I really like this chart from Yuriy and Inna's blog. It demonstrates the dependence of New Testament writings on, not the Hebrew Bible and the much trumpeted Masoretic Text, but the Greek Septuagint (LXX).
Yuriy's series of posts, Why I Don't Trust The Bible, is worth checking out. He describes himself as a recovering Pentecostal fundamentalist.
(HT to James McGrath for the link on Twitter.)
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This is another huge embarrassment for the beaten & battered Christian religion -ReplyDelete
not doing so well anymore in these enlightened times, even the morons are quitting!
Recent fast moving scholarship researching Chistianity's fraudulent origins is taking no prisoners!
There's something just a bit ironic in a former member of the WCG calling other literalist Christians "morons" don't you think? The point is we all begin somewhere, but hopefully grow and adjust our understanding of the world as life goes on. There's no shame in that!Delete
Although this may be an over-simplification, the Masoretic text is a single traditional text passed down from generation to generation in the Hebrew community. And the Septuagint is an amalgam of a number of manuscripts and fragments from different sources. With these two human-dependent heritages, would we not expect to find differences? The salient question is do these differences in language alter the broad sweep of the Bible? It is very Armstrongish to drop down to the finest level of granularity and miss the large messages. The Bible is derived from many sources with many custodians. It is not a homogenous brew like your college chemistry text with one author. Given this history, I believe we are expected to identify the themes and integrate the principles with a good heart and on our own.ReplyDelete
To Minimalist: This discrepancy was not noticed by Yuriy and Inna for the first time just yesterday. This has been a source of debate for decades - well before these putative "enlightened times."
"It is very Armstrongish to drop down to the finest level of granularity and miss the large messages"Delete
Or is it you who is avoiding 'the elephant in the room':
Why would your magical inspired bible draw on mistranslations of a supposed inspired text?
I am comfortable with the elephant in the room and write about it frequently. The Bible is a punitive artifact. It nevertheless retains the themes that are intended to instruct. The genetic fallacy is that we discount these themes because someone wrote something that differs from what someone else wrote about a minor topic. Who made up the rule that all manuscripts must agree precisely? Who made up the rule that the Bible was to be generated by automatic writing? Does that person have any relevant authority? Is he the one that determines the rules of the game?Delete
Who does, then, determine the rules of the game?
Genetic fallacy is the type of reasoning that people who are attracted to Armstrongism are fond of. "We cannot observe Christmas because Hislop has shown us its pagan history." The Bible is what it is. The rules of the game are not ours to decide. Either you work with the Bible or reject it.
Neo, this is not just a matter of discrepancies. It is clear evidence that the New Testament authors wrote their stories with a pen in one hand and the Old Testament scriptures in the other - scouring them for anything that might support their story. However, since the authors read only Greek, they had only the Septuagint to rely upon. The Septuagint said "virgin", so presto, they misapply the text to Mary, they think the scripture says she has to be a virgin, so they write their story to make her a virgin. (Side note: the whole "virgin" thing is primitive thinking in the first place. Sex is dirty so a virgin is more pure than a non-virgin. Surely the God of the universe wouldn't care about such a thing?)Delete
Similarly with the other scriptures cited. The new testament Greek-speaking authors used these scriptures to support their points. But they weren't going to convince many Jews: the Jews knew this wasn't even what their scriptures said in the first place.
"The broad scope of the bible?" AS IF.
The problem is that your argument is teleological. You already have your goal in mind and so you create the necessary speculative backstory to support your conclusion. But maybe I'm wrong. Can you cite a reputable historian (not an atheistic hack) who has incontrovertible evidence that this was how the alleged mistake regarding the use of the concept of "virgin" was so handled?Delete
Sir, you misuse the word teleological.ReplyDelete
Of course there is no reputable historian who has incontrovertible evidence as to how the gospels were written. We don't even know WHO wrote the gospels.
But this much is clear: whoever wrote the Gospels tried very hard to use the Jewish scriptures to persuade readers to accept their stories and beliefs. In this process they used the only scriptures they could read: the Septuagint. Unwittingly the authors sometimes assumed meanings from the Septuagint that differed from the meanings in the Masoretic text.
Now, I ask myself which does this sound more like: (1) writings of a perfect God communicating his plan to mankind or (2) writings of human beings trying to persuade a mostly illiterate and semi-literate audience to accept their religion?
My use of teleological was correct. The word applies nicely to your argument. And your assertions are unfounded. They reside in the realm of opinion.Delete
Put a label on me if you like. But my assertions are not unfounded.Delete
Throughout the New Testament are statements such as "for as it says in the scriptures, he shall be a Nazarene". I think most honest readers would agree statements of this type are attempts to use the Jewish scriptures to persuade readers to accept and believe what is written.
The next point I suppose is an opinion, of sorts, but a logical one. I think most honest readers would agree that the New Testament writers must have spoken only Greek. After all, Jesus and the Apostles spoke Aramaic. The Jewish scriptures were written in Hebrew (and some Aramaic). Considering this, why would the New Testament writers refer to scriptures written in Greek, and compose in Greek?
The example I cited above, and many more like it, supports my last point. The New Testament writer made an obvious misapplication - the original scripture meant a member of a certain sect, not someone born in Nazareth. Mistakes like this seem almost buffoonish - didn't the writer do any research at all - until you consider that this was a day and age where you could get away with things like this because the vast majority of your audience was illiterate or semi-literate. Maybe there was a reason "god chose the foolish of the world" - the educated classes weren't about to fall for this silliness!
I don't think I labelled you anything. Whatever your claims are founded on, it is not historical evidence. Having an opinion is fine. I have many myself. Stating that "it is clear evidence" is another category altogether. In that case either you have evidence or you just want people to think you have evidence.Delete
"Throughout the New Testament are statements...." is hyperbole. The parts about "most honest" readers are based on the idea that everyone agrees with you and is sheer conjecture or more likely wishful thinking.
The "original scripture" does not exist and so cannot be evaluated. Matthew drew upon some unnamed source. This I am sure stirs the feathers of those who have made up their own personal, little rule that says that the NT writers can only quote OT sources. So we do not know what the original word was. Nazarene, moreover, can indicate either a geographic connection or a connection to a religious sect. The term was applied later to early Judean Christians of a certain stripe.
The original Hebew word translated as "virgin" can mean that or it can mean a "young woman". In the strict Hebrew culture, the two were equivalent. Some sources translate it as young woman and others as virgin. All ambiguity is removed by the actual events that happened in Judea surrounding the birth of Christ. But, then, I can hear the argument, there was no historical Jesus and Christianity is a fabrication. I think we have already had that conversation.
Actually, Neo, the quote from scripture by Matthew is out of context and the whole thing has to do with an upcoming battle where "God" predicted the outcome would be in the favor of Ahaz. However, Ahaz was defeated so... And, anyway, the rest of the "prophecy" of the virgin's child was "For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." and it didn't happen - It didn't happen for Ahaz in his day and it didn't happen for Jesus either.Delete
Neo, you're right! I apologize, I'm kinda rusty. I don't read the bible much any more. I knew the bible very well at one time, but 10-15 years ago upon learning it was full of contradictions and other assorted B.S. I lost interest.ReplyDelete
"Matthew" wrote "which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene" - but it appears this was NOT written anywhere in the Old Testament. To me that's a real problem - "Matthew" quotes "the prophets", which everybody assumes is scripture, but surprise! that statement is nowhere in scripture. On the other hand, to you it's no problem - "Matthew drew from some unnamed source" seems good enough for you.
You and I are applying very different standards. I judge whether writings are truly inspired by God by their quality: do they present wisdom beyond that of mankind? Are they free of errors and inconsistencies? If not, I don't accept them as godly. You on the other hand believe the bible is inspired by god, so you dismiss any alleged error or inconsistency with any "would could shoulda" you can think of. Unknown source? Fine! The scriptures says there are 5 sons and lists 7 names - no problem, it's just the five previously mentioned plus two more. It's like reading Halley's "Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible" all over again. To me, Halley's explanations are lame. To you, God inspired it, so there must be an explanation.
We can follow this upstream. The standard you are applying is something that you made up for yourself. It presumes a certain kind of development in the formation of the Bible. My guess is that you believe the first two chapters of Genesis should read like a document in cosmology with flawless scientific content. I also have a rule. I believe the Bible consists of many literary types. I also believe the first two chapters of Genesis are a parable with flawless theological content. Whoever wrote it, whether Moses or Post-exilic scribes, set their sights on theology not science.Delete
So whose rule is the best? For this we must look at how the rules originate. Among all the causes, the salient one is that you are a non-Christian and I am a Christian. Hence, what I believe is nonsense to you and what you believe is nonsense to me. And will we ever resolve this in favor of one position or the other? No, because the causes for these two states of being lie outside the observable universe and we deal here only with the observable. So in your world, if you want to treat a writing as science instead of literature, I cannot fault you for that. On the other hand, I do not feel compelled to agree with you either.
I was once a christian my friend. I did not easily accept the truth that the bible has many flaws and is therefore not of god. But I am also a mathematician by college degree and a skeptic by nature. I know what evidence, logic and truth are. And I found myself forced to follow where they led.ReplyDelete
The standard I apply is not something made up by myself. It is to demand proof, or at least convincing evidence. It is a standard applied by all critical thinkers. "Maybe it could have been thus and such" counts for nothing in my thinking.
Yes, I agree, the cause for your beliefs falls outside the observable universe. But I only accept what is inside the observable universe. I cannot fault you - you have a need to believe what you do, as I have a need to believe what I do. I, too, do not feel compelled to agree with you either.
I think you were an Armstrongite and then an agnostic. Where did the Christian experience come in? My guess is that you have never made the acquaintance of Christianity. I am also a mathematician and I especially enjoy symbolic logic. You demand convincing evidence that meets your own criteria. Your criteria may not be how the game is played. This is not a world of "my way or the highway". That only leads to self-immolation.ReplyDelete
And regarding "maybe it could have been thus and such", how about "the New Testament authors wrote their stories with a pen in one hand and the Old Testament scriptures in the other - scouring them for anything that might support their story." Although you forgot to label that an unfounded opinion.
Neo, your ad-hominem attacks expose the vacuousness of your defense of the bible.ReplyDelete
Neo's definition of a Christian is narrow, bigoted and contradicts his former strong belief.ReplyDelete
Skeptic: How Ad Hominem? I have been both an Armstrongite and an agnostic myself. If you perceive it that way, I wonder why. I do not see any logical connection between my "ad hominem attacks" and what I have said in support of the Bible. Is it possible that you a thin-skinned and peevish regarding anyone who does not immediately agree with you? (Kinda sounds like a WCG minister.)Delete
Minimalist: I don't recall defining the term Christian and I feel my beliefs are stronger now than they ever have been. It is odd that you set in opposition "narrow" and "bigoted" on the one hand and "strong" on the other. I would think these terms would tend to align rather than be in opposition.
Minimalist - quite right.Delete
Neo - you say you are a christian how about "love your neighbor", "turn the other cheek" and other similar scriptures? Do you believe in those scriptures also? If so how about you stop trying to psycho-analyze me at a distance and instead show some respect and compassion?
Minimalist - quite wrong and a little ludicrous.Delete
I have no interest in your psychology except within the narrow boundaries of how it influenced the formation of some of your paradoxical claims and responses that appear in this blog.
To everything there is a season. Christ made a whip and drove out the moneychangers. And perhaps what I have written falls within the meaning of the principle "love thy neighbor". And maybe "turning the other cheek" in this case is like ignoring a house on fire.
Without musing over your attitude (psychology), I would not know if your last statement is meant as good hearted edification or as an insincere attempt to snare me with a sophomoric argument. What do you think I have concluded?