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liamconnor
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:55 am  Bible Mistakes Reply with quote

Popular attacks against the Bible point out discrepancies among the details.

But then, there are discrepancies in detail among other ancient historians: Plutarch, Josephus, Livy etc. etc.

Historians continue to use these works in order to reconstruct the history of Greece and Rome; and it seems that most members here trust those reconstructions.


But when a single discrepancy is found in the Bible, it is regarded as earth-shattering.

Should the contents of the bible be treated differently from the contents of any other ancient document? Should it be held to a higher standard for historical reliability?

Why? Why not apply the same methods of historical inquiry to it as to any other historical source?
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 11: Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:05 am
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liamconnor wrote:

Popular attacks against the Bible point out discrepancies among the details.

Yes, because some claim the Bible is the infallible, inerrant word of God. Others like to point out that this can't be the case.

liamconnor wrote:

But then, there are discrepancies in detail among other ancient historians: Plutarch, Josephus, Livy etc. etc.

Ok, first point. You say 'other ancient historians'. Who is the historian for the Bible? Are you suggesting that all the authors (some of whom we don't even know who the are) are all historians?

Second point, have Plutarch, Josephus, Livy, etc. claimed within their written histories that the work is without error? Do you really think that people interested in history take these works at 100% face value and believe everything in them?

liamconnor wrote:

Historians continue to use these works in order to reconstruct the history of Greece and Rome; and it seems that most members here trust those reconstructions.

I would say that even the Bible is used to help reconstruct some history, but that doesn't mean the whole thing (or even any of it) is to be believed 100%. It is a data point. As are the other documents. The more disconnected data points that we have that point to the same answer leads to greater and greater certainty of the truth. Still, nothing is 100%.


liamconnor wrote:

But when a single discrepancy is found in the Bible, it is regarded as earth-shattering.

Yes, when arguing against someone who believes the entire book doesn't contain any errors. Heck, there is not even a consensus on the proper contents of the Bible. Canon debates aside, then we get into interpretation debates. Some Bibles have different meanings in them than others over certain ideas due to interpretation differences.

liamconnor wrote:

Should the contents of the bible be treated differently from the contents of any other ancient document? Should it be held to a higher standard for historical reliability?

I would say no, they should not be treated differently in that they should all be treated simply as documents that were written a long time ago. As with all documents, we have to treat them with some skepticism and try to corroborate with other disconnected sources including other documents of the time from disconnected authors as well as artifacts and known current information.

liamconnor wrote:

Why? Why not apply the same methods of historical inquiry to it as to any other historical source?

I would say that many here do just that and that is when the fireworks start. First, most documents that make up the bible are not histories. So we definitely can't call the entire Bible a history of anything. Some documents within it do seem to be written as histories. That's fine, but that doesn't mean we all of a sudden believe everything written in it as 100% true. You said it yourself, let's treat these the same as other documents from the past. When we do that here in the forums, many apologists get upset that we don't give their Bible special treatment.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 12: Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:05 am
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liamconnor wrote:

Should the contents of the bible be treated differently from the contents of any other ancient document? Should it be held to a higher standard for historical reliability?

Why? Why not apply the same methods of historical inquiry to it as to any other historical source?


The Bible most certainly should be held to the highest supreme standards because it is claiming to be the inspired word of an omnipotent supreme being. Therefore if it contains any contradictions or obvious errors of any kind its supreme origin should definitely be questioned.

In fact, I seriously don't understand how anyone can take the Bible seriously. It has its God commanding and directing men to do all manner of immoral things. Yet it claims that its God is the epitome of perfect morality.

As far as I can see the Bible has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that it cannot possibly be the directives, commandments, and instructions from any supposedly omnipotent omniscient God.

Historical information about other mortal humans should be expected to be flawed, and should also never be taken to be absolute truth. You seem to be making the assumption that people are accepting history to be 100% accurate and reliable. I don't think anyone views history in this way. I certainly don't.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 13: Mon Jul 04, 2016 2:02 pm
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liamconnor wrote:

Should the contents of the bible be treated differently from the contents of any other ancient document?

Regarding historical accuracy, Bible stories should be examined critically with the same standards as applied to other ancient texts -- and given no special consideration in any direction.

Those parts that can be shown to be accurate by historical study standards should be treated as such.

What parts have been shown to be historically accurate?

liamconnor wrote:

Should it be held to a higher standard for historical reliability?

It should not EXCEPT if it makes "higher" claims -- regarding supernatural entities and events. Then it should be examined with the same standards that are applied to similar tales in ancient (or modern) texts.

Notice that "historians" generally regard supernatural tales as mythology, legend, fable. Are there exceptions in which supernatural tales elsewhere are regarded as literal truth? Are any texts accepted by historians generally as "divinely inspired"?

Bible stories should receive equal treatment.

liamconnor wrote:

Why? Why not apply the same methods of historical inquiry to it as to any other historical source?

When that is done, the Bible is regarded as no more credible than other ancient texts (even aside from its supernatural claims).

Worshipers from any religion seem to think that their literature is above reproach. They are entitled to THINK that but not to claim it as established fact.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 14: Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:20 pm
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[Replying to post 3 by JehovahsWitness]

It goes the other way as well. Hyperskeptics apply a ridiculous level of skepticism to even mundane claims of the Bible--like Jesus' existence. They too are guilty of "special pleading".

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 15: Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:40 pm
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[Replying to post 13 by Zzyzx]
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What parts have been shown to be historically accurate?



I am not convinced that you would know what it means for a thing to be "shown to be historically accurate?"

History achieves various degrees of certainty.

Here are some historical propositions that have been deemed highly probable by historians of the topic:

1) Jesus existed

2) Jesus was baptized by John

3) Jesus was accredited with miracles

4) Jesus ran into trouble with Jewish authorities

5) Jesus was crucified by the roman authorities under Pontius Pilate

6) Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimethea, an aristocrat

7) Shortly after Jesus' death, his disciples claimed to have seen him alive again.


(you will note, none of these invoke the supernatural--there is nothing supernatural about people claiming something supernatural).


Quote:

It should not EXCEPT if it makes "higher" claims -- regarding supernatural entities and events. Then it should be examined with the same standards that are applied to similar tales in ancient (or modern) texts.


What standards are those? I am not aware of any agreed canon on investigating supernatural claims.

Quote:

Notice that "historians" generally regard supernatural tales as mythology, legend, fable. Are there exceptions in which supernatural tales elsewhere are regarded as literal truth? Are any texts accepted by historians generally as "divinely inspired"?


Are you asking me whether there are historians who believe in the supernatural? Or are you asking me whether there are supernatural events which all historians confirm?

The latter seems a bit naive; historians are human. They bring presuppositions and prejudices to texts. This goes both ways.

Quote:

Worshipers from any religion seem to think that their literature is above reproach. They are entitled to THINK that but not to claim it as established fact


Rather generalizing. Can you point to a single passage of mine where I treat the Bible as inerrant?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 16: Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:13 pm
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Justin108 wrote:

liamconnor wrote:

But then, there are discrepancies in detail among other ancient historians: Plutarch, Josephus, Livy etc. etc.

Plutarch, Josephus, Livy etc. were not supposedly inspired by God. Their writings aren't considered God's word. If an almighty deity communicated an ever-important message to humanity, I would expect the means of communicating this message to be flawless and without mistake. The very fact that God chose a book to communicate his message is strange enough, but for this book to be flawed as well? God can create the universe, but he can't inspire man to write a book that does not contain historic inaccuracies?

If God did speak to man as the Bible claims, and if he did inspire the words of the Bible, and if he did deem this message to be important, the least I would expect is for God to whisper in the author's ears "hey guy, that's not accurate. Don't write that"

Your point about the Bible is a bit of a stretch. I would say that God in His power should be able to deliver a message to humans that is not only infallible but also preserved perfectly. However, we should factor in that being able to do something doesn't mean that you will do it or that you have to do it. In the case of the Bible, not every single detail came directly from God, e.g. the details about the burial place of Moses and how the author states that it was unknown (that detail neither inspires nor teaches anything spiritual). Therefore, not all of Scripture is God's message, and furthermore, we should not expect flawless historical details.

We should only expect infallibility or truthfulness in the areas where the authors attributed their information to Divine revelation. It would be nice to know every single detail about God but I believe knowing His Laws, the Gospel, and some examples of good men or nations suffices for a BOOK that gets His main points across. The rest we can get from individual revelation.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 17: Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:21 pm
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liamconnor wrote:

Popular attacks against the Bible point out discrepancies among the details.

But then, there are discrepancies in detail among other ancient historians: Plutarch, Josephus, Livy etc. etc.

Historians continue to use these works in order to reconstruct the history of Greece and Rome; and it seems that most members here trust those reconstructions.


But when a single discrepancy is found in the Bible, it is regarded as earth-shattering.

Should the contents of the bible be treated differently from the contents of any other ancient document? Should it be held to a higher standard for historical reliability?

Why? Why not apply the same methods of historical inquiry to it as to any other historical source?

In terms of history, I agree with your points. Even if the Bible claimed to be from God then we should still treat its purported historical details just as we would any other historical source.

If it's not infallible, then at best, that's a theological problem, but biblical errors (or errancy) are not a rational basis to dismiss the Bible entirely from a historical standpoint.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 18: Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:48 pm
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liamconnor wrote:

Zzyzx wrote:

What parts have been shown to be historically accurate?


I am not convinced that you would know what it means for a thing to be "shown to be historically accurate?"

Condescending attitude noted. Try debating issues without personal remarks.

liamconnor wrote:

History achieves various degrees of certainty.

Here are some historical propositions that have been deemed highly probable by historians of the topic:

The list agrees generally with what I have said repeatedly: A Jesus-like character lived 2000 years ago, took up being a wandering preacher after influence of John the Baptist, agitated against Jewish and Roman officials, did not last long, was executed.

So what? There were evidently a lot of wandering preachers and wannabe messiahs in that era.

I dispute the claim that Joseph of Arimethea is accepted as an historical figure. He is mentioned nowhere other than the Bible tales and his town of residence is not known to have existed (is a matter of speculation).

I doubt that the Character's name was Jesus.

liamconnor wrote:

(you will note, none of these invoke the supernatural--there is nothing supernatural about people claiming something supernatural).

Unless the miracle and divinity tales are shown to be true, Jesus (whatever his name might have been) is just one of scores or hundreds. Nothing special.

liamconnor wrote:

Zzyzx wrote:

It should not EXCEPT if it makes "higher" claims -- regarding supernatural entities and events. Then it should be examined with the same standards that are applied to similar tales in ancient (or modern) texts.


What standards are those? I am not aware of any agreed canon on investigating supernatural claims.

Could it be that NO supernatural stories are taken seriously enough for there to be any formal standards for examination?

I am unaware of ANY claims of supernatural characters and events reported in ancient (or modern) literature that are considered to be anything more than myths, legends, fables, folklore, etc. Can you cite exceptions?

liamconnor wrote:

Zzyzx wrote:

Notice that "historians" generally regard supernatural tales as mythology, legend, fable. Are there exceptions in which supernatural tales elsewhere are regarded as literal truth? Are any texts accepted by historians generally as "divinely inspired"?


Are you asking me whether there are historians who believe in the supernatural? Or are you asking me whether there are supernatural events which all historians confirm?

Careful reading of the question yields: “Notice that "historians" generally regard supernatural tales as mythology, legend, fable. Are there exceptions in which supernatural tales elsewhere are regarded as literal truth? Are any texts accepted by historians generally as "divinely inspired"?”

How can that be warped enough to be misconstrued as “Are you asking me whether there are historians who believe in the supernatural?”

If I wanted to ask that I would have done so. I do not feel any need to play word games.

liamconnor wrote:

The latter seems a bit naive; historians are human. They bring presuppositions and prejudices to texts. This goes both ways.

Are any texts accepted by [u]historians generally[/b] as "divinely inspired"?

liamconnor wrote:

Zzyzx wrote:

Worshipers from any religion seem to think that their literature is above reproach. They are entitled to THINK that but not to claim it as established fact


Rather generalizing. Can you point to a single passage of mine where I treat the Bible as inerrant?

Notice (as I trust more astute readers do) that my statement says nothing about you treating anything in any way – and says nothing about inerrancy. Are smelly fish (red herrings) necessary in apologetics?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 19: Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:15 pm
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[Replying to post 18 by Zzyzx]

Quote:
I dispute the claim that Joseph of Arimethea is accepted as an historical figure. He is mentioned nowhere other than the Bible tales and his town of residence is not known to have existed (is a matter of speculation).


Have you read any of the historical arguments (Raymond Brown) for its historicity?

Quote:

I doubt that the Character's name was Jesus.


Not sure what the reason for "character" (as if this were a fiction) is. But obviously it was not "Jesus". It was probably Yeshua in Aramaic, and Joshua in Hebrew.


P.S. The "condescending note" was not really condescending. You yourself have several times distanced yourself from history. I believe your reasoning was, that as secular history does not make claims upon your life, you do not attend to history. It is only when the history is religious that you become interested. But that means your grasp of he discipline of history will be lacking.

I am certain you are an intelligent person and, if you studied history, would pick it up quickly. But by your own admission, you seem not to care much for that discipline.

If my impression is wrong, I apologize.

I take it that comments of these from me provoke comments like the following from you...?

Quote:

Notice (as I trust more astute readers do) that my statement says nothing about you treating anything in any way – and says nothing about inerrancy. Are smelly fish (red herrings) necessary in apologetics?


Seems we are both capable of descending into character attacks?

Let us make an endeavor to avoid these.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 20: Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:03 pm
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liamconnor wrote:

Popular attacks against the Bible point out discrepancies among the details.

But then, there are discrepancies in detail among other ancient historians: Plutarch, Josephus, Livy etc. etc.

Historians continue to use these works in order to reconstruct the history of Greece and Rome; and it seems that most members here trust those reconstructions.


Does it really matter to any of us if there are mistakes in this stuff? Is there anything earth-shattering if some of it is wrong? Is it a matter of life or death? Does anyone really care?



liamconnor wrote:

But when a single discrepancy is found in the Bible, it is regarded as earth-shattering.


Well of course it is, if it's the word of God as people try to tell us. If it is claimed that includes crucial information that is a matter of life or death. If it is claimed to be infallible and that we must all make life decisions based on it. Discrepancies in the bible could have major ramifications.

liamconnor wrote:

Should the contents of the bible be treated differently from the contents of any other ancient document? Should it be held to a higher standard for historical reliability?


If it's considered the word of god, then yes. A bible that is supposed to be gods word should have to meet higher standards. If we are to make life decisions on it, it should be accurate. It should provide accurate information. We are talking about life or death here aren't we? Whether we end up in hell or heaven?

Also if people are going to insist that we should live by this book, if our laws should be made based on this book, then yes, it should be reliable. There shouldn't be errors. Anything put together by a god should be infallible.

liamconnor wrote:

Why? Why not apply the same methods of historical inquiry to it as to any other historical source?


Would you treat other historical sources as the same as the bible? I wonder if you would study those others every day, put your faith in them, quote from it regularly, make life decisions based on them.

If you want us to treat the bible the same as other historical sources, shouldn't you be prepared to treat those other sources the same way as you treat the bible? If not why not?

I would question those other historical sources as much as the bible if we were debating them. However nobody is telling us that Alexander the Great is going to have us cast into Hell if we don't believe in him. Nobody is telling us that we should be disciples of Joan of Arc. Nobody is trying to bring in laws into modern society that were made by Julius Ceasar. Nobody is trying to tell us that the writings of Adolf Hitler or Nostradamus is God's word.

Really if you want to compare apples with apples we should be comparing holy books. Like the bible vs the Quran. I would apply exactly the same critical thinking to both.

Would you treat the Quran the same as other historical sources?

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