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 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.


Blogger HP said...

Now, that isn't entirely fair. The repent in the first quote doesn't necessarily mean the same thing in the second (and neither of them mean what the LDS mean by it).

But you raise a good point. If the early Christians were aware of the fallibility of Bible transmission early on, why did the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy develop?

I think most people would argue that the changes are minor (like most LDS do with the Book of Mormon) or that God watched over the process and made sure that nothing important was changed, or, if it was, that it was eventually changed back (like most LDS believe the JST does). How should we go about helping these people to see that that the Bible, while a holy book, deserving of our respect, is not inerrant?

1:46 PM  
Blogger Scott N. Ashby said...

It was my hope to have shown in previous posts that these errors are significant - such as original sin, baptism of infants, believing being a pre-requisite of baptism, etc...

Granted some are minor, but some are not.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Scott N. Ashby said...

Thanks for your input by the way - I appreciate it.

And another thing, I don't understand, what else could "repent" in those verses mean?

Obviously, you have have arrived at a different interpretation than myself or others. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it serves to illustrate a point that I was trying to make earlier in that 2 different people can get entirely different meanings out of a single word, not to mention an entire verse.

Who is correct? one? both? neither? One could argue till the cows came home and still not reach an agreement. One could ask the person who wrote it to clarify our understanding of a particular verse, but what if he or she isn't around anymore? The only thing left is to ask whoever told the prophet to write it in the first place.

12:37 PM  
Blogger HP said...

Ah, the danger of speaking before your research has been done. The same Hebrew root is used in both cases (NHM) which can mean to be sorry, to show compassion, or to express pity (and any number of related ideas in context). It is the same root behind the the Nahom of Book of Mormon/Saudi Arabian peninsula fame.

I suppose that I have always taken the Genesis reference to God feeling pain/sorrow over what he had done. And I would take the Numbers comment to focus on God's unchanging nature as opposed to humanity's. Neither of which fully encompass the way the Church or most of its adherents use repent today (although this is probably more of a difference in how we use English since the era of King James than a strict translation issue).

9:17 AM  
Blogger Scott N. Ashby said...

And how many people out there read, write and speak Hebrew? A small percentage.

Apparently the translator of the King James Version was not skilled enough to catch the difference, otherwise he probably would have chosen a different word or phrase to express it in English. Because of that, us non-Hebrew speaking types lose out on some valuable insight.

10:27 AM  

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