Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible

Dr. Daniel Wallace provides impressive scholarship to rebut Newsweek’s recent assault on Christians, Christianity, and the Bible. Read the Newsweek article first–it makes some interesting statements that are not without value. That they are out of balance with an informed and studied appreciation of the Bible is, however, the signature of a patently anti-Christian agenda. Snake handlers, Pat Robertson, Rick Perry, the GOP…talk about stereotypes! Really, Newsweek?!

Daniel B. Wallace

Every year, at Christmas and Easter, several major magazines, television programs, news agencies, and publishing houses love to rattle the faith of Christians by proclaiming loudly and obnoxiously that there are contradictions in the Bible, that Jesus was not conceived by a virgin, that he did not rise from the dead, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. The day before Christmas eve (23 December 2014), Newsweek published a lengthy article by Kurt Eichenwald entitled, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” (http://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/02/thats-not-what-bible-says-294018.html?winst=1419500836501&of=2831396). Although the author claims that he is not promoting any particular theology, this wears thin. Eichenwald makes so many outrageous claims, based on a rather slender list of named scholars (three, to be exact), that one has to wonder how this ever passed any editorial review.

My PDF of this article runs 34 pages (!) before the hundreds of comments that are appended. Consequently, I don’t have space…

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4 responses to “Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible

  • Clarke Morledge

    Newsweek should be embarrassed by the shoddy “journalism” in the article by Kurt Eichenwald. I lost interest when Eichenwald wrote about the story of Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery:

    It was depicted in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ and is often used to point out the hypocrisy of Christians who denounce what they perceive to be the sins of others. Unfortunately, John didn’t write it. Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages. It does not appear in any of the three other Gospels or in any of the early Greek versions of John. Even if the Gospel of John is an infallible telling of the history of Jesus’s ministry, the event simply never happened.

    Scribes made it up in the Middle Ages? Really? Anyone who is seriously familiar with textual criticism knows that the first significant mention of the story is in the 3rd century Syriac Didascalia Apostolorum. Either Eichenwald simply did not do his homework, or his understanding of when the “Middle Ages” happened is an unusually broad time period.

    Granted, the story still may or may not be authentic, but if you are going to write an editorial (was it an editorial???) like that, the author and the magazine should at least make a reasonable effort to fact check the details.

    No wonder Newsweek decided to eliminate its print edition. The article says more about the demise of Newsweek than it does about the supposed demise of the Bible.

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  • Clarke Morledge

    While Mr. Eichenwald has not responded to Dan Wallace’s blog post, he has responded to Michael Kruger’s critique beginning here:

    http://michaeljkruger.com/a-christmas-present-from-the-mainstream-media-newsweek-takes-a-desperate-swipe-at-the-integrity-of-the-bible-part-1/#comment-2636

    Kruger wrote a second piece following up on the first:

    http://michaeljkruger.com/a-christmas-gift-from-the-mainstream-media-newsweek-takes-a-desperate-swipe-at-the-integrity-of-the-bible-part-2/

    Kurt Eichenwald interacts some more, and he has promised a rebuttal piece, though I have not seen it yet.

    I am glad that the original author has decided to dialogue with Dr. Kruger. While I clearly have problems with how Kurt Eichenwald presented his argument and handled a number of his factual claims, he is to be commended for not simply picking up his ball and storming off the field of play, so to speak. The initial article in Newsweek came across that way, so I am encouraged he has kept some of the channels for discussion open. Let us pray that such dialogue continue, as opposed to knee-jerk reactions that simply shut down communication.

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    • Clarke Morledge

      You have to dig a bit through the comments, but here is part of Eichenwald’s extensive reply to Kruger:

      http://michaeljkruger.com/a-christmas-gift-from-the-mainstream-media-newsweek-takes-a-desperate-swipe-at-the-integrity-of-the-bible-part-2/#comment-2739

      I do not find Eichenwald’s response entirely convincing, in that while he enlists Christian historian Philip Jenkins to prove one point concerning “Christians killing Christians”, I can say that having just finished Jenkin’s book _The Lost History of Christianity_ he fails to mention other arguments presented by Jenkins that argue AGAINST Eichenwald’s position that suggest that there were multiple Gospels aside from the canonical four that were unfairly(?) suppressed by the early church. Jenkins makes the very strong argument that the early churches of the East simply dropped the non-canonical Gospels as being inauthentic without the political fanfare of the West that has so infatuated revisionist views of history that seek to overly politicize the determination of the New Testament canon.

      http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/11/jenkins-on-the-canon-of-the-ea.php

      However, on the other side, I guess what bothers me from Eichenwald’s perspective is that aside from Kruger’s (and presumably Dan Wallace’s) post(s) that most of the criticism leveled against Eichenwald have been equally, and sometimes more so, misinformed.

      It only highlights the need in the church to properly educate people in a more proper and sober manner for doing Christian apologetics.

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    • John Paine

      You hit the nail on the head with your last comment. After reading Eichenwald’s extensive comments on Michael Kruger’s blog, it is evident that he (Eichenwald) was not a cub journalist on a rant when he published the original article. He does make some interesting points, that as Kruger points out, are ironically useful for instruction. I believe the article was indeed an attack on Christians and Christianity, and there is more behind that attack than uniformed skepticism. It does point to the need to study trustworthy sources, while it speaks to the consequences of trusting skeptics. It highlights the need for informed scholarship and dedicated personal study–much of what we’re trying to encourage here on Veracity.

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