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Bible_Study_Guys's Journal: Topic 1: Bible History and Authority 38

Journal by Bible_Study_Guys
Preface:
We decided that in these studies, since we will be referring to the Bible often, it would be important for the reader to know HOW the Bible came to be, and why it is considered God's Word. So this discussion is about the History of the Bible and where it derives its authority. In this lesson, we each wrote our own little section, though in future topics, we hope to present a more unified JE. glh has been under the weather and has not yet submitted material. The first section is mine, and the second is Eugene's. As always comments are welcome by Christians and Non-Christians alike. Please refrain from name calling or foul language. -TL

Bible History:
The English word "Bible" is derived from the Greek 'biblion,' meaning "roll" or "book." A biblion was a typically a roll of the dried inner bark of papyrus, and was widely used in the ancient world. In earlier usage, 'biblion' was not only used for God's word, it could be used to reference books of magic or a writ of divorcement, as well as sacred books. Today, however, the word "Bible" refers to the Book of excellence, the recognized record of divine revelation. In Dan. 9:2 'ta biblia' refers to the prophetic writings. Around the turn of the fifth century was it extended to include the entire body of canonical writings as we now have them. The expression 'ta biblia' passed into the vocabulary of the Western church and in the thirteenth century the neuter plural came to be regarded as a feminine singular. This change from plural to singular echoed the belief that the Bible is one voice from God rather than a multitude of voices speaking for Him. The process by which the various books in the Bible were brought together and their value as sacred Scripture recognized is referred to as the history of the canon. Jesus regarded the Old Testament as an inspired record of God's self-revelation in history. He repeatedly appealed to the Scriptures as authoritative (Matt. 19:4; 22:29). The early church shared this sentiment, but while the Old Testament canon had been formally closed, the coming of Christ created the need for more records. God was once again speaking to us. Since the Old Testament was the Law, and the way things were done under the old covenant (promise, or testament) and Jesus brought a new covenant, the New Testament was born. Viewed as a historical process, the formation of the NT canon occupied some 350 years. In the first century, the various books were written and began to be circulated through the churches. In the second century, heretics such as Marcion created the need for the formation of a definite canon by trying to pass false scripture as God's Word. Valid Scripture was separated from Christian literature on the basis of such criteria as apostolic authorship and consistency of doctrine with what the church already possessed. The canon was ultimately certified at the Council of Carthage. Almost as soon as it was canonized, it had been translated into Latin, Egyptian, and Syriac. Today, the Bible has been translated into every known tongue in the civilized world, and even Klingon.

TechnoLust's Personal note: I have often asked how I can be a man of science, knowing the Scientific Method so intimately, and still believe in God. The scientific method tells us that when it comes to things we can not quantify and qualify, we can never really prove a theory. We can prove it wrong, but we can never really prove it correct. Think of the general theory of relativity. It has been tested and tried since Einstein published it in 1920. So far it has held up, and it is generally accepted as law. Now think of the Bible. It has been tried and tested for millennia, and no one can prove the Bible wrong. No one can prove that God doesn't exist, or that the Bible isn't His Word. They have tried, oh, how they have tried. So by that very scientific method that is cited when rejecting the Bible, I defend it. However, this is not the only thing that drives my faith. By the very definition of faith, that isn't it. I have always believed that the Bible is the Word of God, and that is my faith. The fact that I can not disprove it scientifically is just an indicator that I am correct in my hypothesis.

References:R. H. MOUNCE, Elwell's evangelical dictionary.
Patrick Zukeran, Authority of the Bible
Bible History Website http://www.bible-history.com/

Who Chose What Would be in the Old Testament Canon?

Introduction
Although there was no official person(s) who determined what was the canon and what was in the canon, believers have received their canon through tradition. In earlier times before the Reformation, people, for the most part, just accepted what the Church believed regarding the canon. This is different from believing that the Church determined what was in the canon. It is noteworthy to understand that without a canon, there is no standard, and thus no Bible.

In the following sections, I will either summarize or interact with D. Wayne Stiles, II, Th.M. On his essay "The Content and Extent of the Old Testament Canon". For a free copy of this essay, please go to http://www.bible.org/docs/theology/biblio/otcanon.htm

The Concept of the Old Testament Canon
According to Stiles, it was well recognized in the past, that there was a distinction between a standard of written text, and non-authoritative text. Deuteronomy 31:24-26 gives an example of authoritative text. Other believers would often refer to a standard, saying "as it is written", or "according to Scripture", or "it is written". Although, tradition doesn't prove something to be correct, it should not be discounted either. Except Ruth, Song of Songs and Esther, the canonicity has been attested by so many diverse beliefs [Semitic, Hellenistic, Pharisaic, Essene, Christian]. In short, the concept of a canon existed well before Christianity.

The Construct of the Old Testament Canon
Luke 11:51a KJV "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias,"; 2 Chronicles 24:21 gives the account of the stoning of Zechariah.
Often times, people disputed the canonicity of certain books. For many people, this would imply that the canon was still open. According to Stiles, this implies that they were widely considered canonical. People won't waste time disputing about uninspired texts.
The following paragraphs are quotes from J.P. Holding from www.tektonics.org/tekton_05_01_01.html
The idea of a "canon" did not originate with the Israelites. They had a model to go on, one which was in circulation in Egyptian and Mesopotamian society. Vasholz [Vash.OTOT, 3-4], using the example of the Poem of Erra and other documents from the 12th to 8th centuries BC, notes these four core (commonsense!) steps:

  • The deity speaks, and his words are recorded.
  • The material is faithfully transmitted.
  • Authenticity is establised by means of blessings for honor, and curses for dishonor, in transcription.
  • Materials are preserved in a sacred place.

These essential "canon concepts," then, were "there for the taking" at the time when the OT was being put together and involves no radical innovation or supposition of historical invention. The ancient "canonical" concept appears in its earliest form in the OT in Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 31:24-6, where emphasis is made upon preservation of material as a memorial and as a witness. This is the seed from which an OT canon, or set of established books, grew. [Comf.OrB, 53]
The next piece of data comes from Josephus' description of the Jewish holy books in Contra Apion 1.8, dated c. 93-95 AD. After clearly identifying the Pentateuch as the work of Moses [Rost.JOHC, 24; Leim.CHS, 32], Josephus writes: From the death of Moses until Artaxerxes...the prophets who followed after Moses recorded their deeds in thirteen books. The remaining four comprise hymns to God and rules of ethical conduct for men.
With that in mind, let us count together to reach a plausible assessment of Josephus' 22 books:

  • Genesis - 1
  • Exodus - 1
  • Leviticus - 1
  • Numbers - 1
  • Deuteronomy - 1 (the 5 books of Moses)
  • Joshua - 1
  • Judges and Ruth, folded together on one scroll as they were in Josephus' time - 1
  • 1 and 2 Samuel - also considered one book in Josephus' time - 1
  • 1 and 2 Kings - Ditto. - 1
  • 1 and 2 Chronicles - Ditto again. - 1
  • Jeremiah and Lamentations - also considered as one book at the time - 1
  • Isaiah - 1
  • Amos, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi, Jonah, Haggai, Habakkuk, Nahum, Micah, Hosea, Joel, Obadiah - all folded together, as noted above - 1
  • Daniel - 1
  • Ezekiel - 1
  • Ezra and Nehemiah, folded together - 1
  • Esther - 1
  • Job - 1 (the 13 prophetic books)
  • Proverbs - 1
  • Psalms - 1
  • Song of Songs - 1
  • And my personal OT fave, Ecclesiastes - 1. (the 4 instructional books)

The following paragraphs were summarized from "The Institution of The Christian Religion", by John Calvin. For a free copy of his writtings go to http://www.bible.org/docs/history/calvin/institut/httoc.htm

The Authority of Scripture
The Bible does not need human or Church authority to approve what is scripture. It is something that is recognized automatically. Calvin asks, "As to the question, How shall we be persuaded that it came from God without recurring to a decree of the Church? it is just the same as if it were asked, How shall we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Scripture bears upon the face of it as clear evidence of its truth, as white and black do of their colour, sweet and bitter of their taste."

Influencing Thoughts in the Bible
Moses claims to be from the tribe of Levi. Yet, he freely shares the details of Levi's sin in Gen. 49:5,6 which gives the entire tribe a bad name. A good name is important in any time period, yet this would have been more important that time period.

The following is from Eugene T.S. Wong. Yes, that's me!

A Philosophical Approach

When should we just accept what others tell us?
"You can't prove to a blind man, that light comes from the sun, despite all the science & technology that we have available." -- Eugene T.S. Wong
Many skeptics will challenge us to prove that the scriptures are from God. Proving it is pretty much impossible, let alone easy. Even if it were provable, what makes the skeptics think that they can see the proof? It is one thing to prove that light comes from the sun, and another to prove it to a blind man. We have all the scientific equipment that we need to confirm that sun gives light, yet the blind man will always be able to come up with challenges to us regarding our beliefs about light and the sun.
Likewise, it is the same with the Bible. Some people see that it is the truth, by accepting what they see in the Church, and thus accepting what the Church claims. This would be true for almost any organization that isn't spiritually related. Those who don't like what they see in the Church are less likely to accept the Bible.
This should really encourage us to take to heart Titus 2:10. "...that they may adorn the doctrine of God our saviour in all things". Let us, therefore, adorn sound doctrine.

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Topic 1: Bible History and Authority

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  • A quick note, if you never read the bible, and were interested in starting.

    Don't read it cover to cover (Genesis -> Revelations). At least not at first. You'll start up with the 'begats' (the LONG family lineages), and end up in the middle of Deuteronomy's long list of ancient laws. You'll get bored with it and drop it.
    The bible is an ancient text that requires patience and study to comprehend. I've always suggested starting at Matthew 5-7 [biblegateway.com] (sermon on the mount), my favorite passage, but most say start with the new testament, and work your way through the 4 gospels.

    Any other suggestions (or anyone that disagrees)?
    • I think that Genesis is very readable. It contains many of the stories that will be referenced later on. Also, there is more "plot" per page. Contrast this to say, Job, in which there is a story that you could summarize in a paragraph, but it goes on for 40 something (43? too lazy to look it up) chapters. I would probably say that starting with Genesis read until it gets boring, try to get to the 10 commandments (Exodus 20). Then proceed to the New Testament and do the same thing. If the Gospels seem to become too repetitive, skip to Acts.

      If you are only going to read a few chapters, then I agree that the semon on the mount is the place to start.

    • I agree, don't read the whole Bible end to end.

      But, I really enjoyed The Story [amazon.com] which is basically the Bible in condensed novel form. It was published by Tyndale, the same people who published The Book.

      I really enjoyed it, and for me it was great for giving me the "big picture". So if you do want to know what's in the Bible from end to end, I'd highly recommend that route.

  • What a way to start a bible study, eh? Recently, I have become quite curious about The Apocrypha [sacred-texts.com], and if the apocrypha is part of the bible or not.

    Some background. I have been protestant my whole life, and never had a bible with the apocrypha in it. It just seems to me that we have three major sects of Christianity: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. The last two use the apocrypha, and the first doesn't (or at least I have found none in the Protestant church that consider the apocrypha divinely inspired, thought there are varying degrees of "They are good books" mentality).

    This deserves a journal entry all its' own. Does the apocrypha have any divine authority? Is it biblical? How can we tell? I mean, it is a pretty important issue.
    • I think that would be a great topic for a journal entry. Reading some of the books in Apocrypha is very interesting.
      --
    • You can find it here [christtrek.org]

    • If you check out the history of the Baptists (a chart [geocities.com] of sect history) back to Montanists and Waldenses, there have been Baptists since before Protestants and the Reformation. So I'd ask that you include Baptist to the list of major sect groupings. And in modern America, the number of independent fundamentalist churches is growing while many of the protestant denominations are shrinking, so "Fundamentalist" might deserve a spot as well.

      But to the main point, the Apocrypha. Reading the apocryphals, for example Maccabees, you see that even the author does not claim inerrant inspiration:
      And if I have done well, and as is fitting the story, it is that which I desired: but if slenderly and meanly, it is that which I could attain unto.[2 Maccabees 15:38]
      And I Maccabees 9:27 and 14:41 both state that the prophets had ceased in Israel (after Malachi), so the author was not even claiming to be a prophet.

      Then there's the point that in Maccabees Antiochus Epiphanes dies three different ways in three different places. That certainly falls far short of the standard of inerrancy.

      And unlike all the OT books, there is no Hebrew original for the apocrypha. They are all in Greek (except one that's in Latin). Even the Catholics didn't include the apocrypha until Trent in the 1500s.
  • The cannon of the Old Testament is simple. The first five books cannonize themselves. They delineate the very essence of Judaism, and mention the status of themselves (the books).

    Jewish tradition speaks of cannonization as to the other 19 books. That was done by the Men of the Great Assembly, at the beginning of the Second Temple era (~350 BCE). They cannonized the 19, threw out some (Ecclesiasticus amongst them), and "closed" the Old Testament. Of the reasons, prophesy was leaving them, and only prophetic books were written.
    • The first five books cannonize themselves.

      And how exactly did they keep any transcribers from altering a letter, or even a word, or two?

      That is my main issue with the idea of these "unchangeable" texts, even if God DID originally dictate them, there has been no physical force keeping some corrupt hoodlum from changing things around a bit to suit the current political atmosphere.

      For ages the Bible existed as essential close source, there was nothing stopping the church from doing whatever they liked to it.

      Well nothing more stopping them then what was stopping them from rapping people, committing murder, being greedy, or committing horrific acts of torture.

      I mean crud, after all of that you expect me to believe that the church was above making at least a few alterations to a passage of The Bible here and there?
      • If you can believe that God spoke the words to the original authors, is it so hard to believe that he spoke to the translators and scribes and prevented them from altering the text?

        Apart from that, there were SEVERAL churches that were transcribing the ancient texts. Even if one had decided to edit the text to represent their own doctrine, their texts would not have matched those of the other churches, and they would have been rejected. Back then people actually reverenced the name of God. Whenever a scribe wrote God's name, he would write it one letter at a time, bathing between each letter, and using a new quill and ink resorvoir each time. If people had this much respect for God and His Word, I don't think there is anything that could motivate them to change it, they would be too afraid. And I'm pretty sure the first part they would have dropped if they were going to change it would be the part about not changing or adding to the Bible. I can't remember where that one is at off the top of my head.

        • Apart from that, there were SEVERAL churches that were transcribing the ancient texts. Even if one had decided to edit the text to represent their own doctrine, their texts would not have matched those of the other churches, and they would have been rejected.

          Actually, the "Dead Sea Scrolls" which are from various sects, does have differences. Also, the Q'uran, has its own version of Bible history. So, changes were made, and explanations given.

          What seems to be true though, is that noone changed the text of the Bible itelf (and got away with it).

          Whenever a scribe wrote God's name, he would write it one letter at a time, bathing between each letter, and using a new quill and ink resorvoir each time.

          Maybe in some truly exceptional cases, but I do not believe that was the norm. Do you have any idea how long that would take?

          And I'm pretty sure the first part they would have dropped if they were going to change it would be the part about not changing or adding to the Bible.

          Excellent point. Deuteronomy 13:1

        • Whenever a scribe wrote God's name, he would write it one letter at a time, bathing between each letter, and using a new quill and ink resorvoir each time. If people had this much respect for God and His Word, I don't think there is anything that could motivate them to change it, they would be too afraid.
          Where did you learn that?
          • My Bible History class in college. I can't remember the reference material she used, but that stuck with me. It's about the only thing I got from that class.
            • I've never heard of such things. I don't remember anything of the sort from my Bible college classes. I vaguely recall watching a documentary [after Bible college graduation] that explained that the scribe was not to loose focus when he was writing the name of God [or was it just the word, "God"?]. Even if a king were to enter the room, the scribe was supposed to ignore everything, and finish writing the name/word.

              Bathing each time, and using a new pen/quill/whatever each time, and using a new batch of ink each time, would not be very condusive to good scribing. Of all the legalistic things that I've heard about, none seem to resemble this. Therefore, I'd speculate that if somebody did do things as you suggest, then it would be a minority of scribes.

              One problem with your suggested method is that leaving the desk leaves room for things to happen.

              All the scribal techniques that I've learned about have been firmly grounded in practical ideas. I guess "practical" is subjective, but still.

              Perhaps what your class taught was that the scribe was to bathe each time before each session, or before each major section of text. There would be practical matters in doing that.
        • If you can believe that God spoke the words to the original authors, is it so hard to believe that he spoke to the translators and scribes and prevented them from altering the text?

          Not unless you apply it to every translation ever made. Some of them are no doubt divinely inspired--but of the several English translations avaliable today, there are simply too many inconsistencies to believe that they were all inspiried to mean the same thing.

          As a layman's example off the top of my head: A good friend of mine was born and raised Catholic. He recounted this weekend a pivotal moment in his "conversion" to agnosticisim, and it was almost certainly the translator adding in bias.

          He was referring to a section of the bible (don't know where exactly) that said, with only slight paraphrasing, "Don't do homosexual acts; God hates that."

          As I understand it, the quote in question is part of the OT, and while the first half's meaning is nearly lost in the inefficiency of the ancient language, the latter half was "that is an abomination." Y'know, like women going to temple while menstrating.

          His line of thought, again paraphrased: "Since they say God is supposed to be all-loving, and they also say that he can hate, they're hypocrites can I can't trust them."

          Note that this, really, only applies to the church attempting to deal with items that simply were not a concern at the time of the biblical revelations. "Homosexuality" was a deviant behavior, not a "lifestyle choice", and of course there were times to kill someone; if a nation became pacifictic, they wouldn't have survived.

          [Side note: I don't have any problem with people who are in a committed, loving lifelong relationship with someone of the same gender. Promiscuity is bad regardles of preference, and I find homosexuality personally distasteful, but I don't think God's damned it.]
          • God is all loving, but He is also Just. God allowed man to have a free will, and man chose
            to sin against God by disobeying his one commandment (not to eat of the tree). As a result of that, sin entered the world. Man was fallen. God then set up more rules. No one could
            keep the entire law, and God knew it. However, He didn't do this to be mean. He is Holy and set apart from sin! He wouldn't be God if He couldn't keep His word. The only way that man could again have fellowship with God is for propitation of sin. In the OT this meant a blood sacrifice (see for reference Leviticus, Deuteronmy, etc.) Eventually, God gave Christ as a one time propitation for sin. Christ is the only way for man to be reconciled back to God. Paul mentions that EVERYONE has sinned (Romans 3:23) and that EVERYONE deserves death (Romans 6:23). There is no way to "get to God" and experience eternal life but by grace through faith (Eph 2:8).

            Regarding Homosexuality:

            Please read Gen. 19 for a description of Lot and why God burned Sodom. Here are verses 4-7:

            [4] But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
            [5] And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
            [6] And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
            [7] And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

            Lot refers to homosexuality ("knowing them" in the Biblical sense is having sex) as "Wicked".

            Throughout scripture, Sodom and Gomorrha are referred to as bad examples and cursed.

            Example:
            2 Peter 2:

            [6] And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
            [7] And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
            [8] (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
            [9] The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
            [10] But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

            Jude 1:
            [4] For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this
            condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the
            only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
            [5] I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord,
            having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
            [6] And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath
            reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
            [7] Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves
            over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering
            the vengeance of eternal fire.
            [8] Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil
            of dignities.

            Perhaps one of the biggest chapter/verses against Homosexuality can be found in Romans Ch 1
            (emphasis added, Please read entire chapter for better context):

            [24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
            [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more
            than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
            [26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did
            change the natural use into that which is against nature:
            [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their
            lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in
            themselves that recompence of their error which was meet
            .
            [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a
            reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
            [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness,
            maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
            [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things,
            disobedient to parents,
            [31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable,
            unmerciful:
            [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of
            death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

            I think it is important to point out that Homosexuality is not necessarily any "worse" than
            other sins, because they all lead to death. Furthermore, God doesn't hate the sinner, he
            hates the sin. One other thing- God detests/hates the following sins specifically:

            Prov 6:
            [16] These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
            [17] A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
            [18] An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
            [19] A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

            Basically, all sin is "damned" because if you have sin and it isn't atoned for through the
            blood of Jesus Christ, one will experience eternal death and burn in the everlasting flames
            of hell.

            A little bit more about hell-
            Mark 9-
            [43] And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
            [44] Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
            [45] And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
            [46] Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
            [47] And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
            [48] Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

            Matt 25:41-
            [41] Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels
            • God is all loving, but He is also Just.

              Justice does not imply hatred of any kind, simply a keeping to the law. I can call a man wicked, vile, deserving of death, or evil, and I can shun him, harm him, or even kill him, without hating him or his actions.

              Translating "that is wrong" as "God hates that", when (AFAIK) such a translation was not used for the multitude of other sins that were also called abominations is a sign of mistranslation and bias.

              As for homosexuality....

              re Genesis 19 : Lot refers to homosexuality ("knowing them" in the Biblical sense is having sex) as "Wicked".

              Not necessarily. Lot calls their act wicked--lusting after the beautiful guests of a host and encricling the host's house is certainly a wicked thing, be it for hererosexual desire, fandom, or homosexual desire. (And the angels may have appeared to be women, as well--last I checked the bible was short on descriptions of most folk, especially two nameless angels.)

              re Jude 1

              Sodom and Gohmorra were indeed "sin cities" of their time, as bad as the worst excesses of decadence in Rome or in America.

              But the verses you quoted are not an obvious mislabeling of homosexuality. The "strange flesh" from 1:17 can mean beasts, same-gender trysts, or even trysts with people they hardly know, of either gender.

              re Romans 1

              The Romans, as the Greeks before them, worshipped decadent gods who's antics would shame even the most outlandish hollywood actors today. Trying to understand who "they" are referring to, the anitcs of the Roman pantheon seem a good fit, and a likely target for someone wishing to convert a populace.

              Basically, all sin is "damned" because if you have sin and it isn't atoned for through the
              blood of Jesus Christ, one will experience eternal death and burn in the everlasting flames
              of hell.


              I've always taken issue with the idea of Jesus Christ as a sacrafice that somehow "buys" us free of our sins in some grand game of lawyering. Such implies that there is a legal code that God must obey, one that is even more restrictive than those on Earth.

              I much prefer the concept that we all have sined, and that Christ, as God, can forgive sins because sins are crimes against God. And if Jesus Christ does not forgive you, you are then judged according to your sins and punished accordingly.
              • Justice does not imply hatred of any kind, simply a keeping to the law. I can call a man wicked, vile, deserving of death, or evil, and I can shun him, harm him, or even kill him, without hating him or his actions.

                Justice is keeping the law, but to say God does not hate would be incorrect. God hates sin, but it is a Holy hate and not like a human hate.. (see for ref. Prov 6:16)

                Not necessarily. Lot calls their act wicked--lusting after the beautiful guests of a host and encricling the host's house is certainly a wicked thing, be it for hererosexual desire, fandom, or homosexual desire. (And the angels may have appeared to be women, as well--last I checked the bible was short on descriptions of most folk, especially two nameless angels.)

                Gen 19: 5 says-
                [5] And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

                Look at the pronouns.. I think it is pretty clear here that they were "men". By the way, I've never heard of an angel in the Bible being a woman. I was just wondering if you could give me a reference for that.

                The Romans, as the Greeks before them, worshipped decadent gods who's antics would shame even the most outlandish hollywood actors today. Trying to understand who "they" are referring to, the anitcs of the Roman pantheon seem a good fit, and a likely target for someone wishing to convert a populace.

                While what you say about the Romans may be true, I am sticking to my guns on the verses speaking out against homosexuality. I'll quote them again:

                [26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
                [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

                I think the scripture speaks for itself. There is nothing hard to understand about these verses, they are just hard to believe from a human perspective, especially in this day and age.
                • I think the scripture speaks for itself. There is nothing hard to understand about these verses, they are just hard to believe from a human perspective, especially in this day and age.

                  Neither verse is crystal clear--which, no doubt, is a limitation of aramaic and not God's mind. Each one is open to a bit of interpretation, and your conclusion rests on extant knowledge about the sin.

                  I'll respond in more detail later (after work), but I will say one thing now: Even if Paul is talking about exactly what you think he's talking about, these verses don't mark the act as sin. Something undesirable, yes; something that a priest wouldn't do, certainly--but not necessarilly sin in the way that murder or adultury are sins.

                  Jesus was irate that the disciples were too weak to stay up praying all night, which may mean that it was sin--but that doesn't make sleep a sin that must be repented to avert eternal damnation.
      • And how exactly did they keep any transcribers from altering a letter, or even a word, or two?

        According to Jewish tradition, Moses wrote 13 scrolls before he died. One for each tribe, besides the one that stayed with the (first) Ark of the Convenant. From there, the scroll is transcribed from scroll to scroll. And Jewish law forbids doing it by heart.

        Currently, all Jewish Bible scrolls, have only one diffirence. There is a difference in tradition whether a certain letter (at the end of a three-letter word) is an aleph or a heh. Though the word does not change in meaning. Considering the Bible was given ~3314.5 years ago, and there is only a one letter difference amongst *all* traditions. I'd say that alone is a testament to its accuracy.

        That is my main issue with the idea of these "unchangeable" texts, even if God DID originally dictate them, there has been no physical force keeping some corrupt hoodlum from changing things around a bit to suit the current political atmosphere.

        Judaism keeps the bible alive. Through the many scrolls, through the thousands of references in the Talmud, Mishnah, Midrash, Sifri, Sifra, etc..., no change could ever be made without causing issues. Jews also read from the Bible (at least) three times a week, going through the Bible once a year. Many in the Synagogue follow it and correct even the slightest mistake by the reader. There is *no* way anyone could ever have slipped in a change.

        For ages the Bible existed as essential close source, there was nothing stopping the church from doing whatever they liked to it.

        The Bible was around for over a thousand years before ther church came to be. The Septuagint also had nothing to do with the Church. The Church had little to no power to keep the Bible away from anyone. And if they did in their own closed environment, anyone can find their mistakes by amtching it to the Masoratic text.

        after all of that you expect me to believe that the church was above making at least a few alterations to a passage of The Bible here and there?

        There is no way they could have. The Bible was around well before the Church was.
  • The reason that I recommend the beginning-to-end approach, is because it is so easy to miss out on the details. In the "boring" Jewish laws, there are a lot of principles on how people behave and think, as well as how God behaves and thinks. In Job, there is a lot of mention about behemoths, and leviathons. Are these dinosaurs? I recommend that we study it and find out.

    The best way is to speed read and skim through, one book at a time, and then after each book, interact with a friend or a teacher who would know a lot about it. They don't have to give you a lot of details, but just enough to get you started on your own.

    The problem with just starting in the New Testament, is that people always preach and talk about the New Testament, but rarely ever preach and teach on the Old Testament.
    • Here is some stuff that I've been learning on the behemoth mentioned in Job (Ch 40:15).

      [15] Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
      [16] Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
      [17] He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
      [18] His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
      [19] He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.
      [20] Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
      [21] He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.
      [22] The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.
      [23] Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.
      [24] He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

      Behemoth actually means "many beasts". The interesting thing is that it is used in the singular here. Behemoth is also referred to as the "chief of the ways of God" (in verse 19). If you consider that and compare that with other scripture, I believe that "Behemoth" is a reference to Lucifer. After all, Lucifer used to be God's #1 angel until the fall. Compare that scripture with Rev 13: 1-4

      [1] And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
      [2] And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
      [3] And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
      [4] And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

      Kind of interesting- the description of the beast seems to correlate with what a "behemoth" is. In Job 40:19 it also seems that only God himself can destroy the beast ("he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him."). In Revalation 19 we also find that Christ coming is what takes out the beast once and for all.
      • Here is some stuff that I've been learning on the behemoth mentioned in Job (Ch 40:15).
        How did you learn it?
        • AT the Church I go to (Victory Baptist). We have pretty "meaty" services...

          • AT the Church I go to (Victory Baptist). We have pretty "meaty" services...
            And how did they learn it? What kinds of analysis went into it? What kinds of educational background did the person have?

            Judging by the context of Job, I'd have a difficult time believing that God all of a sudden was talking about Satan.
            • OK- this time I'm going to use notepad to keep my response. Unfortunately, I had something typed up that I completely lost. So here's the notepad version.

              First, I'm not into Blind Faith. I prefer to do studying on my own, which I have done on this topic. I didn't elaborate much in my earlier
              post, so I'll do so in this one. At any rate, I'm not sure exactly what my pastors credentials are but I think he is a good teacher.

              Anyway. In Job ch. 40, I believe Behemoth is linked to Leviathan in the next chapter. As you will see, Leviathan is a reference to Satan. Similar to Lucifer before the fall, perhaps God was speaking of him in Job 40 as the "chief of the ways of God" and in Ch. 41, he is typelogically referring to him after the fall (as in the case of Leviathan). Here is an interesting verse on Lucifer before the fall (Tyrus being the type):

              Ezekiel 28:

              [12] Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
              [13] Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
              [14] Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
              [15] Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
              [16] By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
              [17] Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

              In the following chapter of Job (41), Leviathan is the next verse.

              Job.41
              [1] Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

              Doing some cross referencing on Leviathan brings us to Psalm 74-

              [14] Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people
              inhabiting the wilderness.

              It talks about leviathan having many heads (just as the dragon in Rev. has, and beast, and behemoth if you accept the literal interpretation of it meaning "many beasts"). Furthermore, Lucifer is also referred to as a cherub in v 14. Do a study on Cherubs in the Bible and you
              come accross some wierd stuff:

              Ezek10 talks about them:
              [14] And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

              Please read the context around this, it's pretty cool.

              Anyway, lets compare scripture with scripture some more and we come accross leviathan again in Isa.27 -
              [1] In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

              Well that's enough for now.. Let me know if you want to continue a study on this. I think this would be cool. I agree that there isn't enough old testament teaching.
              • I do want to continue studying this. I realize that there isn't enough studying of symbolism. As a result it is subjective or worse.

                The thing that concerns me about your interpretation is that it seems that you are using the other passages to interpret the use of it in Job. In Job it looks like it could literally refer to a normal animal. I don't understand why God must/should/might use a word in the exact same manner in every context. Even the word, "serpent", shouldn't always be perceived in a negative light, all the time. Wouldn't you agree?

                If you are busy, we could make this an seperate topic for later weeks, if you would like. There is no real urgency to tackle everything now. It's up to you.

                As for the contexts, I'll look into them in a day or 2, but for the most part, even the immediate verses seem to be very clear on their own. They don't seem to be necessary for the scope of our discussion. In other words, your interpretation of the other verses outside of Job seem to be correct.
                • Even the word, "serpent", shouldn't always be perceived in a negative light, all the time. Wouldn't you agree?

                  I agree that not every word in the Bible is always a symbol or type. You always have to consider proper hermeneutics when looking at scripture, such as "the rule of first mention". Of course there are many other rules as well.

                  Anyway, in the case of a serpent (btw, first mention is in Gen 3), I can't really think of any place in scripture where a serpent isn't in a negative light (I could be wrong). I think a serpent is always a type of Sin. Even Jesus Christ became sin for us in that he died on a tree (Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Gal 3:13). Here is an old testament type of that: If you remember back in Numbers 21-

                  [6] And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
                  [7] Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
                  [8] And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
                  [9] And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

                  And of course in the NT, we find a "mirror image" of this in that Christ became sin for us on a "pole" (the cross) and whoever believeth on Him shall have eternal life.
                  • Anyway, in the case of a serpent (btw, first mention is in Gen 3), I can't really think of any place in scripture where a serpent isn't in a negative light (I could be wrong).
                    I still don't understand how you get to your conclusion. Isaiah 65:25 says, "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.". I have a difficult time imagining that sin or Satan should make it into this wonderful kingdom. Each of these animals are normal animals, and I think that this a literal prophesy of a literal animals. If you wish to comment on it, then please try to provide a train of thought. It seems to me that you are just making observations of other passages and letting them interpret the immediate context, that may not call for outside influences in the interpretation.

                    I truly believe that you would be wise to stop this discussion here and continue it as a new journal entry. You obviously believe this quite strongly, and it would be easier for everybody to sift through the information if it were kept well organized. All discussion here should try to focus on what the Bible is.
                    • I agree with you that it is a literal prophesy of literal animals-- I'm not saying that there AREN'T such things as behomeths and serpents. I was just saying that prophetically, these animals are a type of lucifer/satan. I also agree that serpant isn't always a type of Satan (such as when moses is casting down his rod, etc.).

                      Regarding Isaiah 65, that's a good verse too. As far as imagining that sin or Satan would make it into the physical Kingdom of the Jews during the millenial reign of Christ, don't forget he is loosed for a little bit after the 1000 years (Rev 20:3).

                      Anyway.. I agree that we should do another journal entry on that and stop here. Good idea.. :) This is the type of discussion that might not interest too many people though, so maybe we should just do it over email.
    • I would recommend that you read this paper [answersingenesis.org].

      It's an in-depth journal originally printed in Creation Magazine. The paper compares several modern and ancient translations of the pertinent text and examines them in light of current scientific knowledge.

  • If you want to read the whole Bible, I would highly recommend getting a "One Year" Bible. The one I have has a chapter or 2 of the Old Testament, a chapter or 2 of the New, part of a psalm and a verse from Proverbs. It provides some variety and structure, plus a goal for how much to read in a day.

    S.V.
  • I have often asked how I can be a man of science, knowing the Scientific Method so intimately, and still believe in God.

    According to this [answersingenesis.org]:

    Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England, is usually considered to be the man primarily responsible for the formulation and establishment of the so-called "scientific method" in science, stressing experimentation and induction from data rather than philosophical deduction in the tradition of Aristotle.

    ...
    Sir Francis was a devout believer in the Bible. He wrote: "There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power."
    Christians have thought that God could be understood in greater depth by examining His Creation. That was the primary motivation of science from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
    • I think it is interesting how we tend to dichotomize science and religion. The culture today has tried to divide science from religion and thus make religion out to be someone private beliefs and or opinions, thus having no equal weight with philisophical sciences such as evolution.

      However, there is much faith that is required to believe evolution and it is NOT an investigative or repeatable science. Creation has more evidence- simply look around (as you mentioned earlier). How could a rock evolve into a man-- ie, how do you go from inorganic to organic? That is a huge step. How does a fish evolve lungs and start breathing? How do you get something from nothing? There is more than one missing link, and it's not a monkey. The mere conjecture of some of this "science" is laughable, and certainly not provable. Yet, this thought system has infiltrated and become a state approved "science" that must be taught in schools. It amazes me that we as Christians have sat by idle and let it happen.

      The key issue with non-investigative scientific philosophies is that it eliminates God. Without God, what reason does man have to exist? There is no after life, no reason to have morals/standards/etc. The key question is "how did man get here", and the philosophical scientist will answer evolution, and not God.
      • The culture today has tried to divide science from religion and thus make religion out to be someone private beliefs and or opinions...

        Part of the problem is that Christians have a dangerous habit of not making a distinction between biblical truth and the views of the pope/denomination/local church. This often causes embarrassment for the Church. Worse, it gives the impression that the Bible has been undermined when in reality, it is only a group of people's extra-biblical (and dearly beloved) traditional notion about the nature of things that has been undermined.

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