On the Reliability of the Old Testament

On the Reliability of the Old Testament

On the Reliability of the Old Testament

On the Reliability of the Old Testament

Excerpt

The genesis of this little book goes back many years to a pleasant and wideranging conversation with a fellow Aberdonian (he, by academic post; I, by birth), namely, my long-standing friend, Professor I. Howard Marshall. And this was long before the present-day, rather frenetic conflict over the biblical writings and their authenticity (or otherwise) by so-called minimalists and maximalists, often high on rhetoric and counterclaims, if too often on precious little else.

During that conversation long ago, we had mused on the valuable role played by the late Prof. F. F. Bruce's redoubtable but graciously written little volume entitled Are the New Testament Documents Reliable? which gave an eminently judicious assessment of its theme and has deservedly passed through many editions and reprintings. Out of which musings, Howard asked me, why doesn't someone do a like service in assessing the Old Testament, and in particular why not the undersigned? Ah, I protested, but the task in each case is massively different. New Testament scholars need stray little beyond a single century (the first century A.D.), had only four main languages to deal with (Greek and Latin from Europe; Hebrew and Aramaic in Palestine), and but two basic cultures: Greco-Roman and Jewish. Doing equal justice to the Old Testament meant a minimum span of two thousand years overall (three thousand for full background), ability to draw upon documents in vast quantity and variety in some ten ancient Near Eastern languages, and a whole patchwork quilt of cultures. Be reasonable! But, I murmured, let's see what might be done eventually, if it seems at all possible. With which equivocation on my part, we parted; but still as good friends!

Thereafter I opened a file in which to put notes toward any such project, and a few dusty sheets found their way into it. But after that the sheer pressure . . .

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