Are there errors in the Bible?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Jan 23, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    With the permission of the administrators, we can examine this subject. We need to do so with respect and the understanding that we are all worshipers of Jesus Christ as our Lord and God, however.

    So first, I would like to shock everyone and say YES, there are some errors. However they are all in the translations we have now and we have spotted most of them. There are some transcriber errors regarding numbers/ages that we can find (I think the most modern translations have these corrected as per the most ancient mss available however). We know that the end of Mark is an addition, but we don't know by whom. However it is a totally different writing style and bears no relation to any of the other gospels.

    In John we also have an insertion, although it may be a factual one. It is the story of the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. It is the famous "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" episode. There is also a phrase in the first epistle of John which appears to be the insertion of someone's marginal note.

    All three of these insertions are noted in the modern texts which have notes or study guides along with them.

    There also may have been some intention corruptions (possibly by Origen) introduced into the Masoretic translation. In a number of genealogies, the cipher for 100 is dropped in the lists of 'begats.' Several of the references Matthew and Christ make to Old Testament prophecies are missing in the Masoretic, from which our Old Testament is taken, and yet present in the older Septuagint, or LXX.

    With all of this said, it should be noted that we CAN find these things by checking our oldest known manuscripts. God has not left us without a way of checking! One wonderful check has been in those parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls which quote sections of Scripture. It is this way we found that Isaiah is correct the way we have it now. The Septuagint and the Samaritan texts also are good ways of checking information and accuracy. As far as the New Testament is concerned, letters quoting almost every single section of it which were written during the first and second centuries are still extant and can be examined (and have been) for checks on what has come down to us through official copies.

    And yet, with the various bits and pieces which truly have crept in through the centuries of copying and recopying, the incredible thing is that the message from God rings as true as ever. The human condition is exactly as stated, God's promises are true as stated, Jesus was and is exactly who He claimed to be, and the church has been established which all the guiles of Satan have not been able to tear down.

    God is still God and the Bible is still His Word. It has everything we need to know about His character, His judgment, and His love of us. His Word and His message are much, much bigger than any copyist errors, insertions, or even intentional changes can hide. We can still be confident about Him as He has revealed Himself in His Word, from Genesis 1:1 to the end of Revelation.
     
  2. MarciontheModerateBaptist

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    I agree that certain errors have occurred because of the transmission of texts by hand. It is impossible to say for certain whether or not the orginal manuscripts were error-free because we do not have them. There is one passage of Scripture I find particularly interesting concerning the modern formation of the doctrines of inspiration and innerancy. Jeremiah 7:22-23 says the following:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this I commanded them, saying, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people..." <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Jeremiah says that Moses and the priests were never given instructions regarding sacrifices. That's surprising, since much of the book of Leviticus is about sacrifices, and the authors invoke authority by saying that God told them what to write and how to sacrifice. We must choose who we are going to believe, and there are consequences for our choice.
    If we are going to believe the levitical priests, then we also accept a cycle of violence, ultimately and necessarily culminating in a violent NT atonement through Christ. On the other hand, if we choose to believe Jeremiah, the sacrificial system was simply a man-made device designed to attempt contact and appease God. Other OT minor prophets teach that God desires mercy, not sacrifice. It seems that the prophets knew something about God's character that the authors of the Pentateuch were not aware of. If we follow Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea and other prophetic leads, the death of Christ takes on a new and deeper meaning - one of the struggle against violence. Christ's death then, is not about a sacrifice that appeases the honor of God. No, that would make God too human-like. The atonement is the strong story of the divine struggle against violence and injustice, made alive through the resurrection of Christ.

    Daniel Payne
     
  3. David Cooke Jr

    David Cooke Jr
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    Helen, the last 2 paragraphs were so beautiful-thank you for writing such a great post.
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    Decision Magazine (Billy Graham) had a wonderful article on the false assumption that there are errors in the Bible. Jan or Feb, can't recall, but written by R.C. Sproul Jr and well done.

    Will see if it is on line and link it.
     
  5. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    I would like to read that article if you can find the link.

    Daniel
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by paynedaniel:
    There is one passage of Scripture I find particularly interesting concerning the modern formation of the doctrines of inspiration and innerancy. Jeremiah 7:22-23 says the following: ... Jeremiah says that Moses and the priests were never given instructions regarding sacrifices.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think you read too much here into an idiom. Charles Feinberg says, "The Hebrew idiom permits denial of one thing in order to emphasize another (cf. for a NT parallel Luke 14:26). The idiom does not intend to deny the statement but only set it in a secondary place" (in "Jeremiah," EBC, p. 431).

    Your conclusion is based on an invalid reading of the text. If Christ was not the culmination of the sacrifices instituted in the Mosaic code, then the whole book of Hebrews falls.

    God instituted the sacrifices as is clear from Scripture. However, the authors of the OT are clear that the sacrifices in and of themselves were not efficacious; the issue was the attitude behind it. Thus God desires brokenheartedness rather than sacrifices by themselves. The problem with OT Israel was that the sacrifices were being offered but there was no attitude of mercy and repentance behind it.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Christ's death then, is not about a sacrifice that appeases the honor of God. No, that would make God too human-like. The atonement is the strong story of the divine struggle against violence and injustice, made alive through the resurrection of Christ.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This is nothing but pure heresy and I do not throw that term around lightly. This denies the vary basis of the atonement of Christ. This is the old moral theory of the atonement and is utterly and completely devoid of basis in Scripture. Christ's death is absolutely about the appeasement of the wrath of God.

    Daniel, for a period of time, I and others have been willing to put up with a certain amount of incorrect teaching in these posts. And we appreciate your apology for your ill-directed remarks in another thread. However, this statement undermines the justice, holiness, and love of God and if you really believe this, then you are outside of the faith. I urge you, in love, to examine the implications of your statements here. I would find it hard to believe that even some people closer to your side on here (such as Joshua) would agree with this statement.
     
  7. MarciontheModerateBaptist

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    You are probably correct that most other moderates/liberals that post here will not agree with me, but I think there is something to the non-violent approach to the atonement - and I am not advocating a strict moral theory of atonement. God is not at fault for Christ's death in my approach - the evilness of human institutions is at fault.

    You write,

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> If Christ was not the culmination of the sacrifices instituted in the Mosaic code, then the whole book of Hebrews falls. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I do not think this has to be the case. In Hebrews, Christ is the offerer (over and above the offering) - the "High Priest." He is the one who, by passivity, end the cycle of violence instituted in the levitical code. Christ is still Savior. The atonement is still intact. I simply understand it in a passive resistance interpretation.

    Daniel Payne

    [ January 24, 2002: Message edited by: paynedaniel ]
     
  8. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    You also write,

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> This denies the vary basis of the atonement of Christ. This is the old moral theory of the atonement and is utterly and completely devoid of basis in Scripture. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The atonement of Christ is far from being denied in my proposition. I believe that salvation is through Christ alone. The issue is what Christ's death actually means. What does it represent? The purpose of Christ's life on earth was to bring about the kingdom of God (spiritually). His death was the culmination of that purpose - he showed us what it is to be a follower of Him. We, as Christians, follow Him even up to the point that he showed us - death. But not any ordinary death. It was a death, and ultimately a victory, against principalities, against rulers, etc. His was a death to end all deaths - a final sacrifice, not of appeasement, but of example.

    Daniel Payne
     
  9. Helen

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    In line with Daniel's original comment about the passage in Isaiah and Pastor Larry's reference to the idiomiatic grammar there, several of the modern translations have tried to make sure the meaning of the idiom is clear by adding 'just' or 'only', so that the passage reads,
    For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people."

    That is from the NIV. There is a note at the bottom which mentions the following about this section: "The most basic summary of the relationship between God and Israel implied in the covenant at Sinai (see Ex. 6:7; Lev 26:12 and notes; Dt 26:26:17-18)."
     
  10. MarciontheModerateBaptist

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    Helen,

    I noticed that about the NIV and other newer translations. I wish I could read Hebrew to see what the text actually says. The NIV committee obviously had to make a judgment call based on idiomatic interpretation, but I wonder if that was the correct thing to do. A lot is hinging on an idiom ;)

    Daniel
     
  11. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    Also, the NASB and the NAB, both textually sophisticated and more static in translation theory, read as follows respectively:

    "For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day..."

    "In speaking to your fathers on the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I gave them no command..."

    The translators obviously decided the idiomatic translation was not the most correct.

    Daniel
     
  12. JAMES2

    JAMES2
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    The errors are in us depraved sinners, not the bible.
    James2
     
  13. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    James2,

    I would love to discuss the issue Helen and I are discussing if you would like to address it.

    Daniel

    [ January 24, 2002: Message edited by: paynedaniel ]
     
  14. Michael Wrenn

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    Larry,

    Thomas Helwys, one of the first English baptists, would disagree with you.
     
  15. JAMES2

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    paynedaniel:
    I was only addressing the question "Are there errors in the bible." Sorry, like I said the errors are in us, not the inspired word of God. In the various translations. Sure, translaters are not perfect or inspired. Other than that, there is nothing to "discuss" . I'm one of those bible thumping, fundamentalists that believe that the bible is superior to ANY literature ever written by men in the history of the world. That includes all the so-call philosophy of men too.
    Radical, dumb, intolerant, foolish, ignorant, uneducated and whatever you want to call me? Bring it on. I've heard it all and could care less. Give me the bible as the inspired word of God and all the rest is foolishness.
    James2
     
  16. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    James,

    I do not think you are radical, dumb, intolerant, foolish, ignorant, uneducated. I just think we disagree, and I would enjoy discussing that disagreement so that I can understand where you are coming from better.

    Daniel
     
  17. Helen

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    OK, I was too lazy to look up my Hebrew interlinear before. Got me, didn't you??? :D

    This is fascinating. It is a DOUBLE negative -- which indeed makes it a positive. Here is the transliteration (from v. 21):

    "fruit-of the-ground and-she-will-burn and-not she-will-be-quenched he-says Yahweh-of Hosts God-of Israel burnt-offerings-of-you to add! sacrifices-of-you and-eat meat! for not I-spoke (untranslated cipher) forefathers-of-you and-not I-commanded-them on-day-of to-bring-me them from-land-of Egypt about matters-of burnt-offering and-sacrifice but rather (untranslated cipher) the-thing the-this I-commanded them to-say obey! the-voice-of-me and-I-will-be to-you as-God and-you you-will-be to-me as-people and-you-walk in-all-of the-way that I-command you so-that he-may-go-well with-you."

    I bolded the two negatives. As I look at it, the idiomatic seems clear "for did I not.... and not [also]...." is what I am seeing there.

    One point to mention, Daniel. I was a deaf interpreter before arthritis got to my thumbs (makes fingerspelling REALLY painful!), and there is always the horrible choice between direct 'translation' and what I thought of as 'real translation', where the clear message is gotten across no matter how you do it! Idioms from one language simply do not translate well for the most part, into other languages.

    For instance, one of the first idioms I ran into ('ran into' is an idiom!) as a translator was a man speaking about going into a Board of Education meeting and "I kicked a few tires."

    What are you going to do with THAT one? I translated "I-give-them challenges several finish." Now that was a little strange for you, wasn't it? "Finish" at the end like that puts it into the past tense. But if you did not know that, would you be tempted to say, in English "I finished giving them several challenges"? Not quite the right meaning! And, certainly, we had to kicking tires along the way, right?

    The Bible translators have the same problems. What was the actual meaning? I was extremely privileged to attend a private meeting of a number of translators last November and I listened to some of what they had to deal with. It was fascinating and challenging. And these are older men who have spent their lives dealing with Hebrew, be it paleo Hebrew or modern Hebrew, as well as Hebrew culture, idioms, etc.

    So my suggestion would be that, when you run into this kind of thing, get on the net, perhaps, and check other translations. If you see differences, then understand the translators were struggling with it.

    And I really do know, on my own level, what that struggle can feel like. Professional deaf interpreters will go only twenty minutes at a time with technical or legal or political material. After that amount of time it feels like your brain has been through an old-fashioned wringer and you simply need to be very quiet and breathe for a bit!

    By the way, why not join us 'downstairs' at the Bible study? I think we can deal with an awful lot of stuff bit by bit as we go through the Bible this year, and I will be interested to read your comments.

    Helen
     
  18. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    Thank you so much for the information. It really does help clear up the issue as to different translations.

    Daniel
     
  19. Michael D. Edwards

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    to Paynedaniel:

    You quoted:
    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this I commanded them, saying, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people..."
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    from Jeremiah. You also stated that this was an error in the Bible because of Moses being given plenty of instruction in Leviticus. You're right that Moses was given instruction, but you have obliterated the text you quote. When God brought them out of the land of Egypt (that day, even if we meant to take it as a period of time) he did not institute the laws of sacrifice as given to Moses at that particular time. So, the Bible is not in error there.

    Thanks!
    Michael
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Helen:
    This is fascinating. It is a DOUBLE negative -- which indeed makes it a positive. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Not actually. The double negative does not make a positive in biblical languages. It emphasizes the negative. Furthermore, in this passage the negatives are with respective verbs. The first "loe" is joined by a maqqeph to the verb dbr (to speak) and the second "loe" is associated with the verb tzb' (to command). Thus two separate verbs are being negated. The passage reads (tranliterated): ci lo-dibarti et abotechem velo tzibitim beyom ...

    The translation is: For I did not speak/say/tell your fathers and I did not command them in that day.

    The construction would be similar to a "neither-nor" construction in English. I did not do this nor did I do that.

    [ January 24, 2002: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     

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