Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Erroneous usage of the Old Testamental text in the Gospels, part 1

At first I have to make things clear. I do not think of myself that I am a great Bible scholar. But not being a great Bible scholar does not hesitate me to see some obvious things. And one of those things is the New Testamental usage of the prophecy from the Old Testament.

I saw it from the very beginning, when I first read the Gospels. But at the time I thought that every doubt or question against the 'absolute inerancy' of the Bible is inspired by Satan, so I did not think about it much. I just used to skip the 'problematic' verse and read further without thinking about it.

But the voice of my rational mind was still whispering inside of me. When I left an organized church once and for all I had more peace to think about controversial matter. I did not have to be afraid of somebody's opinion any more, so I started to rethink the questions I had always asked. By the way, you see that being a member of an organized church disanables the person to think clearly and independently, since a person is always influenced by the opinion of the group and is afraid to think and speak differently being under threat of ostacism and rejection.

Let's return to our main thought, namely the erroneous usage of the Old Testamental prophecy in the Gospels. The evangelists (that is how we call the authors of the Gospel) Matthew, Mark, Luke and John quote the Old Testamental text quite often. And quite ofren they quote is erroneously! Now it is time for some examples.

And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son (Matthew 2:15)

The quotation from the Old Testament is in the italics. It is taken from the Book of the Prophet Hosea. Let's look at the words quoted by Matthew in their context.

"When Israel was a child, then I loved him,
and called my son out of Egypt.
The more the prophets called them,
the more they went from them:
they sacrificed unto the Baalim,
and burned incense to graven images. 
Yet I taught Ephraim to walk; I took them on my arms;
but they knew not that I healed them."

Hosea 11:1-3, American Standard Version

Now, dear Reader, read this passage again and ask yourself a question: "Who is the son who was called out of Egypt by God?". The answer is obvious: "Israel". Israel is called a beloved child, the son, who was called out of Egypt. But what does Matthew the evangelist do? He takes the part of the sentence (which I printed in bold) and says to the Reader of his gospel that these words constitute a prophecy about Christ. Someone who isn't aware of the fact where does this prophecy come from could believe Matthew. But Matthew is obviously wrong. He did it willingly or not we have to say he lied.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Is the Bible the Word of God? part 1

Anyone whose religion is based solely on the Bible, whether he is a Jew (Old Testament) or some sort of Christian (Old & New Testament), believes that the Bible is the Word of God. And here the opinions vary. I know many Christians since I was a member of two churches from different denominations.

What do people from those churches believe about the Bible? I am not making fun of anybody now - I'm just trying to show existing opinion. Some of them behave and speak as if the Bible was a book which was sent from heaven as one whole book. Fortunately, there are not many of them. Most of Bible-believers are aware that Bible is an anthology of works by many authors, but still they believe that somehow God dictated every letter, every word of the text. Some Christians behave and speak as if the English, German, French, Polish translations of the Bible were holy text, inspired by God. They seem to ignore the fact that these are only translations from the original. They of course know somewhere deep inside of their minds that these are only translations, but they quote them as originals. I know some people from this group who were even angry at me when I quoted from different translation and they said that the version I quote is not from God. Others know that their versions in national languages are translations from ancient originals, but still they don't know much about originals. People from this group maintain that the originals of the book of the Bible were somehow dictated by God through the Holy Spirit and then miraculously organized in one volume know as the Bible. They are aware of the fact that while reading the versions in national languages which they use they can only have a smaller or bigger grasp of what the originals say. They say original is the Word of God, but national version are ONLY translation.

Nevetheless, most of them are unaware that there isn't such thing as original version of, let's say, Gospel according to Matthew. We do not have original. We have a number of copies of copies (of copies...) of original. And what we have to admit is that those copies are not all the same. There are differences between them - sometimes big ones. Even the most sophisticated scholars like Bruce Metzger do not know for sure how did the original look like. How can we preach that the originals of the Bible books were dictated by God if we do not even have originals??

To sum up: we do not have originals and some of us have only better or worse translations from copies of copies of copies of the originals. I doubt there are people who know the above and still preach the Bible to be infallible text dictated by God Himself.

Of course I know people who profess that the Holy Spirit showed them which translation is good. First, I know two groups of people and the Holy Spirit "showed" those groups two different translations to be valid. Second, textual proofs show that none of those translations is a good translation. Could Holy Spirit showed them a bad translation or could two different translations be valid?

As you clearly see the more knowledge on the subject of the text of the Bible you have the less you believe it is somehow dictated by God. I do not believe the Bible books were dictated by God, so I do not believe the Bible to be the exact Word of God. I believe the Bible was inspired by God. What do I mean by this? I explained it here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Obvious contradictions. Part I. Different reports of apostle Paul conversion (Acts 9:1-9; 22:6-16; 26:12-18)

Passages from Acts of the Apostles 9:1-9; 22:6-16 and 26:12-18 are a kind of reports on how apostle Paul met resurrected Jezus from Nazareth.

Let's look more carefully on two verses which come from two different reports. First is a report written by Luke (the author of the book of Acts) and a second are word of apostle Paul speaking to some people.

And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless,
hearing a voice,
but seeing no man.

Acts 9:7 (King James Version)

And they that were with me
saw indeed the light, and were afraid;
but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

Acts 22:9 (King James Version)

See? These two information are pure contradictions of each other. Which of these is true? Probably the second one. Firstly, because these are words of Paul himself. Secondly, this information was repeated later in the book of Acts:

At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven,
above the brightness of the sun,
shining round about me
and them which journeyed with me.

Acts 26:13 (King James Verison)

No, it's not a very important contradiction which can influence a doctrine, but IT IS A CONTRADICTION. Knowing this we can't still claim that the Bible is an inerrant Word of God...

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Bible: God-inspired or God-given?

In a FAQ section, Steve Wells (creator of SAB) states:
Similarly, it is obvious to anyone who takes the time to read the Bible that, whatever else it might be, it is not a book that was inspired by a good, just, loving, and all-knowing god.

Please read a sentence made of words in bold type. You see? The author claims that the Bible is not a book that was inspired by all-knowing god. What does he mean by this? I suppose he wants to say that, contrary to the opinion held by a vast majority of Bible-believers, the Bible can't be inspired by all-knowing god, because it has plenty of errors.

The problem is not with the inspiration, because the Bible was truly inspired. The real problem is: "What does he understand by 'inspiration'?". What does the word 'inspiration' really mean? How should we understand it? These are the questions!

I suppose that Steve Wells mixes the concepts of inspiration and dictation. The problem is that Bible-believers (and many other people as well) see the word 'inspiration', but they understand it as 'dictation'. That's why Steve Wells say that the Bible couldn't have been inspired by all-knowing God, because it has errors, many of them. But he understands the word 'inspired' as 'dictated'. I don't believe in Bible 'dictation', because Bible contains obvious errors. But I do believe it was inspired, because inspiration allows for human mistakes in the process of writing.

Let's state it clearly: Bible wasn't dictated. Bible was inspired.

What does inspiration really mean?

According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English inspiration is 'a person, experience, place etc that gives you new ideas for something you do'. This word comes from the Latin verb INSPIRO, which means: "to blow, to breathe, to infuse". Noah Webster in his Dictionary of American English (1828) thus explains the verb 'to inspire' in the biblical sense:
The infusion of ideas into the mind by the Holy Spirit; the conveying into the minds of men, ideas, notices or monitions by extraordinary or supernatural influence; or the communication of the divine will to the understanding by suggestions or impressions on the mind, which leave no room to doubt the reality of their supernatural origin

See? Not a sentence about dictating something to someone word by word, as it is commonly understood.

God didn't dictated the Bible word by word - He inspired author, filled them by ideas, pictures, vision and they wrote about those experiences in their own words. That's why the Bible contains errors, because it was written by humans only inspired by God.

Lot can be said about this matter, but it is enough for know. There will come a time, when I hope to treat this subject more deeply...

Monday, May 16, 2011

'Bible version' problem

Some time ago I bought a book entitled '1001 Surprising Thing You Should Know about the Bible' (Jerry MacGregor, Marie Prys). In Part I, chapter 6 we read about some very strange Bible version, which appeared in Bible publishing history. I list them below:

Placemakers Bible
It had the word 'placemakers' instead of 'peacemakers' in Matthew 5:9.

Wicked Bible (or Adultery Bible)
The word 'not' was omitted in Exodus 20:14.

Unrighteous Bible
The word 'not' was omitted in 1 Corintians 6:9.

Standing Fishes Bible
It had the word 'fishes' instead of 'fishers' in Ezekiel 47:10.

Discharge Bible
It had the word 'discharge' instead of 'charge' in 1 Timothy 5:21.

Ears to Ear Bible
Matthew 13:43 read: 'Who hath ears to ear, let him hear'.

Rebecah's Camels Bible
It had the word 'camels' instead of 'damels' in Genesis 24:61.

Bible version listed above show how editorial editorial errors can influence the meaning of the verse. But the editorial errors are not so bad, since it's easy to recognize them.

There is a more severe problem - translation errors. The most known one is from Vulgate (ancient Latin Bible version) and we can find it in Exodus 34:29. In Vulgata we read:

cumque descenderet Moses de monte Sinaitenebat duas tabulas testimoniiet ignorabatquod cornuta esset facies suaex consortio sermonis Dei

which means:

And when Moses came down from the Mount Sinai,he held the two tables of the testimony,and he knew notthat his face was hornedfrom the conversation of the Lord.(Douay Old Testament translation of Vulgata)

Michelangelo, very famous Italian Renaissance sculptor, read this verse from Vulgate and then he made a statue of Moses, which we can see below:


Do you see something strange? Yes, Moses has got horns. How is that? It is so, because Michelangelo was inspired by Vulgate's text of Exodus 34:29, which is simply a mistranslation of Hebrew text.

In Hebrew we have a word קרן here. In this verse it should be translated as 'shined', but it is very closely related to 'was horned' used by Jerome (Vulgate translator). Exodus 34:29 actually means that the face of Moses was shining and not that it was horned.

If SAB annotated Vulgate instead of KJV it would probably give 'Absurdity' sign next to it, but it would only mean that Vulgate text is an absurdity not the Hebrew original.

What does Skeptic's Annotated Bible actually annotate?

The answer is: SAB annotates KJV.

King James Version is a English Bible version first published in 1611. It contains Old Testament translated from Hebrew and New Testament translated from Koine Greek. So it is a translation and not an original. Since it is a translation it may contain (and actually contains) some errors, which came from mistranslation from source languages. When criticizing the Bible, we always have to make sure we criticize the source text. If we find an error in an English translation, it doesn't always mean the source text has got an error. Many verses got "Absurdity" and "Contradiction" sign, because the SAB author hadn't got their sense right. He would have grasped the sense better if he had known the source text and its REAL meaning.

I am going to rectify SAB notes in such instances.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

LETO Syndrome

In a popular Frank Herbert's book - "Diuna", we read about a particular event, which is very interesting and enables me to show one of the main causes of misunderstanding the Bible. Many biblical (and Quranic) passages have "Absurdity" or "Contradiction" sign next to them on Sceptic's Annotated Bible site only because the author suffers from LETO syndrome.

What is the LETO syndrome? In "Dune" we read a story, when Stilgar the Fremen meets Duke Leto (that is why I call it LETO syndrome). Stilgar spits on the table. Duke's men take it as an insult, but then Duncan Idaho tells them that spitting is a Fremen gesture of respect. "How is that?" - you could ask and add: "Ha, ha, ha, what an absurdity!". But if you knew that water is very scarce on Stilgars homeland - Arrakis, you wouldn't laugh at it and you wouldn't call it an absurdity.

As I said the author of Sceptic's Annotated Bible site suffers from LETO syndrome. Very often he calls biblical statements "absurdities" or "contradictions" because, as I suppose, he lacks knowledge about historical and cultural background and language of those biblical verses and very often he picks verses out of context.

Many of those who criticize Bible suffer from LETO syndrome and they need to recover from it. I would like to help them.

In many of my posts I will try to defend most of absurdities and contradictions by explaining their historical and cultural context as well as reaching for their original languages (since SAB annotates King James Version Bible which is merely a translation of the Bible, not it's original). I've written I would try to defent most contradictions, since I admit there are some indifensible ones (yes, I mean it!).

slightly moderated 19 May, 7.02 PM