Note: The below screed is a lengthy dialogue between Bob Hurt and Stephen Poe. Bob is a Jesusonian who believes in evolution and creation, believes the Bible is only partly true, and believes Jesus presented the only valid gospel. Steven believes the Bible is the infallible Word of God, believes its creation story, denounces evolution (in a lengthy document he¡¯ll gladly send you), and believes the atonement doctrine propounded by Paul (that Jesus died on the cross as a human blood sacrifice to atone for sin).
This is a long read, so bring a pot of coffee.
[Bob says:] Stephen:
Here is a day-long response to your comments deriding my acknowledgment of evolution and it¡¯s fitting within the scope of creation, and your assertion that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.
I am basing all of my arguments about the Bible on the contents of the Bible itself, although I acknowledge the time-saving proofs in The Age of Reason. In reality, I need only the Bible to prove my assertions, and I use that exclusively because that is the only source credible to you. However, I don¡¯t mind telling you that other revelatory material of impeccable credentials is known to me - it corroborates my position, and we can discuss it at a later time if you wish.
I am also explaining to you precisely why and how the gospel according to Jesus takes precedence over all other Bible doctrines, particularly and specifically including those of Saul of Tarsus, known as Paul, the founder of the Christian religion ABOUT Jesus, which I often refer to as the ¡°Cult of Paul¡±.
In so doing, I present the gospel of, by, and according to Jesus, so you will know what it really is. I contrast it with Paul¡¯s false gospel as a way of demonstrating that, since both are documented in the Bible as though they are both true, the Bible does in fact contain and promote falsehoods as well as truth. And I attempt to motivate you to embrace the gospel according to Jesus.
I encourage you to respond with refutations, rebuttals, and so on.
Steven says: Copied below was my last response -- then I didn't hear from you again.
Here it is again -- Please accept "Christ" as your "Saviour" -- before it
is too late!
[Bob says:] I did read your lengthy exposition denouncing evolution and attempting to prove the Bible is the infallible word of God. Thanks for sending it.
I have already accepted Christ as my savior. What makes you think otherwise?
Regarding salvation, consider these disparate views:
A. You think he saves by virtue of our believing his crucifixion was a human blood sacrifice for our sins, the most preposterously irrational view about religion I can imagine, aside from worshiping volcanoes.
B. I believe he saves by virtue of his presentation of the gospel which prescribes salvation through the faith-embrace of one¡¯s Sonship with God.
If you accept A, then you are saved, but not for the reason you think. If you accept B, then you are saved for the right reason.
Unfortunately, accepting A and rejecting B means you do not believe the teachings of Jesus, whom you see as ¡°Lord.¡± Why you would not believe your Lord and Saviour is beyond me.
Here¡¯s another thing that does not make sense about A: by failing in your evangelizing efforts to focus on the gospel Jesus taught, you are also failing to obey the Great Commission, through which Jesus ordered his apostles, and by extension all of his followers, to spread his gospel to everyone in the world. Since A above is not his gospel, and since B is, you are actually confusing people when you proselytize them with the lie of A. In fact, many people utterly reject Christianity because its fundamental premise about salvation is so insulting to their intelligence and to God, and because its motivation is not love and the desire to be like God, but fear of burning in hell. People focused on A are thereby focusing on fear, sin nature, guilt, regret, self-loathing, and similar negative ways of viewing people.
People who focus on the real gospel (B) are naturally inclined to pursue the Father¡¯s will because they know that in doing so, they become more like him, not only in personality, but also in personal power. They know the meaning of ¡°by their fruits shall you know them.¡± They know that sincere faith in the effectiveness of the supreme human desire to be like God, to do his will, causes them to ACT in such a way as to express the good, true, beautiful, and loving nature of God to others around them. Their lives bear the fruit of such sincerity, such fruit as giving unselfish, loving service to their fellows.
I encourage you to switch from A to B.
Steven Says: Hi Bob,
I find it amazing how many so-called intelligent men can be so willingly
blind to the truth and the evidence around them.
[Bob says:] I was thinking the same thing about you. I¡¯d love to read your explanation.
Steven Says: I have presented scientific ¡°Proof¡± in my paper that Macro-Evolution is
IMPOSSIBLE. Variation within a species has never been contested by the
Creation model -- in fact it supports it.
[Bob says:] You did not present proof. You presented a host of specious arguments and logical fallacies based on bad science.
For example, you indicated Einstein believed in the Creation by God. Here¡¯s what the genius actually said:
"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." - Albert Einstein in Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas (Einstein's secretary) and Banesh Hoffman, and published by Princeton University Press.
You said the carbon dating methods are useless. In reality they are inaccurate, but they are not useless. Even if they are off as much as 50%, they still disprove the creation theory¡¯s assertion that the heavens and earth were created in 5 days. Furthermore, fossils exist in places that must be millions of years old because there is no possibility for sediment layers above them to have been produced in less time.
Also, you neglected the main proof of the age of the universe, and that is the speed of light and spectral lines indicating the movement of stellar masses. Red shift always means increasing distance, demonstrating the universe is expanding. From science we know how far the moon, planets, and sun are from us. We know that light travels at 186,271 miles per second (proven by highly accurate laser-based distance measurement devices), and we therefore know that light is reaching us from stellar objects that are many millions of light years distant. That is proof that they have been in existence for millions, billions, and perhaps trillions of years. And that is also proof that the Bible¡¯s creation story contains errors regarding time.
Furthermore, it is impossible for anyone to know precisely the timing or manner of creation because nobody but Jesus has ever lived on this world who would know that information first-hand (and as we know, Jesus did not reveal any such info that was passed on to us in writing).
The main problem with your arguments is that they ignore the consideration that creation and evolution work hand-in-hand.
There is absolutely no question that low-ordered animals evolved from plants, and higher ordered animals evolved from lower-ordered creatures. You have failed to prove otherwise, and I shall now express evidence to support evolution.
The evidence of evolution is everywhere around us, particularly within species. You offered as ¡°proof¡± the notion that no one has ever seen one species evolve from a completely different species. Science has proven that the DNA differences between humans and apes are so minuscule as to be virtually negligible. And yet the actual physical and mental differences are enormous, though not as enormous as the differences between a human and a fish. The fact that no human was present at the birth of one species from another is not proof that it did not happen. However, the fact that creatures do procreate others of their kind, as well as others who are markedly different, and that differences occur suddenly in one generation, is proof that new, different creatures are procreated. Therefore, procreation with gene modification is the method by which evolution occurs, and sudden difference is the character of evolution.
Here¡¯s a proof that might shock you. A cancer tumor is an alien creature of evolution, the body¡¯s effort to create a life form that can survive in the hostile environment provided by, for, and in the human host. Quite often, cutting into the tumor will reveal hair, teeth, and/or fingernails. You might not have witnessed that, but it does happen. That is evolution in action. A cancer victim is creating an alien, Frankenstein monster within and by means of his cancer tumor. It is good luck for humanity that such tumors kill the host before they can develop a mechanism to live without a host. Otherwise, politically correct liberals would be insisting that cancer tumors have the right to life.
Further proof is in the cloning and genetic mutations that are engineered by scientists. Not only can scientists use life plasm to clone life forms through implantations, but also they can modify genetic coding so as to effect changes in the procreated life forms. Scientists have long been doing this to create hybrid species of plants, and now they are able to do it in microbes and animals.
This also happens in nature, sometimes with horrifying results that prove the case. You have seen pictures of grossly deformed human beings, who don¡¯t even look like humans ¨C Siamese twins, people born with missing or excess appendages and organs, people exceedingly intelligent or stupid born from normal parents. These are all evolution in action.
You have seen mongoloid idiots born to seemingly normal parents. Maybe you weren¡¯t there at the moment of birth, but you know they exist, and you know who their parents were. Such idiots are so unintelligent that they cannot care for themselves. In wild nature, they would quickly be killed off in their struggle to survive and compete for food. That is the only reason you do not see an area of the world populated with tribes of such creatures. They have no ability to know God, and so are only humanoid, as are apes, and they are not really human. Therefore, you can hardly call them members of the human species. That also is evolution in action.
Steven Says: You have presented NO evidence to support your ¡°belief¡± that
Macro-evolution fits like a glove with the Creation Model of the Bible.
You simply ¡°choose¡± to believe this by ¡°faith¡±.
[Bob says:] See my simple evidence above, just the beginning, if you want to get into a contest over this absurd question.
As for the creation model of the Bible, the Bible itself is not proof of anything other than the fact that somebody knew how to spin a good yarn, and that ancient historians tried to write down what happened. You have not produced any evidence that everything in the Bible should be considered or is the word of God. You have not proven that the Bible had any origin other than human, that anyone other than humans chose what works to canonize, or that the content of the Bible has not been considerably edited by transcribers and copiers.
My point was that we see evolution in action every day, so it needs no further proof. We do not see the instant of natural creation of new species because we are simply not there to witness it, but the fact that like produces like and that different species exist, very strongly indicates that new species are the result of genetic anomalies in the act of procreation by existing old species. We can therefore postulate evolution as the cause of all new species, going all the way back to the original life form on this world. We cannot rightly conjecture that the original life form on this world evolved from a rock, for we are not even sure what life is, and yet we know it is not in a rock. Therefore, we postulate that it was created elsewhere and brought to this planet. We can conjecture all the way back to the original life form from which all others were made or evolved.
I have no choice but to conclude that originator of life was God himself. To me it is axiomatic that the creature cannot have characteristics other than those embodied within and endowed by the creator. Thus, a drop of sea water contains characteristics inherited from the sea. And persons, who are aware that they are aware, can make moral decisions, can know God, can communicate ideas knowingly with other persons, and can love, have characteristics inherited from the creator. Since the original creator must be a person (or at least be pre-personal with the ability to create persons), I concede that the first source and center is a very personal God. I therefore disagree with Einstein, who for some mysterious reason did not believe in personal God.
Steven Says: I have presented the testimony of a REAL ¡°Expert¡± in LEGAL EVIDENCE as
proof that the existing evidence supports the fact that Jesus Christ not
only lived, but actually rose from the dead.
[Bob says:] Personally, I believe Jesus lived and his personality was resurrected.
However, there is no proof that Jesus¡¯ body rose from the dead. First of all, I have already impeached the integrity and accuracy of the Bible and shown it has faulty credentials, and I shall treat it further below. Secondly, the Bible itself only alleges Jesus rose from the dead. Nobody was in the tomb to witness it. Eye-witnesses said they only saw the burial cloths and that the body was missing.
In fact, it is unlikely that the original body of Jesus was brought back to life the way Lazarus¡¯ was. It is more likely that it was instantly disintegrated in the manner of the disappearance of Elijah¡¯s body, and then a series of new bodies (less physical, more spiritual) were fabricated for Jesus. Those were what his followers saw in the resurrection appearances. In one appearance, Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds. In another he told his apostles not to touch him. In his successive appearances, therefore, his semi-material body was ¡°evolving¡± or being replaced with successively less-material bodies.
Steven Says: You have presented a writer of an old book, (The Age of Reason), who
spouts his beliefs and opinions. How can you choose to believe a simple
writer over a REAL EXPERT of LEGAL EVIDENCE who was a critic before he
examined the EVIDENCE?
[Bob says:] I have pointed you to Thomas Paine¡¯s 1795 volumes The Age of Reason. That it is old is irrelevant, for the Bible also is old. One main difference is that Paine¡¯s book has not been edited to change its original meaning, whereas books in the Bible have been. And Paine¡¯s books are as relevant today as they were 210 years ago and would have been 1900 years ago.
Arguments in The Age of Reason prove that the Bible contains numerous contradictions and inconsistencies with historical fact. It proves thereby that the Bible¡¯s credentials are false. It did this using the Bible¡¯s own testimony. And since the credentials are false, the fallibility of the Bible is proven, and the veracity of the Bible is suspect, for much of its credibility comes from the fact that the first 5 books allegedly authored by Moses.
Apparently, you have chosen not to read Paine¡¯s book because it ¡°pains¡± you ¨C it does not support your unsupportable view that the Bible is the infallible word of God. If you did read it, tell me what you think of the proofs offered. I¡¯d love to read your refutations.
Remember that the whole Bible is merely a collection of books in which one book can contain more errors, contradictions, omissions, and irrelevances than another. Most likely, the most accurate and intact books of the Bible are the various epistles. However, they are also most likely to be shot through with erroneous personal opinions. The stories about Jesus have obviously been altered to remove inconsistencies and to harmonize the accounts. That much is obvious to the most casual reader. For example, Matthew and Mark repeat almost verbatim the parables about the Kingdom, but one refers to it as the Kingdom of God, whereas the other refers to it as the Kingdom of Heaven.
Maybe your legal expert should stick to law, and not assert that his opinions on the Bible should be believed on account of his legal expertise. Sure, there were many prophecies in the Bible that came somewhat true. So what? That does not mean it is all true, does it?
Steven Says: I have pointed out that many Great Minds of the past believed in the
Creation by an intelligent designer and rejected the claims of
¡°Molecules-To-Man¡± evolution. (Men like Albert Einstein and Isaac
Newton). These men spent their lives studying nature, and they have
proven to be among the VERY BEST MINDS in the history of man.
[Bob says:] It does not matter what great minds have thought. It is not proof. It is merely interesting.
I have pointed out that I believe in intelligent design and creation, and that evolution is a method that was designed into the genetic construction of all living organisms. I did not suggest that man evolved from rocks or molecules. Maybe you should more carefully read what I write. Look, I am writing this right now:
God¡¯s agents planted single-cell plant life on this world, and supervised its evolution till humans appeared.
You have presented no evidence that this is not so. We know that Bible scholars would have us to believe the heavens and earth were created in 5 earth days, or maybe in 5000 years. We also know that is false.
Steven Says: You have presented ¡°Your Belief¡± that they are wrong and that evolution
fits like a glove with creation. Unfortunately I do not consider your
mind to be among the great minds of man, even though you may think
[Bob says:] Really? Why not? I guess you don¡¯t know me very well. I am a genius. Mine is one of the great minds of man. But that is not the issue, is it? By drawing attention to my mind, you are circumventing the issue at hand, which is proof or refutation of the theories of evolution and creation. Such a circumvention is a logical fallacy and it serves only to draw attention to your paucity of ethics in presenting valid arguments.
Steven Says: I have presented evidence that the Bible is divine in origin. Such as the
¡°Detailed¡± prophecies that could not have been known to any man without
divine inspiration, and a variety of scientific information in the Bible
that no man of that age could possibly have known ¨C things that we have
only discovered in recent years.
You presented the argument that this ¡°Evidence¡± is irrelevant, but
without any reasoning as to WHY this EVIDENCE should be ignored.
I have presented the Bible to you as the infallible Word of God. This is
what I base my Salvation on.
[Bob says:] It is your choice to believe a work is entirely true even though it contains proven falsehoods. I don¡¯t recommend that, and please, let¡¯s not stoop to calling such a work the infallible word of God. I have said that the Bible contains hundreds of inconsistencies and contradictions of fact. I have actually proven its credentials are false, using the Bible itself as my witness (note the presentation in Paine¡¯s The Age of Reason). Obviously, since the credentials are false and it contains many errors, it is not and cannot be the infallible word of God you wish it were.
The facts about the Bible are:
1. The Bible is a collection of wise sayings, secular history, interesting and sometimes irrelevant literature, religious history, prophecy, record of divine revelation, and letters of past evangelists.
2. The Bible contains errors, falsehoods, and outright lies, and is missing a number of salient records that should have been included.
3. That some parts of the Bible is true does not prove it is all true.
4. Some of the prophecies about Jesus were inaccurate, and that is why the Jews thought the Messiah or the Christ would be an earthly king. It is also why Jesus had such a hard time convincing his family and his apostles that his mission was spiritual, not physical.
The only reason you feel it necessary to believe the whole Bible is the infallible word of God is that you need it to be true in order to support your erroneous religious beliefs ¨C that the atonement doctrine inscribed by Paul is equivalent or superior to the gospel according to Jesus. That is because you are, effectively, a member of the Cult of Paul (as are most Christians), and not a follower of Jesus himself. Because of the teachings that were pounded into you since childhood, and because of other social pressures, you prefer to believe the false prophet Paul¡¯s phony religious philosophy ABOUT Jesus, rather than the religion OF Jesus. If you badger your discussion opponents into accepting the infallibility of the Bible, then you can badger them into accepting Paul¡¯s false religious beliefs as being the salient truths of the New Testament. Otherwise, what difference does it make whether the whole Bible is true?
This does not mean everything in the Bible is false, for it is obvious that the Bible does contain much truth. It is not necessary to believe the whole Bible is true in order to pick out and embrace the truths it contains.
If you choose to base your salvation on the errors that are in the Bible, you are making a wrong choice. You can¡¯t blame this on me, though, because I have tried to lead you into the light of the gospel Jesus taught, so you can see how it is vastly different from the atonement religio-babble of Paul, and so you can embrace the gospel of Jesus instead of Paul¡¯s kooky nonsense.
I¡¯m still waiting for you to explain to me your rationale for ignoring the gospel of Jesus in favor of Paul¡¯s pagan plan of salvation. Since you say you believe the Bible, I don¡¯t understand why you don¡¯t give Jesus and his teachings top billing. Will you explain that please?
Steven Says: You have presented the Bible as a book that has been changed over time.
So I see NO divine source for you to stand on if you can pick and choose
from it what you WANT to believe. The Age of Reason is NOT a divine
source, even though you may give it equal or even superior credibility to
[Bob says:] You are making no sense, Steven. Let¡¯s look at the issue rationally.
1. The Age of Reason does not have to be a divine source in order for it to be true. Paine attacks the assertion that the Bible is the infallible word of God by proving it cannot possibly have been authored or approved in its present form by God, for God is perfect, and the Bible contains self-contradicting errors. Just two examples Paine mentioned are the facts that: a) the names of places in the Pentateuch were not in existence till after those books were written, and B) Moses described his funeral before he died. Therefore the first five books could not be the original version, and the author could not have been Moses, even though those books are attributed to his authorship. Note that people are supposed to believe them because Moses was a holy man of God who would never lie. But now we know that Moses could not have authored those books. So now we have no motive to believe the credentials of the anonymous author who obviously edited work that might have been originated by Moses.
2. Of course the Bible has changed over time. Are you disputing this? Have you heard of the Septuagint and Pseudepigrapha? Your King James ¡°Authorized¡± version of the Bible does not contain the Pseudepigrapha, and there are numerous other differences between the Tanakh, the KJV, and the original ¡°Bible.¡± Just in recent history of the past 1900 years the Bible has changed considerably. Imagine, now, how much it changed before the Septuagint was canonized. During the period of Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC Jewish scholars massively overhauled and edited the text we now consider to be the Pentateuch, the kings, and the prophets up to that time. And, consider how much has been changed since the time of Jesus. The four gospels are only a few of those purported to be genuine gospels. Here is some encyclopedic reference material for you to chew on. It proves the Bible has changed a lot.
(Columbia University Press Encyclopedia)Septuagint (sĕp'ty¨±əjĭnt) [Lat.,=70], oldest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made by Hellenistic Jews, possibly from Alexandria, c.250 B.C. Legend, according to the fictional letter of Aristeas, records that it was done in 72 days by 72 translators for Ptolemy Philadelphus, which accounts for the name. The Greek form was later improved and altered to include the books of the Apocrypha and some of the pseudepigrapha. It was the version used by Hellenistic Jews and the Greek-speaking Christians, including St. Paul; it is still used in the Greek Church. The Septuagint is of importance to critics because it is translated from texts now lost. No copy of the original translation exists; textual difficulties abound. The symbol for the Septuagint is LXX..
The Septuagint (LXX) is the name commonly given in the West to the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) produced in the third century BC. The Septuagint Bible includes additional books beyond those used in today's Jewish Tanakh. The additional books were composed in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, but in most cases, only the Greek version has survived to the present. It is the oldest and most important complete translation of the Hebrew Bible made by the Jews. Some targums translating or paraphrasing the Bible into Aramaic were also made around the same time.
Naming and designation
The Septuagint derives its name (derived from Latin septuaginta, 70, hence the abbreviation LXX) from a legendary account in the Letter of Aristeas of how seventy-two Jewish scholars (six scribes from each of the twelve tribes) were asked by the Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the 3rd century BC to translate the Torah for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria. In a later version of that legend narrated by Philo of Alexandria, although the translators were kept in separate chambers, they all produced identical versions of the text in seventy-two days. Although this story is widely viewed as implausible today, it underlines the fact that some ancient Jews wished to present the translation as authoritative. A version of this legend is found in the Talmud, which identifies 15 specific unusual translations made by the scholars. Only 2 of these translations are found in the extant LXX.
The names "Septuagint" and "LXX" are of later Latin origin and are not used in Greek; the usual Greek name for the translation is "kata tous ebdomekonta" (according to the seventy).
Dating and critical scholarship
Modern scholarship holds that the LXX was translated and composed over the course of the 3rd through 1st centuries BC(E), beginning with the Torah.
The oldest witnesses to the LXX include 2nd century BC fragments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Rahlfs nos. 801, 819, and 957), and 1st century BC fragments of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Minor Prophets (Rahlfs nos. 802, 803, 805, 848, 942, and 943). Relatively complete manuscripts of the LXX include the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus of the 4th century AD/CE and the Codex Alexandrinus of the 5th century. These are indeed the oldest surviving nearly-complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in any language; the oldest extant complete Hebrew texts date from around 1000.
Some scholars, comparing existing copies of the Septuagint, Masoretic text, the Samaritan text, and the Dead Sea scrolls, suggest that the Septuagint was not translated directly from what is today the Masoretic Text, but rather from an earlier Hebrew text that is now lost. However, other scholars suggest that the Septuagint itself changed for various reasons, including scribal errors, efforts at exegesis, and attempts to support theological positions, a charge that could equally be made against the Masoretic text. Accordingly, the Septuagint went through a number of revisions and recensions, the most famous of which include those by Aquila (AD 128), a student of Rabbi Akiva; and Origen (235), a Christian theologian in Alexandria.
These issues notwithstanding, the text of the LXX is usually very close to that of the Masoretic. For example, Genesis 4:1-6 is identical in both LXX and Masoretic texts. Likewise, Genesis 4:8 to the end of the chapter is the same. There is only one substantial difference in that chapter, at 4:7, to wit:
Genesis 4:7, LXX (Brenton)
Genesis 4:7, Masoretic (KJV)
Hast thou not sinned if thou hast brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it? Be still, to thee shall be his submission, and thou shalt rule over him.
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
Use of the Septuagint
Jewish attitudes toward translations of their scriptures developed with time. By the 2nd century BC, it was often necessary for the readings in the synagogues to be interpreted from Hebrew into Aramaic, producing the need for the targumim, though one Talmud writer forbids their use except for with foreigners. A later Talmudic injunction by Rabbi Simon ben Gamaliel said that Greek was the only language into which the Torah could be accurately translated. The Septuagint found widespread use in the Hellenistic world, even in Jerusalem, which had become a rather cosmopolitan city. Both Philo and Josephus show the influence of the Septuagint in their citations of scripture, though both modified passages that did not agree with the Hebrew text.
Several factors finally led Jews to abandon the LXX, including the fact that Greek scribes were not subject to the same rigid rules imposed on Hebrew scribes; that Christians favoured the LXX; and the gradual decline of the Greek language among Jews after most of them fled from the Greek-speaking Roman Empire into the Aramaic-speaking Persian Empire when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Instead, Hebrew/Aramaic manuscripts compiled by the Masoretes, or authoritative Aramaic translations such as that of Onkelos, of Rabbi Yonasan ben Uziel, and Targum Yerushalmi, were preferred.
The Early Christian Church, however, continued to use the LXX, since most of its earliest members were Greek-speaking and because the Messianic passages most clearly pointed to Jesus as the Christ in the Septuagint translation. When Jerome started preparation of the Vulgate translation of the Bible into Latin, he started with the Septuagint, checking it against the Hebrew Masoretic Text for accuracy, but ended up translating most of the Old Testament afresh from the Hebrew. (Jerome based his Psalms off of the Septuagint, however.) However, all the other early Christian translations of the Old Testament were done from the Septuagint with no regard to the Hebrew text, which few of the translators understood.
The writers of the New Testament, also written in Greek, quoted from the Septuagint frequently, though not exclusively, when relating prophesies and history from the Old Testament. Even when Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian and other translations appeared, the Septuagint continued to be used by the Greek-speaking portion of the Christian Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use LXX as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages, and the Greek Orthodox Church (which has no need for translation) continues to use it in its liturgy even today. Many modern Catholic translations of the Bible, while using the Masoretic text as their basis, employ the Septuagint to decide between different possible translations of the Hebrew text whenever the latter is unclear, corrupt, or ambiguous.
Language of the Septuagint
The Greek of the Septuagint shows many Semiticisms, or idioms and phrases based on Hebrew, and the grammatical phenomenon known as attraction is common there. Some parts of it have been described as "Hebrew in Greek words". However, other sections show an ignorance of Hebrew idiom, so that the literal translation provided makes little sense. The translation in the Pentateuch is very close to the Hebrew, while some other books, such as the book of Daniel show influence from the midrash. Ecclesiastes is near over-literal, while Isaiah is fairly loosely translated. This is cited as near-certain evidence that the translation was in fact made by several different translators.
The translators usually, but not always, employed one and the same Greek word for one Hebrew word whenever it occurs. Thus the Septuagint can be called a mostly concordant translation. However, like in most translations of any literary work, often more than one Hebrew word gets translated into one and the same Greek word, removing some nuances from the text.
Books of the Septuagint
The vast majority of the Septuagint coincides with the Jewish Tanakh, although the order does not always coincide with the modern ordering of the books, which was settled some time before AD 200.
A few books are differently named. Thus the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings stand under the name of the four Books of Kingdoms (¦¢¦Á¦Ò¦É¦Ë¦Å¦Éῶ¦Í), and the Books of Chronicles are called Paraleipomenon (¦°¦Á¦Ñ¦Á¦Ë¦Å¦É¦Ð¦Ï¦Ìέ¦Í¦Ø¦Í¡ªthings left out).
More significant are the books that do not occur in the Tanakh. These are generally accepted by the Orthodox as scripture, though 4 Maccabees is very often relegated to an appendix. Since there are various editions of the Septuagint, however, there are slightly different canons in the various Orthodox jurisdictions. Catholics accept seven of these books, and the additions to Daniel and Esther. Protestants generally regard them as apocryphal. The "neutral" name for these additions, and the name favored by Catholics, Orthodox, and most modern researchers, is deuterocanonical books. (See Books of the Bible for a comparison of canons.)
The additional books in most editions of the Septuagint are 1 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah (considered by Catholics as part of Baruch), additions to Daniel (Prayer of Azariah, Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, and Odes (including the Prayer of Manasseh).
¡¤ The Septuagint Online (http://students.cua.edu/16kalvesmaki/lxx/)
¡¤ The Septuagint LXX: Greek and English by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton (http://www.ccel.org/Bible/brenton/)
The Septuagint in classical Greek as a MS Word document
Project to produce an Orthodox Study Bible whose Old Testament is based entirely on the Septuagint.
A defense of the quoting of the LXX by the writers of the New Testament.
¡¤ Septuagint references in NT (http://www.scripturecatholic.com/septuagint.html) by John Salza
(Columbia University Press Encyclopedia) Pseudepigrapha (s¨±'dĭpĭ'grəfə) [Gr.,=things falsely ascribed], a collection of early Jewish and some Jewish-Christian writings composed between c.200 B.C. and c.A.D. 200, not found in the Bible or rabbinic writings.
Apocalypses are well represented in the Pseudepigrapha; those of the early Judaic period may date from the 3d cent. B.C. The Testament, the genre of the farewell discourse, is also frequently encountered in the Pseudepigrapha. Prayers and hymns are found both independently (e.g. Psalms of Solomon, Odes of Solomon, Prayer of Manasseh), as well as incorporated into other genres. Most of the works are anonymous; only the apocalypses are strictly speaking Pseudepigrapha.
The Pseudepigrapha have been transmitted in Western, Eastern, Ethiopian, and Egyptian Coptic churches and are often extant only in the languages of those churches, i.e., Latin, Greek, Syriac, Georgian, Armenian, Coptic, and Ethiopic, though originally composed in Hebrew or Aramaic. Evidence of Christian interpolation and addition exists in some of these books. Some fragments of books included in the Pseudepigrapha have also been discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
A large proportion of the Pseudepigrapha can be explained by reference to early Judaism's persistent readiness to interpret and expand biblical traditions, reapplying them to new situations and problems. Virtually all the theological themes of the Pseudepigrapha can be located in the Hebrew Scriptures. Thus, the 2d cent. B.C. Jubilees is basically a retelling of Genesis and the Moses narratives of Exodus, with various added details not found in the Bible. One such example of expansion is the novellike Joseph and Asenath, in which speculation concerning the marriage of Joseph to Asenath reaches expression. Another example is the farewell exhortations by each of the twelve sons of Jacob to their families, which expand upon the Blessings of Jacob in the Book of Genesis. And finally, the Life of Adam and Eve (1st cent. A.D.) expands the concise narratives provided in the Bible, though the work stresses the guilt of Eve while asserting the comparative innocence of Adam. This predilection for applying and expanding scripture manifests in early Judaism that adaptability which is the hallmark of a living religion. In this regard the New Testament shares the same attitude as the Hebrew Bible, the writers taking biblical traditions, exegeting them, and reapplying them in light of their experience of Jesus.
Future expectation plays a lesser role in the Pseudepigrapha than might be expected; although the apocalypses are interested in the future's determination, they more often stress the faithful standing strong while awaiting God's triumph. Messianic expectation is ambiguous; there is no agreed agenda and no universal expectation of a Messiah. Nevertheless, the expectation of two Messiahs¡ªone of Aaron, who takes precedence, and one of David¡ªare noted in the Pseudepigrapha. Psalms of Solomon 17 is one of the clearest statements before the life of Jesus concerning the coming Messiah. In the apocalyptic literature, as in the New Testament, the premise is that God will intervene on the behalf of his beleaguered people, translating them to God's place after destroying their enemies. The doctrine of rewards and punishments in the afterlife is axiomatic for the apocalypses. The earlier Pseudepigrapha can be examined for anticipations of the New Testament coordinates shaping eschatological life. The collective Pseudepigraphic works remain substantively informative regarding the theologies, tendencies, and conditions of those that lived in the ancient Judaic and early Christian eras.
See studies by G. W. E. Nickelsburg (1981), M. McNamara (1983), G. W. E. Nickelsburg and M. E. Stone, ed. (1983), H. F. D. Sparks, ed. (1983), J. H. Charlesworth, ed. (2 vol., 1983, 1985), and D. S. Russell (1987). See also bibliography under Apocrypha.
Origin of the canonical Gospels
Main discussion: Synoptic problem.
Among the canonical Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke include many of the same passages in the life of Jesus and sometimes use identical or very similar wording. (The non-canonical Gospel of Peter reports much of the same material, however, and the Gospel of Thomas reports many of the same sayings of Jesus.) John, on the other hand, though it was eventually accepted into the canon, expresses itself in a different style and relates the same incidents in a different way¡ª even in a revised narrative order¡ª and is often full of more encompassing theological and philosophical messages. It is John that explicitly introduces Jesus as God incarnate.
The parallels among the first three Gospels are so telling that many scholars have investigated the relationship between them. In order to study them more closely, German scholar JJ Griesbach (1776) arranged the first three gospels in a three-column table called a synopsis. As a result, the Matthew, Mark, and Luke have come to be known as the synoptic Gospels, and the question of the reason for this similarity, and the relationship between these Gospels more generally, is known as the synoptic problem.
Many solutions to the synoptic problem have been proposed, but the dominant view is that Mark is the first Gospel, with Matthew and Luke borrowing passages both from that Gospel and from another, lost source, known as Q. This view is known as the "Two Source" hypothesis. The "Four Source" hypothesis includes two other sources M and L.
Another theory which addresses the synoptic problem is the Farrer hypothesis. This theory maintains Markan priority (that Mark was written first) and dispenses with the need for a theoretical document Q. What Austin Farrer has argued is that Luke used Matthew as a source as well as Mark, explaining the similarities between them without having to refer to a hypothetical document.
Estimates for the dates when the gospels were written vary significantly, and the evidence for any of the dates is scanty. Conservative scholars tend to date earlier than others. The following are mostly the date ranges given by the late Raymond E. Brown, in his book An Introduction to the New Testament, as representing the general scholarly consensus in 1996:
¡¤ Matthew: c. 70¨C100 as the majority view, with conservative scholars arguing for a pre-70 date, particularly if they do not accept Mark as the first gospel written.
¡¤ Mark: c. 68¨C73
¡¤ Luke: c. 80¨C100, with most arguing for somewhere around 85
¡¤ John: c. 90¨C110. Brown does not give a consensus view for John, but these are dates as propounded by C K Barrett, among others. The majority view is that it was written in stages, so there was no one date of composition.
The general consensus among biblical scholars is that all four canonical Gospels were originally written in Greek, the lingua franca of the Roman Orient. It has been suggested that Matthew may have originally been written in Aramaic, and was known to Church fathers as the Gospel of the Hebrews, or that it was translated from Aramaic to Greek with corrections based on Mark. Regardless, no Aramaic original texts of the Gospels has ever been found, only translations from the Greek (see Peshitta).
Main article: New Testament apocrypha.
In addition to the four canonical gospels there have been other gospels that were not accepted into the canon. Some of these works appear to be later compositions than the canonical gospels, and as such were only ever accepted by small portions of the early Christian community. Some of the content of these non-canonical gospels (as much as it deviates from accepted theological norms) is considered heretical by the leadership of mainstream churches, including the Vatican.
The two earliest non-canonical gospels are the sayings Gospel of Thomas and the narrative Gospel of Peter.
A genre of "Infancy gospels" (Greek: protoevangelion) arose in the 2nd century, such as the Gospel of James, which introduces the concept of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (not to be confused with the sayings Gospel of Thomas), both of which related many miraculous incidents from the life of Mary and the childhood of Jesus that are not included in the canonical gospels, but which have passed into Christian lore.
Another genre that has been suppressed is that of gospel harmonies, in which the apparent discrepencies in the canonical four gospels were selectively recast to present a harmonoiusly consistent narrative text. Very few fragments of harmonies survived. The Diatessaron was such a harmonization, compiled by Tatian around AD 175. It was popular for at least two centuries in Syria, but eventually it fell into disuse, and no copies of it have survived, except indirectly in some medieval Gospel harmonies that can be considered its descendants.
Marcion of Sinope, c. AD 150, produced his own edition of the Gospel of Luke in accordance with his dualistic belief in two different gods, the compassionate God of Christ and the cruel God of the Old Testament. Specifically, he removed those parts of Luke that he considered too "Jewish". He also rejected all other gospels.
The existence of private knowledge, briefly referred to in the canon, is part of the contention surrounding the Secret Gospel of Mark.
List of non-canonical ("apocryphal") Gospels
Some Gospels that were not eventually included in the canon are similar in style and content to the canonical Gospels. Others are "sayings gospels", as lost Q is supposed to have been. Still others are Gnostic in style and content, presenting a very different view of Jesus' teaching.
Gospels that were not accepted, which form part of the New Testament Apocrypha, include:
¡¤ Authentic Matthew, the Aramaic Matthew
¡¤ Gospel of Thomas
¡¤ Gospel of Philip
¡¤ Gospel of Peter
¡¤ Gospel of Mary
¡¤ Gospel of the Egyptians
¡¤ Gospel of the Hebrews
¡¤ Gospel of James
¡¤ Gospel of Judas
¡¤ See also the mistaken "Gospel of Hermes".
Other works claiming to be gospels have surfaced in later periods. The Gospel of Barnabas originated in the medieval period. Works from the modern period (sometimes called modern apocrypha) include the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Life of Issa. Parts of the Book of Mormon can also be considered to be a gospel, since they purport to tell of Jesus' appearances on the American continent.
There also works that do not purport to be revealed but are titled "gospel" anyway:
¡¤ The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Jos¨¦ Saramago
Steven Says: I see your ¡°beliefs¡± as flimsy and based on nothing credible. I see you
choosing to ignore all of the EXPERTS and all of the REAL EVIDENCE that
supports the Word of God as it is written.
[Bob says:] You¡¯ll need some justification for such an assertion, even to satisfy your own gullible mind. If you¡¯ve read the above encyclopedia references, you know that the Bible has changed a lot before and since the time of Jesus, and that it was neither authored nor approved by God because much has been spuriously added or omitted over time.
Most likely, you think ¡°experts¡± approved the Pentateuch in the 6th century BC, and ¡°experts¡± approved the Septuagint in the 2nd century BC, and ¡°experts¡± approved the King James Version. Maybe they were experts and scholars, but so what? Where is their divine authority to pick and choose what should be part of the Bible?
Please explain to me what the prurient Song of Solomon is doing in the Bible, or all the books that document the secular history of the Hebrews, history that is no more relevant than that of the Chinese or the American Red race.
Steven Says: With what you have demonstrated to me, I cannot come to any other
conclusion, (since God did give us intellect to use), than the fact that
you are indeed following a ¡°Cult¡± that has changed the Word of God to
meet their particular desires for their life, and it seems that the main
source you stand on is a book written by Thomas Paine ¨C NOT the Bible
I CHOOSE THE BIBLE!
[Bob says:] Well, I get your point, but actually, you do not choose the Bible, for you do not know which Bible to choose. Do you embrace the non-canonical gospels? The Pseudepigrapha? No, you only choose the KJV and its derivatives, and you have no divine authority or sensible reason for doing so.
As I have demonstrated, Bible scholars and experts over the millennia have changed the ¡°Word of God,¡± but I have not. My mission has been to discover from the biblical mishmash of purported truth what the word of God is, and then to embrace and promulgate it. I do not consider the letters of Paul or the apostles to be the word of God, for those were only letters containing their opinions. Their opinions are no more the word of God than are the opinions of Uncle Remus.
Here is just one of many proofs, using the Bible¡¯s own testimony, that the Bible contains lies, perhaps one of the most salient of which is the gospel according to Paul. This is a bit lengthy, but it elucidates the gospels of Jesus and Paul, demonstrates that they were disparate and incompatible, and shows that on account of the chronology of Jesus¡¯ ministry and teachings, Paul¡¯s gospel could not possibly be right:
1. Jesus started teaching his gospel early in his public ministry, even before selecting his apostles.
Matthew 4:12-23 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
2. Jesus¡¯ gospel stressed three major points:
a. Acceptance of the reality of the Fatherhood of God. He constantly referred to God as our, your, or my ¡°Father which art in Heaven¡±, and encouraged his followers to love the Father as well as other humans, promising eternal life to those who do. Logically, since God is our Father, all humans are his children. He said the Father¡¯s spirit presence is within us, thereby indicating we have a potentially eternal and intimate relationship with the Father. All of this was good news to the Jews because they saw God not as a loving Heavenly Father, but as a whimsical, powerful ruler, and themselves not as his beloved children, but as his subjects. They lived in constant fear that God would smash their nation as he had (so they thought) so many times in the past, for the sins of their rulers. It was good news to know God is a loving heavenly Father, for it made them feel they lived in a friendly universe, which they do.
Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 6:5-13 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Luke 10:25-28 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Mark 12:28-34 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
b. Belief in the truth of the Brotherhood of Man. Logically, since all humans are God¡¯s children, all humans are our brothers and sisters. We are thereby obliged to show his loving nature to our fellow humans through unselfish, loving service. Note that Jesus taught the importance of forgiving others as a condition for receiving the Father¡¯s forgiveness. All of this was good news to the Jews because they saw other humans as not being part of their families. In fact they thought of only other Jews as neighbors, and believed it was okay to demean and cheat non-Jews. This made them live in abject fear of being cheated, and God approving it. By seeing others as their brothers, however, this made them feel safe because they live in a friendly ¡°family of God¡± not in an alien world full of enemies.
John 13:5-15 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Continued in next post (Bill)