By Keith Thompson
In his article New Testament anachronism: The anachronistic tale of Mark 2:26 Ibn Anwar argued Mark 2:26 is anachronistic in light of allegedly teaching that Abiathar was serving as high priest when David ate the Holy Bread of the Presence in 1 Samuel 21 since his Father Ahimelech was actually the one serving as high priest when that occurred. We responded with the article Ibn Anwar’s False Charge of Anachronistic Error: An Exegetical Examination of Mark 2:26 arguing along with various scholars there is no error. We affirmed Jesus was employing prolepsis which was and is a common device where you have an anticipatory assigning of a title or name to something or someone at a time in which such title or name wasn’t actually used yet for the thing or person in question. Otherwise put, you speak of a future event or title which is presumed to have happened or been given. Hence, it would be true to speak of that event with David as happening in the time of Abiathar the high priest (since he would later become an important high priest). He was mentioned here by Jesus instead of his father Ahimelech because of his prominent role in that period of history (more on that below).
We explored numerous instances in which prolepsis was utilized in the Old and New Testaments. We quoted various scholars who affirm and argue for this position. We gave some examples of how this device is also used today (i.e., how one could validly speak of “the Apostle Paul” doing his early studies in Rabbinic traditions even though he wasn’t Apostle at that time). And finally we refuted Ibn Anwar’s conspiratorial reasons, where he appealed to the fact that Matthew and Luke, as well as some of the later copies of Mark, either change or remove the mention of Abiathar altogether, to show that these sources clearly saw that Mark had made a mistake.
Ibn Anwar “responded” with a rejoinder entitled New Testament Anachronism Part 2: The Anachronistic Take of Mark 2:26, Part 2 which we will address in this paper.
Ibn Anwar’s Blatant Distortion of Dr. Daniel B. Wallace’s Position on Mark 2:26
In Ibn Anwar’s rejoinder he quotes a paper written by Dr. Daniel B. Wallace. Ibn Anwar represents Wallace as affirming that Mark 2:26 should not be read as “in the days of Abiathar the high priest,” but as “when Abiathar was high priest,” thereby tipping the evidence in favour of Ibn Anwar’s view. This is the section Ibn Anwar quoted from Wallace’s paper:
The second possible hermeneutical solution is that ἐπὶ Ἀβιαθὰρ ἀρχιερέως could possibly be translated “in the days of Abiathar the high priest.” This was the view of Grotius, Wetstein, Wordsworth, Scholz, and many others. It is the wording of the KJV as well, though the KJV is based on a different text here (which has τοῦ before ἀρχιερέως). Thomas Fanshaw Middleton, in his still unexcelled treatment of the article in the Greek NT, spends much time on this interpretation, but he bases his views on the articular reading. Indeed, Middleton provides the basis for this view’s rejection: “That reading [the one without the article which is adopted in NA27]… would indeed mean, that Abiathar was actually High Priest at the period in question. Middleton cites several classical references to back up his statement. In grammatical terms, we could say ἐπὶ Ἀβιαθὰρ ἀρχιερέως involves a predicate genitive (“when Abiathar was high priest”) while ἐπὶ Ἀβιαθὰρ τοῦ ἀρχιερέως involves an appositive to Ἀβιαθάρ (“in the time of Abiathar the high priest”).
Ibn Anwar stops here and concludes with the following gratuitous assertion: “The fact of the matter is the verse correctly reads as ‘when Abiathar was high priest.’” However, what Ibn Anwar failed to tell his readers is that not only does Wallace go on to reject the above view in his paper which Ibn Anwar accepts (which is actually Middleton’s view), but Wallace goes on to argue for the view that the text should read “in the days of Abiathar the high priest,” which is the very position we have been arguing for! Wallace continues later in the appendix:
As for view 5, my preference right now is to take the prepositional phrase as meaning “in the days of Abiathar the high priest.” Although Mark apparently does not employ the temporal use of this preposition elsewhere, he almost surely does so here—for both “when Abiathar was high priest” and “in the days of Abiathar the high priest” are temporal expressions. Further, the construction ἐπί + genitive noun is frequently used with a temporal sense outside of Mark—with a meaning similar to ‘in the days of…’ BDAG lists numerous biblical and patristic references under ἐπί with a genitive for time, all in the sense of “in the time of, under (kings or other rulers).” Cf., e.g., Luke 4.27 (‘in the time of Elisha’), Luke 3.2 (‘in the time of the high priest, Annas and Caiaphas’) and even Mark 2.26 (‘in the time of Abiathar the high priest’). Two questions remain: (1) Can any of these texts mean ‘in the time of’ as distinct from ‘when’? That is, can they mean something like “the 1990s will forever be linked to Clinton’s presidency,” even though he was not president for the whole decade? (2) If so, do any of them have ἐπί + genitive proper noun, followed by an anarthrous common noun? Without examining all the data supplied by BDAG, Luke 3.2 looks to be the closest parallel to Mark 2.26, even though ‘high priest’ comes before the two names (the grammatical meaning differs when the proper name comes second; no article is required). But if these two men did not function as high priest simultaneously—and since the singular event of the word of the Lord coming to John the Baptist was during their high priesthood, then this seems to be a clear text in support of the general time frame of ‘in the days of.’ More work certainly needs to be done, but suffice it to say that this view has a certain plausibility and cannot be hastily rejected.”
In this article Wallace is giving an elaborate and detailed overview of the different approaches to interpret this phrase and discusses pro and con arguments for many views that have been proposed. In the appendix Wallace presents his own personal view. Ibn Anwar quotes from the part where Wallace discusses other views and basically attributes that opinion to Wallace which either shows he has not understood the paper, or worse, intentionally misrepresents it.
Lastly, Wallace indicates that the BAGD (The Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker Lexicon) mentions both “in the time of” and “under ‘the administration of’” as possible renderings in regards to these kinds of constructions (not just the latter as Ibn Anwar implies in his article).(1)
For scholars who agree with us concerning the proleptic conclusion based on the rendering Wallace agrees with (“in the days of Abiathar the high priest”), we refer readers back the material in our first article where Archer, Tsumura, and Hurtado(2) affirm/argue for it. Ibn Anwar did not address them directly. In this article we will cite many more scholars and arguments for this view to balance out Ibn Anwar’s one-sided argument.
Further Material Suggesting the Correct Rendering
Wallace has provided evidence above for the correct rendering which Ibn Anwar conveniently left out of his paper. His arguments serve as arguments against those who would assert that the phrase ought to be rendered “when Abiathar was high priest.” And we have also quoted Danker’s new lexicon at the end of endnote 1 to further support our view. Moreover, many of the major translations are in agreement with our view that it should be rendered “in the days of Abiathar the high priest” (NIV, AKJV, WBT), or “in the time of Abiathar the high priest” (ESV, NASB, ISV “in the lifetime”). Ibn Anwar also failed to mention this.
In the Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible, New Testament, Volume 4, published in 2009 and translated by the noted scholar Dr. Jay. P. Green, Sr., the literal translation offered for Mark 2:26 is: “How he entered the house of God in (the days of) Abiathar (who afterwards became) the high priest…”(3) What is more, in his Interlinear New Testament in Greek and English the respected British scholar of New Testament Greek, Dr. Alfred Marshall, affirms the fact that epi with the genitive here means “in the days of.”(4)
Ibn Anwar’s Specious Appeal to Dr. Henry Alford’s Argument Against the Correct Rendering
Ibn Anwar quotes Christopher Wordsworth who agrees with us:
[The phrase] suggests that he was not the High Priest then, and the reference is made to him as a celebrated High Priest; and indeed he is mentioned in the next chapter of the history, as the High Priest who followed David with the Urim and Thummim, when he was persecuted by Saul.(5)
However, Ibn Anwar then quotes Henry Alford who attempts to refute Wordsworth’s view (our view):
The insertion of the art. before ___. has been apparently done to give the words the sense ‘In the time of Abiathar the High-priest,’ so that the difficulty might be avoided by understanding the event to have happened in the time of (but not necessarily during the high-priesthood of) Abiathar (who was afterwards) the High-priest. But supposing the reading to be so, what author would in an ordinary narrative think of designating an event thus? Who for instance would speak of the defeat of the Philistines at Ephesdammim, Where Goliath fell, as happening έπί Δαυείδ τον βασιλίως? Who would ever understand έρί Έλισσαίον τον προφήτον’ in the time of Eliseus the prophet,’ as importing, in matter of fact, any other period than that of the prophetic course of Elisha?(6)
Alford’s central argument is that if we grant this rendering, he doesn’t understand why Jesus would bother to make mention of Abiathar the later high priest instead of his father who actually gave David the bread. However, I already answered this question in my first rebuttal which Ibn Anwar neglected to address properly. I quoted the highly respected scholar Dr. Gleason L. Archer who notes Abiathar’s important role in history surrounding that period. And this is the reason why Abiathar was mentioned:
Abiathar the son of Ahimelech was the only one fortunate enough to escape. He fled to join David (v. 20) and served as his high priest all through David’s years of wandering and exile. Naturally he was appointed high priest by David after David became king, and he shared the high priesthood with Zadok, Saul’s appointee, until David’s death. Under these circumstances it was perfectly proper to refer to Abiathar as the high priest – even though his appointment as such came somewhat later ... The episode did happen ‘in the time of’ Abiathar; he was not only alive but actually present when the event took place, and he very shortly afterward became high priest...(7)
This is why in my previous article I argued, “Abiathar’s role was very crucial and noteworthy during that period and to make note of his future priesthood in that episode is befitting.” Moreover, Ahimelech had very little connection or interaction with David in the Old Testament. Abiathar had a significantly larger connection with him. I also quoted Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch who provided more reasons as to why Jesus would mention Abiathar instead of his father in relation to this episode.(8) As argued below by Dr. Clinton E. Arnold, Jesus was using Abiathar as an eponym. And also Dr. Walter Kaiser has some comments below as to the reason Abiathar was mentioned instead.
Therefore, Ibn Anwar has simply provided arguments in his recent paper from people who already stand refuted by our initial response. If he would have given the sources a serious examination and actually thought through the issues, he would not have even provided Alford’s specious argument. However, it’s clear that the only reason he did so was to “stack the deck,” so to speak.
Stacking the Deck Against Ibn Anwar to Even the Playing Field
As noted Ibn Anwar feels that you can refute your opponent’s arguments by quoting numerous scholars who don’t directly deal with your opponent’s specific points. This method is appealing and acceptable to those who are not truly concerned with truth and facts, since such people could not care less if what their opponent actually said is directly refuted. As long as there is the appearance or semblance of a direct refutation (masked by voluminous quotations, many of which are totally irrelevant), that is all that matters to such individuals. Therefore, before we tackle the other problems with Ibn Anwar’s citations, I will show that we can also “stack the deck” on this issue. I will now quote numerous scholars we have not yet cited who offer comments and arguments supportive of our position.
The Venerable Bede (A.D. 637 – 745), a noted early linguist and scholar, affirmed our position with respect to this issue long ago:
There is, however, no discrepancy, for both were there, when David came to ask for bread, and received it: that is to say, Abimelech, the High Priest, and Abiathar his son; but Abimelech having been slain by Saul, Abiathar fled to David, and became the companion of all his exile afterwards. When he came to the throne, he himself also received the rank of High Priest, and the son became of much greater excellence than the father, and therefore was worthy to be mentioned as the High Priest, even during his father's life-time.(9)
The 17th century theologian Hugo Grotius (A. D. 1583-1645) likewise affirmed this position. James McKnight notes that Grotius, “… supposes, that Abiathar being a more celebrated person than his father, is mentioned rather than him.”(10)
In his 1897 tome Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the Scottish scholar Dr. Matthew George Easton concurs:
The apparent discrepancy is satisfactorily explained by interpreting the words in Mark as referring to the life-time of Abiathar, and not to the term of his holding the office of high priest. It is not implied in Mark that he was actual high priest at the time referred to.(11)
In their commentary, the respected scholars Drs. Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown, noted:
Mark (Mar. 2:26) says this occurred ‘in the days of Abiathar the high priest.’ But this means not during his high priesthood - for it was under that of his father Ahimelech - but simply, in his time. Ahimelech was soon succeeded by Abiathar, whose connection with David, and prominence during his reign, may account for his name, rather than his father’s, being here introduced.(12)
The 19th century scholar from Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Barnes wrote:
The probable reason why Mark says it was in the days of Abiathar, is that Abiathar was better known than Ahimelech. The son of the high priest was regarded as his successor, and was often associated with him in the duties of his office. It was not improper, therefore, to designate him as high priest, even during the life of his father, especially as that was the name by which he was afterwards known. Abiathar, moreover, in the calamitous times when David came to the throne, left the interest of Saul, and fled to David, bringing with him the ephod, one of the peculiar garments of the high priest. For a long time, during David's reign, he was high priest, and it became natural, therefore, to associate his name with that of David; to speak of David as king, and Abiathar the high priest of his time. This will account for the fact that he was spoken of, rather than his father. At the same time this was strictly true, that this was done in the days of Abiathar, who was afterwards high priest, and was familiarly spoken of as such; as we say that General Washington was present at the defeat of Braddock, and saved his army; though the title of general did not belong to him till many years afterwards.(13)
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary, edited by the noted scholars Dr. Walter A. Elwell and Dr. Philip Wesley Comfort, states:
In the NT, Abiathar is mentioned as the high priest when David came to Nob needing food and weapons (Mk 2:26). The OT account says that Ahimelech was the priest at the time (1 Sam 21:1-2). The apparent discrepancy may have resulted from a copyists error or from the fact that Abiathar as a high priest was more prominent than Ahimelech.(14)
Professor of Biblical languages at Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College, Dr. Thomas Howe, and Dr. Norman Geisler who earned his Ph.D. from Loyola University, note:
First Samuel is correct in stating that the high priest was Ahimelech. On the other hand, neither was Jesus wrong. When we take a close look at Christ’s words, we notice that He used the phrase “in the days of Abiathar” (v. 26), which does not necessarily imply that Abiathar was high priest at the time David ate the bread. After David met Ahimelech and ate the bread, King Saul had Ahimelech killed (1 Sam. 22:17–19). Abiathar escaped and went to David (v. 20) and later took the place of the high priest. So even though Abiathar was made high priest after David ate the bread, it is still correct to speak in this manner. After all, Abiathar was alive when David did this, and soon following he became the high priest after his father’s death. Thus, it was during the time of Abiathar, but not during his tenure in office.(15)
Professor of systematic theology and dean of doctoral studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Charles Ryrie wrote:
… while the event actually happened during Ahimelech’s priesthood, he soon was killed and Abiathar, who also would have been exercising priestly functions at that time, shortly became high priest and proved to be more prominent than Ahimelech. Mark was not saying Abiathar was actually high priest when the event took place, but he was a ministering priest and soon became a very prominent high priest. Similarly one might speak of some event that occurred in the senatorial years of John F. Kennedy and refer to it as happening in the days of Kennedy, the president. He was not president when it happened, rather a senator; but he is identified as Kennedy the president because he (later) became president.(16)
Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at the John Paul II Institute at The Catholic University of America in Washington, Dr. Joseph C. Atkinson notes:
… in Mark 2:26 the proposition (epi) could mean ‘in the time of’ and would thus only indicate that Abiathar was still alive at the time but was not necessarily High Priest.(17)
The eminent scholars Drs. D. A. Carson and Gregory Beale, who earned their doctorates from Cambridge University, note:
Ominously, the Nob incident is also significant because it becomes the catalyst for the decisive shift of Yahweh from Saul to David (in the form of the ephod). Thus, although the Markan Jesus’ referencing of Abiathar instead of Ahimelech might be substituting the more important for the less ... Abiathar’s later role is worth noting.(18)
Professor of Old Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Merrill F. Unger notes:
The reference to Abiathar in Mark 2:26 as high priest at Nob (instead of his father Ahimelech, as recounted in 1 Sam. 21:1) is to be explained under the supposition either that our Lord used the name of the more famous priest of the two, who, though not then actually being high priest, was at the Tabernacle at the time alluded to, or that the son acted as coadjutor to his father as Eli’s sons apparently did (4:4).(19)
Department chair of New Testament studies at Talbot School of Theology, Dr. Clinton E. Arnold contends that this is an example of an eponym which is consistent with our view:
Abiathar, however, was the high priest particularly associated with David, and this reference may be an example of eponymous dating for this period – during the Abiathar era.(20)
Abiathar’s role as eponym would be that his name represented an era or period surrounding David. Therefore, for Jesus to make note of it, instead of his father’s, is understandable.
The Believer’s Bible Commentary written by William McDonald the former President of Emmaus Bible College, and edited by Dr. Art Farstad, former president of the Majority Text Society and translator of New King James Version, reads:
Abiathar may have been assisting his father as high priest and thus could so be designated. Or, since Abiathar was more prominent in history than was his father Ahimelech, he is so mentioned here instead of Ahimelech. If this is so (and it seems to be), then Abiathar is called the ‘high priest’ before he actually assumed that office.(21)
Dr. William Hendriksen received his ThD from Princeton Theological Seminary, serving as professor of New Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary. He authored the New Testament Commentary series with Dr. Simon Kistemaker, published by Baker Academic. In his commentary on Mark we read:
… the man who here in Mark 2:26 is called ‘high priest’ was definitely alive and active when David entered the court of the house of God. The action took place ‘in his time.’ It is true that at the moment when the bread was given to David and his men and consumed by them, Abiathar was not yet highpriest. This, however, does not prove that Mark–really Jesus, for Mark is reporting his words–was in error when he said ‘in the days of Abiathar the highpriest.’ It is not at all unusual to designate a place or a man by a name which did not belong to it or him until later. Thus Gen. 12:8 mentions ‘Bethel,’ though in the days of Abraham it was called ‘Luz’ (Gen. 28:19). We do the same thing even today. We say, ‘It happened in the Marne (Michigan),’ when we mean, ‘It happened in Berlin, which today is called Marne.’ Or, ‘The house was sold to Gen. Smith,’ though we know very well that at the time when Smith became the owner of the house he was not yet a general. Scripture contains many examples of abbreviated expression–on which see N. T. C. on John, Vol. I, p. 206–, and so does our everyday conversation.(22)
So along with Archer, Tsumura, Hahn, Mitch, Hurtado and Wallace, we have cited many other scholars who support our position in various ways. Both sides can present scholars who say things which agree with their position in some way on all kinds of issues. However, the difference between Ibn Anwar’s method and mine is that I put forth the effort to address what his side is actually saying (though many often repeat positions or arguments which were already refuted, rendering the need to refute every individual unnecessary).
Ibn Anwar, however, has made no serious effort to actually deal with many of the specific arguments which I have presented from the scholars who embrace them. Not only that, but he is fond of distorting the position of the scholars he does quote. He has mistakenly assumed that by quoting a number of certain scholars who don’t actually interact with what we’re saying specifically, that this constitutes as a direct refutation of the material he is supposed to deal with. However, as noted, Ibn Anwar failed to zero in on much of what he is burdened with addressing.
Ibn Anwar’s Appeal to D. M. Murdock in his First Paper Doesn’t Help Him
In his first article Ibn Anwar hastily quoted D. M. Murdock although she is agreeing with the rendering “at the time of Abiathar the high priest,” thereby contradicting Ibn Anwar’s assertion that it should read “when Abiathar was high priest.” Although Murdock doesn’t grasp or directly interact with the proleptic point that “at the time of Abiathar the high priest” or “in the days of Abiathar the high priest” has Jesus referring to Abiathar’s later priesthood in an anticipatory sense without actually saying Abiathar was serving as high priest during this episode, she does adopt our rendering and not Ibn Anwar’s.
So we must thank Ibn Anwar for quoting people who he thinks refute us, when in reality they end up agreeing with our rendering and not his.
Those who Don’t Take a Position
Another problem with Ibn Anwar’s method is that he quotes certain overly cautious scholars (e.g. Kaiser, Bruce, Davids, Brauch, Broadus, Alexander) who don’t take a position or who say we can’t know the answer. However, this is insufficient insofar as offering a positive refutation of the prolepsis argument is concerned. These types of citations do nothing to actually prove that the arguments for Mark 2:26 being a proleptic passage are incorrect. In fact, none of the above people quoted even attempt to refute the prolepsis argument in the material Ibn Anwar presented. In response to them I would just say that they need to interact with the proleptic arguments posited by numerous scholars.
With respect to Kaiser, however, he helped write a collaborative book edited by numerous scholars as Ibn Anwar pointed out. The conclusion of that book was that we can’t know the correct answer to this issue. However, in the recent 2010 The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 1: Revised Full-Color Edition (eBook) Kaiser’s own view is that it is very possible to say that, “(epi Abiathar archiereos, ‘the days of Abiathar the high priest,’ NIV) may denote the period when Abiathar served as priest, including the time during which his father was living. It may also have been a more convenient reference for the people of Jesus’ day, since the priest associated so long with David was more famous than his father.” Notice Kaiser posits this view as a strong possibility without forcefully discounting it or asserting we can never know the answer. Hence, these scholars must be read in their totality and not solely judged based on collaborative books they were involved with.
Ibn Anwar’s Argument Regarding Letter and Spirit Edited by Dr. Scott Hahn
Ibn Anwar errs in thinking that because Dr. Scott Hahn edited a book where a contributor (Atkinson quoted above) mentions the fact that a liberal Cardinal is unwilling to accept our reconciliation of Mark 2:26 (Atkinson himself affirming we can reconcile it), that therefore Hahn himself is now an “inadequate resource” for us. Ibn Anwar offers this odd argument:
In his “rebuttal” Thompson also makes an innocuous appeal to Scott Hahn thinking that he will help his case. Unfortunately, Scott Hahn will prove to be an inadequate resource for him as well. In Letter and Spirit in which Hahn is one of the contributing authors and chief editors Joseph Atkinson cites their late superior the Austrian cardinal Franz Konig who forwarded the position of “limited inerrancy” and to that effect appealed to Mark 2:26 as one of the examples of the fact that not the whole of the Bible is safeguarded from error. To be sure, Atkinson disagrees with Konig and assumes the worn out solution that έπί could refer to a period of time which may not necessarily point to Abiathar’s high priesthood.
However, Ibn Anwar isn’t reading this book correctly. This book says nothing about the validity of Hahn’s argument from his other book The Gospel of Mark, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible which I quoted in my first paper. Moreover, in this book (Letter and Spirit) Hahn, though being editor, doesn’t support Cardinal König despite the fact that the contributor Atkinson makes mention of König’s unwillingness to accept our view of Mark 2:26 in his essay. Neither does the mention of König’s opinion say anything about validity of Atkinson’s position. Atkinson favours our position as I quoted him above and as Ibn Anwar has stated. I have offered many arguments in support of this view in answer to Ibn Anwar’s recent arguments. All that Atkinson’s mention of Cardinal Franz König’s rejection of our view demonstrates is that a liberal Cardinal doesn’t believe we can reconcile the issue of Mark 2:26. However, it has not been shown that König presented any meaningful argumentation against our proleptic view. So Atkinson’s mention of his position is irrelevant for this discussion.
So to erroneously say “Hahn will prove to be an inadequate resource,” or that Hahn won’t “help” our position is nothing more than a desperate attempt at evading the argument through smoke and mirrors tactics. Ibn Anwar is simply demonstrating his willingness to misuse authorities and to pervert the meaning and intent of the authors he or others cite. Hahn does in fact help our case, just as my first paper clearly demonstrated, despite the fact that in a different book in which Hahn was the editor, mention is made of this liberal Cardinal’s faulty position (which neither Hahn nor Atkinson even support!). This was by far one of Ibn Anwar’s most specious arguments. Ibn Anwar has failed to adequately address Hahn’s points from my first paper and this shoddy smokescreen won’t make up for that fact.
Ibn Anwar also noted how I have previously said I believe Roman Catholicism to be a false position in a past conversation with him and asks, “Why would he appeal to a false Christian namely Scott Hahn…?” The only way that would be a relevant question is if I believed Roman Catholic scholars could never say anything true. But I don’t believe that. My position is that when one speaks on theology or morals in accordance with Holy Scripture (i.e., being consistent with it) by happenstance, they are speaking truth on that subject no matter what broader theology they hold to. However, if what one says is inconsistent with Holy Scripture flowing solely from an unregenerate heart, then yes it is suspect.
Moreover, this attack is completely self-refuting and entirely disqualifies Ibn Anwar’s article. From beginning to end, Ibn Anwar quotes Christian scholars (some evangelical, some conservative, yet most of them liberal) but all of them Christian scholars of some sort. And here is the problem: As a Muslim, he has to consider them unbelievers. If my argument fails because I quoted from a Catholic author, and I disagree with and reject Catholicism, how can Ibn Anwar’s argument be valid since he is rejecting Christianity and his argument is based on Christian scholars who are unbelievers from a Muslim perspective?
Ibn Anwar’s Inconsistency Shown by his Love for Liberal and Kuffar Scholarship
Despite the fact that Ibn Anwar has quoted some conservative scholars, it can not be denied that he relies heavily on unbelieving or liberal scholars in his papers as we have seen (e.g. Ehrman, Brown, and Murdock even though she uses a rendering of this verse that actually contradicts Ibn Anwar’s argument etc). But it must be asked: Is Ibn Anwar’s reliance on unbelievers and liberals consistent? That is, should a person who believes in God, in miracles, in genies like Satan who urinates in people’s ears(23), in Muhammad flying on a creature which was larger than a donkey, but smaller than a mule, throughout the seven heavens(24) etc., appeal to the assertions from people whose worldviews will not allow for the supernatural or for God inspiring writers and preserving their writings?
It doesn’t make much sense to heavily rely on those whose worldviews will not allow for the supernatural (a major factor in their reading and handling of texts and alleged discrepancies) when you yourself do not hold to their presuppositions. Everyone has presuppositions and, whether we admit it or not, they do contribute to the conclusions and views we take. As the eminent reformed Christian scholar and philosopher Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen has noted:
A ‘presupposition’ is an elementary assumption in one’s reasoning or in the process by which opinions are formed. . . . [It] is not just any assumption in an argument, but a personal commitment that is held at the most basic level of one’s network of beliefs. Presuppositions form a wide-ranging, foundational perspective (or starting point) in terms of which everything else is interpreted and evaluated.”(25)
Ibn Anwar would not share the anti-supernaturalistic presuppositions of the unbelievers and liberals he admires. Therefore, to rely heavily on them when their stances are highly reflective of and geared by their denial of the supernatural and thus divinely-driven perceivability of harmonization is inconsistent.
Ibn Anwar would not accept the views or statements of unbelieving and liberal scholars who take the Quran apart while presupposing atheism or agnosticism, and who further deny Allah’s ability to accurately and miraculously produce the Quran through the illiterate Muhammad and his scribes. So why, then, when it comes to Christianity and the Holy Bible do Muslims like Ibn Anwar rely heavily on those who have fundamentally contradictory worldviews concerning the supernatural?
Do Muslim writers like Ibn Anwar not take into consideration the fact that if many of these same unbelievers and liberals were to analyze the Quran through the lens of their presuppositions that he and other Muslims would object and demand that they approach the text with some level of fairness/openness, and not merely presuppose naturalism and the impossibility of the contrary? Would Ibn Anwar seriously allow them to simply get away with their unbelief while approaching the text and not challenge it or note that it’s a major factor which seriously affects how they approach the Islamic sources? The answer is surely not. As Frederick M. Denny has noted:
It is important to observe here that modern Western critical scholarship on the history of the Quran text is not widely accepted by Muslim scholars. There is much agreement on details, because all scholars must use the same basic sources, but the relative evaluations and interpretations of these sources vary considerably in some instances.(26)
Therefore, I can not respect or take seriously this inconsistent modern Muslim tendency involving the employment of double standards. As the noted Christian scholar and apologist Dr. James R. White has stated concerning this common inconsistency:
Those who have listened to the Shabir Ally debate know that my primary emphasis in the encounter was to assert that if Muslims are going to deny the inspiration of the New Testament as it exists today (notice I purposefully allowed for the opening up of the textual critical issue) they need to do so on consistent grounds. Using one form of argumentation to attack the New Testament while rejecting that same kind of argumentation when it is applied to the Qur'an is inconsistent, and inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument. Allowing liberal theologians and historians to run amok in New Testament studies while demanding the most conservative viewpoints possible in defending the Qur'an would involve fallacious argumentation, and I asserted that this is what I have heard, consistently, from Islamic apologists in my studies of their arguments.(27)
An Exhortation to Actually Deal with the Evidence
Seeing that it has been clearly demonstrated that Ibn Anwar misuses and distorts the position of scholars, that we can both quote numerous scholars in favour of our views, that he quotes scholars who already stand refuted by our first paper, that he quotes scholars who actually refute him in a major way, that I have interacted with the claims of Ibn Anwar and his scholars, that Ibn Anwar omits and often times doesn’t interact with what the other side has to say on pertinent issues, and that Ibn Anwar is inconsistent in his constant appeal to and reliance on liberals and unbelievers, I expect him to now actually address my central points.
Since I have argued that the phrase in Mark 2:26 should read “in the days of Abiathar the high priest,” Ibn Anwar now needs to deal with my proleptic argument which follows. He needs to address the fact that this was a common Old and New Testament device, that many scholars have argued for Mark 2:26 prolepsis and eponymous dating with various arguments, that Archer, Hahn, Mitch, Arnold, Kaiser, myself and others have argued for the reason as to why Jesus would mention Abiathar instead of his father in light of prolepsis, and that I addressed his arguments based on later Markan manuscripts omitting the mention of Abiathar as well as Matthew and Luke’s omissions. He also needs to explain why he doesn’t accuse the Islamic sources of anachronism seeing that the early Islamic literature also incorporates this literary device(28). Failure to address these things will only demonstrate the falsity and weakness of Ibn Anwar’s position and the fact that he is unable to honestly deal with the best of what the other side has to offer.
Christ has risen, He is Lord!
1.) Ibn Anwar quotes BAGD lexicon p. 367 published in 2000: “marker of temporal associations, in the time of, at, on, for – w. gen., time within which an event or condition takes place (Hom.+) in the time of, under (kings or other rulers): in the time of Elisha Lk 4:27 (cp. Just., D. 46, 6 έ. Ήλίου). έ. τής μετοικεσίας at the time of the exile Mt 1:11. Under = during the administration of (Hes., Op. 111; Hdt. 6, 98 al.; OGI 90, 15; PAmh 43, 2 [173 BC]; UPZ 162 V, 5 [117 BC]; 1 Esdr 2:12; 1 Macc 13:42; 2 Macc 15:22; Jos., Ant. 12, 156 ” έ. Άβιάθαρ άρχιερέως under, in the time of, Abiathar the high priest Mk 2:26…” (italics mine). Ibn Anwar argues that, “the above agrees with our position in identifying Mark 2:26 as an instance of the use of the preposition which posits the meaning of under/during the administration of Abiathar as High Priest.” However, Ibn Anwar isn’t reading this lexicon correctly. This lexicon is aiming at providing two possible meanings for Mark 2:26: “under ‘the administration of’” and “in the time of” (general time delineation) which supports our view. It’s not both/and, and it’s not a conflation of the two ideas which is being presented. When BAGD says, “under, in the time of, Abiathar the high priest Mk 2:26,” the comma between “under’ and “in the time of” is a purposeful indicator (common in many lexicons; e.g. Brown Driver Briggs Lexicon for repetitive examples) that both ideas are possible here. But, as the other information shows, and as Wallace notes, the data tips the evidence in favour of our rendering which is “in the time of Abiathar the high priest.” As Wallace’s article shows in light of the BAGD entry: “Two questions remain: (1) Can any of these texts mean ‘in the time of’ as distinct from ‘when’? That is, can they mean something like “the 1990s will forever be linked to Clinton’s presidency,” even though he was not president for the whole decade? (2) If so, do any of them have ἐπί + genitive proper noun, followed by an anarthrous common noun? Without examining all the data supplied by BDAG, Luke 3.2 looks to be the closest parallel to Mark 2.26, even though ‘high priest’ comes before the two names (the grammatical meaning differs when the proper name comes second; no article is required). But if these two men did not function as high priest simultaneously—and since the singular event of the word of the Lord coming to John the Baptist was during their high priesthood, then this seems to be a clear text in support of the general time frame of ‘in the days of.’ More work certainly needs to be done, but suffice it to say that this view has a certain plausibility and cannot be hastily rejected” (italics mine). Therefore, Ibn Anwar has misread BAGD and Wallace himself ends up refuting him. What is more, after contributing to the BAGD lexicon published in 2000, Frederick William Danker has authored a new lexicon published in 2009 where he affirms our view: “as marker specifying time–a. w. gen. in/at the time of Mt 1:11; Mk 2:26; Lk 3:2a; 4:27” (Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, [University of Chicago Press, 2009], p. 140).
2.) Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, [Regency Reference Library, 1982], p. 362; David Toshio Tsumura, The First Book of Samuel, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007], p. 529; Larry Hurtado, Mark, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, [Baker Books, 2011], (eBook).
3.) Jay Patrick Green, Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible, New Testament, Volume 4, [Sovereign Grace Publishers, 2009], p. 112.
4.) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear NRSV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, [Zondervan, 1994], p. 106.
5.) Christopher Wordsworth quoted in Harvey Goodwin, A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, , p. 40 parentheses mine.
6. Henry Alford, The Greek Testament: With a Critically Revised Text: A Digest of Various Readings, Marginal References to Verbal and Idiomatic Usage: Prolegomena and a Critical and Exegetical Commentary, , p. 323 emphasis mine.
7. Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, [Regency Reference Library, 1982], p. 362.
8.) Scott Hahn, Curtis Mitch, The Gospel of Mark, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Catholic Edition, [Ignatius Press, 2001], p. 22. They argue Jesus' point was to: “…post a warning for the Pharisees. Abiathar is infamous in OT history as the last high priest of his line, who was banished from Jerusalem and the priesthood for opposing Solomon, the son of David and the heir of his kingdom (1 Kings 2:26-27). He thus represents the end of an old order that passes away with the coming of David’s royal successor. As Jesus compares himself and the disciples with David and his men, he likewise draws the Pharisees into the story by casting them as figures like Abiathar. The Pharisees, then, represent an old order of covenantal leadership that is about to expire, and if they persist in their opposition to Jesus, the new heir of the Davidic kingdom, they will meet the same disastrous fate that befell Abiathar. Jesus’ allusion to this OT tradition was a subtle yet strategic way to caution the Pharisees against their antagonism to his ministry.”
9.) Bede quoted in Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Volume 3, [J. Parker, 1874], p. 51.
10.) James McKnight, A Harmony of the Four Gospels: In Which the Natural Order of Each is Preserved: With a Paraphrase and Notes, Volume 2, [Printed for William Strahan, 1763], p. 5.
11.) M. G. Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, [Cosimo, Inc., 2006], p. 5.
12.) Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, , p. 39.
13.) Albert Barnes, Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, [Kregel Publications, 1962], p. 151.
14.) Tyndale House Publishers, Walter A. Elwell, Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, eds. Walter A. Elwell, Philip Wesley Comfort, [Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2001], p. 4 italics mine.
15.) Norman L. Geisler, Thomas Howe, Making Sense of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation, revised abridged, [Baker Books, 2009], p. 176.
16.) Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth, [Moody Publishers, 1999], pp. 115-116.
17.) Joseph C. Atkinson, The Interpretation of Inspiration and Inerrancy, eds. Scott Hahn, David Scott, Letter & Spirit: Vol. 6, For the Sake of Our Salvation: The Truth and Humility of God's Word, [Emmaus Road Publishing, 2011], p. 218.
18.) G. K. Beale, D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, [Baker Books, 2007], (eBook).
19.) Merrill F. Unger, The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, eds. R.K. Harrison, Howard F. Vos, Cyril J. Barber, [Moody Publishers, 2006], Section “A”.
20.) Clinton E. Arnold, Matthew, Mark, Luke: Volume One
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, [Zondervan, 2011], (eBook).
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, [Zondervan, 2011], (eBook).
21.) William McDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary, ed. Arthur Farstad, [Thomas Nelson Inc, 1995], (eBook).
22.) William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark, New Testament Commentary, [Baker Academic, 1975], pp. 107-108.
23.) Narrated 'Abdullah: A person was mentioned before the Prophet and he was told that he had kept on sleeping till morning and had not got up for the prayer. The Prophet said, ‘Satan urinated in his ears.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 21, Number 245).
24.) It is narrated on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I was brought al-Buraq Who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of version. I mounted it and came to the Temple (Bait Maqdis in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I entered the mosque and prayed two rak'ahs in it, and then came out and Gabriel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Gabriel said: You have chosen the natural thing. Then he took me to heaven ... (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0309).
25.) Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis, [Presbyterian and Reformed, 1998], p. 2 n. 4.
26.) Frederick M. Denny, Exegesis and Recitation, eds. Joseph Mitsuo Kitagawa, Frank E. Reynolds, Theodore M. Ludwig, Transitions and Transformations in the History of Religions: Essays in Honor of Joseph M. Kitagawa, [BRILL, 1980], p. 112, italics and emphasis mine.
27.) James R. White, An Illustration from the Recent Debate at Biola.28.) Jochen Katz, Pinning the “Tale” on Ibn Anwar, Who is in danger of losing his marbles …