Posts Tagged ‘bible’

The Nativity According to Luke

December 20, 2016

Here is what Christmas is all about

Linus quotes from the Gospel according to Luke. There are two accounts of Jesus’s birth in the New Testament, the account that Luke gives and the account that Matthew gives. Mark ignores the question of Jesus’s birth entirely, preferring to begin with Jesus’s public ministry while John actually begins his account before the nativity and moves from there to Jesus’ career. Here is Luke’s account.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.(Luke 2:1-21)

There is a considerable amount of skepticism about the census, both on the dating and the procedure. Most skeptics regard it as extremely improbable that the Romans would make people travel here and there to register in their home towns. As a matter of fact that is just how the Romans conducted their censuses.

Every five years, each male Roman citizen had to register in Rome for the census. In this he had to declare his family, wife, children, slaves and riches. Should he fail to do this, his possessions would be confiscated and he would be sold into slavery.
But registration meant freedom. A master wishing to free his slave needed only to enter him in the censor’s list as a citizen (manumissio censu).
Throughout the entire republican era, registration in the census was the only way that a Roman could ensure that his identity and status as a citizen were recognized. Fathers registered their sons, employers their freedmen.
Primarily the census served to count the number of citizens and to assess the potential military strength and future tax revenue. Most important, the census transformed the city into a political and military community.
But the census performed a highly symbolical function. To the Romans the census made them more than a mere crowd, or barbarian rabble. It made them a populus, a people, capable of collective action.
To the Roman the census was one of the foundation stones of their civilization.

As the Roman Empire expanded and citizenship was given out to other cities in Italy and around the Mediterranean, I would imagine that every Roman citizen had to go to his native city to register. Presumably there were lists of citizens kept in major cities and in Rome. Paul claimed to be a Roman citizen at various times in Acts and you might wonder how he was able to prove it. Well, every Roman citizen had a sort of ID or diploma which would have been issued in his city.

But with the steady extension of the citizenship by individual grants to provincials isolated in peregrine communes, and with the informal settlement of large numbers of Italian immigrants in the provincial territories, a more effective means of registration became necessary. Formal documentation of the grant of citizenship to provincial soldiery appears first in 89 B.C., in the shape of a bronze tablet recording the decree of a proconsul enfranchising a unit of Spanish cavalrymen in the Social War, who are all named in a general list. Presumably each soldier received a copy. The cities of persons of higher status enfranchised by Octavian in c. 40 B.C. received a copy of a decree detailing all the privileges of their new status, while his auxiliary veterans could acquire copies of the enabling edict that enfranchised them. But it is only with the regularization of the grant of citizenship to the all time-expired auxiliaries by Claudius that a standardized document appears. This is the small bronze diptych known as the diploma civitatis, containing a brief and uniform formula conferring the Roman citizenship on the holder and his descendants, who is indicated by his name and military unit. These documents were not normally used for civilians, who received instead a copy in libellus form of the brief imperial warrant authorizing the registration of their enfranchisement in the archives at Rome.

Diplomata and libelli provided for new citizens. For the mass of the citizenry, for whom censorial registration at five-yearly intervals was an inefficient instrument, adequate provision was finally made by the creation of an official system of compulsory birth registration under the social legislation of Augustus (A.D. 4)… The Roman citizen was required to register the birth of his children within thirty days before a Roman official, and he received a wooden diptych recording the declaration, which acted as a certificate of citizenship for the child for the rest of his life. Like the military diplomata this contained the names of seven witnesses, and provided a presumptive proof of citizen status… Similarly the enfranchisement of freedmen, which depended upon a formal act, was recorded in a documentary tabella manumissionis. Citizens of diverse origins thus came to have some form of documentary evidence of their status.

Presumably Paul registered at Tarsus while he lived there. To get back to the census; obviously Joseph wasn’t a Roman citizen and Judea was under the rule of Herod, not the Romans. The census could have been a small time affair, the mention of Caesar Augustus being either an exaggeration or a long-standing policy of Augustus to encourage the provinces to conduct censuses, but conducted according to Roman norms, with every resident registering in his home town. You must not imagine, however, large crowds of people traveling to and fro. Remember that in this time most people would have lived their whole lives in the same village. Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem would have been very much an exception. The only thing really odd about this account was his taking Mary with him. There would have been no need for her to travel. As a woman, her residency would not have mattered much.

 

Handwritten King James Bible Proves the Bible Not Inspired

December 7, 2015

That is the claim made by this article from the website addicting info. Judging from the content I’ve seen, addicting info seems to be the sort of website with a pronounced leftwing bias that thrives on sensationalistic headlines, so it is probably a waste of my time to pay much attention to any article there, but this particular article is interesting.

The earliest known version of The King James Bible, perhaps one of the most influential and widely read books in history, has been discovered mislabeled inside an archive at the University of Cambridge. The find is being called one of the most significant revelations in decades. It shows that writing is a process of revising, cutting, and then more rewriting. The Bible is no different in this regard, even though some conservative Christians claim it is the divine word of God himself. Perhaps God, then, is a revisionist. This find certainly seems to suggest that.

The notebook containing the draft was found by American scholar, Jeffrey Alan Miller, an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University in New Jersey, who announced his research in an article in The Times Literary Supplement. The New York Times didn’t take long to pick up the story. They ran an article about it, HERE. Mr. Miller was researching an essay about Samuel Ward, one of the King James translators, and was hoping to find an unknown letter at the archives. While you can say he certainly accomplished that end, he definitely wasn’t expecting to find the earliest draft of the King James Bible — which is now giving new insights into how the Bible was constructed

He first came across the plain notebook not knowing what it was — it was incorrectly labeled. That’s why no one has found it until now. It had been cataloged in the 1980s as a “verse-by-verse” Biblical commentary with “Greek word studies, and some Hebrew notes.” When he tried in vain to figure out which passages of the Bible the commentary was referring to, he realized that it was no commentary at all — it was an early draft of part of the King James Version of the Bible.

Ward’s draft seems to indicate the people were assigned individual sections of the Bible and then worked on them almost entirely by themselves — a massive undertaking with little guesswork. You would think this would cause people to become more error prone. In fact, quite hilariously, Professor Miller noticed that the draft suggests that Ward was picking up the slack for another translator. This really shows how human the entire job was, according to him.

“Some of them, being typical academics, either fell down on the job or just decided not to do it. It really testifies to the human element of this kind of great undertaking.”

This is sure to piss off a lot of religious conservatives who claim that the Bible is the “actual word of God.” While this finding certainly doesn’t disprove God, it does show that the translators of the Bible didn’t get a finalized product the first go around — it wasn’t a walk in the park with an angel over their shoulder telling them what to write. It took many different individuals, working separately — and they often suffered from man-made struggles, like meeting deadlines. You know, now that we think of it, doesn’t sound that much different from the writers of today’s workforce.

To begin with, no one believes that the King James Version of the Bible is anything but a translation made by fallible men, with the exception of a small fringe of people. The original manuscripts of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek were inspired but the copies and translations were not. We do not have these original manuscripts. They were lost centuries ago. We do have copies of the original manuscripts. Because these copies were made by fallible men, they contain errors, such as words out of place, words misspelled or ungrammatical sentences, variant wordings etc. The scholars who translate the Bible into modern languages take great pains to find the oldest copies available and compare the many copies in order to determine the precise wording of the original manuscripts. This is difficult but not impossible, since the sort of errors made by copyists are well known and can be analysed. It is no great surprise that the King James translators had trouble with their work, especially considering the difficulty of translation from a language no longer spoken from a quite different culture.

KJV

The word “inspiration” is taken from the Latin ” inspiratio”, literally “breathed in”, which is a translation of the Greek word θεοπνευστος (theopneustos) meaning God breathed. The idea behind the word inspiration is that God breathed His word into the Biblical writers, or as it is written in 2 Timothy 3:16:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

There is a range of opinions of just what inspired or God breathed actually means, particularly among Protestants. At the more conservative or literalist end of the spectrum is the Dictation Theory, which is that God dictated the contents of the biblical manuscripts word for word with the human authors acting as recorders or stenographers. This is not a theory which has much appeal. The books of the Bible are written in different styles and genres. If every word were dictated by a single intelligence then you might expect a greater uniformity of style. Verbal dictation is really more of an Islamic idea, with the angel Gabriel dictating every word of the Koran to Mohammed, than a Christian one.

Verbal plenary inspiration is the view that the words written in the Bible are those of the human authors, with their various cultural backgrounds, personalities, and literary styles, but that God had arranged matters so that these authors would be His tools and their words would be His words. In other words, they may have chosen the words to write, but their choices had be foreseen and predestined to be the ones God wanted to use. This isn’t really very far from actual dictation, but it does a better job of explaining the different writing styles of the Bible.

Dynamic inspiration gives more credit to the human writers. The words of the Bible were theirs but the thoughts and basic ideas are inspired. So, when the Apostle Paul wrote one of his letters, the Holy Spirit gave him the theological ideas but the but the words used were his own.

The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches also believe that the Bible was inspired, though not dictated word for word, however, they also believe in the continuing work of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in sacred traditions and the teaching authority of the Church. Scripture is important to Catholicism and Orthodoxy as the primary source of doctrine, but not the only source as it does in Protestantism with its solo scriptura doctrine.

More liberal Christians tend to downplay the role of inspiration in the writing of scripture, tending to view the Bible as a primarily, if not entirely, human creation. They may reject the role of scripture entirely or attempt to separate out the truly divine elements from the human elements derived from the culture and background. This is a convenient approach for those who would like to support the latest progressive, politically correct causes, like gay marriage, but don’t want to be bothered by inconvenient passages in scripture.

So, despite what the writer might believe, the discovery of an early draft of the King James Bible with corrections does not, in the least, show that the Bible is not the Word of God. He is attacking an idea that no one actually holds, which is the definition of a strawman argument.

If I only had a brain.

If I only had a brain.

 

It seems to me that it would be better to learn something about a religion or ideology because trying to portray its adherents as being ignorant, rather than show one’s own ignorance about the matter.

Smeagol

June 30, 2015

When I wrote my review of the Two Towers, I neglected to mention what I consider to be the best part the book. As Frodo and Sam make their way into Mirror they stop to rest and fall asleep while Gollum leaves them. Gollum returns and almost repents of his plan to betray them to Shelob.

Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo’s knee –but almost the touch was a caress. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing. But at that touch Frodo stirred and cried out softly in his sleep, and immediately Sam was wide awake. The first thing he saw was Gollum –‘pawing at master,’as he thought. ‘Hey you!’he said roughly. ‘What are you up to?’‘Nothing, nothing,’said Gollum softly. ‘Nice Master!’‘I daresay,’said Sam. ‘But where have you been to –sneaking off and sneaking back, you old villain?’

Gollum withdrew himself, and a green glint flickered under his heavy lids. Almost spider-like he looked now, crouched back on his bent limbs, with his protruding eyes. The fleeting moment had passed, beyond recall. ‘Sneaking, sneaking!’ he hissed. ‘Hobbits always so polite, yes. O nice hobbits! Sméagol brings them up secret ways that nobody else could find. Tired he is, thirsty he is, yes thirsty; and he guides them and he searches for paths, and they say sneak, sneak. Very nice friends, O yes my precious, very nice.”

If Sam had spoken kindly to Gollum when he awoke, Gollum’s good side, Smeagol, might have come out on top and the plot of the would have been very different. Smeagol might have warned the hobbits about Shelob and helped them to avoid her trap. Frodo wouldn’t have been captured by the enemy and the trip to Mount Doom would have been quicker and easier.

Gollum

 

 

I have been thinking of this over the past week with the Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage. I am afraid that many Christians, myself included, have acted much like Sam in our relations with the Gay community. We have been more interested in condemning sin then in loving the sinner and perhaps have turned many of them away from from the love of God. Certainly Christians have, in the past, and all too often even now have acted in a way that has caused homosexuals to hate Christianity and Christians. We must remember that our mission is not to win debates or legislate morality but to bring souls to Heaven.

I do not mean, of course, that we should endorse the homosexual lifestyle or accept same-sex marriage. Christians must hold true to Biblical teachings concerning marriage and sexuality. Those churches which have hung up rainbow banners and celebrated the Supreme Court ruling may believe that they are doing the loving, compassionate thing, but they are making a mistake and putting themselves in grave danger of apostasy. Indeed, many of those more liberal denominations have become almost entirely apostate and can be regarded as Christians in name only. Churches which abandon the standards of scripture do not flourish. Rudderless, they sway back and forth with the wind in no set direction save momentary ideas of political correctness.

But, churches must support all the Biblical teachings regarding marriage and sexuality. A church that accepts pre-marital sex (fornication), secular ideas about divorce and remarriage, or adultery is in no position to lecture the homosexual about sexual morality. The same goes for Biblical teachings on other subjects. A church can be made up of the most upright prudes imaginable, but if they lack a spirit of love and compassion, they are no better than the pagans. Remember what Paul had to say about this.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:1-13)

Let us not, then, become clanging cymbals. We must preach the truth, but it must be done with love understanding. And we should keep in mind that sexual sins are not the only sins we can commit. There are worse sins, excessive pride and hatred are worse. Also, I think it would be helpful if more Christians understood why God’s rules about sex and marriage are what they are. These are not arbitrary rules from the Bronze Age. God wants us to be happy and to join Him in Heaven. He understands better than any of us that an excessive or misplaced devotion to sex, like an excessive or misplaced devotion to anything other than Him will not, ultimately, make us happy or bring us to him. God does not hate “fags”. He hates that which takes them, and us, away from Him.

The Party of Jesus

November 30, 2014

A friend posted an interesting link from Salon, Why Conservative Christians Would Have Hated Jesus, on his Facebook page.

Jesus never could have been the pastor of a contemporary evangelical church nor a conservative Roman Catholic bishop. Evangelicals and conservative Roman Catholics thrive on drawing distinctions between their “truth” and other people’s failings. Jesus by contrast, set off an empathy time bomb that obliterates difference.

Jesus’ empathy bomb explodes every time a former evangelical puts love ahead of what the “Bible says.” It goes off every time Pope Francis puts inclusion ahead of dogma. It goes off every time a gay couple are welcomed into a church. Jesus’ time bomb explodes whenever atheists follow Jesus better than most Christians.

Put it this way: Godless non-church-going Denmark mandates four weeks of maternity leave before childbirth and fourteen weeks afterward for mothers. Parents of newborn children are assisted with well-baby nurse-practitioner visits in their homes.

In the “pro-life” and allegedly “family friendly” American Bible belt, conservative political leaders slash programs designed to help women and children while creating a justifying mythology about handouts versus empowerment.

In “God-fearing America” the poor are now the “takers,” no longer the “least of these,” and many conservative evangelicals side with today’s Pharisees, attacking the poor in the name of following the Bible.

So who is following Jesus?

Confronted by the Bible cult called evangelicalism we have a choice: follow Jesus or follow a book cult. If Jesus is God as evangelicals and Roman Catholics claim he is, then the choice is clear. We have to read the book–including the New Testament–as he did, and Jesus didn’t like the “Bible” of his day.

Confronted by bishops protecting dogma and tradition against Pope Francis’ embrace of empathy for the “other” we have a choice: follow Jesus or protect the institution.

Every time Jesus mentioned the equivalent of a church tradition, the Torah, he qualified it with something like this: “The scriptures say thus and so, but I say…” Jesus undermined the scriptures and religious tradition in favor of empathy. Every time Jesus undermined the scriptures (Jewish “church tradition”) it was to err on the side of co-suffering love. Every time a former evangelical becomes an atheist in favor of empathy she draws closer to Jesus. Every time Pope Francis sides with those the Church casts out he is closer to Jesus. Every time conservative Roman Catholics try to stop the Pope from bringing change to the Church they are on the side to those who killed Jesus.

These are all valid points and it may well be that Conservative Christians do not follow the teachings of Jesus as well as they ought to. Nevertheless, I believe that liberal Christians would hate Jesus more. Jesus had very strict views regarding marriage, divorce and adultery. He opposed divorce with the sole exception of sexual immorality. He taught that even looking at a woman with lust was adultery. (Matthew 5:27-32) Jesus almost certainly would have opposed the concept of same se marriage. (Matthew 19:3-9)  Actually, when Jesus”undermined” the Jewish Scriptures it was more often in the direction of greater rigor. Jesus loudly condemned the sophistries and the technicalities of the Pharisees. (Matthew 23:13-36)

Jesus did not preach any sort of post-modern relativism. He confirmed the authority of the Law and the scriptures ( Matthew 5:18)and when he did make alterations, he did so under his divine authority. He taught that the truth is real and that he was the Truth. Jesus did not preach that there are many paths to salvation but that He was the only way the Father.(John 14:1-6) Jesus forgave sinners, but he insisted they give up their sins. He did not tell the adulteress to continue her lifestyle but to go and sin no more. (John 7:53-8:11) Most liberals would condemn Jesus as being judgemental, narrow minded, prudish, bigoted, homophobic, and possibly racist. (Matthew 15:21-28) They would prefer the Jesus of the Jesus Seminar over the Jesus of the Gospels.

I am not arguing that Jesus is a conservative, liberal or anything else. The issue here is that people have been trying to recruit Jesus into their party, whether political or religious denomination, since the beginning of Christianity. Paul wrote about this very problem in his letters to the Corinthians and the Galatians. Jesus is not a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or liberal, a Catholic or Baptist. Jesus is Himself. He is not asking to join any of our parties. He wants us to join His party, and He insists that once you join, you put His party ahead of any other concerns.This means,among other things, that if another member of the party emphasises different aspects of His teachings than you do or if they serve in a different fashion than you, you ought not to argue or boast over who is the better servant. We all have our orders.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Don’t try to define Me. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

But, we ought to be sure we are following orders from the right source. The only information we possess about the life and teachings of Jesus are the Gospels. Our guide, or orders, on how to behave as Christians is the Bible. The writer of this article seems to be deprecating the role of scripture.

“Worship in the Spirit and in truth,” is not about a book, let alone “salvation” through correct ideas or tradition. For people who call Jesus “the Son of God” you’d think they would also reject the veneration of the book he’s trapped in and church dogma that has crucified him again each time a gay man or divorced couple are refused the sacraments.

Evangelicals struggle to conform Jesus to a book, not the other way around. And the conservative bishops have aligned themselves with the American neoconservative wing of their church against not just the Pope Francis but against the emancipating logic of Jesus’ empathy time bomb. If Jesus isn’t the “lens” evangelicals and Roman Catholics read the Bible and their traditions through then whatever they say to the contrary they do not really believe Jesus is the son of God.

At present, scripture is the only way we can come to know who Jesus really is and what He expects of us. Naturally, we should take care, when reading the Bible, not to allow our own preconceptions to cause misunderstanding, and we should always consider the historical and social contexts. But, if we try to go beyond, or even against, the Jesus of the Gospels, we may find ourselves serving an imaginary Jesus. This has also been a problem throughout the history of Christianity among many denominations. If the Jesus you worship happens to be a Republican, Democrat, Catholic, American either White or Black, New Age hippie, environmentalist, capitalist, communist, or any other faction, then there is a real danger that Jesus is imaginary. You had better read the Gospels to find the real Jesus. Don’t worry. He is patient and really wants you to find Him.

Hey, Christian, Have You Read the Bible

October 17, 2014

Not too long ago, I finished reading the Bible. This is an undertaking I have completed numerous times, to the point where I honestly don’t know how many times I have read the Bible all the way through. I became curious about how many people have actually read the Bible all the way through, I doubt there are many even among devout Christians and Jews, so I asked that fount of all knowledge and wisdom, Google.

The first thing I noticed from the results is that there seems to be a prevailing idea that few Christians have read much  of the Bible. Only Atheists have actually read and studied the Bible in any sort of rigorous fashion and they are uniformly appalled by the ignorance and atrocities found in the “Good Book”. This line of thought goes on with the corollary that anyone who does actually read the Bible will, if he is honest and  intelligent immediately convert to Atheism.  This, Isaac Asimov said, “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”, and we get these sort of graphics.

atheists and the bible piechart

 

 

and

reading-bible

 

I don’t find that to be the case myself. In fact, I do not think I could be an honest atheist. The best I could manage might be a sort of Deism, but that is a subject for another post. I also find that the Bible “grows” on me, even the less interesting books. I find, in a curious sort of way, that I get more out of the Bible every time I read it and this appreciation grows even greater when I study the historical and cultural background in which the Bible was written. It is a grave mistake to read your Bible as though you were reading a newspaper or a contemporary novel. While the truths of the Bible may be eternal, they are expressed from the viewpoint of  cultures very different than our own, ones closer to the edge than our comfortable modern, Western world. For this reason, I suspect that a reader from the Third World must have a much easier time understanding the motives and actions of the people in the Bible than a middle class American ever could. I can also see why an ignorant and superficial reading of scripture may lead to many very wrong ideas, including Atheism.

One of the results of the Google search was an article from the website Atheism Resource titled, “Hey, Christian, Have You Read the Bible.”, written by a fifteen year old Atheist named Cassie Huye.

I have read the bible from cover to cover. How many people can actually say that? I will admit that I have forgotten many of the small details and even some of the major events, but at one time my eyes did glaze over the entire thing.

At school, I once had a girl in my class ask why I knew so much about Christianity. When I told her, she was astounded that an Atheist knew anything about her precious little religion, and could not bring herself to find any reason at all that I could be capable of not believing in her god, had I read all of his wondrous miracles in the bible.

What is considered a wondrous miracle anyway? I’ll admit that the ability to turn water into wine is pretty cool, but it seems like that should be a magical spell in some Harry Potter type book with an alcoholic wizard.

I think we have the next great Atheist apologist here. With snarky comments like “her precious little religion”, and generally deriding her classmates, she could be the next Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens.

And then there is Kings 2: 23-24 “And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

I guess if you are the bald man, the death of those who made fun of you for something you can’t help is a miracle, but it really isn’t fair to the kids. The reason we cannot even legally drink until we 21 is because children’s brains are not even totally developed until they are 21. God made us right? He is all knowing… so doesn’t he know they were just using their underdeveloped child brains to make the stupid decision of making fun of a chosen one of God? I mean, if anything, it is God’s fault that they made fun of the man. He made them to have underdeveloped brains!

Do I even have to note that the word translated as “children”, נצר na’ar could also mean young man, adolescent or even servant and that “little” קטנ qaton means little, small, insignificant?  Keep in mind, also, that the city of Bethel was a center of worship for the Kingdom of Israel and thus was a rival to the Temple in Jerusalem and to the prophetic tradition of Elijah and Elisha.

25 Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel.

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David.27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”

28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other.

31 Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. 32 He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. 33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings. (1 Kings 12:25-31)

It is possible, then that the “little children” were actually a mob of young men intent on insulting and even attacking Elisha. You may still find the incident with the bears disturbing, but a closer investigation shows that the incident is not what it seems to be based on a superficial reading based on ignorance of the historical conditions of the time.

Cassie continues.

This is just one example of the many absolutely insane things that are written in the bible. I promise you that the language the bible is written in was made to bore, but if you want a violent story or just a little comedy, you can find it in your bible.

She is right here. You can find action, comedy, romance, even zombies in the Bible if you know where to look.If you find the language boring, try another translation. But as for insane, again a knowledge of the background of the times will lead to a greater understanding. Dismissing things you do not understand as insane is simply pride in remaining ignorant.

But back to the original question of how I can read about the wondrous miracles of God and be an Atheist. It’s easy, all I had to do was actually read the miracles, and after reading them I don’t know how anyone could be Christian knowing what they say they think is true.

So I encourage you to go out, whoever you are, whatever religion you are: read about your own religion, and read about someone else’s too. Maybe you will realize that you have wasted years listening to someone scam for your money, or maybe you become convinced that you have found the true answer. But at the very least, you will know a little more about the world. As the motto goes, knowledge is power.

Actually, she assumed that miracles cannot happen and that any account of miracles must therefore be false. This assumption that miracles cannot occur is a reasonable assumption given that we do not ordinarily witness miracles, but it is only an assumption. The fact that the Bible contains miracles in its narratives does not prove that the narratives are completely false. They could be reliable history with some exaggerations included. The Bible could be literature, like Homer or Virgil, with a grain of true history at the core, or the miracles could have actually happened. Some of the stories in the Bible may seem strange to us. They did not seem strange to the people who wrote the Bible. As I have indicated, a knowledge of the culture and history of ancient times good serve to make the “insane” stories of the Bible less insane.Cassie Huys dismisses the Bible and Christianity at the age of fifteen after reading the Bible without even trying to understand it. She should take her own advice.

The Conservative Bible Project

September 30, 2013

There have been attempts to rewrite the Bible almost since the the last books were written and the canon settled. One of the earliest such attempts was that of Marcion of Sinope who lived in the early second century AD. He believed that the Jewish God of the Old Testament was an inferior being to the God of the New Testament who was the real, universal deity. Marcion, therefore rejected the Old Testament entirely and only accepted the Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul’s letters which he edited to remove any Jewish influence. More recently, Thomas Jefferson cut out all of the portions of the Gospels which contained miracles, supernatural events, or claims that Jesus was divine. Joseph Smith not only wrote the Book of Mormon, but he “translated’ portions of the Bible to suit the needs of his new creed. The Jehovah’s Witnesses commissioned the New World Translation, which included changes in wording to support their doctrines.

These revisions were all made for religious reasons by members of various sects who believed that either the contents or the existing translations of the Bible were somehow distorted or corrupted. Jefferson was not an exception. He was a Deist and a naturalist who believed that the pure message of Jesus was corrupted by succeeding generations of clergymen. In our more secular age, we have people who seek to revise the Bible to support a particular political or philosophical agenda. Thus we see the very theologically liberal scholars of the Jesus Seminar publishing a Bible that reflects their very liberal views that the Bible most Christians read is unreliable. There is a group of homosexuals who have published the Queen James Bible, in which all of the uncomplimentary references to homosexuality have been removed. And, there is the Conservative Bible Project.

The Conservative Bible Project  is an effort to produce a new translation of the Bible which is free from any liberal bias. As the article on Conservapedia puts it,

The Conservative Bible Project is a project utilizing the “best of the public” to render God’s word into modern English without liberal translation distortions.[1] A Colbert Report interview featured this project.[2] We completed a first draft of our translation of the New Testament on April 23, 2010.

Already our translators have identified numerous pro-abortion distortions that omit or twist clear references to the unborn child.

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning are, in increasing amount:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias, mainly of the liberal kind, in converting the original language to the modern one.

Experts in ancient languages are helpful in reducing the first type of error above, which is a vanishing source of error as scholarship advances understanding. English language linguists are helpful in reducing the second type of error, which also decreases due to an increasing vocabulary. But the third — and largest — source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate.[3]

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[4]

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias. For example, the Living Bible translation has liberal evolutionary bias;[5] the widely used NIV translation has a pro-abortion bias.[6]
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these)
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity[7]; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[8]
  4. Utilize Terms which better capture original intent: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent;[9] Defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction[10] by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”;[11] using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

Terms like liberal and conservative are misleading enough when applied to contemporary American politics. They have absolutely no meaning at all in terms of the politics and economics of the societies in which the books of the Bible were written. Any honest translation of the Bible into a modern language seeks to convey the meaning of the words and phrases of the original languages as closely as possible to the intended meaning of the writers, without allowing contemporary issues in politics or theology to influence the translation. Allowing such issues to influence the translation is the same as rewriting the Bible. I don’t think there is very much difference between the Queen James Bible and a Conservative Bible. I also think that attempting to translate the Bible in such a way as to support a claim of divine sanction for any human made political or social system would not only be distorting the meaning of scripture but also close to blasphemy.

 

Internet Bible Reading

September 16, 2013

I wrote about the growing use of digital Bibles in Church and for private reading about a year ago but this article in the Washington Examiner caught my eye.

 

God is still great in the eyes of Americans, even on the internet. While an amazing 88 percent of the nation’s homes own a Bible, more and more are switching to the internet, cell phones and iPad for their weekly inspiration, according to a sweeping new survey of Bible use.

In their latest survey of Bible use, the American Bible Society finds that 41 percent of Americans used the internet to read the good book on a computer. Some 29 percent said they searched Bible verses on a cell phone and 17 percent said they read an electronic version of the Bible on a Kindle or iPad.

The trend is similar in the news business, with the readers shifting to digital over paper.

“The data shows a continual shift to digital content. The number of Bible readers who use their smart phone or cell phone to search for Bible content has increased each year, with a 6 percent increase in the use of this format from 2012,” said the Society. “Use of internet to find Bible content has also increased, up 4 percent from 2011,” they added.

 

William Tyndale said that he wanted the scriptures to be known even by an uneducated plow boy. Printing was a relatively recent invention in his day and books were still fairly rare and expensive. Many people, especially among the poor were illiterate and the age of mass education and mass literacy was still in the future. Imagine what Tyndale might make of an age in which almost everyone can read the scriptures at almost any time or place they want.

English: William Tyndale, Protestant reformer ...

He would be amazed, and pleased. Portrait from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Česky: William Tyndale (portrét ve Foxeově Knize mučedníků) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

And, said the survey of 2,083, the most read and searched version of the Bible was the King James version. Thirty-eight percent preferred that over the New King James version, which just 14 percent prefer.

Americans also said that the Bible is king over the Koran, with 80 percent calling the Bible sacred, with just 8 percent citing the Koran. That was followed by the Torah, at 4 percent, and Book of Mormon at 3 percent.

With more people tapping into the Bible for direction and inspiration, the most read book in the world is also having a bigger influence in American politics. More than two-thirds, or 69 percent, said their personal faith has at least a little influence in political issues. And the percentage of those who said their faith influences their political leanings has increased from 27 percent last year to 31 percent this year.

 

It is interesting that the King James Version was the most widely read. at least on the Internet. Part of this might be that the copyright on the King James Version expired centuries ago so the King James Version is the most likely to be found for free. Most of the appeal of the King James and New King James Versions must be the familiarity of these translations. Although the NIV has become popular, the NIV along with most modern translations just doesn’t read the same as the old King James.

 

It is not too surprising that 80 percent of the American population would consider the Bible sacred, considering that somewhere around that percentage of Americans are at least nominally Christians. I am surprised that 8 percent consider the Koran sacred. I do not think there are that many Muslims in the United States. Perhaps some of these are multi-culturalists who want to say every religion’s book is sacred. I wonder if respondents were allowed to give more than one answer to the question. The Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament, so that 4 percent must be Jewish, although I would have thought that they might consider the Hebrew Bible sacred. I though there were more Mormons than 3 percent. They consider the Bible to be sacred, so I wonder if Mormons said both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I wonder if there were any Hindus or Buddhists in the survey.

 

Since 69 percent stated that their faith had some influence on political issues and the the number whose faith influences their political leanings from 27 percent to 31 percent this last year, it appears that the Freedom From Religion Foundation still has a lot of work to do. Or maybe not, since they don’t depend on popular opinion for their successes but on the ability to manipulate the courts. On the other hand, it doesn’t look as though the publishers of Bibles whether in print or electronically are going to go out of business any time soon.

 

 

 

 

Leviticus

July 15, 2013

It is unfortunate that all too few Christians in this secular age ever actually read the Bible. Many Christians realize this and make a resolution to read the bible all the way through, from beginning to end. This is the way most books should be read, but it is not a good way to read the Bible for the first time. The Bible is an anthology so it is perfectly acceptable to skip around.

The problem with reading the Bible from beginning to end is that you quickly come to some of the driest and least interesting parts. Genesis is interesting and fun to read, full of great stories like the Creation, Adam and Eve, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and others. The story of Moses and the escape of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt as told in the book of Exodus is exciting too. But, then around chapter 20 of Exodus there is the beginning of the law code as told to Moses at Mount Sinai. Chapter after chapter describes the laws, the building of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant, the clothes of the priests and their consecration ceremony. There is some relief with the story of the Golden Calf in chapter 32, but soon we are back to law codes and a description of the building of the tabernacle that is a repeat of the earlier passages.

Leviticus is worse. There is no action at all in this book except for the deaths of Nadab and Abihu

English: Aaron's Sons, Nadab and Abihu, Destro...

English: Aaron’s Sons, Nadab and Abihu, Destroyed by Fire; Leviticus 10:2; 1625-30 engraving by Matthäus Merian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

for offering “strange fire” to the LORD Other than that, there is just chapter after chapter of ordinances dealing with offerings and sacrifices, priestly ordinations, clean and unclean foods, leprosy (almost certainly not the disease that is now called leprosy, so modern translations say “skin disease”), mold and mildew, the Day of Atonement, forbidden sexual  relations, festivals, and other such matters. It would not seem as if much of this book is relevant for the modern Christian. We don’t sacrifice animals at the temple anymore. We go to a dermatologist if we have a disgusting skin disease. Perhaps it might be simply ignored.

I think that would be a mistake. The first time Bible reader or the beginning Christian ought not to try to tackle Leviticus, but the more experienced Christian ought to read the book of Leviticus all the way through at least once, for the central theme of Leviticus is one Christians need to remember, especially in these irreverent times. That central theme is God’s absolute holiness.

If you ask any believer what characteristics God possesses they would be quick to mention His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. They might also state that He is a loving God and indeed the first Letter of John states that God is love. One attribute that tends to be forgotten is God’s holiness, or goodness. God is entirely good and holy and there is no evil in him. People of modern times tend to overlook God’s holiness and assume that he is a being much like themselves, only grander. The modern image of God seems to be of a kindly elderly man played by George Burns or Morgan Freeman, or of Jesus the hippie. The book of Leviticus shows a different side.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

“‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.

“‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.

“‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the Lord; they must be cut off from their people.

“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

19 “‘Keep my decrees.

“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.

“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.

“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. (Lev 19:1-9, 19)

God says, “Be holy for I the LORD your God am holy.” Over and over there is the refrain, “I am the LORD your God.” Notice also besides the obvious moral laws, there is the concept of a separation between the holy and the worldly. Do not blend separate things together.

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek. (Lev 20:1-5)

There follows laws about illicit sexual practices, etc, all of which get the death penalty.  Most people would regard these laws with death for so many crimes as barbaric. Perhaps, but the purpose of such severity is to reinforce the seriousness of keeping holy things holy and to worship only the Lord, not turning to other gods.

Here is one more excerpt.

31 “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. 32 Do not profane my holy name, for I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who made you holy 33 and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.” (Lev 22:31-33)

God loves us but He is much, much more than the popular conceptions of Him. He is holy and He wants us to be holy.

Preacher Arrested in London

July 9, 2013

One of the main reasons that I have opposed same sex marriage is that I am certain that it is only a matter of time before churches are compelled to perform such marriages, in defiance of their teachings and doctrine. If you believe that I am raising an unlikely possibility, all I can say is that the activists who favor gay marriage and other items on the radical homosexual agenda have not proved to be very tolerant of opposing viewpoints. Consider the example of the American preacher who was arrested in London for daring to state that homosexuality is a sin.

An American evangelist said he was arrested and interrogated about his Christian faith after he was caught on a London sidewalk preaching that homosexuality is a sin.

Tony Miano, a retired deputy sheriff and former chaplain with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., was charged with “using homophobic speech that could cause people anxiety, distress, alarm or insult.”

Miano had been preaching on a London street corner during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships with a ministry group called Sports Fan Outreach International.

He was preaching about immoral living – and cited homosexuality as an example of lifestyle choices that are contrary to biblical teaching.

“I never used any gay slurs,” he said. “You would never hear me using slang or discriminatory language against homosexuals or any other group. That would be contrary to my faith.”

At some point, the evangelist quoted I Thessalonians 4:1-2 – a passage of scripture that mentions sexual immorality.

“I talked about women addicted to romance novels, men addicted to pornography, people with lustful thoughts, heterosexual fornication and homosexuality,” Miano told Fox News. “When I mentioned that the Bible was clear that homosexuality is a sin, a lady walked by and she glared at me and hurled the f-bomb.”

Of course she did. People on the Left are not much for reasoned discourse. They prefer insults and censorship.

Miano said the woman came back a short time later and began to videotape his sidewalk sermon. Then, she called the police.

“They were concerned about homophobic speech,” he said. “But I told them I don’t fear homosexuals. The language I used was not homophobic, as I was not promoting fear or hatred of homosexuals.”

Miano said he did not limit his remarks to homosexual acts.

“I did not speak solely about homosexuality as a form of sexual immorality but also about any kind of sex outside marriage between one man and one woman, as well as lustful thoughts,” he said. “All of these are considered mainstream Christian positions and have been taught and believed by Christians for thousands of years.”

The fact that he was preaching positions held by Christians for the last two thousand years is irrelevant, as is the fact that he did not mean to be hateful. Any opposition to the gay lifestyle is hateful and bigoted and must be punished.

“I was made to feel that my thoughts could be held against me,” he said. “The detective also asked me if I thought I was 100 percent right in what I had done. I said yes.”

Miano said he would gladly offer assistance to a homosexual.

“The Christian faith is dictated by the two greatest commandments – to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor,” he said. “As such, I am compelled to love all people. Had a gay come up and asked me for something to eat, I would have fed him.”

But what troubled Miano is the idea that a hypothetical situation could have been used against him in court.

“I was actually going to be tried for how I thought,” he said.

In an ironic twist, the officers made arrangements to provide the evangelist with a Bible to read in jail – the same book that led to his arrest.

“The same book I read from in public which resulted in my arrest, was now the same book the police were giving to provide me comfort,” he said.

Miano, who is a member of the Evangelical Free Church, has been open-air preaching for eight years. He said this is the first time he’s been arrested.

“It was a rather surreal experience,” the retired deputy sheriff said. “I’ve conducted many interrogations but I’ve never been the subject of one.”

Miano spent about seven hours in jail before he was released without explanation and without an apology.

Now back home in Southern California, Miano said he fears that what happened in Great Britain could soon happen in the United States.

“I believe that’s what our government is going to eventually do here,” he said. “I believe homosexuals or others who are sensitive to their point of view will be visiting churches to listen to what preachers say from the pulpit. And I believe that pastors will be arrested in their pulpits for teaching what the Bible says about homosexuality and other sins.”

Perhaps the first amendment would prevent such an outrage here in America. Maybe not. Freedom of religion would seem to include the freedom of a religious body to decide for itself would constitute sinful conduct, yet we have also seen that the activists care little about such freedom. It may be possible that the recent decision on DOMA by the Supreme Court could be used to justify harassing dissenting churches. Hadley Arkes from National Review Online commented on the day the decision was announced,

These decisions, handed down by the Court today, affect to be limited in their reach, but they are even worse than they appear, and they cannot be cabined. They lay down the predicates for litigation that will clearly unfold now, and with short steps sure to come, virtually all of the barriers to same-sex marriage in this country can be swept away. Even constitutional amendments, passed by so many of the states, can be overridden now. The engine put in place to power this drive is supplied by Justice Kennedy’s “hate speech,” offering itself as the opinion of the Court in U.S. v. Windsor. Kennedy wrote for the Court in striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the part of the act that recognized as “marriage,” in federal law, only the union of a man and woman. In Kennedy’s translation, the Defense of Marriage Act showed its animus in its very title: The defense of marriage was simply another way of disparaging and “denigrating” gays and lesbians, and denying dignity to their “relationships.” As Justice Scalia noted so tellingly in his dissent, Kennedy could characterize then as bigots the 85 senators who voted for the Act, along with the president (Clinton) who signed it. Every plausible account of marriage as a relation of a man and woman can then be swept away, as so much cover for malice and blind hatred.

As Scalia suggested, that opinion can now become the predicate for challenges to the laws on marriage in all of the States. A couple of the same sex need merely go into a federal court and invoke Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the DOMA case (U.S. v. Windsor): The Supreme Court has declared now that a law that refuses to recognize same-sex marriage is animated by a passion to demean and denigrate. Any such law cannot find a rational ground of justification. As Kennedy had famously said in Romer v. Evans, those kinds of laws can be explained only in terms of an irrational “animus.”

Read the part I put in bold. Arkes is only referring to the fact that any state law restricting marriage to a man and a woman can now be overturned, but consider the wider implication here. If the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman is not a sincerely held religious belief but animated by malice and blind hatred and is an irrational animus, then wouldn’t it be acceptable to use the law to force churches to comply with same-sex marriage. Wouldn’t preaching against homosexuality be hate speech, to be discouraged and even forbidden. This may seem like overreaching, but I fully expect some sort of effort along these lines in the next couple of years.

The Big Picture of the Bible

June 18, 2013

The Bible is a fairly large anthology of sixty-six books written in three languages, (Hebrew, Greek, and a little Aramaic) with many genres (history, poetry, letters, etc), on three continents over a period of 1500 years. With such an epic scope, it is easy for even the devout Christian to become lost in the details and lose sight of the big picture. For the beginning Christian, reading the Bible often seems to be a daunting tasking with seeming no easy way to begin or to make sense of everything. What is needed is a short book explaining the big picture of the Bible, to tie everything together in manner that is short and easily understandable.

This is precisely what Kenneth W. Craig has done with his book The Big Picture of the Bible. In this short book, Craig covers the basic Biblical message of salvation. The Big Picture of the Bible is divided into two parts and seventeen short chapters which contain lessons easy to understand and can be covered quickly. The Big Picture of the Bible is ideal for personal study or evangelization.


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