Thursday, July 03, 2003

Quoting Primary Sources (Again)

I rarely post more than once a day. However, sometimes I come across things that urge me to take the time to write.

Some time ago, I wrote an entry calling for us, as teachers, to be aware of our sources and to seek out the primary, or first hand, references whenever possible. This morning, I came across an example of trouble in the making.

I was perusing World Net Daily and came across an intriguing headline, Book of Matthew gets unlikely boost. Very intriguing indeed.

So I visited the article and found that it quoted another article. I jumped to that article and found that it did not contain any more information than original Hal Lindsay write up.

Supposedly, there is evidence in the Jewish Talmud and Mishnah that Gamaliel wrote a parody on Matthew's Gospel. If so, that would indicate an early date for the gospel's publication. All well and good, but where is the reference? The reference, if any yet, would be found in an essay written for the book Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times by Israel J. Yuval.

Doing a google search with "Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times, Israel J. Yuval" yielded several interesting posts, including one that contained some of the parody's elements. Although even that reference announced that the parody confirmed Matthew's Gospel, it would seem as if we are not talking about a parody of the entire gospel, but rather a story about a Christian judge that quotes Jesus from Matthew's gospel.

For the moment, I have stopped the search, as it would now require me to buy or find a book. But I have two questions. The first is whether Israel J. Yuval came to this conclusion about Gamaliel and Matthew's gospel? The second is similar. If Mr. Yuval did not draw this conclusion, who was the first to do so from his essay?

This takes us back to Hal Lindsay and others. By not going to the source, they have already amplified the story. They have stated that Gamaliel created a parody of the gospel, rather than perhaps quoting it. In magnitude, that is the difference between The Wind Done Gone and "Frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn." The first is a parody of Gone with the Wind and the second is a quote from the movie Gone with the Wind. Hal Lindsay argues that the Gamaliel's parody eliminates the need for the existence of the Q document. Tracing the story closer to its origins (and please note that I did not even got there), shows that maybe that is not true. Gamaliel may have quoted Matthew, or Q, or any number of reliable sources of Jesus' teachings. Gamaliel wrote a parody of Christians, not Matthew's gospel.

We, as Christians, simply must be more careful. If you read the first post for today, which follows this one. You will note that I have much the same criticism for some creation scientists. We, as Christians, have a wonderful story to tell and it is best told with integrity and attention to detail.

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