Thursday, April 28, 2011

Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels by Tim McGrew

In this audio file from Keith Kendrex's Evidence4Faith radio program, Dr. Tim McGrew is interviewed on the topic of Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels. Citing numerous examples, McGrew notes the cumulative case that can be made for the reliability of the scriptures by looking at textual evidence by various authors. Also check out the classic work of the same name by J.J. Blunt. And be sure to visit the Library of Historical Apologetics for more classical apologetic works.

Full Interview MP3 Audio here. (podcast here)



Patrick said...

Undesigned coincidences cannot only be detected in the Gospels. In the following undesigned coincidences in connection with the two New Testament books Acts and 1 Peter are presented.

The first set of undesigned coincidences in connection with Acts and 1 Peter might be provided by the passages in which the geographical names Pontus and Cappadocia appear, passages which we can only find in these two New Testament books. These passages are Acts 2,9, 18,2 and 1 Peter 1,1. Maybe the Jewish Christians in these areas came to faith in Christ by the sermon Peter delivered on the day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2,14-41. Maybe the pagan Christians that are addressed in 1 Peter came to faith in Christ by the witness of Jewish Christians just as according to Acts 11,20 it happened in Antioch.

Acts 2,2 and 1 Peter 1,12 are the only places in Scripture where we can read that the Holy Spirit was sent “from heaven”, and it may well be that both places refer to the same event, namely the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It could be that those who had preached the gospel to the addressees of 1 Peter were Jews from Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia who were present at Pentecost and later went back to their respective homelands and told their fellow citizens about their experience in Jerusalem. So we might have before us another case of undesigned coincidences in connection with Acts and 1 Peter.

Acts 12,12 and 15,22 on the one hand and 1 Peter 5,12-13 on the other hand might provide undesigned coincidences pointing to the fact that Mark and Silas were members of the church in Jerusalem. This set of undesigned coincidences is based on the assumption that “Babylon” mentioned in 1 Peter 5,13 refers to Jerusalem and not to Rome. Very good arguments in favour of this view can be found in James Stuart Russell’s book “The Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord's Second Coming” (London 1878) on pp. 346-350.

Brian said...

Thanks, Patrick.
Note also that the book linked includes an abundance of Old and New Testament examples.

Kyle Essary said...

When I first heard about this after someone posted the lecture down at New Orleans, I thought, "Hmmm...interesting concept, but can be explained synoptically." Then I listened to the lecture and thought, "Wait...there's a lot more to this." I started looking more into it and think this is a very strong argument for the veracity of the Gospels in particular, and as Patrick said above, for the NT in general. The book you link to is a must read.

Anonymous said...

Synoptic reasoning is inefficient. The subject of the four Gospels are based on four passages of Messiah as "the branch".

But many "harmonizers" see similar events in the Gospels and assume that they are identical.

Invalid reasoning.

Jesus' first sermon plain or mount?

Mat 5:1. "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain"

Luk 6:17. "And he came down with them, and stood in the plain"

ERROR: No variable for "first" in either passage.


See Mat 8:14. Luk 4:38.

IF Jesus gave a sermon on a mountain (P), THEN it was before they went to (Simon) Peter's House (Q). Mat 5:1; 8:14.

IF it was before they went to (Simon) Peter's House (Q), THEN it was before Jesus gave a sermon on a plain (R). Luk 4:38; 6:17.

THEREFORE, IF Jesus gave a sermon on a mountain (P), THEN it was before Jesus gave a sermon on a plain (R).

P -> Q
Q -> R
├ P -> R


How many blind men besought Jesus?

Matthew 20:30 has two blind men, although Luke 18:35-38 states only one.

ERROR: no variable for "only" in either passage.


P: Jesus healed only two blind men

Q: as they departed from Jericho Mat 20:29.

~Q: as He was come nigh unto Jericho Luk 18:35.

IF Jesus healed only two blind men (P), THEN it was as they DEPARTED from Jericho (Q). Mat 20:29.

He was COME NIGH unto Jericho (~Q). Luk 18:35.

THEREFORE, NOT Jesus healed only two blind men (~P).

P -> Q
├ ~P


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