The Word of God II
Here it is: a small Bible Quiz for students? (It can be made bigger.)
1. What were the last words that Jesus uttered:
(a) "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit": [Luke 23:46]
(b) "It is finished": [John 19:30]
(c) "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani"; that is to say,"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" [Matthew 27:46]
2. How many years of famine did God offer David as a choice against three months of being pursued by his enemies?
(a) Seven. [II Samuel 24:13]
(b) Three. [II Chronicles 21:11]
3. Mary's husband was Joseph. Joseph's father was
(a) Jacob [Matthew 1:16]
(b) Heli [Luke 3:23]
4. Was man created before or after the beasts and birds?
(a) Before [Genesis 2: 18-19]
(b) After [Genesis 1:25-26]
5. Is it a good thing to be wise?
(a) Yes [Proverbs 4:7]
(b) No [Ecclesiastes 1: 18]
6. Were birds created out of water, or out of earth?
(a) Water [Genesis 1: 20]
(b) Earth [Genesis 2: 19]
7. Who purchased the potter's field?
(a) Judas [Acts 1: 18]
(b) The chief priests
[Matthew 27: 5-7]
8. How did Judas die?
(a) Suicide by hanging [Matthew 27: 5]
(b) Bursting asunder following a headlong fall in the potter's field [Acts 1:18]
9. Can God be seen?
(a) Yes [Genesis 32: 30, Exodus 33: 11, Exodus 33.23]
(b) No [ John 1: 18, I Timothy 6: 16]
10. Does God tempt mankind?
(a) Yes [Genesis 22:1]
(b) No [James 1: 13]
11. How should a fool be treated?
(a) Answer him according to his folly [Proverbs 26: 5]
(b) Answer him not according to his folly [Proverbs 26: 4]
12. When Saul (Paul) was converted, did those who were with him hear anything that took place?
(a) Yes [Acts 9: 7]
[Acts 22: 9]
13. If you are not for Jesus you are against him.
(a) True [Matthew 12: 30]
(b) False [Mark 9: 40, Luke 9: 50]
14. Should we do our good deeds publically or privately?
(a) Publically [Matthew 5: 16]
[Matthew 6: 3-4]
15. How many horsemen did David take?
(a) 700 [II Samuel 8: 4]
(b) 7000 [I Chronicles 18: 4]
16. Simon Peter was recruited as a disciple by Jesus,
(a)when Jesus found him, along with his brother Andrew, casting nets beside the sea of Galilee. (Mark 1:16-20)
(b) after Andrew, believing Jesus to be the Messias, brought him to meet Jesus (John 1:41-42)
17. Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him
(a) at the Last Supper (John 13:38)
(b) at the Mount of Olives, after the Last Supper (Mark 14:26-30)
Apologists for the Bible raise a number of defenses in respect of apparent Biblical contradictions discrepancies and differences, such as those listed above.
(1) "The passages refer to different circumstances."
In the above cases, all of the statements are one-offs. They do not on the face of it permit qualification according to circumstance.
(2) "One or both of the passages is to be read metaphorically, not literally."
There are no flags separating metaphor from literal language, except human judgement. We are obliged to make this decision ourselves, and the interpretation of metaphor can and does vary widely from person to person. It comes down to personal authority, not divine authority when we do this.
(3) "One of the statements is obviously a copyist's error"
This may of course be correct, but we are aware of such error only when two differing versions of the same incident are given. How many other copyist errors are there in the remainder of the Bible that do not show up in this way. If God can allow copyist errors at all in His word, how are we to tell what is a copyist error and what is not?
[Since posting this material to the website, I have discovered the writing of Bart Ehrman, a textual scholar, who has made his life's work the study of copying errors and alterations in the early Christian texts, and of the development and emergence of the New Testament canon. Reading Misquoting Jesus, and Jesus Interrupted, you will swiftly be aware that the above "quiz" merely scratches the surface, and not even deeply, and that copying errors and alterations and deletions are pervasive. He disposes once for all, I think, of the notion that the Bible as we have it is the inerrant word of God, and puts forward the far more engaging likelihood that the authors were individual human writers with their own strengths, weaknesses, agendas and biases.]
(4) The gospels deal with theological truth rather than factual truth. We should look at the theological message contained in a passage rather than the accuracy of the "factual" material used to convey this message, or whether it is consistent with other accounts. It is only in the last couple of hundred years or so that factual accuracy has come to be as highly regarded as it is today.
Maybe so, but if so, what different theological messages are contained in Mark's story that Jesus recruited Simon Peter along with his brother Andrew, as they cast their nets beside the Sea of Galilee, as opposed to John's story that Andrew, previously a disciple of John the Baptist, met Jesus and was so impressed with Him that he brought Simon Peter to meet Jesus.
(5) "Times change, circumstances change, and God's will for us changes as well. We should look at apparent contradictions in the context of the time they refer to."
This is probably sensible, except that we are specifically told that God's word is unchanging and continues to apply. We are told this in a number of ways, many times, in both the Old and New Testament:
Psalms 12:6,7 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.
Psalms 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.
Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
One could certainly, from the above, advance a strong requirement for internal consistency as a test for the "genuine" Word of God.
Unless all of the above are copyists errors, of course.