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Inconsistencies in the Bible?

Discussion in 'Conservative Christianity' started by Norm d'Plume, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. Dialogist

    Dialogist Active Member

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    I don't think the New Testament was ever "published" within the early Church in the sense you suggest. Complete codices of the New Testament were rare still in the 5th century. The writings emerged gradually and not all churches and homes had all of the "books" we have today and quite a few had some additional books (e.g. the Shepherd of Hermas) that did not end up in the final canon, which wasn't definitively established by the entire Church until the late 8th century.
     
  2. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    Well, we don't know. But by "publication" I actually meant, "put in writing."

    It seems that some stories were oral, some written, and some a mixture of the two for some time.
     
  3. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    That's what critics could say, or they could say it shows the opposite. My point about how inferences are mushy things.
     
  4. Dialogist

    Dialogist Active Member

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    I think we have a fair idea of how things progressed from the writing of the Church Fathers and the writings and canons that came out of the local and Ecumenical Church councils of the first few centuries after Pentecost. I think Dr. Eugenia Constantinou's podcast series on the origin of the New Testament canon from her Search the Scriptures series is very informative. Also, I think that (Orthodox) Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky and his editors give a good, concise overview on how the canon developed in his Orthodox Dogmatic Theology:

    The Church recognizes twenty-seven canonical books of the New Testament. Since the sacred books of the New Testament were written in various years of the apostolic era and were sent by the Apostles to various points of Europe and Asia, and certain of them did not have a definite designation to any specific place, the gathering of them into a single collection or codex could not be an easy matter; it was necessary to keep strict watch lest among the books of apostolic origin there might be found any of the so-called “apocryphal” books, which for the most part were composed in heretical circles. Therefore, the Fathers and teachers of the Church during the first centuries of Christianity preserved a special caution in distinguishing these books, even though they might bear the name of Apostles. The Fathers of the Church frequently entered certain books into their lists with reservations, with uncertainty or doubt, or else gave for this reason an incomplete list of the Sacred Books. This was unavoidable and serves as a memorial to their exceptional caution in this holy matter. They did not trust themselves, but waited for the universal voice of the Church. The local Council of Carthage in 397, in its 33rd Canon, enumerated all of the books of the New Testament without exception [again ratified at the Seventh Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 787]. St. Athanasius the Great names all of the books of the New Testament without the least doubt or distinction, and in one of his works he concludes his list with the following words: “Behold the number and names of the canonical books of the New Testament. These are, as it were, the beginnings, the anchors and pillars of our faith, because they were written and transmitted by the very Apostles of Christ the Saviour, who were with Him and were instructed by Him (from the Synopsis of St. Athanasius). Likewise, St. Cyril of Jerusalem also enumerates the books of the New Testament without the slightest remark as to any kind of distinction between them in the Church. The same complete listing is to be found among the Western ecclesiastical writers, for example in Augustine.*

    * Pomazansky, Fr. Michael (2014-11-24). Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (Kindle Locations 463-481). St. Herman Press. Kindle Edition.
     
  5. RDKirk

    RDKirk Alien, Pilgrim, and Sojourner Supporter

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    Yes.

    I would also point out the book of Jonah, in which God makes it clear that He would not destroy the Ninevites until they'd had a chance to hear about Him--specifically citing their ignorance as His reason for mercy.

    Then there is Jesus, who said: "If you were blind you would be innocent, but because you say 'We see,' your sin remains."

    And Jesus also said, "The servant who does not know what he should do will be beaten with few strokes, but the servant who knows what to do and does not do it will be beaten with many strokes. To whom much is given, much is expected."

    Clearly, God does not destroy the ignorant (which is the reason infants are exempt from judgment--not because they are innocent--which has no scriptural support--but because they are utterly ignorant).

    I think very significant as gospel is Paul's speech to the pagan Athenians:

    Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

    “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”


    This speech is not studied for its model gospel content nearly as much as it should be. Despite Paul's coyness, the doctrine of the "unknown god" was not unknown to Paul--he was able to quote one of its proponents (Epimenides). What we learn here is that God not only notes the honest seekers who acknowledge His existence from observance of nature (Psalms 19), but in fact that God intends that they seek Him--and perhaps find Him--even though He knows those men will not actually hear a gospel preacher. God holds men responsible for doing at least that much (Romans 1).

    I think that Job is an example of a man who recognized God in nature. Job is not in the Abrahamic lineage--there is no indication that he has had a direct revelation about God. Moreover, God relates to Job in terms of God's manifestation in nature--the great creatures God has created, the constellations of stars in the heaven--rather than relating to Job in terms of what God has done for lineage. To Job God says, "I am the God who put the stars in the sky," as contrasted with Jacob or Moses, who whom He would say, "I am the God of your fathers."
     
  6. Ken Rank

    Ken Rank Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Norm, God does not change, period, end of story. :) If He is a God of love and grace today, He always has been or He changed. If He was a God capable of anger and destruction long ago, He is today or He changed. So, the question then becomes, "How can a loving God do some of the things we see in the OT?" Well, the answer is, there is an answer and I could give it to you, but I won't right now. Instead, you need to ask Him first.... see, sometimes God WANTS us to work through these things in order to bless us with a deeper understanding. I know that answer might seem like a cop-out, but understand, the destruction brought about by the order of God through the hands of Joshua troubled me for YEARS until God finally helped me reconcile it. Now, I have no issue with it because I understand how those being destroyed stood against the character, reputation, and authority of God (Which in the Hebraic mind would mean, "How those being destroyed stood against His name") and while I abhor the loss of life in any sense, I understand why it had to be done and accept it.

    I will throw this out too.... the NT paints a small window of time so we see less destruction. The OT spans at least 4000 years of world history and so we see more destruction. However, we know that Ananias and Sapphira were were killed where they stood for lying to God, that MILLIONS of Christians have died a martyrs death, and in the end a form of wrath will be poured out like the world has never before seen. God, does not change! :) Blessings!
     
  7. Alive_Again

    Alive_Again Resident Alien

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    (...Specifically, how could a loving God commit the attrocities documented in the Old Testament? Genocide with the Great Flood. Laws for stoning people to death. Ordering the slaughter of innocent men, women, children, and babies. Condemning people to eternal torment.)

    It sometimes seems that way. I know that when we come to the Lord, and present ourselves to the truth of God's Word, our ignorance of the God's intent in many places in scripture can be a stumbling block.
    We may have been presented with an "understanding" that needs to be torn down; something built by "religion" and "tradition" that might actually bind you up rather than free you.

    These are things that are often "broken off" gradually as understanding is imparted to you. Often it comes from a teacher ministering under the anointing. In prayer, God worked "precept upon precept" with them for the purpose of setting the church free, and to enable you to receive the admonition intended by reveiwing what happened before us in the saga of God's people.

    I can think back and remember questions that I had; especially with many of Paul's writings.
    I used to see him as somewhat prideful, but I lacked understanding of his and God's intent in those letters. Gratefully, much of that has somehow vanished and I no longer see many things in the same "light" as I did. Often that "light" was not light at all. God's light ministers life.

    So when you encounter passages that elude you in the realm of understanding God's fairness and righteousness, just give it some patience and pray for understanding.
    Avail yourself of anointed teaching and understand that truth (within us) is built on itself, and that a foundation needs to be well established before you can get a truer perspective of things.

    If we could see how life was back in the days immediately preceding Noah's flood (as we often call it). Everything going on in the hearts of men at that time was BAD. We had a tribe of angels that had flesh that joined themselves with human women. Those couplings produced children and the fruit of that was very evil. They affected society very adversely. We read in Hebrews where Christ preached to the spirits in prison (what was "Paradise" before the resurrection) who were sometimes disobedient. He was speaking of those in Noah's day. Many were kept in that place waiting to hear the gospel at the appropriate time.

    It has been said that genetically, a cleansing was needed on the earth to enable God's plan to come to pass. Noah was "perfect in his generations", untouched by this corrupt genetic perversion. Noah was in Christ's bloodline in His genealogy in the gospels. We can't begin to understand "topically" (at first read) how things were. It can seem that God was cruel n in His methods, but His ways are so much higher than ours, you have to take God's goodness sometimes by faith. The Holy Spirit will minister that to you/Us as we grow. The more established in grace we become, the more we can receive what to our souls sometimes at first read is difficult.

    The same goes for the camp of God with Joshua, going forth and violently overthrowing the people of the lands. We cannot see how life was in those places at that time. Certain peoples worshiped devils and put their babies into the fire for offerings. They did things that were absolutely abhorrent to God and He knew that if they mingled with them, they would take on their ways.

    The Law of Moses had a limited righteousness that did not change the nature of the people like the new covenant does. Someone gathers wood on the sabbath, and even Moses wasn't too sure in his own soul. He was up on the mount of God and God showed him all that happened before (written in Genesis). He received the tablets and beheld the glory of God. Yet his "natural thinking" needed a little confirmation about the wood gatherer on the sabbath. God said to put him to death. That was the righteousness of the Law. It didn't allow for any wavering. I don't believe that the gatherer went to Hell, but as far as the Law was concerned, by the letter, ALL the Law was to be observed.

    It also speaks of the price Jesus paid in Himself to free us from observance from the Law of Ordinances that opposed our very flesh. We do not understand how totally unable we are in our flesh to fulfill God's requirements. They are to be done in the spirit and through the Spirit "in Christ".

    As God's Spirit ministers (over time) His nature and just how true His Word is (calling it "His Word"), then you won't question what you read any more. You may still need revelation on various passages. The church at large still doesn't have a full understanding of many passages. That's why we have denominations. Just trust God as a seeker to reveal to YOU how absolute His Word is. It will take time, but believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    (...God was with them, they prevailed in war, so that made it alright. The Romans worshipped gods and, when all was well, they thanked the gods, and when disaster struck, it was punishment from the gods. How is the God of the Old Testament any different?)

    I think within the hearts of all men, the acknowledgment of God, in whatever perception we have in the time and culture we're in, knows that God rewards good and evil. It's sad that people listen to the wrong "prophets" and seek the wrong gods. The God of the Bible in the New Covenant wants you to KNOW Him personally. None of the other religions does this. Have faith that every area and every question you have has an answer for you that will set you free. Give it time and be a seeker.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  8. Wgw

    Wgw Pray For Brussels!

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    My church tends to interpret the Old Testament as Christological, typological prophecy as well as literally, so this makes your question which I once struggled with no longer haunt me. Try read some of the writings of the early fathers, particularly St. Irenaeus in Against Heresies, St. Ignatius the Martyr, everything by St. Athanasius the Great, the Bible Commentaries of St. John Chrysostom, and also the anthology of the non heretical parts of Origen, the Philocalia, compiled by the Cappadocians, not to be confused with the Philokalia, an 18th century Orthodox anthology of texts on the Jesus Prayer, which is unrelated, although I also reccommend it for people who like The Orthodox Way by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware.
     
  9. Job8

    Job8 Senior Member

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    It is a common error to assume that "the God of the Old Testament" is quite different from the God of the New Testament, especially when one has not carefully studied the entire Bible. But there is simply no comparison between the false pagan gods and the one true God. So there are no "inconsistencies" in the Bible, but they are imagined inconsistencies.

    The reason these issues are raised is because people do not really want to face the fact that sin has very serious consequences, and that God -- in order to be God -- must not only offer grace to sinners but also judge sin in unrepentant sinners. So every incident of judgement indicates that sin is being judged and sinners are being punished. This is ABSOLUTELY CONSISTENT with the character of God.

    There is no sane person who would advocate that criminals must not be brought to justice, and in the case of capital crimes the death penalty should not be applied. Yet when God judges "crimes" against His holiness, then critics come up with the lame excuse that God should never deal harshly with sinners.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  10. Wgw

    Wgw Pray For Brussels!

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    Agreed, mostly. There are minor inconsistencies between different manuscript traditions (Septuagint vs. Peshitta vs. Masoretic Text; Alexandrian vs Byzantine New Testament); and there are some unresolved dissimiliarities in the narratives of the Gospels. Although I would add that Tatian's 2nd century attempt to harmonize the four Gospels in the "Diatessaron" was a disaster and these were replaced in the Syrian churches with Peshittas containing the four canonical Gospels in the fourth century.

    I cant tell you why the geneologies in Matthew and Luke are different, or which of those two Gospels got the Beatitudes right, or if Jesus preached both sets. But I accept the whole Bible as profitable and edifying if read with the Church and interpreted accordinf to Patristic theological patrimony.
     
  11. Job8

    Job8 Senior Member

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    And because they are minor, they should not be blown out of proportion (having set aside the Gnostic corruptions of the text)
    We must begin with the valid presumption that God has an excellent reason for whatever He gives to mankind. The variations in the Gospels for example, are NOT inconsistencies, but variations on the same theme to be harmonized and believed as one integrated whole. The Gospels have been harmonized, and they should be taken as a harmonic whole.
     
  12. SinnerInTheHands

    SinnerInTheHands Troubled Christian

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    You're confusing righteous judgment with atrocity. Just look at Nadab and Abihu.
     
  13. Wgw

    Wgw Pray For Brussels!

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    This harmonization though is irrelevant because the inconsistencies do not threaten the integrity of the apostolic kerygma.
     
  14. volaer

    volaer Blogger @ thedisciplers.com

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    Well if that's how you look at it. However, in the other perspective, God is a "just" God else will not be God at all. He is also a God of order, a God of righteousness. If you follow and walk through the Bible, starting from Genesis, you will see how God always preserve humanity from ultimate destruction. Since you mentioned Noah, ok let's discuss it. Yes, God allowed these people killed by the great flood. On the other hand, God wants to preserve humanity. And he did. He could have just wiped out the entire humanity, but because of his great love you and I exists today.

    In the Bible, God always want to preserve righteousness in humanity, so as humanity itself. The death and punishment to people (innocent or not), has its reasons and sometimes its beyond understanding. But what is understandable is that God so loved the world that He gave His "ONLY BEGOTTEN SON" that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

    I don't think there's inconsistency there, what I see is that the Bible is very much consistent of who God is.
     
  15. ToBeLoved

    ToBeLoved Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Norm,

    Have you read the details about the great flood? Did you read about how perverse the societies were? That the only good people left were Noah and his family?

    What I have found is that most people have not read, to understand, these verses that they have problems with. There were several things that happened that had severely corrupted people.
     
  16. ToBeLoved

    ToBeLoved Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't know where you found this piece of work, but they used 'two' in the wrong way, it should be 'to' AND the last sentence does not even make sense and contridicts the first sentence. The first sentence is putting down the writers of the gospels, followed by the second sentence who said 'they did nothing for vain glory' (I wrote it correctly, they had 'vainglory' which is two words, not a compound word).

    Grammar is bad. You couldn't have found something better for us to discuss?

    How about putting your issues in your own words.
     
  17. Goatee

    Goatee Jesus, please forgive me, a sinner.

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    Good post
     
  18. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Life is lived in the shape of a '?' Supporter

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    Hi Norm,

    Rather than give you a long dissertation as to why God's actions are never atrocities, I'm just going to recommend that you challenge the whole notion of Modern Human Rights in the first place. Why? Well, first off, the notion that God has failed any of our current ethical standards begs the questions: Whose Standard, and Where did it come from?

    Secondly, I have to point out that since your inquiry is primarily an act of philosophy rather than one of theology, you need to establish the entire conceptual construct by which you are evaluating God's actions. Once your structure is justified (and this is not as easy as one might think), then you can apply it to God...not before.

    So, again, I suggest you study some of the underlying philosophical assumptions that presently make up your moral stance. If you'd like a recommendation for some academic level books (or other sources) that may facilitate your exploration of answers to your inquiry, I'd be happy to list a few for you.

    Peace
    2PhiloVoid
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2015
  19. ToBeLoved

    ToBeLoved Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree. It's not like their were 'publishing's' per se. Their were scribes who copied texts, that is how texts were replicated.
     
  20. RDKirk

    RDKirk Alien, Pilgrim, and Sojourner Supporter

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    That is a point. It's a mistake to make too great an effort to harmonize "inconsistencies." You can wind up with doctrinal abominations like, "Judas hung himself, the rope broke, and his body burst on the rocks below." There are no differences that threaten the integrity of the Word, except for people who are limited to Greek epistemology rather than Hebrew epistemology.
     
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