Responses to Bible Answers

BCBSR Intro
But first generally concerning skepticism, skeptics must come to realize that the meaning of a given writing must be taken from the author's perspective rather than that of the reader's perspective. The reader may find what he perceives to be a contradiction which may not be a contradiction in the author's mind, though it may be a paradox. But a paradox is not a contradiction. Furthermore words have different denotations and connotations. It's easy enough to chose a definition of a word to render the context absurd or contradictory but that doesn't necessarily accomplish the job of understanding the author's meaning. It's easy enough to read into the text meanings which the author didn't intend. You mention of the prejudice of those who believe, but the same could be said of those who approach the text with the preconceived notion that it cannot be true. Furthermore we're talking about a text thousands of years old in a culture much different than that of today. We have to take this into account when interpreting figures of speech.

>
>The genealogies of Matthew and Luke contradict each other
>
>The standard Levirite explanation is very convoluted. It's always logical to
>take the simplest explanation for a problem unless there is evidence to call
>a more complex explanation. Also, one of the genealogies is twice as long as
>the other implying that along one line, the people lived only half as long
>on average. A better explanation appears to be that the two lists were
>written by two different people not in contact with each other.

Do you think that Matthew and Luke were ignorant of one another's genealogies? Unlikely. Do you think they were concerned that skeptics would view them as contradictory and use such as a basis for rejecting their gospels? I don't think so. They are not writing to people are so unwilling to consider other possibilities as to what their actual meaning was.

And this also answers a number of questions concernings things as to why the Bible is difficult to understand for some. Seek and you will find. But what God does is to make salvation a free gift accepted by faith, while at the same time allowing only the humble to receive it. The proud he filters out because they do not really seek. Psalm 10:4 "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." Isaiah 66:2 "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." Much of Jesus' ministry was humiliating proud people in order to develop in them the humility which leads to faith. But people have a free will and some will not change. And at times Jesus won't even answer questions of skeptics because they are not really willing to receive the answers in the spirit they are given. And often he speaks in manner so that they don't understand so as to not incur more judgement upon them. For the more we know, the more we will be held responsible for.

But concerning the genealogies, more info can be had at
http://www.bcbsr.com/survey/sgosp1.html

>Where did Joseph take Jesus from Bethlehem (and others)
>
>You seem to assume that the differing Gospel accounts are parts of a
>complete whole. There does not seem to be evidence for this. You really need
>to study the documents and then come to a conclusion rather than the other
>way around. If several witnesses to a crime all gave different accounts, you
>would not add them up and take that as a complete account. Rather, you would
>give the benefit of the doubt to the accused because the evidence was
>incomplete. People do this normally but then suspend their critical
>faculties when a religious book that they believe in is involved.

Yes, but are you not treating the witnesses themselves as the accused? Are you not accusing them of lying? So, as you say, I give the benefit of the doubt to the accused.

But it really goes beyond this. For in court of law the jury has to consider whether the evidence is convincing. To me the evidence is convincing. You can checkout my web page on How we know God exists and How we know the Bible is the Word of God at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/proof.html  For some there is sufficient and convincing evidence and for some there is not.

>Also, changing the meaning of words like "immediately" and "sign" to conform
>to a pre-conceived idea is not logical. If you can change the meaning of any
>word when it suits you then you can prove anything!

Again I must point out that the Bible was not written in English nor recently. At times what may seem obvious in the translation may be different than the author's meaning if we don't take into account other factors when interpreting the Bible. Jesus once said in the temple courts "Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days" But even they misunderstood what he meant by the word "temple". And that became one of the accusations against him at his trial. So also skeptics crucify him again today by misinterpreting what he said even though claiming literal correctness.

>You also say "Why should [John mention the Temptation]? It was already
>recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke." but then you don't say why some things
>ARE recorded in more than one Gospel. If it's recorded twice it confirms the
>story; if it is not recorded, why should it be duplicated. In other words,
>whatever is written or missing, you will carry on believing. Good from a
>faith point of view but not from a "using brain facilities" point of view.

Does it really challenge your mental capacities to imagine why some things ARE recorded in more than one gospel? Do you really consider it logical to say that since more than one person gives the same account therefore the account must be false! After I've examined the text it seems to me to take more faith to disbelieve it than to believe it. So as you are a person of such great faith I have some hope for you.

>Quote: "Matthew, writing in a condensed style, could be speaking of the
>centurion as himself doing that which he really accomplished by proxy.
>Still, it is possible that the centurion first sent the elders, and then, in
>the intensity of his anxiety and distress, went in person to the Saviour."
>possibly - but hardly a logical argument.

People today don't operate so much by proxy as then just as we don't have slavery today (not counting the Muslims enslaving the Christians in Sudan). It's not a matter of logic, it's a matter of cultural expressions.

>Was Jairus' daughter dead?
>
>Assuming that this story happened, then it would be a far more interesting
>story if a dead person was brought back to life rather than a very sick
>person cured. The difference between dead and at the point of dead is
>therefore important.
>
>And anyway, you seem to dismiss the fact of incorrect translation rather
>flippantly ("simply an incorrect translation"). The Bible is making some
>pretty radical assertions and people are basing belief systems on its
>writing. If there are mistranslations then we need to treat the Bible with
>even more scepticism rather than less.

But repeated accounts clarify the information and this was not the only miracle Jesus did. It doesn't seem particularly objective if you try to discard volumes of testimony because of minor translational differences. Yes you should be more skeptical. For you must be skeptical not only about the Bible but also about your own skepticism. Rather than simply desperately seeking for contradictions, upon finding one you should skeptically consider whether it actually is a contradiction or perhaps something else.

>Quote: Matthew is talking about not procuring anything for the journey, but
>simply to "Go, just as you are." If they happen to have a staff at the time,
>they can take it, but not to "go to the store to buy one".
>
>You are putting your own meaning into the text. If I could do that I would
>be able to prove anything I wanted.

But what is it that you're trying to prove? If you're simply seeking to disprove the Bible then you yourself can also read into the text meanings which introduce contradictions not intended by the author. (If I could do that I would be able to disprove anything I wanted.)

>Quote: Luke says "about eight days". This could include two "extreme days"
>in which parts of the first and last days were reckoned as full days. This
>was a common understanding in the culture at the time and also resolved some
>of the discrepancies concerning what day Jesus was crucified.
>
>I think the words "straws" and "clutching" spring to mind. Imagine letting a
>doctor who thought about his craft in this manner perform an operation on
>you.

But we're not talking about doctors doing precise operations. My interpretation is consistent with the manner in which time expressions were used in the first century. It may be hard for you to identify with it. For I'm sure you're wearing a watch and are quite aware of the time constraints in life. The same could be said of measurements. I was amused reading Asimov at one point where he criticizes the Bible for saying the circumference of a certain round object was 3 times it's diameter, where as in reality it is pi times the diameter. But pi is a transcendental number. To be accurate the Bible would have to be infinitely long just to write the number pi. Isn't it strange that today we often use concepts of rounding up and down, but when it comes to interpreting the Bible suddenly even educated skeptics forget even such basic concepts.

>Quote: The term "to eat the passover" may mean "to keep the paschal
>festival"
>
>Again you are re-interpreting the meaning to suit your argument.

You mean as opposed to re-interpreting the meaning to suit your argument?

>Quote: Why can't both of these accounts be true? If we assume they are both
>true, then what can we infer happened? For example, he could have hanged
>himself over a cliff and later the rope broke and his "bowels gushed out"
>from the fall. Or some such scenario.
>
>Maybe. But it's not what the two accounts say.

Taken together that is one possibility. Are you not open to considering possibilities based upon what is written?

>Quote: Not all prophecies were written. Some were simply spoken, as in this
>case. (Notice he says "spoken by the prophets") So this is not necessarily
>referring to any Old Testament verse.
>
>Then anything is possible and we cannot debate.

If we infer from "spoken" that he is quoting from the oral tradition not anything is possible. For you could still compare what he said with written tradition to see if there are apparent contradictions. (Must I fight your battles for you? just kidding!)

>Quote: Would it be a miraculous sign if a young woman who is not a virgin
>had a child? Obviously (to those who have ears) he is indeed referring to a
>the subset of "almah" who were virgins. And thus Matthew was accurately
>translating the meaning.
>
>Changing the meaning of words again, my friend. Almah and Betulah are
>different; an Almah could be a Betulah but if you want to say something
>shocking and unnatural why not use Betulah and make it unambiguous? It says
>Almah so why should we change it so that a later "prophesy" makes sense. Why
>not treat it as Almah and assume that Matthew made an error. After all it IS
>Almah however much people would wish it otherwise.

Like you say, you assume Matthew made an error. But Matthew was simply quoting from the Septuagint which had been around for hundreds of years by then. And so you have to extend the assume to include even more people. "Virgin" was a logical interpretations. It is non-contradictory. And it was accepted by Jews for hundreds of years before Matthew.

>Quote: As with many prophecies, there was a double meaning and a double
>fulfillment. For many of the events of the Old Testament were really shadows
>of New Testament events as the book of Hebrews mentions. There was a partial
>fulfillment in Isaiah's time - but such was not miraculous but only a
>forerunner of what was to come. Kind of like Elijah being the forerunner of
>John the Baptist.
>
>This is not logic but a play on words. By changing the meanings where it
>suits you, you can "prove" things. With such a background anything is
>possible. The "prophesy" only makes sense in its original form and time; the
>rest is wishful thinking and loose interpretation.

Well take an example of a prophecy and see if "anything is possible"

Example of Prophecy: Daniel 9:25+

"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times."sevens" refers to weeks of years: 7x7 + 62x7 = 483 years  It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.  After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.

     In 445 BC Artaxerxes issued a decree to allow the Jews to establish worship and Jewish law in Judah. 69 weeks is 483 days…(69 weeks X 7 days in a week). If you consider a "prophetic day fora year" principle, you would add 483 years from the date of the decree in 445 BC. If it began in 445 B.C., and you add to that four hundred and eighty-three years, to the exact month (because we know that the month in which the edict to rebuild Jerusalem was issued was the Hebrew month Nisan, which corresponds about to our April), then it brings us down to April, 32 A.D., which includes adjustments due to the ancients using 360 day/year, which would be really made it 476 years, and also adding one year because there is no year zero.

     Know of anyone claiming to be the Messiah who was cut off in April, 32 AD?

>Quote: Whose to say these were not the same place, but simply called
>different names.
>
>It's not logical to use a lack of information to prove an assertion. The
>only logical answer is that there is a difference.

More correctly you should be speaking of reasonable explanations. To you your answer is logical, but to me my answer is reasonable.

>Quote: The point of 1Cor 14:33 is that God is not the ultimate source of
>such confusion, rather sin is, which is the point of Genesis 11:9. God
>caused people to speak different languages, but was that the source of the
>confusion? No, it was their sin. So, though God causes bad things to happen,
>He is not the author of evil.
>
>This is theological interpretation.

Why is that a surprise? It was after all dealing with a theological question in a theological writing in search of a theological contradiction.

>Quote: This is simply an expression, not meant to be taken literally. It
>simply means that God spoke to Moses directly and Moses could carry on a
>conversation with God, as one would a friend.
>
>A change of meaning again. if it doesn't fit, change the meaning of the
>words or interpret them until it does fit. Believe at all costs. Black is
>white.

What change of meaning? That was his meaning to begin with. It is you who attempt to "change to the meaning" of the author. For the author was referring to historical accounts in the Old Testament in which Moses could indeed speak to God directly as a friend, but was restricting from seeing his face. I'm speaking to you but you don't see my face. Is that such a difficult concept for you to understand?

Skeptics often view the writers of the Bible as a bunch of idiots or liars who don't know what they are talking about. But skeptics can end up making fools of themselves in the process of trying villify their imaginary opponents.

>Quote: Most historians do not provide a complete and comprehensive record of
>history are incomplete.
>
>Again, the lack of evidence does not prove a hypothesis. Only positive
>evidence will verify a hypothesis. You are essentially saying "UFOs exist
>because there is no evidence that they do NOT exists!" or "Nobody has ever
>disproved the existence of Santa Clause therefore he exists". This is not
>really grown up logic.

The Bible itself is a positive historical account by many witnesses. You essentially say the Bible is false because you reject as an unhistorical document. That is really not grown up logic.

>If the Bible had only one or two problems you could put them down to
>contradictions or mis-interpretations but the shear number of these causes
>the sceptic (sorry for the UK spelling) to doubt the veracity of this book.

I have yet to find or hear of an apparent contradiction that brings me to unbelief. And so also for much of the world's population throughout history.

Steve Amato
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
bcbsr.com


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015