Why does the most famous religious scholar in America no longer believe in the resurrection?
This is the Deep questions podcast, and today we continue our interview with best-selling author, Youtuber, and theology professor Dr. Mike Licona. Dr. Licona is friends with Bart Ehrman, who is probably the most well-known religious scholar in the United States and, surprisingly, Ehrman is also an agnostic bordering on atheism. Today we discuss Dr. Licona’s SEVEN-hour debate with Dr. Ehrman, as well as what might have caused Ehrman to stop believing. We also discuss more reasons to believe that Jesus historically rose from the dead, as well as the best ways to talk to an atheist or skeptic about the resurrection. Welcome to new listeners in: Helsinki Finland, Lower Saxony, Germany, Kampala, Uganda, New South Wales, Australia, Johannesburg, South Africa, Manilla, Philippines, Canterbury and Northland, New Zealand, Punjab, Pakistan, Assam, India, Santa Fe, Argentina, London, United Kingdom, North-Holland, Netherlands, Tel Aviv, Israel, Parts unknown, Nepal, British Columbia, Canada, Orlando, Florida, Mobile, Alabama, South Bend, Indiana, Denver, Colorado, Bloomington, Illinois, Paducah, Kentucky, Casper, Wyoming, El Dorado, Louisiana, Grand Junction, Colorado and Juneau, Alaska. Thank you so much for listening – and, please allow me to invite you to share the show with your friends and enemies AND to please leave us a great review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Thanks!
Today we pick up our interview with Dr. Licona right at the point where we discuss his relationship with Dr. Ehrman, and the 7 hour debate between the two of them that just occurred in April. So, Dr. Licona… NOTE: The following auto-generated transcript has NOT been spell checked!
…let’s talk about Bart Ehrman. probably for reasons, I’m not sure I’ve Fully grasped the most well known religious scholar in the United States of America, maybe in the world. I has written a lot of books.
A lot of them are best sellers. When I was in Dr. Haas’s class I wrote what was probably my longest paper that I wrote in seminary. And it was basically interacting with the arguments. Dr airman. And really the, kind of the more popular expression of some of those arguments that you find in Dan Brown’s DaVinci code, which is like really, really watered down sort of Bart airman’s things on some of the conspiracy theories and [00:03:00] the, the variance and textual variance in the Bible and that sort of thing.
So, so I’m very, I’m quite familiar with airman, certainly not a scholar or anything like that. I haven’t read all his books. Don’t want to read all his books, but I have a few of them I’ve interacted with him. But you, on the other hand seem to have a pretty deep relationship with Dr. Airman. There’s tons of video out there of you guys interacting.
I know you’ve talked to him quite a bit, so I, I guess I’m curious, what, what do you find him to be like personally? And how is it that you came to get to know him?
Mike: Well, we have become friends over the years. We’ve now engaged, I think, seven debates and we couldn’t disagree more on a number of issues.
We are just so different in our philosophical views. How a historian can do history stuff about Jesus, even our politics are, are radically different. But, it, we treat each other collegially during the debate and I don’t talk bad about him out there publicly. [00:04:00] I only do it private.
I’m just teasing , but I, I don’t go out there talking, smack about Bart and I don’t know if he talks smack about me behind my back, but I don’t think he does so publicly. We’ve had good collegial, respectful debates, but they’re spirited debates. We let each other know that we really disagree with the other person and that, that we think the other is definitely wrong.
So, but we respect one another still. And so we get along pretty well. And so yeah, we have. I, I have fun time debating him, even though he is wrong.
Chase: yeah. Well, I agree with you that he’s wrong. I, I, I will say he raises some points that, that, that most Christians that just, get up and faithfully go to church every Sunday morning.
They don’t, they don’t realize, I think I’m a pastor been a pastor for 25 years. I, so I, I feel like. Point out some weaknesses in the profession, a little bit, one thing I think pastors have failed to do for not every pastor, but a lot for the last a hundred years is really equip the people in the church [00:05:00] apologetically.
And so when they hear a guy that’s really, really smart and really clever and really engaging. Like Dr. Airman, when they hear him bring up things like there’s all these textual variants in the Bible. And most people in the pews probably assume that we basically have Xerox copies of Paul’s letters and, and Matthew and mark and Luke, and John’s gospels that date to the first century kept in a vault somewhere.
They, they hear these things and it really can undermine them. Well, look, scholars have known about these textual variants since the, the first and second century CBS and other people have talked about this. None of this is hidden. It’s just not something that’s discussed very much. So do you think that Dr.
Irman overstates his case about the textual variance that we find in the new Testament essentially undermine the reliability of the Bible?
Mike: Yes and [00:06:00] no. Okay. So let me say, first of Allman does not subscribe to some of the. Silly ridiculous stuff. No, he didn’t in the da Vinci code. So, his stuff is much more nuanced and, and not as radical.
However when I say yes and no about, do I think he overstates his case? No, he doesn’t technically overstate his case because let’s just take, for example, the variant variance in all the different manuscript. In his book, misquoting Jesus. He points out how describes. Many of them just messed up things.
They made silly errors. They made intentional changes to the text and things like this. But in the appendix of like the second edition of that book, they added an appendix and they asked them about this. Does this undermine. The reliability of the Greek text of the new Testament. And he said, no, because these are [00:07:00] mainly just spelling errors, grammatical errors, errors in or changing in word order.
And he says, it’s just the kind of simple mistakes that his own students make. But he said, you. If the, if, if people are getting that impression, it’s just, it it’s, it’s a false impression. Because he says, I think that the Greek text of our new Testament that we have today is essentially what, what the authors wrote though.
Not 100%. So, so, he does clarify things like that. So, no, he doesn’t overstate his case. Yes, he does overstate his case. And the reason he does do that when it comes to textual variance is because the impression that he gives and I don’t know his heart, but I have a difficult time thinking it’s not intentional.
It’s very sensational and people walk away from that book, thinking that we just can’t trust the text of the new Testament that we have. And that is [00:08:00] why Mormons and Muslims and atheist. Have gravitated to the book because it undermines, especially Mormons and atheist, skeptics, and Muslims. They, they do it because it undermines the reliability of the new Testament that, our ability to trust in it.
So whether it’s intentional on his part or not if it’s, if it’s intentional, well then shame on Bart, but I’m going to go with, with him and say that it’s not intent. And in that case, he’s just a poor communicator. He’s fun to listen to, but he’s just a poor communicator when it comes to things like that, because he’s given the wrong impression to people.
And there are other things like that as well. He does it on memory. He wrote a book on memory Jesus before the gospels. And you walk away from that book thinking, we, we can’t really trust you can’t trust the gospels because even had they been written by eyewitnesses, which Bart doesn’t think they were.
Even had all four of them be written by, by eyewitnesses. We couldn’t trust [00:09:00] it because you can’t trust memory. Memory is so unreliable, but despite that, there are four short sentences in the book that says, oh, but you know, despite its shortcomings memory is generally reliable, at least when we come to the gist things, but people still walk away from the book because he spent so much time calling memory into.
And relating it to the gospels. They walk away thinking we can’t trust the gospels because memory is so fallacious. It’s so weak, so prone to problem. So I think that’s just a communications problem on his part.
Chase: Yeah. It seems like. And, and I, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna make an accusation here because I, I’m not sure.
But it seems like he talks different ways to different groups of people in terms of academia. He’s maybe a little more careful to make his arguments about the, the textual variance and things like that. Not being anything in the realm, as you say, of, of a Dan brown kind of [00:10:00] conspiracy theory, which just is ridiculous.
But, but he seems to be much more careful with that. A lot more like his mentor Bruce Metzker, but in terms of his, some of his more popular kind of appearances and his more popular books and, and stuff, he does seem to emphasize those things in a greater way. I don’t know, maybe that’s just some form of showman’s ship.
Some way to drum up interest, whatever he is doing. It’s you know, you can’t, I guess you can’t argue with results, at least in the sense of success. Yeah, exactly. I, I just think, I, I just think he’s wrong. And I hope that’s not too UN charitable to say, well, his, his major objection against the resurrection, it seems to be, at least it wise.
I know the goalpost have shifted a little bit within, but it seems to be that. The rep the, the resurrection would represent a miracle from God and historians. Can’t can’t reckon with a miracle from God, because a miracle is, is [00:11:00] way too improbable. So how do you answer that
Mike: argument? Yeah. And of course he’s not the only one that says that there are others, several ways that he says, a miracle, he’ll say one, one thing that a miracle bites definition is the least probable explanation.
And again, this isn’t, isn’t just him. I’ve debated another guy. A guy in South Africa, his name alludes me at the moment and he uses a similar argument, but he, he would say a miracle bite’s definition is the least probable explan. Historians must go with the most probable explanation. Therefore they could never say a miracle occurred.
And to that, I’d say, well, in what sense is it the least probable explanation, in other words, least probable in reference to what? Because if God exists and wanted to raise Jesus, well, then it becomes the most probable explanation. It’s only the least probable, if you say least probable by natural causes, but no one’s saying that Jesus was raised by natural causes.
Claim is that he was raised supernaturally. So that just seems to me, that’s a [00:12:00] confused definition of miracle. Another way you could say, well, it’s a theological explanation, not a historical one, but I think this is to con to confuse a, a historical conclusion with its theological implications. So let’s say that a comet slams into the moon’s surface.
And when the lunar dust settles, there’s a message written on the moon that says Jesus is Lord and it’s written in Hebrew and in Greek. Well, an astronomer, a scientist would look at that and would say, wow that’s a pretty amazing event. Now, if it would seem to require a divine cause however, as a scientist, I don’t possess any tools capable of identifying such a cause.
So I’m just going to say, well, this event occurred and I’m not going to opine on the cause of the event, cuz I don’t have the tools to be able to, to do that. What a, what a scientist would not do is the scientist would not say, [00:13:00] wow, what an extraordinary event. Wow. I mean, it certainly happened and it would appear that it would require a divine cause however, I don’t have the tools necessary to.
Adjudicate on that matter. So that would be a theological explanation, not a scientific one. So as a scientist, I can’t even say that the event itself occurred now, as crazy as that sounds, that’s precisely the approach that some skeptical scholars are taking when they say you cannot adjudicate on a miracle.
They’re saying because it would involve a theological explanation and we don’t have the tools to detect God as historians. We can’t say that the resurrection occurred. You follow me on that. Absolutely. So, yeah, you could say the resurrection occurred and just leave the calls. Undetermined. if we have enough evidence to suggest Jesus actually rose from the dead.
And I think we do.
Chase: Yeah. So a few episodes ago on this podcast, we had Dr. Craig [00:14:00] keener for a couple of episodes, and he talked about his book on miracles, which is I don’t know, it’s like 1200 pages. It weighs four or five pounds. It’s just this massive thing. I, I would, I would like to claim that I’ve read it all.
I haven’t, my friend Lonnie has. But I’ve read enough of it that it it’s just absolutely overwhelming in the sense that keener documents miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle. So if you go into that book and I didn’t, of course. If you go into that book with kind of the Hume viewpoint, that miracles are impossible, or even a softer version of that, which I would think.
Airman holds to that. Miracles are really, really improbable and, and unprovable. I, I, I think you come out of reading Keener’s book, which is not sensational. It’s very scholarly, especially his big version. He has a popular version. I think it’s called miracles today, which is a, a little more I don’t wanna say watered down, but it’s a little more palatable for a non scholar, but you come away from his, his [00:15:00] big scholarly version.
And I, I don’t know how a skeptic could just read all that and read all the evidence and say, ah, you know what? Miracles, aren’t impossible. So I think I, I having read that book, I walked away thinking number one, miracles, aren’t quite as rare as I thought they were and certainly even occurring today.
And I also think that historians that are skeptical even have to maybe grapple a little bit more with the possibility of miracles, which is something you, you address. Historic historiographical approach to the resurrection book in you and Dr. Habermas address
Mike: as well. Keener’s amazing. He’s just an amazing researcher and writing and writer and he, his he’s got encyclopedic knowledge.
Chase: does, and he’s such a good guy, too. He’s so gentle and nice and, and, and kind, and, and I, I was, I’m just really impressed with the guy just an awesome guy. You [00:16:00] had a, this almost sounds weird to say it. I had to do a double take. When I first saw it. You had a seven hour debate with Dr. Irman in April of this year.
That’s astounding. I know you can’t go into too much detail about what happened in the debate and all that kind of stuff, because it it’s, it is available. Doc, I think Dr. Iman’s website essentially sells the debate, but what was it like to have a seven hour debate? Tell us about that.
I, I have had this policy over the years, chase that, once I debate someone. I usually get along pretty well with them. I just don’t like to, give any kind of like real public comments about it afterward, just out of respect for my opponent. Unless they do then all bets are off, of course, but it was a seven hour debate.
You’d say, well, what do you debate for that long? Well, I mean, there’s a lot of data when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus and a lot of issues. Like the one of miracles that you brought up a moment. Can historians actually investigate miracle [00:17:00] claims? And is what kind of evidence are we looking at?
And what’s the best explanation for this evidence? So, the debate I thought went pretty quickly moved rapidly the way they had it all set up it, it just made, they really did a good job in forming the debate. This is so. Bart. And I talked about beforehand, but a guy named Chris Huntley who, who works for Bart does work for Bart he’s he was mainly the one that put this thing together and he just did a great job.
And so it moved along. It was entertaining. It was full of, of content. So a person who views the debate is going to walk away with a, a lot of stuff that was discussed substantive things. There wasn’t a lot of fluff in this debate. It was a lot of substance. It was a good time.
It was spirited. I mean, bar and I really disagree on a lot of things and we let each other know about it. We didn’t pull punches. So, it was fun. It was a good debate. That’s that’s
Chase: awesome. Now I, I understand that it, it, it [00:18:00] seems like you kind of went into his home court essentially to use a, a sports analogy.
The moderator I think Megan Lewis, I don’t know her very well. She has a YouTube channel the Hora code or something along those lines, a very clever person, but I, I think she’s probably more his ilk in the agnostic atheist realm. Yeah. So did you sort of feel like the deck was stacked against you?
Mike: mean, I knew I was in his home court that most of the viewers and the R over 2100 people who paid to view this debate cuz you could see it by, by paying pay per view only. So I knew that most of them were. I was in his home field, his home court, like you say, and the moderator was definitely more on his side, but no, I, I thought it was, it was fair.
I thought the moderator was, was very good. I thought she did a great job. And yeah, so it was a good time. I thought it was a fair debate the way it was set up and everything. Great. Well,
Chase: well, kudos to you for going into, going into, as a [00:19:00] visitor to the home field, an opponent and having. A seven hour showdown.
I am looking forward to watching more of that. Okay. So last question on your interactions with Dr. Ehrman and really this is more of a, a general question on atheists and skeptics that are similar to Irman in that they are vocal about it. So Irman has. Like he, he has a, a certain kind of respect for the Bible.
I mean, he grew up as he says an evangelistic Christian. I, I, I understand some something happened maybe some sort of tragedy in his life. And, but, but ultimately he sort of, By his words, some combination of suffering and suffering in the world and, and things along those lines kind of moved him on the spectrum from a evangelistic Christian to a non evangelistic C Christian to ultimately.
He calls himself an agnostic. Now I would say he’s really, really borderline and [00:20:00] atheist. But I guess a lot of people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins people along along those lines, they’re not content to simply. Not believe or no longer believe I in the trailer for the debate you had with Dr.
Irman, he he’s standing up there. He’s almost like a pre he sounds like a preacher, which, which is fine. I mean, I hate preachers. I am one, but he says he says if somebody was buried in a tomb and he went there three days later and it was empty. You wouldn’t think resurrection? No. You’d think grave robbers or I’m at the wrong tomb.
He has the inflection of a preacher. He has the force of a preacher. He’s trying to convince you that. I don’t know that he’s trying to convince you so much that he’s right. He’s trying to convince you that Christianity is wrong that the resurrection is wrong. It, it seems like a lot of modern internet atheists and agnostic are evangelists for their skepticism.
It’s. [00:21:00] It, they, they want to, they don’t, I’m not saying they wanna win converts for themselves, but they want to win converts for their ideology. So what do you, it’s it’s weird Forman in that way. I mean, Dawkins and Hitchens both believe that the Christianity is somewhat toxic in various ways. In manifestations, Iman, I don’t think believes that nearly as
Mike: much, so, yeah.
Yeah, he does. He does. He does think that an evangelical form of Christianity is toxic. So, so,
Chase: so that you, you think that’s the explanation? I wouldn’t say he’s as adamant in that belief as, as Dawkins was, but you know what, maybe the last 10 years, politically and all that has concreted his beliefs more.
So, so do you think that explains his well evangelistic approach to skeptic?
Mike: It’s, it’s really hard to say chase you, I would just be guessing at, as, as motives, perhaps. And that’s, that’s really hard to do. I, I, [00:22:00] yeah, I do think over the years he’s be developed a greater animosity toward conservative Christianity, evangelical form of it.
And so you know why, who knows he has expressed in writing in his book God’s problem that he often wakes up at night in fear of hell. And then he wrote a recent book. I think his most recent book, or at least one of them is on heaven in hell. And so it’s kind of interesting that he’s trying to take the Bible and, and read it in such a way that hell doesn’t exist.
And he says, he thinks that the Bible teaches heaven. But he doesn’t think that it’s, it’s talking about conscious torment in hell. And so that might be his way of trying to, to deal with his fear of hell when he wakes up at night and fear of it. But I mean, we just don’t know it. It’s hard to, to it.
It’s a chance he exercise to try to guess at one’s motives, all we can really do is look at the [00:23:00] actions and we do see that over the years he is become, he is like you say and evangelist, you could call him an Icono class. He’s he’s. He works hard to pulling down the icon of, of Orthodox Christianity.
You could call him an apologist for his skeptical views. I wouldn’t call him an evangelist cuz evangelist means someone who brings good news. Now he may consider it. Good news. You. But he, he is definitely trying to convince people away from believing in a conservative, Orthodox view of, of Jesus in the
Yeah. Yeah. Pseudo evangelist or sat evangelist or some something along those lines. I have not read his most recent book. It’s interesting. What you say about his, his wrestling with the whole issue of hell? I guess the difficult, there’s, there’s evangelical. Well, there’s Christians, who’ve labeled themselves evangelical that have also sort of come to similar conclusions about hell, but the difficulty with that is as you well know, is Jesus that talked to [00:24:00] the most about hell in scripture and, and gave some of the, the deepest gave us some of our deepest understandings on that.
So, you, you would kind of have to put words in his mouth. You would have to kind of populate. The later church put words in his mouth. And I don’t think there’s really any sort of textual evidence that, that happened in the case of most of his
Mike: teachings on hell. I think whatever the, whatever the nature of condemnation is, and it might be different for different people.
I, I, I don’t know. It’s not something I’ve given a lot of study to. But whatever the nature for those who reject Christ, who hear the gospel reject Christ, whatever the nature of the consequences of that is Jesus speaks in terms that it, it is something to be avoided at all costs. Right? Yeah. So I think that’s something that, we, we can agree on.
And, and I really don’t know what the nature of hell is. It’s just there are various views out. But what, what, and again, it’s nothing that I have spent a significant amount of time looking at what I, but what does seem [00:25:00] very clear is whatever it is, it’s something where to, to avoid at
Chase: all cost.
I, I don’t get this in any way, shape or form that Jesus was talking about a hypothetical Sort of danger. Alright. I, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna keep you all day. So let me ask a couple more questions and, and we’ll get outta here. So let’s, let’s do the whole elevator pitch question, but, but a little bit of a twist apologetically.
You are on an elevator with somebody and maybe you’re in a really, really big building. You got 90 seconds. You notice they’re reading a book. Christianity and they see you looking and they look at you and they say, well, what do you think about all this? What do you think of you think Jesus really rose from the dead.
So in a, in a scenario, whatever it might be, where you only have 90 seconds what are you going to tell a person who has that genuine
Mike: question? Well, I would do a, a really pared down version of the minimal facts approach and say, there’s so much we could look at here, but we can just put a case for the resurrection of Jesus, like this.
There are a number of [00:26:00] facts that are so strongly supported by the data that the a very large and heterogeneous majority of scholars, a consensus agree that these are facts. So we’re talking about things like Jesus’ death by crucifixion that shortly after his death, a number of his followers had experiences.
They interpreted as appearances of the risen Jesus to them that there was a persecutor of the church named. Who in the midst of his activities of persecuting the church, he had an experience that he interpreted as the risen, Jesus appearing to him, and it radically transformed his life from being a persecutor of the church to one of its most able defenders.
They also believed these people believed that Jesus actually rose from the dead and did so bodily physically. So now what we have to do, if we’re gonna look at this historically is put together a number of hypotheses. And see which one best accounts for those facts. And when you do that, [00:27:00] whether you’re looking at lies or hallucinations or metaphor, or Jesus survived his cross or, or whatever, it may be, Jesus had an identical twin.
The resurrection hypothesis is the only one that can account for those facts adequately. And therefore if just approaching it as a professional histor, Using the tools of historians, we can say that the resurrection probably
Chase: occurred. Great. And so if you’ve, you’re on a plane flight and you have, I don’t know, an hour to, to talk about the same thing, are you just gonna expand on the minimal facts, argument if somebody’s asking you about your reasons to believe?
Mike: Yeah, pretty much so, but I, I would say it just depends on the, on the person, it it’s like what, what they throw at you at first. I mean, they might say something like Look, I, I don’t I don’t believe the gospels and therefore I don’t believe the resurrection of Jesus. Well, I could go right to Paul, which is stronger, or it depends what mood I’m having that day.
I might, I might. Feel like, I want to talk about the gospels more. And so I might say, well, why don’t you like [00:28:00] the gospels? Well, we don’t know who wrote them. Why do you say that? Oh, well, they don’t have the I I’ve heard that the original manuscripts didn’t have the author’s name that these things were related out later on.
And then I’d say, well, did you know that of the nearly 100 biographies that are written within 100 years, 150 years on each side of Jesus. That there’s only one that has the author’s name in it. So they are technically anonymous in the same sense that the gospels are. And that’s the reason because that was standard practice, not to put the author’s name there, but somehow the ancients knew who wrote them.
And here’s why the, the Matthew mark, Luke and John came to be known as the authors of those gospels. So, I just might want to, it just depends how I’m, but generally speaking, yes, I’m gonna follow. The minimal facts approach, because it’s simple because it’s easy, it’s clear. And you just unpack it [00:29:00] as it goes along.
And, and I do this a lot on flights. It’s like, I’m sitting next to the person and. I’ll say to them, Hey, how’s it going? Maybe we’re in Atlanta cuz that’s where I, I live in the Atlanta Metro area and I’ll say so where are you headed today? And they’ll tell me, oh, do you live here in Atlanta?
Or is this a connecting flight for you? So what do you do for a living? And I talk to about them for a while and then it’s usually natural for them to say, well, what do you do for a living? Well, I I’m a historian of Jesus. I study. More, not on the theology, but on what we can prove about Jesus.
And I focused on the question of whether Jesus rose from the dead, and then I leave it at that and then, oh really? A lot of times they’ll say there’s evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. And then I just, I don’t force it. I just offer something. And if they want to go further with it, I go further with it.
If they just say, oh, well, that’s interesting. And then they turn around cuz they’re and, and. Look at their laptop or something. I know they’re not interested. And I don’t try to force the conversation [00:30:00] because I got a lot of reading that I can do on that plane. And I’m happy to do that reading that’s a great approach.
Chase: I appreciate that you don’t have a sort of Roe standard approach. I feel like some of the evangelistic training that we saw in Christianity in the seventies and eighties, it, it was good in the sense that it got people sharing their faith, but it might have been a little wooden in the sense.
Everybody was sharing their faith maybe in the exact same way. And I think a more fluid approach that involves engaging the person the way you just talked about. Honestly, probably a lot stronger in the current culture we live in. All right. So let’s get you out of there, here on this. I’ll ask you a few rapid fire questions, be as, as shorted brief or I, if you want to engage that, that’s fine, but of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite, a
Mike: favorite I’d say, but I, I do like the big book on the resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus, a new historiographical approach.
Books aren’t necessarily fun to write, but they’re, it’s fun to do the research behind them. So, but that one was fun [00:31:00] because there it’s, I’m on a journey. So I did something my doctoral supervisor suggested. So when you’re writing, try to imagine yourself as a tour guide and you’re taking people through your museum.
And so as you read through this very long, And very extensive treatment on the question of whether Jesus rose from the dead. It’s like we stop at different stations, station one. What is history? Exactly? What is it that historians do and how do they do it? And then we go to the next station. Well, there’s a big thing that gets in the way that’s gotta, it’s the elephant in the room and it’s gotta be discussed.
And that is can historians even look at miracle claims. And so we deal with that. It’s like, Then we go to the next station. Well, what is it, how what’s our first step? Well, you gotta look at your pool of sources and determine what are your best sources and why? So we look at these different, and so I take ’em through the museum.
So that was kind of neat. And then I do like the book that I wrote on gospel differences that was published [00:32:00] by Oxford university press in 2017. Why are there differences in the gospels? And in there I present a fresh approach because I just thought. Over the years, a lot of these harmonization efforts that I was reading to resolve gospel differences, they just struck me in a cold manner.
It’s like these, these things are forced in order to rescue a certain rigid view of what we mean by an errancy. And I thought there’s gotta be a better way than this. Something that really treats the scripture with respect rather than trying to bend meanings and, and force things to fit. And so, I came up with looking at compositional devices that are just common in the Greco, Roman and Jewish literature, and saying, you know what, since classicists are in wide agreement that the Greco Roman and Jewish authors are using these things, shouldn’t we expect the gospel authors to be using the same kind of devices.
What would it, what would it look like if we read the [00:33:00] gospel’s in view of these compositional devices and when you do. Significant majority of these gospel differences can be resolved quite easily, very easily. And I think in many cases, it’s the most probable most plausible explanation of why these differences are there.
So it’s an interdisciplinary approach between the classics and the new Testament literature. And so I’m really excited about that book and I’m writing and more, that’s a pretty academic version. I’m, I’m looking to write a I’m in the midst. I’m almost done actually a more easily accessible and understandable version.
For the person in the pew. That’s
Chase: important that that’s, that’s really important. Great. Nick, tell us
Mike: the name of the book again. Why are there differences in the gospels? That’s the more academic version.
Chase: Great. Awesome. Two more questions. What spiritual activity that you engage in brings you the most life or [00:34:00] encouragement or peace?
However you wanna answer that one
Mike: spiritual activity? Well, it’s like, well, what’s a spiritual activity. I mean, is it prayer? Fasting. I hate fasting so that doesn’t bring in that’s honest. Right?, I believe God’s given me a spiritual gift of teaching, so I really enjoy lecturing. I enjoy debating these things are fun for me.
So, that would bring the, I guess you could say that’s the spiritual activity that, that brings that’s most exciting to me. It’s
Chase: interesting. You’re the first person I’ve ever asked that question. That’s answered it that way. I can relate to that. As a pastor, I, you obviously teach a lot and I’ve also been a college professor for years and, and, and you teach a lot.
And I guess there’s a sense when you’re done with that, there’s, there’s a sense that you are. Drained a little bit, but there’s an even bigger sense. I think that, that it can be very refreshing and encouraging to bring out the word and interact with the word with some students. All right.
Last question. You’ve got a time machine. [00:35:00] And you can take only one trip back to sometime in church history from the second century on. So not the Bible time, second century on, and you can go listen to one person, preach one sermon or teach one class. Who are you gonna pick? Oh
Mike: boy, that’s a good question.
So I would guess it would either have to be Pius or Polycarp because, huh. Yeah. If it’s a second century person, cuz both of them lived in the very early second century and in fact, Pius probably lived in the first century Pius is when he talks about where he got his information, his, the language he uses is ambiguous.
There’s some ambiguity in it. So it can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. Oh, well, a few different ways. Some, like I AIS said that he got his information from the apostle John that Pappas personally knew the apostle John the way Pappas puts it, though, it could also be interpreted as Pappas [00:36:00] personally knew a minor disciple who knew Jesus, whose name was John.
It could also be interpreted the way he describes it. As Pappas knew an associate who had traveled with the apostle John or an associate who had traveled with the other John who had been a disciple of Jesus. So it’s one of those four, any one of them is like really good and Polycarp, there’s some decent evidence that says, suggest that he may have known the apostle John, the son of ZDI.
So either one of those, it seems to me would’ve been really good. Clement of Rome. It’s very possible that he knew the apostle Peter. Yeah. But he, but that’s a first century figure he’s writing either the middle or the end of the first century. So I would say either Pius or Polycarp, either one of them, man, to listen to them speak or to be able to sit down and talk with him a little would just be
Awesome. Anybody more recent anybody from the second century onward that you’d want to go
Mike: [00:37:00] sit and listen. Well, I wouldn’t mind, someone like Justin martyr mm-hmm or IUs those two would’ve been awesome to talk with because well, they, or Ignatius probably Ignatius because Ignatius new Clement of Rome and Polycarp.
So it would only take us one away from E even that. So the, the thing for me would be to get as close to the apostles as possible to hear the living voice of. I wouldn’t be able to hear the living voice of the apostles, but if I could get the living voice of someone who had known and traveled with the apostles and heard from them, That’d be really cool.
Yeah. Well, this has
Chase: been very enjoyable for me. I appreciate your time, Dr. Laona. I appreciate your openness and genuine answers that I think are really, really authentic. And I, I really appreciate you and your ministry and everything you had to say today. And I am looking forward to our church, which is gonna have you in an upcoming conference [00:38:00] very soon.
I’m looking forward to meeting you face to. Thanks for your time. Any any parting shots you wanna
Mike: say before we go? No. Hey, chase. I’m looking forward to the conference and thank you for inviting me. And yeah, this has been delightful being on here with you. And if someone wants more information, they can on what I’m doing, they can go to my website, risen jesus.com or visit our YouTube channel youtube.com/mike Lacona.
And we’ve got over 400 videos there.
Chase: Great YouTube channel, youtube.com/uh, Mike Laona official. Right. And that’s L I C O N a. Great, all right. Well, Dr. Lacona, may the Lord bless you and keep you and bless your family and give you a great week. Thanks again for your