A Note From Our Editor: Refuting Richard Packham’s Broadside Against Our Legal Apologetic -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 04:1 (Feb 2004)
Article: A Note From Our Editor: Refuting Richard Packham’s Broadside Against Our Legal Apologetic
Author: John Warwick Montgomery

A Note From Our Editor: Refuting Richard Packham’s Broadside Against Our Legal Apologetic

John Warwick Montgomery

The Global Journal is finding its mark—not just with serious believers but also with opponents of the Gospel. Thus, following the appearance of our issue dealing with the Editor’s apologetic approach (Vol. 3, No. 1 [4/02]), Richard Packham, a “free-thinking” retired lawyer, whose web essay endeavouring to refute my legal apologetic was the object of Boyd Pehrson’s article, “How Not To Critique Legal Apologetics,” posted on his home page a “Response to Pehrson” http://home.teleport.com/~packham/pehrson.htm

Normally, we would not use space in the Global Journal for a rejoinder, especially when Packham has not even been able to get the name of our journal straight (!). But an Editor must surely defend a fine contributor, and Pehrson’s original article does not warrant the treatment to which Packham has subjected it.

Packham begins by castigating Pehrson for ad hominem argumentation—in that Pehrson questions the level of Packham’s legal expertise. In point of fact, the reason for this was simply that Packham, in his first article (the one that started all this) introduced his own legal background in an effort to show that he was indeed qualified to refute someone of my academic and legal qualifications! Had Packham not brought up the issue of curriculum vitae, Pehrson would doubtless not have bothered. “What goes around, comes around.”

In discussing the Ancient Documents rule, Packham downgrades Pehrson’s perfectly valid point that any court in the common-law world would admit the Gospel records (as Simon Greenleaf, the foremost expert on the law of evidence in the 19th century so well argued in his classic, The Testimony of the Evangelists). Says Packham: “Remember that ‘authentication’ is only the first step in presenting evidence.” Quite: but neither Greenleaf, Montgomery, nor Pehrson ever suggested otherwise! The weight of the admitted documents must still be presented—but that is exactly what Packham and his ilk never face. They are not worthy to tie the laces of such scholars as F. F. Bruce (The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?)—and they have yet to face the consequences of my History and Christianity and Tractatus Logico-Theologicus. Moreover, Packham seems to be saying that the Ancient Documents Rule never goes beyond the authentication of the document itself (that is, it has nothing to do with the admissibility of the statements which are themselves contained in the authentic document). Putting it otherwise, Packham appears to be arguing that when the Ancient Documents Rule is applied to a writing, the document can be regarded as genuine or authentic and yet full of errors...

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