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Biblical Inerrancy


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#41 Ryan H.

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 11:47 AM

What, then, of the contrast (acknowledged in the NT) between the Sadducees, who were affiliated with the Temple establishment and regarded only the five Books of Moses as canonical (and thus did not believe in the Resurrection), and the Pharisees, who were more of a lay movement and had a considerably bigger canon (and thus did believe in the Resurrection)?

Not sure. As I said, this whole subject gets murkier and murkier the more you spend time with it.

AFAIK, the earliest editions of the LXX was indeed just the Torah, and then other books were added, but by the first century the LXX included the full canon of protocanonical and deuterocanonical books.

In my reading, that seems to be a contested idea.

The NT bears witness to the presence of the deuterocanonical books in the texts known to the NT writers. For example, Hebrews 11:35 alludes to the seven brothers in 2 Maccabees 7 who accepted torture and martyrdom for the sake of a better resurrection.

That the NT writers knew the texts does not necessarily signify that the texts were packaged in the Septuagint at that time. Nor does it signify that these texts were seen as being on the same level as the Law and Prophets.

Now, you rightly point out that there are books in the current OT/NT that were similarly contested in the way that the Apocrypha was. Sure. And there are books that some supported that never quite made the cut. But the Protestant POV has been to stand with the Hebrews in their definition of the canon of Scripture, and it nevertheless remains unclear how the Deuterocanonicals were received by the Hebrews in the first century, before their gradual lack of respect for the LXX--which was, from what I understand, first and foremost grounded in a dislike for what was seen as its faulty translation of the Hebrew--was confirmed.

#42 SDG

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 12:03 PM

But the Protestant POV has been to stand with the Hebrews in their definition of the canon of Scripture, and it nevertheless remains unclear how the Deuterocanonicals were received by the Hebrews in the first century, before their gradual lack of respect for the LXX--which was, from what I understand, first and foremost grounded in a dislike for what was seen as its faulty translation of the Hebrew--was confirmed.

A dislike for the translation of the LXX is an odd criterion, considering it's the preferred source for most of the NT's quotations from the OT! The NT writers obviously had no trouble with the translation; indeed, statistically, one could say they preferred it to the Hebrew. Without the LXX, for example, we have no "voice crying in the wilderness," only a "voice crying 'In the wilderness...'" Call it a translational error if you like, but the NT writers considered it inspired.

AFAIK, the earliest editions of the LXX was indeed just the Torah, and then other books were added, but by the first century the LXX included the full canon of protocanonical and deuterocanonical books.

In my reading, that seems to be a contested idea.

First I've heard of it. Sources?

#43 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 12:03 PM

Ryan H. wrote:
: But the Protestant POV has been to stand with the Hebrews in their definition of the canon of Scripture, and it nevertheless remains unclear how the Deuterocanonicals were received by the Hebrews in the first century, before their gradual lack of respect for the LXX--which was, from what I understand, first and foremost grounded in a dislike for what was seen as its faulty translation of the Hebrew--was confirmed.

And what if the rabbinical Jewish lack of respect for the LXX was grounded also in a dislike for the Church with which the LXX was so popular? What if the Protestant canon has been defined, in some sense, by an anti-Christian sensibility?

#44 Ryan H.

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 06:00 PM

Call it a translational error if you like, but the NT writers considered it inspired.

No disagreement there. But we must also note that there were multiple versions of the Septuagint, and the later versions, such as Theodotion's version, were seen by the Hebrews as increasingly corrupt.

AFAIK, the earliest editions of the LXX was indeed just the Torah, and then other books were added, but by the first century the LXX included the full canon of protocanonical and deuterocanonical books.

In my reading, that seems to be a contested idea.

First I've heard of it. Sources?

The strongest advocate of the POV that the Septuagint as we know it formed after the time of Jesus appears to be German scholar Paul Kahle. It's also found in the work of W. H. Green, in his admittedly pretty old write-up Introduction to the New Testament.

Coming from a different POV, Michael Barber, a Catholic, argues that it is virtually impossible to make a real conclusion as to when which book made its way into the Septuagint, going as far as to suggest that "there was no normative Jewish canon in second Temple Judaism," and that "rabbinic debate over the canon continued to rage on until 200 CE."

And what if the rabbinical Jewish lack of respect for the LXX was grounded also in a dislike for the Church with which the LXX was so popular? What if the Protestant canon has been defined, in some sense, by an anti-Christian sensibility?

While it's clear anti-Christian sentiment sealed the deal, it's more ambiguous as to whether anti-Christian sentiment was at the root of distrusting the Deuterocanonicals. But then again, it seems the entire concept of canon was still in flux for Jewish communities (some Jewish communities, it seems, continued to use the LXX and Deuterocanonicals even after it was largely rejected), so, admittedly, we may question whether it matters at all what the Hebrews thought at any point.

And, for the purposes of this conversation, let me remind us all that it was all prefaced with my disapproval of the Protestant abandonment of the Deuterocanonicals, so I'm not necessarily arguing against their authority. I'm just trying to get a sense of the ambiguities of canon formation.

#45 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 04:34 PM

Initial preliminary comments on hermeneutics occurred in the Noah thread, which I'm moving over here (since hermeneutics is tangentially related to Scriptural Inerrancy) so as to not hijack the Noah thread.

 

J.A.A. Purves said:

:Exegesis and interpretation involve the valid use of such principles to understand what the author meant by what he wrote. This is a matter of epistemology and language and you don't need the Holy Spirit to do it.

So. Here's my question. Where did this understanding of how to interpret the Bible come from? Did it come from someones reason, related to a certain culture or time that they were in?

Yes it does come from a culture, place and time. Valid hermeneutics pays attention to the culture, place and time of a text, otherwise it would very often be virtually impossible to understand an author's intent. In the context of the Old Testament, authorial intent is derived by paying attention to Biblical Hebrew language and understanding. In the context of the New Testament, authorial intent is derived by paying attention to Hellenic Greek culture and language (and the philosophical and epistemological assumptions imbedded in the Greek language).
 

What about the fact that a lot of our translations are seriously flawed and outdated in places. Especially the main evangelical Bibles, like the NIV, that are based in the KJV family. The KJV has some horrific translation problems.

"Horrific" is rather strong, but yes, there are faults to many different translations. This is why no reasonable or serious student of Scripture can ignore the original Greek or Hebrew. That is how one avoids textual problems of an anachronistic nature. The fact that you can point out English translation problems is, itself, evidence for what looking at the original languages allows us to do.
 

If we are going to read the Bible according to the authors intent, then what does that result in, in this case? (P.S. sorry if this is to graphic or controversial of an example.)

Let's not debate abortion here, but I will say that the result ought to be necessarily determined only after one pays attention to what the text really says. Above all, I cannot practice hermeneutics properly if I insist that because I personally know how wrong abortion is, that Scripture could never ever talk about abortion positively. I can't know that until I first look at the text.
 

So. Where did epistemology come from? And what about the bad translations of language?

The first extensive discussions of epistemology occurred in Ancient Greece. No other culture discusses it that early with the same level of depth or explanation. Many doctrines of the Christian church were created by combining Greek philosophical assumptions with Hebrew revelation. Some of the early church fathers called the truths discussed in Greek philosophy Praeparatio evangelica, other theologians call it General Revelation.
 

Now. Back to the Numbers 5 example. It seems from the language and content in better translations that the authors intent in writing this was to teach on self induced miscarriage (ie - abortion), but does that mean that it was God's intent? So we can have an epistemology that possibly could give us the authors intent, but where's the Biblical proof that the authors right, or that he was inspired by God in writing this.

Determining the intent & meaning of the author does not depend on believing that a text was inspired. Hermeneutics can be practiced correctly even by those who do not believe the text was inspired. The intent of Numbers 5 was to put Hebrew laws (to be observed by ancient Israel) into writing. Basic Christian theology does not hold that all of Old Testament law is of universal applicability.
 

Many would use the argument from 1 Timothy, which basically says that all scripture is God breathed and worthy of teaching (paraphrasing.) But this leaves us with three problems.

1) How do we know that this statement is true? Because it's in the Bible? Then How do we know that the Bible is true? Because 1 Timothy says so? It's circular reasoning.

Again, arguing that the what the text says is true is not the same as properly interpreting what the text actually says. And yes, arguing that we can know that the Bible is true because the Bible says the Bible is true is an invalid argument (that would not survive even the early Greek epistemology of Plato).
 

2) There are scholars who are saying that 1'st Timothy wasn't even written by Paul. Some Christians consider it to be a spurius text written in Paul's name after he died.

Again, hermeneutics is useful here only in determining who was the author. Whether I Timothy is inspired or not is to be determined by what is essentially church tradition, and whether church tradition can be a form of revelation is a theological question to be discussed on other grounds.
 

3) There are also scholars who are saying.. "Hey, wait a minute, that text is saying something more like, "All God breathed scripture is worthy of teaching." Meaning that it's NOT saying that all of the text without exception is worthy of teaching.

I've read a few of these guys. Let's just say they are not very precise with the Greek language and they didn't seem to care about any church traditions either. (I can find the source for this when I get back to my library at home.)
 

Epistemology, when it comes to the OT isn't going to help, because we can't be sure that the intentions of the author align with God's intentions. The fact of it is, is that there are part in the OT where the authors intentions are contradictory with other authors intentions.

Epistemology is a matter of philosophy. In fact, one school of thought in epistemology makes hermeneutics possible. Another one makes hermeneutics meaningless, useless and absurd. Contradictory intentions of different authors would only lead to contradictory texts - it would be a separate question entirely whether two texts contradicted each other.

Progressive revelation, by the way, is an idea that is just fine with some of the most conservative of theologians. (See St. Vincent of Lerins' Commonitorium or John Henry Newman's The Development of Doctrine.) So I have no problem with your claims that man's understanding of revelation improved and increased over history.

To say that an author's worldview shaped the meaning of his written text is not problematic either. Of course it did. If anyone at all can demonstrate that a Biblical author's worldview was wrong, and that specific Scripture he wrote down was false, then all Scripture cannot be inspired/inerrant.
 

In other words, we are often at the whim's of people who are in more powerful positions than we are, and we are reading OT texts where the pagan influences of the writers have often made their way into the texts and indeed the thinking of the writing ... So my point in all of this, is that at the end of the day our journey to truth comes from learning from the father who's Spirit guides us into all truth. This of course can be done in community, but it isn't about being enslaved to any traditions approach to how to read the scriptures because we need Holy Spirit's guidance in reading the OT as well. (NOTE - I'm not saying that I think we should throw out all of the wisdom or people guided by the spirit, that came before us, especially that of the Ante-Nicene Christians.)

For anyone who believes in the Holy Spirit, and I do, it is quite easy to believe that He can use just about anything to guide someone to the truth. In other words, a Biblical scholar could even interpret Scripture completely wrong, come up with some ridiculous allegorical meaning, and the Holy Spirit could still use that bad interpretation to do some good.

I have difficulty understanding what you mean by our being at the “whims of people who are in more powerful positions than we are.” As far as “pagan influences” go, if you count Plato or Aristotle or the like as “pagan influences” then I don’t think the church traditionally regards a “pagan influence” as necessarily wrong.

Not every tradition enslaves. Some traditions, especially those inherent in grammar and language, are what make thinking and theology possible in the first place. I find trying to distinguish the Holy Spirit from traditions or “pagan influences” worrying, particularly because there is no good reason to conclude that the Holy Spirit doesn’t use them also. But whatever the Holy Spirit uses, He has to expect us to think. And the very act of thinking requires some school of epistemology.

(FYI, I’m not assuming everything I’ve written above is what you disagree with. I actually expect that you would agree with some of it. The main point I disagree with is this idea that merely because Scriptural texts may have contradictions (or cultural influences) that we somehow need the Holy Spirit to tell us what a text really means.)



#46 Attica

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 07:34 PM

I think we have a basic misunderstanding here.  I'll respond to a few points in turn.

 

 

:Yes it does come from a culture, place and time. Valid hermeneutics pays attention to the culture, place and time of a text, otherwise it would very often be virtually impossible to understand an author's intent.

 

 

My point wasn't about the culture, place and time of the text, but rather the culture place and time of the decision of how to interpret the text.  As I've said.  Once we understand the authors intent, this doesn't mean that that intent was correct, as I've shown in a couple of places earlier.

 

 

:Above all, I cannot practice hermeneutics properly if I insist that because I personally know how wrong abortion is, that Scripture could never ever talk about abortion positively. I can't know that until I first look at the text.

 

 

I agree with this.  My main point in this statement is that many Bibles have translations that are likely changed to fit with an already held theology.

 

 

:The first extensive discussions of epistemology occurred in Ancient Greece. No other culture discusses it that early with the same level of depth or explanation. Many doctrines of the Christian church were created by combining Greek philosophical assumptions with Hebrew revelation.

 

 

I understand this.  But then.... why is so much of our modern theology so different from what some of those early Greeks are saying?  Which kind of leads to my point.  I wasn't saying that the Bible couldn't be discerened or understood.  I was saying that reading a part of the Bible through the lense of the epistemology, for instance the story of the flood, is problematic, because we might be able to glean the intentions of the author in writing it and what the author truly believed.  But we cannot get from that text whether or not the author was right.  That was my point.

 

By the way.  A lot of those early Greek Christians didn't take some of these OT parts of the Bible literally.  I believe it was Gregory Naziansus (or possibly Gregory of Nicea, I'd have to look it up) who said something along the lines that if some of those OT texts were to be taken literally the apostles would have never allowed them into the Bible.

 

:Determining the intent & meaning of the author does not depend on believing that a text was inspired. Hermeneutics can be practiced correctly even by those who do not believe the text was inspired. 

 

 

Whether or not we think the text was inspired has a large impact on how we interpret it though.  No?  So, again, to my point, Epistemology can tell us the authors intent, but how far can that help us in a certain context?

 

 

 

:"Horrific" is rather strong, but yes, there are faults to many different translations.

 

 

Horrific, fits just about right with me.   wink.png

 

 

 

:I've read a few of these guys. Let's just say they are not very precise with the Greek language and they didn't seem to care about any church traditions either. 

 

 

Some of those whom I've read are fluent in Greek and know the "tradition" and history of the church well enough to know that 1'st Timothy was a disputed text amongst some of the Ante-Nicene Christians and it is questionable how valid it is due to Constantine's influences on the canon.   

 

But anyhow.  You could be right on this interpretation.  Again.  It doesn't matter because of point 1.

 

 

:Epistemology is a matter of philosophy. 

 

 

This was my point.  Again.  I'm not saying that the Bible can't be interpreted as much as I was saying that using Epistemology to help discover the authors intentions doesn't help if the authors intentions were wrong.

 

Of course.  Knowing that the authors intentions were wrong can help us theologically.  For instance.  If one was to conclude that the authors intentions were to say that God caused the flood and other genocides, and yet that the author was very wrong in this and wrote it down anyways.  Then this could lead us to the understanding that God was patient and kind with these people, even thought they had made terrible false accusations towards him.

 

 

:For anyone who believes in the Holy Spirit, and I do, it is quite easy to believe that He can use just about anything to guide someone to the truth. In other words, a Biblical scholar could even interpret Scripture completely wrong, come up with some ridiculous allegorical meaning, and the Holy Spirit could still use that bad interpretation to do some good.

 

 

Completely agree.

 

 

:I have difficulty understanding what you mean by our being at the “whims of people who are in more powerful positions than we are.”

 

 

I mean that we have those "above" us that "tell" us what to think.  Whether its intentionally or not.  A good example is Bible translators who translate them according to their belief systems.  But there are others.

 

 

:Not every tradition enslaves. Some traditions, especially those inherent in grammar and language, are what make thinking and theology possible in the first place.

 

 

I ment being enslaved to a theological tradition that is saying things contrary to what the Holy Spirit is "speaking", which can happen for various reasons.  The chief of which is peer pressure and fear.

 

 

 

: As far as “pagan influences” go, if you count Plato or Aristotle or the like as “pagan influences” then I don’t think the church traditionally regards a “pagan influence” as necessarily wrong.

 

 

Pagan influences are a tricky thing.  I don't think that everything amongst the "pagan" groups was wrong.  I actually happen to think that there was stuff amongst the mid-Eastern pagans that were more off from Hebrew/primitive Christian thought in some ways than can be found in the far east, Celtic, or Aboriginal peoples.

 

That being said.  I believe that part of the problem here IS the influences of Platonic thought, to some degree.  Being the idea of perfection, which led to the idea of holiness as perfection, and Adam and Eve being "perfect" in the garden of Eden.  Hebrew understanding equates holiness as something more akin to Wholeness connected to hospitality and compassion.

 

This has a huge impact on how different doctrines would develop, especially in the Western church.  It has a huge understanding of our Holy God.

 

 

It would also lead to a different view of our leanings towards things like the flood story.  Does God need to send the flood because he's a "Holy" (in the sense of perfect) God and therefore must punish sin?  That's a *very* different view than one would take if they interpreted "holiness" through the Hebrew lense that I had mentioned.

 

 

: find trying to distinguish the Holy Spirit from traditions or “pagan influences” worrying, particularly because there is no good reason to conclude that the Holy Spirit doesn’t use them also.

 

 

I never said that Holy Spirit can't use traditions or "pagan influences", at least to a certain degree.  I said that we're in trouble without following and listening to Holy Spirit in our understanding of the faith.  If we don't need the Holy Spirit, then what would be the point of God sending it, and calling Holy Spirit our "helper."  The term "helper" means that we need some help...  no?

 

My point here is, that even if Holy Spirit is working through traditions, or pagan influences to a certain degree, it still is Holy Spirit that is working, being what I've said that we need in order to help us understand the faith.

 

This fits with what I've been saying about the OT and the idea that God was working in a pagan influenced people as part of his means of bringing them out of paganism.  It also fits with what I was saying about Holy Spirit helping us out of our stinking thinking.

 

 

:He has to expect us to think. And the very act of thinking requires some school of epistemology.

 

 

I agree that we need to think.  I'm all for thinking this stuff through.  My point wasn't against thinking.  It was against the idea that understanding the authors intention in the text directly leads to us understanding what the text is saying (EDIT: meaning how to interpret what the Bible and God is actually saying as a whole.) This is how your comments on this read to me.

 

 

So far as Holy Spirit goes.  I don't understand how anyone could think that we can do this business of faith, or interpreting the Bible without help of Holy Spirit.  So much of our growing understanding of God comes in part by Holy Spirit teaching us that something that we've believed, or have been taught by others was incorrect.  (whether it be now, or in the past as far back as Paul's "illumination".) 

 

I've never heard of a person who has come out of various lies in Christianity except through the help of the Holy Spirit, having come out of some sort of relationship with God.  I'm all for intellectualism.  I'm mean, goodness, I'm a member of the Torr society.  But I would never ever think that humanity can figure this stuff out without Holy Spirit's help.

 

 

 

:The main point I disagree with is this idea that merely because Scriptural texts may have contradictions (or cultural influences) that we somehow need the Holy Spirit to tell us what a text really means.)

 

 

We need Holy Spirit to help us to sort through some of the junk in order that we can even be in the place to be able to interpret the text.  Most Christians (arguably all) just believe a whole lot (sure not all) of what they are told to believe, have been raised to believe, or have believed until Holy Spirt has touched on them in some way.  Which of course flows out of their relationship with Christ.  Maybe you've met, are, or heard of someone that hasn't had this.  I haven't.  Just to make myself clear, I think this works through synergy, again coming out of relationship of at least some sorts.

 

This isn't due to the fact that they can't reason necessarily when it comes to understanding the Bible (although it has been debated as to how far our reason can take us out of previous beliefs - I actually DO have a higher view of reason than some), but its largely due to the fact that, so far as religion and this God stuff goes, peoples beliefs are all to often connected to fear, even if its just fear of change due to the fear of being wrong.  Most often its fear of being a "heretic" or falling out of favour with God or the church in some way.  Coming to a new understanding of a scriptural text, especially a drastically new understanding, is a HUGE step for people.  I'm not sure if they can do it by intellect alone.  Even if its just the comfort and encouragement Holy Spirit can give that they are on the right track, or aren't going to be "punished" by God.

 

And lets not forget, that there are demonic influences at play trying to deceive us and keep us in lies.  Coming out of the many twisted plans and tricks of deception by Intellect alone without the help of Holy Spirit is a mighty big task.  It seems obvious to me that this would include how we were to interpret the Bible and the faith.  Also, the demons know quite well how to trip up the intellectuals.

 

Which is one of the reasons why some of this theology that is purely based on intellectualism in Biblical interpretation is so off base.  IMO.


Edited by Attica, 05 April 2014 - 10:51 PM.