Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is it Naïve to Believe the Bible?

John R. Houk
© April 14, 2009

Below is a response to a comment made in reference to a post made on Diana Lynn’s Place blog entitled, “God Does Not Change, We Do.”

The Comment:

    “New data will come & go but God & his Word will never change.”

This is noble but naive thinking. The bible has changed thousands of times since being written down. The interpretations of the bible are so far apart depending on the flavor, it’s all most a different book.

So which WORD should we believe?

The Response:

Actually modern translations of the Bible are derived from thousands of ancient documents. The best translations are those that preserve the original meaning while making it understandable to the modern reader. The worst translations are those that use the ancient manuscripts using a predisposed agenda to validate modern supposition. For example many of the newest translations replace gender such as he/him or her/she with a neutral gender with a unisex meaning. This is an example of adding “flavor” rather than preserving perspective.

I guess a good analogy is the American Left Proclaiming the U.S. Constitution is a living evolving document that is merely a framework to validate current cultural norms (as perceived by the Left). Whereas there are many on the Right hold to the Original Intent of the Founding Fathers as the framework of the rule of law. The Original Intent crowd look to the frame of mind of the framers such as prayer, faith, Liberty, Property, Lack of government in the individual, government to preserve order, corrupt government to dealt with politically first then by force of arms if the corruption is too ingrained and so on.

The best modern translations are those that examine the thousands of Biblical Manuscripts and translate them as to their original intent and NOT the modern “flavor” of the day.

So the only real controversy of Biblical original intent is the determination between early and late manuscripts as well as if a translation is faithful according the numerous similar manuscripts or the earliest similar manuscripts? Does “numerous” outweigh the smaller amount yet earlier manuscripts? Is earlier better than majority? Is majority better than earlier? The controversy is all about figuring which scribe hand wrote a copy of a manuscript faithfully from the previous one. In other words a scribe may have unintentionally penned a jot or tittle that was not from the manuscript he was preserving.

Thus the thousands of manuscripts clearly portray a definite meaning that is incontrovertible except in clerical error. And therefore the literally thousands of manuscripts are used to determine a faithful translation; i.e. faithful in the sense to original intent rather than modern flavor.

Now so far I was writing of New Testament manuscripts. The Old Testament manuscripts are examined under similar fashion of analysis. You might find it interesting that Secular scholars have examined the Pentateuch and have developed theories to dispute the divinity of the Pentateuch or (Jewish Torah).

That theory has been dubbed Document Hypothesis or JEPD Theory.

The Document Hypothesis/JEPD Theory has been discredited as a working theory thus giving more credence to the Divine origins of the Pentateuch. Unfortunately Secular Universities and so-called Higher Criticism religious Universities still maintain the teaching of Document Hypothesis/JEPD Theory. Why?

In other words, scholars committed to the presuppositions of the Documentary Hypothesis are unwilling to surrender this already discredited view until a better one comes along that allows those presuppositions to remain intact. A critique of these presuppositions will do much to determine whether or not this reluctance to admit defeat is justified. (Doug Beaumont – Southern Evangelical Seminary)

So here is the conclusion: The closer to the original intent of the ancient manuscripts the truer the translation; the closer a translation is to a modern agenda rather than original intent the more likely it is a flavor of the day. If you buy into the flavor you will probably be reading a modern agenda. If you find translations based on the original intent of the plethora of manuscripts you are reading Truth, in which case interpretation becomes a matter of Holy Spirit cognition. Any reading of modern flavors or original intent via human cognition will only add strength to the secular wall of disbelief.

The logical next question is: Well what about all the other considered sacred writings of faiths contrary to Judeo-Christianity? That is another line of study that one led by Holy Spirit cognition should easily acquire. Unfortunately one enwrapped in human cognition will be confused with the self-justification of grasping for straws to validate a mind already made up. I believe Yahweh told Moses the heart of Pharaoh would be hardened until self-justification became a hard lesson on why not to resist God and a hard lesson on the havoc it eventually caused Pharaoh’s family (i.e. the death of his first born son). Even then the hard heart led to hateful anger which resulted in the destruction of his army sent to massacre the Hebrew tribes.

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