I admit it. The last post was repeated from 2012 — and it was not all that controversial at the time even though it offers an interpretation of Genesis 1 that is far from the usual approach.
It simply interprets Genesis 1 for what it is — inspired, beautiful Ancient Near East literature, speaking truth in its own terms. The lesson isn’t about the literal creation of the world. Rather, Walton makes clear that such literature sought to speak of purpose and function, not time order or the like. Continue reading
Lately, I’ve seen several Bible scholars refer to the fact that the Creation is pictured as God’s Temple in Genesis 1 — which is hardly obvious to modern readers.
I thought I’d go looking to see what the scholars are referring to. And I eventually found Genesis 1 as Temple Text in the Context of Ancient Cosmology, by John H. Walton, an expert in the literature of the Ancient Near East.
The cosmos is portrayed in the ancient world and in the Bible as a temple, and temples are designed to be micro-models of the cosmos. Temples are built in the ancient world for the gods to rest in, which does not refer to relaxing, but to enjoying and maintaining security and order. With the mention of God’s rest on day seven, we can see that Genesis 1 is also thinking about the cosmos as a temple. God is creating his dwelling place, putting people into it as his images (representatives), and taking up his place at the helm to maintain the order he has established.
Imagine a pagan temple of the Ancient Near East. It would be a microcosm of the entire cosmos as viewed by that pagan religion. God’s temple is the entirety of the cosmos!
Finally, it’s time to chomp the bit and actually study the Bible’s famous chapter on the creation — Psalm 104 …
Oh, you thought we’d be talking about that other famous creation passage. Well, we’ll get to Job 9 later.
Actually, the creation story (a true story, mind you) is told many times in the scriptures. And I happen to like the way David tells it in Psalm 104. So that’s where we start. Continue reading
A lot of really bad teaching fills the Christianity and Science space — on both sides. On the Christian side, most of the bad teaching comes from ignoring the Bible’s teaching about science.
For example, the scriptures plainly teach us that God reveals himself through his creation.
(Act 14:17 ESV) 17 “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
Inerrancy: An Essay
[This is a really long post. I’d normally post this about 1,000 to 1,500 words at a time, and it would take six or so posts spread over two or three weeks to do so. But, of course, that means there’d be a lot of conversation about inerrancy without the benefit of all the material I wish to bring to the readers’ attention. Therefore, I’m posting this in full, all 9,000 words at once.]
Over the years that I’ve posted at this blog I’ve often begun work on a post on the inerrancy question, but I’ve never found a way to express my thoughts properly in a single post and never had the will to write a series — because, until now, the only reason I’ve ever studied inerrancy is because of the false accusation so frequently made that my views are built on denying inerrancy. Continue reading
I’ve been reading evolutionist and creationist materials since junior high school. Back then, people had very strong opinions, of course, but it was considered a difficult, unsettled question. No one damned anyone else over their opinion about how old the earth might be.
Batsell Barrett Baxter, the head of Lipscomb’s Bible department and the face of “The Herald of Truth” TV program sponsored by countless Churches of Christ, argued for an ancient earth in his book I Believe Because… A Study of the Evidence Supporting Christian Faith. And the book was well received in the Churches of Christ. My Bible class at church studied it in high school. Continue reading
There are lots of books available on textual criticism, many extremely technical.
My favorite is Neil R. Lightfoot’s How We Got the Bible. My copy bears a 1962 copyright date, and it was a textbook in a Bible class at my church when I was a teenager. It was part of the old The Living Word Bible class series from Sweet.
Fortunately, it’s not just still in print, it’s been updated as of 2003. Readable, expanded to 225 pages. You should own this book. Continue reading
The manuscript history of the Old Testament is quite different from the New Testament. The Jews considered it disrespectful to the scriptures to keep an old, tattered copy around. And so they buried their old scrolls when a new scroll was acquired. As a result, until the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts available dated only to the Ninth Century, with the oldest complete Old Testament dated to the Tenth Century. Continue reading
Modern translations exclude or place in brackets the last few verses of Mark 16, at the end of Mark’s Gospel. This leaves the Gospel with an abrupt ending, leaving many to question the translators’ decisions.
In my view, the arguments for the ending of Mark to be authentic are much weaker than for the authenticity of the women taken in adultery.
The NET Bible translators explain (and I again add paragraphing to make reading easier),
The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (א B 304 sys sams armmss Eus Eusmss Hiermss), including two of the most respected MSS (א B). Continue reading
Back in the 1970s, many Christians were shocked when they bought one of the modern translations just released to find that the translations omitted the account of the woman taken in adultery and a large portion of the last chapter of Mark.
Many a preacher cried “liberalism!” and all sorts of other accusations were made, but the translators probably made the correct decision.
Regarding the woman taken in adultery, the NET Bible translators explain (I add paragraphing to facilitate reading on the Internet),
This entire section, Joh 7:53-8:11, traditionally known as the pericope adulterae, is not contained in the earliest and best MSS and was almost certainly not an original part of the Gospel of John. Among modern commentators and textual critics, it is a foregone conclusion that the section is not original but represents a later addition to the text of the Gospel. Continue reading