecting the current trend to try and be autonomous in our approach to Holy Writ. We should accept the limits of our sin-stained and derivative knowledge while anticipating difficulties and suffering in our intellectual pursuits. These are not just any books, the author regularly reminds us, but they are the very words of God written to us. Poythress' posture when it comes to Scripture is an edifying glimpse into the heart of a professional interpreter who clearly recognizes God's sovereignty and grace directed towards us. I will not soon forget this.
Inerrancy and the Gospels is a formative work that succeeds due to, among other things, lucid teaching of harmonization principles, practical demonstration of those principles at work, and a refreshingly uplifting attitude toward the Bible. I recommend this book.