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Reply to Robert Turkel: Concluding Postscript

Farrell Till

I must say that I am flattered. After assuring his readers that I was not worth any further comment from him, Turkel has posted a 240K article in reply to my rebuttal of his attempt to reconcile the approval of Jehu's massacre at Jezreel (2 Kings 10:30) with Hosea's condemnation of it (Hosea 1:4). The time required to give due attention to Turkel's latest in this matter has delayed the 28th part of my response, which I had hoped to post last week. [Editor's Note: The original 28 parts have been reformatted to four parts with the "28th part" being this concluding postscript.]

There was nothing in Turkel's latest on this subject but more of the same. His opening paragraphs, of course, attacked me personally, as did many sections throughout the article. At one point, he even implied that I had an affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, and that alone speaks volumes about his desperation to discredit me. Apparently he thinks that if he can't discredit me by logical argumentation, he can do so by insult and innuendoes. In his attempts actually to reply to my counterarguments, he did exactly what I predicted in Part 27 that he would do: He used the old smorgasbord approach, so characteristic of inerrantist "apologetics," which consisted of skipping sections of my responses and replying only to what he thought he could rebut with at least a semblance of logical argumentation, and even when he did pick a counterargument to rebut, he used the smorgasbord approach here too. For example, in my refutation of his analysis of the word "reya," in which he attempted to show that it had the limited meaning of a close, personal friend, he cut out chunks of what I had said. He didn't mention, for example, the section where I showed that, contrary to his claim, "reya" was sometimes used in reference to those engaged in physical combat with each other and even once to pieces of dead meat lying on a sacrificial altar. He gutted the section of my reply in which I showed that "reya" and "yada" were used interchangeably and replied only to part of the examples that I gave. In other words, Turkel is still Turkel. He controls the information that his readers are allowed to see and lets them see only that which he thinks will make him look much better than he would if he allowed them to read everything his opponent has said.

In my 27 replies, I have included everything that Turkel said in his article that I was replying to. I edited out nothing that he said, for the simple reason that I didn't see any need to, because he has said nothing that cannot easily be answered. My responses to him were posted on my errancy list and on another internet site that I post to, and I have been informed that those in charge of the secular web have posted my responses in their entirety. In a word, my skeptic associates and I have made sure that our readers have the opportunity to see everything that Turkel has written on this subject so that they can evaluate the quality of the arguments on both sides. Turkel does not do this, and I seriously doubt that he will publish my responses on his web site. As long as he manages the information his readers see, he minimizes the risk of looking bad in front of his admirers.

In my rebuttals of Turkel's article, I pointed out indications that betrayed his claim to be knowledgeable in Hebrew. That he is unskilled in the language was evident from the fact that he relies on Strong's concordance for definitions of Hebrew words, but Strong's is a reference work that would be used by someone whose knowledge of Hebrew is somewhere on my level. A real expert in the language would hardly rely on it, so I take no bows for having exposed Turkel's phoniness in his many attempts to present himself as a Hebrew linguist, because he had made it too easy for me to do this. At any rate, I challenged him to submit to a test that would determine just how much he really knows about Hebrew, and what was his response? He challenged me to send him three questions about Hebrew and if he could not obtain from his "sources" correct answers to at least two of them, he would stop writing for two months if I would agree to stop writing for the same period of time if he should be able to find correct answers to at least two of the questions.

Is this guy for real! Does he think that I am so stupid that I don't know that he could use the internet or some other communication means to send questions to real experts in Hebrew and obtain the right answers? My challenge that he submit to a test was a challenge that he submit to a real test in a situation where he would be on his own, with no possibility to get the right answers from outside sources, and I suspect that he knew that all along. The kind of acceptance that he posted in his article was just another face-saving effort, because he isn't about to accept a testing situation that requires him to prove that he has an ability in Hebrew that is advanced enough to recognize "nuances," which was one of his primary defenses in the matters of what "paqad" and "reya" meant. My challenge, then, is that he allow himself to submit to a test in which he would be required to translate passages of biblical Hebrew on his own, with no means of getting information from the outside. A real expert in Hebrew would be able to do this. I will certainly admit that I can't do it, but, of course, I have never boasted of any ability to recognize Hebrew "nuances" that biblical translators somehow overlooked. We will see if Turkel has enough confidence in his skills in Hebrew to accept this kind of challenge.

So far this is what has happened in my exchanges with Turkel. I wrote a reply to the first chapter of Josh McDowell's ETDAV, and Turkel posted an 80K reply to it on a web site. I then wrote 28 short replies to this article, and Turkel wrote a 240K reply to these even before my 28th part was posted. So if I write a series of replies to Turkel's latest, will he then write, say, a 700K response to these, and so on? If so, there will be no end to this, and along the way, Turkel's readers will see only the parts of my replies that he wants them to see, because I have no reason to suspect that the leopard will suddenly change his spots and that he will begin to use the full-disclosure policy that I use on both the internet and my bimonthly paper The Skeptical Review.

So I am presenting another challenge to Turkel, and that challenge is that he and I debate the Jehu matter on internet sites like Errancy or, which has a format that will allow readers to see everything that he posts and everything that I post. (I would expect the Christian side to provide a site too so that the debate will be seen by more than just primarily a skeptical audience.) We could agree on a point-by-point format, which would limit both of us to the posting of a single point or argument (with proper supporting details, of course) and the opponent's reply to that point. In this way, nothing will become lost or forgotten in a maze of 240K texts, and Turkel won't be able to use his smorgasbord approach, because if he skips something or evades a point, that will become painfully obvious to our readers. In other words, if I showed that Turkel's claim that "reya" always meant a very close personal friend is not true because the word was sometimes used in references to opponents in quarrels or fights and even in reference to dead pieces of meat on a sacrificial altar, Turkel's evasion of this point would be obvious to the readers.The same, of course, would be true if I should skip or evade anything, so such a format would give both sides equal advantage.