I beleive the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated, copied, and interpreted correctly. In the course of my studies of the Bible, I've discovered that it has a long and convoluted history. So, these are my discoveries and my musings of Christian history and doctrines.

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Dead Sea Scrolls Compared to Our Bible

Just about everybody has heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but other than the fact that a bunch of books were discovered in caves near the Dead Sea, I have to confess that I, and many others like myself, have been largely ignorant of what those books were about. The Reader's Digest book entitled The Bible Through Ages states gives a brief synopsis of what exactly was found there.

Many of the books found there tell us about the daily life in this small, remote community. In addition to those books describing community life were found about 170 "Biblical" manuscripts, including books used as scripture that are not found in our modern day Bibles. One example is The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs which is supposed to be the biographies of the twelve sons of Jacob. Another book called the Jubilees which discusses the chronology of biblical history.

Comparing the Dead Sea books with those that are found in our Bibles today, there were some marked differences. Within that same little community there existed TWO different versions of Isaiah. The Psalms were arranged in a different order than ours and included three additional unknown Psalms. A remnant of 1st Samuel gives hitherto unkown details regarding Saul. Over all though, much of their scripture was very much like ours giving "an indication to some scholars that there was a trend toward standardization of the text during the first century A.D."

What? Do they mean to tell me that it wasn't any standardization for the thousands of years before the first century A.D.?

  • The History of the Bible (Pleasantville, New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1996), p. 111.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Comparing the Samaritan Pentateuch with the Hebrew

Owing much to the parable of the Samaritan told by Jesus, many people know that the Jews and the Samaritans just don't get along. The origins of their conflict goes back to the eighth century BC The Samaritans like to think that they are descendents of the 10 "lost" tribes that were carried off by the Assyrians. The Jews regard them as pagans that were sent to repopulate the cities that had lain desolate for so many years after the initial conquest. We learn from 2 Kings 17 that the king of Assyria sent a priest that had been carried away to Assyria to return to Samaria to teach the new inhabitants the ways of the Lord.

To this day the Samaritans use only the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) and do not recognize the writings of the prophets or any other writings that were introduced after the conquest of the Babylonians. The traditional Hebrew text, known as the Masoretic text, was passed on and continuously copied by scribes between the 6th and 10th centuries AD. The Masoretic text has a long history in and of itself to be discussed in another article.

According the book The Bible Through the Ages by Readers Digest, scholars have made comparisons of the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Hebrew's Masoretic text. It states:

"In some 6,000 instances, however, the Samaritan text departs from the Masoretic. Moreover, about 1,900 variants in the Samaritan text correlate with the 3rd-century BC Greek Septuagint translation of the Pentateuch. Some Scholars have concluded, therefore, that the Samaritan and the Septuagint text reflect versions of the Scriptures that predate the authoritative Hebrew text."

That is 6,000 differences in the first 5 books of the Bible alone! And what about the rest of the Bible?
  • The History of the Bible (Pleasantville, New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1996), p. 111.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Letter Written by Jesus Christ Himself

The historian Eusebius (circa 260 - 339 CE) , Bishop of Caesarea, writes about a King Abgar who was king of Edessa, a city known today as Urfa in Turkey. This king, who was dying of some incurable disease, had heard of Jesus and his ability to heal. He sent a message via a letter-carrier by the name of Ananias petitioning Jesus to come and heal him.

Jesus, upon reading of his plight, wrote a letter in return which was delivered to the king by the same courier. Eusebius claims that he extracted the actual documents from the Record Office at Edessa and translated them into Syriac.

The letter of the King is as follows:

Abgar Uchama the Toparch to Jesus, who has appeared as a gracious savior in the Region of Jerusalem - greeting.

I have heard about you and about the cures you perform without drugs or herbs. If report is true, you make the blind see again and the lame walk about; you cleanse lepers, expel unclean spirits and demons, cure those suffering from chronic and painful diseases, and raise the dead. When I heard all this about you, I concluded that one of two things must be true - either you are God and came down from heaven to do these things, or you are God's Son doing them. Accordingly I am writing to beg you to come to me, whatever the inconvenience, and cure the disorder from which I suffer. I may add that I understand the Jews are treating you with contempt and desire to injure you: my city is small, but highly esteemed, adequate for both of us.

Here is Jesus' response:
Happy are you who believed in me without having seen me! For it is written of me that those who have seen me will not believe in me, and that those who have not seen will believe and live. As to your request that I should come to you, I must complete all that I was sent to do here, and on completing it must at once be taken up to the One who sent me. When I have been taken up I will send you one of my disciples to cure your disorder and bring life to you and those with you.

According Eusebius, additional information was attached to these documents relating to the subsequent visit of Thaddaeus, one of the Seventy, who healed the king and others. The king saw a vision on the face of Thaddaeus which nobody else saw. The gospel was then taught to a general assembly of the city's inhabitants.

What is interesting to me is that the fame of Jesus Christ was so far reaching even within His lifetime. This would, in my estimation, help explain the success that the Apostle Paul had amongst the gentiles - they had already heard of Jesus.
Also, if Jesus received letters from such far quarters as Edessa and sent correspondence in return, I don't think that it would be too far out of line to suspect that He wrote other letters as well, either locally or otherwise, or even books for that matter. And if He did write other documents, what did they say? Would there have been any subject material not found in our present day canonized collection of books and letters?

  • Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Tr. by G.A. Williamson; rev. and ed. with a new introd. by Andrew Louth. Rev. (London, England: Penguin, c1989), p. 30-34.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Mentioned in the Bible, But Not Found - Part 4

  • The Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite
  • The Visions of Iddo the Seer
"Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?" (2 Chronicles 9:29)
  • The Book of Shemaiah the Prophet
"Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies? And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually." (2 Chronicles 12:15)
"And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo." (2 Chronicles 13:22)
  • The Book of Jehu
"Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel." (2 Chronicles 20:34)
  • The Sayings of the Seers
"His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and setup his groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers." (2 Chronicles 33:19)
  • The Prophecies of Enoch
Jude quotes from Enoch a little bit, but the source he quoted from is not in the Bible. If the Apostle Jude thought it important enough to read the book of Enoch and then quote from it to others, don't you think it would be beneficial to us in it's entirety as well?

"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
To execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 14-15)

Matthew makes reference to a prophesy that Jesus would be a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23), but our current Old Testament has no statement of such.

Much has been lost through the ages, and these are just the books that we know about. How may other writings have there been throughout the ages that were lost to time, that aren't mentioned in the Bible?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Mentioned in the Bible, But Not Found - Part 3

  • The Book of the Wars of the Lord
"Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord, What he did in the Red Sea, and in the brooks of Arnon,
And at the stream of the brooks that goeth down to the dwellings of Ar, and lieth upon the border of Moab." (Numbers 21:14-15)
  • The Book of Jasher
"And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day." (Joshua 10:13)
"(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)" (2 Samuel 1:18)
  • The Acts of Solomon
"And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?" (1 Kings 11:41)
  • The Book of Samuel the Seer
  • The Book of Nathan the Prophet
  • The Book of Gad the Seer

"Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer,
With all his reign and his might, and the times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries." (1 Chronicles 29:29)
Who can say for sure that these books did not contain anything worthwhile or for our benefit. Solomon was so famous for his great wisdom that people came from all over the known world to hear him. Wouldn't that wisdom be as useful now as it was then? Did Nathan, Samuel, Gad, being seers and prophets write their prophecies and the things that they saw as "seers" (one who sees) in addition to the acts of David? If so, what? Wouldn't it be important for us to know?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mentioned in the Bible, But Not Found - Part 2

  • An epistle to the Laodiceans
The epistle to the Laodiceans that Paul mentioned in his epistle to the Colosians is among those scriptures that are lost.
"And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea." (Colossians 4:16)
  • An epistle to the Corinthians
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote:
"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:" (1 Corinthians 5:9)
It is apparent that Paul wrote more than the two letters currently contained in our Bibles and that they were not the first to be written the Corinthians either. No doubt the missing letter is just as good and as important as the ones we currently have.

  • Other Gospels
Luke starts out his gospel by stating that many others had written concerning the gospel. The reason why Luke was writing was so that Theophilus might know that the things in which he had already been taught were true. Aside from Luke, we have only three other gospels in our New Testament. I would hardly call that "many".

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." (Luke 1:1-4)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Mentioned in the Bible, But Not Found - Part 1

Here are some other books mentioned in the Bible that are NOT found in the Bible:

  • Another epistle of Jude
Jude, the brother of James wrote:
"When I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3)
What was the "common salvation" that he referred to? Considering the purpose of the Bible is intended for the salvation of God's children on earth, wouldn't that epistle be just as important as the one we now have?

  • Another epistle of Paul to the Ephesians
Paul wrote of a revelation that he had and sent to the Ephesians.
"How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)…" (Ephesians 3:3-4)
Wouldn't this revelation which he said would be beneficial to the Ephesians be beneficial to us also?

Friday, May 20, 2005

It's a Friday Brotha'

It's a Friday Brotha'... And things have been way too serious around here for the last week or two. So, today, I give you something a little different - a quote from a prophet featured in the movie The Life of Brian.

There shall in that time be rumors of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia-work base, that has an attachment. At that time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer, and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight O'clock.
I'll be back on Monday Brotha', err.. Sista'.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Catholic Bible verses the King James

Those who say that the Bible contains everything that was ever written by inspired men of God have either not read the Bible in it's entirety, or they are deliberately trying to deceive. I say this for several reasons. For one, there are books and letters mentioned in the Bible that are not found in the Bible itself. Two, often various writers in the bible quoted from unknown sources not contained in the Bible. Three, when Constantine commissioned Eusebius to gather all books predating Christ and those written after Christ's ascension into heaven, Eusebius had the difficult task of discerning what was authentic in it's entirety and what was not. There were many books and letters that were not included in this collection, because part or all of their authenticity were in question.

Though what we have in the King James Version of the Bible differs somewhat in the collection of books and letters that he made, nevertheless, it is a direct result of his efforts that we have a Bible with a New Testament at all. There were many manuscripts of the same letter or book, and often times they all differed. Which was the more correct? Other books were complete fabrications, and yet other books were believed to have been written by sincere but yet misguided and uneducated individuals.

I have met some people who were surprised to hear that the Roman Catholic Old Testament, or Latin Vulgate, contains more books than the Old Testament of the King James Version Bible or the Hebrew Bible. These books are sometimes known collectively as "The Apocrypha" even though there are additional apocryphal books that are not included in their version of the Bible. The additional books in their Bible are

1. The Book of Tobit.
2. The Book of Judith.
3. 1st and 2nd Esdras.

4. Additions to Esther.

5. Wisdom of Solomon.

6. Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sira or Sirach).
7. Baruch.
8. Letter of Jeremiah.

9. Prayers of Azariah and Song of the Three Young Men.

10. Susanna.

11. Bel and the Dragon.

12. Prayer of Manasseh.

13. 1st and 2nd Maccabees.

In some manuscripts of the Greek Bible these books are found:

1. 3rd and 4th Maccabees.

2. Psalm 151.

What is the official position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? Joseph Smith wrote in Doctrine and Covenants 91:

1 VERILY, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha -- There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly;
2 There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are ainterpolations by the hands of men.

3 Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated.

4 Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth;

5 And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom;

6 And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated. Amen.

  1. Apocrypha, Old Testament, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, second edition. Editor, Everett Ferguson. (Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Epistles of Ignatius. Some are Forgeries.

Other examples of deliberate tampering include the writings of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (30 - 70 A.D.). There are at least 15 letters existing today that bear his name. Regarding the first eight letters, it is the general consensus among scholars that these letters are counterfeit. Among those letters, or epistles, mentioned by Eusibius, there are seven that have two versions, a long and a short. It should be obvious that either the long or the short versions are the forged versions, but scholars are divided as to which of the two is the most authentic. I say the "most authentic" because neither version can be regarded as absolutely free of unauthorized alterations. (1)

You may be asking yourself why this would be important, considering that his writings are not found in the Bible itself. There are two reasons why this would be important. The first is to show that during the course of history, there have been many, many deliberate attempts to change Christian doctrines by writing documents under the alias of a reputable leader or changing the contents of the originals and passing them on to unsuspecting individuals. The second reason is that his letters discuss issues or doctrines that have divided the Christian community for ages. Tradition has it that he and Polycarp were disciples of, sitting in the actual presence of, the Apostle John himself. The writings of Ignatius, could they be proven without a doubt to be accurate and authentic, would give much credence to and help to verify the beliefs and doctrines of some Christian denominations and their particular interpretation of certain Bible verses thereby casting a shadow of doubt on those of other, differing, denominatins.

  1. Introduction Note, Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, vol 1, the Ante Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., ), pages 46-47.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Origen Compares the Different Biblical Translations

Because most of the Christians in the early centuries of the church spoke Greek, the Septuagint was regarded as the inspired Word of God. Christian copyists tended to corrupt text by introducing Christological information. Because of this, the Greek speaking Jews eventually rejected the Septuagint and turned to several other Greek translations that were more literal, especially the one made by Aquila (ca. 130 A.D.)

The controversy became so extreme that at one point a Biblical scholar by the name of Origen (ca 185 - ca 251 A.D.) attempted to put all the bickering to rest by carefully comparing the Septuagint (sometimes called "LXX", or "Seventy") with the traditional Hebrew version that was used in his day. He divided his work into six columns. In the first column he put the Hebrew version word for word. The next column contained a transliteration of the Hebrew into Greek. The third column contained Aquila's Greek Translation. The fourth contained the translation of Symmachus. The fifth contained the LXX, and the last contained a translation by Theodotion. This immense book of 6,000 pages came to be known as the Hexapla.

He marked the places that the LXX was longer than the Hebrew and where the LXX was shorter, he added whatever words were necessary to match the Hebrew. The entire book was lost at some unknown point in time. Some scholars seem to think that it was burned during the Muslim conquest of Palistine during the seventh century A.D. along with who knows how many other priceless Christian documents. However, the fifth column was copied with all his notes and was circulated around so much that it eventually corrupted the original Greek translation. (1)

The Septuagint was translated into Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, and many other languages. Again, here is double the potential for errors in translation - Hebrew to Greek, and then Greek to whatever. Not only that, but often the Septuagint was used to restore the text of corrupted passages of the Hebrew Bible. For example, it witnesses to a form of Hebrew text that no longer exists for the books of Samual and Kings.

In short, the history of the Septuagint is long and complex. There have been many revisions and even new translations made and scholars agree that many errors have been introduced throughout it's history. (2)

  1. Hexapla, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, second edition. Editor, Everett Ferguson. (Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997).
  2. Septuagint, Ibid.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Dionysius and Origen Complain of Tampering.

According to many historians, deliberate alteration of scripture was rife throughout the Christian world as various sects sought to legitimize their particular slant of doctrine. Daniel-Rops claims that the scriptures were subject to numerous outrages changes.

One of the most learned instructors and prolific writers of early Christianity was Origen who I mentioned previously. He also complained of the inaccuracies between different manuscripts of the same books or letters and wrote:

"Today the fact is evident, that there are many differences in the manuscripts, either through the negligence of certain copyists, or the perverse audacity of some in correcting the text." (1)

The ancient historian, Eusebius, wrote that Dionysius, the Bishop of Corinth around 170 A.D., complained that even his letters were being tampered with. Eusebius quotes him as saying:

"When my fellow-Christians invited me to write letters to them I did so. These the devil's apostles have filled with tares, taking away some things and adding others. For them the woe is reserved. Small wonder then if some have dared to tamper even with the word of the Lord Himself, when they have conspired to mutilate my own humble efforts." (2)

  1. Daniel-Rops, L’Eglise des Apotres et des Martyrs, p. 313n. Translated by Barker, James in The Divine Church.
  2. Eusebius, of Caesarea, Bishop of Caesarea, ca. 260-ca. 340, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Tr. by G.A. Williamson; rev. and ed. with a new introd. by Andrew Louth. Rev. (London, England: Penguin, c1989), 132.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Justin Martyr Accuses Jews of Removing Text.

The original language of most of the Old Testament is in Hebrew, but parts were written in Aramaic (also known as Chaldee). This is known as the Massoretic text. Then, at the request of Ptolemy II (283-246 B.C.), a translation of the Old Testament into Greek was made by seventy-two Jewish elders and was called the "Septuagint". The Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) was translated during that century, while the rest of the Old Testament was done by individual translators and was completed by about 132 B.C.

The elders translated some books with more care and were more literal than with other books. For example, when the Book of Job was translated, the book was shortened by about 800 lines. Excessive repetition was removed and passages that were too difficult to translate were summarized. Also, the book of Jeremiah is much shorter and differently ordered than the traditional Hebrew versions. (1)

Justin Martyr, a Christian writer who lived in the second century A.D., claims in his document "Dialog With Trypho" (A Jew) that the Jews had removed passages from Esdras and Jeremiah and the Psalms. He writes:

"But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying; but since I am aware that this is denied by all of your nation, I do not address myself to these points, but I proceed to carry on my discussions by means of those passages which are still admitted by you. For you assent to those which I have brought before your attention, except that you contradict the statement, `Behold, the virgin shall conceive, 'and say it ought to be read, `Behold, the young woman shall conceive.' And I promised to prove that the prophecy referred, not, as you were taught, to Hezekiah, but to this Christ of mine: and now I shall go to the proof."

Here Trypho remarked, "We ask you first of all to tell us some of the Scriptures which you allege have been completely cancelled."

And I said, "I shall do as you please. From the statements, then, which Esdras made in reference to the law of the passover, they have taken away the following: `And Esdras said to the people, This passover is our Saviour and our refuge. And if you have understood, and your heart has taken it in, that we shall humble Him on a standard, and thereafter hope in Him, then this place shall not be forsaken for ever, says the God of hosts. But if you will not believe Him, and will not listen to His declaration, you shall be a laughing-stock to the nations.' And from the sayings of Jeremiah they have cut out the following: `I [was] like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter: they devised a device against me, saying, Come, let us lay on wood on His bread, and let us blot Him out from the land of the living; and His name shall no more be remembered.' And since this passage from the sayings of Jeremiah is still written in some copies [of the Scriptures] in the synagogues of the Jews (for it is only a short time since they were cut out), and since from these words it is demonstrated that the Jews deliberated about the Christ Himself, to crucify and put Him to death, He Himself is both declared to be led as a sheep to the slaughter, as was predicted by Isaiah, and is here represented as a harmless lamb; but being in a difficulty about them, they give themselves over to blasphemy. And again, from the sayings of the same Jeremiah these have been cut out: `The Lord God remembered His dead people of Israel who lay in the graves; and He descended to preach to them His own salvation.'

"And from the ninety-fifth (ninety-sixth) Psalm they have taken away this short saying of the words of David: `From the wood.' For when the passage said, `Tell ye among the nations, the Lord hath reigned from the wood, 'they have left, `Tell ye among the nations, the Lord hath reigned.' Now no one of your people has ever been said to have reigned as God and Lord among the nations, with the exception of Him only who was crucified, of whom also the Holy Spirit affirms in the same Psalm that He was raised again, and freed from [the grave], declaring that there is none like Him among the gods of the nations: for they are idols of demons. But I shall repeat the whole Psalm to you, that you may perceive what has been said. It is thus: `Sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, and bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all people. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: He is to be feared above all the gods. For all the gods of the nations are demons but the Lord made the heavens. Confession and beauty are in His presence; holiness and magnificence are in His sanctuary. Bring to the Lord, O ye countries of the nations, bring to the Lord glory and honour, bring to the Lord glory in His name. Take sacrifices, and go into His courts; worship the Lord in His holy temple. Let the whole earth be moved before Him: tell ye among the nations, the Lord hath reigned. For He hath established the world, which shall not be moved; He shall judge the nations with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad; let the sea and its fulness shake. Let the fields and all therein be joyful. Let all the trees of the wood be glad before the Lord: for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.' "

Here Trypho remarked, "Whether [or not] the rulers of the people have erased any portion of the Scriptures, as you affirm, God knows; but it seems incredible."

"Assuredly," said I, "it does seem incredible. For it is more horrible than the calf which they made, when satisfied with manna on the earth; or than the sacrifice of children to demons; or than the slaying of the prophets. But," said I, "you appear to me not to have heard the Scriptures which I said they had stolen away. For such as have been quoted are more than enough to prove the points in dispute, besides those which are retained by us, and shall yet be brought forward." (2)

You will note that in the course of history, text was purposely omitted before and after the time of Christ. What could be more telling than a synagogue having the text about Christ in their version of the Greek Translation, and going to another synagogue where it is absent? Sounds like a cover up job to me.
  1. Septuagint, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, second edition. Editor, Everett Ferguson. (Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997).
  2. Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho, vol 1, the Ante Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., ), 234-235.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Lost Writings of Papias Part 3

Concerning Papias, Eusebius the historian (circa 260-339 A.D.) wrote the following:

"Papias reproduces other stories communicated to him by word of mouth, together with some otherwise unknown parables and teachings of the Saviour, and other things of a more allegorical character. He says that after the resurrection of the dead there will be a period of a thousand years, when Christ's kingdom will be set up on this earth in material form. I suppose he got these notions by misinterpreting the apostolic accounts and failing to grasp what they had said in mystic and symbolic language. For he seems to have been a man of very small intelligence, to judge from his books. But it is partly due to him that the great majority of churchmen after him took the same view, relying on his early date; e.g. Irenaeus and several others, who clearly held the same opinion."(1)

So, here is Eusebius saying that Papias didn't know what he was talking about - 100 to 200 plus years after the fact. Eusebius says that Papias should have interpreted the scriptures allegorically. Who told Eusebius that the sayings of the apostles were to be interpreted in that manner? Did he talk to the apostles, or God, personally to know how they should be interpreted? Papias was not only a believer in Jesus Christ, but a bishop! If Jesus spoke plainly to his apostles, and his apostles spoke plainly (or at least tried to) to their converts, don't you think that they would speak plainly to a bishop who presided over a congregation of converts?! What was Eusebius thinking? And if Papias was of such small intelligence, why would he have been given the charge of an entire congregation in the first place?

Sadly, all that exists today of Papias' writings are but a few tidbits given to us by Irenaeus and Eusebius. I don't know why it is that all five volumes of Papias's work do not exist today, but I suspect that is because of Eusebius's conceit in his own learning and his presumptuous opinions that they have gone missing all these centuries. Though there may have existed private collections of New Testament writings, there was no "official" collection made until the emperor Constantine commissioned Eusebius to make one. I can only conclude that it is because he didn't consider Papias all that important that it is not included in our current collection of New Testament writings. Ahhh, but what a great treasure it would be if the writings of Papias existed in their entirety today!

  1. Eusebius, The History of the Church, Tr. By G.A. Williamson, Ed. By Andrew Louth. (London, England: Penguin Books, 1965), p. 103.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Lost Writings of Papias Part 2

In those days, Greek learning was extremely popular. Greek learning was like going to the Ivy League schools of today. You were really somebody important if you were taught in the ways of the Greeks. But Paul did not have a high opinion of Greek learning and wrote to the Colossians "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (1)

In the centuries following the deaths of the apostles, Greek became more and more popular amongst the Christians, and eventually, almost all of the leaders of churches were men of great learning, especially in Greek. Eventually it became in vogue to interpret the scriptures using a Greek literary device called the allegory. An allegory is similar to a symbol, a metaphor or a simile, but yet it is different. These learned men sought to interpret the Hebrew writings not from a Hebrew perspective, but from a western, or Greek, perspective.

Around 70 to 155 A.D. there existed a man by the name of Papias, who is said to have been a bishop of Hierapolis, in Phrygia (located in what is now the southwestern part of Turkey, about 6 miles (10 km) north of the ruins of Laodicea). Papias wrote five volumes which he entitled The Sayings of the Lord Explained. In his preface, he writes that he learned the words of the apostles from their followers, but that he also listened to Aristion and the presbyter John (not the apostle John) with his own ears. Some scholars are of the opinion that these books may have contained much historical information in addition to the sayings of Christ. Quoting from his preface:

"I shall not hesitate to furnish you, along with the interpretations, with all that in days gone by I carefully learnt from the presbyters and have carefully recalled, for I can guarantee its truth. Unlike most people, I felt at home not with those who had a great deal to say, but with those who taught the truth; not with those who appeal to commandments from other sources but with those who appeal to the commandments given by the Lord to faith and coming to us from truth itself. And whenever anyone came who had been a follower of the presbyters, I inquired into the words of the presbyters, what Andrew or Peter had said, or Phillip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew, or any other disciple of the Lord, and what Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord, were still saying. For I did not imagine that things out of books would help me as much as the utterances of a living and abiding voice. " (2)
  1. Colossians 2:8
  2. Eusebius, The History of the Church, Tr. By G.A. Williamson, Ed. By Andrew Louth. (London, England: Penguin Books, 1965), p. 102.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Lost Writings of Papias Part 1

Some people might interpret a verse literally, symbolically or even allegorically. Sometimes it is obvious which method to use because the writer tells us directly. For example, Jesus told his disciples "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of his sleep." His disciples thought he was talking in a literal sense and that "he had spoken of taking rest in sleep." But that is not what Jesus meant. Next the gospel tells us: "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is Dead." 1

On another occasion, Jesus told his disciples that "A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father." Because some of his disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about, they said: "What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith." After explaining what He meant, Jesus then said "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father." Later, His disciples said to Him: "His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb." 2

Another time, after Jesus had spoken unto the multitude in parables and then sent them away, His disciples came unto him and said "Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field." 3 Jesus then explained to them the parables and asked them "Have ye understood all these things?" and then they replied "Yea, Lord." 4

On yet another occasion, Peter asked Jesus "Declare unto us this parable." Whereupon Jesus asked "Are ye also yet without understanding?" 5 He then proceded to explain the meaning of the parable that he had just given.

Mark writes "But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples." 6 Note that in regards to the parables that Christ taught, Mark says He explained "all things" to his disciples and not "some things".

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two of His disciples who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Luke tells us that "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." 7

As the apostles went about their ministry, often they would go about explaining the meaning of the scriptures. Paul sent many letters in which he tried to clear up any misunderstandings with regards to gospel principals. Paul himself said "Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:" 8

To the unbelieving Jews, the gospel was given in parables. But to the followers of Jesus Christ, the gospel was explained in plain terms.

  1. John 11:11-14
  2. John 16:16-29
  3. Matthew 13:36
  4. Matthew 13:51
  5. Matthew 15:15-16
  6. Mark 4:34
  7. Luke 24:27
  8. 2 Corinthians 3:12

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pope Damascus complains about scribal errors

The same Jerome that I mentioned earlier was given by Pope Damasus the job of translating and editing the Bible from Greek into Latin because "in the continuous copying and recopying by scribes 'more asleep than awake' they had come to be full of error and doubtful passages." (1) And even of Jerome's translations, none of the original manuscripts exist today - just copies of copies. Jerome lived from about 347 to 420 A.D. And up until the time the printing press was invented, there has certainly been a lot more copying. But even then, those who were operating the presses had to set the type by copying from manuscripts. How do we know they set the type correctly? We even have problems with that in modern society today. Why else would you find books, or software, with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, etc., editions?

I can't tell you how many books I've read where the authors wrote about scribes making mistakes. It's pretty much common knowledge amoung historians. People have not believed me when I told them that it was a common occurance. So, here I am posting proofs from anywhere I can find them - but I doubt that these people would believe me anyway.

In the course of my reading the Bible from cover to cover many times and reading various scholarly commentaries, I came to the realization that there were a lot of contradictions in the Bible. For example, Genesis 6:6 reads "It repented the Lord that He made man on the earth;". Yet, in Numbers 23:19 we read "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the Son of man, that he should repent;". In one case the scriptures say that God does not repent, and in another case the scriptures says that He did. And there are many, many more instances similar to this. There are all sorts of lists of such contradictions on the Internet should you decide to take the time to search. The fact that there are so many contradictions should be proof enough alone. But rather than read the Bible for themselves, they would prefer to beleive some minister that tells them what they want to hear.

  1. Maria Luisa Ambrosini, The Secret Archives of the Vatican (United States of America: Barnes and Noble, 1996), p41.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Augustine complains about Jerome's translation

Of course, this was not the only time Jerome was accused of mistranslating text. Saint Augustine wrote him a nasty letter in which he states:

"A certain bishop, one of our brethren, having introduced in the church over which he presides the reading of your version, came upon a word in the book of the prophet Jonah, of which you have given a very different rendering from that which had been of old familiar to the senses and memory of all the worshippers, and had been chanted for so many generations in the church. Thereupon arose such a tumult in the congregation, especially among the Greeks, correcting what had been read, and denouncing the translation as false, that the bishop was compelled to ask the testimony of the Jewish residents (it was in the town of Oea). These, whether from ignorance or from spite, answered that the words in the Hebrew MSS. were correctly rendered in the Greek version, and in the Latin one taken from it. What further need I say? The man was compelled to correct your version in that passage as if it had been falsely translated, as he desired not to be left without a congregation, -- a calamity which he narrowly escaped. From this case we also are led to think that you may be occasionally mistaken. You will also observe how great must have been the difficulty if this had occurred in those writings which cannot be explained by comparing the testimony of languages now in use." (1)

Note how he says "now in use". And what if they are not "now in use", having changed over the last one thousand and five hundred years?

It absolutely amazes me how the entire course of history can change because of the mistranslation of just two or three words. To me, that gives new meaning to the phrase "the pen is mightier than the sword". Much of the time spent at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. was spent arguing over one single word, a diphthong as one historian describes it, that doesn't even occur in the Bible - not even once. And yet, the results of that council had huge impact over the history of western civilization.

  1. Saint Augustine, Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Edited by Phillip Schaff, D.D.,LL.D, (WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.: Grand Rapids Michigan) Vol I, page 327.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Orignal Sin from a faulty translation

Perhaps a controversial example of mistranslation would be that of Augustine's doctrine of original sin, which many Christians today accept as dogma. That doctrine is actually based on a faulty translation of Romans 5:12 in Latin. Augustine used the Latin Vulgate, which was translated by Jerome. In that version, with regards to Adams transgression, he read "...in whom all have sinned." ("...in quo omnes peccaverunt.") In reading that verse, Augustine came to believe that, not only did Adam sin, but that all men sinned in or through Adam and, therefore, partook of his sin.

But the King James Version translates the same clause as saying "for that all have sinned." Some Catholic and Protestant scholars believe that the later translation is the more correct one.

A Catholic writer Fillion writes:

"In quo (in whom), that is to say, in Adam, according to the interpretation of Origen, of our Latin version (the Vulgate), and of Saint Augustine, etc. Perhaps it would be better, following Theodoret, Euthemius, etc., to regard the Greek eph' O as a conjunctive locution and to translate by 'quia,propterea quod': because all have sinned" (1)
Another Catholic scholar named Crampon writes:
"In quo omnes peccaverunt: this formula of the Vulgate should be translated: because all have sinned, in quo being understood in the sense in eo quod (eph' O): all interpreters (translators) are in agreement on this point." (2)
The Protestant historian Phillip Schaff writes:
"The exegesis of Augustine, and his doctrine of a personal fall, as it were of all men in Adam, are therefore doubtless untenable." (3)
But have these religions changed their stance on the doctrine of original sin since this information has come to light? Probably not. Why not? What would that imply for a religion to admit that their doctrine has been wrong for all these centuries? On the other hand, it's all a matter of taking sides as to who had the best translation. But, how does one know for sure which translation is the best? That's definitely not something that one could adequately discern while discussing it over the dinner table, or a one hour lecture from the Sunday pulpit.

Of course, Latin is all Greek to me - I don't have the slightest idea of what they'e talking about, but like the saying goes "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses..."

  1. M. l'Abbé Louis-Claude Fillion, p.s.s., (1843-1927), La Sainte Bible, commentée d'après la Vulgate et les Textes originaux. Translated by Barker, James, in The Divine Church, vol. 3, p. 17.
  2. Crampon, La Sainte Bible. p. 148 note. Translated by Barker, James, in The Divine Church, vol. 3, p. 17.
  3. Schaff, Phillip, History of the Christian Church, vol. 3, p. 834. (Hendrickson Publishers; 3rd edition,1996)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Differences in Daniel 2:43

Those who are conversant in two or more languages know for a fact that there are just some words or phrases that just do not translate well into other languages. In fact, a word from one language may not even exist in another language. How do you translate that?

Today there are many different translations of the Holy Bible, and not all of them are the same for every single verse contained in the Bible. I, personally, own seven different translations of the Bible. I have what is the traditional Bible for many Americans - the King James Version. I also have a Parallel Bible (The Complete Parallel Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books (New York, Oxford University Press, 1993)) that contains the New Revised Standard Version, the Revised English Bible, the New American Bible, and the New Jerusalem Bible displayed in parallel columns next to each other to facilitate comparison between the four. I also own a Bible in Spanish, and the Hebrew Tanakh with it's own English Translation. An example of different translations giving different meanings to the same verse is shown below for the scripture of Daniel 2:43.

King James

"And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave to one another, even as iron is not mixed with clay."
New Revised Standard
"As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay."
Revised English
"As in your vision the iron was mixed with the clay, so will there be a mixing of families by intermarriage, but such alliances will not be stable: iron does not mix with clay."
New American
"The iron mixed with clay tile means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage, but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay."
New Jerusalem
"And just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together, so the two will be mixed together in human seed; but they will not hold together anymore than iron will blend with clay."
When I first read that verse in the King James Version, I had no clue as to what it’s meaning was. A wild guess on my part was that some king would try to mingle with the common masses and try to develop a good rapport with them, but would be unsuccessful in his public relations efforts. In reading the other translations, however, I realized that it probably means that members of royalty from one country would marry with royalty from other countries in an effort to create stable alliances between kingdoms. As you can see, that’s a very significant difference in understanding! At any rate, to properly understand verses like this would require a Ph.D. in language and have deep historic insights into the culture. The normal Joe doesn’t have that kind of learning, which takes a lifetime to gain. And even then, those who do have that kind of education can’t even agree amongst themselves on many points. So, what’s a person to do?

Also, in reading the Parallel Bible, I discovered that in some cases entire sections of verses were either rearranged in their order, or missing entirely in one or more versions, but not in the others!

Not only that, but, according to historians, the Book of Matthew and John was originally written in Aramaic, but is only known today to exist in Greek, from which we get our English Translation. There you have double the potential for a mistranslation.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The case of the missing Bible text Part 2

My father showed me another discrepancy between the 1801 and the 1917 versions of the Swedish Bible - Job 19:26. My father was kind enough to translate the verses for me into English. A rough translation of the 1917 version reads something like this:

26 "And after this my torn (wounded, damaged) flesh is gone, shall I, free from my flesh (meat), be able to see God."
He wrote in the margins of his Bible the words contained in the 1801 Swedish version. The 1801 version translates into something like this:

26 "And I shall afterward, with this my flesh (meat) enshrouded be, and shall in my flesh (meat) be able to see God."
Did you catch the difference? One version says that he, Job, will see God IN THE FLESH sometime after he has died, and the other says that he will see God WITHOUT HIS FLESH. That's a pretty important difference!

The King James Version reads:
26 "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:"
The New Revised Standard Version reads:
26 "and after my skin has been this destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God."
The Revised English reads:
26 "I shall discern my witness standing at my side and see my defending counsel, even God himself,
27 "whom I shall see with my own eyes, I myself and no other. My heart sank within me,"
The New American reads:
26 "And from my flesh I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing."
The New Jerusalem reads
"After my awakening, he will set me close to him, and from my flesh I shall look on God."
Most of the other English versions concur with the 1801 version of the Swedish Bible with regards to seeing God in the flesh, but the Revised English is so different than any of them that I had to double and triple check myself that I had the right verse. Why all the differences? Who knows? And which is the most correct?

The case of the missing Bible text Part 1

A few weeks ago, while conversing at the dinner table, my Dad mentioned that verse 37 of Acts, chapter 8, of the King James Version of the Bible (English) was not in his Swedish Bible. I repeat - NOT - in his Swedish Bible. He also mentioned that when he lived in Sweden, he saw some older Bibles that were published back in the 1800's and they did have verse 37. Old Swedish Bibles have Acts 8:37, but the newer Swedish Bible that he owned, published in 1917, didn't.

Then we got to wondering if verse 37 was in my mother's Danish Bible. So after dinner we hauled her Bible out and looked. Yes, it was there. So then I got out my parallel Bible which has 4 different English Translations laid out in columns next to each other for ease in comparing verses. Those translations are the New Revised Standard Version, the Revised English Bible, the New American Bible, and the New Jerusalem Bible. Interestingly enough, none of those translations included verse 37.

Now, you may be asking yourself "What is so significant about verse 37?"

In the King James Version of the Bible, Acts 8:36-38 reads:

36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Verse 37 is significant because it emphasizes the importance of belief in Jesus Christ as being a requirement for baptism. Phillip says "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Some Christian denominations baptize infants that are incapable of believing. Other denominations teach that the fate of every man is pre-destined and that it is only by God's will and "grace" that select individuals will be saved in the kingdom of God. The individual has no say in the matter. No matter what a person says, does, or even believes, his or her outcome has already been pre-determined. The state religion of Sweden, if I'm not mistaken (someone correct me if I'm wrong), is one of those denominations. Believing is something that someone chooses to do of their own free will. Consequently, verse 37 negates the beliefs of these particular denominations.

A footnote in the New Revised Standard Version says "Other ancient authorities add all or most of verse 37 …". The Revised English Bible writes as a footnote "some witnesses add …". A footnote for the New American Bible says "The oldest and best manuscripts of Acts omit this verse …". Last of all, the New Jerusalem Bible footnote says "v.37, omitted here, is a very ancient gloss…". Gloss? What's a "gloss"? According to my dictionary, among other things, a gloss could be words of explanation or translation inserted between lines of text. Or, it could be comments written in the margins or as a footnote.

For thousands of years people have been copying documents by hand. Typically after a certain amount of text was copied, either the scribe himself, or a superior, an overseer of some sort, would compare the newly copied work with the original text. If any there were any errors, rather than burn it and see hours of tedious, painstaking labor go up in smoke (especially if they were getting paid), people would often write the corrected text in the margins. But what if someone wasn't so careful? A single mistake, or a deliberate omission for that matter, could be replicated over and over for who knows how long. But, on the other hand, it was also a common practice to write personal commentaries in the margins.

All of this raises some interesting questions:
1. Did all of these Bibles use the same manuscripts?
2. If they did, why did they choose to omit the gloss?
3. If there were manuscripts that didn't have the gloss, how do the scholars know that these manuscripts are any better than the one that did have the gloss?
4. Did the scribe who wrote the gloss do it because it was on the original manuscript being copied which is now lost to the world or was he just expressing his personal belief or opinion?

There is only one way that anyone can know for sure which of the translations is the most correct. And it is NOT by the endless debate of scholars. Especially nowadays, with all the discoveries being made by archeologists and such, theories and views of the Old World are constantly being overturned. Experts are great, but they are not the last word by any means. It's an easy way, but yet, surprisingly, few people ever take advantage of it because they believe that God has ceased talking to man after the death of the apostles. But that view is contrary to James 1:5-7.

It's amazing that a few simple scratchings of a reed pen on parchment by some nameless scribe could be of such import, but it is.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sources of differences in understanding

Differences in understanding can come from several sources as I see it.

People who even speak the same language often have different understandings as to what the same word or phrase might mean. Indeed, this subject alone is such a complex one that some people like the anthropologist Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., have made careers out of studying it.

Geographical and Cultural Differences
For example, if someone from Britain says to an American that he wants a fag, the American might think he is a homosexual, when in actuality, he just wants a cigarette. Or, a car trunk in the U.S. is called a boot in Britain. A Canada, a couch is called a "shirley". Even within the United States, there are regional differences in language. When I moved to Mississippi from Las Vegas, having lived the bulk of my life in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, initially, I initially had a real difficult time understanding what people were telling me.

Many try to understand the ancient Judean culture from a modern Western perspective. Anybody who has grown up in the USA and then lived in (not just visited) an Eastern culture (or visa versa) can tell you that the difference in the way people think between the two cultures is like night and day.

Changes in Meaning Over Time

Ever try to read Shakespeare without the help of a Professor of English literature? It's not easy, is it? William Shakespeare lived during the 1500's and died in 1616. The King James Version of the Bible was published in 1611. To put it bluntly, the archaic language used in the Bible (the King James Version) make it extremely difficult for many people to understand it today. Many words used in that era have totally different meanings today.

Between the Sexes
Have you ever had troubles understanding a spouse, a boyfriend or girl friend? The fact that Deborah Tannen's book, You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation is a national bestseller, attests mightily to difficulties that people of different genders, who even speak the same language, have in communicating with one another. So, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if a woman would get a different understanding from some text in the Bible than a man would.

And then there is the question "Should this verse be interpreted literally or symbolically?" That is a whole can of worms in and of itself - something to discuss some other day.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Some people say that the only way to understand the truth is by reading and relying solely on the Holy Bible and on nothing else. One of the most well known individuals who did so was Martin Luther in the 1500’s as he sought to defend himself during an inquisition regarding the 94 thesis that he nailed to that fateful castle door. But despite his claims of scriptural authenticity, he nonetheless used some scriptures to prove his points and completely rejected and avoided others that contradicted his position (to be discussed in greater detail another day).

In the process of reading the Bible thoroughly, studying the history of Christianity and discussing it with others, it became painfully obvious to me that relying on the Holy Bible alone to ascertain the truth of any church or doctrine is not without it’s difficulties and stumbling blocks. More often than not, attempts to ascertain the truth only ends up in endless debate, with neither side converting to the other. Often any good feelings towards one another disipate entirely. But didn't Christ teach love? If defining the truth were as simple as quoting a scripture, then why are there so many Christian sects with so many differing doctrines?

For one, different people can and do interpret the same verses of scripture differently than others, and two, the scriptures are not 100% without error themselves. If people only knew just part of the Bible’s history, I am sure that the opinions of many would change with regards to various doctrines. The fact of the matter is so few people know even the basic history of the Bible, not to mention Christianity as a whole. Amazingly enough, I have run into many people who think that the Bible is just one single book, written by one single individual, during one single time in history. Or, they think the books of the Bible are in chronological order. And Christianity has evolved into so many different forms. Often sects have done complete reversals on dogmas previously enforced by violence centuries earlier.

Perhaps this ignorance is because of the tendency of the public school systems (at least in the United States) to avoid teaching anything that has anything to do with religion. The fact that much of western civilization’s history is so closely intertwined with religion means that very little real history gets taught. The fate of nations often relied on decisions and alliances made by popes, archbishops, cardinals, or monks as well as those made by kings, queens and princes who were often influenced by religious doctrines. Also, I am inclined to think that some pastors (but not all) preach only that which they think will fatten their wallet the most and don’t care to rock the boat in any way, shape or form.

Though the Bible certainly is important in one's quest for truth, I would hope that there are other means available to remove all doubt regarding any specific doctrine, otherwise we are lost in endless debate, "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7)