Inerrancy and Authority
Related Pages: Why Christianity | Bible: criticism | inerrancy | Faith and Reason | Fundamentalism | Fundamentalist | The Bible vs Church Theology
On this page and the bible criticism page we talk about criticisms and opposing views of the Bible and Christianity. It is not an attempt to discredit the Bible, which is amazingly consistent considering the number of authors and time period over which it was written. Most people, even of other religions, believe the Bible is at least inspired by God, if not the literal "Word of God".
Let me preface this by saying the purpose of the bible is not to teach history or science, but God's will for mankind, so all this effort by Biblical literalists to prove inerrancy is not helping in the Bible's basic purpose.
At Let's Appreciate the Bible's Contradictions - OnFaith they say,
In Richard Friedman's book "Who Wrote the Bible", where he tries to identify the sources of some of the apparent discrepancies on the Old Testament, he says:
The challenge that this investigation presents is not to the belief in the revealed or inspired character of the Bible, but to traditions about which humans actually wrote it on the parchment."
Although there are inconsistencies in some details in the bible (Many Christians refute this saying it is just our lack of understanding) it is generally very consistent considering more than 40 authors wrote it over more than a thousand years.
The people who make the most sense to me in this discussion claim you cannot prove or disprove the bible.
In his book "Is the Bible True" Sheler (he is a U. S. News religion journalist who defends the Bible) says:
"Never before has the Bible been subjected to as much scholarly and scientific scrutiny. Archaeologists are making dramatic discoveries that cast surprising new light on the Bible's accounts of history. Anthropologists and Sociologists are also adding new insight."
"The fact that so much of the Bible's early history appears, in the light of scientific analysis and historical investigation, not to have happened in the way that the Bible claims raises a question about the Bible's nature. But as with Jonah *, the problem may lie not with the Bible but with the way readers have approached it."* McKenzie starts the book with the story of Jonah, and makes a case that it is not a history or biography, but satire or parody. And that by misclassifying the genres of some Bible books, we get the wrong message.
When God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and cry out against it wickedness, Jonah heads away from Nineveh. McKenzie explains how the role of Nineveh is actually an anachronism, which would not make sense in a historical nariative.
McKenzie quotes Christopher Shea's article (see below), which says:
"You wouldn't know it from attending a church or synagogue, or from reading the annual Christmastime articles in Time magazine, but for the past half-century scholars have steadily chipped away at the Old Testament's credibility as a historical document. The big story in the Near Eastern archeology has been how many biblical narratives have been moved from the category of accepted fact to the misty realm of fable.Source: "Debunking Ancient Israel: Erasing History or Facing the Truth?", Christopher Shea, "The Chronicle of Higher Education" (Nov 21, 1977).
McKenzie makes a case that much of the Old Testament is an etology, a story that explains the cause or origin of a given phenomenon - a cultural practice or social custom, a biological circumstance, even a geological formation. It is not science or history but a story that "renders an Account" by offering some explanation of present conditions and circumstances based on past causes. He gives as examples Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories, "How the camel Got His Hump, ...
He also points out that the Gospels in the New Testament are not biographies of Jesus in the sense of the modern genre, but rather a story to bring theological instruction to their respective audiences.
Another example where you have to take things in context McKenzie gives is 1 Cor 13, the "love chapter".
What the Bible Says:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be equipped for every good work." [2 Tim 3:16-17]
Scripture here refers primality to the OT since much of the NT had not been written yet.
No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." [2 Pet 1:20-21]
"Our brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him." [2 Pet 3:15]
In [Gal 1:11-12] Paul says: "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."
"To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord) ...": [1 Cor 7:12]
In "C. S. Lewis on Scripture", Abingdon, 1979, Michael J. Christensen, says: "From these passages and others it is apparent that revelation refers to the activity of God by which he discloses himself and his purposes to men of faith. Inspiration refers to the influence of the Holy Spirit on the minds of men to allow them to comprehend and communicate that which is divinely disclosed.
Though the various biblical writers corroborate each other in their statements on divine inspiration and revelation, the questions of inerrancy and infallibility are not specifically addressed in Scripture. Theologians from ancient to modern times have differed widely on these issues as well as in their understanding of how the Bible came to be inspired and how to interpret that which has been revealed."
The Reformation passed to its heirs the belief that ultimate authority rests not in reason or a pope, but in an inspired Scripture. Many conservative protestants, hold to a literal interpretation of an inerrant Bible.
Bruce Metzger, Princeton Seminary Biblical Scholar, answered a question during a presentation at our church about the inerrancy and authority, he said "There are mistakes in bible". He went on to say that considering the time over which it was written and the number of authors it is amazingly consistent.
The two words most often used to express the nature of scriptural authority are "inerrant" and "infallible." Since Protestants reject the infallibility of both the pope and the church, the word has been used increasingly of the Scriptures. More recently "infallible" has been championed by those who hold to what B B Warfield called limited inspiration but what today is better called limited inerrancy. They limit the Bible's inerrancy to matters of faith and practice, particularly soteriological issues. Stephen T Davis reflects this tendency when he gives a stipulative definition for infallibility: the Bible makes no false or misleading statements about matters of faith and practice.
The bible was written over 16 centuries from 1400 BC - 200 AD by more than 40 authors, although the actual authorship of many books is still debated by biblical scholars.
Most advocates of Biblical inerrancy hold that they are not, in fact inconsistencies, noting the difficulty of effectively interpreting the text in its context, and sometimes theorizing unwritten histories that allow the story to read without contradictions. Alternatively, scholars who analyze stories, myths, and ancient documents interpret many of the apparent inconsistencies as intentional secular storytelling devices. The majority of Christians, notably Catholics (especially since Second Vatican Council, hold that the inerrancy of the Bible is limited to the things that God intended to reveal. The alleged inconsistencies do not belong to this group of teachings, or are examples of figurative language. Opponents of organized religion often see these alleged inconsistencies as a reason to reject the Bible out of hand.
R. C. Sproul says that "this does not mean that the Bible translations we have today are without error, but the original manuscripts were absolutely correct."
In his book "Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why", 2005, Bart Ehrman explains how typos and theological changes made by non-professional scribes got into the New Testament.
In 1707 John Mill studied 100 Greek manuscripts of the new testament and found 30,000 places of variation.
At the Biblical Manuscripts page they say "only .5% of its words are in question".
Bruce M. Metzger
In The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions, 2001, Bruce M.
In the Introduction To the reader of the NRSV, Metzger says,
Following the publication of the RSV Old Testament in 1952, significant advances were made in the discovery and interpretation of documents in Semitic languages related to Hebrew. In addition to the information that had become available in the late 1940s from the Dead Sea texts of Isaiah and Habakkuk, subsequent acquisitions from the same area brought to light many other early copies of all the books of the Hebrew Scriptures (except Esther), though most of these copies are fragmentary. During the same period early Greek manuscript copies of books of the New Testament also became available.
Since this page in on Inerrancy lets list a few.
Old TestamentThere is a lot of discussion on how much of the old testament can be verrified. Archeologists even argue about interpretation of artifacts.
30000 BC Earliest cave paintings in Europe 4000 BC1 Creation 3500 BC First written language, Cuneiform, created by the Sumerians 3200 BC Egyptian Hieroglyphics 3000 BC Bronz Age begins in Egypt 2350 BC Flood 2091 Abraham moves to Canaan 1587 Iron Age begins in Asia Minor. 1446 Exodus 1406 Joshua suceeds Moses, enters Canaan 1400 Greek alphabet developed 1375-1050 Judges rule Israel 1028 Israel United under Saul and David 966 Solomon's Temple Founded 930 Israel splits into Judah and Israel 900 First evidence of distinctive Hebrew and Aramaic writing 722 N. kingdom (Israel) falls to Assyria (some have 730) 586 S. Kingdom (Judah) falls to Babylon 692 Death of Issiah 620 Book of Deuteronomy is "discovered," leading to monotheistic reform in Judah under rule of Josiah. 538 First group returns from exile 530 Daniel written 516 Second temple in Jerusalem erected 458 Ezra returns to Jerusalem 400 Books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah are written. 300-400 Pentateuch (Torah, first 5 books) is finished 150 Earliest date of a Dead Sea Scroll 64 Roman Occupation of Palestine 5 Birth of Christ 30 AD Crucifixion of Christ 50 AD Paul in Europe, writes Epistles to Thessalonians. 70 AD Second Temple destroyed 50-70 Mark written (some say it was written around yr. 50) 75 Matthew written 80 Luke written 100 John written 132 Jews revolt in Judea. 135 Rome obliterates nations of Israel and Judea. This began the diaspora (scattering of the population to other parts of the world.)1. Dates (Chronologies)
There are several systems for determining dates in the bible . Creation can be calculated to be various dates from 3760 BC to 5501 BC and the Exodus is placed anywhere from 1211 - 1552 BC. Dr. Gerald E. Aardsma says there is a typo in Kings which leads to a 1,000 year gap and comes up with a 2447 date for the exodus
See Bible Dates.
Since Moses lived in the 15th century BC and the Hebrew language was not developed until the 10th century BC, the first 5 books of the Bible were not written down by Moses. They may be his stories passed on by oral tradition.
There are some theories. See:
Moses: Evidence - the Exodus at the BBC
Dead Sea Scrolls:
At ApologeticsPress.org they say:
At the Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies they say:
Jeremiah is one seventh shorter in the LXX than in the MT. This is the most dramatic difference between the LXX and MT. The LXX of Jeremiah probably reflects an earlier edition of the Book of Jeremiah. Not only is the LXX shorter, but the arrangement of verses is different.
In "Is the Bible True", Jeffery Sheler says: "The Bible had navigated the centuries well, Scholars indeed would find some intriguing variations within the massive trove of biblical documents. But overall, as Notre Dame professor Eugene Ulrich, chief editor of the Qumran biblical texts for the Oxford Discoveries in the Judean Dessert series, observed, "The scrolls have shown that our traditional Bible has been amazingly accurately preserved for over 2,000 years"
"Who Wrote the bible?", 1997 by Richard E. Friedman
What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us About the Reality of Ancient Israel, 2001 by William G. Dever
"Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why", 2005, Bart Ehrman
Reading Genesis One: Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation, by Rodney Whitefield ISBN 0-9728782-0-3
The text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, by Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, 4th edition 2005
Professor Bruce M. Metzger (Princeton Theological Seminary). . . remains the dean of New Testament textual criticism. It brings the discussion of such important matters as the early Greek manuscripts and methods of textual criticism up to date, integrating recent research findings and approaches into the body of the text.
"Is the Bible True", by Jeffery Sheler, 1989
101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History,Gary Greenberg, 2000
"The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English", Edited by Martin G. Abegg, Peter W. Flint and Eugene Charles Ulrich
The Bible Without Theology: The Theological Tradition and Alternatives to It, 1987 Robert A. Oden, Jr.
Let's Appreciate the Bible's Contradictions - OnFaith
10 Things Evangelicals Aren't Supposed to Say | OnFaith Is the Bible True at (www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t003.html)
Jesus at (www.apologeticsindex.org/j20.html)
Alleged Bible Discrepancies at ApologeticsPress.org
Did Moses write the Pentateuch
The Synoptic Problem: The Literary Relationship of Matthew, Mark, and Luke
Alleged inconsistencies in the Bible
C. S. Lewis on Inerrancy, Inspiration, and Historicity of Scripture
Alleged Bible Discrepancies at ApologeticsPress.org
Creation - Evolution - Intelligent Design
campus.fortunecity.com/defiant/666/essays.html by GR Gaudreau.
Bible contradictions - by category
What The Christian Fundamentalist Doesn't Want You To Know: A Brief Survey of Biblical Errancy
Answers to so called Bible contradictions
Probabilities of Bible Inerrancy
The Production And Translation Of The Bible