Tag Archives: OldTestament

How many translations did your Bible go through?

bible5.gifOne (1). 

Really. Just one time from the original language to the language and version of your Bible.  The original writings were copied many times, but the Bible you hold was only translated once.   This is one of my favorite lessons in apologetics (defending the Christian faith) because it is such a simple and accurate explanation to a common and important objection.

Many people – including some Christians – are quick to say that the Bible has been translated and changed so many times over the centuries that we don’t know what the original writings said.  For example, I saw a video clip where Deepak Chopra (alleged religious expert) claims that the King James was the 13th iteration of the Bible.

But contrary to that myth, the books of the Bible have only been translated once and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable.  This is an easy way to politely correct people on one of the most common errors they make, so please commit this response to memory.  I’ve used this to persuade agnostics and Mormons, among others, in literally a minute or so.  They didn’t concede that the writings were divinely inspired, but it was easy to correct them about the translation myth.

For example, Paul wrote in Greek, and we have Greek manuscripts to make translations from.  That is one translation.

Conventional wisdom: Tranlations from one language to another to another . . .

Greek original ==> Latin translation ==> other translations ==> King James version ==> English Standard Version, etc.

What actually happened

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> Latin version

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> King James version

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> English Standard Version


So the real issue is how accurate and reliable the copying process was.  The science of textual criticism shows that the copies of the New Testament are 99.5% accurate and that the differences are minor and have no impact on Christian theology.  Even atheist textual critics like Bart Ehrman, an “ex-Christian” who makes a living attacking Christianity, will concede that.

Regarding the Old Testament, here are some notes from the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.  The existence of the Dead Sea Scrolls provided spectacular evidence to refute the myth that the Old Testament had been changed significantly.

The OT does not have as many supporting manuscripts as the NT but it is, nevertheless, remarkably reliable.

  1. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew OT done around 250 B.C., attests to the reliability and consistency of the OT when it is compared to existing Hebrew manuscripts.
  2. The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 also verify the reliability of the OT manuscripts.
  3. The Dead Sea Scrolls were ancient documents that were hidden in a cave in Israel about 2000 years ago. The scrolls contained many OT books, one of them being Isaiah.
    1. Before the Dead Sea scrolls, the earliest existing manuscript of the OT was dated around 900 A.D. called the Masoretic Text. The Scrolls contained OT documents 1000 years earlier. A comparison between the manuscripts revealed an incredible accuracy of transmission through copying, so much so that critics were silenced.

In summary, the Bible you hold has only been translated once, and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable. 

Also see Is the New Testament Text Reliable? and Hasn’t the Bible been rewritten so many times that we can’t trust it anymore?

This was a favorite updated for your reading pleasure.


False teacher defies logic. Again.

False teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie really outdid himself today in Questioning The Roles of Religion and Talk Radio in Promoting Hate Crimes.  He questioned the roles, all right, but offered no proof of anything.  He called assaults against gays a crime (true enough) but forgot that pesky part about homosexual behavior being a sin.

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.
But Chuck is the real hater of gays.  He loves himself and his popularity so much that he’d rather tell lies to gays and “affirm” them in their lifestyle rather than speak the truth about God.

Soon the question of marriage equality will return to the ballot box in Oregon as Basic Rights Oregon prepares to launch a statewide initiative campaign to overturn the constitutional ban on same sex marriages. This time conservative opponents of equality will be met with a coalition that includes progressive and moderate clergy — myself included — who believe and preach that God created humanity with a richness of diversity that only serves to better us as a people.

Chuck blasphemes and says God made people want to violate his plan for sexuality.

In the midst of these public campaigns, let us pray for an end to violence and for civility in our debates.

More hypocrisy.  While calling his ideological opponents haters and the cause of violence against gays, he asks for civility.  Uh huh.

The most bizarre part is Chuck trying to imply that those who assault gays just got out of Focus on the Family “Love Won Out” conferences.  Yeah, the criminals are all orthodox Bible teachers, Chuck.  /sarcasm

Why don’t false teachers use the “argument from silence” on their favorite issues?

Hint: Because they are false teachers.

False teachers* love the argument from silence that I blogged about yesterday, where they justify homosexual behavior and abortion because they think Jesus didn’t specifically forbid those.**  Therefore, they reason that those issues can’t be important.

But I’ve noticed they don’t use that line of thinking on their pet solutions, such as wealth redistribution or universal healthcare.  After all, Jesus never said to ask Caesar to take from neighbor A to give to neighbor B and call it generosity on your part.  Yet here is false teacher Chuck Currie, claiming to care about the “least of these” (when not endorsing their destruction in the womb): Paul Ryan Tries To Spin Letter From Roman Catholic Archbishop; Religious Leaders Remain Opposed To GOP Budget.

Yes, budgets are moral documents.  And it is immoral to borrow from those who can’t vote or haven’t even been born to sooth your guilty, selfish conscience.

If these fakes want to use the argument from silence on issues like homosexual behavior and abortion, then show them how it applies to their issues as well.

On what other favorite issues do they fail to use the argument from silence?

*False teachers are people like Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis and Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie.

** That argument fails on many levels: Arguing from silence is a logical fallacy, Jesus inspired all scripture, He supported the Old Testament law to the last letter, the “red letters” weren’t silent on these topics in the sense that they reiterated what marriage and murder were, He emphasized many other important issues that these liberal theologians completely ignore (Hell, his divinity, his exclusivity, etc.), He was equally “silent” on issues that these folks treat as having the utmost importance (capital punishment, war, welfare, universal health care, etc.), He didn’t specifically mention child abuse and other obvious sins though that wouldn’t justify them, and abortion and homosexual behavior simply weren’t hot topics for 1st century Jews.  See What Jesus didn’t say for more.

For the Bible tells me so . . .

For the Bible tells me so is a pro-gay theology movie shown in liberal churches and elsewhere.  I watched the trailers and saw many typically bad arguments, starting with comparisons of their opponents to Hitler.  How subtle and tolerant of them.  Ironically, while this movie is part of the movement that knows that if you tell a lie often enough that many people will believe it they have the nerve to level that claim at Christians.

Despite the title, it doesn’t appear to attempt any serious analysis of what the Bible says about human sexuality.  We get a lot of quotes like this:

For a long time the Bible has been misused to support prejudice, apartheid, segregation, slavery, the 2nd class citizenship of women.  Now it is being misused to condemn gay people.  It’s an old trick.  Fundamentalist Christians have been using it throughout the ages and now they are doing it again.

Sure.  Of course, one could have made the opposite claim that the Bible was properly used to reject prejudice, apartheid, segregation, slavery, and the second class treatment of women.  This is a transparent ad hominem argument (attacking the person, not the message).  Since we appear to agree that the Bible, properly interpreted, is accurate, then why not just do that?  Oh yeah, because they lose the argument every time then.

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

More quotes:

There’s nothing wrong with a 5th grade understanding of God as long as you’re in the 5th grade.

Fear does terrible things to a society.

I’m really getting a feel for what this movie is about: Fact-free personal attacks and emotional appeals that prove nothing.

Moses teaches in Leviticus that it is an abomination to eat shrimp.

The funny thing was that in a film allegedly appealing to what the Bible really says, the only mention in the trailers about the Bible was the item about shrimp.  It is a reference to the shellfish argument, which is full of holes but is appealing to many because so few bother to read the passages in context.  I address the many errors of that argument in Favorite dish of liberal theologians & skeptics: Shellfish.

When any liberal theologian uses an argument like that I consider it to be a concession speech, because you can’t use it without revealing your ignorance of the Bible and/or your deceptiveness.  They really tip their hands when they insist that there is something wrong with the Bible.  If they are really Christians they should hold the same view of the Old Testament that Jesus did.