It has been a while, so I had forgotten some of the details of what The Berean Call had said about the “Hebrew original” claims Hunt makes in his book. One of our channel regulars sent me the letter TBC had sent him on the topic, and it reminded me of just how embarrassing this situation is for Hunt, and how amazing it is that they have put out another edition of the book but kept this silliness in the text. The utter lack of integrity in research and scholarship demonstrated by TBC when it comes to Calvinism sadly reflects upon everything they put out. Hunt has truly done irreparable damage to his legacy and integrity with his bull-headed crusade against sound biblical theology.
Now for those who may be new to this blog and this discussion, Dave Hunt has been on an anti-Calvinism crusade for a number of years now. He’s written a horrible book, filled with exegetical errors and the most egregious forms of misrepresentation and illogic, titled What Love is This? This despite being warned he was engaging a topic he is not prepared to engage by many people (myself included), and the fact that his website includes in his bio this statement, “Dave’s impeccable research and recognized scholarship are based on in depth studies of original documents and publications, interviews with key experts from around the world, and extensive travel—including to South America, Australia, Europe and throughout the Middle East.” One thing is for certain, when it comes to Reformed theology, Dave didn’t bother with the “impeccable research.”
One of Dave’s big hurdles has been dealing with Acts 13:48. He has tried everything. A comparison of his first attempts with his current explanation shows a sad desperation on his part. The text simply defies his many attempts to get around it. In his original edition of What Love is This?, despite his public admission that he cannot read Greek (as he put it, “It might as well be Chinese!”), he had the audacity to write, “Many Greek experts suggest the same idea here: that the Gentiles had disposed themselves (i.e., determined) to believe” (p. 218). Of course, he doesn’t bother to list these “Greek experts,” and as we shall see, this is a common defect of Hunt’s writings. Of course, the rendering he proposes is found in only one English translation in its main text: the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses! Evidently Hunt was unaware of this, for he has continued trying to come up with new ways around this text in the more recent editions of his book and in his various talks as he travels the country and the world.
In any case, in the hardback edition his own ministry eventually put out (Multnomah wisely declined to publish it—an act that Hunt blames upon the great Calvinist conspiracy!), a paragraph appeared that had not been in the previous edition of WLIT? It is the final paragraph in the section on Acts 13:48 (pp. 263-264). It is not introduced with, “Oh, by the way, here is some irrelevant speculation.” In fact, there is nothing in the text to indicate you are not to take it as being just as serious as anything else in Hunt’s book. It reads,
The Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a translation. Some scholars claim that going back to a “redacted Hebrew” version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts 13:48 more like “as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved.” Furthermore, even if “ordained” were the correct meaning, these Greeks still would have had to believe the gospel and accept Christ by an act of their own faith and will, as all of Scripture testifies.
I remember doing a double-take as soon as I saw this the first time. It was so far removed from anything even semi-scholarly that I was shocked even Dave Hunt would put it into use. Did he not realize this would present almost insurmountable difficulties for the doctrine of inerrancy, maybe even inspiration itself? Is there anything he won’t say to protect his traditions from biblical refutation? It did not take long to document all of the silliness, and of course, TBC could not back up Hunt’s claims. In a major mis-step, his ministry started sending out an e-mail that plagiarized directly from a cultic website seeking to defend the idea of a Hebrew original, and even then, the quotes were only relevant to Matthew, not to Acts. Eventually Hunt realized the case was hopeless. So did he admit he was wrong? Well, not really. Here are the key statements from a letter Hunt sent out in response to the issue in January, 2005:
It is a bit embarrassing because I threw in the comments to which you take exception (and rightly so) rather carelessly. It was certainly not part of my argument nor did it have any bearing on the position I take.
I offer no footnotes for this brief paragraph because the source or sources are not important and frankly I can’t remember where I picked up these ideas. The phrases “were probably written” and “some scholars claim” show that I am not presenting my own opinion gathered from personal research. I am only stating (as something of possible interest for anyone who may wish to pursue it further) that certain people believe this idea. My argument, however, is in no way dependent upon such opinions.
Certainly, any basis for the idea that the first 15 chapters of Acts were originally written in Hebrew is tenuous at best—but that doesn’t matter. The fact that some people (including some scholars) believe this to be the case is all that I stated, but it is clearly not relevant to my arguments. It was not wise to include this brief speculative statement and it will be deleted from the next printing.
May I rephrase Hunt’s words? I mean, I’m a fellow author and apologist, so I think I can approximate it pretty well.
Whoa, where did that come from? Yeah, sure, that’s my book, but I really take no responsibility for what appears in it. But hey, keep one thing in mind: no matter how false that paragraph really is, it doesn’t impact my arguments at all. I mean, no amount of error in my argumentation can possibly change the fact that I am right. Never forget that. No, I can’t even remember where I got that stuff, though, I sure did give some specifics, didn’t I? I mean, I mentioned stuff about which I’m actually totally clueless, since I don’t read the original languages, and referred to early church fathers–no, I’ve forgotten who they were, too–and scholars–no, please, I just don’t recall even though I put this edition out just recently so it was only a few months ago that I put this together but amazingly, despite my “impeccable research,” I haven’t a clue what scholars these might be nor do I have any idea where you could actually see this Hebrew version or anything else. And what does it really matter, really? I mean, just because throughout the rest of my book I mention “scholars” and “dozens of verses” and such things, without documenting my claims, doesn’t mean that those references are not absolutely true and factual! It’s just this one little paragraph that you shouldn’t take seriously, and remember, no matter what you say about this paragraph, it means nothing to my arguments. Nothing. My arguments are infallible, err, I mean, are accurate and well researched. In fact, did you know I know more about Calvinism than most Calvinists do? It’s true. And I learned it all in a matter of weeks! Hey, have you ever heard of Servetus? Let me tell you about Servetus….
When you have to write to someone and say, “Well, I did not footnote this section because it really doesn’t matter, you should know that you have really gotten in over your head. Sad, very sad.
But, please notice the last line. Hunt says the material will be removed from the next printing. Has it been removed, even from the next edition? Answer: no. Evidently, removing simply false material that is misleading and damaging and downright silly is not nearly as important as saving the world from Calvinism! Dave’s had time to put out another anti-Calvinism book since January, 2005, but he has somehow not found the time to fix his own faux pax let alone debate the issue.