By chance I stumbled upon the Skeptics Annotated Bible. Obviously a lot of work has gone into this. And the website is done quite well. But I have to disagree with the premises as expounded in the preface. The first is:
Yet few of those who believe in the Bible have actually read it.
As no proof is cited of this, and the author only quotes from his personal experience, I feel free to do the same. I grew up in a Dutch Christian family, where we actually read through the Bible year after year. Every time after a meal, three times a day, we would read a portion of the Bible, continuing where we had left before. And now, in my family, I do the same. Everyone in my church did this, as did everyone at the Christian school I attended. Currently I'm living in New Zealand and at the Church we attend people read through the entire Bible as well. My denomination is Scottish, and everyone from our churches in Scotland does the same. So it's actually not uncommon among Christians to read through the entire Bible.
The author makes another claim, namely that the clergy quote very selectively. My experience absolutely cannot support that claim, as many Bible passages the author finds troublesome in one way or another, are quoted or refered to at various times. I have to admit that this is in Churches were people are expected to know the Bible very well. In Churches where that isn't the case, quoting might be more selective, and that is quite understandable. If you are curious to know William Shakespeare, are you going to read his all his works? Or just the most well-known?
But to support my case even further consider these three things:
1. Many commentaries have been produced in the past, some especially targeted at laymen.
2. In the churches I know, pastors frequently use the Wednesday evening service to preach from a single book or a prolonged story in its entirety. They usually treat more popular items like Jacob or Joseph, Ruth or Esther, Elia or Elias, but they don't skip. They treat every single detail.
3. Some preachers are known for preaching through the entire Bible, every Sunday continuing where they left off. Their main reason was just to avoid being selective about the Bible, the very thing the author accuses them of. Take Luther and Calvin:
The Reformation: A Return to the Primacy of Preaching:
For 36 years then, Luther expounded the Bible in Wittenburg, first in the little chapel, and then in the great city church. He preached often: at least two times on Sunday, and usually three times a week, in the morning. And his method was to preach systematically through the Bible.
Calvin Courier Newsletter Fall 1997, Number 20:
He followed lectio continuo, preaching from the Bible one book after another, chapter by chapter, verse by verse.
Given the limited time and attention span it is understandable that most pastors don't preach through the entire Bible anymore. But I still find it regrettable. Pastors should do this more, just to avoid bias. The entire Bible is the Word of God, not just the parts that happen to be the most well-known. There might also be another reason why pastors avoid certain parts: new translations are so vivid and written in such plain newspaper-like language, that they are no longer suitable to be read in Churches where children are present. This is unlike the original Hebrew and translations like the King James, where restraint is always exercised in describing horrid situations.
The second premise I disagree with is:
But if so little of the Bible is actually used, then why isn't the rest deleted? Why aren't the repetitious passages -- which are often contradictory as well -- combined into single, consistent ones?
We currently have had two thousands years of the Bible as it is accepted by Christians. The author probably realises he isn't the first to see "contradictions". In my possession is a Dutch book, written by Johannes Polyander. I'm not aware of any English translation, but translated the title is "Apparent contradictions in the Bible explained" and was written in 1621. No doubt it is easy to find such books in the entire 2000 year history of the New Testament Church. A recent list of books that treat apparent contradictions can be found at Bible Contradictions and Other Bible difficulties
The author's `solution', deleting parts of the Bible, is wrong. As the author notes a few paragraphs below:
But to the Bible-believer the entire Bible is inspired, and has God as its author. To him each passage contains a message from God that must not be altered or deleted.
He has at least read those portions of the bible correctly! Let me quote this passage (Rev. 22:19):
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
So I agree with him that this is not the solution. And I will set out to show that it is not a necessary solution.
Having said this, I do not believe the approach of the SAB author to reading the Bible is a-priori invalid. As a protestant I firmly believe that everyone is allowed to read the Bible. One is encouraged to examine the Bible (Acts 17:11):
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
And you certainly don't have to be an expert in Hebrew or Greek as some people seem to have said. That's why a reliable translation has been valued always so much by protestants, up to this day. I even urge Christians to study contradictions raised by the SAB, for example at school. It might be very good for them to encounter things they cannot (easily) refute. Humility is good!
I intent to discuss all issues raised by the SAB. The SAB even encourages this ‘dialogue’ (asking for reciprocal links). I will do this by study each book in the Bible, picking a random one each time and going over the things SAB comments upon. As I'm embarking on this quest, I expect to be able to refute many of them. The ones I can't I leave to God. Faith in the Bible doesn't stand or fall with me being able to refute every apparent contradiction. As the apostle said (2 Peter 3:16):
As also in all his (Saint Paul's) epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
I just don't believe that what I don't understand is not true. I don't understand Quantum Gravity, is it therefore untrue?
It's not my goal to convince SAB followers or other atheists. It doesn't work that way. But my goal is to help those who sincerely study the Bible, and have questions about issues raised by the SAB. It's my prayer that God will bless my endeavours.
Berend Deboer, SAB Answered 25 Comments
[5/25/2016 2:38:30 AM]
Fundie Index: -24
Submitted By: TASOfficial