Friday, August 12, 2011

So much for Inerrancy

One of the constant themes I hear from anti-science folks is the inerrancy of the Bible. Not only is it the 'Word of God' but the word has been unchanged since . . . well some say 6,000 years, others are more honest and claim the beginning of the Universe, you know Young Earth Creationists and Old Earth Creationists.

When you dare to question this inerrancy one of the things mentioned in its defense is the Hebrew tradition of copying the Torah. Here, Wikipedia said it better:

"They are written using a painstakingly careful methodology by highly qualified scribes. This has resulted in modern copies of the text that are unchanged from millennia-old copies. It is believed that every word, or marking, has divine meaning, and that not one part may be inadvertently changed lest it lead to error. The fidelity of the Hebrew text of the Tanakh, and the Torah in particular, is considered paramount, down to the last letter: translations or transcriptions are frowned upon for formal service use, and transcribing is done with painstaking care. An error of a single letter, ornamentation, or symbol of the 304,805 stylized letters which make up the Hebrew Torah text renders a Torah scroll unfit for use, hence a special skill is required and a scroll takes considerable time to write and check."
I have heard of this tradition many times. However . . . the Associated Press (AP) today "In Jerusalem, scholars trace Bible's evolution" explains that the Hebrew tradition isn't nearly as precise as folks would like to believe. Over the past 53 years a group has been studying the Hebrew Bible, also know as the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, and they've discovered that is has changed and we aren't talking about just a word or two. A couple of the more interesting changes show that the Book of Jeremiah is longer today and a 'prophecy' was added after the events actually happened.

Interesting article! I have said it many times since joining this political and cultural debate. The Bible may be a good book, it may even be a great book, but it certainly is not the only book! It's been written, re-written, translated, re-translated by men over the centuries. What is considered canon was decided in the First Council of Nicea (325), and has been changed in the many Ecumenical Councils since then, like the Council of Trent (1546) (Development of the Christian biblical canon). The most popular English version of the Bible was re-written in part by the direction of King James (Authorized King James Version).

Biblical inerrancy is a fun myth, but it's only a myth! Sorry to burst anyone's bubble -- but then having discussed this with a number of folks, I doubt I am going to make any believers change their mind, but with any luck a couple my just engage the brain a little bit.

1 comment:

  1. Overall, I would think that the Old Testament is much better preserved than the New. I might be wrong, but I suspect that whatever changes exist in the OT of today's Judeo-Christian Bible are almost entirely made by Christians, not the Jews. After all, the Jews aren't really all that interested in "proving" their beliefs to non-Jewish people. And I do not believe they have the desire to "update" their sacred writings in order to appeal to today's mores and attitudes.

    Christians have a long history of adapting Hebrew scripture to accommodate their need for "fulfilled prophecy" and also their need for God to be righteous and loving, not the temperamental, arbitrary and often genocidal tribal deity of the ancient Hebrews. And even when they don't change the wording outright, they deliberately misinterpret in order to justify their claims.

    "For if the truth of God hath more abounded by my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also adjudged a sinner?" – St. Paul, Romans 3:7