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Pastor Agnostic’s Sermon on the Bible’s Inerrancy

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January 8, 2010

1604 – King James, irate at the poor translations available to his scholars, orders the creation of a new english Bible. (completed 1611)

1881 – King James’ New Testament is rewritten, to fix the thousands of mistranslations and mistakes present in KJ1.  The Old Testament was completed in 1885, and the Apocrypha in 1894.

COINCIDENCE? I think NOT!

“Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning are (sic), in increasing amount: 
i. lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ. 
ii. lack of precision in modern language. 
iii. translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.    

- – – Conservative Bible Project

FROM THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY:

Conservative Bible Project? Ye gods.

 

Inerrancy – ye olde dog. The hallmark facet of today’s most conservative christians is  their dubious claim that our bible is inerrant, an exact, precise and perfect expression of God’s ideas. Lest people complain that this is not a political topic, I suggest that you review the most recent ramblings of our most famous Teabaggers. As Teabaggers’ national organization continues to prune away anyone suffering from the sin of liberal thought, they are pushing a brand of christianity that presumes that all learning that is needed exists in their bible. An INERRANT bible.

So, let’s take a gander at their good book, starting with the olde stuff, something that should have been the easiest to translate. (Council of Nicea and Council of Trent notwithstanding)

Old Testament

The first problem your ancient honest translator faced was that ancient alphabets contained letters that were written, or graphed, in similar ways, especially when dealing with paleo-Hebrew or Aramaic characters. Unfortunately, they had very different meanings. For example, the prepositions kaf (“like”) and bet (“in”) are interchanged in the Masoretic and Dead Sea Scroll versions of Isaiah.

Another serious problem was the lack of punctuation in both ancient Hebrew and Aramaic. Take the words, “I copulate with women hating cats at night.” Simply placing periods or commas in different places radically changes the meaning.  Did I mean to write that I am screwing cats, women, or that I dislike excess felines after the sun sets? Or worse, is this group of words supposed to go with other words in front and behind this grouping and not with each other?  Did they alternate right to left and left to right, as the Egyptian hieroglyphs sometimes do?

Translation between any languages is no easy business. Personal bias and misunderstanding played a huge role in the final choices. Dictionaries were unheard of and dialects varied almost as much as languages themselves. Everything had to be hand copied, causing even greater errors. Worst of all, grammar rules changed from language to language.

Another problem was that not all languages contained identical words. Some words simply do not exist in other languages. This was particularly true when moving from Hebrew to Aramaic, and then to Attic Greek and Latin.

Aramaic’s own rudimentary beginnings created other problems. It had 22 consonants, and contained no vowels. In Aramaic, Dick Cheney’s famous suggestion that an opposing Senator beget himself, would read “gfkrslf.” It is easy to see how differences and errors arose when translating anything from Aramaic to more modern languages. 
The Aramaic Targums were pieced together, revised and edited from around 900 BCE. Scholars today admit that these contained major errors.

The Septuagint consists of several efforts to translate the Aramaic text into old Greek, dating back to about 300 BCE.

In 130 BCE, Aquila was an effort to translate the Jewish Torah, (our Old Testament), from Hebrew into Greek. Theodotion’s Greek version came some 300 years later. Although much effort was made to be more accurate than the prior translations, problems cropped up and transliteration was required because of so many missing or nonexistent words.

Symmachus’  Greek translation relied on various older works. Although not many Greeks knew of it, Saint Jerome later relied on it for his famous Vulgate bible. (The Vulgate, with all its widely divergent versions and serious flaws, would later become the gold standard of bible translations until the 1500s.)

Because the many different versions were sowing confusion and causing serious dispute among members and leaders of the christian cult, Origen of Alexandria tried to fix the problem with his Hexapla.  He created a novel approach by placing the Hebrew and Greek texts, and the Septuagint, Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion versions in parallel columns. Missing texts, interpretation issues and changed meanings became obvious. Origen also created marks to highlight words that existed in the Greek but not in the Hebrew and vice versa. With the help of this Religious Rosetta stone, translations improved somewhat.

The Coptic version of the bible was translated from both Old Latin and Old Greek into the Coptic language.  By this time, many parts of their bible were at least 3 languages away from the original Aramaic text.

The Armenian version (400 CE) was translated only partly from Syriac, (a counterpart in time to Aramaic). It also required the invention of a whole new alphabet. Missing words were still a problem. Some decades later, the Georgians came out with their version, based partly on the Armenian and even older Greek versions.

In the early and mid 400s, the Gothic and Old Latin versions came to be before we finally get to the famous Vulgate text created by Saint Jerome. Despite his hard labors, his work solved nothing. Old Latin and Vulgate texts were soon mixed, matched and often contradicted one another.  Because more than 8,000 versions of the Vulgate and Old Latin eventually came into existence and have lasted through the ages, their differences, writing and translation errors are easy to spot. Still, because of his Faith, reputation, and probably more than just a bit of successful self-promotion, various parts of Jerome’s Vulgate had an impact for over a thousand years. Unfortunately, its existing errors were compounded over time with even more changes as many unnamed scholars did their own revising. Some of these changes were based on scholarship; many others were based on politics. Think back to Greed and Fear.

After the 11th century, even the top Christian leaders were eventually forced to admit that they had a serious translation-based problem on their hands. In 1546, they gathered together in the Council of Trent so they could finally decide which texts and versions they would follow. Other versions were drafted in 1590. More on this important meeting shortly.

Pope Clement’s personal effort came out in 1592. The Roman Catholic Church eventually adopted this 1592 version, although they began to correct its many errors in the early 20th century.

 

Let’s skip ahead to the problems with the English versions.(although we will ignore King Henry’s Gross Bible and other notable versions)

In 1604, King James commissioned a group of scholars to translate, once and for all, the entire bible into English. Unfortunately, they had no scholars who could read  Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac or Attic Greek. Still, their KJ1 was a resounding success.

In 1870, scholars started a major revision on King James I. Eleven years later, they had made over 30,000 corrections to the New Testament alone. The Old Testament also underwent significant changes. This revision was published in the US, after undergoing even more serious revisions to “Americanize” the language.

Because the Roman Catholic Church refused to soil its pristine, jewel encrusted, greedy fingers on any of the James’ “filthy” efforts, in 1907, even they admitted that their old translations were fatally flawed.  They assigned their own rewriting tasks to their Benedictine cult. By 1969, only the Prophets was still unfinished. Even after 62 years of rewriting, there were still problems and major issues.

Some of these problems are potentially explosive and are not limited to any particular Christian cult. Recent gains in translation, computer analysis and newly found materials continue to change scholars’ views and understanding. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls continue to create major waves inside most Christian cults. In some cases, the very foundations of their cults are at risk.

- – -
 
IMPLICATIONS ON INERRANCY

 

It should be clear by now, to even the densest, closed-minded, willfully ignorant, religious, christian bigot, that any resemblance that today’s Americanized Old Testament text has to the original Hebrew and Aramaic texts probably accidental, not intentional. While much work has gone into correcting the many obvious errors, still others ones remained hidden until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Assuming the Scrolls to be real, not fiction, they require even more changes and new approaches to biblical history and translation.

When one considers just how much political wrangling went into many of the translations, today’s most popular texts have very little to do with the original Old Testament. The idea that some baptist preacher will be burn competing biblical texts  to eradicate their heathen beliefs should amuse us to no end. Still, the burning of any book should be viewed as an unforgivable sin, even to a pushy agnostic asshole like mois.

 

NOTE: I have been rewriting my study of christianity and this is just part of the effort. Other parts include faith healing (My Favorite) Christian Science, and the power of prayer. Luckily, I found that 1963 study which suggested that those who self-reported the strongest levels of religious beliefs, also suffered from the highest levels of mental illness

 

16 Responses to Pastor Agnostic’s Sermon on the Bible’s Inerrancy

  1. issodhos

    January 11, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    My post was directed at Rob’s article, Kent, not at Rob himself. As for you, I fully support your natural right to believe anything you wish to believe.:-)

    Yours,

     

    Issodhos

  2. Rob Kezelis

    January 10, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Is, what would you prefer we call it? 

     

    The creators of the Dark Ages?

    The force behind the Spanish Inquisition? 

    The exterminators of alleged German witches? 

    The eradicators of Mayan civilization? 

    The promoters of slavery, war, and death? 

     

    I am all ears. well, two, at least. 

  3. issodhos

    January 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Goodness, Rob, it is your article. You should be free to use whichever bigoted term for Christians you wish to use. I was merely mentioning to Carl that given the nature of your article and RR’s track record on derogatory and bigoted threads and posts concerning Christians or Christianity, your article should be warmly welcomed at RR. ;-)

    Yours in a laid-back, easygoing, live-and-let-live kinda mood,

     

    Issodhos

  4. Kent.Shaw

    January 11, 2010 at 7:56 am

    In a most literal sense, I am a recovering Christian. I hope that doesn’t make me a bigot. All religions are about control and manipulation. All of them. So I guess I’m also anti-semitic and anti-muslim.

  5. Carl Nemo

    January 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks for your grounded sermon Pastor Agnostic.

    I think readers would enjoy “Ken’s Guide to the Bible” , a 1995 release by Blast Books, Inc. of NYC. It’s a 143 page read exposing all major inconsistencies in both the Old and New Testaments.

    For thinking people, bible study can turn into a “root canal” experience in short order. No thinking is advised, but simply heavy dependence on “faith” that those before us had nothing but good intentions in passing down these works for the past 3,000 thousand years or so in an unadulterated fashion; ie., the word of their god in a universe that is now dated at 13 billion years old and still expanding in space/time with no “end times” scenario immediately on the event horizon.

    http://godisimaginary.com/

    ***

    The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.” …Steven Weinberg, Physicist

    ***

    Note: Believers in creationism date the earth between 4,414 BC to present 2010 or about 6424 years old (-91 / +156 years)!? The earth’s current measured age is approximately 4.5 billion years old.

     

    Carl Nemo **==

     

  6. griff

    January 9, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I tried to read the Bible once. I got about 6 pages into Genesis and found so many inconsistencies that I couldn’t continue. I had planned on reading all the major religious texts (Q’ran, Talmud, etc) but lost interest.

    By the way, History Channel programming these days is all Armageddon, all the time. I liked it better when they actually covered history.

     

  7. Carl Nemo

    January 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    They can also run “gang” coverage into the ground too, although it’s sobering there’s hundreds of thousands of gang members nationwide; ie., street, biker and prison gangs that will be roaming around in a post Apocalyptic (financial) society ready to pillage, murder, rape or whatever else suits their fancy.  There won’t be enough of the good guys around to protect the weak and enfeebled from such carnage. 

     The way our corrupt government operates concerning the employment of Blackwater XE, they’ll no doubt offer jobs to this segment of societal scum no different than the Nazi’s releasing thugs from German prisons to staff the “Deathshead SS” , also as extermination camp guards.  The purpose, to roundup and intimidate perceived “enemies of the state”, no doubt those on their terrorist watch lists.  I’d love to peruse these lists and I’m sure I’d discover 90 percent of the names are domestic citizens with only 10 percent or less the likes of Umar & Co.   

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. Carl Nemo

    January 10, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Hi Rob,

    Your original content has been truncated and I’ve noticed a quasi-censoring remark from Mellowicious on the RR side of the house seemingly displeased with this post and the fact that it’s misplaced on RR and possibly on CHB too.  If so, it’s a shame because it’s content that should be viewed and discussed. 

    Why are folks so skitzy when it comes to discussing the mythos behind world religions, their core texts ie., the Holy Bible, the Koran, the Torah et al. or even “The Book of the SubGenius, The Sacred Teachings of J.R. “Bob” Dobbs sponsored by “The Subgenius Foundation”…? ; )

    http://www.subgenius.com/bigfist/classic/classics/X0003_botsg-intro.html

    Carl Nemo **==

  9. issodhos

    January 10, 2010 at 2:26 am

    I would thing that an article that repeatedly uses a denigrative term such as “cult” for describing Christianity, and one that uses generalized bigotry toward Christians, as displayed in the concluding part of the article, would have a natural home at RR. Why it would be truncated here at American Newsreel is a bit of a mystery.

    Yours,

    Issodhos

  10. griff

    January 11, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I would say it’s because none of the other religions are ever mentioned. No one would dare take on the Jews with such fervor, lest they be accused of anti-semitism, even though their religion is based on the Old Testament – the more violent part of the Bible. It seems bashing Christians is en vogue and considered more than acceptable while similar attacks on the Jews would be met with the most hostile of admonitions.

    This is a political site. Those that wish to explore these things have plenty of resources at their disposal.

    I view organized religion in the same context that I do partisanship – both require blind allegiance to an ideology that is more often than not used by the so-called leaders toward a political end – often in direct contrast to its own philosophy. The faithful just follow orders.

    I also see this as a collectivist mindset. Not all Muslims are jihadists. Not all Jews condone or support the actions of Israel.

    As this column accurately points out, religion and government have been intimately intertwined since the dawn of civilization. I myself have read several books and other resources pertaining to the origins of religion dating back to the very creation of the universe. Interesting stuff to say the least, but nothing I would base my core beliefs on.

    I consider the Bible in more of a historical context than I do a religious one, another nugget of historical reference. I try not to judge or demonize any one that believes such things. It’s called empathy, something severely lacking in today’s black-and-white world.  

  11. Warren

    January 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Don’t confuse fact with belief. Fact has nothing to do with it. As religious conservatives see it, God is all knowing, all powerful, and inerrant. God has caused the various translations to be made and the words in the translations are the Word of God, as He intended, at the times of the translations. Inconsistancies between versions are His continuing revelation to man.

    Or so they think. Facts can never top blind belief reinforced with circular logic.

    —W—

  12. Rob Kezelis

    January 10, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Warren, well put. 

    I always wondered why it took god SIX whole days to build the world, if he was so all-powerful, all seeing. Surely, he could have done it in an instant. And if that was beyond his ability, then he is not all powerful, ergo, by definition, he is no god. 

  13. bryan mcclellan

    January 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Circular logic is the strongest  physical apparition of faith.

    No need to denigrate.

    Expolre.

    Dumb luck is as equal to hard work as negative waves are to let it bleed.

    Sooner than never for the better,

    business is,

    as yours is to mine,

    none of it.

    When did America become Judge, Jury, and ???????

  14. Kent.Shaw

    January 11, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Is God willing to prevent evil but not able?

    Then he is not omnipotent.

    Is he able but not willing?

    Then he is malevolent.

    Is he both able and willing?

    Then whence cometh evil?

    Is he neither able nor willing?

    Then why call him God?

    – Epicurus

  15. silentSCREAM

    January 13, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    What I know… whereas some have a need to ‘believe’ in the supernatural.

    There has never been a religion known to mankind that wasn’t crafted by man as a mechanism to exploit someone else’s fear of the unknown.

    Through the eons of time methodologies have been many, but the original objective has always remained constant – manipulate a gullible audience by conditioning ‘believers’ to voluntarily sacrifice (in the name of ______) according to the direction and purpose of the voice of authority.

    Homage to the gods… from birth to death, ceremonial validations are as varied as they are useless.

  16. Warren

    January 13, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    But remember that many people are very willing participants in the mysticism. Either one believes in a universe where there is a higher purpose – for many people ‘Gods purpose’ – or one believes in a complex universe where ‘shit happens’ often with no obvious purpose. For a whole lot of folks life is just a whole lot easier believing that some devine spirit has a purpose, because no purpose is readily apparent to them.

    “Whatever turns your crank”

    —W—