The Euphemist

Reflections on Jewish Studies and many other subjects big and little, by a perpetual student who sometimes searches a little too long for just the right word ...

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Christian, truth seeker, husband, son, brother & uncle, Lutheran pastor, musician (cello, etc.), Jewish Studies grad student, intellectual historian, aquarium enthusiast & pet owner, philologist, astronomer, Norwegian-American, Ford pickup driver, buffoon.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Two or three witnesses", apologetics, epistemology, primary sources

Lately I've been reflecting upon an important, recurring theme in Biblical literature, expressed in Deuteronomy 19:15: (Biblical quotes from ESV)

A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.

And in Matthew 18:16:

But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

And in I Timothy 5:19:

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

There are many other verses on this order as well. There are the two witnesses in Revelation 11:1-3. There are the "three who testify" in I John 5:6ff. This is an important biblical theme, and it seems to me that it has a bearing upon apologetics and epistemology. It seems to me that if someone is attempting to discover a biblical epistemology, one would need to be informed by these verses. There's a claim that there's truth which can be "established" upon the testimony of several witnesses. More than one witness is needed. Two or three are necessary to establish truth. This truth is "established" and can be relied upon.

When I was working on my essays for my first Spertus course, I submitted drafts to the professor for feedback. She strongly emphasized the importance of primary sources such as "the Bible or ANET." Commentaries are important, she said, but interaction with primary sources (witnesses) is essential.

So, what are some examples of "two or three witnesses?" Here are some ideas. What do you think?

Old Testament and New Testament

Four Gospels

The Bible and one's own experience

"Heavens" and "the law of the LORD" (Psalm 19)

The "Book of God's Word" (Scripture) and the "Book of God's Works" (The Universe) (early modern scientists who were Christians, according to Francis Schaeffer in How Should We Then Live)

The Bible and Tradition (Catholic and Orthodox view)

The Bible and the Church

Presuppositionalist and Evidentialist apologetics

Various Christian denominations (considering the myriad denominational divisions, it's interesting how much unity there actually is on certain key issues such as the Trinity, the divine/human natures of Christ, etc.)

Any thoughts, comments, corrections, rebuttals, suggestions?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:41 AM  

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