“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapters 19, 20 & 21 (the Ethiopian eunuch; abusing Mark 16; picking a church)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

Chapter 19

The Ethiopian eunuch

We next find Shank studying the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch together. Randall had introduced them to the story, saying it’s important to know that Philip preached Jesus.

“Preached Jesus!” I thought — at last Randall and Shank get to the heart of our salvation and the gospel, he who died for us — but no such luck.

Now, why is it important to point out that Philip preached Jesus to the Eunuch? It’s important because the Eunuch said to Philip in verse 36, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”

(Kindle Locations 3493-3494). Preaching Jesus is important solely because it’s a launching pad for yet another argument in favor of baptism by immersion. Sigh. I mean, do we worship baptism or Jesus? Are we saved by baptism or Jesus? Do we have faith in baptism or Jesus? How can we have gone now halfway into the book and have yet to have a serious conversation about submission to Jesus — except in the form of baptism?

And yet I agree with Shank and Randall that the eunuch was immersed by Philip. From this observation Shank concludes,

Here’s the hard-core, undeniable, incontrovertible Bible fact that the Baptists, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Pentecostals, the Holiness Movement, the charismatic Church of God, the Community Churches, the “faith only” crowd and the Televangelists either don’t understand or refuse to accept – the doctrine of faith only, the Sinner’s Prayer and asking Jesus into your heart to be saved are utterly and thoroughly false to their very core and these teachings are leading people to eternal destruction en masse!

(Kindle Locations 3582-3591).

Notice that Shank’s logic assumes that any error in baptismal theology damns — which is nothing but an assumption. After all, the Baptists also baptize believers by immersion. They just don’t agree that baptism results in remission of sins, believing that to have already occurred. And so getting the timing of salvation wrong but the ritual right is not good enough — you must have both the right practice and the right understanding of when salvation occurs.

But countless thousands of Church of Christ members went into the baptismal waters confident they would receive no personal indwelling of the Spirit — in error as to an effect of baptism — and we still treat them as saved, even if we are in the personal indwelling camp. I guess it’s more about denomination than logic. Sad.

Mark 16:16

Shank relies heavily on Mark 16:16, which is in the King James Version but omitted from nearly all later translations. So far he’s not mentioned that the inspiration of this verse is in serious doubt, even by very conservative scholars.

This is from the translation notes for the NET Bible —

The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (‌א‎‏‎ B 304 sys sams armmss Eus Eusmss Hiermss), including two of the most respected MSS (‌א‎‏‎ B). The following shorter ending is found in some MSS: “They reported briefly to those around Peter all that they had been commanded. After these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from the east to the west, the holy and imperishable preaching of eternal salvation. Amen.” This shorter ending is usually included with the longer ending (L Ψ 083 099 0112 579 al); k, however, ends at this point. Most MSS include the longer ending (vv. Mar 16:9-20) immediately after v. Mar 16:8 (A C D W [which has a different shorter ending between vv. Mar 16:14 and Mar 16:15] Θ ƒ13 33 2427 Û lat syc,p,h bo); however, Jerome and Eusebius knew of almost no Greek MSS that had this ending. Several MSS have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek MSS lacked the verses, while others mark the text with asterisks or obeli (symbols that scribes used to indicate that the portion of text being copied was spurious). Internal evidence strongly suggests the secondary nature of both the short and the long endings. Their vocabulary and style are decidedly non-Markan (for further details, see TCGNT 102–6). All of this evidence strongly suggests that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material or because of the abruptness of the ending at v. Mar 16:8. (Indeed, the strange variety of dissimilar endings attests to the probability that early copyists had a copy of Mark that ended at v. Mar 16:8, and they filled out the text with what seemed to be an appropriate conclusion. All of the witnesses for alternative endings to vv. Mar 16:9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at v. Mar 16:8.) Because of such problems regarding the authenticity of these alternative endings, Mar 16:8 is usually regarded as the last verse of the Gospel of Mark. There are three possible explanations for Mark ending at Mar 16:8: (1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended fashion; (2) the Gospel was never finished; or (3) the last leaf of the ms was lost prior to copying. This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors, including (a) the probability that the Gospel was originally written on a scroll rather than a codex (only on a codex would the last leaf get lost prior to copying); (b) the unlikelihood of the ms not being completed; and (c) the literary power of ending the Gospel so abruptly that the readers are now drawn into the story itself. E. Best aptly states, “It is in keeping with other parts of his Gospel that Mark should not give an explicit account of a conclusion where this is already well known to his readers” (Mark, 73; note also his discussion of the ending of this Gospel on 132 and elsewhere). The readers must now ask themselves, “What will I do with Jesus? If I do not accept him in his suffering, I will not see him in his glory.”

Obviously, there is room to disagree over whether these verses are original, but the weight of conservative Christian scholarship is against them, which is why most translations omit them or bracket them with an explanation.

My complaint with Shank is that he doesn’t even mention this problem, treating as a key proof text a verse that likely isn’t even inspired. He should at least caution the readers regarding the serious doubts about the verse before asking his readers to make life-changing decisions based on it. (And perhaps this is due to relying on the 1611 King James Version rather than one of the many more recent, superior translations. But if he’d read just one commentary or one modern-language translation …  Such is the price of tract rack scholarship.)

Chapter 20

Shank and his wife wake up on a Sunday morning and realize they need to decide where to go to church. They’d lost interest in their usual Baptist Church — over the John the Baptist claim and the Sinner’s Prayer. Shank then undertakes a discussion of Calvinism, rejecting each point of TULIP.

He next considers the Charismatics. He builds an argument on Mark 16:17-20, again unaware that these verses are likely not inspired.

Shank then argues from 1 Corinthians 13 that the age of miracles has ended.

He then rejects the Church of England because it’s influenced by Catholicism.

And he quickly dismisses the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

He then began to visit the local community churches.

Over those weeks that we visited the community churches, we found that they were essentially religious smorgasbords designed to please everyone and offend no one . They stood for almost nothing. They worked so hard at embracing everyone that they couldn’t stand for the most elementary Bible principles. No brain, no backbone, all fluff.

(Kindle Locations 4091-4095).

Chapter 21

Shank goes to Lipscomb University and a professor helps him out with the Greek in Acts 2:38. He winds up defining “for” with the definition I mentioned earlier: “into.” This is, I think, right. And so the Baptist translation of “because of” is indeed wrong. And everyone who is wrong about something is damned — right?

Again, Shank just blithely leaps from “mistaken” to “damned.” In leaving his Baptist denomination, he really doesn’t have to declare them damned for mistranslating the Greek word eis. After all, it’s not as though the Churches of Christ — and Shank himself — are free from error.

(Mat 7:1-2 ESV) “Judge not, that you be not judged.  2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

(Rom 2:1 ESV)  Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

If I’m going to be judged by the standards I impose on others, I’m going to preach grace.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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59 Responses to “Muscle & Shovel”: Chapters 19, 20 & 21 (the Ethiopian eunuch; abusing Mark 16; picking a church)

  1. Gary says:

    Eis can in certain contexts point backwards instead of forward and so effectively mean because of. Take Matthew 3:11 for example where John the Baptist says “I baptize you with water for repentance. …” It’s hard to construe John as saying that his baptism was into or looking forward to a repentance that had not yet begun. It seems more likely that John’s baptism for repentance pointed back to the already existing repentance of those coming to him for baptism. So John’s baptism was in part because of the repentance of those he baptized. It was a public declaration of repentance.

  2. Price says:

    Well, this post seems to reflect the fairly common CoC heritage of bashing everybody else in order to prove one’s point.. Sad. i find it interesting that when Jesus says that He came to save us from our sin, what He meant was all things other than doctrinal interpretation… It seems if we don’t get it right in our understanding of every instruction, then we are damned to hell… odd, don’t you think ? Also, I think it’s interesting that Peter forgets his notes for his second sermon in Acts 3:11-26…John, didn’t even bother to correct him … He got the Faith part covered, then Repentance then forgets all about water immersion… Perhaps the “time of refreshing from the Lord” was a symbolic mention of the HS… but whatever… Note to preachers.. Don’t forget your notes when writing instructions for all men for all time…

  3. Jay used the term “Shank’s logic” which I can only assume is tongue-in-cheek. The particular fallacy observed here is the non sequitur. Non sequitur (“it does not follow”) is a logical fallacy, which if scrubbed from Shank’s book, would reduce that volume to the size of the recipe for boiled eggs.

    Here we are: Pulled over on the roadside, Philip says he is willing to baptize the Ethiopian if he believes, and the Ethiopian articulates a specific belief– that Jesus is the Son of God. Philip baptizes him. So, according to Shank, this proves the “hard-core, undeniable, incontrovertible Bible fact that the Baptists, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Pentecostals, the Holiness Movement, the charismatic Church of God, the Community Churches, the “faith only” crowd and the Televangelists” are leading people to hell by teaching “faith only” and using “the sinner’s prayer”.

    Only it doesn’t demonstrate anything of the sort. In fact, the scripture here does not reveal why the Ethiopian wanted to be baptized or what his perception of the meaning of that baptism was. All it says is that he wanted baptism and believed that Jesus was the Son of God. Apparently, this statement satisfied Philip that the man was a believer, so the baptism took place. Shank takes a giant Knievel-esque leap over the canyon of reason to get from what the Ethiopian did to what Shank thinks it proves.

    I have to give credit to Shank for the creative use of the logical fallacy known as “appeal to emotion”. In the paragraph Jay provides us, Shank uses in print a variant of this fallacy ordinarily reserved for verbal use– something we call “emphatic breathlessness”. In this, the speaker roars a string of powerful absolute words, loaded terms, and an appeal to fear, all in a long, dense, uninterrupted verbal barrage which is long enough to leave both speaker and listener breathless at its end. This leads the listener to believe that the sheer verbal force being applied lends credence to the argument. Sometimes this works verbally, but it really loses all its steam in print.

    But this paragraph probably gets roaring applause while Shank is preaching to the choir at church– or it would If he was allowed to have a choir. And if they were allowed to applaud.

  4. Alabama John says:

    Thank you Jay, and in my experiences, the older you get and the closer you get to dying the more we believe in as you said, grace.

  5. Amen to what AJ just said!

  6. Ray Downen says:

    Jay assumes,

    “Countless thousands of Church of Christ members went into the baptismal waters confident they would receive no personal indwelling of the Spirit — in error as to an effect of baptism — and we still treat them as saved, even if we are in the personal indwelling camp. I guess it’s more about denomination than logic. Sad.”

    Why do some feel it necessary to make fun of people who state truth as Shank does about Baptist baptism. It’s NOT baptism into Christ. It’s baptism into the Baptist congregation doing the baptizing. Jesus commands baptism for every new believer. Baptists vote on whether or not particular persons are welcome to join “their” church, and if they are in favor then the person can be baptized in order to join their church. Not to be saved by Jesus. To be accepted as a believer in Baptist doctrines. Baptist churches cannot save. Only JESUS can save from sin. Do some ignore Galatians 3:26,27? Do some think Peter was mistaken in his promise stated in Acts 2:38? Obviously so. Some are mistaken and teaching falsely.

    And is not it being assumed that people must agree and understand that they will receive the Spirit in order for baptism to result in remission of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit? This would be true only if the gospel included teaching about the Spirit. But the gospel is about JESUS and what He did and what HE offers. It’s nowhere stated that the convert must believe in the Spirit in order for baptism into JESUS to be valid. The gift is given regardless of the thinking or knowledge about the Spirit of the person being baptized. It’s what the person believes about JESUS that matters! Why do some suppose we are saved by the Holy Spirit? Why do such teachers claim to be Christian?

  7. Alan says:

    The long ending of Mark 16 was considered to be inspired scripture by Irenaeus (circa 175 AD). All the evidence to the contrary is much later than that – suggesting that it went missing later rather than earlier. It appears that the modern trend to omit that passage is driven more by doctrinal preferences (even among conservatives) than by evidence.

  8. Grace says:

    “Baptists vote on whether or not particular persons are welcome to join “their” church, and if they are in favor then the person can be baptized in order to join their church.”

    That is not so, I have many Baptist friends and have been to several Baptist churches, that statement is really not true among many Baptist. They baptize as we do, we accept believers as God accepts them and we follow the Great Commission and baptize them.

  9. It appears that Ray is dipping his bucket in the non sequitur well alongside Shank this morning. He pole-vaults from Jay acknowledging the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to asking, “Why do some suppose we are saved by the Holy Spirit?” This is a position, if I am not mistaken, which has been articulated by NO ONE on this board. Not that such facts matter when accusing others of holding to a particular errant doctrine. After all, if they don’t admit to it, they’re just lying. That’s why we don’t really listen to them. There is no need…WE know what they think.

  10. Monty says:

    “He got the Faith part covered, then Repentance then forgets all about water immersion…”

    We can laugh and roll our eyes at many of Shanks erroneous conclusions. However, we must be careful in doing so we don’t arrive at our own. Peter’s sermon was cut short as they were apprehended while he was speaking(Acts 4:1) We can only surmise at what Peter might have said to those that believed had he not been interrupted. I’m sticking with what he said on Pentecost in Acts 2:38. Would anyone seriously believe he wouldn’t command any believers to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, as he had previously done on Pentecost? Or, is Peter just giving a new way of conversion? I hardly see that to be the case.

    It would be foolish of us to look for one instance, or perhaps more, where baptism isn’t mentioned and declare it wasn’t commanded and performed. By the same token, if we could find even one conversion in Acts where belief or repentance isn’t mentioned, but baptism is, that of course doesn’t negate belief or repentance as having taken place. Most of the conversions in Acts don’t even mention repentance or confession. But I don’t think any of us have a problem with those. Sometimes we become guilty of the same thing we criticize others for.

  11. Price says:

    Monty, I think you are correct in that we shouldn’t take just one passage of scripture and make it into a complete theology… However, it does appear that Peter said what he wanted to say about having one’s sin blotted out before he was apprehended.. [Act 3:19 ESV] 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” He then proceeds to change the subject to address another issue entirely… If you were the one listening to him, and had not heard the first sermon at Pentecost, what would you believe you needed to do in order to have your sins blotted out ? I’m certain that Peter would have taught them about the need to be baptized as he did with Cornelius and his household… but, for whatever reason, Peter’s description of what one must do to have their sins removed in this message omitted, intentionally or by accident, the need for water immersion to accomplish it… He didn’t fail to mention Faith or Repentance.. What one draws from that I guess is speculation, but it does seem to be quite the omission…

  12. Royce says:

    In a way it’s comical that this much bandwidth is being used to discuss a book by Mr. Shank that could be summed up by Ray’s last comment. If an honest person were to give an oral book report on Shank’s book it could easily and accurately be as follows.

    “Muscle and Shovel is the story or one man’s journey into rigid sectarianism rooted in Church of Christ tradition. His winding journey led him to believe everyone who professes Christ as Lord is lost if they are not exactly like him in doctrine and practice.”

    What does it say about a person who mentions water baptism far more than Jesus Christ?

    The biggest problem in our fellowship of believers is the lack of “gospel” preaching and teaching. Unless preachers and teachers themselves know what Jesus accomplished by his perfect living, sacrificial dying, and being raised from the dead they have not taught the gospel of Christ. The good news about Jesus’ work for the ungodly is not about our “doing” but His “done”. God was in Christ reconciling the cosmos to himself. We have been (past tense) reconciled to God by the death of His son. In Adam the law of sin and death reigns. Even those who had no law sinned and died. Just as Adam represented us in sin and death, the second Adam (Jesus) represented us in defeating death, hell, and the grave. When he died we died with him and just as a widow is freed from her marriage by death, so we are freed from the penalty of the law by the representative death of Jesus for us. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made righteous.

    The gracious offer of the gospel is the free gift of being set free from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and finally the very presence of sin. Sinners hear the good news, they repent of their unbelief, and beginning with confession and baptism, try the best they can to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Jesus said he came to seek and to save (only he saves…) that which was lost. He also said he did not come to condemn and he didn’t appoint anyone else to condemn either.

  13. Alan, I have never heard about Irenaeus considering the long ending of Mark inspired. Do you know where I can locate his quote on this subject?

  14. Alan says:

    It’s in Against Heresies, book 3. here’s the quote (translated, obviously):

    “Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: “So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God;” (Mar_16:19) confirming what had been spoken by the prophet: “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.”

    It’s near the bottom of this page:
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.xi.html

  15. Price says:

    Jay, have you opined concerning the ending of Mark ?

  16. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,
    My opinion is that its origin is very doubtful. I can only speak in terms of likelihood.
    Even if I announced a firm conclusion, the evidence would still be very mixed and, on the whole, against its inspiration.
    But those are odds not conclusions.
    Therefore I always warn readers of the uncertainty.

    Besides I really hate snakes 😉

  17. Alan says:

    It comes down to how you weigh the evidence. In my view, the Irenaeus quote renders the so-called early manuscripts (from the 300’s AD) irrelevant. The earliest evidence we have supports the passage.

    The 1984 edition of the NIV says:
    “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.”

    But they backed off that claim in the TNIV rewrite:
    “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.”

    The 2011 update to the NIV keeps the weaker language. It’s simply not true that the “most reliable early manuscripts” omit the passage. There are early manuscripts that lack the passage, but they also have many other reliability problems in comparison to the much more consistent manuscripts from the 400’s and later.

    There is more evidence for the passages including some that that predates Irenaeus. Justin Martyr, in First Apology 45 (c. 160), makes a strong allusion to the contents of Mk. 16:20, and Tatian, in 172, included the entire passage in the Diatessaron (a blend of the contents of all four Gospels).

    I am strongly skeptical of any modern claim that tries to remove a passage that has stood for centuries in the scriptures. It’s a tactic that Satan has used since the Garden of Eden: “Did God really say that?” Don’t be unaware of his schemes. I’m especially skeptical when the passage in question contains a teaching that is difficult for us to reconcile with our preferred doctrine. I’d rather wrestle with the difficulties than to fall under the judgment of Jehoiakim. Jeremiah 36:21-33.

  18. laymond says:

    Inspiration, like the nature of God depend on what you want to believe.

  19. I would question the conflation of inspiration and originality. IF the latter portion of Mark 16 was indeed added later (sometime between 60 and 160) how does that mean it was NOT inspired? Is divine inspiration like a Dr Pepper, which once opened, goes flat if not consumed within a short period of time? Or is inspiration limited to the original writer of the text, and not available to anyone afterward? Is it the writer who is inspired, and not the writing? These seem to be rather free-floating assumptions which I don’t hear discussed. IMO, if God has chosen to preserve these writings as part of the body of scripture for this many centuries, I am not prepared to set them aside over when they became part of that canon. Or especially over their content.

  20. Monty says:

    I agree with what Charles said.

  21. rich constant says:

    n.e.t.bible and notes
    for those that reserch

    9tc The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (א B 304 sys sams armmss Eus Eusmss Hiermss), including two of the most respected mss (א B). The following shorter ending is found in some mss: “They reported briefly to those around Peter all that they had been commanded. After these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from the east to the west, the holy and imperishable preaching of eternal salvation. Amen.” This shorter ending is usually included with the longer ending (L Ψ 083 099 0112 579 al); k, however, ends at this point. Most mss include the longer ending (vv. 9-20) immediately after v. 8 (A C D W [which has a different shorter ending between vv. 14 and 15] Θ Ë13 33 2427 Ï lat syc,p,h bo); however, Jerome and Eusebius knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending. Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses, while others mark the text with asterisks or obeli (symbols that scribes used to indicate that the portion of text being copied was spurious). Internal evidence strongly suggests the secondary nature of both the short and the long endings. Their vocabulary and style are decidedly non-Markan (for further details, see TCGNT 102-6). All of this evidence strongly suggests that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material or because of the abruptness of the ending at v. 8. (Indeed, the strange variety of dissimilar endings attests to the probability that early copyists had a copy of Mark that ended at v. 8, and they filled out the text with what seemed to be an appropriate conclusion. All of the witnesses for alternative endings to vv. 9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at v. 8.) Because of such problems regarding the authenticity of these alternative endings, 16:8 is usually regarded as the last verse of the Gospel of Mark. There are three possible explanations for Mark ending at 16:8: (1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended fashion; (2) the Gospel was never finished; or (3) the last leaf of the ms was lost prior to copying. This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors, including (a) the probability that the Gospel was originally written on a scroll rather than a codex (only on a codex would the last leaf get lost prior to copying); (b) the unlikelihood of the ms not being completed; and (c) the literary power of ending the Gospel so abruptly that the readers are now drawn into the story itself. E. Best aptly states, “It is in keeping with other parts of his Gospel that Mark should not give an explicit account of a conclusion where this is already well known to his readers” (Mark, 73; note also his discussion of the ending of this Gospel on 132 and elsewhere). The readers must now ask themselves, “What will I do with Jesus? If I do not accept him in his suffering, I will not see him in his glory.”

    sn Double brackets have been placed around this passage to indicate that most likely it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of Mark. In spite of this, the passage has an important role in the history of the transmission of the text, so it has been included in the translation.

    10tn Grk “tongues,” though the word is used figuratively (perhaps as a metonymy of cause for effect). To “speak in tongues” meant to “speak in a foreign language,” though one that was new to the one speaking it and therefore due to supernatural causes. For a discussion concerning whether such was a human language, heavenly language, or merely ecstatic utterance, see BDAG 201-2 s.v. γλῶσσα 2, 3; BDAG 399 s.v. ἕτερος 2; L&N 33.2-4; ExSyn 698; C. M. Robeck Jr., “Tongues,” DPL, 939-43.

    11tn For further comment on the nature of this statement, whether it is a promise or prediction, see ExSyn 403-6.

    9[[ 16:9 Early on the first day of the week, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. 16:10 She went out and told those who were with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 16:11 And when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

    16:12 After this he appeared in a different form to two of them while they were on their way to the country. 16:13 They went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 16:14 Then he appeared to the eleven themselves, while they were eating, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him resurrected. 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16:16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 16:17 These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages;10 16:18 they will pick up snakes with their hands, and whatever poison they drink will not harm them;11 they will place their hands on the sick and they will be well.” 16:19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 16:20 They went out and proclaimed everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through the accompanying signs.]]

  22. Alan says:

    The text of vs 9-20 was present in the Diatessaron (c. 172) in the form we know it today. Irenaeus regarded it as sufficiently orthodox to use its text to prove a point in Against Heresies in about 175 AD — so not only did he regard it as authentic, but he believed his audience also regarded it that way. The objections cited in the NET notes all pertain to problems in fragmentary manuscripts almost 200 years later, mainly from a single geographic area if I’m not mistaken. A more objective look at the evidence ought to result in those manuscripts being deemed unreliable IMO based on the inconsistencies between them — as well as on the well-established evidence from 200 years earlier.

    Theories about how those manuscripts came to be are just that: theories. They are the result of speculation by textual critics who are apparently discounting the testimony of 2nd century church leaders. It takes a certain amount of hubris to claim that in the 21st century we know more than those leaders about what was considered inspired scripture in the 2nd century.

  23. rich constant says:

    Alan
    very COOL
    THANKS
    rich

  24. rich constant says:

    say Allen while yr at this, and around.
    mark is considered first? and completed when?
    or how bout order of time circa. of the other three..??
    if you would be so kind
    thanks

  25. rich constant says:

    P.S.
    as a compared TO
    The long ending of Mark 16 was considered to be inspired scripture by Irenaeus (circa 175 AD).

  26. Alan says:

    The date when Mark was written is debated, mainly between whether Mark wrote it before or after Peter was martyred. If the other gospel writers used it as reference when they wrote, you pretty much have to pick the earlier option. Many believe it was written around 57-60AD. In any case, it’s usually considered the first gospel to be written.

  27. Price says:

    Hey Alan, question.. I admit I’m not a biblical historian or know much about the long ending of Mark 16.. but I was reading some things because it’s of interest and found that Jerome and Eusibus both indicated in their writings that that most of the manuscripts that they were aware of didn’t contain the long ending… It also said that the oldest and least copied manuscripts didn’t contain them… There does seem to be some discontent with seeing it as written by mark much earlier than in the last few hundred years.

  28. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ray,

    Why is faith in the effectiveness of baptism required and faith in the receipt of the personal indwelling of the Spirit not? After all, water baptism is supposed to be accompanied by Spirit baptism.

    (1Co 12:13 ESV) 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body– Jews or Greeks, slaves or free– and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

    (Tit 3:4-7 ESV) 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    Indeed, in Titus, Paul says we saved “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” And in 1 Cor 13, we’re baptized in the body of Christ “in the Spirit.”

    So one consequence of baptism is remission of sins and another consequence is receipt of the Spirit (Acts 2:38), and it’s the receipt of the Spirit that is somehow responsible for saving us — not separate from the work of Jesus, of course, but the Spirit clearly plays a role in our salvation.

    Why is one consequence — forgiveness — essential to know and another consequence — receipt of the Spirit — not?

    It’s not about whether the Baptists are right. It’s about what must the person being baptized must know. I’ve never even hinted that the Baptist understanding is right. It’s not. But they’re only wrong about WHEN salvation occurs. Many in the CoC are completely wrong about receipt of the Spirit — denying what is plainly and repeatedly taught. Which is the bigger error?

  29. Nick Gill says:

    This would be true only if the gospel included teaching about the Spirit. But the gospel is about JESUS and what He did and what HE offers. It’s nowhere stated that the convert must believe in the Spirit in order for baptism into JESUS to be valid. The gift is given regardless of the thinking or knowledge about the Spirit of the person being baptized.

    Acts 19 specifically contradicts this. Disciples of Jesus need to be rebaptized because they know nothing of the Holy Spirit.

  30. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alan,

    Should we declare all changes from the KJV manuscript Satanic? Or just those we disagree with? What is the standard for when there’s enough doubt that, as a matter of intellectual integrity, I should warn novices that the text is in doubt?

    To me, the standard isn’t whether I doubt the text but whether it’s doubted by the best of conservative scholarship. And it is. It’s not declared inauthentic by all but you won’t find a commentary or a translation written in the last 50 years that doesn’t consider the issue worth mentioning to the reader.

    And I’m just saying that Shank should do what any decent commentary or translation would do: disclose the issue and not hide it from his readers, most of whom are novices.

    (I’d be disbarred if I hid that kind of information from a judge.)

  31. Price says:

    Nick, does Acts 19 teach that one must know about the Holy Spirit or does it teach that the baptism of John was insufficient because it was just a ceremonial repentance ? The passage seems to indicate to me that there was an insufficiency in John’s baptism rather than their understanding of the HS.. It seems Paul asked if they had received the HS and when they said no, he immediately questioned their baptism rather than teach them about the HS.. In fact, the text doesn’t describe any teaching that Paul gave them about the Holy Spirit..

  32. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Charles asked,

    IF the latter portion of Mark 16 was indeed added later (sometime between 60 and 160) how does that mean it was NOT inspired?

    How does it mean that it is? It means there is doubt.

    In the CoC culture, we are very binary — black or white — inspired or not inspired. We won’t accept: Not sure.

    I’ve more than once had a Bible class furious with me for refusing to tell them the answer because I didn’t know the answer. It’s as though we think we have to know all the answers to qualify for heaven.

  33. Alan says:

    Price,
    It’s stretching a point to count Eusebius and Jerome as two different witnesses since Jerome was Eusebius’ son. They lived in the 4th century, a time in which we know there were copies of Mark lacking the long ending, so it’s not surprising to find a couple of closely connected people advocating that edition. While those two apparently believed the long ending to be spurious, they were apparently a minority voice since their view didn’t begin to prevail until the late 19th century.

    In the past couple of centuries there have been a few older manuscripts found that lack the long ending. Indications are that these manuscripts originated in the same geographic area, and may well be descended from a common edition. It’s certainly conceivable that teachers in that area had difficulties with something in the passage and came up with justification for removing it. And it’s conceivable that copyists in that lineage may have differed in their choices on how to handle the alteration, explaining the variations in this family of copies. That’s a theory, mere speculation. But it’s no less defensible than the explanations offered by some modern textual critics.

    Evidence trumps theories. We have *evidence* that the passage existed and was broadly accepted in the 2nd century. We also have evidence that a broad consensus in the church included the passage down to the 19th century. Those facts outweigh the theories.

  34. Alan says:

    Jay,
    Sorry if I touched a nerve. I didn’t expect that kind of response.

    Nobody is concealing the controversy over the question about the long ending. It would be difficult if not impossible to find a modern English translation that doesn’t disclose that debate. But I strongly disagree with your assessment that the origin is “very doubtful” and that the evidence is “on the whole, against inspiration.” There are plenty of theories against inspiration – but also plenty of biases to direct those theories. The *evidence* is heavily on the side of originality and inspiration. 2nd century testimony trumps 4th century copies.

  35. Jay, while I agree with your point about not being entirely sure about certain things, that ambiguity itself often has consequences in the meantime. Take the Mark passage at issue. Does being unsure mean [a] we reject it until we are sure, or [b] that we accept it until we are sure, or [c] that we ignore it until we are sure? Our choice (and we cannot but choose one of the three) has meaning. Since there is no way to be sure of the inspiration of this passage short of direct revelation, our choice of treatment in the meantime IS our de facto interpretation. For all practical purposes, Door A and Door C excise the passage out of the scripture, Door B includes it. Not choosing is, in and of itself, a choice. In this case, it is choice C.

    We do choose. Hopefully, our choice is by faith, and not by peer pressure or personal preference. If we are wrong, God has grace for us!

  36. Oh, and Jay, I think you missed the operative adverb in my question. I did not ask “Does this mean it is uninspired?” I asked HOW we come to that conclusion. What is our criteria for accepting scripture as inspired, whether all of it or any part of it? Do we take inspiration by faith? Or does our confidence have a different basis?

  37. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Charles asks,

    Does being unsure mean [a] we reject it until we are sure, or [b] that we accept it until we are sure, or [c] that we ignore it until we are sure?

    It’s a rare day that you actually need to cite anything in Mark 16:9-20 to prove a point. There are plenty of other baptism passages, and I’m entirely happy not handling snakes or drinking poison. Therefore, (1) I look to see if the point can be made using uncontested passages and (2) if I just feel the urge to cite a contested section, I point out that the passage is in doubt. But other than snake handling and drinking poison, what doctrine requires the use of that uncertain passage?

    And as I indicated in the main point, I would never build a doctrine on a Mark 16:9-20 verse. I might use a passage (with disclosure) as a buttressing argument, but never as the linchpin. After all, what better way to leave myself open to being disingenuous with my citations? And simple integrity requires the disclosure.

    The same is true of the woman taken in the adultery — which I consider true if not inspired — whereas I have serious doubts about the long-ending to Mark. When I teach the woman taken in adultery, I try to at least reference the arguments pro and con or mention their existence.

  38. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Charles asked,

    What is our criteria for accepting scripture as inspired, whether all of it or any part of it?

    Years ago, when woolly mammoths ruled the earth, I had a week of free time (oh, the luxury!) and read the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers to see whether there was a clear distinction between what we call inspired and the other early Christian texts — and yes there is. I was astonished at the radical difference in quality and style and consistency. It was not a hard decision for me.

    On the other hand, I’m old enough to remember the battles over textual variations in the RSV, NEB, NIV, etc. and Foy Wallace’s rantings on the subject. Fortunately, as a high school student I took a class on Where We Got the Bible by Lightfoot — which is a great book still in print. It affirmed my faith and taught me to understand these battles better than most. In Sunday school class. In high school. I am very fortunate to have had that study.

    On the other, other hand, I don’t greatly mind the fact that Luther challenged the canon, and ultimately failed to win his case. It’s a fair question to ask — but I’m strongly inclined toward the view that the Spirit has preserved the text for us for a reason — but has also left us with the challenge of comparing differing texts and making spiritual decisions.

    The Jews struggled with textual variations likely even before the time of Jesus — it’s the nature of handwritten scrolls. But the level of uncertainty is trivial — unless you’re really big on handling snakes or drinking poison in church. In that case, we need to talk …

  39. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alan,

    I apologize if I came across too harshly. As earlier mentioned, I’m home recovering from gall bladder removal — and the side effects are largely intense pain from gas injected into the abdomen to facilitate the surgery. I’m on some serious meds and likely shouldn’t be allowed near the computer. But TV is just so awful … and I do love talking about the Bible.

    I’ve been tasked with teaching a class on apologetics at church, which will surely produce some posts on How We Got the Bible. I imagine we’ll be revisiting this question.

    And I’m not handling snakes no matter what the ECFs say on the subject. And I’m SURE not drinking any poison. If those verses really are inspired, I’ll have to revisit my position on Cessationism.

  40. Jay, you seem to hold to the Wendy Bagwell school of thought. (A good Alabama boy should remember Wendy.) His quartet was singing in a country church when they brought out a box of rattlesnakes, into which Bro Bagwell declined to delve. A local brother demanded, “You mean if the Lord commanded you to take up the serpent, you wouldn’t?” Bagwell replied, “No sir. But He hasn’t, and I ain’t gonna!”

  41. Royce says:

    Let’s assume the verse in question should be there. So what? Clearly belief is what makes the difference. Did I miss something?

  42. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Charles,

    Indeed. My faith is obviously weak. And in these parts, we have a country preacher die nearly every month from snake bite, that is, weak faith. Eventually, you have to figure only preachers with strong faith will be left and the problem will cure itself.

    (And I keep waiting for the poison-drinking revival. Many a preacher has built up an immunity to snake bites, but poison is not quite so easy.)

  43. hist0ryguy says:

    Regarding the long ending of Mark, (1) the church considered it canonical and (2) in agreement with the rest of Scripture. Folks can debate Markan authorship all they want, but it will not change the fact that to deny the long ending as canonical is to oppose Orthodoxy that preserved Scripture. I am not picking on anyone, including Jay, as I make the same statement toward Syrian Orthodox Church and Peshitta.

  44. Alan says:

    Jay,
    I’m with you on the snakes and the poison. I think the snake handlers need to revisit the command not to put the Lord to the test. Matt 4:6-7 seems to be a clear illustration of the principle. OTOH I have personally stepped on a copperhead (accidentally of course) without getting bitten, so I can’t argue with the passage.

  45. So, Jay, the snake-handling folks in your neighborhood are experiencing a sort of religious Darwinism?

  46. Price says:

    Alan, as you seem to be quite informed about this subject, I thought I would pursue the question with you a little further for my edification… As I was reading further, It does seem that Eusibus had doubts about the authorship of the Long Ending (LE) and made mention that the most accurate copies noted the discrepancy or did not include it.. Not sure what he was looking at but it appears that the mss were much earlier than what we have preserved today.. Is that right ?..

    How early was that objection made ? Obviously, by Eusibus’ time, there was already discussion about the authorship.. Do you know when the objections first started? It doesn’t appear to be first questioned in the latter part of the 20th century, but at least as early as the 4th C.

    It does appear that Irenaeus’ comments weigh heavily on the subject !! But, what we don’t have is any discussion from him regarding any uncertainty… I wonder if he knew of the discussion at this time? We may never know.. He does seem to quote it with the assumption that it is authoritative and given his title and role, that’s pretty powerful.

    I’m with Jay on the snakes and with Royce on faith… It appears that the water sacrament side and the grace through faith crowd would both appeal to 16:16 in support..

  47. Alan says:

    Price,
    There is evidence, and then there is interpretation of evidence. We know what Eusebius and his son thought about the long ending. We know Irenaeus and his contemporaries accepted it. We know some manuscripts in the 4th century omitted it, in various ways. Those are observable facts.

    We cannot see the evidence Eusebius used to reach his opinion. So we can only speculate about that. We also cannot see the other side of the debate that was occurring in his day, nor the evidence behind that point of view. We can see a handful of manuscripts from that era, and one side of the debate. That’s it. (Well, we have evidence that Eusebius and his side lost the debate, since the passage continued to be regarded as scripture for well over a thousand years afterward.)

    I think we should separate our thoughts about the content of the passage from the question of whether it was part of the original inspired book. Someone who objects to the part about snakes and poison, and who thinks other passages are sufficient on the question of baptism, might prefer for the passage to be disregarded. That preference is not guided by evidence. Someone else might object to what this passage says about baptism, and therefore might also prefer that it be disregarded. Again, that has nothing to do with evidence. Such preferences have nothing to do with the historical question of when the passage was written, and by whom.

  48. Price says:

    Alan, when you say that Eusibus “lost the debate”…is that to say that the Mark LE was no longer considered questionable ?? I thought there were other mss that continued to denote that it was questioned.. And, you may not have any more info to share but I was looking to see if you perhaps knew of when the dispute first arose… thanks. If you don’t have it no big deal.. just curious..

  49. Alan says:

    Price, when I say that Eusebius lost the debate, I base that on the fact that nearly all of the copyists that handed down the scriptures from that time forward included the long ending of Mark. It is included in at least 95% of the extant Greek manuscripts, including Alexandrian, Byzantine, Western, and Caesarian families of manuscripts.

    I’m not aware of any evidence of the omission of the text prior to the fourth century. I think Eusebius is the first known example to mention that some texts omit the passage. Keep in mind that Greek was being replaced by Latin in the 3rd century, and certainly from the fourth century onward. Jerome included the passage in the Latin Vulgate which became the official scriptures of the Catholic Church for 1500 years.

  50. Alabama John says:

    Charles,

    In a lot of these debates, they are much like the bringing out of snakes and I remember Wendy saying where is the back door and if there isn’t one, where do you want one.

    He was ready to get out of there.

  51. Monty says:

    I have seen a guy get into a sleeping bag full of diamond backs and slide out without being bitten. That takes faith, but it’s an acquired faith that comes from handling them and being around them, and understanding certain truths. like no quick moves. That guy on Gator Boys who swims down and puts the noose around gators certainly has a lot of faith, but it’s not blind faith. He’s worked with them for years. I guess he could start a church and appear to have great faith. I mean, I certainly do applaud him. But the rattlesnake holders and gator guys aren’t going to drink cyanide. Oh, yeh, I saw a guy feed a 15 ft. crocodile a fish dangling from his mouth. There’s some faith for you, or is it something else? 🙂

  52. Alan makes a good point about our including or excluding a passage based on preference. Sadly, most of the reasoning I hear about how we make our choices these days seems to boil down to preference. The idea that Late Mark is expendable in part because v. 15-16 addresses topics already covered elsewhere is not about inspiration at all, it’s just editing. If we really do buy that editorial logic, we can excise half of what’s found in the synoptic gospels as redundant. If, as Jay says (somewhat tongue in cheek) we simply find v.17-18 something with which we do not wish to be associated, and we let THAT serve as any part of our reason for doubting its inspiration, well, that’s just redaction for personal reasons. (And a curious choice at that, for we don’t redact much tougher words, like Luke 21:12-17.) This sort of redaction is nothing new, but when others do it, we send up a hue and cry that can be heard to the heavens.

    I suspect that too often, our consideration of this matter does not go much deeper than to read the NIV’s caveat about early manuscripts and to say to ourselves, “Well, we don’t really need that part anyway.” Matter settled. We seldom, if ever, address the unspoken assumptions (such as conflating originality with inspiration) that we apply to our acceptance of scripture.

  53. Alan says:

    Monty,
    I am not aware of God making any promises about feeding crocodiles. At least, not in the Textus Receptus 😉

  54. April says:

    I’m hoping some of you may be able to add some insight into a part of Shanks book I find troubling…and I have found quite a few things troubling. Shank is going through his list of churches and why he cannot attend them. When he gets to the charismatic church he argues he can’t go there because they believe in healing, miracles, and speaking in tongues. He then argues that these have ceased because of the fulfillment of the perfect law of liberty. He states this perfect law is the completion of the New Testament. Something about this argument bothers me. It seems to me that the perfect law of liberty wouldn’t come into fulfillment until Jesus’ second coming when the whole of the scriptures have been fulfilled, including Revelation. Could someone expound on this a bit more for me?

    As a side note I am so greatful to have found this in depth book review. I grew up in a conservative Church of Christ but when I moved from home I explored other churches and currently attend a small mission non denominational church within a more charismatic frame of reference. My mother suggested I read this book as she found it confirmed her beliefs and got her back on track. I must say I have been struggling through it but have found this blog to be helpful in navigating this minefield of a book

  55. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    April,

    You touch on a body of teaching sometimes called Cessationism. The Churches of Christ historically have been Cessationists, meaning that they believe the age of miracles to have ended shortly after the apostolic age. More recently, this position has begun to be questioned. My most recent series on the question is http://oneinjesus.info/?s=%22church+of+christ+deism%22 “Church of Christ Deism.” In short, I find the interpretation of 1 Cor 13 that predicts the end of miracles when the New Testament was complete an unlikely interpretation that is not supported by church history.

    On the other hand, everyone who’s tried to heal my various illnesses by an alleged miraculous gift of healing has failed — and many faith healers have been proven to be frauds.

    But I don’t think we should become so cynical that we can’t see a miracle when it happens. That’s the sin called Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and I have no intention of being guilty of that one!

    And so I figure the Spirit does what he pleases when and where and how he pleases. And if the Spirit wants to do miracles, it won’t violate some cosmic law banning miracles. And I’ve yet to figure out how to distinguish a “miracle” from an “answered prayer.” And I’ve seen prayers answered.

    Some wish to use “Providence” for allowed miracles and “Miracle” for disallowed miracles — but the two are indistinguishable to me. Either God causes something to happen that otherwise would not have happened — or not. How big and splendiferous it is does not make it more or less from God’s hand. Rather, if I can’t see the miraculous in God answering my prayers and shaping my heart and life then the problem is mine — my lack of discernment and faith — not the interpretation of 1 Cor 13.

  56. April says:

    Thank you for your response Jay. I will take a look at the article you referenced. I once heard a missionary’s testimony while attending a baptist church. He talked about how he was asked to preach in a small Mexican village using a Spanish interpreter. He said he prayed that his message would be interpreted clearly and that when he got up to speak he gave his talk in Spanish! This missionary did not know how to speak Spanish! I personally would like to think that God did a miraculous thing that day! I think sometimes we, in our limited thinking, limit GOD or what we think God can do but we serve a mighty God who is creator of the universe. Who are we to put limits on what He can do! Sorry about the run on sentences. For some reason typing on my iPad freezes so that I cannot edit. I really don’t want to start my post all over again. Btw, I’m following you from Saskatchewan, Canada.

  57. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    April,

    Glad to have you as a reader and commenter here. And I’m grateful you Canadians beat the Russians in hockey. (This will be my last hockey comment for four years. Olympics only.)

    The scriptures say,

    (1Jo 4:1 ESV) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    — which I firmly believe. And “test” doesn’t mean “deny.” We are to be neither gullible nor cynics.

  58. Pingback: Muscle & Shovel": Chapters 39 - 40 (Faith in the Plan and the Bible; Wrap Up) | One In JesusOne In Jesus

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