A Response On Judas’ death

McDonald:  I never cease to be amazed of the things that cause people to lose their faith in God and his word. Someone named Nate, who claims that he has changed from Christianity to atheism because, after studying the book of Daniel, he came to the realization that the Bible is not inspired of God. On March 14, 2011 he wrote the following article concerning the death of Judas.

Nate:“Contradictions Part 7: Judas

Posted: March 14, 2011 | Author: Nate | Filed under: Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Culture, Faith, God, Religion,Truth | 2 Comments »

The first post in this series can be found here.

You may already be familiar with this one, but please don’t skip it. There are some serious issues to think about here, and there are probably one or two points you haven’t considered.

Judas’s death is recorded for us in two places. The first is Matthew 27:3-8, which says:

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

Now, let’s look at the account found in Acts 1:18-19:

Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.

On the surface, I think we’d all have to agree that these accounts have almost nothing in common. So the typical answer is to simply put them together into something like this:

When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he was sorrowful and hanged himself. At some point, the rope broke, and his bowels burst open and gushed out when he hit the ground.

Taking this approach creates a possibility for explaining the discrepancy in Judas’s death. However, there’s nothing from either account that indicates this was the full picture. Also, I’m not sure how comfortable we should be in accepting a version of his death that can not be found in any account within the Bible. But even if this acceptably answers his death, there are other specifics that aren’t as easily answered by simply putting the two accounts together.

McDonald:  He tells us that there is almost nothing in common I the two accounts of Judas’ death. His problem is that he expects everything to be exactly parallel in the Bible when there are two different accounts of an event. He would not demand this of any other work. He knows that two newspaper reporters covering a single event will give different information, and both be right. Why does he feel differently about the Bible? People try to hold the Bible to some special rule; if God authored the Bible, every account on every event would say exactly the same thing. Why? If the Bible was written for men, and if two different writers giving different information about an event was what people understood as right and proper, then why wouldn’t the writers of the Bible do this?

(1) Many believe in dictation inspiration, rather than plenary verbal inspiration. This means that God selected the words for the writer, inspired the writer himself, and allowed him to use his own style and manner of writing to write what he wrote. Why do people think that if God authored the Bible it would have to be by dictation? There is no good answer to this question, other than people seem to hold the Bible as a book that cannot be read by the common man using writing rules with which man is accustomed. If two uninspired men had written these two accounts, there would be no question as to the truthfulness of both accounts. It is only because the Bible claims inspiration, and therefore we must understand it differently than we otherwise would.

People do this every day. In the every day world we recognize that certain things are normal, logical and in keeping with good common sense. However, when the same principle is found in the Bible, we throw out normal; we throw out logic, and we throw out common sense and argue that it must be different. If a parent sends a child into the store with money, and orders a half a gallon of 2% milk and a loaf of white bread, that child understands that this is all that is authorized to be bought. However, when it comes to something like instrumental music in worship (where all that is authorized is singing and making melody in our hearts Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), people throw normal, common sense and logic right out of the window and argue that the Bible must forbid instrumental music in order for it to be wrong.

  1. Holding the Bible to a standard that does not allow normal, common sense and logic is a tool used by Bible critics to get people to see things their way. They know that the Bible believer believes that the Bible is the word of God, so they start making rules and regulations (that they won’t even make for their own writings—but they contend that their writings are accurate) so that the weak and unlearned will get lost in the twisted rule and see things their way. Those of Peter’s day scoffed because Christ had not returned during that time:

    Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water” (2Pe 3:3-5).

    In every day life, if one promises to come, without any reference to WHEN that coming will be, we understand that it is up to the person traveling as to when they get there. We don’t say, “well they said they were coming, but did not in the time that we feel that they ought to come, therefore they lied.” No, we understand that if there is no indication as to when the arrival will be, there is no problem with them not showing up when we look for them. However, these scoffers, knew of the promise of the Lord, but because he had not come, they ridicule Christians for belief in his second coming. They throw normal, common sense and logic right out of the window because the Bible must be held to a different standard than anything else. Now while the Bible is held to a higher standard, this does not mean that common every day phrases and concepts were not used in its writing.

    So there is no reason for Nate to dismiss the Bible because it didn’t write something in the way that he thought it should be written. Now let us continue on looking at his blog.

Nate:  “For instance, who bought the field? According to Matthew, the priests bought it. According to Acts, Judas bought it. It’s often said that since the priests used Judas’s money, then it’s correct to say that he bought it. But if I bought beer with your money, would it be correct to say that you bought it? Or if I killed a person with your gun, would it be correct to say that you killed them?

McDonald:  He seems to be disturbed over who bought the land. The land was bought with the money that Judas received for betraying Jesus. The fact that Judas did not personally purchase the land does not necessitate that Judas did not buy the land. The money was his, and when he threw it back to the chief priests they could not put it back in the treasury because it had been used to purchase innocent blood. So when Judas went out and hanged himself, the chief priests took the money and purchased the land where he died to bury strangers in. Judas bought it because it was bought with his money. What is so hard to understand about this. If this was not part of the word of God, then there would be no problem with it. People would understand it perfectly. But because it is part of God’s word (because of the two above reasons) critics argue that the Bible isn’t perfect. As far as legalities are concerned, if a person leaves a gun out where a small child can play with it and the child kills either himself or another person, it is reasonable for us to say that the adult killed that person because he made it easy for the person to be killed with his gun. In an episode of Law & Order McCoy went after a gun company because they had manufactured a gun that could be adapted to a fully automatic weapon and several women were killed by a disturbed individual. The gun company’s defense was “we didn’t pull the trigger.” McCoy’s rebuttal was that no, they had not pulled the trigger, but they had made it easily accessible. Thus they were responsible. Now while this is TV, the Law & Order shows are taken from news headlines. So somewhere something like that had happened.

Nate:  “Another problem concerns the name of the field. Both accounts agree that it was called the “Field of Blood,” but Matthew says it was because it was bought with blood money. Acts says that it was called Field of Blood because Judas’s intestines burst all over it. Those are very different reasons.

McDonald:  Is it possible that both reasons are the reasons that the field had this name. The Bible isn’t stating that this is God’s reason for naming it thus, but it is simply stating that these are the reasons that man has given it this name. Notice, if you will, that Luke wrote “And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood” (Act 1:19). Now look at Matthew’s account: “And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day” (Mat 27:7-8). From this we see that those who actually made the purchase named it this for their own reasons. So you have the people calling it the field of blood for one reason (Judas’ bowels falling out on the land), and the chief priest naming it that for yet another reason (the money used to purchase it was blood money). So where is the difficulty?

Nate:  “Why is it that these accounts differ so much on the details? Why do neither of them offer hints at the fuller story (if combining the accounts is the correct version)? If I told you that someone died in a fire, but then you found out that they were actually shot to death and the body was burned in a fire, wouldn’t you be frustrated at me (or at least confused) for not telling you the whole story? There are some real differences in this story, and it should at least make us consider that we might just be reading the opinions of two different people and not the infallible word of a perfect deity.

McDonald:  Why are there differences? Because the common people called it “the field of blood” for one reason while the chief priests called it that for a completely different reason. That seems like a pretty trivial reason for one to lose his faith in the inspiration of the word of God. He asked if he told us that a person died in a fire, but we found out that he was actually shot to death and the body burned, if we wouldn’t be frustrated with him? Why would that frustrate us? My, Nate must be easily frustrated to get frustrated on something like that. If Nate was one reporter reporting that man X died in a fire, and reporter B reported that man X was killed by a firearm, and his body was burned, I wouldn’t be confused, but I guess I watch too much CSI and know that not all the information is given in initial reports. I would assume that Nate did not have all the information when he made his report. When I was a police officer, I investigated a traffic accident (one car had backed into another) in a parking lot. I saw no damage during the investigation, so I put in the report “no apparent damage.” A couple of days later, a new officer (right out of the academy) who had the rank of Sgt. got mad at me because I put “no apparent damage” in the report when I didn’t know if there was damage or not. I explained to her that after working hundreds of accidents over my 9 years as a patrolman, I had learned that you cannot always see damage, so it is then that you put “no apparent damage.” However, I informed the owner of the car that was backed into that she needed to have her car checked out for damage that could not be seen in the initial investigation. The owner of the car was present when the Sgt jumped me, and I took the owner aside and told her that I had conducted hundreds of traffic accidents over my years and told her that she should take the report to her insurance agent, and if he wanted me to re-write it, I would. I saw the owner a couple of weeks later at a school function, and asked her what her agent’s recommendation was. She told me that he agreed with me.

The point of that little story, is that initial reports do not always reveal everything. As it turns out there was damage to the car, but it had to be found with scanners. So would Nate be confused? Probably! However, the writers of the Bible only wrote what they were told to write. The Spirit told Matthew to write one thing, and he told Luke to write yet another. So what does this mean? Neither Matthew nor Luke gave the whole story. Matthew’s story deals with what the chief priests did and Luke deals with what the common man said. Where’s the difficulty? This is some reason to give up one’s faith in the Bible. If I am to stand before God and give an account of why I gave up faith in his word (2 Cor. 5:10), then I hope my reasons will be a little more than the chief priests calling the land this name for one reason, and the common man calling it for a completely different reason.

Nate:  “There’s actually another problem too. Matthew 27:9-10 adds this:

Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

Matthew attributes this “prophecy” to Jeremiah, when it is actually from Zechariah. Yes, you read that right: Matthew attributes it to the wrong guy. Now there are some people who will tell you that this passage is also in Jeremiah. But I encourage you to read Jeremiah for yourself – this prophecy is not there.

Other people have tried to explain this issue by saying that Jeremiah could have said this too, but just didn’t write it down. But this attempt is pretty ridiculous. Matthew offers this attribution as proof that all these things had been foreseen. But if no one can go back and read the prophecy he’s referring to, then it’s not proof at all and there’s no point in referring to it.

McDonald:  He claims that the defense of Jeremiah speaking the prophecy, and not writing it down was pretty ridiculous. Really? Jeremiah spoke many things, and only a few of them were written down. Why would he have to write everything that he spoke. I preached for 30 years, and I preached many more sermons than I wrote articles. Thus you could say that I spoke something (which is exactly what Matthew wrote—spoken by Jeremy the prophet), but I never wrote it down. Now I realize that the Old Testament prophets were said to have spoken different prophecies. However, some of these were spoken in writing and some were spoken verbally. There is no indication as to which is done here.

Nate:  “Another explanation is that the scroll of the prophets in Matthew’s day often started with Jeremiah. Therefore, he’s just referring to the scroll and not the actual prophet. I could buy that as an explanation if this were just something that Matthew himself was writing. But Christians say that he was inspired by God. Wouldn’t God know which prophet had actually said this? And for the readers in Matthew’s day, wouldn’t they have known where to find Zechariah, if they wanted to read this for themselves? Plus, think of how strange this would sound to us today. All the books of the Bible are contained in one book for us today. So would it be acceptable for me to say “As Abraham the prophet said, ‘There is no temptation that has overcome you except such as is common to man…’”? (Paul said that, if you’re unaware).

McDonald:  If Paul was ever known as Abraham, it would be appropriate, but he wasn’t. However, Zechariah was often spoken of as Jeremiah just as John the Baptist was known as Elias (Mt. 17:11-13). John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elias so he was considered to be Elias. Zechariah had written in the spirit of Jeremiah (as Jeremiah wrote), thus he was called Jeremiah. What is so difficult about that? Also if you will look at the following verse:

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luk 24:44).

Jesus said that all things concerning him, written in the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms concerning him. Why did he leave out all the other books? Because the Psalms was the first book of this section and it was the longest. Thus only its name was mentioned. Tell me that Nate did not give up his hope that is in Christ Jesus because he did not understand this simple process!

Nate:  “Surely we can see that the most likely explanation is that Matthew made a mistake and was not actually inspired by God.

McDonald:  Wrong! Matthew did not make a mistake. He wrote what the Holy Spirit told him to write. Nate just couldn’t figure out some simple process so he threw his entire hope of eternal life out the window.

Nate:  “As one final point, let’s look back at Zechariah to see exactly how it was prophesied that Judas would do these things:

And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”— the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter. Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

Okay, I see the reference to the “potter,” and there’s a reference to “thirty pieces of silver.” Where is the reference to someone betraying Jesus? Or the reference to someone killing himself and bleeding all over a field? In fact, where is there a prophecy in this passage at all?”http://findingtruth.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/contradictions-part-7-judas/

McDonald:  Nate seems to be of the opinion that everything had to be prophesied in order for it to be in reference to this event. This is because he did not understand Biblical prophecy because many of the prophecies were just like this. A prophecy was given, but the fulfillment would be more complex than the prophecy. There doesn’t have to be a reference to Jesus, or to the bleeding in the field. In the prophecy of Jesus going in Nazareth, as a child, we don’t find everything that happened in fulfillment in the prophecy. In the prophecy of Rachael weeping, we don’t find every thing that happened in fulfillment. This does not mean that those weren’t prophecies, it just means that in many old testament prophecies, the fulfillment included much more than what the prophecy had stated.

I have seen nothing that would cause me to give up my faith in God and his word. Nate really ought to re-think his position before he gets so steeped in atheism that he will not be able to come back.

In Christ Jesus

Jerry McDonald

  1. #1 by William on April 4, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Jerry,

    I stumbled across this blog post from Nate’s page, and after reading it, I think there are somethings that need to be cleared up – not that you intentionality left anything out or purposely skewed the view. I only have read this one post of yours, so I can easily see how you may not have read all of Nate’s posts either.

    A few times in your above response to Nate’s blog on Judas’s death, you say that you hope Nate has not left his faith just because the circumstances surrounding the above mentioned Bible passages. In fact, if you continue to look through Nate’s blog, there are several reasons for his loss in faith, with this being just one small part. So it would seem that your sincere hope for Nate was well placed.

    You do make some compelling arguments for the bible’s inspiration on this given topic, but the problem I have is that they are arguments found outside of the bible. several of these logical scenarios you have offered are conjecture and obtained somewhere besides the bible, although it is true one would have to do that to reconcile many of these issues in order to maintain that it is error free.

    You also said that differing news reports were understandable if they were the initial reports, but I think that is the thing. I cannot speak for Nate, but I can accept the stories of Judas here and rationalize the accounts just fine, because they do resemble some stories or accounts I have heard from other people – but they’re people who make mistakes because they cannot know everything. What makes parts of this Judas account problematic, is that, regardless of when written, we all assume that God would have known the whole story, so then why would we expect any possible discrepancy when telling the complete story would have easily eliminated that problem? The one account could have said that Judas finally fell to the ground after hanging himself, without even mentioning being bursting open, and just that small bit of additional info in the gospel’s telling would have solved this, but it is not there.

    Good point about child getting an adults gun. That is definitely something to consider. But the question again is, why would the holy spirit say that the priests bought it in one place and then in another say that Judas bought it? While it is possible the way the way you have described it, it is also possible that these are just mistakes by men. Why wouldn’t a perfect being eliminate this issue (which is an apparent error by many) by simply inspiring each writer of the same thing?

    You also said that Zechariah was also known as Jeremiah, but I didn’t see a reference given in support. Could that be provided?

    I hope you take the time to respond to the rest of Nate’s issues with the bible. Some of those issues trouble many people, people who live very moral and hospitable lives, people who would have to change very little to be Christians. Rectifying these issues would be of great help to these people, should the bible really be God’s word.

    But consider this, if an old man came up to you today and said that God told him to talk to you, would you believe that God actually told him to speak to you? What if he told you that God wanted him to tell you how to make your back feel better (and it turned out you had a back problem) – would you believe him then? What if he told you that God healed him in some way?
    Why then is it so easy to believe a book, written by people who simply claim that God told them to write it? There is no proof (evidence is not the same as proof as I am sure an old police officer would know). And why should people of other religions be compelled to follow a bible with apparent errors? And couldn’t they defend their religious books by giving their own arguments as to why their book is really without error too, even though it may appear to have them?

  2. #2 by Nate on April 4, 2011 - 4:08 pm

    Hi Jerry,

    Thanks for responding to my post. I also appreciate that you quoted the entirety of it here.

    At one point, you referenced my complaint that the accounts of Judas’ death differ in almost every detail. And you took my example of two different accounts of the same murder, and you said, “I would assume that Nate did not have all the information when he made his report.” That’s exactly right. And that’s why the differences with Judas are significant. The two accounts apparently didn’t have all the information — how is that possible if they’re inspired?

    By my main problem is that Matthew attributed the prophecy to Jeremiah when it was really Zechariah. You seem to think that since Jeremiah spoke many things that aren’t recorded, then he easily could have said this. But that’s not the real problem: the real problem is that Matthew is using Jeremiah’s prophecy of this event as proof that it was part of God’s plan, etc. Yet this is proof that no one can verify… therefore, it’s no proof at all.

    For instance, if I wrote a research paper and attributed a quote Albert Einstein, that quote should exist in some verifiable source for it to be useful. But if it’s something that I claim Einstein said, and there’s no record of it at all, then does it work as proof? Not at all. Matthew could have easily solved this problem by referencing Zechariah, where the prophecy actually occurs, but he didn’t do that. Referencing the wrong prophet is an easy mistake to make, but not for God. If “Matthew” had really been inspired, this mistake would not exist. It’s really as simple as that.

    You also mention that Zechariah was often spoken of as Jeremiah, but could you reference where? As far as I can tell, the name Jeremiah never even appears in the book of Zechariah. I also can’t find a single passage in the Bible where the two names Jeremiah and Zechariah appear near each other. If you could provide a source for that, it would be very helpful.

    Finally, your point at the end about prophecies not being very specific is one of my main concerns. If they weren’t specific or detailed, then they probably weren’t really prophecies. In fact, if you look at the prophecy of Rachel weeping (which I deal with here), it’s obvious that the original passage was never meant as a prophecy at all. It was talking about the Israelite captivity. We should see that as a real problem. It points to “Matthew” being a manipulative writer who was trying to make connections wherever he could to further his agenda.

    It seems very clear to me that the Bible has errors. I think the problems surrounding Judas’ death are some clear examples, but they aren’t the only ones. And while I can understand the compulsion to find any possible way of explaining these things away, I wonder if we’d all be so willing to accept explanations for the problems in the Koran or the Book of Mormon?

    Thanks for taking time on this.

    • #3 by Jerry McDonald on April 5, 2011 - 8:16 pm

      How is it possible that the two writers did not have all the information since they were inspired? Simple, the Holy Spirit did not give them all the information. Just because he is God does not mean that he must give all the information to every writer about every event. There are five steps in becoming a Christian (1) hearing the word (Jn. 5:25); (2) believing in Jesus Christ (Jn. 8:24); (3) repenting of sins (Acts 2:38); (4) confessing Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:35-37); and (5) being baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16, and 8:35-39). However, none of these verses give the entire information as to how to become a Christian. We have to take the totality of Biblical information into consideration in order to know it all.

      As far as the source about Zechariah speaking in the spirit of Jeremiah I responded to this question in my response to William Simmons when I wrote:

      “Me: Not everything is going to be in the text itself. Some evidence is found outside the text, and such is the case with this. John Gill, a great Bible scholar, wrote:

      Moreover, it is usual with them to say (b), that the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah; and it is very plain, that the latter prophets have many things from the former; and so might Zechariah have this originally from Jeremy, which now stands in his prophecy: all this would be satisfactory to a Jew: and it is to be observed, that the Jew (c), who objects to everything he could in the evangelist, with any appearance on his side, and even objects to the application of this prophecy; yet finds no fault with him for putting Jeremy for Zechariah. (b) Sepher Hagilgulim apud Surenhus. Biblos Katallages, p. 41. (c) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 25. p. 412” (Exposition on the New Testament, e-Sword).

      One of the things I like about Gill is that he would often quote from Jewish scholars as to the way that they viewed things. He says that according to the Jewish scholars, it was normal for them to say that the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah. While I know of no verse in the Bible which states such, the Jewish tradition is there and carries a lot of weight in matters such as this. Also Rabbi Isaac Chizzuk objects to everything about Christ, and even applying this to Christ, but he finds no fault with putting Jeremiah for Zechariah. When I look for proof of the inspiration of the Bible, the rabbincal writings come in very handy because they show the thinking of the Jewish mind, and this is important because the Bible was written by Jews. Not only was the Bible inspired, but the writer was also inspired. The Spirit would select the words, give them to the writer and allow the writer to use his style in writing (which is why we can tell what was written by Paul before looking to see who wrote). The Spirit also made allowances for the customs of the people, and since we have seen that it was the custom of the people to refer to Zechariah as Jeremiah, we find no fault with it.”

      I did not say that prophecies were not specific. What I said was:

      “McDonald: Nate seems to be of the opinion that everything had to be prophesied in order for it to be in reference to this event.”

      This means that the prophecy does not cover every detail in the fulfillment. The prophecy was specific in that it pointed to a specific time or a place or event. Some were more detailed than others, but they were prophecies nonetheless. Your problem seems to be that you think that every detail had to be mentioned in the prophecy before it could be considered a prophecy. The Bible never makes any such demand.

      If the problems with the Quran or the Book of Mormon were nothing more than what I find in the Bible, I would have no problems with them. The problem is, however, that the problems with those other books are so much greater. I understand that you think the Bible has problems, but I see things differently. I have been defending the integrity of the Bible, in debate, since 1988 when Farrell Till came out with his “Skeptical Review.” I have asked people to throw their best at me, and to date no one has ever thrown me anything that cannot be easily answered.

      Not looking carefully at what the Bible says such as the two explanations for why the field is called the field of blood (one place shows that the people called it this for one reason, and the other shows that the chief priests called it that for another reason) is a big reason that people think that the Bible contradicts itself.

      Not keeping verses in their immediate and/or overall context is another reason. Those two are the main reasons people think that there are problems with the Bible. I see no errors in the Bible, and to date have been shown none.

      On my challenge2 website (http://www.challenge2.org/) I have a standing challenge there. I have had several atheists try to take it, but they all have ended up admitting that I am in no danger of having to make good on the challenge. Why don’t you take a stab at it and see if you can do any better than others have in the past.

      In Christ Jesus
      Jerry McDonald

      • #4 by Nate on April 5, 2011 - 11:27 pm

        Hey Jerry,

        So when the Bible looks most like it was written by actual individuals, that’s only because the Holy Spirit made them do it that way? With reasoning like that, it’s no wonder you’ve never seen a *real* Bible contradiction. I mean, it’s an unfalsifiable position. It’s just like if I challenged you to disprove the existence of unicorns. I could even promise to be a staunch anti-unicornist if someone could just show me one proof that unicorns don’t exist.

        I really don’t mean to sound disparaging — I’m just trying to make a point. If we believe that God does want everyone to be able to understand his word, then it’s just not as complicated as you’re making it. If Matthew says Jeremiah, that’s what he meant. It’s just too bad he was wrong about that one. As it stands, there are many contradictions in the Bible — I’ve posted about several of them already. Whether or not you will accept thems as contradictions is up to you… but it doesn’t change what they are. If you’re happy in your belief system, then kudos to you. But the explanations you’ve offered so far just seem to be rationalizations, to me. Hopefully, we’ll both keep searching for actual truth and not get caught up in trying to see something that isn’t really there.

        But again, thanks for taking the time.

  3. #5 by challenge2 on April 4, 2011 - 8:50 pm

    Someone by the name of simmons responded to my post concerning Nate. His post is below and mine follows. I will tag his posts with “simmons” and mind with “me.”

    Simmons: Jerry,

    I stumbled across this blog post from Nate’s page, and after reading it, I think there are somethings that need to be cleared up – not that you intentionality left anything out or purposely skewed the view.  I only have read this one post of yours, so I can easily see how you may not have read all of Nate’s posts either.

    Me: If I sounded like I was “skewing” the view, I apologize because such was not my purpose. However I didn’t leave anything out, and I didn’t skew anything. I do not have to read all of Nate’s posts to question why he gave up his faith.

    Simmons: A few times in your above response to Nate’s blog on Judas’s death, you say that you hope Nate has not left his faith just because the circumstances surrounding the above mentioned Bible passages.  In fact, if you continue to look through Nate’s blog, there are several reasons for his loss in faith, with this being just one small part.  So it would seem that your sincere hope for Nate was well placed.

    Me: I was saying that I would hope that Nate would not give up his faith for something as trivial as this. Of course I understand that this is not the only reason Nate converted to atheism, but the other reasons would have no more substance than this.

    Simmons: You do make some compelling arguments for the bible’s inspiration on this given topic, but the problem I have is that they are arguments found outside of the bible.  several of these logical scenarios you have offered are conjecture and obtained somewhere besides the bible, although it is true one would have to do that to reconcile many of these issues in order to maintain that it is error free.

    Me: There is nothing wrong with using outside sources to prove the inerrancy of the Bible, it is called “external evidence.” Sources such as the rabbinal writings are helpful in showing how the Jews regarded certain things. So I make no apology for using outside sources.

    Simmons: You also said that differing news reports were understandable if they were the initial reports, but I think that is the thing.  I cannot speak for Nate, but I can accept the stories of Judas here and rationalize the accounts just fine, because they do resemble some stories or accounts I have heard from other people – but they’re people who make mistakes because they cannot know everything.  What makes parts of this Judas account problematic, is that, regardless of when written, we all assume that God would have known the whole story, so then why would we expect any possible discrepancy when telling the complete story would have easily eliminated that problem?  The one account could have said that Judas finally fell to the ground after hanging himself, without even mentioning being bursting open, and just that small bit of additional info in the gospel’s telling would have solved this, but it is not there.  

    Me: As far as “initial reports” are concerned, the people are not wrong. Initial report simply means that all of the information is not in. The writers of this event put down what was given them. One writer would write one thing because that is what was given him, and another would write something else because that is what was given him. Neither were wrong, it is just that neither were given the whole story. All the information wasn’t given to either writer, and we don’t find the complete information until we read the totality on the subject. My position is that the Bible is not a book of dictation. It is a book that was written for the common people, using the customs that they had. This is the only way that the common man is going to understand it. Yes, God knew the story, but as it was written to the Jews, they would understand about Zechariah being called Jeremiah (I will cover this later on in this post). It was written for the Jews, and the Jews had many traditions, and the Bible often incorporated those traditions. I stated, in my original post that:

    “Holding the Bible to a standard that does not allow normal, common sense and logic is a tool used by Bible critics to get people to see things their way. They know that the Bible believer believes that the Bible is the word of God, so they start making rules and regulations (that they won’t even make for their own writings—but they contend that their writings are accurate) so that the weak and unlearned will get lost in the twisted rule and see things their way” (http://challenge2.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/a-response-on-judas-death/)

    Your way of thinking about the Bible does not allow for normal, common sense and logic. You want every account to say the same thing when if we saw that kind of writing in a newspaper today, we would have absolutely no real understanding of what had been written. The Bible isn’t just a book of words. It isn’t just a book of stories and events. It was written so that man could decipher it in his own way of thinking. It used the normal writing considerations that any writing used. This is why we see the different accounts say different things. This is the way our writing considerations are, and the Bible, if it is to be understood by man, had to be written in the same way. I also pointed out the people called it the field of blood for one reason while the chief priests called it that for another. You seemed to have overlooked that part.

    Simmons: Good point about child getting an adults gun.  That is definitely something to consider.  But the question again is, why would theholy spirit say that the priests bought it in one place and then in another say that Judas bought it?  While it is possible the way the way you have described it, it is also possible that these are just mistakes by men.  Why wouldn’t a perfect being eliminate this issue (which is an apparent error by many) by simply inspiring each writer of the same thing?

    Me: The Spirit often had one writer write concerning a certain point of view, then have another writer write (about the same incident) from another point of view. I pointed out that this is common for man, and always has been. Since the Bible was being written for the common man, it would follow the style and type of writing that man would understand. If the Bible had not been written in such a way as to take man’s customs into consideration it would make little or no sense to him at all. Thus there would be no reason to write it. It was authored by God, written by man (by inspiration from God), for man. As such it had to be written in a manner that was common to man for man to benefit from it. You can claim that it is possible that these things are mistakes, but you cannot prove such. By going back to the customs, to which man is accustomed, we can see that there is nothing to indicate that this is a mistake. As for why the Spirit wouldn’t eliminate the problem by inspiring each writer to say the exact same thing, let me point out two things:

    1.One book would be written to one people, who would have one interest in mind, while another book would be written to another people who had different interests. Matthew was written to the Jews while John was written to Romans, and Luke was written to Greeks. The Jews would be interested in one part of an event, but not so much in other parts, so the Spirit had Matthew write about the parts of the event that the Jews would understand, and have an interest in. The Greeks, were not interested in tradition (as were the Jews), but they were interested in chronology which is why we see Luke’s books written more on a chronological basis than the others. The Romans were different from the Jews and the Greeks. They didn’t care about tradition, and they didn’t care about chronology, but they did care about legalities so we find things that would catch their attention. All three were correct, but writing from different view points because of their readers.
    2.Bible study is not something that can be handed down. It is something that must be achieved. If everything was laid out easy and simple, then there would be no real knowledge of the Bible. Most of my knowledge of the Bible comes from getting down and attempting to understand the text, especially where there is a variant between two passages. There have been times that I have spent as much as 20 hours studying two passages that vary just so I can understand the meaning. Now, I realize that some aren’t going to put the time in to that kind of study, but it is to their detriment that they don’t because they will never come to a full knowledge of the truth, nor would they appreciate it if they did. God doesn’t want people who just have rote memory of the Bible, he wants people who have delved into the text, looked at it from every possible angle, and have come to a knowledge of the truth. If everything was laid out for us, there would be no challenge. There would be work, and we would be lax in our study. This is what most people want, but if they aren’t willing to put the time into studying the text, then they will never appreciate it. I tell the teens, here at church, in my teen class on Wed. evening, that they need to be studying hard so that their faith is their own, not someone elses. Only when one has done this kind of study, and has his/her own faith, will that faith not be stripped from them.

    Simmons: You also said that Zechariah was also known as Jeremiah, but I didn’t see a reference given in support.  Could that be provided?

    Me: Not everything is going to be in the text itself. Some evidence is found outside the text, and such is the case with this. John Gill, a great Bible scholar, wrote:

    Moreover, it is usual with them to say (b), that the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah; and it is very plain, that the latter prophets have many things from the former; and so might Zechariah have this originally from Jeremy, which now stands in his prophecy: all this would be satisfactory to a Jew: and it is to be observed, that the Jew (c), who objects to everything he could in the evangelist, with any appearance on his side, and even objects to the application of this prophecy; yet finds no fault with him for putting Jeremy for Zechariah. (b) Sepher Hagilgulim apud Surenhus. Biblos Katallages, p. 41. (c) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 25. p. 412” (Exposition on the New Testament, e-Sword).

    One of the things I like about Gill is that he would often quote from Jewish scholars as to the way that they viewed things. He says that according to the Jewish scholars, it was normal for them to say that the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah. While I know of no verse in the Bible which states such, the Jewish tradition is there and carries a lot of weight in matters such as this. Also Rabbi Isaac Chizzuk objects to everything about Christ, and even applying this to Christ, but he finds no fault with putting Jeremiah for Zechariah. When I look for proof of the inspiration of the Bible, the rabbincal writings come in very handy because they show the thinking of the Jewish mind, and this is important because the Bible was written by Jews. Not only was the Bible inspired, but the writer was also inspired. The Spirit would select the words, give them to the writer and allow the writer to use his style in writing (which is why we can tell what was written by Paul before looking to see who wrote). The Spirit also made allowances for the customs of the people, and since we have seen that it was the custom of the people to refer to Zechariah as Jeremiah, we find no fault with it.

    I also pointed out that the order of the books of the Hebrew Bible were different than our canon today, just as I was speaking of the order of the books of the Hebrew Bible in Luke 2:44 when Jesus said “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luk 24:44). The Hebrew Bible was arranged differently than ours is. For example in the Hebrew Bible there is only one book of Chronicles, and only one book of Kings, etc. Our Bible breaks these books down into two books each (1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, etc.). But the Hebrew Bible didn’t do that, but everything that is in 1 and 2 Chronicles is in the book of Chronicles in the Hebrew Bible. Jesus gave three sections of the Hebrew Bible (1) the Law of Moses, (2) the prophets, and (3) the psalms. He didn’t mention Proverbs, Eccl, Solomon, etc., just like he didn’t mention every book of the Penteteuch or every prophetical book. He broke it down into three sections and the rest fell into place in those three categories. Regarding the passage under consideration Jeremiah just happened to be the first book of this section of prophetical books in the Hebrew Bible. Thus it would be natural to call anything in it as being prophesied by Jeremiah. Adam Clarke backs this up with a statement from Dr. Lightfoot about Jewish tradition:

    “It was an ancient custom among the Jews, says Dr. Lightfoot, to divide the Old Testament into three parts: the first beginning with the law was called The Law; the second beginning with the Psalms was called The Psalms; the third beginning with the prophet in question was called Jeremiah: thus, then, the writings of Zechariah and the other prophets being included in that division that began with Jeremiah, all quotations from it would go under the name of this prophet. If this be admitted, it solves the difficulty at once. Dr. Lightfoot quotes Baba Bathra, and Rabbi David Kimchi’s preface to the prophet Jeremiah, as his authorities; and insists that the word Jeremiah is perfectly correct as standing at the head of that division from which the evangelist quoted, and which gave its denomination to all the rest. But Jeremiah is the reading in several MSS. of the Coptic. It is in one of the Coptic Dictionaries in the British Museum, and in a Coptic MS. of Jeremiah, in the library of St. Germain. So I am informed by the Rev. Henry Tattam, Rector of St Cuthbert’s, Bedford” (Clarke’s Commentaries, e-Sword).

    I don’t know who Baba Bathra was, but David Kimchi was a 12th century Jewish Rabbi who was well versed in Jewish tradition.

    Simmons: I hope you take the time to respond to the rest of Nate’s issues with the bible.  Some of those issues trouble many people, people who live very moral and hospitable lives, people who would have to change very little to be Christians.  Rectifying these issues would be of great help to these people, should the bible really be God’s word.

    But consider this, if an old man came up to you today and said that God told him to talk to you, would you believe that God actually told him to speak to you?  What if he told you that God wanted him to tell you how to make your back feel better (and it turned out you had a back problem) – would you believe him then?  What if he told you that God healed him in some way?

    Why then is it so easy to believe a book, written by people who simply claim that God told them to write it? There is no proof (evidence is not the same as proof as I am sure an old police officer would know).  And why should people of other religions be compelled to follow a bible with apparent errors?  And couldn’t they defend their religious books by giving their own arguments as to why their book is really without error too, even though it may appear to have them?

    Me: The Bible does not teach the reality of modern day miracles. I listen to what the Bible says, not what some one may tell me God directly said to him. I believe people should believe in the Bible because it has been tried and tested. Atheists/critics have thrown their best at the Bible and still it continues to live and work in people’s lives. If a smidgen of the effort that people spend trying to discredit the Bible was used to destroy the Quran, or the Book of Mormon, those books would disappear from society. No other book can stand up under the kind of scrutiny that Bible critics have brought to bear upon it. I do plan on reading more of Nate’s posts, but I was not aware that he had changed until this past week.

    • #6 by Nate on April 4, 2011 - 9:09 pm

      Hi Jerry,

      If parts of the Bible were written specifically for certain audiences (Jews, Greeks, etc), then why was none of it written for a modern mindset?

      And if understanding God’s word requires hours and hours of study on specific passages, how do you know you’ve been spending so much time with the right book? The things you notice as problems with other religious texts may disappear if you gave them hours, days, and years of study and contemplation.

      Also, do I know you? Your last statement makes it sound like you know me…

      Thanks,
      Nate

      • #7 by challenge2 on April 4, 2011 - 9:20 pm

        The Bible was written once, and it was written in such a way as to apply to all men of all time. I know that I have spent time in the right book because I have tested in debate for 30 years. I have studied other books, but things like in the book of Mormon about how they got to America isn’t going to go away no matter what one does.

        I saw a statement from Todd Greene, on the Baty list, that you had changed.

      • #8 by Nate on April 4, 2011 - 9:27 pm

        Thanks for the reply. Not sure who Todd Greene is… or what Baty is, but at least that clears it up a little. I was worried that I should know you but couldn’t remember! :)

        I had always felt very certain of the Bible too, till I just found too many issues with it. Even the idea that it was written once and in a way to apply to all men isn’t really the case. As I’m sure you’re aware, our various manuscripts show where passages were added and edited over time. And if it really was written once for all men, why is it wrong to apply a modern perspective to it? You said earlier that certain books were written for specific groups and that it was written in a way ancient people would understand. So how can it simultaneously be written in a way for modern man to understand?

        Also, the first comment I posted this morning isn’t showing up still… not sure if you’ve noticed that or not.

        Later.

      • #9 by challenge2 on April 4, 2011 - 9:35 pm

        Sorry about the post not getting posted. I missed it earlier. You shouldn’t have any more problems concerning this.

    • #10 by William on April 4, 2011 - 9:45 pm

      Jerry, I appreciate the time you took to respond. And the leading comments in my previous response here, were not meant to be condescending or sarcastic, so if that is how they came off, then I apologize.

      I completely understand what you were saying about if we had everything all laid out it would take as much work or thought. Indeed, when I was a practicing, believing, teaching, studying Christian I often said the same thing and I can still agree with it.

      “Holding the Bible to a standard that does not allow normal, common sense and logic is a tool used by Bible critics to get people to see things their way. They know that the Bible believer believes that the Bible is the word of God, so they start making rules and regulations (that they won’t even make for their own writings—but they contend that their writings are accurate) so that the weak and unlearned will get lost in the twisted rule and see things their way”
      I’m not sure if i follow how I have done this? I dont believe that the Iliad is 100% accurate either even though Troy has been found and confirmed, even though it has had an impact on societies for centuries. Something are just too unbelievable without better evidence. Plus, keep in mind that anything would be possible for God, so any and every explanation is reasonable when defending what you want to be from God. If i had 20 hours to come up with a bridge between any two apparent conflicts I could make one – but is that finding the truth or just bridging a gap between two discrepancies.

      many people study the bible only to prove it wrong, that’s true. Other study the bible only to prove it true. What will people find when they study to see if the bible is true or not? When you study the Qua-ran or the book of Mormon or even the Origin of Species, do you read them to prove them true, or false? Do you even consider that they might be what they claim?
      Sure the bible has been around longer than the Qua’ran, but is that really proof of anything? Isnt the Qua’ran still around, and arent there Muslims who claim, just as you do about the bible, that no other book can stand against their Qua’ran?

      I live just as I did when I believed the bible – I even still attend church services, so my doubts in the bible are sincere are based upon real issues I’ve encountered from deeper study. I realized that we’ve based all of our faith on what some man has claimed. I know people say that the bibles longevity and in-errancy are proof, but it only appears to be without error if you or someone else bridges over those discrepancies because the bible doesnt do it.

      You mentioned prophecies earlier, but if a prophecy is vague and the out come can be different what was prophesied then anything can verify it, or if it isnt fullfilled in the way the prophecy said it would be, then we must take it figuratively – what’s the point?

  4. #11 by Jerry McDonald on April 6, 2011 - 4:54 am

    “So when the Bible looks most like it was written by actual individuals, that’s only because the Holy Spirit made them do it that way?” I am not following. The Bible was written by individuals, but these individuals were inspired individuals. As far as the alleged contradictions are concerned, I am sure that you think they are contradictions, but they do not pass the criterion of what a contradiction is. You find places where two verse are different from each other and you think contradiction when really they are nothing but subcontraries. A contradiction is two statements about the same thing, but one negates the other. In other words, one statement is true, and the other is false. The word “contradictory” refers to “Two propositions (or statements jdm) so related that one is the denial or negation of the other” (Introduction to Logic, Eleventh Edition, Glossary, p. 628). On page 189, Copi wrote: “Two propositions are contradictories if one is the denial or negation of the other; that is, if they cannot both be true, and cannot both be false.” You wont find any place in the Bible where two statements negate or deny each other. People have been trying for centuries and no one has found one yet, and you won’t be the first or the last to try and fail.

    As far as your statement that the Bible is unfalsifiable, you are correct. The Bible isn’t science where you expect something might go wrong. Your problem seems to be that you have become so used to looking at things scientifically that you think that the Bible ought to be treated as science would be treated. In science, things are expected to be falsifiable, but the Bible isn’t. Yes, I am quite happy with my life, and I have no desire to change it. I will take a look at your other claims (on your blog) at a later time, but right now I am in the middle of a written debate on SN 1987a and I am preparing for an oral debate for this summer on a religious topic so I won’t be able to do as much as I would like. But I will get to your alleged contradictions and show you how they do not pass the test of what a contradiction is.

    In Christ Jesus
    Jerry McDonald

  5. #12 by Jerry McDonald on April 6, 2011 - 5:11 am

    I have just noticed that you consider the Judas’ death difficulty to be a contradiction. So let’s look at it. If two statements contradict each other, then one statement will be true and the other will be false. Notice Copi again: “Propositions that are at opposite ends of the diagonals are contradictories, of which one must be true and the other must be false” (Introduction to Logic, Eleventh Edition, p. 391). So is one of the statements about the why the field of blood is called such true, and one false? How do you know that one is true and one is false? How are you going to make such a determination? Remember in contradictory statements you must have one true statement (to measure the false one with) and one false statement. In law enforcement (especially in court) people are caught in self contradiction when they tell what happened, then tell something completely opposite. So is one statement in direct opposition to the other? If so, which one is true and which one is false? How do you know that they deny each other? Do they follow the form “p” and “not p”? If not, they are not contradictories. Both statements could differ, but both be correct, and they would be called subcontraries. They could differ and both be false, and they would be called “contraries.” However, you are not calling them contraries, you are saying that one statement is false, calling them contradictories. So how do you intend to prove that one statement is true and the other is false. This is something you are going to have to do in order to call them contradictories. This is why my challenge has never been taken, because even the most rabid atheists know that these simply don’t exist in the Bible; and I have had them tell me such.

    In Christ Jesus
    Jerry McDonald

  6. #13 by Nate on April 6, 2011 - 12:48 pm

    Sorry, I may not have been clear. My issues with the different scenarios about Judas’ death and the field of blood are that they could be contradictory. I agree that possible bridges for them can be constructed — but that doesn’t mean the bridges are correct. The claim that the writers of the Bible were inspired by God is an extreme claim, because it’s not a claim we would entertain with any other book. And rightly so. None of us has ever personally interacted with God before. We should be hesitant to accept the claims of people who say he’s spoken directly to them.

    The issues in Judas’ death are important because they show that the Bible may not be what it claims. The fact is, the accounts of his death are different in almost every detail. Does that mean that they are truly contradictory? No, but it does mean they could be.

    But there is one real contradiction surrounding Judas’ death, and that’s when Matthew attributes a passage to Jeremiah that is actually found in Zechariah. That is a true contradiction. He says the passage was spoken by Jeremiah, but it’s not found in the Book of Jeremiah. It’s found in Zechariah. That’s a common mistake for a person to make, but not an inspired person.

    I know you’ve found a scholar who thinks it’s not a big deal, but I disagree. It is a big deal. And it’s hard for me to believe that Jews would have read that and not thought it was a mistake. The scholar is grasping at straws.

    Let me make a brief example: I like the Dark Tower books by Stephen King. If King had suddenly begun referring to his character Jake by a different name, he would have created a contradiction. The only way it wouldn’t be a contradiction is if he gave an explanation for the name change. Now, fans could come up with an explanation, and could probably do it pretty easily. But if the explanation wasn’t given within the books themselves, then it would be a true contradiction. We only have a problem seeing that when it relates to the Bible. Why do we give more slack to an “inspired” and “perfect” book than we do to a regular one?

    • #14 by Jerry McDonald on April 6, 2011 - 3:25 pm

      The following statement by Gill was not just something Gill thought up, but was based on Hebrew Scholars writings:

      Moreover, it is usual with them to say (b), that the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah; and it is very plain, that the latter prophets have many things from the former; and so might Zechariah have this originally from Jeremy, which now stands in his prophecy: all this would be satisfactory to a Jew: and it is to be observed, that the Jew (c), who objects to everything he could in the evangelist, with any appearance on his side, and even objects to the application of this prophecy; yet finds no fault with him for putting Jeremy for Zechariah. (b) Sepher Hagilgulim apud Surenhus. Biblos Katallages, p. 41. (c) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 25. p. 412” (Exposition on the New Testament, e-Sword).

      Now the first statement (b) “that the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah” was based on Sepher Hagilgulim apud Surenhus Biblos Katallages, p. 41. This was the way the Jews understood the writings of the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written in their language and using their idioms and writing considerations. So it was perfectly normal for them to consider the spirit of Jeremiah being in Zechariah the prophet. The New Testament simply showed that fact. (c) refers to Isaac Chizzuk Emuna par. 2.c.25, p. 412 where Gill talks about Isaac Chizzuk (a rabbinical writer “who objects to everything he could in the evangelist, with any appearance on his side, and even objects to the application of this prophecy; yet finds NO FAULT with him for putting Jeremy for Zechariah.” Why because it was common for them to refer to Zechariah’s works by using the name Jeremiah.

      Now these are not just rationalizations, they are based on Jewish writings. God didn’t send down a book that was independent of the style and kind of writings that the Jewish people had. It was written by Jews, using idioms and writing considerations that the Jews were accustomed to. They understood this clearly, but because we try to make the Bible match 20th century writing styles, we don’t understand it. I guess the main problem that people have in understanding the Bible is that they don’t leave it in the century in which it was written. They try to 21st centuryize it, and it won’t work. The moral principles are applicable to all men everywhere and of every age, because morality does not change. The religious laws have changed with the religious ages (Patriarical, Mosaical, Christian), and we are only under the Christian laws. While we can learn from the examples of those set forth in the Old Testament, we are not under the Old Testament for our religious authority. However, when interpreting the Bible there are five things that we must always remember:

      1. Who wrote it.
      2. Where was it written to.
      3. Where was it written from.
      4. When was it written.
      5. Why was it written.

      If we will remember those five things, we will go along ways towards understanding the Bible. People try to set the date for Christ’s return because they don’t understand the book of Revelation, that it was written to the Seven Churches in Asia (Rev. 1:4, 11). If they understood this they would see that most of what was written in that book does not directly apply to us today. It all directly applied to the Christians in Asia Minor who were undergoing heavy persecution from the Roman Empire. We can learn principles from that book, and we can learn that we are to look for the second coming, but no one knows when that coming will be (Mt. 24:36).

      Your problem is that you are trying to understand the Bible using modern thinking and writing principles. Try to look at it through the eyes of the people who wrote it and first read it. That will take some study because you are going to have to look at what these people thought and how they reasoned. However, it will give you a greater appreciation of the Bible than you have ever had before.

      In Christ Jesus
      Jerry McDonald

  7. #15 by Nate on April 6, 2011 - 3:39 pm

    So if Matthew had said it was “spoken by the prophet Zechariah” the Jews wouldn’t have understood him? Simply saying it that way would make sense for anyone reading it, regardless of perspective.

    And if the Bible was inspired by God, why was he stuck within the ancient mindset and writing styles? You’re saying that the NT was written from the perspective of 1st Century Jews and that some of their accounts appear contrary because each writer only had information relating to his own perspective. And I’m sure you’re aware that the translators and copyists were allowed to add, remove, and edit texts as they saw fit. Churches in the first few centuries were able to have many ideas about which books were or were not canon. So in summary, if the Bible was written from a human perspective, with contemporary language and knowledge, and was passed down through the years by very human means, why should we think there’s anything divine about it at all?

    You solve the problems in this example by saying the writers only had limited knowledge and only spoke in contemporary terms — that’s the point I’m also making! To me, that’s very clear evidence that they weren’t guided by an infallible deity — they were just men.

    But I also realize that we’re now just recycling the same points to one another. Maybe we’ll reach some common ground on another topic in the future.

    Thanks

    • #16 by Jerry McDonald on April 6, 2011 - 4:10 pm

      “And I’m sure you’re aware that the translators and copyists were allowed to add, remove, and edit texts as they saw fit. Churches in the first few centuries were able to have many ideas about which books were or were not canon. So in summary, if the Bible was written from a human perspective, with contemporary language and knowledge, and was passed down through the years by very human means, why should we think there’s anything divine about it at all?”

      I am aware of what liberal scholars say about the translators and copyists, but I am also aware of how carefully they really were. For example if a king was to come in the room while the copyist was writing the word “God” the king would have to stand and wait until the copyist had finished the word. The copyists were not allowed to break a line and go on to the next page and write it. They had to trash the first copy, and get a longer scroll and re-write the whole thing.

      The early church had NOTHING to do with what books were in the Canon. The Nicene Council determined what the NT canon was, but their determination was based on the contend of the book, not on what they wanted it to be.

      In Christ Jesus
      Jerry McDonald

      • #17 by William on April 6, 2011 - 4:25 pm

        Were those party to the Nicene Council inspired as well? If not, do you not think that it could be possible that errors were made there? Several of those discarded copies are still around, so one says that God would have preserved his word for us will not really apply here. And which copy of the earliest texts that we have now are the really inspired ones? How do we determine which one to believe if one text has verses that another one does not?

  8. #18 by Jerry McDonald on April 6, 2011 - 4:06 pm

    “So if Matthew had said it was “spoken by the prophet Zechariah” the Jews wouldn’t have understood him? Simply saying it that way would make sense for anyone reading it, regardless of perspective.”

    If you will notice the only time the prophet Zechariah is even mentioned in the New Testament is where Jesus referred to him as the last righteous martyr of the Old Testament (Mt. 23:35; Lk. 11:51). He wasn’t a prophet that was quoted from extensively. Since the Jews did understand his prophecies by referring to Jeremiah then there should be no problem. Again you are looking at the Bible through 20th & 21st century eyes. You asked why God would be stuck with ancient customs and writing considerations. Simply because the Bible was written in that day and time. It was written so those people could understand it. They would not have been able to understand it if it had been written using 20th and 21st century writing considerations, but we can (through study) understand it from their considerations. Modern man’s problem is that he wants it to be easy to understand. He doesn’t want to have to work to gain the knowledge. He wants it laid out for him so he doesn’t have to work for it. Why was the Bible stuck with ancient mindset? Because it is an ancient book. The moral principles apply to us because morality does not change, but the mindset is ancient.

    In Christ Jesus
    Jerry McDonald

    • #19 by William on April 6, 2011 - 4:32 pm

      So I guess the question still is, if Matthew had said it was “spoken by the prophet Zechariah” the Jews wouldn’t have understood him? It wouldnt have to be either the first century Jews can understood or modern man can understand it, if Matthew had simply quoted Jesus as saying “spoken by the prophet Zechariah” this part would be a non-issue. Were the scriptures written for all people fro all time, or just those in the first century?

      I also wonder why Jesus would have said “Jeremiah” because ancient Jews would have had difficulty understanding “Zechariah” in this Judas account, but felt that they would have no problem understanding by saying “Zechariah” was a martyr.

      • #20 by Jerry McDonald on April 6, 2011 - 6:13 pm

        You are making this harder than you need to. The question is not whether the Jews would have understood it if Zechariah’s name had been used. The question is “Did the Jews understand the idea that Zechariah wrote in the spirit of Jeremiah?” and the answer to that is “yes.” In your mind for the scriptures to use the name of Jeremiah, the Jews would have to have not been able to understand it if Zechariah was used. Just like when Jesus referred to the three categories in Luke 24:44 and his hearers understood that he was speaking of the Old Testament canon, the name Jeremiah was used and the hearers understood that Zechariah was the prophet because they knew the prophecy came from Zechariah, but Zechariah was said to have written or spoken in the spirit of Jeremiah. If you will notice, not one single time is Zechariah quoted from where it is ascribed to him by name.

        Zechariah was well known as the last Jewish martyr, but his prophecies were never quoted from and attributed to him by name. Why this is, is something that I do not know. But I do know that it is true.

        In Christ Jesus
        Jerry McDoald

  9. #21 by Nate on April 6, 2011 - 6:47 pm

    Jerry, we’re the ones making this harder than it has to be? Do you really mean that? We’re just saying that since Zechariah is the one that made the “prophecy” then it would only make sense to refer to him. That’s very clear and evident. And if Jews knew anything about the OT, then they’d know exactly who Matthew was referring to if he had actually referred to Zechariah. This would not have been a problem for them. Furthermore, every generation since that time would also have no trouble understanding what he was saying because we could all find the book of Zechariah to confirm Matthew’s claim. Instead, Matthew refers to a different prophet who never said anything of the kind. Now according to your scholar and his Jewish sources, they interchanged names for the prophets all the time (or at least for Jeremiah and Zechariah for some reason), which really just makes the entire attribution meaningless. ….And we’re the ones making it complicated?

    If God really wanted people to understand his word, he’d make it understandable. That’s the crux of this issue. Glaring contradictions like the Jeremiah/Zechariah issue would not exist in a perfect work from God, unless he simply didn’t care about anyone understanding it (other than 1st Century Jews, of course). Let’s face it, your version of God cares nothing for people born after the 1st Century, or for anyone who isn’t from a Judeo-Christian background. How many people from other cultures would see this issue and think “I’d better research this for years just to make sure there’s not some far-fetched way to reconcile it”? I’d bet that none of us do that for Islam or Mormonism. Do we spend years trying to figure out a way to iron out the inconsistencies in those religions? No. We see them for the contradictions they are and move one. The sad thing is, we aren’t honest enough to do that with our own cherished beliefs. Then we have the audacity to tell everyone else they’re wrong and will be judged by God. It’s the pinnacle of hubris.

    • #22 by Jerry McDonald on April 6, 2011 - 9:12 pm

      God did make his word understandable. It was perfectly understood by those of the day in which it was written. Your problem is that you want everything handed down to you so easy that you don’t have do anything but read. If the Jews understood who this was, why can’t you? The Bible was written according to their mindset, and writing consideration; not yours. The Jewish scholars have stated that it was common for them to say that Zechariah prophesied in the spirit of Jeremiah. So it was common for them to use the name Jeremiah when referring to a prophecy in Zechariah. I can’t help it that you want everything laid out for you so you don’t have to do any kind of study. I have shown you from the Jewish scholars what the case was. It is your problem if you cannot do a little research and find the answer. The things that are essential are laid out in plain view, but this isn’t essential to your salvation. You can understand it if you want to, but if the Bible had been written according to our writing standards it would have meant nothing to those people, and they were the first ones to receive it.

      I don’t know about you, but I have spent the last 30 years studying the Quran and the book of Mormon which is why I know so much about it. You may be the way you describe but don’t lay that claim at my feet.

      In Christ Jesus
      Jerry McDonald

  10. #23 by William on April 6, 2011 - 9:45 pm

    Jerry,

    “It was perfectly understood by those of the day in which it was written.” I’m not sure that it was. As you may know, many of the Jews didn’t believe it and still do not.

    A lot of this reasoning sounds like it comes directly from the emperor’s new clothes. And I am willing to bet that in those thirty years of studying the Qua’ran and Book of Mormon that you were studying to find fault in it, where as with the bible you study to prove it. Of course, that’s just my guess. You can tell me if I’m wrong, but only God will know if you’re being honest.

    And as far as laying out claims, were you trying to defend the Book of Mormon and the Qua’ran when you studied them. In another post you said that you never considered that the bible was not from God – yet you seemed to have considered that with these other books? Is that honestly fair?

    And you’re really sidestepping the point, by saying that it was written to the 1st century people in the only way they could understand it. That is simply false, and is actually making things far more complicated than they need to be. maybe the Jews all new Zechariah by “Jeremiah” but even so, if the scriptures had just said is was written or spoken by Zechariah, there would not have been any possible way to misinterpret this. Or are you saying that the Jews would have had trouble understanding Zechariah being called by his own name instead of by someone else’s?

    And I’m really sort of surprised that you don’t find any trouble in that you have to go to external sources to try and clarify this. I would say that you’re relying on man’s word, but in reality, you’ve been doing that the entire time with the bible anyways. The Author of Mathew said that he was inspired by God, so he must be.

    Deeper research has brought me to this point, but I wasnt trying to defend the bible, I was trying to see if it actually stood up to the scrutiny. Like the young prophet should have been, I am being skeptical of the older prophet’s claims.

    • #24 by Jerry McDonald on April 6, 2011 - 9:58 pm

      Never did I ever say I defended the Quran or the Book of Mormon. You have twisted what I said. I said that I have studied them and have looked at them from both sides. This does not mean that I was defending them. I have studied them objectively, I did not just say that there were contradictions and then went on my way. The only book I have ever defended as inspired was the Bible, but I have studied the other books. Quit twisting what I say.

      You can say that what I have said about the Bible is like the story of the Emperors New Clothes, but you say this to belittle anything I have said on this because you cannot logically and rationally respond to my explanation. You are going to believe what you want because you have turned your back on God, his church, and his word as well as his Son. You have burnt your bridges and now you must do whatever it takes to keep up your faith in this new religion called “atheism.” That’s fine, but you cannot prove that the Bible contradicts itself; you cannot prove that there are contradictions in the Bible. All you can do is show that there are somethings about the Bible that you don’t understand, and with that I agree. However, that is not God’s fault neither is it mine. I shouldn’t be surprised that you would twist my words because that is exactly what you have done with God’s word.

      In Christ Jesus
      Jerry McDonald

      • #25 by William on April 7, 2011 - 12:29 pm

        Jerry, I think you misunderstood what I was saying regarding your review of the Qua’ran and Book of Mormon. What you just wrote is exactly my point. You never studied them the same way you studied the Bible. You already have made up in you mind that the Bible is God’s word and the others are not. You already have the end result decided, so your study is just connecting the dots from where you began to the end that you want.

        And I can see why you would say that I have turned my back on God toward my “religion called atheism”, it makes it easier to dismiss what I am saying and makes it easier to see why I would be going to hell. You are incorrect, however, in assuming that I am an atheist. I believe whole heartedly in a creator – I just dont believe that the bible is from him. And while I cannot disprove your unlikely possible solutions to these issues, you cannot prove them. Nor can you prove that I am wrong. No one can “disprove” the Qua’ran, all they can show is that there are things they do not understand.

        And fine, the Bible makes perfect sense top you, but it doesnt to me. The Qua’ran doesnt makes sense to me, but it does to some people. But if the Bible demands so much intense study to understand, as you have pointed out, then how can you be so sure that you have it figured out? God has not come down and congratulated you for reaching an understanding that the vast majority of people have not. It’s you best guess, based on what you know and think at the time – that’s all. Just like everyone else. That’s the point trying to be made. Your faith boils down to faith, a faith that the authors of the bible were being completely honest and 100% accurate – in other words, faith in man cannot be avoided. Unless God has spoken directly to you? And if you say the bible is how he spoke directly to you, you’re wrong. If the Bible was God’s word, he gave it to someone else who wrote it down, then it was copied by another person, and was translated by someone else, copied several more times before you got it, which makes this an indirect word at best.

  11. #26 by Cameron on April 29, 2011 - 1:22 am

    Interesting discussion everyone. We live in interesting times. We live in a time when more people can read than any other time in history. Up until the last few centuries, the masses were dependent on “other people” telling them how to believe simply because they could not read. The bible has never been under more scrutiny than right now, either scientifically, logically, and historically. 2000 years have past and we still cannot settle on a translation of the bible. New ones keep coming out. Even the doctrine of salvation has created numerous denominations. (ie. baptism, faith, grace, security of the believer). When something claims to be infallible, inherent, or whatever the case, all it takes is one missed dotted “i” or crossed “t” to make that not so. I have found that as time has gone on, I have been having to make more and more excuses for why God does not do something or why that is not what He meant than showing people what works. What people like Nate needs is a glaring, overwhelming difference of the presence of God. I have often kidded other Christians that if they would give me their prayer lists, I would pray to a head of lettuce for them. They could pray to God. We would both come up statistically with the same answers wouldn’t we? Simply by copying what they do and pray to someone else, our answers would be the same. We would then debate whether it was God or the Head of Lettuce that answered the prayers….or in many people’s cases, we would begin to make excuses why God or the Head of Lettuce didn’t answer the prayers. Since I would have the Head of Lettuce, I can simply say, Look! it is a head of lettuce idiots! But with God it is different, we cannot say that…can we? My point in all this is to illustrate that finding contradictions is the fruit of a much deeper problem with our faith. It is the accumulation of disappointments and “excuse burnout” that causes people to search them out.

  1. Introduction « Marking and Exposing False Teachers
  2. Wie ist Judas Iskariot gestorben? Hat er sich erhängt (Mt 27,5) oder ist er gestürzt (Apg 1,18)? « lgvgh – ein Blog von Viktor Janke

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