T Nation

The Constitution and the Bible

I have been thinking about this for some time now. I am always amazed at how so many people can believe the bible word for word, or any holy book for that matter after thousands of years have gone by. And in the bibles case, it has been translated through several different languages.

Yet, our own constitution, witten only a few hundred years ago, in our own language, is debated upon daily. We even have a full time court that deals just with the constitution, and deciphering if something is or is not in accordance with it. I mean two people , both Americans, can read the constitution, and come away with different meaning for what the founding fathers envisioned. But, many religious people, believe that they know the true meaning of the bible.

I hear all the time, “the bible is 2000 years old”. To which my answer is, no your bible is brobably 20 years old, and you will probably be hard pressed to find one 100 or 200 years old. Find me a bible that is 2000 years old and let me read that one. Oh it’s written in sanskrit? Well have someone who speaks sanskrit as thier native language come translate it for me. Oh nobody speaks that language any more? The language hasn’t been used in 1500 years?

Anyways, I think you see what my point is even if you don’t agree with it The bible in my opinion, cannot convey the exact message of which the writers intended. The generalities, sure, but the specifics, I think should be looked at with a grain of salt.

V

V

FYI, The Old Testament is up to 8,000 years old, The New Testament is 2,000 years old, 66 Books in total, over a dozen authors from kings to nobodies, original languages are Aramaic, Hebrew (OT), Greek (NT), it has survived book burnings, forgeries, attempts on it’s veracity. It has been mis-quoted and taken out of context for evil purposes. Yet most who read it with an open mind and heart truly desiring to know God find Him, those who read it with evil intent are confused by their own evil. A book of history, poetry, songs, doctrine and prophecy. The Bible’s goal is that all humans start a “relationship” with their Creator, not “religion”, religion is man trying to reach God by their own self-righteousness and “holy” works, relationship is accepting that Jesus made us righteous by faith in Him.

From your post, it is quite clear that you know nothing about the Bible. If you do not want to believe that what Bible says is true, that is fine. But do not form such a hard opinion without doing any research whatsoever.

There are many more scrolls and copies of Scripture than of any of the classical works by Homer and the like. (Who, by the way, was also translated, and by your logic we cannot really understand what Homer ever met. Everyone throw out your copy of the Oddyssey.)

There have been many who have tried to disprove the historicity of the Bible, yet find that it is an extremely accurate historical document. There are many stories of scholars who have attempted to do such and have converted to Christianity.

I believe it is your words which should be taken with “a grain of salt.”

[quote]Mr Bear wrote:
There are many stories of scholars who have attempted to do such and have converted to Christianity. [/quote]

Who and what stories are you referring to?
Give us at least one so we can take away something from this useless reply.

According to David Barrett et al, editors of the World Christian Encyclopedia: 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. So yeah, the same documents can be interpreted many different way. Heck, I’m Baptist but even to me it’s absurd to think that any religion has dissected the Bible to 100% accuracy.

[quote]highersights wrote:
According to David Barrett et al, editors of the World Christian Encyclopedia: 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world.[/quote]

Yes, but 75-80% of all Christians belong to the Roman or Eastern Orthodox groups.

Vegita, I think part of the problem is that you are looking to interpret the Bible as a piece of literature or philosophy. Under those rules, a master crafstman has chosen each word deliberately, to convey a particular message. Perhaps different messages for different people, or different levels of reading. A superficial reading of a philosopher will typically yield one meaning, while subsequent deeper readings will yield more subtle (and perhaps hidden) ideas.

The problem is determining what the “true” authorial intent was; we must understand the author as he understood himself. This is difficult, and becomes progressively moreso as time goes on and we understand less about the time the author lived. These circumstantial difficulties are generally inversely proportional to the skill of the author, who understands that his messages ought to be divorced from popular culture, as it were. Yet no philosopher writes perfectly, and so he cannot anticipate every possible understanding of his work. This leads to disagreements.

Now, we have two ways of solving this problem when approaching the Bible. The first option is to simply accept revelation as being simply true, and the Bible as simply true. That is, even with modest reading skills, when one earnestly endeavors to understand God and His work, God’s reward for this effort is revelation, through which He gives the seeker some insight, either directly or by pointing him in the correct direction. Believing in this form of interpretation, if it can be called as such, does not necessitate believing that every person must receive the same teaching.

The other option is to believe that if the Bible is divinely crafted, it was crafted perfectly. As such, it speaks directly to the reader at such a level as that reader requires. More effort will yield different understandings of the same text, but ultimately the work is crafted to guide readers as they need to be guided. This would be God as Master Philosopher, in a way.

Of course, there are other ways to view the Bible without taking a faith-based approach… your question assumed faith, and so I responded with possible views from that angle. The two options are perhaps not as clear distinct as they ought to be, but this was the best I could type in the few minutes I had between tasks at work.

[quote]jlesk68 wrote:
FYI, The Old Testament is up to 8,000 years old, The New Testament is 2,000 years old, 66 Books in total, over a dozen authors from kings to nobodies, original languages are Aramaic, Hebrew (OT), Greek (NT), it has survived book burnings, forgeries, attempts on it’s veracity. It has been mis-quoted and taken out of context for evil purposes. Yet most who read it with an open mind and heart truly desiring to know God find Him, those who read it with evil intent are confused by their own evil. A book of history, poetry, songs, doctrine and prophecy. The Bible’s goal is that all humans start a “relationship” with their Creator, not “religion”, religion is man trying to reach God by their own self-righteousness and “holy” works, relationship is accepting that Jesus made us righteous by faith in Him.[/quote]

Well, this is a real effective argument. “If you don’t interpret the Bible the same way as me it is because you are EVIL and didn’t read the Bible with an open mind and with God in your heart!” Right, well prove it! I could say God spoke to me and told me the correct meaning and yours is wrong, how would you know he hadn’t?

For fun: a recent poll indicates that

52% of Americans identified themselves as Protestant.

24.5% are Roman Catholic.

14.1% do not follow any organized religion.

1.3% are Jewish.

0.5% are Muslim.

The fastest growing religion (in terms of percentage) is Wicca. Their numbers of adherents are doubling about every 30 months.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

Who and what stories are you referring to?
Give us at least one so we can take away something from this useless reply.
[/quote]

Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ, The Case for a Creator, etc.)

[quote]goldin wrote:
jlesk68 wrote:
FYI, The Old Testament is up to 8,000 years old, The New Testament is 2,000 years old, 66 Books in total, over a dozen authors from kings to nobodies, original languages are Aramaic, Hebrew (OT), Greek (NT), it has survived book burnings, forgeries, attempts on it’s veracity. It has been mis-quoted and taken out of context for evil purposes. Yet most who read it with an open mind and heart truly desiring to know God find Him, those who read it with evil intent are confused by their own evil. A book of history, poetry, songs, doctrine and prophecy. The Bible’s goal is that all humans start a “relationship” with their Creator, not “religion”, religion is man trying to reach God by their own self-righteousness and “holy” works, relationship is accepting that Jesus made us righteous by faith in Him.

Well, this is a real effective argument. “If you don’t interpret the Bible the same way as me it is because you are EVIL and didn’t read the Bible with an open mind and with God in your heart!” Right, well prove it! I could say God spoke to me and told me the correct meaning and yours is wrong, how would you know he hadn’t?[/quote]

It’s amazing the way you’re trying to twist my words, re-read my post again and think…

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Mr Bear wrote:
There are many stories of scholars who have attempted to do such and have converted to Christianity.

Who and what stories are you referring to?
Give us at least one so we can take away something from this useless reply.
[/quote]

Why was my post useless? It was on topic and urged the other poster to research things more carefully before making such blanket statements.

Yes, Lee Strobel is a great example. Also, C.S. Lewis experienced a similar about face. I just read a story on a scholar who tried to disprove the book of Luke and concluded that Luke was one of the greatest scholars of his time. I will try to find that name for you. Hope this post wasn’t as worthless.

In March 1947, two Bedouin shepherd boys were tending their goats in the hills northwest of the Dead Sea, near Jericho. One of the goats wandered into a cave. The boy was afraid to go into the cave, so he threw a rock in, presumably to help scare the goat out. He heard the cracking of pottery.

That aroused his interest, so he climbed into the cave. That day Muhammed ed Dhib discovered what is now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, a treasure trove of manuscripts.

He had no idea what he had discovered. He took the sheepskin manuscripts to a local dealer in Bethlehem, named Kando, who saw that they were documents. Eventually the manuscripts wound up in the hands of the Syrian archbishop of Jerusalem, Archbishop Samuel, who searched in vain for a buyer. An ad, placed in the classified section of the New York Times, read “For sale: ancient manuscripts, $250,000.”

What scrolls were found?

After Israel became a state in 1948, Archbishop Samuel sold the manuscripts to the State of Israel. At that time the collection included the following: a complete scroll of Isaiah, a second, partial scroll of Isaiah, The Habakkuk Commentary (including two chapters of Habakkuk), The Manual of Discipline (rules for members of the religious community who lived nearby), Thanksgiving Hymns (which sound a lot like the biblical Psalms), A Genesis Apocryphon (apocryphal accounts of some of the patriarchs) and Wars of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (a cataclysmic battle that the people who copied the scrolls anticipated would probably happen in their lifetime).

Finally, at the end of January 1949, about two years after the scrolls were discovered, it was possible to locate the cave in which they had been stored (now called Cave 1) and to excavate it thoroughly. The cave yielded thousands of manuscript fragments, as well as fragments of jars and cloth that had wrapped the scrolls.

The discovery of the magnificent collection in Cave 1 raised the possibility of finding treasures in the other caves of the Qumran area. Both the Bedouins and archaeologists scoured a total of some 275 caves between 1949 and 1956. Of these, 40 yielded pottery and other objects, 26 of which contained pottery of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In 11 caves there were manuscript finds like those of Cave 1.

How the scrolls bear on the Bible

In all, every book of the Old Testament, except Esther, was found among the manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. What have all the magnificent discoveries near the Dead Sea done for Old Testament studies? By comparing the manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Old Testament, we can get a good understanding of the accuracy of our Bible.

The complete Isaiah manuscript from Qumran became available to the scholarly world at the time when the Revised Standard Version translation committee was preparing its new version. As the scholars compared the Book of Isaiah from Qumran with the Hebrew text that we call the Masoretic text (dated about 1,000 A.D), they decided to adopt only 13 variations from the Qumran manuscript.

Millar Burrows, an archaeologist and a member of the translation committee, said, “It is a matter for wonder that through something like a thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition.”

In other words, your Bible was translated from the Masoretic text, the Hebrew text that dates about 1,000 A.D. And if you lay that Isaiah manuscript down beside the Dead Sea Scroll manuscript of Isaiah, you will find only 13 small differences, mostly miss spelled words.

Gleason Archer noted that the Isaiah manuscript from Cave 1 “proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.”

Roland de Vaux has observed, “And so new material has been provided for textual criticism, but we must at once add that the differences only have a bearing on minor points. If certain restorations can now be proposed with more confidence, and some obscure passages become clear, the content of the Bible is not ‘changed.’”

Archer concludes, “Nothing in the new discoveries from the Qumran caves endangers the essential reliability and authority of our standard Hebrew Bible text.”

All the evidence attests to the fact that Jewish scribes of the early Christian centuries exercised the same care in copying the Old Testament that they did during and after the days of the Masoretes. There is at least 95 percent agreement between the various biblical texts found near the Dead Sea and the Old Testament we have had all along. Most of the variations are minor, and none of the doctrines have been put in jeopardy.

As I look at my Bible today, I am reminded that the Dead Sea Scrolls predate the manuscripts from which my Bible was translated by 1,000 years. That means the Dead Sea Scrolls allowed us to go back 1,000 years closer to the actual writing of the Old Testament. Yet they corroborate the text from which my Bible was translated.

Thus, the Bible that you hold in your hand is true, and you can trust it. The discovery of the Dead sea Scrolls helps us understand how incredibly accurate and trustworthy the Bible is.

[quote]jlesk68 wrote:
The Bible’s goal is that all humans start a “relationship” with their Creator, not “religion”, religion is man trying to reach God by their own self-righteousness and “holy” works, relationship is accepting that Jesus made us righteous by faith in Him.[/quote]

But then, wherever the Bible dwells on the establishment of religion, it would seem to work against its own goal. In particular, the establishent of hell and the doctrine of eternal pain seems much more motivated by ecclesiastical politics than by God. After Christ’s ascension, the apostles apparently went 'way, 'way off message with the church thing.

I think the accuracy of Isaiah in comparison with the Dead Sea scrolls is a fine testament to what humankind can do when it is motivated. But a question remains regarding where does the text come from in the first place.

In the ancient world, religions and cults were to an extent the political machinery of their time. In both testaments we have to deal with the liklihood that politically engaged churchmen have ‘augmented’ both the history related in the Bible and God’s message as it appears there. In the case of the Old Testament, long before even the Dead Sea scrolls were written.

Of course every religion has to have its creation story. You can’t have a circus without elephants. But no two are alike, and none of them look remotely like contemporary scientific theory. It is not clear why Genesis should get any special treatment; neither God nor Jesus ever vouch directly for it.

I feel that God’s message is in the Bible, alright. But I’m not clear how much else is in there.

[quote]jlesk68 wrote:
goldin wrote:
jlesk68 wrote:
FYI, The Old Testament is up to 8,000 years old, The New Testament is 2,000 years old, 66 Books in total, over a dozen authors from kings to nobodies, original languages are Aramaic, Hebrew (OT), Greek (NT), it has survived book burnings, forgeries, attempts on it’s veracity. It has been mis-quoted and taken out of context for evil purposes. Yet most who read it with an open mind and heart truly desiring to know God find Him, those who read it with evil intent are confused by their own evil. A book of history, poetry, songs, doctrine and prophecy. The Bible’s goal is that all humans start a “relationship” with their Creator, not “religion”, religion is man trying to reach God by their own self-righteousness and “holy” works, relationship is accepting that Jesus made us righteous by faith in Him.

Well, this is a real effective argument. “If you don’t interpret the Bible the same way as me it is because you are EVIL and didn’t read the Bible with an open mind and with God in your heart!” Right, well prove it! I could say God spoke to me and told me the correct meaning and yours is wrong, how would you know he hadn’t?

It’s amazing the way you’re trying to twist my words, re-read my post again and think…[/quote]

Okay, let’s see how I twisted your words.
“…it has survived book burnings, forgeries, attempts on it’s veracity.”

wow, is this supposed to impress me? I will admit that the Bible is the most influential single piece of literature but describing how it has “beaten” its oposition is in no way relevant to this conversation.

“Yet most who read it with an open mind and heart truly desiring to know God find Him, those who read it with evil intent are confused by their own evil.”

Okay, here we go. If you read it with an open mind,etc you will find God, but if you are evil you will misinterpret the meanings. Well, since you are the one defining “open mind” it follows that if you don’t interpret it the way you think it should be interpreted than you obviously didn’t read it with an open mind and are therefore “evil”. I’m not necessarily attacking you as I’ve heard this many times before. But as soon as you qualify the answer to a question with a judgement, then the person has the judgement as well as the question prior to their answer.

Ex.
All smart people like this book. Do you like it?

If I say yes, I am considered smart. If I say no, I’m not smart. The judgment of the person is in the question. My answer to the question is tied with the judgement of the person.

There’s nothing wrong with judging someone, but doing it in the question is fallacious.

Just read this dialogue and see if it makes sense.

“If you read the Bible correctly, you will find God”

“I read the Bible, but didn’t find God.”

“Well, then you didn’t read it correctly.”

“Then how do I read it correctly?”

“When you find God, you’ll know.”

This is a fallacy know as Begging the Question. The premises is a consequence of the conclusion. There is no way for that person to show how to read it correctly. Therefore the only conclusion is that since he didn’t find God, he didn’t do it correctly.

If I didn’t get this right, show me how it should be.

[quote]Vegita wrote:
I have been thinking about this for some time now… To which my answer is, no your bible is brobably 20 years old, and you will probably be hard pressed to find one 100 or 200 years old.
[/quote]

The King James Bible is the world’s best selling bible. Its present edition was done in 1881. There have been no major revisions since 1611.

http://www.chick.com/reading/books/158/158_05.asp?FROM=biblecenter

It is interesting to note that our pagan friend Vegita has been thinking for a long time on that which he knows little about. So typical. I’m not quite sure how it’s done though.

I understand your point. Have you read the Bible?

Last time I checked people weren’t devoting their lives to the Iliad and attacking those who didn’t believe in Zues, like you bible thumpers do against other religions you don’t agree with.

[quote]Mr. Chen wrote:
Vegita wrote:
I have been thinking about this for some time now… To which my answer is, no your bible is brobably 20 years old, and you will probably be hard pressed to find one 100 or 200 years old.

The King James Bible is the world’s best selling bible. Its present edition was done in 1881. There have been no major revisions since 1611.

http://www.chick.com/reading/books/158/158_05.asp?FROM=biblecenter

It is interesting to note that our pagan friend Vegita has been thinking for a long time on that which he knows little about. So typical. I’m not quite sure how it’s done though.[/quote]

It might be my imagination, but I’m sure the Lord’s Prayer changed a couple of times in the 20 years.

Anyway - “major revisions” aren’t nesseccary to change the intent of something. All it takes is a lot of minor revisions to gradually change things.

Reply to Mr. Chen: You Christian folk should well know how to think about things you know nothing about, ya’ll do it all the time. Homosexuality, for instance.

There are no books of the Bible that are 8,000 years old. The oldest fragments of Hebrew writing date from around 1250-1200 BC and are fragments of the song of Deborah and the song of Miriam.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are contemporaneous with the Jesus cult in 1st cent AD Judea. The Essenes were a Jewish cult who considered themselves to be more pure and pious than the Sadduccees who were in power in the Jerusalem temple at the time. The scrolls are still being studied and analyzed at this time since both parchment and papyri tend to deteriorate, as does the ink that was used to write them.

There is a great deal of scholarly debate still raging about the Bible and it’s reliability. Which if you are a person of faith should make no difference to you, since faith requires no proof. There are many instances of mistakes and changes and redactions, i.e. anyone ever wonder why there are two very different accounts of the creation in Genesis? The second was written and inserted during the Babylonian captivity. The authors named were often not the actual people who wrote the narrative in question, but their names are used to give weight and authority to the material so people would take it seriously. This was common and accepted in antiquity. Scholars discuss the Yahwist (J), the Elohist (E), the Deuteronomic (D), and the Priestly § scribal traditions that resulted in the Hebrew bible, but that wasn’t canonised until about the same time as the Christian testment in the 4th century AD. I could go on and on. The point is Biblical reliability, accuracy and meaning are still being vigorously debated by theologians, historians, paleographers and others, so the final verdict remains out, except for those who have “faith”.

Why have Christians never (in their entire history) been able to accept that not everybody shares their worldview or accepts the bible as an unimpeachable source of information and law, nor, most importantly, do they have to?

Have fun with this one.