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Featured How technical is God and His Word?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Alcott, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    The classic example (if there is one) is probably I Kings 7:23 in which Solomon had a 'sea of cast metal' made that was 10 cubits from brim to brim, says it was round, and a line compassing it measured 30 cubits in circumference. That obviously gives the ratio of circumference/diameter as 3, when for a circle it is 3.1415926... And this has been used to "prove" that biblical literalism is invalid.

    Most readers (or at least posters) on this site will probably say it does not make literalism invalid, but this example was either using round figures in which the unit of measure is not necessarily fixed technically anyway; or else, as v. 26 later says of this cast, that it was formed as a lily blossom, suggesting artistic curvature outward, and possibly inward then outward. So somewhere a 30 cubit line could have been in place around the brim.

    This OP could be made very long, but the case above is enough to get the idea of the consideration here. The knowledge that scripture was written in different languages that change over the eras and was then translated into other languages that also change in that way; the understandings one culture would have had over a passage as opposed to another culture; and how the same incidents recorded more than once are not technically related the same way, and exceptions are made for laws and normal restrictions... these aspects come together such that one could easily say that the Bible cannot possibly be technically accurate, let alone absolutely literal in everything it says. Besides that, there really is no question that much of the Bible is indeed figurative and taking it literally can lead to lousy conclusions-- one example is when Jesus told his disciples to "beware the yeast of the Pharisees." They thought he was talking about literal physical yeast, but he scolded them and made it plain that he meant the Pharisees' teachings and superior attitude-- figurative, not literal.

    However, if it is left up to the individual reader to determine how technical the Bible means something it says, then there can always be something-- "it's only figurative"; "that precept was cultural for that time only"; "it's just trying to tell us that..."-- that leads people to believe literally what they want to believe and put the rest it in the Figurative File or the Archaic Archive,..... In a word, just what we have in so many denominations and teachings and cults.

    What is your rule for technical v. general, literal v. figurative, passe v. modern, real & present v.ancient & absent, in Biblical understanding?
     
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Member

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    well the decimal point was not invented at that point so may be little tricky for them to use it.
     
  3. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    Verse 26 may give the answer. The vessel was a "handbreadth" thick.

    The diameter was measured from outside rim to outside rim (10 cubits) and the circumference (30 cubits) was measured from the inside rim as that was how much of it held water.

    Or they are approximate, rounded off numbers.
     
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  4. 37818

    37818 Member

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    With the understanding that the diameter is to the out side edge to edge and the periphery being the inside measure. The brim being the width of the hand. Which was about 1/6 cubit. 30 cubits/ (10-2/6) = 3 and 1/10 cubit. That is the likely measurement meant.
     
  5. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    As God didn't prescribe the Temple, He isn't too concerned about the dimensions of Solomon's embellishments.
     
  6. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    They did have fractions though, didn't they? At least the Egyptians did. And 22/7 is approx. = 3.143, which is accurate to within 1/1000. Anyway, this is not just abut that incident, but more about sin being defined as "miss the mark." Consider the dire warning in I Corinthians about eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord without thinking of His sacrifice as eating and drinking damnation to oneself. Alright-- technically, is a single thought, such as looking at your watch or thinking "it's hot," doing so "unworthily?" For a second? a tenth of a second? a hundredth?... How technical is this?
     
  7. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    Not the point here. If it's in scripture, is it absolutely, technically true?
     
  8. 37818

    37818 Member

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    It is, see @TCassidy post #3.
     
  9. OnlyaSinner

    OnlyaSinner Active Member
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    If it was exactly 30 cubits in circumference, it would be 9.55 cubits in diameter, which rounds to 10, whether those measurements are on the inside or outside.
     
  10. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    I covered the rounding idea in the OP, bud. No need to keep referring back to that as if it's new.
     
  11. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    He didn't say anything about God's concern with the 'dimensions of Solomon's embellishments.'
     
  12. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    Now, how about Romans 13. If we ever violate in the slightest a government regulation or law, must that be repented of, or we have no rightstanding with God? Yep, traffic laws are certainly included, and the speed limit among them. Are we living in sin if we regularly violate the speed limit? And how would we know for certainty that we are not?-- by having our speedometers carefully calibrated and then keeping our speed to less than 2 mph of the limit? 3? 4?... for if we let the needle to all the way to the limit, if might be .01 or more above... if the Word is that technical.
     
  13. 37818

    37818 Member

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    Subtract two handbreadths from 10 cubits you get 9 and 2/3rds cubits. Which gives the value of 3 and 1/10th for an approximation of PI.
     
  14. OnlyaSinner

    OnlyaSinner Active Member
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    Yes you did. I merely showed how the numbers worked, "technically." :Biggrin
    The Romans 13 passage has to be applied in the context of God's principles, as I'm confident that folks here know. If the civil government demands that we do something that clearly violates those principles, we should decline and be ready to take the consequences. We also are to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves" - in this context, possibly challenging the anti-biblical demand through the civil system. If we do it with the right attitude, God will be glorified whether we win or lose.
     
  15. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    This is where John H. Walton would say, “The Bible wasn’t written to you, it was written for you”.
    We have to understand the Bible through the ears of those to whom it was given.

    What you think must be “literally true” because you are technically inclined, may have been understood in a whole different manner.

    Rob
     
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  16. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    Yiabby yibby yibby.
    A law requiring us to violate God's commands is another discussion. His commands say nothing about how fast we drive, so that puts it in the category of the civil law, which his commands do require that we obey. Or do you?
     
  17. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Did Solomon have seven hundred wives even, and three hundred even concubines? Or are those just ballpark figures?

    Are the days of a man three score and ten, exactly? Or does it mean a man usually lives to be about 70?

    Does God make his sun to rise, as Jesus said, or does God make the earth rotate?
     
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  18. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    So you're saying God and his word AIN'T technical or even necessarily true?
     
  19. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Active Member

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    Or rather that Scripture should not be misused (or abused), for example, misapplied to contexts in ways and degrees it was never intended for. So, we can ask the same sorts of questions regarding Scripture that we might ask of any other communication. For example, in the given context (or for the given purpose), would it be legitimate to use literary devices, such as approximation, generalization, hyperbole, symbolism, metaphor, idiom, etc., or phenomenological language, such as sunrise, sunset, etc.?
     
  20. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    How about baptism, then? Does it mean what its original meaning, immerse, means, or is it symbolism, one of those "literary devices," and it's just a metaphor or symbol or idiom about washing with water, as many people have been told it means?
     
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