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The Inerrancy of the Bible? And Those Who Doubt. Readers’ Mailbag October 2, 2016

 

How did I deal with inconsistencies and discrepancies as a young Christian?  And why does the NT indicate that some of Jesus’ own followers doubted the resurrection?  Those are the two questions I deal with in this week’s readers’ mailbag.

QUESTION:

I assume that Bart Ehrman today when he reads the books of the New Testament sees large discrepancies between them.  My question is about the precocious sixteen-year-old Ehrman, Did he too see this variety (which opens up the possibility of inconsistency)? Or did it all as he read it cohere, seem of a piece, convey one doctrinally comprehensive and orthodox and uniform message? And if it did, how does today’s Ehrman think young Ehrman managed to overlook all those obvious discrepancies?

 

RESPONSE:

Ah, right, my former life!   When I was young and Christian – say, between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two – I was already passionate about the Bible, but was absolutely convinced that it was, in every way, the Word of God.  I never doubted it.  And I never saw any reason to doubt it.  What it said was true and inspired.  If there were problems – for example, potential discrepancies or contradictions with the findings of science – they were problems with me and my inability to understand, not with the Bible itself.

When I went to Moody Bible Institute, we learned that there were non-believers and liberal Christians who found problems with the Bible.  But they were motivated by wicked impulses, or, more likely, were simply willful or ignorant.  We could reconcile most everything in the Bible, and to do so was not imposing an interpretation on the Bible that smoothed over all the differences; it was letting the Bible speak for itself and accepting that what the Bible said about itself was true, that it was the inspired Word of God.   If that’s what it truly was, then mere humans could not tear it apart.  Anyone who tried to do so simply couldn’t see the truth that the Bible itself conveyed.  It was one God-given, inspired, harmonious whole, and human interpreters could only try to understand its depth and intricacies.  They couldn’t show that it was flawed.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that this was a view I was *imposing* on the Bible, not one that was emerging *from* the Bible.  The way I later came to look at it was this:  there are two ways you can approach the Bible (or any other book).  On one hand, you could say that it is an inerrant book with no mistakes and no problems of any kind.  If that’s what you say before you even read it, and you are committed to that view, then you simply won’t find any mistakes or problems.  There can’t be any, because you have decided there aren’t.

On the other hand, you could hold the question in abeyance and be open to the view that the Bible has mistakes, while open as well to the view that it has no mistakes.  In that case, you read it and simply see if it *does* have any mistakes.   If it does, then you conclude it is not inerrant; if it is not, then you conclude it is inerrant.

That is the approach we take with every other book, or authority of any kind.  Should we approach the Bible differently?  If so, why?  Because someone else tells us to do so?  Because religious leaders say we should?  Because… why?   My view now is that whatever else we say about the Bible, it is a human book.  Humans wrote it.  And copied it.  And translated it.  And published it.  And read it.  If it is a human book, we should treat it the way we treat human books.  That does not compromise its greatness, at all, for me.  But it does mean that I am not imposing on the Bible a theological standard of my own that is going to make me twist and misconstrue parts of it so as to satisfy the requirements of my own standard.

 

 

QUESTION:

If the gospel writers believed in Jesus’ bodily resurrection, why did they portray so many as not recognizing him?

 

RESPONSE:

Ah, this is a great question that does not get asked frequently enough.  I deal with it in my book How Jesus Became God.  Here is what I say about it there.

 

*************************************************************

In considering the significance of the visions of Jesus, a key question immediately comes to the fore that in my judgment has not been given its full due by most scholars investigating the issue.   Why do we have such a strong and pervasive tradition that some of the disciples doubted the resurrection, even though Jesus appeared to them?  If Jesus came to them, alive, after his death, and held conversations with them  – what was there to doubt?

The reason this question is so pressing is because, as we will see later in this chapter, modern research on visions has shown that visions are almost always believed by the people who experience them.   When people have a vision – of a lost loved one, for example – -they really and deeply believe the person has been there.   So why were the visions of Jesus not always believed?  Or rather, why were they so consistently doubted?

Jesus, of course, does not appear to anyone in Mark’s Gospel.  But he does in Matthew, Luke, John, and the book of Acts.   Most readers have never noticed this, but in every one of these accounts we find indications –or rather direct statements — that the disciples doubted that Jesus was raised.

In Matthew 28:7 we are told that Jesus appeared to the eleven, but “some doubted.”   Why would they doubt if Jesus was right there, in front of them?   We have already seen that in Luke 24, when the women report that Jesus has been raised the disciples consider it an “idle tale” and do not believe it (Luke 24:10-11).   Then, even when Jesus appears to them, he has to “prove” that he is not a spirit by having them handle him.  Even that is not enough: he needs to eat a piece of broiled fish in order finally to convince them (Luke 24:37-42).   So too in John’ s Gospel, at first Peter and the Beloved Disciple do not believe Mary Magdalene that the tomb is empty; they have to see for themselves (John 20:1-10).  But what is more germane, the text clearly implies that even when the disciples see Jesus they don’t believe it is he: that is why he has to show them his hands and feet, to convince them (John 20:20).  So too with doubting Thomas – he sees Jesus but his doubts are overcome only when he is told to inspect the wounds physically (John 20:24-29).

And then comes one of the most puzzling verses in all of the New Testament.  In Acts 1:3 we are told that after his resurrection Jesus spent forty days with the disciples – forty days! – showing them that he was alive by “many proofs.”   Many proofs?   How many proofs were needed exactly?   And it took forty days to convince them?

Closely related to these doubt traditions are the scenes in the Gospels where Jesus appears to his disciples after the resurrection and they don’t recognize who he is.   This is the leitmotif of the famous story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-27.  These two do not realize they are talking to the person they have just been talking about, and they do not recognize Jesus until he literally breaks bread with them.   Similarly in John 20:14-16, Mary Magdalene is the first to see Jesus raised, but does not immediately recognize him.  She thinks she is talking with the gardener.  So too in John 21:4-8, the disciples are fishing after the resurrection and Jesus appears to them on the shore and speaks with them, but they don’t realize at first who it is until the Beloved Disciple does.

What is one to make of these stories?  Some readers have suggested that if the disciples had merely had “visions,” it would make sense that there was considerable doubt about what they had seen.   That is an interesting point, but as I have already pointed out, and as we will see more fully later, people who have visions tend not to doubt what they have seen.  The most impressive thing about people who report visionary experiences in numerous different contexts is that they consistently insist, sometimes with some vehemence, that the visions were real, not made up in their heads.  This applies across the board, to people who have seen loved ones after they have died (and sometimes talk to them, and hold them) to people who see great religious figures such as the Blessed Virgin Mary (whose sightings are reported and documented to an astonishing extent) to people who claim that they have been abducted by UFO’s.  People who have visions really seem to believe it.  But a number of the disciples are reported not to believe it, until they were given “proof.”

My tentative suggestion is that there were three or four people – though possibly more – who had visions of Jesus sometime after he died.  One of these was almost certainly Peter, since reports about him seeing Jesus are found everywhere in our sources, including our earliest record of Paul in 1 Cor. 15:5.  And it needs to be remembered that Paul actually knew Peter.   Paul too explicitly states that he had a vision of Jesus, and I think we can take him at his word that he believes Jesus appeared to him.  It is also significant that Mary Magdalene enjoys such prominence in all the Gospel resurrection narratives, even though she is virtually absent everywhere else in the Gospels.  She is mentioned in only one passage in the entire New Testament in connection with Jesus during his public ministry (Luke 8:1-3).  And yet she is always the first to announce that Jesus has been raised.  Why is that?  One plausible explanation is that she too had a vision of Jesus after he died.

These three people – Peter, Paul, and Mary, as it turns out – must have told others about their visions.  Possibly others had them as well – for example, James, Jesus’ brother — but I think it is difficult to say.  Most of their close associates believed them and came to think then that Jesus was raised from the dead.  But possibly some of the original disciples did not believe it.  That would explain why there is such a strong “doubt” tradition in the Gospels, and why there is such an emphasis (in Luke, John, and especially Acts) on the fact that Jesus had to “prove” that he was raised, even when he was allegedly standing in front of the disciples.  If historically only a few persons had the visions, and not everyone believed them, that would explain just about everything.   Mary didn’t doubt what she had seen; either did Peter or Paul.  But others did.  Still, as the stories of Jesus’ “appearances” were told and retold, of course, they were embellished, magnified, and even made up, so that soon, probably within a few years, it was said that all of the disciples had seen Jesus, along with other persons.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    joks  October 3, 2016

    Dr Ehrman

    What is known about the history of the concept of inerrancy of the Bible? Other than 2 Timothy 3:16-17 are there any other Bible verses or quotes from early church fathers that address this concept?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 4, 2016

      John 10:35, e.g. If you’re interested you may want to read the books on fundamentalism by George Marsden.

  2. Avatar
    Steefen  October 3, 2016

    What Gospel was Paul reading when at 1 Corinthians 15: 5, we see, he appeared to Cephas first, then to the 10 (12 minus Judas and minus Cephas, himself). Even if we go with the second appearance being men only, we still only have 11.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 4, 2016

      He wasn’t reading a Gospel. These are traditions that he learned.

      • Avatar
        Steefen  October 4, 2016

        The traditions did not tell him Judas died before the resurrection. Interesting. Pappias’ account supports Paul’s potential disciple count error. Pappias and Paul seem to be in agreement that there were the original 12 to whom Jesus could appear.

        Dr. Ehrman, did Pappias get counter-arguments are called a heretic for putting forth Judas lived in sadness until he was run over by a chariot?

        Note below (last sentence) that the question of Judas’ death caused C. S. Lewis to reject each assertion in the Bible as historical truth.

        There are several different accounts of the death of Judas, including two in the modern Biblical canon:

        Matthew 27:3–10 says that Judas returned the money to the priests and committed suicide by hanging himself. They used it to buy the potter’s field. The Gospel account presents this as a fulfillment of prophecy.
        The Acts of the Apostles says that Judas used the money to buy a field, but fell headfirst, and burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. This field is called Akeldama or Field of Blood.
        The non-canonical Gospel of Judas says Judas had a vision of the disciples stoning and persecuting him.
        Another account was preserved by the early Christian leader, Papias: “Judas walked about in this world a sad example of impiety; for his body having swollen to such an extent that he could not pass where a chariot could pass easily, he was crushed by the chariot, so that his bowels gushed out.”

        The existence of conflicting accounts of the death of Judas has caused problems for scholars who have seen them as threatening the reliability of Scripture. This problem was one of the points causing C. S. Lewis, for example, to reject the view “that every statement in Scripture must be historical truth”.

        • Bart
          Bart  October 5, 2016

          Papias doesn’t say anything about Judas being run over by a chariot.

          • Avatar
            Steefen  October 5, 2016

            I’m getting that from Papias Fragment 3, 1742-1744.
            It is found at Calvin College, Christian Classics Ethereal Library: Bringing Christian classic books to life
            ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
            http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.vii.ii.iii.html

            Are you willing to allow the statement? If not, please tell us the problem.

            Now, I’m clicking the <Prev button twice at that link where we see:

            I. From the exposition of the oracles of the Lord.
            [The writings of Papias in common circulation are five in number, and these are called an Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord. Irenaeus makes mention of these as the only works written by him…

          • Bart
            Bart  October 6, 2016

            Ah, I see. No the statement about the chariot was not originally part of what Papias said. For a more recent reconstruction of the fragments of Papias, see vol. 2 of my translation of the Apostolic Fathers in the Loeb Classical Library.

      • Avatar
        Steefen  October 4, 2016

        Right, he wasn’t reading a Gospel. He learned a tradition that did not feed one of the four gospels. We get a tradition that feeds Pappias. Four gospels ignore Paul’s disciple count at 1 Cor 15: 5–that Judas was still alive.

        • gmdave449
          gmdave449  October 5, 2016

          Maybe the term “the twelve” was a well known way to refer to the apostles that continued to be used even when the number was not actually twelve. Kind of like in college sports the Big Ten and the Big 12 conferences don’t actually have ten and twelve teams. They became famous by that name and so they continue to use it even after teams have come and gone. The number of twelve apostles was after all not accidental. Twelve is a significant number in the Bible (twelve tribes of Israel, e.g.) and Judas was eventually replaced to keep the number at twelve.

  3. Avatar
    Steefen  October 3, 2016

    No one recognized Jesus because Jesus was a role played by multiple people.

    When the cross with an effigy of Julius Caesar was raised as Marc Antony spoke at Caesar’s funeral, the lamentation was as great as the mother of Jesus at Jesus’ cross (not saying that was a historical event).

    Julius Caesar was raised from the dead when the raised cross of his funeral was resurrected in the Jesus story.

    Jesus was raised from the dead when General Titus became the savior of Jerusalem by ending the Civil War and restoring peace.

    Jesus, representing the new Jewish Kingdom of God/Heaven/Righteousness, was killed by Rome; Rome became actor in the Jesus role, resurrected the Jesus role. That is why no one recognized Jesus.

    Why was Jesus mistaken as a gardener? You have to know Christianity in Antiquity. There was a gardener, a botanist, involved in putting Rome into the Jesus role, grafting the Jewish Jesus back to Roman leadership (general and emperor) from which it came, a Julius Caesar military leader and head of state.

  4. Avatar
    Jason  October 3, 2016

    Two things occurred to me reading this. The first is:how much of modern western research into hallucination can be applied with any confidence to first century hillbillies/longshoremen in the levant? And second (though more rhetorically asked) is:if Paul never met or saw Jesus before the “ressurection”, what made him so sure it was Jesus in the vision? Did he just take Aninias at his word (am I getting the sequence right here?) It’s not like they could go to Jesus’s yearbook photo or Facebook feed and see if Paul’s vision was of that guy or of three children on each other’s shoulders in one robe.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 4, 2016

      1. Yes, that is the perennial question asked by social science approaches to history 2. I wish we knew!

      • TWood
        TWood  October 5, 2016

        For #2 isn’t it safe to assume Paul’s vision included some verbal communication (even if Acts’ historicity isn’t perfect there’s evidence for this)… Isn’t the answer the person in Paul’s vision claimed to be Jesus and that’s why Paul was sure it was Jesus who appeared to him?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 6, 2016

          He doesn’t indicate any verbal communication, so I’m not sure.

          • TWood
            TWood  October 6, 2016

            Yes, but in 2 Cor 12 Paul says he “heard inexpressible things”… so we know at some point he indicated he heard verbal communication… if he was mistaken on who he saw at his conversion… the inexpressible things he heard would’ve probably set the record straight… “Hey Paul… check out Paradise… cool, right? by the way… that guy you saw… that was Bill of Antioch… not Jesus of Nazareth… just so you know.” Point is, isn’t it safe to assume there was some kind of confirmation in Paul’s conversion vision(s) that it was Jesus he was seeing?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 8, 2016

            2 Cor. 12 I don’t take to be a reference to his conversion but to a later ecstatic vision.

          • TWood
            TWood  October 8, 2016

            I realize that, but my question was doesn’t that later auditory revelation imply his conversion vision was of Jesus? (the voices in the latter didn’t correct the identity of who Paul saw in other words).

            Also, in Gal Paul says “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ… my immediate response was not to consult any human being.”

            The reason I’m pushing for clarity is the questioner asked “what made him so sure it was Jesus in the vision? Did he just take Aninias at his word?” You answered ” I wish we knew!” I understand we don’t have a perfect record, but doesn’t Paul’s testimony imply that Jesus *somehow* identified/revealed himself to Paul directly in his conversion vision? I’m not trying to be pedantic… I just want to sharpen my understanding of what you’re saying here.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 9, 2016

            Yes, Paul definitely thought Jesus was specifically revealed to him.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  October 6, 2016

      The research I’ve read suggests that every person, on average, experiences about a dozen hallucinations everyday, either visual or auditory or tactile. But the strength of those hallunications can go from as simple as feeling that a bug is crawling on you to as complex as seeing and hearing a person who isn’t there. There’s a very wide spectrum of hallucinations.

  5. Avatar
    prairieian  October 3, 2016

    This aspect of Christian theology is, obviously, key to the entire religion. It is more than interesting that it is surrounded by such examples of doubt and disbelief. Why the disbelief? Obviously, because when one enters the world of the supernatural one automatically has a problem of ‘proof’. Just because you say you saw something means nothing to me who has seen nothing. And, if you have seen something why should I believe you are not utterly delusional when your only proof is vehemence as to what you ‘saw’ or ‘heard’. It is, of course, no proof at all. The ‘doubt’ elements of the NT, for me, ring very true. The questions noted above in Bart’s commentary are pretty straightforward and there is no real answer.

    There is an obscurantist element to Christianity (as well as Islam and Judaism) that requires acceptance of the unproveable as fact. I have wondered in my own faith journey, which has, to be frank, crashed and burned, as to why God has provided so little demonstration as to the veracity of the claims of his religion for the rank and file of the human population, of whom I happen to be one impoverished foot soldier. The claims are fantastic, and the demonstration as to their truth iffy at best. The admonitions as to how to behave in this vale of tears are, perhaps it needs no emphasis, perfectly fine. The world would indeed be a better place if we could all live as Jesus directed. Of course, we don’t.

  6. Avatar
    Jon123  October 4, 2016

    Bart,

    If Jesus’ body was left on the cross, it seems like it would have been left there for an extended time as an example to the surviving public (like weeks). If so, why would the earliest Christians conclude that Jesus was raised from a burial place only 48 hours after his death (as stated in 1 Cor 15:4 — buried then raised on the third day)? The timing of your theory seems difficult. For example, if Jesus’ followers believed Jesus was raised on the third day, but Jesus was left on the cross longer than that, wouldn’t Jesus’ followers have just come to believe that Jesus was raised right off the cross and not buried at all? Alternatively, if Jesus’ followers knew Jesus was buried after hanging on the cross for an extended time, why would they say he was raised on the third day instead of, say, on the 20th day, or the 7th day, or the 60th day? Your theory seems to require that Jesus’ followers were so ignorant of Roman crucifixion practices that they thought the Romans would have removed Jesus’ body from the cross and buried it after only 48 hours of being on the cross. Is that what you believe?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 5, 2016

      The idea is that hte disciples fled to Galilee and were not around in Jerusalem to see how the body was disposed of.

      • Avatar
        Jon123  October 5, 2016

        Yes, I got that Jesus’ disciples fled to Galilee and did not see how Jesus’ body was disposed of, but why would they think Jesus was buried within only 48 hours after his death? They could have easily just concluded that Jesus was raised right off the cross. Your theory seems to require that Jesus’ followers were so ignorant of Roman crucifixion practices that they thought the Romans would have removed Jesus’ body from the cross and buried it after only 48 hours of being on the cross. Is that really your position and do you really find that plausible?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 6, 2016

          It’s an interesting question how many rural Jews in remote areas of Galilee ever saw a crucifixion — or even a Roman soldier. My guess is “not often, if at all.” But it would be worth exploring!

          • Avatar
            Jon123  October 6, 2016

            It’s not just an issue of them “seeing” a crucifixion. Surely, nearly everyone in Palestine HEARD about Roman crucifixion and knew that the Romans would have left Jesus on the cross for a lot longer than 48 hours. I think your backup theory makes a lot more sense — a ground burial.

          • SBrudney091941
            SBrudney091941  October 6, 2016

            Seeing one wouldn’t have been necessary. They could have had fairly clear knowledge through word of mouth of what happens when someone is sentenced in Jerusalem for sedition. They could have fled as soon as they heard the verdict.

  7. Avatar
    Jana  October 7, 2016

    There is psychological reason … when the mind is initially unprepared (immature) for phenomenal experiences, the mind rejects (a kind of protection) or doubts. Carl Jung delved into this psychology some.

  8. Avatar
    jhague  October 11, 2016

    I know we have discussed this before but why do you feel that Paul can be taken at his word that he believes that Jesus (or in his words Christ) appeared to him? I think it is much more believable that Paul knew that others including Peter had claimed that Jesus had appeared to them and Paul wanted to make the same claim to give himself the self proclaimed authority to be an apostle.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 12, 2016

      My sense is that you need to have a reason to think someone is lying if you say they are lying. Not believing them isn’t really a reason. It may be a reason to *look* for a reason! When it comes to Paul, if you don’t think he actually had a vision of Jesus, you would have to explain why he became a follower of Jesus and was willing to be beat within an inch of his life on multiple occasions because he believed in the resurrection.

      • Avatar
        jhague  October 12, 2016

        Yes. I understand. My sense is that in Paul’s writings, he was often agitated. He stated things to his side. An example is his confrontation with Peter. The way he writes the situation, I am guessing most readers (Christians) believe Paul came out on top. Most scholars seem to believe that he did not but Paul left that part out. Paul certainly uses sarcasm in his writings. He is using this to swing people to believe his opinion. He also states that the law is not meant for Gentiles. I’m sure others believed this as well but it does not appear to be the belief of most Jews in the first century. He wants his readers to believe it simply because he says it. I do not find Paul to be an entirely trustworthy person based on how I read what he writes. I think he was willing to say and do whatever he felt he needed to get his opinions to be accepted. He seems to want more than anything to be considered equal or higher than the apostles that actually followed Jesus. If to be an apostle, one had to have been with Jesus, Paul had no choice but create a story that presented himself as having been with Jesus,even though he had not. Doesn’t it seem too easy for him to say he had a vision that now makes him an apostle because he was with and was instructed by Jesus?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 13, 2016

          I think if anyone wanted to be beaten within an inch of his life on multiple occasions by claiming to be an apostle, that yes, that would be motivation. But it seems like an unlikely scenario to me! I’m not sure he gained much by the claim, other than a rather miserable life….

          • Avatar
            jhague  October 14, 2016

            I don’t think Paul wanted to be an apostle in order to be beaten. I think he wanted to be an apostle because he desired to be at or above the level of Jesus’ disciples. I think he wanted this so that he would have the authority to convince people of his beliefs. I think he was an apocalyptic Jew, heard about and was converted to the sect that believed in Jesus’ resurrection, decided to take this message to Gentiles since the world as they knew it was coming to an end, knew that he could only be considered an apostle if he could say he had been with Jesus, made up a vision similar to what Peter may have had, then made up other cosmic adventures to third heavens that he couldn’t discuss, and created conflict with most of the people he came in contact with.
            I think his beatings were due to his abrasive personality and trying to change religious views of people who were very fanatical about their beliefs.
            Does that scenario make sense?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 15, 2016

            Sure, it’s plausible.

    • SBrudney091941
      SBrudney091941  October 12, 2016

      This is based on my readings of Paul MANY years ago and it might perhaps be time to review them: I think when you look at all the places in Paul in which he expresses humility and the places he seems to express hubris, in which his ego looms huge, one might conclude that one must at least remain agnostic about how much he can be believed–not because one can provide evidence that he lied but because, psychologically, he seems to be someone who must build himself up in his own eyes and the eyes of others.

      • Avatar
        jhague  October 14, 2016

        That is somewhat my point. I think that when someone must build himself up in his own eyes and in the eyes of others such as Paul did, there is a very good chance that stories are made up or exaggerated. In Paul’s case, the burden of proving that he had visions, went to third heavens and heard unspeakable words is on him. I think his claims are not only bizarre to us today but were to the people he was saying them to. Which probably led to him being beaten. Not that he wanted to be beaten, but his approach in how he presented himself lead to aggravating most people.

  9. Benjamin
    Benjamin  October 14, 2016

    In my former Evangelical zeal, I was taught this inerrancy and plenary verbal inspiration doctrine as a young man. I believed it, defended it, and fought for it with teeth and sweat drops of blood for it. At the end, I lost. I no longer can say that this book. the holy Bible is a divine book, written with the breath of God, in its original manuscript, and wherever it touches on human history, geology, biology and theology, that it cannot be wrong. The indoctrination of this was so pervasive that I went through schools like the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, and Harvard. None of these modern teachings dismantled or threaten my views on divine creation. It was as if I had my mind blotted out on the modern teachings of Evolution, and I was the biology major here. Why? I asked the questions years later, and why would these scientific teachings made no in roads into my stubborn blind faith in this Inerrancy? It would be years later, after I got married, suffered a great deal along this human path, and years after I took biblical Hebrew (from the UofT), that myths of Genesis begin to make sense to me, that these stories were made by someone(s) who is from that region of the Near East, and that someone took other stories and made it scriptures. That bible is no longer error proofed, that it has many mistakes in geology, cosmology, and biology or human sexuality, etc, that when it comments on human behaviors, and modernity, that this is wrong in many ways. The amount of suffering I had endured along the way taught me that I am mortal, and I should enshrine the idea that I am mortal and that when I die I shall be at one with the earth. I have finally come home, that my God died, in agony and tremendous suffering, that he was buried and that he became corrupt, that he looked in vain at the God that was not, that we finally all come to the same fate. We are human, and God is human and this is the end of all living beings. We are, and then we are no more. So live each and every day as if it was your last. Be ye kind to one to another, tender-hearted, and learn the art of forgiveness, just as God in Christ has forgiven all of us. That God, of course, is the humanity in all of us.

    What say you, O Exalted One, the Lord Ehrman of God?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 15, 2016

      I say you’ve had an interesting transition in your life!

  10. Avatar
    AnotherBart  December 19, 2017

    What do you think of this?::

    Rather than ‘inerrant’ like a math problem, God’s word is ‘perfect’, the way a baby is perfect. The baby might have a cleft palet, or a missing limb. But the baby is still *perfect*! Or the baby might pass gas in the bathtub. But the baby is still *perfect*!

    • Bart
      Bart  December 20, 2017

      Personally I would wonder what would make a book perfect the way my own child might be, in my eyes, perfect.

      • Avatar
        AnotherBart  December 20, 2017

        If you and your son/daughter wrote it?

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