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Author Topic: The Holy Bible?  (Read 8395 times) Average Rating: 0
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Andreas
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« on: May 28, 2004, 12:44:30 AM »

Is it 100% perfect? Huh
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2004, 12:56:06 AM »

Is it 100% perfect? Huh

Well, now, you're going to have to get more specific than that!

Are you speaking in terms of every, single, solitary word being literally dictated, for all intents and purposes, to men with no regard to humanness coming into the picture?

Are you speaking in a sense that would have problems with discrepancies between the gospel accounts? (i.e., how many angels were at the tomb?  Did both theives mock Christ on the cross, or only one?  Did Christ make the analogy of prayer using an egg and a rock or a fish and a scorpion?)

In other words...to what KIND of perfection are you referring?
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2004, 12:59:35 AM »

Is it the pure word of God without Man's thoughts going in it that may be mistaken?
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2004, 01:17:52 AM »

There are contradictions in the Bible, I know that much, esp in the OT. I coud list them if you wish.
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2004, 01:22:45 AM »

Boy, that's scary. Well if there are contridictions than what do we have to even believe in?

Did people like St Basil, St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas admit there were contradictions? Did the early Church say there were mistakes?

P.S. You better hold back on listing them, thanks. Shocked
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2004, 05:14:04 AM »

If I am not mistaken, it is only the opinion of *some* people that the Bible contains contradictions.

If one goes to the Scriptures like one goes to any other book, takes the full context into account and gives the authors the benefit of the doubt, then the problems mysteriously vanish.

The ones Pedro listed are easily reconcilable, and the oft-cited ones in the OT have long had widely-published resolutions.  And I am not afraid of taking on some of Ben's 'contradictions,' if he would care to list them.  But not too many - a man only has so much time!  Wink
What is The Eastern Orthodox Church's position on whether the Bible contains contradictions, anybody?
I also second the question:  Since the Church Fathers spent a *huge* amount of their time and writings exegeting the Scriptures, what do we have to stand on if the "God-inspired" writings are flawed?
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2004, 06:22:37 AM »

I've asked this question before. Can anyone share their knowledge of how to explain away some of the apparent contradictions (I'm thinking particularly of some of the ones mentioned above - did one or both thieves mock Jesus, was Jesus talking about a snake or a scorpion (is that from accounts of the same occasion), and did St. Peter first meet Jesus in his boat or through the recommendation of St. Andrew, or what about the discrepancies between Jesus' genealogy in Matthew and in Luke?

Of course the message of the New Testament is perfect, but if there are discrepancies, I wonder if the whole text could have been dictated by God, or if one can only say that the book and message were written under God's inspiration.
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2004, 06:36:02 AM »

The Bible *does not* contain contradictions.

+ñ+¦-Ã -ä’ ++-Ã ++ +¼-Ç+¦++-ä+¦ +¦+¦+¦-î-ä+¦-é, +¦+¦+¦-Ç++-ä+++», +¦+¦+¦ +¦+¦-ä+¡-ç++++-ä+¦-é +¦+¦-ü+¦+¦-Ä-é, ++++ +¦+»+¦++-ä+¦ -ç-Ä-ü+¦++ -ä+++¦-é +++¡++++-Ã -â+¦ +¦+¦+¦++-ü-ì+++++¦+¦++ -ä++++ +++¦+»+¦++ +ô-ü+¦-Ã¥+«++. +á+¼-â+¦ +¦+¦-ü +¦-Ã ++-ì-ä++-é +¦+¦+¦ +¦+++++++¦+»+¦ +¦++ +¦-Ã -ä+« -ë-é -Ã -Ç-î -ä++-Ã  +æ+¦+»++-Ã  +á+++¦-ì+++¦-ä++-é -Ã -Ç+++¦++-ü+¦-Ã +++¡++++. +æ++++’ ++ -ä-ë++ -Ã¥-ü+¦++-Ä++ -ä-ë++ +¦++++-ü-Ä-Ç-ë++ +¦-â+++¡+++¦+¦+¦, +¦+¦+¦ -ä++ ++++ +++¡+++¦+¦++ -ä+¦-Ã -ä+«++ +¦+¦ +¦+¦+++++¦+++++»+¦-é +++++++++++¦+¦+»++, -ä++++ +¦-Ã -ä-Ä++ +¦+¦+¦-ë-ä+¦+»+¦++ +¦+¦+¦ +¦+¦+¦-ä+¦++++-ê+»+¦++ +ô-ü+¦-Ã¥+«-é +¦+++¦-ü++++-â-ä+»+¦++ +¦+¦+¼+++¦-â+¦++. +Ñ+++¦+»-é +¦+¦ -ä++ -ä+»+++¦++++ +¦+¦+¦ +¼+¦+¦++++ -ä++-Ã  +º-ü+¦-â-ä++-ì -Ç+++»+++++¦++++, -ä++++ +++++++«++ -ä-ë++ -ê-Ã -ç-Ä++ ++++-Ä++, +++¡+¦-ë +¦++ -ä++++ +++¦+»+¦++ +ô-ü+¦-Ã¥+«++, +¦+++++++« +¦+¦++-Ä-â+¦+¦-ä+¦ ++-ì-â+¦++ +¦+¦+¦ +¦+++¦-Ç+»++++-Ç-ä++++.
- St. John Chrysostom, Patrologia Graeca (J.-P. Migne), Vol. 59, pg 644

Bold text: hence I tell you, the holy Bible, know it to be true and unblemished.
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2004, 06:59:53 AM »

How many angels were at the tomb? Many Smiley

If you interpret the accounts given by the Evangelists as descriptions of a single visit, indeed they are irreconcilable since they report different visits. The differences that you perceive as contradictions are indications of this. In addition, there is direct evidence of this, which seems to have been lost in some translations, namely the times of the visits given by the Evangelists. But let us do a more detailed examination.

1st visit (Matthew)
Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene arrive at the tomb and see an (one) angel that tells them about the resurrection. The two women returning home find the Lord on the way. Afterwards they inform the apostles of the resurrection but they do not believe. This visit took place at about midnight. In the Greek text it says ++-ê+¡ -â+¦+¦+¦+¼-ä-ë++, which translates as night after Saturday. St. John Chrysostom even provides a small discourse on how the word ++-ê+¡ was used during his time and why the above phrase means around midnight.

2nd visit (Luke)
Mary Magdalene along with Joanna and another Mary (also some men) visit to the tomb with spices. Two angels appear to them rebuking them for not believing in the resurrection. Returning home they inform the apostles for a second time. The time which this visit took place is said to be, -î-ü++-ü++-Ã  +¦+¦+++¡-ë-é, which literally means deep morning. Also, there was no earthquake this time and the stone was already rolled away as opposed to the first visit. Notice that the angles (two this time) speak harshly to the women. Why? because they were already informed (1st visit) and did not believe. Hence, this is a different visit that took place after the one above.

3rd visit (Luke)
Given the two accounts, Peter visits the tomb for the first time. Obviously it was still dark and he was afraid so he did not enter the tomb.

4th visit (John)
Mary Magdalene visits the tomb for the third time. She then informs Peter and John privately. Notice that to draw their attention does not speak of resurrection (they did not believe yet), and she wanted to convince them to visit the tomb, so she said that some men took the body from the tomb. The time given in this account is, -Ç-ü-ë+», -â+¦++-ä+»+¦-é +¡-ä+¦ ++-ì-â++-é, which translates as morning but still dark. Again St. John Chrysostom goes on to explain the timing of this visit and why is to be placed after the account of St. Luke. Also the fact that the stone was already rolled is another indication that this visit followed the one mentioned in Matthew.

5th visit (John)
The two apostles visit the tomb (Mary probably following them). The apostle leave and Mary stays there crying. Finally she sees two angels, then the Lord appears and you know the rest.

6th visit (Mark)
This visit took place Sunday morning after the sun had risen, in Greek, +¼+++¦ -Ç-ü-ë+», +++»+¦ -ä-ë++ -â+¦+¦+¦+¼-ä-ë++, +«++++++++ +¦+¦ +¦-Ã +++¦+»+¦+¦-é +¦-Ç+» -ä++ +++++++++¦+»++++ +¦+++¦-ä+¦+»+++¦++-ä++-é -ä++-Ã  +++++»++-Ã . So there is no doubt that this was the last visit. Here we have Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome. They find the tomb opened and an angel informs them of the resurrection. Obviously, the angel was there for the sake of the other two women (Mary Magdalene had already believed). He also speaks calmly as opposed to the angels in Luke.

Hence, there is no contradiction.

This is a summary from St. John Chrysostom, Patrologia Graeca (J. P. Migne) Vol. 59 pg.636-644, IN MULIERS QU+Ã¥ UNGUENTA ATTULERUNT : ET QUOD NULLA DIVERSITAS VEL PUGNA REPERIATUR INTER EVANGELISTAS CIRCA RESURRECTIONEM DOMINI NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2004, 07:09:33 AM »

Did both theives mock Christ on the cross, or only one?

Here's what St. Theophylact says (about Matt. 27:38-44):

As a slander against Christ the two thieves were crucified with Him, so that the people would think that He, too, was such a transgressor of the law as they were. The two thieves were [also] symbolic of the two races, the Jewish and the Gentile, for both races had transgressed the law and reviled Christ, just as both these thieves at first reviled Him. But later the one thief understood Who He was and confessed Him as King; whereupon he also said, "Remember me, Lord, in thy Kingdom." So, too, the Gentile race confess Christ, while the other thief, the Jewish race, blasphemed.
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2004, 07:40:08 AM »

Did Christ make the analogy of prayer using an egg and a rock or a fish and a scorpion?

Matt. 7:9-10  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent?

Luke 11:11-12  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish, give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

It seems that there is no contradiction, Matthew simply skipped the egg/scorpion analogy, more likely because his readers were not ready for that teaching, yet. But what is the meaning of all these?

St. Theophylac explains: "Listen, then, how the Lord teaches us to ask for what we ought to ask. The son, He says, asks for a loaf of bread, a fish and an egg. Just as these things are food for man, so also our requests should be for those things which are good and profitable for us. Understand that the man who asks for bread signifies every one who asks that faith in the Trinity, and Orthodox dogmas, be revealed unto him. For these things are as bread which strengtheneth man's heart. He who asks for a fish is he who is in the sea of life, seeking help from God so that he not drown in the midst of temptations but be preserved, just as the fish are preserved from death in the sea. He who asks for an egg is he who asks for that which is born of a virtuous soul. For the virtuous soul can indeed be likened to a bird because it takes wing and is carried aloft by the breath of the Holy Spirit, and flies upwards from the earth.
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2004, 08:28:33 AM »

What about the discrepancies between Jesus' genealogy in Matthew and in Luke?

From St. Theophylact:

Luke gives the genealogy of the Lord in reverse order to that of Matthew, in order to show that He Who now has been born in the flesh is from God. See how the genealogy ends with God, also teaching us that the Lord became incarnate for this very reason, that He might lead back to God all of his forefathers in the flesh and make them His sons. And I have yet another explanation to give: some could not believe that the birth of the Lord was without seed. The Evangelist therefore want to show that once before a man came into being without seed, and so the Evangelist leads us back through the forefathers to Adam and then to God. It is as if he were saying to us, “If you do not believe that the second Adam was born without seed, ascend with me in mind to the first Adam and you will find that he too was begotten without seed by God. Therefore, do not doubt.” Some have asked how it is that Matthew says Joseph was the son of Jacob, while Luke says that he was the son of Heli. It is impossible, they say, that one man could be the son of two fathers. In answer to this question, we say that Jacob and Heli were brothers of the same mother, but each had a different father. When Heli died childless, Jacob took Heli’s wife and begat a son from her. Thus it is said that Joseph was the son of Jacob by nature, but the son of Heli by law. Jacob begat Joseph physically and in actuality, and therefore is Joseph’s physical father, while Heli is the father of Joseph only according to the law. For the law commanded that if a man died childless, his wife should be joined to his brother, and the child that thus was born would be considered the child of the dead man. Thus the Evangelists speak well, and do not contradict each other. Matthew records Joseph’s physical father, while Luke records his father according to the law, that is, Heli, so that together the Evangelists might show that the Lord was born for this reason, to sanctify both physical nature and the law.

Read also St. Chrysostom's homilies (II-V) on Matthew:

   - http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-10/npnf1-10-08.htm
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2004, 08:46:47 AM »

Did St. Peter first meet Jesus in his boat or through the recommendation of St. Andrew?

First through the recommendation of his brother Andrew (see John 1:35-42) and for a second time in his boat, while both brothers were casting a net (Mat. 4:18-20 and Mark 1:16-18).
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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2004, 09:29:09 AM »

There is a variety of opinion among Orthodox scholars, and indeed, among the Fathers, about whether or not there are "contradictions" in the literal meaning of certain texts.  I would follow Origen (in general, I feel more closely drawn to the Alexandrian school of exegesis than the Antiochian, and I would venture that that is true of the Orthodox tradition, as a whole) who read such apparent "contradictions" as signs that a deeper ("spiritual") level of meaning, beyond the literal, was being aimed at.

In that sense, Origen would affirm that all of Scripture is inerrant as, I think, should we.

And so, Andreas, many Orthodox would affirm, with many of the most prominent exegetical Fathers, both that there are real discrepancies at the level of certain factual, literal details, but that, nevertheless, Sacred Scripture is indeed "100% perfect." Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2004, 09:35:53 AM »

Very nice posts, ixcn -- I've seen these before; it was good to go over them again -- yeah...it could be that all of these were purposefully put down the way they were put down to preclude any contradiction.  Would it be the death of the faith if those giving the accounts didn't know of the others' accounts and wrote them as singular instances -- or if the instances were, in fact, each singular?

I personally don't think so; I wouldn't have a problem with it.  These men were human, and as such, were focused on one topic -- that of the redemption of mankind.  This message they got across perfectly; whether or not certain timeline material is identical is of secondary importance to me.

That having been said, if one can take away some of the contradiction, as St. John Chrysostom apparently has, then so much the better.  I just don't think it's absolutely necessary.

One topic for you though, ixcn, since you are (obviously) well-acquainted with the Fathers on many topics: what do the Fathers make the book of Judith's calling Nebuchadnezzar the king of Assyria? (This coming from someone who does hold it to be inspired.)

(Sorry, ambrosemvz...didn't know at the time that our posts would overlap!)
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« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2004, 10:27:51 AM »

We have seeming contradictions starting with the first two chapters of Genesis! The Old Testament in particular is not to be read strictly as an historical record.
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« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2004, 10:46:38 AM »

The first two chapters of Genesis are not contradictory.  
The "first" creation account in Gen 1:1 - 2:3 is a more general account referring to God's order of creation.
The "second" creation account in Gen 2:4 and after focuses on the creation of Man and Woman.  So they are two accounts of the same thing, not contradictory.

The only thing I've heard that made sense for a time was that in 2:5, no plants had appeared before man was formed, but we see plants created before man on the third day of creation, in Gen 1:11-12.  Looking closer, however, we see that it is saying that "no plant of the field" had yet sprouted, "because there was no man to work the ground."  

By the way, our faith is based on the Holy Scriptures - if our holy writings are open to contradiction and logical fallacies like those of other faiths (the Qu'ran, the Bhagavad Gita, etc), then our ability to reach out to the thinkers of other faiths is severely limited and God is either a liar or is confused, since the Scriptures are theopneustos.

The Bible must be read according to the way it was meant to be read - that is the first principle of proper interpretation of *any* literary work.  We read the Church Fathers that way; why would we read the Scriptures differently?  Reading them that way is the only way they are consistent, and that means that the historical accounts of the OT are historical, the poetic writings are poetry, etc.
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« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2004, 10:51:01 AM »

Quote
Rho: By the way, our faith is based on the Holy Scriptures

You are making an assumption there.

If there were no Bible, I would still believe in Christ because of His Church and her testimony.

If there were no Christ, I would use the Bible to start my woodstove.
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« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2004, 10:53:33 AM »

As would I, Linus.
But the Bible is the only direct account of the Christ we have - we would do well to hear it for what it purports itself to be.
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« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2004, 10:56:02 AM »

As would I, Linus.
But the Bible is the only direct account of the Christ we have - we would do well to hear it for what it purports itself to be.

Sure thing.

But we don't base our faith on it.

It is based on our faith.
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« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2004, 11:13:56 AM »

That's interesting.

Do you hold yourself subservient to the Bible?
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« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2004, 11:14:14 AM »

We will be starting a book discussion on Fr John Behr's Way to Nicaea in June which  covers some of this.  I invite you all to purchase the book and then get ready for it as Fr John himself may also participate Smiley

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« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2004, 11:25:51 AM »

...what do the Fathers make the book of Judith's calling Nebuchadnezzar the king of Assyria? (This coming from someone who does hold it to be inspired.)

Same name different person (said one of my teachers).  Grin

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« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2004, 02:11:01 PM »

The first two chapters of Genesis are not contradictory.  
The "first" creation account in Gen 1:1 - 2:3 is a more general account referring to God's order of creation.
The "second" creation account in Gen 2:4 and after focuses on the creation of Man and Woman.  So they are two accounts of the same thing, not contradictory.

Genesis 1  has both man and woman being created in the image of God, at the same time. Genesis 2 has woman being created from man's rib. According to human logic, that doesn't make too much sense. It's the theological meaning we have to look for, which can be given to us by the Church.
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« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2004, 03:49:04 PM »

This particular topic is something that I have been thinking a lot about recently.  Raised in a staunchly evangelical church I was taught that the Scriptures were the plenary verbally inspired word of God in accordance with the propositions of the early 20th century Protestant theologians Warfield and Hodge.  Therefore, the creation narratives were literal history and God created everything in six literal 24 hour days because all of Scripture is a literal rendering of truth.  Anyways, I have come to question this idea because a 6,000 year old Earth just doesn't make that much sense to me.  I definitely believe the Scriptures are inspired, but perhaps not in the sense that every single word from cover to cover is literally correct in all areas of science, history, etc.  Anyone else have any thoughts on this, or any opinions?
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« Reply #25 on: May 28, 2004, 04:03:21 PM »

The differences of Genesis 1 and 2 about the creation of man can be resolved if we consider the Greek, which uses different words in each case: +¦-Ç+++»++-â+¦ vs +¡-Ç+++¦-â+¦. St. Basil in his "De Huminis Structura Oration II" has an explanation, which I could not find online so I 'll not quote Smiley Nevertheless, St. Gregory has something on the making of man, which you can read here:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-05/Npnf2-05-36.htm#P3198_2116408
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« Reply #26 on: May 28, 2004, 06:03:12 PM »

There are contradictions in the Bible. I have looked into this, and honeslty there really are.

Just a few examples....

Contradiction #1

Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?

(a) God did (2 Samuel 24:1)

(b) Satan did (1 Chronicles 21:1).

Contradiction #2

In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?

(a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9).

(b) One million, one hundred thousand (1 Chronicles 21:5).

Contradiction #3

How many fighting men were found in Judah?

(a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9).

(b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (1 Chronicles 21:5).

Contradiction #4

How long did Jehoiachin rule over Jerusalem?

(a) Three months (2 Kings 24:Cool.

(b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9).

Contradiction #5

The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?

(a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:Cool.

(b) Three hundred (1 Chronicles 11:11).

Contradiction #6

How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?

(a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20).

(b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8, 9).

Contradiction #7

When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?

(a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4).

(b) Seven thousand (1 Chronicles 18:4).

Contradiction #8

How many were the children of Zattu?

(a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:Cool

(b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13).

Contradiction #9

How many were the children of Azgad?

(a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12).

(b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17).

Contradiction #10

How many were the children of Adin?

(a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15).

(b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20).

Contradiction #11

How many were the children of Hashum?

(a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19).

(b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22).

Contradiction #12

How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?

(a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28).

(b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32).

---------

Above are just a few examples form the OT, there are more, and there even contradictions in the NT.



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« Reply #27 on: May 28, 2004, 09:01:33 PM »

That's interesting.

Do you hold yourself subservient to the Bible?

That is a strange question, a very Protestant question.

I don't dissect the Apostolic Tradition and hold myself subservient to parts of it in isolation from the others.

The Deposit of Faith is a seamless whole. To attempt to extract the Bible from that context and elevate the private interpretation of it above the rest is to rend the fabric of the faith.

I don't think in those terms.

I try to serve Christ.
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« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2004, 11:08:44 PM »

Quote
ICXN: Same name different person (said one of my teachers).  

>>Except there is no historical evidence for some other Nebuchadnezzar (and isn't that a Babylonian name rather than Assyrian?)

Quote
SL4GOD: Anyways, I have come to question this idea because a 6,000 year old Earth just doesn't make that much sense to me.

>>There is abundant evidence against Darwinian theory, but you can hold to the Bible's inerrancy without holding to a 6000 year old Earth.
Quote
not in the sense that every single word from cover to cover is literally correct in all areas of science, history, etc
>>Then God couldn't have written it, correct?  Does God know everything?
Quote
BOGO:Genesis 1  has both man and woman being created in the image of God, at the same time. Genesis 2 has woman being created from man's rib. According to human logic, that doesn't make too much sense.

>>No contradiction here - you think that woman being made out of man's rib necessarily means she is not in the image of God?  On what do you base that?
Quote
BEN: Contradictions #1-12...
>>Remember that only the original manuscripts could be considered to be inspired and occasional copyist errors do creep in despite the abundance of manuscript copies.  Thus #s 2-5, 7-12 are taken care of - these are slips of the pen, quite minute.
#1 - As we see in the Epistle of James, God tests us and Satan tempts us (see also the Book of Job).  No problem to say that both were partially the cause of David's census here.
#7 - In Gen 6:19, God asks for 2 of every kind, then qualifies His instructions in 7:2 by commanding 7 of clean animals.  In 7:8-9. it simply says that the animals went in by twos, not that only two of each kind went in - this could refer to the way in which they entered the ark.

As I said, most of these "contradictions" have had widely-published answers for decades in the modern era alone, to say nothing of the learned icxn's patristic citations taking care of others.

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« Reply #29 on: May 29, 2004, 03:26:15 AM »

Hi all,

The topic of so-called Bible contradictions is a topic I know well. The reason being, is that I enter into religious debates with Muslims many times a week and one of the topics they bring up trying to disprove Christianity is the claim that the Bible contains contradictions. The reason they make this claim is because they expect to see Mohammed’s name in the Bible, but since they don’t, they claim that the Holy Bible is corrupt and contradicts itself often. This claim of course is untrue.

Many of the “contradictions” that the Muslims bring up are the same as the one that Ben listed. If you notice, most of these “contradiction” have to do with numbers that are mentioned in one chapter and are multiplied by a factor of 10 or so in another chapter that mentions the same story. So for example, Solomon has seven 7000 soldiers and in another he has 70,000 soldiers. The reason there is this discrepancy in figures has to do with the way numbers are written in Hebrew, where like Greek, an alphabet letter represents a number. If you want to write the number 7000, you would write the letter representing the number seven and then place a dash underneath that letter representing how many times that number is multiplied by 10. So in the case of the number 7000, you would write the “seventh” letter with three dashes underneath.  The problem arose when ancient scribes were COPYING Biblical texts. In some cases they were unable to determine how many dashes were underneath a number, so some manuscripts would say, 7000 while others would say 70,000 and so forth. This has nothing to do with the soundness of revelation, rather the accuracy of transmission.

Here are some excellent links that answer these “contradictions” and explain certain Bible difficulties that are not contradictions at all. Please keep in mind that most of these articles were written to answer muslim claims against the Bible, but at the same time, they answer some of the “contradictions” some of you posted.

I hope you can see the difference between soundness of revelations and textual variation, which is common to any and all ancient texts including the Bible, Koran (spit), Bagava Ghita and any other text you can think of.

Here is the link:

http://answering-islam.org.uk/Bible/Contra/

Remember Christ promised, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” context: Matthew 24:34-36, Mark 13:30-32, Luke 21:32-34.

In Christ.
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« Reply #30 on: May 29, 2004, 10:05:28 AM »

Dimitrius,
Good post.  I've also read that about the difficulty of the transmission of the numbers in Hebrew.  The same can apply to some names in the OT, especially when comparing Chronicles to earlier works such as Genesis, Exodus, Kings, etc.  From what I recall the Hebrew script actually changed over time so that  a character in one century can have a different "meaning" than that of a very similar character several centuries later.  

I agree that these (and other) difficulties properly understood don't represent true contradictions.
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« Reply #31 on: May 29, 2004, 10:13:41 AM »


>>Except there is no historical evidence for some other Nebuchadnezzar (and isn't that a Babylonian name rather than Assyrian?)

However, if I'm not mistaken, there is not clear historical evidence for Darius the Mede in the Book of Daniel either.   ("Darius" was probably a name attributed by Daniel to a very high-ranking Mede, perhaps a "sub-king" under Cyrus the Persian.)

OTOH, didn't Nebuchadnezzar conquer the Assyrians?  Wouldn't that make him "king" of the Assyrians in sense?
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« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2004, 10:36:53 PM »

We will be starting a book discussion on Fr John Behr's Way to Nicaea in June which  covers some of this.  I invite you all to purchase the book and then get ready for it as Fr John himself may also participate Smiley

anastasios

 Wink  Nice plug, anastasios.
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« Reply #33 on: May 29, 2004, 11:01:08 PM »

>>Remember that only the original manuscripts could be considered to be inspired and occasional copyist errors do creep in despite the abundance of manuscript copies.

Well, that's convenient.  So God didn't see to it that we were allowed to receive the correct manuscript due to copyist errors? So what we have is not the real, truly inspired Word of God -- or at least, not as inspired as it could be?  If it still is, is God then allowed to make minor errors?

Quote
Thus #s 2-5, 7-12 are taken care of - these are slips of the pen, quite minute.

Not quite satisfied here -- Dimitrius claims that the key to solving the alleged controdictions is this:

Quote
If you notice, most of these “contradiction” have to do with numbers that are mentioned in one chapter and are multiplied by a factor of 10 or so in another chapter that mentions the same story.

However, Ben's post lists the following:

Quote
How many fighting men were found in Judah?
(a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9).
(b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (1 Chronicles 21:5).
(Not a factor of 10)

How long did Jehoiachin rule over Jerusalem?
(a) Three months (2 Kings 24:Cool.
(b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9).
[Not a factor of 10)

The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
(a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:Cool.
(b) Three hundred (1 Chronicles 11:11).
(Not a factor of 10)

When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?

(a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4).
(b) Seven thousand (1 Chronicles 18:4).
(Not a factor of 10; would the number not jump to either 170 or 17,000 if this were the case?)

How many were the children of Zattu?
(a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:Cool
(b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13).
(Not a factor of ten; merely a difference of 100)

How many were the children of Azgad?
(a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12).
(b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17).
(Possible here, though not a true factor of ten -- difference of 1,100)

How many were the children of Adin?
(a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15).
(b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20).
(Difference of 201; definitely not a factor of 10)

How many were the children of Hashum?
(a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19).
(b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22).
(Difference of 105)

How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
(a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28).
(b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32).

This last contradiction is the ONLY contradiction we could attribute to what might today be called a "decimal error."  The rest of these appear to be merely random number discrepancies between different witnesses of the same story.  It seems to me THEY JUST GOT IT WRONG.  

Furthermore, this does NOT pose a problem if one does not depend on EVERY aspect of the Bible being "squeaky-clean," as it were; the moral and theological integrity of the passages (which is very much preserved) is the main point of these passages.

As ambrosemzv has said, this school of thought is represented by an entire segment of historical Orthodoxy; lets not insist on something that, truly, is not all that consequential.
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« Reply #34 on: May 30, 2004, 01:24:29 AM »

Pedro,

You did not read the articles I listed that spell out these discrepancies with numbers in the Bible, and they are NOT just numbers that are off by a facto of ten. As a matter of fact, every single example that Ben mentioned are clearly answered in the very first article.

However, I think I should include the following quotes as a background:

Quote
Christians readily admit, however, that there have been 'scribal errors' in the copies of the Old and New Testament. It is beyond the capability of anyone to avoid any and every slip of the pen in copying page after page from any book, sacred or secular. Yet we may be sure that the original manuscript (better known as autograph) of each book of the Bible, being directly inspired by God, was free from all error. Those originals, however, because of the early date of their inception no longer exist.


The individuals responsible for the copying (scribes or copyists) were prone to making two types of scribal errors, well known and documented by those expert in the field of manuscript analysis. One concerned the spelling of proper names (especially unfamiliar foreign names), and the other had to do with numbers. The fact that it is mainly these type of errors in evidence gives credence to the argument for copyist errors. If indeed the originals were in contradiction, we would see evidence of this within the content of the stories themselves. (Archer 1982:221-222)...


a.   It may be helpful to interject here that there were three known ways of writing numbers in Hebrew. The earliest, a series of notations used by the Jewish settlers in the 5th century BC Elephantine Papyri (described in more detail below) was followed by a system whereby alphabetical letters were used for numbers. A further system was introduced whereby the spelling out of the numbers in full was prescribed by the guild of so-perim. Fortunately we have a large file of documents in papyrus from these three sources to which we can refer.


As with many of these numerical discrepancies, it is the decade number that varies. It is instructive to observe that the number notations used by the Jewish settlers in the 5th century BC Elephantine Papyri, during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, from which this passage comes, evidences the earlier form of numerical notation. This consisted of a horizontal stroke ending in a downward hook at its right end to represent the numbers in tens (thus two horizontal strokes one above the other would be 20). Vertical strokes were used to represent anything less than ten. Thus eight would be /III IIII, but eighteen would be /III IIII with the addition of a horizontal line and downward hook above it. Similarly twenty-two would be /I followed by two horizontal hooks, and forty-two would be /I followed by two sets of horizontal hooks (please forgive the deficiencies of my computer; it is not the scholar Dr. Archer is).

If, then, the primary manuscript from which a copy was being carried out was blurred or smudged, one or more of the decadal notations could be missed by the copyist. It is far less likely that the copyist would have mistakenly seen an extra ten stroke that was not present in his original then that he would have failed to observe one that had been smudged.
In the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, the corrections have been included in the texts. However, for clarity, footnotes at the bottom of the page mention that earlier Hebrew MSS include the scribal error, while the Septuagint MSS and Syriac as well as one Hebrew MSS include the correct numerals. It only makes sense to correct the numerals once the scribal error has been noted. This, however, in no way negates the authenticity nor the authority of the scriptures which we have.

Confirmation of this type of copyist error is found in various pagan writers as well. For example in the Behistun rock inscription set up by Darius 1, we find that number 38 gives the figure for the slain of the army of Frada as 55,243, with 6,572 prisoners, according to the Babylonian column. Copies of this inscription found in Babylon itself, records the number of prisoners as 6,973. However in the Aramaic translation of this inscription discovered at the Elephantine in Egypt, the number of prisoners was only 6,972.

Similarly in number 31 of the same inscription, the Babylonian column gives 2,045 as the number of slain in the rebellious army of Frawartish, along with 1,558 prisoners, whereas the Aramaic copy has over 1,575 as the prisoner count.
(Archer 1982:206-207, 214-215, 222, 230; Nehls pg.17-18; Light of Life II 1992:204-205)


Please read the full articles I listed at http://answering-islam.org.uk/Bible/Contra/  for a full explanation of the topic of so-called Bible contradictions.

In Christ,
Dimitrius.
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« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2004, 09:57:10 AM »

I stand corrected; point conceded.  My apologies for my (obvious and willful) ignorance.

A couple of questions, however -- and this is not necessarily a challenge -- concerning the two different numbers in each case: how do we know which number to "correct," as did the editors of the NIV?  Do we know for certain in each case that one number is more ancient than the other?

Also: even if these were mere "copyist errors," is it not still a contradiction within the manuscripts God saw fit to preserve for the Church?  How do we know that these lost, "original" manuscripts did not also contain these discrepancies?
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« Reply #36 on: June 01, 2004, 04:50:10 AM »

Pedro:

For one thing, is it absolutely necessary to know for certain which numbers are the correct ones in each of these cases?  Which important Church doctrine rests on getting these right at this time in the modern era?  These comprise such a small amount in comparison to the vastness of the biblical text that it's not worth the worry.

As for God preserving the manuscripts - who would doubt that God had a hand in that, since there are thousands, much more than any other work of antiquity?  We give the original manuscripts the benefit of the doubt because:  1) That is how one approaches any book - one gives it the benefit of the doubt until the book destroys reasonable trust in it; and 2) To believe this is to doubt the Scriptures' own confession - they (and I know you will agree that this is especially relevant to the OT, which we discuss here) claim to be directly "breathed-out" by God Himself in 2 Tim 3:16.  They were written by men as they were "carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21), so if you doubt that the manuscripts were correct, you might as well doubt those two passages and a whole lot more.

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« Reply #37 on: June 01, 2004, 08:56:08 AM »

For one thing, is it absolutely necessary to know for certain which numbers are the correct ones in each of these cases?  Which important Church doctrine rests on getting these right at this time in the modern era?

No, and none.  To all concerned about why Pedro is making such a big deal out of the numbers: I'm playing devil's advocate.  I don't really think that these numbers present a challenge to the inspiration of the books in which they're located, whether it's a number descrepancy or some king given the wrong name...they're not the points on which hinge the books' theological arguments.  I've seen people attack and defend points like these with such verocity that, more than anything else, I was simply curious to see if there were any real way to argue persuasively for the issue.  That's all.

Quote
As for God preserving the manuscripts - who would doubt that God had a hand in that, since there are thousands, much more than any other work of antiquity?...They were written by men as they were "carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21), so if you doubt that the manuscripts were correct, you might as well doubt those two passages and a whole lot more.

No beef here; like I said, I agree with everyone else here: the Bible is directly and completely inspired by God, cover to cover (DCs included).  Yet, it WAS physically written by men, and, as such, is not free from slight, inconsequential errors in numeration, historical record, etc.  As you very well stated, Rho, no "important Church doctrine rests on getting these right at this time in the modern era."

My apologies if I exasperated anyone.
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« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2004, 01:25:51 PM »

The Orthodox Church has no doctrine of the inspiration of the "original autographs" only.  That's a fundamentalist Protestant notion.  Proof of this is that the Septuagint is our OFFICIAL TEXT of the Old Testament and not the original Hebrew. In fact, where the Septuagint differs from the Hebrew (which is quite often), the Orthodox Church goes with the Septuagint and not the Hebrew text.  Just some food for thought.
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« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2004, 09:19:16 PM »

Quote
The Orthodox Church has no doctrine of the inspiration of the "original autographs" only.  That's a fundamentalist Protestant notion.  Proof of this is that the Septuagint is our OFFICIAL TEXT of the Old Testament and not the original Hebrew. In fact, where the Septuagint differs from the Hebrew (which is quite often), the Orthodox Church goes with the Septuagint and not the Hebrew text
>>How does this interact with 2 Peter 1:20-21, where the original writers and not the translators of the Hebrew text into Greek were the ones 'carried along by the Holy Spirit?'
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« Reply #40 on: June 01, 2004, 09:59:00 PM »

We would say that it wasn't in any particular syllables that were written down (i.e. Hebrew versus Greek) that makes the difference; that would be akin to saying that the Qur'an can only "properly" be understood in Arabic -- rather it's the message contained therein...like Tikhon29605 said, it's considered a good (we would even say "inspired") translation -- the message is preserved, and it is this message conveyed that it the Word of God.
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« Reply #41 on: June 02, 2004, 03:08:36 PM »

Quote
There is abundant evidence against Darwinian theory, but you can hold to the Bible's inerrancy without holding to a 6000 year old Earth.

I'm not arguing in favor of Darwinian theory, but in favor of an old earth contrasted with a young earth.  Actually, old earth geological theories predate Darwin and began with Lyell so this isn't a matter of Darwinism vs. Creationism but Uniformitarianism vs. Catastrophism.  And to the second point, I'm not so sure that's the case.  Exodus 20:11 strongly implies that the six days of Genesis one are not long ages as some suggest but were understood as literal days since this is the only rendering of Exodus 20:11 that makes sense.
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« Reply #42 on: June 09, 2004, 03:43:35 PM »

The Orthodox Church has no doctrine of the inspiration of the "original autographs" only.  That's a fundamentalist Protestant notion.  Proof of this is that the Septuagint is our OFFICIAL TEXT of the Old Testament and not the original Hebrew. In fact, where the Septuagint differs from the Hebrew (which is quite often), the Orthodox Church goes with the Septuagint and not the Hebrew text.  Just some food for thought.

Isn't this also due in part to the fact that the Septuagint was translated from older Hebrew manuscripts than the lot that were used to arrive at the current Hebrew canon?

The Alexandrian scholars who produced the Septuagint had access to manuscripts that were not available to the Masoretes, as I understand it.

That and the fact that the writers of the New Testament and our Lord quote from the Septuagint about 85% of the time when they quote the OT makes the Septuagint much more reliable and authoritative than the Hebrew texts produced by later Jews with an anti-Christian agenda.
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