The Bible as inerrant and complete, or sufficient.

by dgp 61 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Amelia Ashton
    Amelia Ashton

    Hey Villabolo.

    Excellent post. Do you know of any more discrepancies like that?

    How do apologists explain the different quantities of charioteers?

  • JuanMiguel

    I don't know what apologists say, but according to Biblical scholarship when numbers are cited, there are clues in how a number is written as to if the narrative is being used to report something historically literal or if the writer(s) has something else in mind. This is an ancient form of grammar involving numbers quite common in most religious and even in some secular writings contemporary of the Scriptures.

    If the number refers to a count of people, like a census or report of those who went off to battle or something like that (as in the verse quoted by villabolo above), but the number is perfectly rounded off, that is the first clue that it is not a literal report of people being stressed. Rarely do we make a count of people in a country or army and have perfect numbers to report back like 1,000 or 50,000, or 900,000, etc. Usually a headcount is something like 14,798,652.

    The ancient narrative rule is that a rounded number is used to imply a vast multitude, similar to English idiom when epic films of old use to advertise "a cast of thousands." The advertisement is not necessarily literal in this case and it is not exact. Why not? It doesn't have to be either because it is a figure of speech called "hyperbole."

    This is similar to hyperbole when we see this in ancient literature.

    However, there is one more thing to note specifically in Hebrew and Christian literature. Certain numbers means certain things in the Judeo-Christian theology. When and how these are used give more than a general meaning to the 'rounded-number hyperbole.'

    In this case the common Biblical numbers of "7" and "40" appear. That the Bible writers are purposefully trying to use numbers to tell us a spiritual or religious point important to their theology can be seen by comparing the two texts in question. Note how closely the reports are in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. If the writers were intelligent enough to be so exact with the words, why all of a sudden change something in the numerical count, especially since numbers were so important to their religious theology?

    Because the writers knew what they were doing. This is a pattern that occurs often in Hebrew literature, common enough to have rules like those employed in Hebrew poetry and proverbial expression techniques. It's not a discrepancy at all. It's a literary clue.

    Note how the "7" stays intact with regard to the charioteers, but the writer disregards the rest. According to the Mosaic Law, for an account to be accepted as true there has to be agreement from at least two witnesses. In the two "witness" accounts to this event only the "7" or the number of Divine intervention matches with regards to the first group.

    The second number begins with "40." This number appears when God does something holy regarding someone, like sanctifying a prophet by having them spend "40 days" alone in the dessert or cleansing Israel of its sinners by having them spend 40 years in the wilderness so that only their "worthy" offspring enter the Promised Land, etc.

    Applying these rules scholars explain that these two verses are expressing how the authors believed that God was behind David's "extraordinary power" in battle, and how the Israelites at the time believed that the destruction of those killed was a "holy" or even "cleansing" work (even though later we learn that just because the numbers were used this way didn't mean that God was indeed behind the person or their actions--it was just a literary device explaining the viewpoint of David's contemporaries in regard to his actions).

    Again how an apologist might try to explain the differences or even reconcile them, I don't know. As far as academia is concerned these texts are not meant to be reconciled at all. The differences are a form of literary device, and any attempt to make a literal explanation for them would fail to take into account the original writers' intent.

  • designs

    Maybe in a traffic jam its hard to count how many chariots there are

    I always like how God promises to come back and destroy human civilization, just love the big guy to pieces....

  • Qcmbr

    If all the bible contains are axioms of truth may I suggest you ditch it in case you get the wrong axioms and start Armageddon.

    Morality exists independent of religion and when examined rationally becomes far more beautiful, empowering and magnificent than any of the dangerous flim flam religion ever came up with. Under considered morality it is blindingly obvious that gender and sexuality should not confer additional rights, that private religion must be kept away from publicly funded science, schools, politics and law, that bodily mutilation, mental coercion, binding mental / social contracts (like baptism or arranged marriage) must only be done with the explicit, educated and mature consent of all affectd parties (meaning not children!) War becomes an abhorrent necessity not a matter of faith. Morality is owned by humanity not loaned from above (so we do not need 10 commandments - several of which are simply god vanity based anyway.)

  • Terry

    If the teacher uses details that are not historical or scientifically accurate, does this mean that the point or value intended is lost? If the axiom is not dependent on the details of the narrative garb in which it is wrapped, then I say no.

    A truth is a truth, regardless if you use facts to teach it or employ a fabricated illustration to get the point across.


    I hear what you are saying. I'd like to address your point, if you'll allow me a moment.

    Your sister comes home and tells the family she met a wonderful young man who is a doctor. He comes from a good family, he is wealthy and loves her.

    After they marry, she discovers he isn't a doctor and comes from a broken home. But, he still claims he loves her.


    Should we judge the truth of his LOVE for her based on his misrepresentations or simply on the fact he seems to love her?

    It is the misrepresentation that destroys everything.

    This analogy applies pretty well to whatever "truth" we claim to extract from scripture.

    For thousands of years the bible has been MISREPRESENTED. It does not contain a wealth of divine inspiration. It has no actual message from the creator of the universe. It contains folk wisdom, mythology, a smattering of history and claims of prophecy.

    The prophesy written about comes after the events and pretends to have been made BEFORE those events. More misrepresentation!

    Why should any of us get a warm and fuzzy feeling and simply wave away all the misrepresentation? Why overlook the intellectual fraud and the harm caused to civilization by the church in its pretense to rule our lives from the false authority of heaven?

    This is, if you don't mind my bold assertions: THE ONLY POINT WORTH CONSIDERING!

    So, when you say:

    A truth is a truth, regardless if you use facts to teach it or employ a fabricated illustration to get the point across.

    Your plea comes across like a battered wife who claims: "he didn't really mean it--I know he loves me."

    Misrepresentation destroys trust.

    Placing FAITH in a misrepresentation is wrong-headed and intellectually dishonest.

  • JuanMiguel

    Don't mistake my words for saying that you or anyone else needs to change who they are and adopt the Bible as their standard for belief. It's isn't my only standard like it was when I used to be a Jehovah's Witness. But I do think the more we are open to learn about things like modern academia's take on the Bible and other religious writings, the further we will progress away from what we left behind.

    And that's good whatever path you've chosen now. I don't think anyone's an idiot because they have chosen to continue with or reject the Bible in their lives once they leave the JWs.


    A side note for Qcmbr: You might not want to use "axioms of truth" as a phrase, because that is a paradox. An axiom is a standard that can be considered a "truth." For example, if you're an atheist you might subscribe to the axiom that "God does not exist."

    The reason I use the word "axiom" is that not all forms of logic, secular or religious, Western and/or Eastern, subscribe to "truths" per se. Others refer to axioms as "objective standards" or "objective realities."

    In some religious thought, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, moral axioms are separate from nature, the world, and humanity unless it is connected with the Faithful and Discreet Slave. Other religions, like the Orthodox or Roman Catholics, share your view, that morality is an inherent facet of humanity and society in general, regardless of any religious influence, so much so that even people who do not know God or even reject him cannot act against a nature that includes its own moral compass and a conscientious faculty that is able to discern the rights or wrongs of the judgments it makes.

    This is an example of two different sets of axioms, one which the Witnesses call "present Kingdom truth" (be cause all "truths" are subject to change--thus there is no "objective standards" for JWs--at least in my days they call it that) and one which the other two often refer to as merely "human nature" or "natural law;" but since it is innate it is not a religious truth to the second group. It's like the law of gravity. But an axiom, nonetheless.

    To avoid a word war, I use "axiom" when it fits. But you can't have an "axion of truth" because that means having a "truth of truth." Otherwise I more or less feel the same way you do on many of the points you mentioned.

  • Leolaia

    I wanted to respond to Larsinger58's statements in this thread ("Why I Believe the Bible is True").

    Now you mentioned some prophesies were never fulfilled. You mentioned the 40 years for Egypt. Well if you follow Josephus, he claims that 70 years of desolation beginning with the last deportation occurred between year 23 of Nebuchadnezzar II and Cyrus. Evidence from Egyptian sources does confirm that Nebuchadnezzar did descend upon Egypt in his 37th year, 14 years later. So there is actually enough time for Egypt to be desolated for 40 years and then be restored before the fall of Babylon. that is 40 + 14 is only 54 years. For a period of 70 years you have 16 years left. So there is plenty of time for that prophecy.

    Life went on in Egypt just as much after Nebuchadnezzar's campaign as it did prior to it. Inserting a phantom period of 40 years of Egyptian depopulation in the middle of Amasis' reign (i.e. into Amasis' 4th year) creates numerous problems and absurdities (as shown here).

    As far as the destruction of Tyre goes, there were two cities, one in the sea and on the shore. The Bible itself mentions Tyre having a comeback and so it was just the Tyre that was in the sea that was destroyed forever.

    Geoarchaeology shows that the insular city of Tyre (the one that the prophet Ezekiel had in mind) was not destroyed forever but much of it (including the northern harbor) is currently part of moden Tyre (as shown here).

  • Qcmbr

    apols - I conflated two terms from your post without checking the context and usage for axiom. Mea culpa.

  • JuanMiguel

    Terry, I was not saying anything along the lines of what you illustrated. I was only speaking in the context of an axiom (see--that's how I use the term).

    For example: "Terry doesn't think people should put faith in the Bible."

    Hopefully I got that right, Terry, and let's say that pretty well sums up your view on Scripture.

    If we thus both agree that the example statement is true, then we can use various ways to illustrate it.

    To most people on this board you speak in terms that they can understand. They're adults. But what if we needed to speak to someone younger or not well-versed in many of the subjects discussed here. We would employ different language, terminology, words, etc. in such a way that the target audience would comprehend the meaning of "Terry doesn't think people should put faith in the Bible."

    Even if we used an illustration that we made up, with talking animals so that we could get some of your reasoning across to, let's say, a younger audience, despite the fact that animals don't talk or that the illustration is just a fictional story doesn't change the facts you are presenting through the illustration.

    That is all I was saying.

    I used the point of view of those who believe in the Bible, yes, but when I do things like that it doesn't mean I personally subscribe to what I'm talking about. I don't like talking about an embarrassing problem to a doctor, but I do what I have to, even if I don't agree with it. That's how I write.

    My statements mean that those who believe the Bible to be true "outside the Watchtower" do not subscribe to the JW view that it is a historical document. Those outside have for a couple thousands years now understood that much of Scripture is written in various genre narrative and is not always literal, and thus to them these forms of literary garb, be they fact or fiction, does not change their view on the value of what they perceive are "truths."

    To conclude, I am worried that you write like a Watchtower writing department member, Terry. Case in point: "Why should any of us get a warm and fuzzy feeling and simply wave away all the misrepresentation? Why overlook the intellectual fraud and the harm caused to civilization by the church in its pretense to rule our lives from the false authority of heaven?"

    This is a known technique taught to the writing department which others call an "argument from adverse consequences." The questions imply that if people don't apply your personal views that they are making themselves subject to "misrepresentation," "intellectual fraud" and that "harm" will insue if one rules their lives differently.

    The Watchtower is fond of using this technique, i.e., "Doesn't it stand to reason that those who really embrace wisdom and logic would agree? Aren't we happy to be among those who follow instruction that keeps us from being considered foolish, or worse mentally unstable? Those who follow us will truly never be harmed."

    Using such a technique of fallacious arguments might belie your claim that you're viewpoints are valid and that you are secure in your convictions regardless of what others might feel. I don't say that is true, but those who test arguments might in their minds throw out what you say just on that basis--and I for one think that your words are worth taking the time to listen to, even if a person may not agree with you.

  • designs

    Its the old jump on the type of argument being used trick

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