Inerrancy? Pt. 3
In answer to a visitors question, ‘Could you give us an example of what you consider to be an error in the Bible?’.
(This list was compiled from scratch tonight, so it’s not meant to be complete of course)
- There are scientific errors.
a) An example: Leviticus 11:6 and Deuteronomy 14:7 both describe the hare as a ruminant. However, as Law rightly states: ‘This is quite simply wrong and no exegetical ingenuity can make it right’
b) Biblical cosmology asserts a flat earth, something Creationists will do their best to ignore. While your in Genesis, compare the creation accounts in Gen 1 and 2 and think about the order of creation, i.e. when humans came along in relation to the rest of creation.
- There are genealogical list errors.
a) Even many conservative scholars would admit this even in relation to Matt 1:1-17. Btw, in 1:17, it states: ‘from Abraham to David fourteen generations, and from David to the Babylonian exile fourteen generations, and from the Babylonian exile to the Christ fourteen generations.’ Sit yourself down and actually count how many generations there are listed in the preceding verses and see if the editor/author was any good at maths.
- There are copyist errors. Hundreds of them. And the copyists and editors saw fit to change bits of the text here and their to suit their own agendas. To be contemporary in my comments: Ehrman has a good point, but it is a) not entirely original and b) no reason for turning from the faith – only one sickened by a false understanding of what the bible is. I will look at the old ‘escape clause’, that of the purity of ‘original manuscripts’, later.
- There are historical errors. Just a few random examples:
a) How did Judas die? Compare, closely, the accounts in Matthew 27:3-8 and Acts 1:18-19. The differences are certainly not the result of a mere copyist error.
b) Did Paul’s companions hear the voice during the Damascus road experience? Acts 9:7 ‘The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one’. Acts 22:9 ‘Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me’.
c) What colour robe was Jesus forced to wear? Compare Matt 27:28-29 with John 19:2-3.
d) How many Syrians did David slay? Compare 2 Sam 10:18 and 1 Chron 19:18.
e) For more, do a bible study on these questions like: Who is the father of Joseph? Who was at the Empty Tomb? How many times did the ‘cock crow’ (Peter’s denial of Jesus)? Etc.
- There are factual errors
a) One example: Matt 27:9-10 cites a passage that the author/editor claims to have come from Jeremiah. But where did it really come from? Zech 11:12-13.
- It’s writers often supported theological errors, and the biblical tradition later corrects and contradicts itself. It makes theological statements that are such that one or other is true, not both. Many tend to call this phenomenon a ‘tension’. But aren’t many simply contradictions, thus making the contrary theological assertion an error? This is the essence of ‘sublation’ I mentioned first here.
a) The righteous will get along dandy thanks (Proverbs), or perhaps in real life things are not so simple (Ecclesiastes). Cf. Childs OT work on this.
b) Will all be saved in the end?
c) Will God punish the children for the father sin or not?
d) Can God be seen? Yes or no?
e) Does God change? Do a bible study.
f) Matthew 5:19 ‘Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’ But isn’t this exactly what the early church went on to do?
‘But, Chris’, some may respond, ‘these are hardly serious errors to significantly challenge our understanding of what is necessary for salvation’! I agree. But the doctrine of inerrancy is making a claim that the investigation of smaller details can either falsify or verify. In this case, inerrancy is soundly falsified.
To perhaps surprise some of you, I still want to say that the Bible is ‘the Word of God’, and inspired – with qualification. But how can such a claim be made if one accepts errors and contradictions in the bible? And what about the ‘escape clause’ that though there may be errors in our bible, the original manuscripts were free of them? To such questions I will turn to in the last couple of posts in this series. Plus I want to address some of the criticism my posts have received from other bloggers.