Deaths Masquerade Shattered: Biblical Writers Expose the Myths and Superstitutions of Death
They were written in Greek. Could have the simple fishermen and other disciples of Jesus, Jews one and all, have known Greek? First, although it was written in Greek, the New Testament reflects Semitic not Greek gentile language patterns, over and above the many scattered Aramaic and Hebrew words found on its pages. A Semitism consists in bringing some features of Semitic speech or structure into Greek, where it does not really belong. The reason is evident. So we can see Luke, who is not a Semite, is taking care to reproduce the precise structure of his source, a Hebrew source, although Mark, who was a Semite [i.
He was so careful in using his Hebrew sources, he choose to reproduce literally what are rather clumsy grammatical patterns in Greek! The words that definitely or are likely Aramaic appearing in the Gospels are further proof of their Semitic flavor. Even more Hebrew words than Aramaic ones appear in the Gospels. At that time, Hellenistic Greek cultural influences penetrated deeply into ancient Judea, including its language.
When neither knows the native mother tongue of the other, they used it to communicate when encountering each other abroad or in their home territories. English is the language for air traffic controllers at major international airports, regardless of their location or where the jet airliners land or take off. Instead, he says no incentive existed to learn it as a mark of educational distinction because many common people could speak it in Judea.
Jesus himself must have spoken Greek. Since Greek was in common use by average Jews like fishermen, then, unsurprisingly, the disciples composed the New Testament in it in order to communicate with others in the wider eastern Mediterranean community about Jesus and His teachings. Either the sacred language or the Greek language. Stambaugh and Balch note that two-thirds of these inscriptions found in Palestine were in Greek only, while one tenth were bilingual inscriptions in Greek as well as Hebrew or Aramaic.
The Hasmonaean rulers originating in the Maccabees issued coins only in Hebrew until Alexander Jannaeus had coins minted with both Hebrew and Greek writing. Although a Jew, his grandson used only Greek on his coins, as did the Herodian princes and Roman procurators over Judea. Even a letter possibly written by the leader of the A. Although Jews presumably predominated in these cities, they would have spoken Greek instead of Aramaic or Hebrew.
Clearly, average people in first- century Judea could have spoken Greek. Was the Greek of the New Testament fluent and well done, such as a scholar might write? Or was it composed in the rough hewn language of the common people? Did a gentile write the book of Acts in a very polished Greek? As historian Robin Fox, no friend of Christianity, explains:. His literary gifts lay, rather, with the Greek translation of Scripture, the Septuagint, which he knew in depth and exploited freely: to pagans, its style was impossibly barbarous.
Although Luke could write in a highly literary vein sometimes, such as in the parable of the prodigal son, he wrote other ways as well. The Holy Spirit allowed the distinct literary styles of different authors to shine through, even as it protected them from writing errors or contradictions. The apostle Paul clearly wrote differently from the apostles John or Peter, yet the Holy Spirit guarded them all against mistakes.
What books should be in the New Testament? Why should Christians believe only four Gospels were inspired by God? The Christian community followed implicitly at least the procedure of Deuteronomy Some of the apocryphal gospels supported the Gnostic cause. Since their teachings totally contradict the Gospels and Letters epistles of the New Testament, not to mention the Old Testament, their writings could automatically be stamped heretical and rejected as fraudulent. Bruce explains:. The gnostic schools lost because they deserved to lose. The uncanonical gospels, it is often said, are in reality the best evidence for the canonical.
Even judging by secular criteria, the four Gospels are far more likely to be historically reliable. These lists, even from the beginning, contain most of the books found in the New Testament today. The author of the Muratorian fragment c. Furthermore, a fundamentally false skeptical assumption must be avoided: The Gospels are not canonical because the church decreed them to be authoritative, but because they are inspired, the church accepted them as having authority. A leading criterion for the church to accept a book as scripture was whether the church believed an apostle Paul, John, Matthew, James or someone associated with an apostle traditionally, Mark was seen as associated with Peter, and Luke with Paul wrote it.
Nothing written after c. What mattered was apostolic authority, not just authorship. Thus, N. The increasing union of church and state in the fourth century and afterwards inevitably caused Rome to corrupt doctrinally and spiritually the church. Even after the time of Nicea A. This claim also ignores how God can move men who are not true believers to make the right decisions. Would God be so careless to let those with false doctrines ultimately pervert His holy word? Similarly, the Old Testament was preserved and had the right books placed in it despite Israel often fell into idolatry and later rejected the Messiah as a nation.
For secular historians of ancient history to even be able to do their jobs, they have to assume the texts they analyze have a certain amount of reliability themselves, so both Christians and unbelievers share this kind of faith some. Finally, the mainstream Church before the time of Emperor Constantine and the Edict of Milan was hardly a tightly controlled, highly organized, monolithic group. It had suffered terrible persecution during the rule of Diocletian A. Consider this statement by Jerome c. Even in the year A. Yet we accept them both, not following the custom of the present time [which denies as binding the authority of recent council decisions, such as that of Hippo Regius in and Carthage in , or the papal decree of — EVS] but the precedent of early writers [notice!
This statement shows the canon came from the traditional practices of laymembers, elders, and writers—from the bottom up. Persecution was a major factor in forming the canon, especially the campaign lasting 10 years cf. During those years the Roman government for the first time specifically targeted for destruction all copies of the New Testament.
Believers in the scattered congregations throughout the empire had to know which religious documents they had they could hand over and which ones they should resist surrendering, even if that cost them their lives. Is this hard to do for the New or Old Testaments? Here, just as for the events of many other historical documents, eyewitness testimony is accepted as proof that they did happen. After all, nobody alive today saw it happen. Fundamentally, it comes down to trusting as reliable what somebody wrote centuries ago about some event. But this is not a blind faith, nor anything ultimately different from what secular historians studying the ancient past have to do.
Does other evidence confirm what is written in it, like archeological evidence or ancient historical writings by Jews or pagans? Many important events happen all the time, such as foreign earthquakes, coups, floods, elections, and assassinations that many never have witnessed personally, but they still believe others have experienced them. The chemist say believes that because such and so chemicals interact in a certain way in his or her lab, that therefore all of the same chemicals in the same circumstances throughout the earth or even universe will interact in the same way again.
Similarly, the informed Christian performs a similar inference. Clearly, faith is still involved, because only a relatively small part of the Bible consists of already fulfilled prophecies and historical statements that can be compared against other records or archeological discoveries.
Nevertheless, making this inference is perfectly rational. About the Old Testament, higher critics time and again have made skeptical, even dogmatic statements against its historical reliability. Thanks to archeological discoveries over the past two centuries, they have been embarrassed repeatedly, yet they never seem to give up.
Witness the recent series on the Book of Genesis on PBS, in which Bill Moyers intentionally cut out the fundamentalist defenders of Genesis from appearing on it, while allowing all sorts of skeptics to appear. So much for journalistic objectivity! For example, could have Moses written the Pentateuch the first five books of the Bible? But excavations of cities in Mesopotamia modern Iraq have decisively smashed claims that writing developed later. The ancient city of Ebla found in modern Syria , which first began to be unearthed in , was at the height of its power in b.
It was destroyed in b. Some 17, clay tablets with writing have been dug up there since Even this discovery alone proves writing existed around a thousand years before Moses. Early, primitive fragments of their picture writing are dated b. Early nineteenth-century higher critics denied that King Sargon II even existed. Mentioned in Isaiah in connection with his attack on the philistine city of Ashdod, he ruled the ancient empire of Assyria in the eighth century b. But later archeologists unearthed his palace at Khorsabad in modern Iraq , along with many inscriptions in stone about his rule.
They forsook the gods and turned to their deeds of violence, plotting evil. To gain the kingship they slew Sennacherib their father. ANET , p. This is a fact of utmost importance for the evaluation of even contemporary sources not in accord with Biblical tradition. Commonly skeptics had questioned the very existence of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jehovah destroyed them for sinning sexually, mistreating visitors, and failing to help the needy Genesis , , ; Ezek. Their names appeared on some of the tablets unearthed at the city of Ebla. Although many had believed the southern end of the Dead Sea covered Sodom and Gomorrah, more recent excavations point to these two cities being underneath mounds on dry land in the same area.
Having perhaps three million pottery containers and five hundred thousand people buried in some twenty thousand tombs, the site called Bab edh-Dhra is said to be Gomorrah. Ominously, excavations revealed a layer of ash and associated debris some five feet thick. Found under the rubble of a fallen defense tower, two human skeletons point to this city suffering a sudden end.
Much like skeletons found at the Roman resort of Pompeii, abruptly buried by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A. Yigael Yadkin, an Israeli archeologist, dug up stables at Hazor like those found at Megiddo. Figuring that since Solomon built the gateways at both Megiddo and Hazor, they would be similar, he told a few of his workmen exactly what they would find when unearthing the gate at Hazor. One of the best ways to test the reliability of a historical document arises when it describes accurately losses or other embarrassments.
It occurred only when the countries in conflict were Israel and one of its neighbours, and only when Israel was defeated. When Israel won, no record of failure appeared in the chronicles of the enemy. But King Sargon of Assyria boasts of when c. Two Kings records the same disaster that overtook the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Similarly, Pharaoh Shishak reigned c. It listed nine Israelite place names, including Megiddo and Gibeon. Consider the remarkable record found on the Moabite stone, discovered at Dibon now in Jordan in by F.
On it King Mesha of Moab described how Israel has oppressed his nation for some forty years, starting with King Omri b. Later on, Mesha was successful in shaking off Israelite domination. Since this stone mentioned Omri, it was the first source discovered outside the Bible that mentioned a king of Israel or Judah. Since then the names of eleven other Israelite kings have been found in ancient texts outside the Bible.
The most recent one as of , King Jehoash, was discovered in in Iraq on an Assyrian inscription. Since higher critics once questioned the existence of some of kings of Judah and Israel, these finds have undermined their claims once again. During the first time, Sennacherib successfully grabbed the fortified cities of Judah, including Lachish. As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities. I drove out of them , people. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.
Sennacherib commemorated his operation and successful capture of the fortified city of Lachish during this invasion of Judah by reliefs in his throne room. At one time, skeptics claimed the book of Daniel was wrong to say the last king of Babylon was Belshazzar instead of Nabonidus. No known ancient source mentioned him besides the Bible.
But thanks to archeological discoveries, piecing the actual truth together proved to be like solving a puzzle step-by- step. Then in the Chronicle of Nabonidus appeared. It stated that Nabonidus lived in Tema while his son stayed in Babylon itself, but failed to name him. Then in , Belshazzar was said to be the son of Nabonidus on one tablet. One inscription first read in had an oath sworn to both, naming both Nabonidus and Belshazzar. This obviously implied some kind of dual monarchy existed. Yale professor R. Skeptics also have declared the Bible wrong for portraying the camel as domesticated in the time of Abraham and Isaac c.
It is now known lions were imported from Africa into Assyria. Kept in captivity until the king had them released, he hunted them down for sport. After killing them and bringing them back, lions would be offered in the temple as a sacrifice to the gods. O, how wrong these higher critics proved to be! Why be automatically skeptical of the Bible, when the skeptics themselves have been proven wrong so often? Consider other cases in which archeological evidence confirmed Biblical references. The prophet Amos condemned the unrighteous for having the great luxury of ivory in their houses as Israel fell into idolatry, crime, and sin.
He especially included the king of Israel in context by implication Amos ; see also ; I Kings The American traveler Edward Robinson and a missionary, Eli Smith, accidentally discovered the tunnel in In , a boy noticed an inscription in Hebrew on its wall, which described how the work crews dug the tunnel from each end, meeting in the middle.
On the cylinder that bears his name, King Cyrus of Persia had his own words discovered in Babylon in Corresponding to Isaiah for the Jews, he proclaims the policy of allowing those captives dragged into exile by Babylon to return home and to let them rebuild their sanctuaries. Some controversies remain, mainly over dating. Archeological evidence can be interpreted in more than one way in good faith, since it is inevitably fragmentary and hence limited. For a case history of these kinds of problems, consider the date for the fall of Jericho, the first city Joshua took when Israel invaded the Promised Land.
A straightforward interpretation of I Kings , which says Solomon began to build the Temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem years after Israel left Egypt, points to the Exodus occurring about the year b. Since Israel spent forty years wandering in the wilderness in punishment for their sins, they must have taken Jericho about the year b. For one of these times, the walls fell as if an earthquake destroyed them, and fire totally burned up the city.
She believed no inhabited city occupied the site in the fifteenth century. Was the Bible wrong? More recently, John J. Brimson re-examined the evidence. He maintains the destruction Kenyon saw as happening in the sixteenth century could well have occurred in the middle of the fifteenth. Notice the dispute concerns dating, not whether Jericho existed or the walls fell. This case demonstrates an important principle about the relationship of archeological evidence and the Bible: If there are any disagreements, reexamination and reinterpretation of existing evidence or the discovery of new evidence may resolve them.
This is hardly a procedure of blind faith, since archeology in the past has so often has vindicated the Bible while abasing its critics who still never seem to give up! Archeologists have discovered the pool of Bethesda with five porticoes John and the pool of Siloam John , But Albright found that it was the court of the Tower of Antonia. It had been the Roman military headquarters in Jerusalem, but got buried when the Emperor Hadrian , ruled A.
Matthew 27; John But then in an archeological expedition from Italy overturned a stone used as a stairway for a Roman theater in ancient Caesarea in modern Israel. For the first time there was contemporary epigraphic [writing in stone] evidence of the life of the man who ordered the crucifixion of Christ.
This case illustrates a fallacious argument that disbelievers in the Bible use again and again. Archeological discoveries have repeatedly refuted their claims after being made, as shown above in the section dealing with the Old Testament. The English archeologist Sir William Ramsay professor of humanity at Aberdeen University in Scotland, had been totally skeptical about the accuracy of the New Testament, especially the writings of Luke. Indeed, he was an atheist, raised by parents who were atheists. After going to what is now Turkey, and doing a topographical study, he totally changed his mind.
This man, who had studied archeology in order to refute the Bible, instead discovered hundreds of historical facts that confirmed it. But he found it must have been written earlier, because it reflected conditions typical of the second half of the first century. He explained why he changed his mind thus:. I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without prejudice in favour of the conclusion which I shall now seek to justify to the reader.
On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavourable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen [higher critic] theory had at one time quite convinced me. It did not then lie in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely; but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative [of Luke in Acts] showed marvelous truth.
In fact, beginning with a fixed idea that the work was essentially a second century composition, and never relying on its evidence as trustworthy for first century conditions, I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations. When Luke said Lysanias was the Tetrarch of Abilene Luke , this was said to be erroneous, since the only Lysanias known to ancient historians had died in 36 b.
But later an inscription, dated between A. Luke wrote of a riot in Ephesus that took place in its theater. Having room for 25, people, this theater has been dug up. Anyone who is caught doing so will be personally responsible for his ensuing death. Classical historian A. Roman historians have long taken it for granted. Luke routinely correctly stated the titles of various Roman officials despite they changed fairly often in the first century.
He got it right despite Achaia was under the senate from 27 b. It must be realized, however, that this is really an argument from silence. Since the Jewish historian Josephus etc. As shown above, archeological discoveries have repeatedly exploded similar skeptical contentions in the past. Two inscriptions have been uncovered that potentially indicate that Quirinius did have an earlier governorship in Syria. But due to its ill-preserved condition, his name is missing.
Interestingly, scholar E. But then he would have been kept under the authority of Saturninus, the proconsul of Syria from 9 b. In order to assist Varus, Augustus Caesar ruled 27 b. Since previous censuses had incited Jewish unrest, Herod may have been dragging his feet about it, causing Augustus to intervene. For such a sensitive position, an experienced Mideast hand like Quirinius would be of value. Skeptics routinely violate this principle when analyzing the Bible. But this analysis is flatly wrong historically. This is further substantiated by the fact that Luke uses the present tense indicated that Augustus ordered censuses to be taken regularly rather than only one time.
The Romans routinely conducted censuses similar to what Luke described.
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This practice was extended to include the entire Roman Empire in 5 B. Archeological discoveries have found the Romans enrolled taxpayers and every fourteen years held censuses. An Egyptian document made of papyrus dated to A. All citizens were required to return to their places of birth for an official registration of their property for tax purposes. What non-Christian sources refer to Jesus soon after his death?
Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero [ r. Christus, the found of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue.
The Greek writer and satirist, Lucian of Samosata c. Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws.
The Roman historian and biographer Suetonius c. Acts , where Luke mentions this event independently] expelled them from Rome. He had been putting many to death. He asked whether if all of them should be or just certain ones. He says of them:. They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.
Some other ancient writers, such as Thallus, Phlegon, and Mara Bar-Serapion also wrote of Christ, but their references are preserved only as fragments in the writings of Christians, making their testimony more problematic as independent evidence. Furthermore, top specialists in the field consider the passage in Tacitus to be authentic, as coming from the hand of Tacitus himself.
Of course, since the barbarian invasions, etc. They simply were unlikely candidates for familiarity with Jewish eschatology or prophecy. As McDowell and Wilson plausibly state, this document could easily have been destroyed by a future imperial administration either to deny Christians from using the reference or just because it was deemed unimportant. McDowell and Wilson do an excellent job dealing with objections to these early citations about Jesus in pagan writings, so the interested reader should consult the section of their work dealing with the subject. Once he briefly alludes to Jesus in a noncommittal or even hostile manner.
This supports its authenticity since a committed Christian is an unlikely candidate to write such an interpolation about his Savior. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned. Christians increasingly treated it as the latter as a standard practice. More problematic is this famous passage:. About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him did not give up their affection for him.
On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared. Since all the handwritten manuscript copies of Josephus contain it, there is good textual evidence for it.
Eusebius c. This passage blames Pontius Pilate heavily for the crucifixion, which certainly swam against the prevailing anti-Semitic Christian tides of the second and third centuries. Since Catholic Church father Origen c. Instead of tossing it out completely, conjecturally reconstructing an original text is more justifiable. Consider F. Now there arose about this time a source of further trouble in one Jesus, a wise man who performed surprising works, a teacher of men who gladly welcome strange things.
He led away many Jews, and also many of the Gentiles. He was the so-called Christ. When Pilate, acting on information supplied by the chief men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had attached themselves to him at first did not cease to cause trouble, and the tribe of Christians, which has taken this name from him, is not extinct even today. Even with the self-evident Christian changes to this passage removed, it still attests that Jesus did miracles, that some called Him the Messiah, that Pontius Pilate executed Him, and that His teachings began a religious movement.
So more can be known about Jesus outside the New Testament than just His bare existence and crucifixion. Some independent testimony for His life appears in non-Christian sources within a century and a half of his death. Higher critics repeatedly mistakenly reason that if only the New Testament refers to some event, and no other pagan or Jewish source does, then whatever it mentions is automatically suspect. But this argues from silence, which is a logical fallacy. Furthermore, as Louis Gottschalk notes, a document should be considered reliable until, under the burden of proof, its untrustworthiness is displayed.
To assume routinely everyone lies is ultimately self- refuting, as the German philosopher Immanuel Kant observed. No reference to the Exodus has been found among ancient Egyptian records at the time Israel left Egypt c. Does that mean it never happened? They just conveniently overlooked this spectacular event. Since then, as an ideal and as actual practice, it has always had an uphill battle ever since in the world.
Similarly, would Josephus or some pagan historian record events that prove their worldview wrong? An argument from silence builds upon non-existent an absence of evidence. Consider the ancient Jewish slander that Jesus was born illegitimately cf. John It claims He had a Roman soldier for a father named Pandera or Panthera. Celsus, an ancient pagan critic of Christianity who wrote a harsh polemic against it also defamed Jesus this way. Celsus willingly beat his opposition with any stick handy, you see!
Historian Robin Lane Fox describes how Celsus used a Jew to reel off the claim that Jesus had been born of an adulterous relationship between this Roman soldier and Mary. Later, He was said to practice sorcery and magical arts [which admits obliquely to His ability to perform miracles by the power of God] while begging for a living with His worthless disciples.
As verified by first-century inscriptions, this name was hardly rare. It is noteworthy that [Catholic Church father] Orig[e]n himself is credited with the tradition that Panther was the appellation of James Jacob , the father of Joseph, the father of Jesus. Those using sources uncritically are marked as poor would-be historians.
Does the Bible have contradictions? Anyone claiming this should be challenged to identify them. They might not be able to name even one, because they know so little about the Bible. Obviously, Cain would have married one of his sisters. Is this really a rational line of argument? Only then would a contradiction arise if John recorded appearances not found in Luke. Although John initially only mentions Mary Magdalene, while the other gospels say other women visited the tomb, this is not ultimately a discrepancy. A contradiction would arise only if in this example the second witness also explicitly said that the criminal wore no hat.
This general approach makes it superfluous to analyze every conceivable supposed contradiction in the resurrection accounts, or any other case the Bible has two parallel accounts about some event or person. The dissimilarities point to different sources for the account found in Gospels etc. Christ is presumably referring to the minor prophet Zechariah see Zech. One Sam. As Archer explains:. Abraham was 75 when he left Haran Gen. If Terah was years old before he died Gen. As good as this argument looks, it assumes something problematic.
Note carefully Gen. Since Abram, later Abraham, was by far the most prominent in biblical history, it makes sense his name would be listed first, before that of one or two older brothers. Similarly, when Adam had Seth, he was not his oldest son. Cain and Abel were older, yet in Gen. Was Stephen wrong? Archer notes that Stephen follows the enumeration found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, which reads 75 in Gen.
Two approaches exist for solving this discrepancy. After all, since Joseph and his two sons already lived in Egypt, they had no need to migrate there. The other solution builds upon the somewhat differing wording found in Acts compared to Gen. It also implicitly excludes those not having to migrate to be in Egypt i. Absurd you say? Consider a remarkable parallel in which Abraham and Isaac may have bought the same land for a well twice at Beersheba.
Abraham offered seven ewe lambs to Abimelech as a witness he dug a well at Beersheba Gen. Isaac later had a feast, and made a covenant with Abimelech presumably a son or grandson of the one Abraham dealt with to gain peace. Compare it to how a modern American city eventually takes abandoned housing for back taxes, requiring the past owners basically to buy it again such as by paying all the accrued property taxes if they want to possess it again. Furthermore, it is known that Abraham had been at Shechem during his lifetime, which was where God appeared to him and he in turn built an altar to Yahweh Gen.
He could have possibly chosen to buy the land he put his altar on. Joshua does not deny that others were buried there. Furthermore, Jerome said in his eighty-sixth epistle that at Shechem the tombs for the 12 patriarchs were on display at the time he lived, which goes along with a Samaritan tradition that has been preserved for many centuries. Josephus said the bodies of the patriarchs were carried out of Egypt, but that they were buried at Hebron.
Numbers says 24, Israelites died in a plague, while in I Corinthians Paul says 23, died after acting immorally. A key issue here is whether I Cor. Since the preceding verse, I Cor. True, the golden calf incident mentions specifically only 3, as being slain by the Levites Ex. But God also sent a plague to punish Israel that day for its sins v. Another possibility remains—transmissional error.
For example, II Chron. Since the number of horsemen is the same in both verses 12, , this must be a scribal error. Now, do such discrepancies prove faith in the Old Testament is foolish? Of course not. Before the Jewish scribes called the Soperim had the numbers copied in words instead of numerals, a scribe easily could have mistaken the number of dots standing for thousands over the letters that stood for each number in an ageing, increasingly brittle manuscript.
Does a contradiction occur between Matt. Or is it? But Jeremiah does purchase a field as a type of the buying and selling that will occur during the millennium in Judea. Note Jer. Here two quotes were combined together into one, with the less prominent author omitted in favor of the more famous. Mark presents a similar situation, in which quotes from Isaiah and Malachi are placed together, yet only Isaiah is mentioned.
Evidently, Gesenius, etc. Then Asimov leaned upon this very doubtful textual reconstruction. Matthew states:. And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.
An added factor must be involved. The area near Jerusalem that by tradition is identified as where this incident occurred even today has many trees with dead and dry branches that could break under a heavy weight in time. Neither says it has the whole story by itself. The husband gave a much longer explanation—but mentioned nothing about diabetes or any blood sugar problem.
Do these two accounts contradict one another? No—it turned out each had omitted part of the picture of all the problems this poor lady had been struggling with, who really seemed to be cursed with bad health. Where Judas actually died was almost certainly not where this field was located, but it could well be where he was buried.
Instead, it meant that he supplied the means, or the occasion reason why the field changed hands to begin with. By paying Judas to betray Christ, the Jewish leadership eventually cost both men their lives. Are Gen. The former text says Jacob worshiped at the head of his bed, while the latter stated he worshiped while leaning on a staff. Are the family trees of Christ listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 contradictory?
The wording of Matt. By necessity, as no human father was actually involved, a family tree had to be put together differently. When Zelophehad had no sons, but only daughters, all their names were recorded as well so they could still gain inheritances from him Num. Through Mary, that inheritance passed to Jesus. Women are mentioned in genealogical lists elsewhere see I Chron. This argument ignores how the Old Testament also contains shortened forms of genealogies that omit some ancestors in between. It omits most of the generations between Moses and Levi.
Rather, this lists her tribe by its eponymous ancestor after whom it was named. And in Ex. A similar truncated genealogy appears in I Chron. II Kings , Deut. As for the dispute about whether 13 or 14 generations elapsed between Jeconiah and Christ, it apparently comes down to the issue of inclusive versus exclusive counting or reckoning. For example, depending on culture and language, people will include or exclude the current day, even if only half or a small part of it remains, when counting a certain number of days. The New Testament clearly recognizes the concept of adoption Rom.
Since the public Jewish genealogical records survived until the Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A. In this connection, consider that the Bible was written over a period of at least years by about 40 different authors, most of whom never met each other. These differences show no one person sat down to concoct them. Future archeological or historical evidence may help others to be resolved. For example, Jesus was said to be going out of Jericho by Matthew and Mark when he met a blind beggar He healed, while Luke said He was coming near it.
See Matt. But archeological evidence presents us with another possible solution. An expedition led by Ernest Sellin of the German Oriental Society discovered in that Jericho was a double city. The new Roman one was built about a mile from the older Jewish one. Sometimes knowing subtleties of the original language can resolve apparent contradictions or other problems.
Other alleged discrepancies may involve conventions or idioms of the language which even today English uses. Is this a contradiction? No, because I Kings expresses the old convention that what a ruler or leader does through others is considered as if he did it himself.
Placing such problems on the shelf of faith, to be taken down and resolved later, is then a sensible approach. Many of the alleged problems can be very decisively cleared up, while others are more difficult to resolve. But when measured against the strong evidence for the historical accuracy of the Bible and its fulfilled prophecies, they become the mere excuses and cavils of critics looking for some reason not to believe.
But, inconsistently, he dogmatically attacked miracles as being impossible, as violations of the laws of nature his philosophy elsewhere renders unprovable. Consider the miracles of the Old Testament. Why should I believe Elijah did this? Nobody alive today saw it happen. Neither I nor anybody I know has ever seen somebody come back alive from the dead.
But if a Creator does exist, it stands to reason He could change or suspend the very laws He put into force that regulate nature to begin with, if it would serve some other purpose of His. Lewis notes:. Unfortunately we know the experience against them to be uniform only if we know that all the reports of them are false. And we can know all the reports to be false only if we know already that miracles have never occurred.
In fact, we are arguing in a circle. A philosophical commonplace concerns white swans. Using a different species of Oceania, McDowell and Wilson take a slightly different tack:. But his disbelief of such an animal would not preclude its existence. Fourth, Hume sets the bar so high concerning what kinds and numbers of witnesses would be necessary to prove a miracle occurred that no amount of evidence could possibly persuade him that one in fact did happen.
Unlike what many skeptics may think, the philosophical case against believing in miracles is hardly airtight, since it basically assumes what it wishes to prove: Since they have no experience of the supernatural, therefore, they assume, nobody else in history ever has had either. Therefore the resurrection did not take place. Having surveyed some problems with Humean skepticism about miracle accounts, we should consider what kind of evidence is necessary to prove to reasoning men and women why they should believe in this or that report of a miracle.
What kind of eyewitness evidence do we need before accepting any miracle account? Hence, if the book of Exodus correctly describes Egyptian society and government, then its account of the Red Sea parting becomes believable. And, as the archeologist Sir William Ramsay found out to the detriment of his atheism, Luke is accurate in what can be checked. These assertions ignore the manifest difference between the mythological literature set in an indefinite, murky time and place, and, for example, the New Testament, set in first-century B. To prove such reasoning is valid, the skeptic has to cite various parts of some standard printed edition or source of these myths about Osiris, Adonis, Mithras, Dionysus, etc.
It has been taught: On the eve of Passover they hanged [compare Luke ; Gal. Another approach to examining the reliability of accounts of the miraculous in pagan, Jewish, and Christian documents checks their fitness and intrinsic plausibility while assuming mankind dwells in an orderly universe. A humanities professor at Wellesley College, Mary Lefkowitz describes this book thus:. Described as they happened, the signs and wonders merely come up as part of the narrative. The son of Annas the scribe was standing there with Joseph. He took a branch of a willow and scattered the water which Jesus had arranged.
Once again he was going through the village, and a child who was running banged into his shoulder. As they [the soldiers] recounted what they had seen, again they saw three men coming out of the tomb; two supported one of them and a cross followed them. The heads of the two reached to heaven, but the one whom they bore with their hands reached beyond the heavens. What canonical list s , such as those F. Bruce lists, contained any or all of these purportedly apocryphal Gospels? Although some dispute surrounded some of these books, as the idea of the New Testament canon developed only a relatively few books were actively disputed, as F.
The vast swamp of pagan miracle accounts, in both myths and purportedly historical writings, now beckons us. Coming from a man who made a life study of pagan mythology and classical literature, C. Denys picking up his own head and walking to his grave can easily be ruled out. Even skeptics believing all miracles are absurd believe some to be more absurd than others. As Lewis observes:. Knowing only the Bible which cannot be assumed nowadays , they lack a standard of comparison for the intrinsic fitness or absurdity of miracle accounts between the Bible on the one hand, and pagan mythology and apocryphal literature on the other.
First then, whatever these men may be as biblical critics, I distrust them as critics. They seem to me to lack literary judgment, to be imperceptive about the very quality of the texts they are reading. It sounds a strange charge to bring against men who have been steeped in those books [of the NT] all their lives. But that might be just the trouble.
If he tells me that something in a gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavour, not how many years he has spent on that gospel. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this.
These men ask me to believe they can read between the lines of the old texts; the evidence is their obvious inability to read in any sense worth discussing the lines themselves. Many people, including intellectuals, hold the view that Jesus was a good man, a wise teacher, but deny that He was the God in the flesh and the Savior of humanity.
Actually, He did not leave this option open to us. Jesus made claims about Himself, or allowed others to without rebuke, that implied or amounted to Deity see John ; , ; ; ; ; ; Matt. Although Jesus came to bring a message from God about the kingdom of God, He also came to reveal His identity.
Is this assertion false? Lewis comments:. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. This testimony, if not true, must be downright blasphemy or madness. The former hypothesis cannot stand a moment before the moral purity and dignity of Jesus, revealed in his every word and work, and acknowledged by universal consent.
A character so original, so complete, so uniformly consistent, so perfect, so human and yet so high above all human greatness, can be neither a fraud nor a fiction.
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The poet, as has been well said, would in this case be greater than the hero. It would take more than a Jesus to invent a Jesus. They must make a choice when facing the great trilemma, being ready to defend it publicly when rejecting Jesus as Lord: Is Christ a madman or a con artist? Can you reconcile either with the text of the Gospels?
The resurrection was central bedrock miracle of Christianity. Upon it Christianity rises or falls. Whether Jesus rose from the dead at a specific point and time in history determines whether Christianity is true. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.
Unlike the legends of Hinduism or myths about Greek gods, Christianity is a religion of history. This historical approach makes it radically different from most other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, animism, witchcraft, etc. To them, history is fundamentally irrelevant to whether they have the Truth or not. They are based on theological dictums or philosophical speculations, not historical events. If the truths which Jesus exemplified and taught are true, then they are true always and everywhere, whether a person called Jesus ever lived or not.
To compare the Gospels to pagan myths, as some higher critics have done, operates on a fundamentally false premise: They plainly do not read like myths. The Gospels read like truncated biographies or histories that focus on the life and teachings of one Jesus of Nazareth, who died at a specific place Judea and time 31 A. No one booklet this length can deal with all the objections against belief in Christianity: Skeptics who have read this far are encouraged to consult some of the references in the bibliography if they wish to do more research.
McDowell has done much work on the subject of the resurrection. This material is freely but briefly drawn on below. Confronting the skeptic is this basic problem: How can he or she explain the fact of an empty tomb come one Sunday morning during the Days of Unleavened Bread in most likely 31 A.
It proclaims an imperial edict that warns its readers against messing around with graves and tombs, with heavy punishments to match! Evidently, word about the stir the resurrection created got back to Rome in a garbled form through Pilate or someone else, resulting in this off-key response!
Some elementary investigation by them would have quickly disposed of the matter, such as by asking Joseph of Arimathea a member of the Sanhedrin himself where his tomb was. Furthermore, would the Romans have guarded the wrong tomb? Christianity could have been strangled in the cradle by simply producing the body of Jesus, perhaps by presenting it on an ox cart rolled down the main streets of Jerusalem.
Who could believe that Jesus had risen right after seeing His dead body? Why else would have they have bribed the guards at the tomb to spread the story that Matt. Anyway, could have the women or the disciples have all gone to the wrong tomb? Would have they forgotten where their loved one lay?
Furthermore, since the standard penalty in the Roman legions for falling asleep while on guard duty was death, it would make sense the soldiers in question would appeal to the Jewish leadership someone outside the chain of command to save their skins. Appealing to any Roman officer or leader would surely be of no avail, and a swift, summary death would soon be their fate. Anyway, could have Jewish guards be bribed into lying about their Messiah? Note Matt. Then, consider the implications of the Jewish leadership promising to the Roman guards who fell asleep when Jesus rose from the dead Matt.
Were the resurrection appearances mere hallucinations? This theory suffers from numerous deadly flaws. Its biggest problem is that those who suffer from hallucinations imagine what they expect to see and desire to see. However, the disciples plainly were NOT anticipating Jesus to rise from the dead. Even afterwards, according to the New Testament itself, some still had doubts. Expecting Jesus to be the Conquering Messiah who would overthrow the Romans, they thought He would install them as His top lieutenants under His rule Matt. The disciples had a long, hard time unlearning the prevailing Jewish view of what the Messiah would do when He appeared.
It took the crucifixion and the resurrection to pound it out of them. However, judging from their question in Matt. They repeatedly refused to believe or even understand His prophecies of His own impending crucifixion and resurrection. Mark ; Luke ; Luke ; Matt. This incident illustrates how it again and again reveals the imperfections and flaws of the founders of Christianity under Jesus, showing it was hardly a mindlessly partisan document. The women who carried the spices to the tomb early Sunday morning obviously expected to find Jesus dead, not alive!
Other problems abound with claiming the resurrection appearances were hallucinations. Normally hallucinations only afflict the paranoid and especially the schizophrenic. These psychological labels hardly describe the disciples, with hard- headed fishermen and a former tax collector among them. Among the disciples were Philip, who was rather skeptical John ; , and doubting Thomas John , who demanded decisive empirical evidence that he could touch, not just see.
Such men are not the kinds prone to hallucinations. Paul maintained some saw the resurrected Jesus I Cor. Once the truth of an empty tomb is established, how can it be explained? One standard explanation, which Matthew himself alludes to Matt. First, consider the Roman guard the Jewish authorities so thoughtfully placed around the tomb, complete with the imperial seal Matt. The Roman guards were extremely capable soldiers. George Currie. If the disciples had approached the tomb with the intent of stealing the body, one of these trained professional soldiers, let alone two or three, could have easily dispatched all of them.
With their Messiah dead on the cross, they obviously thought their grand hopes of a future filled with ruling the nations under Him were equally defunct. Third, the testimony of their lives morally points to the impossibility of them being such intentional deceivers. True, they had their moral flaws, especially before conversion, as the New Testament makes plain. This shows its objectivity, just as the Old Testament reveals the imperfections of David, Jacob, and Abraham. Nevertheless, pulling off a vast intentional deceit would be totally out of character for them.
Why establish a religion that condemns lying upon a base of fraud? By tradition, eleven of the twelve apostles died martyrs.
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What good is dying for some cause you know is false, when no personal gain is possible from continuing to uphold it, and by abandoning it, you could save your life? It likely weighed between one and a half to two tons! All these objections make the ancient Jewish claim that the disciples stole the body insufferably implausible. Another attempted naturalistic non-supernatural explanation for the resurrection maintains Jesus did NOT actually die on the cross, but merely fainted.
Then after being entombed, he revived in its cool air.
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First, Jesus was scourged. This was not a mere whipping with say a standard horse or bull whip. The whip likely had one or more leather cords or thongs attached to a handle, sometimes with pieces of metal or bones weighted or knotted in to make it more effective in cutting the flesh. Even when rescued from the cross before death overtook them, crucifixion victims seldom lived. But pseudo-Christianity is more dangerous and sly than outright non-Christianity.
We are to be watchmen on the wall Ezek. It is mere human wisdom, which is really foolishness. Philosophy sprang from Greece. In Acts 17, Paul opposed the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. The major Greek philosophers were Plato and Aristotle, and many others. In the modern era, others include Hegel, Marx, Kant, Hume, and many others. Philosophy emphasizes the use of human reason, the mind, rationality.
If unchecked, it tends to become atheistic. All Non-Christian Religions are False. Philosophy is not the only ancient enemy. There are dozens of non-Christian religions, mostly coming from the East. They emphasize the heart, not the mind. They tend to mysticism and pantheism. Some are closer to the truth than others, but they all lead to Hell.
Even post-Biblical Judaism is a false religion, for it does not accept Jesus as the Messiah, denies the Trinity, asserts salvation by works, etc. The three main groups of false Christianity correspond to the three main groups of unbelieving Judaism at the time of Christ. Roman Catholicism is like the Pharisees — huge, works-salvation, tradition-bound, etc. Eastern Orthodoxy is the same. The second is Liberal Protestantism, similar to the Saducees in their rejection of revelation, weak ethics, etc. Then there are the many cults, like the Jewish cults of the Essenes, Herodians, Zealots, etc, exclusivist and esoteric.
The earliest form of pseudo-Christianity was Gnosticism, opposed in Colossians, I John, and elsewhere. There are many pseudo-Christian cults around today. We may not use force, violence, brainwashing, fleshly temptations, entertainment, or other such means. Honest questions deserve honest answers, as Francis Schaeffer said. Some Weapons Are Useful but Insufficient. Other weapons are acceptable but insufficient. For example, some Christians argue from miracles, fulfilled prophecy, the endurance of the Bible and Christianity through centuries of persecution, the enormous popularity of Christianity, the many favorable words said about Jesus by important non-Christians, personal testimonies, logical proofs, empirical evidences and other such arguments.
These all have their place, but are not our primary resources, for each can be challenged in one way or another by non-Christians. At best, such arguments can only get a stalemate, not a victory. Such is the approach of Christian Rationalism e. The Word of God is our main weapon Eph. Jesus turned to it, not as a last resort, but as His primary weapon in opposing Satan Matt. Our opinions mean nothing. We do not use it as a magical or superstitious talisman, but rather by knowing and believing it and quoting and explaining it properly and appropriately in fielding the objections of unbelievers.
Any team or army will tell you that defence is good, but you also need offence to win. We must know what our opponent is saying, and then we compare it with what the Bible says on that point. Indeed, also challenge the underlying presuppositions of the argument. A presupposition is the underlying and often unconscious assumption of a system of thought. We must know the enemy 2 Cor.
It can help to show where such views logically lead. But mainly we are to show where they contradict what God says. Quote Scripture whether the opponent believes in the Bible or not. It is also important to be as clear in your words as possible. We need not know all the details of a pagan religion or worldly philosophy in order to refute it. Some Christians seem to know more about non-Christian theories than true Christian theology. Leave the detailed study to the experts and theologians.
Our job is primarily to know the Bible, for it is sufficient to enable us to believe and defend the truth 2 Tim. He fills the whole universe, but does not show Himself in His full manifestation except in Heaven. To us, He is invisible, inaudible and intangible. He conceals Himself. But He also reveals Himself. God is so great and far above us, that we would know nothing at all about Him unless He chose to show us Himself — and He has chosen to do just that I Cor. God has revealed some things about Himself, and left far more concealed.
His revelation includes truths about the universe, man, sin, and especially about God Himself. This revelation makes moral and ethical demands on us. Because only part is revealed, His revelation is often a paradox, a mystery, implying there is more to the facts. But it is never a lie or a contradiction.
We may study His revelation, but may not pry into what is not revealed, such as the details of the future Matt. We know only in part, but will know far more when the revelation is full I Cor. God has been revealing Himself by stages and levels. Each one builds on the previous one. This is working up to a climax. God does this in actual history, not in mythological saga or make-believe, as many Neo-orthodox liberals suggest.
God also reveals Himself in various ways in different times and to different people. Similarly, when God sets out to save a person, He gradually gives him more light until he is saved, and then gives him progressive illumination and growth in knowledge. God reveals much about Himself in Nature. All men everywhere have this revelation, and therefore are without excuse. Yet God does not reveal His special grace and salvation through Nature. All men know that God exists, but they do not know Him personally through Nature. God spoke or showed things to select people by dreams when they were asleep and visions when they were awake.
These were not natural dreams like we have, but supernatural dreams. Angels also delivered personal messages to these select people, who as prophets were to pass on the messages to other people. God Revealed Himself through Theophanies. Examples: the Burning Bush Ex. Sinai, etc.
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These were more direct than the other means of revelation, but still were not final. There was also some sort of Theophany in Eden. God Revealed Himself Verbally in the Bible. The next highest form of revelation occurred when God not only spoke through these other means, but commissioned certain prophets and apostles to write certain words down.
This is the Bible, the verbal revelation of God. He gave us actual words. These are the very words of God Himself. Hence, the Bible frequently describes itself as the Word of God, the words of God, and similar terms. Some terms point out that this verbal revelation was written, not just spoken: the Scriptures, the Holy Scriptures, the Scriptures of Truth, etc. The fact that God reveals Himself verbally teaches us, among other things, that God is personal and not an abstract principle.
He speaks, therefore is wise. He speaks to us, therefore He cares. Human language is adequate for this level of revelation. God condescended to speak human language. It is through the Bible, not Nature, that we learn about salvation. This is how we know God personally. Special Revelation is superior to Natural Revelation, and is the means by which we correctly interpret Natural Revelation. God no longer reveals Himself through dreams, visions, angels, prophets, Theophanies, or the direct voice from Heaven.
Our job is to diligently study this lasting revelation. To know God better, we read, study, understand, believe and obey the Bible. Special Revelation has ceased, but the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible continues. We call this Illumination, not Revelation. The light is on, but we need to have our eyes opened. This is how God now reveals Himself best. Jesus Christ is the Greatest Revelation of God.
Jesus Himself often said that to see Him was to see God. To know Jesus is to know God. He is the greatest of all revelations, because Jesus is God Himself. He is God in the flesh John He is the personal, living Word of God. This does not demean the value of the Bible, but fulfills it. Jesus is now in Heaven.
We can pray to Him and love Him, even though we do not see or hear Him directly. We hear Him when we read His Bible. It still is. It is not a collection of merely human books I Thess. It is the Word of God already, whether we believe it or not. It is already perfect. In Biblical days, God spoke through prophets, dreams, visions and angels.
But that has ceased. See Heb. The Bible continues as the only Word of God. Similarly, preaching is not the Word of God. Preaching should be based on the Bible, but is not the same as the Bible. Also, the Bible is qualitatively different from every other book ever written. It alone is the Word of God. Even the books of the Apocrypha contain only human wisdom. The Bible is the Written Word of God.
God was pleased to commit His Word to writing. It was inscripturated, or written down in human script. The finger of God directly wrote the 10 Commandments Ex. God used the human authors of Scripture as His fingers to write the Bible. God did this so that we would have His Word in black and white, in a permanent form to read and study and consult. We need not depend on a series of priests who passed it on down the ages by word of mouth to be contaminated by fallible human memory. We have it in writing.
It stands written. God did not breath something into the Bible; God breathed the Bible out of His own mouth. Jesus referred to this in Matt. God sent forth the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God John 3. He moved certain prophets and apostles so that they then put down in writing the exact words God wanted them to write. Technically, it is the Bible, not the writers, which is inspired.
Also, it is inspired because of its source, not its effect. It is divinely inspired regardless of whatever effect it has on us. All of the Bible is Inspired by God. Rather, the text says that all of the Scripture is inspired. This means that all parts are equally inspired. Ruth is as inspired as Romans, Joel as much as John. Therefore, it all carries divine authority and we should read all of it. All parts of it are profitable to our spiritual well-being. The Very Words of the Bible are Inspired. God breathed out specific words, not just vague ideas or feelings which the human authors were left to interpret and write down.
The Bible is verbally inspired. In Gal. God inspired the words of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. This does not refer to any translation into English or any other language. Still, the authority of the original language carries over to accurate translations.
God Controlled the Writers of the B i ble. They did not simply sit down and decide to write the Bible. God chose who would do the writing, then He worked miraculously in them so that He controlled what they wrote. It was not left to the fallibility of humans. Some parts of the Bible were directly dictated by an audible voice e.
In most cases, God moved in a deep and mysterious way on their hearts and minds in other ways, such as by dreams and visions. They certainly knew that the words they wrote were not merely their own I Cor. God gave them the very words, not an-inner illumination of wisdom. Also, this special inspiration has ceased. What we need now is illumination to understand what has been inspired. The light is on; we need to have our eyes opened.
Because of sin, the natural Man is incapable of understanding the true meaning of the Bible 1 Cor. God Proves that the Bible is the Word of God. Scripture carries with it certain marks of divine authorship. Among them are its high spirituality and morality, its enormous popularity in history, its durability against persecution, its record of fulfilled prophecy, etc. But these alone are insufficient to prove divine inspiration.
The Spirit is the witness because the Spirit is the truth I John Even unbelievers are impacted by this power cf. Like the men with Paul on the Damascus road, they hear the sound but do not know the voice. The Word of God carries with it the very power of God. It is compared to a hammer that breaks rocks, light that overcomes darkness, fire that cannot be extinguished, etc. Just as God created all things by the power of His Word, so He changes lives today by that same power. God spoke to the prophets and through the prophets. He still speaks today through His Word.
Let us listen and be transformed by this powerful book, the Holy Bible. The Bible is true. Some other books may be true, in that their contents are correct; but only the Bible is truth itself. It is the only reliable guide to ultimate truth. Being holy, it is free of all impurity of error. The Bible is inerrant; it contains no errors. Truth and error are incompatible, like light and darkness. It is also infallible; it cannot fail to speak the truth. It does not and cannot err. Thus, Scripture has no contradictions between its parts, such as the four Gospels They are complementary, not contradictory.
The Bible also contains no myths Scripture itself warns against myths I Tim. Parables are not myths. It contains deep mysteries and paradoxes, but no errors. Nor does the Bible contain any forgeries or frauds cf. The Bible is completely true, in whole and in part, in all details as well as in the general content.
It is true whenever it speaks of things we could otherwise study or observe, such as history and science. It is true in all areas, not just the spiritual, religious and theological. If we do not believe God in the areas we could verify, how could we believe Him in the areas that we cannot verify?
John Man can err; God cannot. But it is not true that to be human one must necessarily err. Adam did not err before the Fall, nor did Christ ever err, and they were fully human. The divine side of Scripture guarantees purity from error in the human side, just as the divine nature of Christ protected the purity of His human side. Yes, the Bible uses round numbers, hyperbole, figures of speech, symbols, and phenomenological language.
But these are usual for human language and are not errors. God is truth and cannot lie Tit. What Scripture says, God says. This is not to deify the Bible, as we are falsely accused of teaching. Rather, it is but to recognize what God says about His Word. To believe the Bible is to believe God. To believe God is to agree that God is and speaks truth John But let God be true and every man a liar Rom. To judge it is to condemn oneself. God tells us to test all things I Thess. By what? By the Word of God, as the noble Bereans did in Acts Anything that contradicts the Bible is automatically wrong Isa.
We err if we do not know the Bible or if we contradict it Matt. God curses those who preach false gospels contrary to the one true Gospel Gal. Sola Scriptura — Scripture alone is our final authority in all areas, such as faith and practice. It carries with it the very authority of God Almighty Himself. In Matt.
They appealed to their tradition; Jesus rebuked them by appealing to Scripture. Church tradition must be subject to the Bible, otherwise it nullifies Scripture. Roman Catholicism repeats the same error as the Pharisees with their tradition. They say that the Church gave us the Bible, therefore the Church is in authority. But this is wrong.
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That includes all creeds, confessions of faith, catechisms and church constitutions. Men can and do err, but God cannot err. The Bible is therefore over the authority even the delegated authority of people who exercise some degree of influence and authority. While Scripture tells us to obey parents, preachers and politicians, we must obey God and not them if they ever go against the Bible Acts The words and books of theologians must be weighed by Scripture, as well as all sermons and Sunday School lessons. Any preacher, priest, pope or rabbi who sets himself up as an equal authority to God is automatically a false prophet, for the true prophets themselves were under the authority of the Word of God.
No exceptions. Thus, all philosophy, psychology, logic, reason, science and opinion are subject to the truth and authority of the Bible. Because of common grace, Man may learn and teach some truths. But if they contradict Scripture — whether implicitly or explicitly, whether in doctrine or in method — then they thereby condemn themselves as false.
This applies to our own thoughts as well. Even Adam before the Fall was subject to the spoken Word of God. He fell into sin when he rebelled against that authority. We dare not trust our fallen minds, which are prone to err. The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. He never contradicts Himself, for that would be contrary to His nature as the Spirit of Truth. Some groups need to remember this in their zeal for the work of the Spirit. All spiritual feelings, impressions and intuitions must be subject to the Word. We dare not invent exceptions because we feel that the Spirit is leading us — otherwise we are no different from the fanatic who murders his neighbor with an axe because he said that God told him to.
The Holy Spirit never contradicts what He says in the Bible. The Bible alone is our source of all spiritual authority. We must trust in God and His Word, even when we do not understand it. We must not lean on our own understanding or inclinations Pro. We ought to read it, study it, believe it and obey it. Our attitude to the Bible is to be the same as our attitude to God, for it is His Word. This means we are to love it, even as we love God.
Love God, love His Word. We Should Study the Bible. God gave us the Bible to read and study. It is a textbook to study, not a picture-book to browse through. There is a big difference between simply reading a book and seriously studying it. One is leisure, the other is work. God wants us to study our Bibles, not use them for pressing flowers. To study the Bible is to research it to discover its meaning. Eisegesis is twisting the Scriptures to suit our preconceived notions 2 Pet. When we study the Bible, we should set aside wrong presuppositions and preconceived ideas.
We need to be teachable. We should pray before and during Bible study, and rely on the Holy Spirit in us to teach us what He says in the Bible. Faith comes to us by the Word of God Rom. Without faith, we can understand the Bible only in a natural way, not a supernatural way. Studying the Bible profits us nothing unless it is mixed with faith Heb.
Search and you will find. Dig deep and you will find new treasures of gold hidden in this field. Alas, some Christians have not even read the entire Bible yet. Others try to read it through every year. It takes work, but the Holy Spirit enables us to understand cf. I John A lacksadaisical attitude betrays low respect for the Bible and little faith in God.
But serious Bible study is work which brings rest. Though the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, it is still understandable through reliable translations not to mention the scholarly study of the original languages. We may profit from preachers and teachers who explain the Bible to us Acts The Bible is for everyone. Though some parts are harder to understand than others 2 Pet.
Even a cursory study of the Bible will yield great results. We study the historical setting of Scripture human author, original readers, date, geography, manners and customs, archeology, etc , as well as the normal meaning of the language its lexical meaning, grammar, syntax, context, etc.
We should study all of it, not just our favorite parts. Read both testaments. Use a concordance and cross references to compare Scripture with Scripture. It has great variety. All Scripture is inspired and deserves our study. Just as God used many human authors, so he used their backgrounds and a variety of literary styles.
In these, we find prayer and praise to God, and wisdom in dealing with life. Then other books are mainly laws Exodus-Deuteronomy, parts of others. Some laws are straight-forward commands or prohibitions, while others are case laws. Then other books are mainly prophecy, recording direct messages from God, including accurate predictions of the future.
Lastly, there are the epistles of Paul and others. All these styles form a wonderful harmony. One important principle of Bible study is knowing and noticing that Christ is the center of Scripture. The Old Testament is filled with prophecies, types and symbols of the coming Messiah Gen. Jesus fulfilled these prophecies. Some are explained in the New Testament see Luke , , Acts And sandwiched between the Old Testament predictions of the future and the New Testament explanations of the past, we find the four Gospels which describe the person and work of Christ in a special way.
Since it is a book about Christ, the Bible is therefore a book about how we may be saved from our sins through Him. It makes us wise unto salvation 2 Tim. Some parts of the Bible more directly discuss salvation, such as the four Gospels, Acts and Romans. But all parts of Scripture fit into this comprehensive entity. Thus, the Bible was given to us that we may know how to be saved and how to have the assurance of salvation John , 1 John We can also use it to tell other people the Gospel of salvation. The Bible is frequently compared to food.
We ought to thirst for it like a baby thirsts for milk I Pet. The basic message of the Bible is like milk; the additional details are like meat Heb. We need both. The Bible is the means that God uses to nourish His children. It gave us the new birth and sustains our new life. We grow spiritually anemic when we ignore it. So, we need to regularly read and study it, and meditate on it like a cow chews the cud.
The more we do, the stronger we will grow spiritually. We study the Bible to learn about God. When we study it, we always need to find what God wants us to do in light of that passage. It teaches us how to live for God and helps us resist Satan and temptation, worship God in the way acceptable to Him, and witness in the world. It encourages us through its many promises, aids us in prayer, points out our sins and assures us of forgiveness, strengthens our faith, answers the basic questions we have for guidance, and so much more.
So let us diligently read it, study it, believe it and obey it cf. The Bible is a Unity. Though it has many individual books in it, the Bible is a unity. It is both one book and many books. It has unity and diversity. It is basically one book, The Book. Though it has many human authors for its parts, it is primarily one book by God Himself. God used the many authors over a period of approximately years to write the Bible progressively, each building on what has already been given.
Since it is an infallible unity, all parts agree. The individual authors and books ought not to be seen as contradictory, but complementary to each other. The most obvious and significant division in the Bible is that it has two large sections known as testaments. A testament is a covenant, or holy contract between God and Man. The first is the Old Covenant. It makes up about three-fourths of the Bible, of which about a third is by Moses.
It revolves around the special covenant which God made with Israel, described in the first 5 books. The rest of the O. The N. The O. Psalms is the longest, then Isaiah. Some books are in pairs 1 and 2 Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and several of the epistles , only 1 is a set of three 1,2,3 John. Luke and Acts form a unique pair. There is occasional overlap of content and matter Samuel-Kings-Chronicles, the 4 Gospels, etc.
The books of the Apocrypha are not part of the Bible. Though Romanism accepts them, neither the ancient Jews nor Protestants have ever accepted them. Nor are any of the books of the Pseudepigrapha in the Bible, such as the Book of Enoch. And of course, not the Book of Mormon, or other pretended books.
The canon is closed. Other authors wrote only a single short book. Some books are anonymous such as Hebrews. All books were written by men, though two books are entirely about women Ruth and Esther. The human authors were prophets, priests, kings, apostles, shepherds, generals, a doctor, court officials, and other occupations.
Hebrew is a Semitic language written from right to left, each word based around three consonants, with a grammar and vocabulary very different than English, but much in common with other ancient languages. Parts of Daniel and Ezra, and a few words and verses elsewhere, were written in Aramaic.
Aramaic was the lingua franca of the ancient near east until superceded by Arabic. It was very similar to Hebrew. There are a few Latin words, too, and also a few Egyptian and others in Job. The actual original parchments and papyri have long ago perished, but the inspired Word has been preserved by God through the ages. Jesus promised that His Word would never pass away Matt.
We call this Providential Preservation. There are no lost books, sentences, words or even letters. Nor will any yet be found, otherwise they would have been lost until now. Scripture is the means of salvation and the main means of revelation in this age. Its very nature requires its preservation. Satan has tried to destroy it, but the Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.
There are over 5, Greek manuscripts and over Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible, plus ancient translations and quotations. Since the Bible is a complete unity, it is very serious to tamper with it. God warns against this in Rev. Some English translations are based on the minority of ancient manuscripts which are faulty. They tend to subtract portions such as Mark A few ancient manuscripts tend to add to the real text, such as the Codex Bezae. But the vast majority of manuscripts agree almost in complete detail, so it is wisest to stick to the middle and neither add to on the right side or subtract from on the left side.
Nor may we substitute other words. This is known as the Septuagint. Other Greek translations followed. The Jews also produced paraphrased translations of most of the O. Most were done after the time of Jesus. The Samaritans translated the Pentateuch into their language, with alterations. Some were better than others, and all are useful for study by scholars.
There have been more translations of the Bible into English than into any other language. First there were bits and pieces by Bede and medieval monks.
Then John Wycliffe translated the Bible from the Latin in the 14th century. The 16th century saw many other fine translations, especially the Geneva Bible. The Authorized Version of , known as the King James Version, has been the most popular one in history, even with its various slight revisions. The New King James Version is a slight revision and is very good. The New International Version is now the best-selling translation.
There have also been Jewish and Catholic translations. Overall, over translations have appeared. The Bible is the Book of God. It was inspired by God, written by God through the instrumentality of various human authors, and is primarily about God. It talks about Man, salvation, animals, the cosmos and other topics, but mainly about God. Its ethics come from God. Its stories tell how God has worked in history. Its songs sing to and about God. Specifically, it is a book about Jesus, the only mediator between God and Man. Praise God for His Word. God is.
He is there. He is the real God, the God who really exists. God is God. He exists eternally without origin or change. He self-exists. He has necessary existence, not conditional or contingent existence. He has perpetual existence in and of Himself. He has pure existence, compared to whom everything else is but a shadow. God not only exists, He lives. A stone exists, a person lives. God is the living God, as opposed to the false and dead gods of pagan religions.
He is life itself, self-life. He has life in Himself, not from another. He is the source of all life. He has aseity, or life in Himself John , He has permanent and perpetual life. God is pure life. Therefore He is immortal. He had no birthday, therefore no father or mother; He has no death-day, therefore no undertaker.
God is the creator of everything else Gen. Creator of all, created by none. He is the first cause of everything else, but caused by nothing. God is certainly not the creation of Man. Man did not create God by imagination, nor by projecting himself to the cosmos, as atheists suggest.
Nor is God self-created. He simply exists and lives of Himself. The Creator is not the Creation. Idolatry worships the Creation rather than the Creator Rom. He is separate from His Creation. We are not part of God. God is everywhere, but is not everything. He has a separate and divine substance that is fundamentally different from the universe.
Monism is also wrong to suggest that all things are one, i. Romans 1 and Psalm 19 state that God has made His existence known to all men. He is a fool who tries to deny this Psa. Therefore, there are no real atheists or agnostics. They already know God exists. They are merely lying in order to try to run from God. We merely build upon what God has already revealed about Himself in Natural Revelation by bringing Special Revelation.
See Acts Indeed, a God whose existence needed to be proved would not be the true God. It is an insult to God to attempt to prove His existence, for that doubts the fact that He has already made His existence known. Man already knows God exists, but he must acknowledge this openly in order to come to know God personally Heb. He is God. But God is personal.
Not exactly like we are personal, but more than we are. Specifically, as we shall see later, God is actually Tri-personal in the Trinity. God is a He, not an It. God is also a He, not a She. He is personal in that He speaks, feels, thinks, remembers, recognizes, etc. God is Incomprehensible but Not Inscrutable. God has told us He exists and also gives us the privilege of knowing Him personally. God is knowable. Agnostics and Deists are wrong to say God cannot be known.
Yet we can never know everything about God. Finite Man can never know all about the infinite God, not even in eternal Heaven. It would take a second God to know God fully. His attributes are beyond full knowledge Eph. God is incomprehensible to us Job , , , Isa. There will always be something about God that only God knows Rev. Nor will we know God as God knows Himself. Man in sin does not know God 2 Thess.
The basic message of Ecclesiastes is that life has no meaning, only vanity, without knowing God. God created Man to know Him, and Man has a dreary existence without knowing God. God has allowed Himself to be known personally. This is only possible through Christ Matt. Knowing God is eternal life John , in contrast with meaningless existence. God is perfect Matt. He is complete in every way. He needs nothing. He does not need to be fed.
He does not need Man. He lacks nothing in any way. He has perfect life and existence, and does not grow. He is absolute perfection. Therefore, God is perfectly happy in Himself. God is not lonely. He did not create Man because He was lonely. There was perfect happiness, fellowship and love within the Trinity. Nothing outside of God is ever perfect in the sense God is perfect. Yet we find a degree of perfection when we are in the right relationship with God as we ought to be, lacking nothing, Happy at last.
God is Essentially Different from Us. There are two truths, which must be kept in balance. On the one hand, God created us in His image Gen. Therefore we resemble God in part. God thinks, we think. God feels, we feel. Specifically, we are to imitate certain attributes of God, which we call the Communicable Attributes. We are to be holy, truthful and loving, for God is holy, truthful and loving.
We do not nor ever can have self-existence, infinity, eternity, immutability, omniscience, omnipotence or omnipresence. These are Incommunicable Attributes. God is not of the same quality as Man. We greatly err in supposing that God is altogether such a one as we are Psa. Even our similarities with God point to the essential differences we know, God knows; but we know by learning, God knows all things already perfectly, and so on.
God exists as only God exists, which is to say God alone is God. God cannot be defined. To define is to limit, but God cannot be limited. Specifically, when we speak or think about God, we cannot fully grasp Him. Therefore, we cannot define God. Yet we can still speak and think of God in part. That means we can describe God. To be precise, God describes Himself to us. He reveals part of Himself to us description , but not all of Himself definition.
He condescends to describe Himself to us in human analogies, such as metaphors like fire, a fortress, etc. He also uses anthropomorphism, or speaking after the manner of Man. God does not literally have arms, legs, a head, etc. He even compares Himself at times with animals wings of a hen, an eagle, a lion, etc. But God is not an animal, nor a Man. God also uses anthropopathy, or describes Himself in terms of human emotions such as love, grief or anger. But the emotions of God are far greater than ours.