Saturday, April 23, 2011

Getting Gospel sychronization wrong - Templeton-worthy?

Or, why an academic expert in engineering should NOT stick his head into New Testament studies.

Colin Humphreys, a professor of materials sciences at Cambridge, claims to have "reconciled" John and the Synoptic Gospels' different datings of Maundy Thursday and the Lord's Supper, among other Passiontime events

The Telegraph explains the work of the professor:
Matthew, Mark and Luke say that it was at the start of the Jewish feast of Passover. John writes that it happened before Passover. In his new book, The Mystery of the Last Supper, Sir Colin deploys the full gamut of biblical, historical and astronomical sources to iron out the contradiction. The first three gospel writers – known collectively as the Synoptics because they largely tell the same stories, in the same sequence, of Jesus’s life – were, he suggests, using an old-fashioned Jewish calendar, whereas John was basing his timescale on the lunar calendar in official use back then, as now. Once you take this into account, he claims, all four writers were actually referring to the same date – April 1, 33AD. This was a Wednesday, rather than a day later, marked as Maundy Thursday by Christians. Because he can pinpoint the date, Sir Colin argues, Easter should move to a fixed time each year – the first Sunday in April – rather than being the current moveable feast.
Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Humphreys ignores that Mark ("father" to Luke and Matthew's accounts on the Two-Source Hypothesis) had good reason for dating the Last Supper differently in relation to Passover. He also presumes that the four "canonical" gospels are writing historically, should be considered as historical documents and, I guess, that they should be considered as accurate ones unless clearly not.

He's clueless, and Telegraph reporter Peter Stanford, who fairly gushes over Humphreys, is no better.

Of course, with the blathering of Cambridge University Press about his book, "The Mystery of the Last Supper," Humphreys is surely in the running for a Templeton Prize

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