Understanding The Bible
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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
- This is no objection at all. It does not bear on the fact of inspiration. It only contests the value of inspiration.
- The problem of translation and transmission is relatively inferior. It is without mystery. The work of copying and translating the Scriptures has been done by many men checking and rechecking one another. These men were all versed in the study of language.
- The objection fails to take into consideration the painstaking care which has characterized the transmission of the text down through the ages. The early scribes were committed to one task--to perpetuate the text as they found it. In order to be certain of their accuracy they developed a number of checks. In each book they counted the number of words and letters. They knew the middle letter of each book. They knew the middle letter of the Law. (For instance: they determined that the Hebrew letter Aleph occurred 42, 377 times in the OT and the letter Beth occurred 38, 218 times.)
- "Eat simply the bread of the Scriptures as it presents itself to thee; and do not distress thyself at finding here and there a small particle of sand which the millstone may have left in it. Thou mayest, then, dismiss all these doubts which at one time so horribly tormented myself. If the Holy Scriptures--which have been so often copied, and which have passed so often through faulty hands of ever fallible men--were absolutely without variations, the miracle would be so great, that faith in them would be no longer faith. I am astonished on the contrary that the result of all these transcriptions has not been a much greater number of different readings." (Bengel)
- Errors of Reasonings or of Doctrine in the Scriptures
It is contended by others that there are errors of logic or of teaching in the Scriptures, hence it is impossible that the very words of the Bible bear the authority of God. God could not be the author of these mistakes.
- Apparent mistakes of logic or doctrine need more study on the part of the reader.
- Who are we to contend that the authors of Scripture did not present rational arguments or make the correct use of the Scripture which they quoted? "An argument is ill-grounded because you do not seize its scope! A doctrine is a prejudice because you do not admit it! A quotation is not to the point, because its true meaning has escaped you!" (Gaussen)
It is claimed that the Word of God contradicts itself. What one biblical author states, another changes, amends, or denies.
- We must admit that if actual contradictions can be proved to have existed in the original, then the doctrine of Verbal Inspiration is false and must be rejected. However, the burden of proof lies with the objector. It must be proved that the interpretations of both conflicting Scriptures are accurate and bear of no other reconciling interpretation. If supposed contradictory Scriptures can be shown to have a possible harmony, then they are not contradictory.
- Causes for supposed contradictions (Gaussen)
- We fail to take all the circumstances into account.
- Mk. 16:5, cp. Lk. 24:4
- Mt. 20:30, cp. Mk. 10:46 and Lk. 18:35
- Mt. 27:5, cp. Acts 1:18
- Details of resurrection of Christ as seen in Gospels. Remember supposed contradictions must be proved * actually irreconcilable.
- We fail to realize that the Holy Spirit did not have the same design in each of the Gospels. Compare the genealogy of Matthew with that of Luke.
- We fail to realize that the error may be in the translation.
- We fail to pay attention to a variant reading which could resolve the difficulty.
- We fail to realize that certain acts and discourses were repeated more than once in the ministry of Christ.
- We fail to understand the methods of computing chronology.
- It is contended that the miracles presented in Scripture are contrary to natural law, therefore could not have happened. Hence, any record of their having happened is false.
If Genesis 1:1 be accepted as true, the rest of the Bible can easily be judged true. Miracles present no difficulty to the one who believes in the existence of a personal God.
- The Declaration of Paul Himself 1 Cor. 7:10,12, 25
It is claimed that in these verses Paul plainly states that on some matters he spoke with only human authority.
- Verses 10-11 - On this particular point the Lord (and the OT) had already spoken. Paul only reminds his readers of the Lord's teaching (cp. Mt. 5:31-32; Mal. 2:14-15).
- Verse 12 - On this point the Lord (in His earthly ministry) had given no teaching. Far from disclaiming authority, Paul is placing his own teaching on the same level as that of the Lord.
- Verses 25-26
On this particular point no commandment is given by either the Lord or by Paul. The issue is to be decided by the individual involved as the Lord gives wisdom. Paul does give an opinion. Note that Paul acknowledges that this is an opinion. It was not the object of revelation. It was, however, the object of inspiration. God wanted Paul's opinion there just as it was stated and Paul defends the opinion as being from the Holy Spirit (v.40).
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