I thought it might be interesting to do a "poll"

HillsboroMom

Active member
Though this forum doesn't seem to allow polls (at least not that I've been able to figure out), so just informally:
What do y'all think the Bible is (select all/any that apply):
  • A collection of stories written by an ancient tribe thousands of years ago
  • The Word of God
  • 100% literal
  • 100% inerrant
  • The greatest lie ever told
  • Not even that interesting
  • Hard to understand
  • The basis of many themes in Western literature, and therefore required reading for any educated person
  • Other ideas?
  • Something I read every day
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Though this forum doesn't seem to allow polls (at least not that I've been able to figure out), so just informally:
What do y'all think the Bible is (select all/any that apply):
  • A collection of stories written by an ancient tribe thousands of years ago Yes (though 'tribe' is not so accurate from Iron Age II onward)
  • The Word of God No (if by that do you mean the Israelite/Jewish deity somehow inspired its composition/content)
  • 100% literal No (as in any large enough body of literature there are non-literal forms such as allegories and parables)
  • 100% inerrant No (there are errors and internal conflicts, nor are these confined to the hands of later scribes during transmission)
  • The greatest lie ever told No (though this might make a good title for a spoof of the 60s epic movie genre)
  • Not even that interesting Sometimes (its narratives are usually riveting, but genealogies and sacrificial laws get tedious after a while)
  • Hard to understand No (but it requires education to do so in ways that are contextually sound)
  • The basis of many themes in Western literature, and therefore required reading for any educated person Yes (though I would expand its influence to include other mediums such as song and film)
  • Other ideas? I'll leave this for the thread (if it takes off) to determine
  • Something I read every day No (though often enough for academic reasons not devotionally)
Please see my answers in bold above.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
Though this forum doesn't seem to allow polls (at least not that I've been able to figure out), so just informally:
What do y'all think the Bible is (select all/any that apply):

Interesting set of questions:

  • A collection of stories written by an ancient tribe thousands of years ago

Factually correct.

  • The Word of God

Not sure why you capitalized, "Word".
The Scriptures aren't Jesus.
But they are God's word.

  • 100% literal

100% literary.
But not 100% literal, as there are types, anti-types, parables, metaphors, etc.
Jesus is not a wooden door.
Jesus is not a vine that undergoes photosynthesis, for instance.

  • 100% inerrant

Yes.

  • The greatest lie ever told

Of course not.

  • Not even that interesting

Some parts are fascinating, other parts are sluggish.

  • Hard to understand

Some sections are hard to understand for the unlearned and unstable.

  • The basis of many themes in Western literature, and therefore required reading for any educated person

Definitely!

  • Something I read every day

Yep.
 

tdidymas

Active member
Though this forum doesn't seem to allow polls (at least not that I've been able to figure out), so just informally:
What do y'all think the Bible is (select all/any that apply):
  • A collection of stories written by an ancient tribe thousands of years ago
  • The Word of God
  • 100% literal
  • 100% inerrant
  • The greatest lie ever told
  • Not even that interesting
  • Hard to understand
  • The basis of many themes in Western literature, and therefore required reading for any educated person
  • Other ideas?
  • Something I read every day
My answers:
  • A collection of stories written by an ancient tribe thousands of years ago - The historical narrative part of it is this.
  • The Word of God - "Thus saith the Lord..." can't be denied, although some of it might be debatable.
  • 100% literal - No; there are lots of figurative parts.
  • 100% inerrant - No; there are many controversial and obscure parts.
  • The greatest lie ever told - No. IMO only those who want it to be untrue believe it to be untrue.
  • Not even that interesting - It's only interesting to people who have vested interest in it.
  • Hard to understand - Definitely, for people not familiar with it.
  • The basis of many themes in Western literature, and therefore required reading for any educated person - I wish everyone read it.
  • Other ideas? - The Bible is a collection of writings of different genres. Narratives, poetry, apocalypses, doctrines, et. al. It's a library.
  • Something I read every day - Whenever I can.
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
I think the only thing I disagree with a lot of you on is "hard to understand."

Even if you're fluent in Koine Greek and Biblical Hebrew, it's elusive at best (IMHO). And few people are truly fluent in dead languages.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
I think the only thing I disagree with a lot of you on is "hard to understand."

Even if you're fluent in Koine Greek and Biblical Hebrew, it's elusive at best (IMHO). And few people are truly fluent in dead languages.
After adding in Aramaic for certain portions of Daniel and Ezra (as well a few scattered words elsewhere), I would concur that obscurities exist, particularly in the Hebrew Bible -- sometimes we have to guess at what certain words are based on cognates in other West Semitic languages or early attempts at translation, as well as conjecture different ways of vocalizing the consonantal text where there are ambiguities -- but considering the size of text involved, these occurrences are relatively few. Given a solid grounding in the pertinent languages or relying on a good translation that footnotes these areas of ambiguity, the text itself is not difficult to understand, though I would reiterate what I posted earlier about education being necessary, not simply in terms of original language competency but also in understanding the social and historical backgrounds of the texts.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Could you elaborate?
I'm not sure how "controversial" or "obscure" means "errant".
I'm also interested in seeing an elaboration of this poster's answer, though I notice that you and I answered this question differently... or course, your answer no more shocked me than I suspect my answer shocked you. May I assume, however, that you confine inerrancy to the (so-called) autographs and would concede that scribes have contributed some errors during the process of transmission?

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
I'm also interested in seeing an elaboration of this poster's answer, though I notice that you and I answered this question differently... or course, your answer no more shocked me than I suspect my answer shocked you. May I assume, however, that you confine inerrancy to the (so-called) autographs and would concede that scribes have contributed some errors during the process of transmission?

Well, I guess I'm thinking of the following issues...

1) There are three known additions to the text (although KJV-only and TR-only would dispute), namely the pericope adulterae, the longer ending of Mark, and the Comma Johanneum.

2) There are a few places in the NT text where we have two or more variant readings, where we are less than 100% sure which reading is authentic. So a good pastor would address that when he preaches the passage.

3) There are a number of Hebrew terms of which we don't know the meaning (eg. various animals, etc.)

4) No translation can give a 100% complete transfer of meaning of the underlying text in a "word for word", or "sentence for sentence" translation. That's less an issue of errancy than an issue of the depths of the meaning of Scripture.
 

tdidymas

Active member
Could you elaborate?
I'm not sure how "controversial" or "obscure" means "errant".
If the writer could not write it clearly enough for people 2000 years later to understand, then it's a mistake at least from the reader's POV.
Gen. 1, Rev., how many years of slavery was Israel in, Gen. 6:1-2 - these are all controversial and debatable passages among many others. Most people assume that because we have scientific knowledge today, that many expressions in the OT are figurative, such as "the windows of heaven were opened," when in fact we don't know that the writer meant it to be figurative.

In order to make all scripture inerrant, people try to reconcile it with modern science, and IMO it simply can't be done. Many people erroneously believe that if one statement in the Bible is in error, then that undermines the whole thing, and it can't be trusted. I don't believe that, and IMO that idea is nonsense. I tend to accept the fact that Biblical writers had the same ideas as the general population (in regard to cosmology and other subjects), and were not privy to modern scientific facts. So, "circle of the earth" is an expression meaning the whole world, as seen from someone observing the horizon all around them. It did not mean, and does not mean, that they knew the earth was a sphere.

It can also be determined with a high degree of certainty that some things in the Bible were changed over the centuries, which were both intentional and unintentional. This doesn't make the Bible any less trustworthy for applying to life and trusting God for salvation. But I do not use the Bible as a scientific textbook, and I think that anyone who does is making a mistake.

Now, if you mean by "inerrant" that no evil idea has crept in, or no writer intentionally wrote his own opinion contrary to God's revelation, then I agree that it is inerrant in that regard. It might be nitpicking, but I would rather call it "infallible."
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Well, I guess I'm thinking of the following issues...

1) There are three known additions to the text (although KJV-only and TR-only would dispute), namely the pericope adulterae, the longer ending of Mark, and the Comma Johanneum.
Yes, these are some of the noteworthy examples in the New Testament. Examples in the Hebrew Bible tend to be less widely known, but they are rather more substantial and problematic... the antediluvian genealogy, the tabernacle texts, the David and Goliath story, the generally defective text of 1-2 Samuel in MT, the different chronological systems in 1-2 Kings vis-à-vis 3-4 Reigns, expansions to Daniel and Esther to name a few of examples. In some cases it is obvious which versions are secondary, but in other cases it is not clear which or even if any of the existing text traditions represent the putative original.

2) There are a few places in the NT text where we have two or more variant readings, where we are less than 100% sure which reading is authentic. So a good pastor would address that when he preaches the passage.

3) There are a number of Hebrew terms of which we don't know the meaning (eg. various animals, etc.)

4) No translation can give a 100% complete transfer of meaning of the underlying text in a "word for word", or "sentence for sentence" translation. That's less an issue of errancy than an issue of the depths of the meaning of Scripture.
We are more or less agreed on all of these points.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
If the writer could not write it clearly enough for people 2000 years later to understand, then it's a mistake at least from the reader's POV.
The mistake is definitely on the reader's end... the original authors cannot be held liable for ignorance of later interpreters as to the original cultural backgrounds that make sense of the text, though I do think this can be remedied by reading pertinent literature to fill in those gaps of knowledge.

Gen. 1, Rev., how many years of slavery was Israel in, Gen. 6:1-2 - these are all controversial and debatable passages among many others. Most people assume that because we have scientific knowledge today, that many expressions in the OT are figurative, such as "the windows of heaven were opened," when in fact we don't know that the writer meant it to be figurative.

In order to make all scripture inerrant, people try to reconcile it with modern science, and IMO it simply can't be done. Many people erroneously believe that if one statement in the Bible is in error, then that undermines the whole thing, and it can't be trusted. I don't believe that, and IMO that idea is nonsense. I tend to accept the fact that Biblical writers had the same ideas as the general population (in regard to cosmology and other subjects), and were not privy to modern scientific facts. So, "circle of the earth" is an expression meaning the whole world, as seen from someone observing the horizon all around them. It did not mean, and does not mean, that they knew the earth was a sphere.
I am more or less in agreement with everything you write above.

It can also be determined with a high degree of certainty that some things in the Bible were changed over the centuries, which were both intentional and unintentional.
Actually we know this with 100% certainty based on the manuscript evidence.

Now, if you mean by "inerrant" that no evil idea has crept in, or no writer intentionally wrote his own opinion contrary to God's revelation, then I agree that it is inerrant in that regard. It might be nitpicking, but I would rather call it "infallible."
I am not in agreement with this... slavery and genocide, to identify two of the most obvious, are evil practices endorsed in the Bible that I cannot in good conscience embrace as acceptable either then or now.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

tdidymas

Active member
The mistake is definitely on the reader's end... the original authors cannot be held liable for ignorance of later interpreters as to the original cultural backgrounds that make sense of the text, though I do think this can be remedied by reading pertinent literature to fill in those gaps of knowledge.


I am more or less in agreement with everything you write above.


Actually we know this with 100% certainty based on the manuscript evidence.


I am not in agreement with this... slavery and genocide, to identify two of the most obvious, are evil practices endorsed in the Bible that I cannot in good conscience embrace as acceptable either then or now.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
Fair enough, but I don't agree with your assessment of how the Bible handles slavery. When slavery was abusive, such as when Israel was in Egypt, God clearly considers that evil. But with "slavery" which was actually indentured servanthood, where the slaves were treated rightly, that was a cultural way back then for people to survive, and the laws of Moses treats it as something that had to be dealt with in the right manner.

In regard to genocide, we don't know what the conditions were back then. What we do know is that God considered the sins of those people as being "filled up" and apparently He thought they should be wiped out. Even the animals in some cases. I've seen dogs commit homosexual acts, so they must have learned it somewhere, since Paul wrote that such things are not natural (Rom. 1).

How is it any different than today with all the terrorist orgs active? It takes a just war to suppress them. Back then, the issue was idolatry and immorality.
So, are you a pacifist?
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
Yet it is 2000-3000 years later, and here we are.
My point was, perhaps the Bible was not written for US. Perhaps (and I'm not saying this is absolutely the case, but it is possibly the case) it was written for the people who lived 2-3k years ago, and we are basically reading someone else's mail.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
I don't agree with your assessment of how the Bible handles slavery. When slavery was abusive, such as when Israel was in Egypt, God clearly considers that evil. But with "slavery" which was actually indentured servanthood, where the slaves were treated rightly, that was a cultural way back then for people to survive, and the laws of Moses treats it as something that had to be dealt with in the right manner.
Slavery is always abusive and dehumanizing in any form, including so-called indentured servitude and concubinage. The earliest legal code (Exod 21:2-11) allowed only male slaves to be released after six years, not female slaves though there were some conditions under which they might be. The masters of male slaves could essentially hold them hostage for life anyway by giving them wives and forcing them to choose between their families or freedom. The Deuteronomists equalized things by allowing female slaves to go free after six years like their male counterparts and that both be given compensation on their departure (Deut 15:12-17), but couldn't see the injustice of slavery itself. All of this applies to Hebrew slaves only; foreign slaves were property outright and masters were under no obligation to free them and could bequeath them to the next generation (Lev 25:44-46). Hebrew slaves, on the other hand, could not be possessed outright by aliens in the land, but had the right of redemption (Lev 25:47-49) and whether serving here or in a Hebrew household, had to be released in the year of Jubilee (Lev 25:39-40, 54) --- as this was once every fifty years (Lev 25:8-10), some Hebrew slaves could conceivably be so for life or a significant portion thereof. This doesn't even get into the actual treatment of slaves, which is implicitly deplorable and includes beatings that might end in permanent disfigurement of the face, the only punishment to the slave owner being the loss of his property (Exod 21:26-27); he could also beat his slave to death with impunity provided s/he didn't die right away (Exod 21:20-21). I would strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the slavery laws before you attempt to whitewash them again --- there is no "right manner" in dealing with slavery in any form except to abolish it.

In regard to genocide, we don't know what the conditions were back then. What we do know is that God considered the sins of those people as being "filled up" and apparently He thought they should be wiped out...
Murderers have always had their justifications, sometimes even appealing to divine endorsement... none of these excuses are convincing, whether we're talking about a single victim or a whole city down to the last babe in arms.

How is it any different than today with all the terrorist orgs active? It takes a just war to suppress them. Back then, the issue was idolatry and immorality.
So, are you a pacifist?
No, I believe that there are unfortunately times when one must take up arms in self-defense or in defense of others whose lives are threatened... this takes as its starting point the idea that people, all people, have the right to life and one only forfeits that right when they have or intend to take it from another. Even then I see it as a last resort before other means of prevention have been exhausted or are not feasible in the moment... at all times taking every precaution that no innocent person is harmed, much less killed. Laying siege to cities, butchering all their inhabitants and burning their homes down around their corpses -- as narrated in the biblical conquest stories -- are, by definition, acts of aggression, not self-defense or the defense of others. It is truly sad when human life and dignity are subordinate concerns in a misguided commitment to an ancient text in its entirety. There are many positive things about the biblical texts that have inspired people to abolish slavery, combat genocide and alleviate human suffering in its many forms... I can only encourage you to focus on these aspects without justifying the negative ones that are found alongside them.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

tdidymas

Active member
Slavery is always abusive and dehumanizing in any form, including so-called indentured servitude and concubinage. The earliest legal code (Exod 21:2-11) allowed only male slaves to be released after six years, not female slaves though there were some conditions under which they might be. The masters of male slaves could essentially hold them hostage for life anyway by giving them wives and forcing them to choose between their families or freedom. The Deuteronomists equalized things by allowing female slaves to go free after six years like their male counterparts and that both be given compensation on their departure (Deut 15:12-17), but couldn't see the injustice of slavery itself. All of this applies to Hebrew slaves only; foreign slaves were property outright and masters were under no obligation to free them and could bequeath them to the next generation (Lev 25:44-46). Hebrew slaves, on the other hand, could not be possessed outright by aliens in the land, but had the right of redemption (Lev 25:47-49) and whether serving here or in a Hebrew household, had to be released in the year of Jubilee (Lev 25:39-40, 54) --- as this was once every fifty years (Lev 25:8-10), some Hebrew slaves could conceivably be so for life or a significant portion thereof. This doesn't even get into the actual treatment of slaves, which is implicitly deplorable and includes beatings that might end in permanent disfigurement of the face, the only punishment to the slave owner being the loss of his property (Exod 21:26-27); he could also beat his slave to death with impunity provided s/he didn't die right away (Exod 21:20-21). I would strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the slavery laws before you attempt to whitewash them again --- there is no "right manner" in dealing with slavery in any form except to abolish it.


Murderers have always had their justifications, sometimes even appealing to divine endorsement... none of these excuses are convincing, whether we're talking about a single victim or a whole city down to the last babe in arms.


No, I believe that there are unfortunately times when one must take up arms in self-defense or in defense of others whose lives are threatened... this takes as its starting point the idea that people, all people, have the right to life and one only forfeits that right when they have or intend to take it from another. Even then I see it as a last resort before other means of prevention have been exhausted or are not feasible in the moment... at all times taking every precaution that no innocent person is harmed, much less killed. Laying siege to cities, butchering all their inhabitants and burning their homes down around their corpses -- as narrated in the biblical conquest stories -- are, by definition, acts of aggression, not self-defense or the defense of others. It is truly sad when human life and dignity are subordinate concerns in a misguided commitment to an ancient text in its entirety. There are many positive things about the biblical texts that have inspired people to abolish slavery, combat genocide and alleviate human suffering in its many forms... I can only encourage you to focus on these aspects without justifying the negative ones that are found alongside them.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
So, it begs the question then: When the Bible is depicting God commanding the Israelites to wipe out whole tribes, and commanding them to treat slaves in a certain manner, do you believe this is not God? That the writer of those passages of scripture is making it up, and thus taking the name of the Lord in vain by saying "The Lord said..."?
 
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