Is the Bible perfect?
Does Christianity depend upon the belief that the bible is perfect (without errors)? I don't think so. "Christian" generally means an imitator of Christ, more in the sense of his actions, not beliefs. As a good Jew he had an unshakable faith in the Old Testament. But a Christians book is the New Testament which didn't exist in Jesus' time. Jesus emphasized loving God and loving people. Neither depends on adherence to a specific set of doctrines or scriptures. Loving comes from the heart, not the head. It's a simple message that doesn't even need the bible. Anyway, believing in the basics of a story, and believing in every single detail of a story is two different things. I believe in love and compassion, not spiritual myths composed by fallible men.
If the god of the bible exists I think he'd be displeased that so many people practically worship the book. Jesus had said "If I be lifted up, then I will draw all men unto me ". He didn't say "I will draw all men unto a book about me". He told the Jews "Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And you will not come to me, that you might have life." (John 5:39). Do you see that sarcasm about their excessive attachment to the scriptures, thinking the scriptures will impart eternal life? Paul the apostle wrote that the scriptures (holy writings) were just "inspired by God" (2Tim 3:16), not perfect. A careful inspection of the bible will reveal that it is very obviously not perfect. But some would go to great lengths to try to prove that it is.From wikipedia.com about the first 5 books of the bible, the Torah: “Contemporary secular biblical scholars date the completion of the Torah, as well as the prophets and the historical books, no earlier than the Persian period (539 to 334 BCE).” John Joseph Collins, "The Bible After Babel", (2005)
In other words the "books of Moses" weren't written by Moses, who lived around 1400 BC, but most likely by Jewish priests while in captivity in Babylon. "The Bible After Babel" also discusses how the stories of Exodus and Numbers don't fit in with what has been revealed about the area by archeology. According to Prof. Ze'ev Herzog, Director of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University "This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel.... The many Egyptian documents that we have make no mention of the Israelites' presence in Egypt and are also silent about the events of the exodus. mideastfacts.org - Deconstructing the walls of Jericho
ALL THE BIBLE IS "THE WORD OF GOD"?
I've heard it said that the bible has to be infallible (without error) because it is the word of God. They say that is so because in 2 Timothy 3:16 it says "All scripture is given by inspiration of God". I disagree because although I may be inspired by God to make a new type of bicycle, that doesn't mean that it won't have any problems until I get all the bugs out. Besides, the bible as a complete compendium of approved scriptures did not come into existence until almost 400 AD*. So when the bible talks about the "word of God" it isn't talking about itself. It is talking about the living words of God that prophets and apostles received from God. The bible contains these words amongst many of the words of the authors. "Word" in the New Testament was either the "logos" (organizing principle of the universe, also a reference to Jesus) or "rhema" (spoken word). They used these words to denote such, and "scripture" to denote the holy writings. If all the bible is the word of God, as fundamentalists assert, then how can the quote in Job 2:9 "Curse God and die" be from the lips of God? It can't. The bible contains the words of God. It isn't completely the word of God. Look at this example: 1 Kings 12:22 "But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying...". See how the bible denotes which words are actual quotes of God? So don't listen to the ignorant or fanatical preachers telling you otherwise.
*A list of approved scriptures by Athanasius in 367 A.D. was confirmed by a Roman church council in 382 A.D. and by a church council in Carthage in 397 A.D. This list included the catholic Apocrypha of the Old Testament which Protestants now reject. By prohibiting and burning all non-approved scriptures, the Catholic Church eventually gave the impression that this bible with its four canonized gospels represented the only original Christian view. And yet, as late as 450 A.D., Theodore of Cyrrhus said that there were at least 200 different gospels circulating in his own diocese. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia now admits that the "idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning... has no foundation in history."List of Bible Errors
Gen 32:30 states, "...for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." However, John 1:18 states, "No man has seen God at any time..." Both statements cannot be true. Either there is an error of fact, or an error of translation. In either case, there is an error. And if there is an error, then the idea of bible infallibility (in this case the King James Version) is discountable.
Here are some errors of translation:
In Genesis 2:17 God told Adam and Eve, concerning the tree of life, that "in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die", but they didn’t. This is a good example of an error of translation. In the original Hebrew language it was saying that in their lifespan, starting at the time of eating the forbidden fruit, they would be gradually dying. Scientifically that is what is happening to everyone now. Our body cells are preprogrammed to only be able to reproduce themselves so many times. Old age is just a heavy accumulation of dead cells that impede the normal functioning of all bodily functions. When the ratio of dead cells to live ones is too much then death occurs. So by being evicted from the garden they were distanced from the fruit of the tree of life that would of kept their cells from dying. Correctly translated there is no error in this bible passage. But all the current bible translations contain this error.
The bible, in Genesis 3:20, says "And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living" although her son Cain moved away from her family, married a foreign woman in a foreign land, and founded a city for the local people. How can Eve be the first woman if there were other women in a foreign land that weren't her children? Genesis was very specific about the sequence of who was born to Eve, and so there's no room for the convenient belief that she had other children not mentioned that moved away to that foreign land. Actually a better translation would of read "she was the mother of living beings (her children)" not "mother of all living". "Eve" means "life" or "living".
Here are some bible discrepancies and errors:
2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 have the same story of David’s counting the fighting men of Israel and Judah but with different numerical results (1.3 million and 110 thousand) and one story says that the Lord moved him to do it, and the other story says that Satan provoked him to do it. Both stories can't be accurate.
The 4 gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) have many discrepancies, especially concerning the account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Many are contradictory, such as what was supposedly written and put on the cross above the head of Jesus. (This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews, The King Of The Jews, This Is The King Of The Jews, Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews).
Another discrepancy: In Matt 26:34 "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny me three times." But in Mark 14:30 "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, you shall deny me three times."
Matthew (in 21:2-11) said that Jesus made his final entry into Jerusalem on both a donkey (ass) and a young donkey (colt). He mistakenly read Zechariah 9:9 as saying such, whereas John (in 12:14-15) read the scripture correctly (riding on a single colt) as making a poetic restatement of the fact. (Zech 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.") Restating the donkey as being a colt of a donkey was just clarifying that the donkey was young.
In Matthew 27:5 Judas, after betraying Jesus, "went and hanged himself." but in Acts 1:18 Judas "purchased a field... and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out."
It is said in the first three (Synoptic) gospels that Jesus taught for one year before he died, while in "John" the number is three years. "Matthew" relates that Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount"before "the multitudes," while "Luke" says it was a private talk given only to the disciples. The accounts of his Passion and Resurrection differ utterly from each other in each gospel. Matthew's genealogy of Jesus is different and irreconcilable with Luke's (in 3:23-38). These are only a sampling of the many discrepancies between the four gospels.
If the bible is perfect then why these discrepancies? They don't change the main message of Christianity but they do inform us that the bible was a composition of many stories passed from person to person for many generations before being written down. And that's where the errors came in. Humans make mistakes in everything they do.
THE VIRGIN BIRTH?
The gospel writer, Matthew, overextended himself trying to show that Jesus fulfilled a multitude of old prophecies. He even tried to make Jesus competitive with the fabled Greek "son-of-god" Heracles, the son of Zeus (the chief god) and the human virgin Alemene. Matthew quoted the prophet Isaiah (chapter 7) who had prophesied that Syria and Israel wouldn't succeed in invading Judah. The sign of their upcoming failure would be a child named Immanuel which means "God with us", as opposed to God being with the attackers. (see 8:10 "it shall not stand: for God is with us.") All this would occur in Isaiah's time*, centuries before the time of Jesus. Isaiah wrote that the boy would be born of a "young woman". That word can also be translated "virgin" because back then, amongst the Jews, most young women were virgins. But Matthew used "virgin" and said that Jesus fulfilled that prophecy, therefore making him a "son of god" in the Greek sense. Anyway, Matthew totally pulled this verse out of context and said it was applicable to Jesus, which it wasn't.
Only the gospels of Matthew and Luke asserted that Jesus was born of a virgin (though neither was acquainted with Joseph and Mary at the time of Jesus' birth). But all the writings of Paul never mentioned such an important fact. Also, none of the other New Testament writers asserted that, including Jesus' own brother James. You would think that such an astounding and important story would be in each of their writings. But it wasn't. Actually, the gospels of Matthew and Luke were composed around 90 A.D., whereas Paul and the other apostles writings were made in the first few decades after Jesus' death, around 50 A.D. which would precede the two gospels accounting of the virgin birth. How can it be that Paul and the other apostles didn't know about this amazing part of Jesus' life? If they did, they surely would of wrote about it because that happening alone would of verified that Jesus was the offspring of God. But instead, they asserted that Jesus was of God because in the beginning he had emanated from God as "the beginning of the creation of God" (Rev 3:14). He had pre-existed (Phil 2:6-8) before coming to Earth and had served God the Father as the creator of all that is physical (Col 1:16). He didn't come into existence as the son of the Father when he was born of Mary. He had already been the son of the Father for millions, possibly billions, of years already. This "bible error" allowed the Catholic organization to say that Mary was the Mother of god, and the Queen of heaven. It was the Catholics, at the church council of Nicaea (325 A.D.), that came up with the "Nicene creed" which was a statement of basic "orthodox" Christian beliefs, one of them being the belief that Jesus was born of a virgin. Whatever the Catholics approve of definitely needs to be reviewed and studied without any presupposed ideas.
The Hebrew Old Testament in Isaiah 7:14 used the word "almah" meaning "young woman" or "virgin" instead of "bethuwlah" which exclusively means "virgin". Matthew used the Greek version which used "parthenos" meaning "virgin". Later Greek translations (after the 1st century) corrected the error and used the word "neanis" meaning "young girl".
Jesus referred to himself as a "Son of Man" (Luke 19:10). How could he do that without an earthly father? He couldn't. He'd have to say he was a "Son of Woman" or "Son of God". Jesus never said he was born of a virgin. Jesus almost exclusively called himself the "Son of Man" (a phrase found 81 times in the gospels) which would necessitate that he had an earthly father. In the Old Testament this phrase was used to humble the person it identified, signifying the person was "just human". It was mostly used by God to address a prophet. So Jesus used this phrase to identify himself as an earthly prophet, born of man.
How could Jesus be the Son of David (Matt 1:1, 2Tim 2:8) if he didn't have an earthly father in the lineage of David? He couldn't, despite the bible apologists saying that Mary was probably in David's lineage which would place Jesus in the same lineage (although not really because lineage is reckoned thru the males). In Romans 9:4-5 it is said that Jesus was of the Israelites as concerning the flesh. Galatians 3:16 says Jesus was the seed (offspring) of Abraham. Lineage comes through the father, in this case Joseph who was descended from David.
Jesus couldn't of been the son of the Holy Spirit as Matthew asserted in 1:18 because in Luke we find Jesus saying "my Father" eight times. He was always referring to God as the Father, not the Holy Spirit.
It's so weird to even think of the "Holy" Spirit becoming naked male flesh to "overshadow" Mary (Lk 1:35) and impregnate her with divine sperm. The absolute absurdity of it all! "Overshadowing" is what men do to women when they have sex in the most common position. Some people say that it wasn't a physical act but an act of divine creation. If that was so then why did Luke use the word "overshadow"? And why couldn't the Holy Spirit just say a creative word from up in heaven? No, Matthew and Luke were talking of a scenario very similar to what happened in Greek myths of gods physically mating with women.
Jesus would of had to be named Immanuel in order to fulfill this prophecy. He wasn't. But that extremely important point isn't important to fundamentalists. They never let the facts get in the way of their beliefs. Jesus' original name in Greek was Iesous and in Hebrew was Yehowshuwa (Joshua or Jehoshua) which means "Jehovah is salvation". Immanuel, in contrast, means "God with us".
2 scripture writers believed Jesus was born of
a virgin: Matthew, Luke.
Historically there did exist Christian groups that believed Jesus was birthed of a normal father and mother. The Ebionites were one of those early Christian congregations that stuck to the truth.
Liberal bible scholars take the view that the virgin birth of Jesus was pure mythology based on other pagan religions of the time. In Greek mythology Zeus supposedly impregnated the virgin Danae by taking the form of a shower of gold, and the result was Perseus. He did the same with the virgin Semele using a bolt of lightning, and the result was Dionysius. Horus, a major god of the Egyptian religion, was born of the virgin Isis and coincidentally was also supposedly born in a stable. Mithra, the main god in Mithraism, which was a major religion of Rome, was conceived when god in the form of light entered a virgin. Myrrha was a virgin who gave birth to Adonis in Phoenician mythology. As you can see, the concept of a virgin birth was not new and its mythology permeated throughout cultures at the time.
I believe Jesus' "virgin
birth" is one of the
Christian "fables" that Paul the apostle was warning the Christians to
be wary of;