1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

How reliable is the Bible?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Ceridwen018, May 4, 2004.

  1. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    36,901
    Ratings:
    +10,261
    Religion:
    Judaism
    The point?
     
  2. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    The oldest written versions of the TaNaK/OT had no vowel points. Already at this stage, the written texts can be interpreted in numerous ways. Thanks to skilled Arab linguists, a system of writing vowels were invented, and finalised as late as about 800 CE. But scholars to this day can't agree even on the name of Jerusalem - is it Jerusalem or The Two Jerusalems (yerushalem vs. yerushalayim)? If you look at any page in a modern Hebrew Bible, you will immediately understand that there is an immense number of cases where the meaning is obscure and/or where manuscripts differ and/or where more than one interpretation is possible. Many supposed scribal errors are indicated. A well known example of how the scribes changed the text is Gen. 18:22. The oldest texts seem to have "but the LORD stood yet before Abraham". This was thought to be too humle to be suitable for God, so they changed it to the opposite: "but Abraham stood yet before the LORD". We can only guess how many such emendations were made already in the very beginning of textual history. (18 cases of this type are found in rabbinical literature.) Thus, regardless of the reader's faith, (s)he just has to try to find the message behind the (proposed) readings.
     
  3. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    36,901
    Ratings:
    +10,261
    Religion:
    Judaism
    Unless, of course, it isn't.
     
  4. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    36,901
    Ratings:
    +10,261
    Religion:
    Judaism
    Parenthetically, I am not a big fan of unsubstantiated assertions such as this. There is, in fact, no consensus around such a date. Jonathan Draper (Gospel Perspectives, v. 5, p. 284) argues "A new consensus is emerging for a date c. 100 AD.". Udo Schnelle (The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings, p. 355) writes "The Didache means by 'the gospel' (8.2; 11.3; 15.3, 4) the Gospel of Matthew; thus the Didache, which originated about 110 CE, documents the emerging authority of the one great Gospel." [see Didache]

    So, either you're comment is an intentional deception (which I seriously doubt), or you're being sloppy with the facts, or you simply don't know what you don't know.
     
  5. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    A quick search on the Internet and in the very reliable Swedish National Enyclopedia gives dates like 70-150 CE, first half of the 2nd century, first and second centuries, from 100 CE.

    I would also like to add to true blood's pointing to translation errors, that even the oldest Greek versions are translations from the spoken Aramaic.

    My summary is: the words of the Bible can't always be trusted to the letter. What matters is the message behind the words.
     
  6. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    36,901
    Ratings:
    +10,261
    Religion:
    Judaism
    That is true only to the extent that the Gospels incorporate oral tradition, e.g., the 'Q' material. There is much in the NT that does not fall into that category. For example, what "spoken Aramaic" gives us the Virgin Birth?

    Furthermore, I've seen little to demonstrate significant theological issues resulting from translation error. I'd welcome examples, but I doubt that any will be forthcoming.
     
  7. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    "Thou shalt not kill".

    That is a significant issue. The very unusual verb in the Hebrew text gives a meaning more like "You shall not commit manslaughter (unless necessary)" or "You shall not murder your fellow person". There are many other words used for "ordinary" killing.

    Another well known case is Isaiah 7:14 "a virgin shall conceive" (KJV), which in most modern translations is, as for example in The Revised English Bible (REB), "A young woman is with child", and what that has meant for the theory/dogma of the Virgin Birth. The word "virgin" in Luke 1:27 is nowadays "girl" (REB) or "young girl" as in the Swedish B2000.

    It is a mystery why the Reed Sea (Exodus crossing) was translated as the Red Sea. This occured in the Septuagint, the translation from Hebrew into Greek in ca. 300 CE, so English can't have had any influence.

    The use of the name Jehovah for God is a remarkable example of misunderstanding of the Hebrew text. The consonants JHWH were given the vowels of [adona:i] "my lord, my master" to remind readers that the name of God must not be pronounced, but the word Adonai substituted for it. The probable pronunciation, used by Bible scholars in at least Germany and Sweden, is Jahwé.

    A still more amusing case is that Moses used to be depicted with horns on his forehead. This comes from a mistranslation; now most Bibles describe his face as shining.

    These are just a few examples of what can happen during translation. Not all of them refer to "significant theological issues", but I think they are fairly representative of what might happen in the process. I don't doubt that more examples and of a more serious kind can be found, but for my part that research will have to wait.
     
  8. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    36,901
    Ratings:
    +10,261
    Religion:
    Judaism
    Nicely done, although I would add the following ...

    This is clearly a case of vernacular usage rather than errors/difficulties in translation. So, for example, the Young Literal Translation Mat. 5:21 reads "Ye heard that it was said to the ancients: Thou shalt not kill, and whoever may kill shall be in danger of the judgment", referring to Exodus 20:13, which it nevertheless renders "Thou dost not murder".

    Though clearly not your fault nor your concern, I find the alma/betulah/parthenos discussion increasingly tiresome.

    Yes, the text uses 'alma'.
    Yes, 'betulah' would have been more clear had virginity been the intended focus.
    Yes, 'parthenos' does not necessarily mean 'virgin'.
    Yes, the LXX translation allowed, if not inspired, gMat's Virgin Birth fable.

    Having said all that, I think it more than reasonable to presume that Isaiah was referring to a young virgin. Young virgins have sex, get pregnant, and deliver babies all the time, and the first-born male was often viewed as auspicious. The problem with gMat's 'prooftext' is not the reasonable assumption that Isaiah was speaking of a (ritually pure) virgin, but the preposterous assumption that Isaiah was offering Ahaz a sign that would not occur for some 7 centuries. It is precisely this problem that has resulted in the so-called "double-prophecy theory".

    It's a mystery because it wasn't. No early scholar translated 'suph' as 'red'. The New English Translation Bible offers this footnote to Exodus 10:19:
    So, with all due respect to the NET Bible, what we have here is not an issue of translation but, rather, one of attempted clarification.

    Parenthetically, "the Septuagint, the translation from Hebrew into Greek in ca. 300 CE", antedates Josephus and is, therefore, much earlier than 300CE.

    To the best of my knowledge there is zero evidence that 'Jehovah' results from 'misunderstanding' rather than convention. Clearly the 'Jehovah/Yahweh' issue has nothing to do with mistranslation.

    Yes, this is a mistranslation of Exodus 34:29 found in the Greek translation of Aquila and the Latin Vulgate.

    Nor, as noted, do all of them result from translation difficulties.

    Look, anders, I agree that translation can be the source of many types of error but, in the case of the Bible, translation is way down on the list of major problems. Before asking whether or not John's rendition of Jesus before Pilate has been properly translated, I want to first know (1) who this John is, (2) when and why he wrote, (3) why anything authored by the guy should be presumed accurate and authorative, and (4) to what extent this and similar works have been redacted during the later years of sectarian struggles against all manner of "heresies". Changing the "Red Sea" to the "Sea of Reeds" does little to make the Exodus/Covenant/Conquest narrative viable.
     
  9. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    When I made my previous post, I was in a hurry, so I just took the first few items of language difficulties that I remembered. I do not claim that I can find perfect examples, but I hope that I have illustrated that texts of all kinds, ancient and modern, sacred and secular, are open to multiple interpretations.

    OK then, let's start from the very beginning. Already when translating the very first words of the Bible, we run into major difficulties. The first words are normally given as "In the beginning". The first thing to note about them is that they equally well may mean "In a/one beginning", with the not improbable understanding that there were/had been/will be several beginnings. Then, purely linguistic interpretations, disregarding theology, are "At the beginning when God created..." Yet other versions are "As God in the beginning..." or "As God began...", "Once there was a time, when God created" or "At one time God set about to create..." (The last four versions are my translations fron Danish and German.)

    As a final note from me, my view is that there are very few statements in the Bible (in any language, from any period of time) that can be relied on. I fear that only a minority of Forum participants will be interested in a discussion on how many heavens are created in Gen. 1:1.
     
  10. quick

    quick Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Messages:
    112
    Ratings:
    +0
    This idea was started by Catholics in the Middle Ages, so they could charge their parishoners money in order to acheive said 'grace'.
    THE FELLOW SAID CHRITIANS NOT CATHOLICS AND IT STARTED AT PENTECOST "THE AGE OF GRACE" ALTHOUGH I AGREE ON YOUR ASSEMENT OF THE CATHOLICS[/quote]

    Actually, you have this a little backward. The Roman Churhc argued, and still does, based upon (in my opinion a misinterpretation of) James, that you are saved by grace and by works. Hence, the Roman church argued that by giving money to the church-indulgences-you could, at least in part, buy your salvation.

    To the contrary, what Paul says is we are saved SOLELY by grace, and that our works are but an indication of God's grace at work. Therefore, there is no need for the indulgences. Grace cannot be bought.
     
  11. quick

    quick Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Messages:
    112
    Ratings:
    +0
    SEE CAPS BELOW

    FINE--BUT DID ANY OF THOSE DIETIES DIE TO SAVE MANKIND FROM ITSELF? NO, THEY DID NOT. HERE IS WHERE CHRISTIANITY IS UNIQUE. IN FACT, IN GREEK TRADEGY, WHEN ONE OF THE IMMORTALS' PART-HUMAN OFFSPRING SUFFERED IN SOME WAY, THE CAPRICIOUS GODS TOOK IT OUT ON MANKIND, CONTRA TO CHRISTIANITY, WHERE THE DEATH WAS TO THE ETERNAL SALVATION OF MANKIND. IN FACT, THE GREEK GODS ARE SO SELFISH, CAPRICIOUS, MANIPULATIVE AND PETTY THAT THEY CLEARLY SEEM TO POSSESS THE HUMAN ATTRIBUTES OF THOSE WHO CREATED THEM. GOD, AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE, IS VERY PATIENT AND SLOW TO ANGER.
     
  12. Mr Spinkles

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2004
    Messages:
    10,985
    Ratings:
    +1,676
    Being patient and slow to anger.....these are also human attributes.
     
  13. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    36,901
    Ratings:
    +10,261
    Religion:
    Judaism
    I can only assume that this is an attempt at humor on the part of someone who is clearly not a Midianite.
     
  14. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    Deut,

    your

    "quick wrote: › Select ›‹ Expand
    GOD, AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE, IS VERY PATIENT AND SLOW TO ANGER.

    I can only assume that this is an attempt at humor on the part of someone who is clearly not a Midianite."

    post is one of the best that I have read.
     
  15. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    15,370
    Ratings:
    +1,653
    actually they arn't that unique in this idea... the Yuma nation also belive something similer... that god lived with the people for a long while and taught them how to live and eventually he also allowed himself to be killed so that he could show the people how to die and go on to the next world. Some other native peoples also have similer beliefs...

    wa:-do
     
  16. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    It is a very common feaure of religions to have a deity sacrificing itself, especially fertility gods and gods caring for crops. Most religions, however, are too wise to think that mankind has to be saved from itself. That would mean a very careless creator god and a very incompetent maintaining god.
     
  17. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,768
    Ratings:
    +399
    anders,

    "That would mean a very careless creator god and a very incompetent maintaining god."

    That is a very good point-- I totally agree.

    It's amazing the conclusions one can arrive at when they actually sit and ponder something, is it not?
     
  18. Runt

    Runt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2004
    Messages:
    2,833
    Ratings:
    +189
    I found this online at the Religious Tolerance website forum. I'm only quoting part of it, but if you want to read the whole post here's the link. http://disc.server.com/discussion.cgi?disc=148202;article=89282;title=OCRT Forum

    "Many Christians will disregard any suggestion that the Bible has been corrupted right off the bat by saying that 'God has protected the Bible from corruption.' This is a strange claim and reflects only their wishful thinking. Nowhere in the Bible is such a promise made. In fact Deuteronomy 4:2 as well as the Book of Revelation threatens a curse against those who would add to or subtract from it's words:

    'You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish from it, that you may keep the Mitzvot (Commandments) of YHWH Elohekem (the LORD your God) which I command you.'

    ...

    If such a thing was not possible, then why would it be prohibited? God does not prohibit us from things that are impossible. God does not say, 'You may not turn yourself into rabbits and spend the whole day hopping around rather than working and praying!' God does not say 'You shall not grow wings and fly into the sun.' These are ridiculous things and we would find any scripture with such prohibitions ridiculous. So why would God tell us that we shall not add to the word commanded, nor diminish from it unless such additions and subtractions were possible?

    'I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to them, may God add to him the plagues which are written in this book. If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, may God take away his part from the Tree of Life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.' Revelation 22:18-19"

    What do you think?
     
  19. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    Ceridwen, thank you.

    Runt, very true. A parallel reasoning is that "I ... am a jealous God" (Ex. 20:5)must mean that there is at least one more God, more powerful than the creator, because what would there else be to be jealous of?

    Perhaps a bit off-topic, so I won't expand on this idea here and now, but I think it illustrates that perhaps the creator's boss as well as humans may change the scriptures.
     
  20. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    36,901
    Ratings:
    +10,261
    Religion:
    Judaism
    I think the point is irrelevant, or at least secondary. There are two types of reliability: the reliability of representation, and the reliability of transmission. The existence of textual variants confirms errors in textual transmission. But even were that not the case, all evidence argues against the Exodus/Conquest (for example) representation of Israelite ethnogenesis.
     
Loading...