Our focus for this study hinges on answering these two big questions. The goal is to get closer to the answers each week in our class.
Is the Bible accurate and dependable?
Let's start with what we know. Write down everything you know about the Bible (not specific accounts or figures, but the Bible itself).
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We contend that the Bible and everything it contains is supported by:
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Should faith alone be enough to drive you to drive you to your knees? Is "blind" faith a stronger kind of faith? If so, then why did God provide so much evidence?
Observe this piece of art.
Did she or didn't she make the first flag in response to a request by George Washington? Was she a simple seamstress, or was her life more complex? Elizabeth "Betsy" Griscom-Ross-Ashburn-Claypoole was widowed twice, a young lady each time. No one knew of Betsy Ross sewing the first American flag until her grandson told the story in 1870. Most scholars do not trust the validity of his story.
In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, "The Lord thy God is one," but I think He must be a lot older than that.
Anyway, God said, "Give me a light!" and someone did. Then God made the world.
He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden..... Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.
Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.
Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.
One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.
After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.
Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.
God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.
Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.
One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua, who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.
After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.
After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.
There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.
After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn, too, because my mom is always saying to me, "Close the door! Were you born in a barn?" It would be nice to say, "As a matter of fact, I was.")
During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans.
Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.
Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.
But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.
Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.
Two hundred thousand errors? That's how some would number the mistakes made by copyists over the course of time when scribing new manuscripts of the New Testament. It should be expected that spelling errors and other mistakes have been made - in spite of the great, meticulous care the scribes took in doing their jobs. Our reference, Neil Lightfoot's How We Got the Bible, explains:
But it is wholly misleading and untrue to say that there are 200,000 errors in the text of the New Testament. (Actually, the word "error" is consciously avoided by textual critics; they prefer to speak of "textual variants.") This large number is gained by counting all the variations in all of the manuscripts (above 5,300). For example, if one slight variant were to occur in 4,000 different manuscripts, this would amount to 4,000 "errors." But this is how one can arrive at the large number of 200,000 "errors."
Lightfoot also points something out that might cause a skeptic to think twice. He writes:
This large number of variations exists in exact proportion to the number of manuscripts that we possess. There are far more copies of the New Testament than of any other book from the ancient world. Because we have more New Testament manuscripts, we have more variations...If the large number of manuscripts increases the total of variations, at the same time it supplies the means of checking them.
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When considering specific variations within the chapter, we may find ourselves considering the following questions:
Why do they exclude Acts 8:37?
Why do they exclude 1 John 5:7?
What is the textual problem of Mark 16?
Wife-Beater's Bible, as it has come to be known, had a footnote to 1 Peter 3:7:
"And if she be not obediente and healpeful unto hym, endevoureth to beate the fere of God into her heade, that thereby she may be compelled to learne her dutye and do it."
"[A]nd they sowed figge-tree leaves together, and made themselves breeches."
The Placemakers' Bible (1562) had Matthew 5:9 as:
Blessed are the placemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Christ condemneth the poor widow.
The King James Version has been around for long enough to have a number of erroneous printings. The Judas Bible had Judas, not Jesus, saying "Sit ye here while I go yonder and pray" (Matthew 26:36). In a second folio edition, printed King James I, the misprint was covered with a slip of paper glued over the name of Judas. See the photo (right).
Though we've read about New Testament manuscripts in this chapter of How We Got the Bible, we may as well mention the Wicked Bible's horrible flaw in 1631. Also known as the Adulterous Bible or the Sinner's Bible, this printing omitted an important not from Exodus 20:14, making the seventh commandment read:
Thou shalt commit adultery.
The More Sea Bible from 1641 changed Revelation 21:1, making it:
...[T]he first heaven and the first earth were passed away and there was more sea.
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of righteousness into sin.
Around the turn of the next century, the Murderer's Bible erroneously printed the word murderers instead of murmurers in Jude 16, making it say:
These are murderers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their owl husbands.
It is sometimes shocking what a misprint or a typographical error can do to a text.
the kinds of things that challenge our faith?
Can we identify the mistakes when we see them? How?