The Greek Bible

Many people over the years I’ve seen since beginning my studies into Christianity, refer to the ‘Hebrew Bible’ — i.e. the Old Testament. In contrast, I’ve only seen the term ‘Greek Bible’ (referring to the New Testament) for the first time in the last two weeks. Sometimes, we forget that John never tells us Jesus said “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), He tells us Jesus said “ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν”, that is, in Greek. In the last few weeks I’ve begun learning the Greek of the New Testament in order to be able to read the Greek Bible in its original language. And I think this is very important.

I’ve learned a number of things in my studies and as I’ve been understanding all the rules of Greek grammar (variations of the definite article, cases, etc). I’ve seriously expanded my knowledge in one realm of my life I never thought would really change all that much. Besides learning the Greek itself, I’ve discovered a number of very important figures in the scholarship responsible for translating our Bibles into English (such as William D. Mounce), I’ve learned English doesn’t actually come from Latin (even though it borrows a lot from it), and I’ve even learned that many of those physics signs, such as α (alpha), β (beta), γ (gamma), δ (delta), θ (theta), μ (mu) and others all actually derive as Greek letters. Secondly, the Greek Bible wasn’t written in modern Greek, it was written in Koine Greek — that is, the form of Greek that rapidly spread around 300 BC as Alexander the Great started taking over the world and was used up until about 300 AD. The word ‘Koine’ means common, and the reason why we refer to this form of Greek as ‘Koine Greek’ is because it was the common language of much of the world in the age of Jesus, including that of the entire Roman Empire. Jesus’ native language was Aramaic, but he, including his followers, knew Koine Greek, since probably everyone was bilingual at the time (many of whom live in America and Canada may not intuitively know this, since most of us here only speak one language, i.e. English).

However, I think there’s something more important here than all these factoids (such as the fact that our word ‘alphabet’ comes from a combination of the terms alpha and beta, the first two Greek letters), and it’s actually understanding the New Testament and being able to read it as the Evangelists transcribed it. The truth is, there are some good translations out there — some really good translations, in fact, there are translations out there that will be able to make you understand the text of the Bible better than if most people tried to learn and read the Greek of the New Testament for themselves. However, no translation is absolutely perfect, since a perfect translation is impossible between any two distinct languages. Uncovering the New Testament in its original brings you one, important step forwards to understanding the message and advent of Jesus. This is a goldmine for any believer, and it gets even better once you understand that you can only read some of the really advanced and good commentaries out there by knowing Koine Greek (and also Hebrew if you want to read a technical commentary on the Old Testament). So, I’ve decided to take the path of learning Koine Greek, and I invite you to follow me as well on this exciting path.

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Jesus’ Subtle Kingdom

Throughout the Gospel accounts, the four Evangelists take us on a story, each of them narrating the ministry of Jesus in a way that reflects how they want a newcomer to the faith to approach the character of Jesus and have His wisdom unravel into our minds and lives, and, hopefully by the end of it, the Evangelist will have convinced us to believe. As John explicitly tells us, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31). Each Evangelist takes us on a journey through the wonders and signs of the man they believe is the Christos, Christ.

Many may know that in modern times, there are those who even believe that Jesus never actually claimed to be God in the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) and that they explain the divine statements in John by ascribing to the notion that it reflects a later, developed theology as the final Gospel written, so we cannot trust John when he writes to us saying that Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I am” (8:58), “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” (14:7-8), “I and the Father are one” (10:30), etc. However, as I will soon show, even subtle statements in the Synoptic Gospels reveal the high Christology that the Synoptic authors had and that Jesus definitely claimed to be God in a manner just as advanced as John. Indeed, very nicely, over the last 20-25 years a consensus has been emerging in academia that the earliest understanding of the life of Jesus was in fact that Jesus is God, and this came at the very beginning of belief in Jesus, not decades later at the time of John’s Gospel as late as the 90’s  AD. Some of the most influential academics to bring about this emerging consensus include Richard Bauckham, N.T. Wright, Larry Hurtado (who runs a great blog here) and others.

However, before showing statements in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus’ claim to be God is just as powerful as any of those in John (if not as explicit), we will go even earlier than the Gospels, the letters that Paul began writing in the late 40’s. Paul’s letters predate the Gospel accounts by decades, and may predate John by as much as over 40 years, and yet Paul makes statements about who Jesus was that are on the level of if not exceeding how clearly John makes Jesus to be God. Paul tells us Jesus existed “in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6) and humbled Himself to take on human form so that He may die for our sins and then yet again become exalted, he tells us that Jesus is “God over all” (Romans 9:5), and many other things I have already written about. So, the Christology of John cannot be viewed as a late development but the earliest understanding of Jesus in Christian circles.

In the Synoptics, where so many claim that Jesus never claimed to be God, we find some subtle, yet very very telling things Jesus said about Himself that made it clear to any listener who was paying attention that He was directly claiming to be God. In Luke, Jesus is contiually proclaiming the coming of the “kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43; 9:2, etc etc), however something later changes — in Luke 22:30, Jesus says His disciples will eat at “my kingdom”. In other words, Jesus throughout His ministry tells those who listen that the kingdom of God is coming, but suddenly, Jesus now proclaims that it is His kingdom that is coming. Jesus here, I believe, unambiguously claims to be God.

Then, there’s a double tradition (Q?) in both Luke and Matthew where Jesus says “All things have been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27/Luke 10:22). Who can claim to have the sole knowledge of God but God Himself, and who can claim that the only way anyone else can know the Father is if He wishes to reveal the Father to them but God alone? Even in Mark, Jesus does things that only God can do, such as forgive the sins of others (Mark 2:1-11) and when the High Priest finally asks Jesus if He was the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One, Jesus reponds “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (14:61-62).

I could go more in depth, but for all purposes here, this shows that all four  Evangelists believed Jesus to be God and record that Jesus claimed to be God. As a further reading, I would highly recommend Richard Hays’ Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness. It’s not an easy read, but it’ll be one of the best books you ever read on the subject, and highly convincing as well. Jesus definitely claimed to be God.

Discovery of the earliest commentary on Matthew

Fortunatianus of Aquileia was one of the most important Latin writers of the early Church during the 4th century AD, yet he is not as well known as other early classical writers of Christianity such as Irenaeus, Origen or Jerome due to the fact that his writings have been lost. However, recently, his works were rediscovered, and this year they were published for free by De Gruyter, the worlds largest publisher of open-access books.

Fortunatianus is the earliest known author of a commentary on the four Gospel’s and his works were held in high esteem long after his death, and indeed, even the famous Jerome, author of the Vulgate translation of the Bible which was upheld for almost a thousand years after his death, commented lavishly at the elegance of Fortunatianus’ works. Fortunatianus’ commentary on Matthew and the other Gospels spans over a hundred pages long, and now that his work has been rediscovered, our corpus of early Church texts and our understanding of Latin Christianity has received a major contribution. In the next few decades, Fortunatianus may be known alongside men such as Ambrose and Athanasius, and his name may become immortal in human history. To have such a major contributor to the works of early Christianity predating the likes of Augustine and Jerome in our hands is very important, and there is yet another important thing to take into account here from his works.

Fortunatianus, as far as I’m concerned, is the second earliest commentator on the Bible to take a huge step into allegorical interpretation (the first I know of being Origen). Indeed, this demonstrates and reinforces the fact that allegorical interpretation was one of the earliest interpretations known to Christian writers, making it a traditional interpretation. This is important to take into account when deciding whether other key biblical texts are literal or allegorical and so the Christian community must take great care when deciding whether certain parts of the Bible were meant to be taken literally or allegorically.

Papias and the Gospels

Papias was one of the earliest patristic writers of the early church. His writings are thought to date 130 AD, however more recently, scholars have been moving towards a date of 95-110 AD. Anyways, Papias has emerged as an overwhelmingly important source in the last decade of New Testament scholarship as Richard Bauckham published his monumental monograph Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. The actual works of Papias are lost (all five books that he is thought to have written, which would be invaluable had they survived), however, some of the things Papias wrote have survived in fragments from quotations from other early church fathers (Irenaeus and Eusebius if I’m not mistaken). He was acquainted with the disciple John (not necessarily the one of the twelve) as well as Polycarp, who was a disciple of John. Papias is the very first writer to tell us about the authorship of some of the Gospels, indeed, this is what he writes;

And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took special care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements … Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.

According to this remarkably early testimony from a figure who both knew John and Polycarp, there was a Gospel that had been written by the likes of a man named Mark, who was an interpreter of Peter, and that Matthew, one of the twelve disciples, also composed his own Gospel. Papias is awkwardly early for those who claim that random people were responsible for the composition of the Gospels in the 60’s to 90’s AD, and so some, like Bart Ehrman, have sought to rationalize their views and reinterpret Papias. Indeed, here, we will refute this reinterpretation.

According to Bart Ehrman and his followers, when Papias speaks of Mark and Matthew, he’s not talking about our Mark, or our Matthew, rather he’s discussing other early ‘Gospels’ of some sort that were also called Mark and Matthew. Ehrman especially argues that because Papias says Matthew was composed in Hebrew, which we know it wasn’t, this lends validity to his argument. To me, this is wishful thinking. Here, I’ll argue to the best of my ability that Papias was talking about none other than our Mark and our Matthew.

a) Firstly, to use Papias’ claim that Matthew was written in Hebrew against identifying Papias’ Matthew with our Matthew won’t work. Here is what other church fathers say about the composition of Matthew;

Matthew composed his gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul proclaimed the gospel in Rome and founded the community. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, handed on his preaching to us in written form. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.1)

Origen in the first book of his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew writes;

Concerning the four Gospels which alone are the uncontroverted in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the Gospel according to Matthew, who was at one time a publican and afterwards an Apostle of Jesus Christ, was written first; and that he composed it in the Hebrew tongue and published it for the converts of Judaism.

Here, two other church fathers write of a ‘Matthew’ that was written in the Hebrew language, yet it is without a doubt that both of these church fathers, here, were referring to the Gospel of Matthew that we bear today. Likewise, Origen further tells us that his knowledge of Matthew being written in Hebrew was received by tradition, meaning that there was a tradition circulating in the early church that our Gospel of Matthew was composed in the Hebrew language. In other words, not only does Papias claiming Matthew was written in Hebrew not disprove he was talking about our Matthew, on the other hand, it appears to affirm this notion. Likewise, many early church fathers document that our Mark was written by the interpreter of Peter, and so when Papias notes this himself, it tends to affirm that he was talking about our Mark, not some other lost Mark and Matthew.

b) This claim, that Papias was citing two Gospels named Mark and Matthew from the first century (they appear to have been written then considering how early Papias is) that is further different from our Mark and Matthew seems to be pushing credulity. This seems like a rather big coincidence and amazingly unlikely as well, it seems much more logical and reasonable to assume that when Papias tells us of two first century Gospels written by Mark and Matthew, that he’s talking about the ones that are known to us today. This explanation is much more historically probable than positing two gospels named Mark and Matthew from the first century that appeared to be canonical to Papias in order to dance around what is otherwise a clear testimony of who wrote what gospels. Indeed, this contrivance is shredded by Occam’s Razor.

c) Papias was a Christian writing anywhere from 95-130 AD writing about gospels under the names of Mark and Matthew. If this reference goes to a Mark and Matthew apart from the ones we have, then it looks like that these two gospels are entirely lost today. The fact that they are ‘lost’ today, despite we knowing of so many quotations and having knowledge of so many specific early apocryphal works from the early church, seems to be best explained by simply stating that this ‘lost’ Mark and ‘lost’ Matthew never existed to begin with, and therefore Papias wasn’t citing them.

d) Eusebius. The works of Papias were available to Eusebius, which is how he was able to quote from Papias. Eusebius had read Papias and knew the full context of the passage he was quoting from, and to his knowledge, Papias was talking about our Mark and our Matthew. Since Eusebius has this ‘insider’ knowledge that is otherwise unavailable to us now, and seems to be completely unaware of Papias making note of gospels completely apart from the ones we have, it’s best to trust the information available to Eusebius in that he got it right that Papias was talking about our Mark and Matthew rather than the alternative of saying Eusebius was completely confused when reading Papias’ works.

Here, I think I have demonstrated to the best of my ability that when Papias is talking about Mark and Matthew, he’s talking clearly about the ones that have survived to us today (rather than some obscure lost works coincidentally circulating by the names of Mark and Matthew just like the canonical ones), and therefore, we ought to seriously consider and try to understand the testimony given to us. Personally, I do think one of Peter’s interpreters by the name of Mark wrote Mark (if someone was going to make up authorship to the gospel, they might as well have just said Peter wrote it) and that Papias gives good testimony for this, but I don’t think that the disciple Matthew wrote the Gospel (it was probably one of Matthew’s associates). This article, however, does not try to argue for the accuracy of Papias’ remarks, just that what he wrote means what it obviously means.

The Fine-Tuning of the Multiverse

The two most common arguments for the existence of God today are based on the beginning of the universe, discovered in the early 20th century, and the fine-tuning of the universe, much more recently discovered by scientists in the last half century.

The fine-tuning of the universe refers to the fact that the universe is constructed by, in effect, various sets of constants that, were they to be any different by a miniscule scale, life in its entirety not only would not exist, but could not exist. As Martin Rees reveals in his book Just Six Numbers, explained by Rich Deem;

Another finely tuned constant is the strong nuclear force (the force that holds atoms together). The Sun “burns” by fusing hydrogen (and higher elements) together. When the two hydrogen atoms fuse, 0.7% of the mass of the hydrogen is converted into energy. If the amount of matter converted were slightly smaller—0.6% instead of 0.7%— a proton could not bond to a neutron, and the universe would consist only of hydrogen. With no heavy elements, there would be no rocky planets and no life. If the amount of matter converted were slightly larger—0.8%, fusion would happen so readily and rapidly that no hydrogen would have survived from the Big Bang. Again, there would be no solar systems and no life. The number must lie exactly between 0.6% and 0.8%.

So, the universe is finely tuned for the existence of life. But how did the fine-tuning come about? Since of course it is far too improbable for the constants to turn out the way they are by chance (the probability that the cosmological constant would be set just rightly to allow life is something like 1 in 10^60), chance is obviously out of question. Obviously, the most intuitive option is that God designed the universe. Indeed, it seems to perfectly correlate with what we are symbolically told in the opening chapters of Genesis, that God created all that exists to our aid so that we may rejoice in it and worship God its Creator (The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands -Psalm 19:1).

An atheist of course, cannot accept that. So, we are given an alternative way to understanding the constants — “Maybe there’s a multiverse,” we are told, “Maybe there is an inexpressible number of universes so that at least one of them had to have the constants we see in our universe.” So, the question arises, is there a multiverse so that we can explain why the constants of the universe are so finely tuned as to allow the existence of life (and moreso, advanced biological life)? The answer is, probably not. There seems to be no evidence for this supposed multiverse, even though we can look some 90 billion light years in diameter in our universe. Secondly, as the great philosopher Richard Swinburne puts it, “To postulate a trillion trillion other universes, rather than one God, in order to explain the orderliness of our universe seems the height of irrationality.” The multiversal hypothesis, when putting it alongside the competing God hypothesis, violates Occam’s Razor. According to Occam’s Razor, when understanding a phenomenon or something of some sort, we always ought to prefer the explanation that makes the least amount of assumptions.

The multiversal hypothesis seems to make an extraodinary, if not literally infinite number of assumptions (as some variations of the theorem postulate an infinite number of universes). Firstly, you must not only assume your numberless universes exist, but you also need to presume the existence of a mechanism that exists beyond the confines of space-time in order to continually produce these universes, there must be a universe producer of some sort (you can’t use God), in which no evidence suggests that such a thing is even naturally possible. This is irrational. God is just one assumption, and as some philosophers believe, God is an infinitely simple assumption (since complexity is determined by the parts or constituents that make up the whole, and God is not made up of any parts or constituents).

And, to me, the most daunting problem with the multiverse is that it explains absolutely nothing — it just pushes the cause one step back (contrast that with God, who is the uncaused first cause), which would require yet another explanation on top of itself to explain the multiverse! The multiversal hypothesis is shredded by Occam’s Razor and explains nothing. Therefore, the theist can once more rejoice in the science and philosophy that has affirmed his belief in God.

Have a good defense for the hope that is in you

1 Peter 3:15: but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

According to the Bible, we ought to have good reasons for the hope that is in us and in Christ when anyone asks us to give an account for it. In other words, we are biblically commanded by God to train ourselves in a defense of the evidence and reason that is within us for the kingdom awaiting us. Truly, this couldn’t be made more clear than in 1 Peter 3:15. However, our commands regarding our defense are even more multitudinous than that alone, behold;

2 Corinthians 10:4-5: …We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

So, we must be ready to not only give a defense for our hope but also be prepared to destroy the accusations set against us. This is all too necessary when it comes to the modern church, with accusations coming from every side against our truth, from the Atheists and the Muslims and whoever else steps against us. More and more, great men from our side such as William Lane Craig and Michael Licona take to handling these accusers, but every Christian should be prepared to do this and engage in study that aids them in their pursuit of spreading the gospel, the good news. Truly, no other belief system on Earth commands its adherents to take part in an intellectual and reason-based pursuit of investigating and defending their theology — other religions simply declare themselves without thinking at all about something like this.

Time and time again, the early church leaders not only stepped forth and defended Christianity from their accusers, but the early church phenomenally destroyed those who sided against them in intellectual debate.

Acts 6:8-10: Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from some members of the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, and they began to argue with Stephen. But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.

How clear it is now why Christianity spread so quickly soon thereafter the advent of Jesus’ ministry on Earth! Truly, the unbelievers were both told of the truth and shown it, they did not possess any capacity at all to deny it for they themselves were shown, upfront, that they are dealing with the facts of God Almighty Himself. Indeed, we can’t just let the early church leaders take such actions, we must follow their footsteps and take to this ourselves. This blog that I started was created itself, for the sole purpose of administering to the lost and building up a foundation of evidence regarding various histories of the Bible and rebutting the accusations against them, as well as various subjects of God as well. Hopefully, both you and I will be able to partake in our studies as the early leaders did and Jesus Himself who was the intellectual champion of His time, so that when we bring the gospel to the lost, they will surely believe. Thank the good God!

Acts 18:28: for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Biblical City of Bethsaida Found

Mark 8:22-25: They came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and brought him out of the village. Spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people—they look like trees walking.” Again Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes. The man looked intently and his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly.

Yet another biblical archaeological discovery has come in within the last week, the identification of a New Testament city that was said to be the hometown of some of the twelve disciples of Jesus, that being Peter, Andrew and Philip, the city of Bethsaida. Jesus was also reported to have miraculously cured a blind man here.

As seekers of truth, we can learn something important from Bethsaida. In Matthew 11:21, after Jesus finishes performing some miracles in Bethsaida and the people remain unrepented of their evils, Matthew writes of Jesus angrily declaring “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago.” 

The truth is that many people, regardless of how much evidence you show them for anything, be it the historical veracity of the Bible or literally performing a miracle before their eyes, will remain ignorant to the light, because as they love the darkness (John 3:19).

Anyhow, this comes in the latest of a slew of archaeological discoveries in the last month, where we’ve already seen confirmation of 1 King 21’s description of Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel and Jeremiah 52’s description of the Babylonians burning down the houses of the city of Jerusalem. In the last few years alone, a number of fascinating findings throughout the land of Israel continue to shed more and more light on the background and historicity of the biblical narratives. As these pile on, we see the criticisms on the historicity of the Bible falling apart, one after another.

Now, this discovery enlightens us further on the geography outlined in the New Testament, and we know another location that Jesus stepped in during His lifetime before He was crucified in Jerusalem on a Roman cross. God continues to reveal to us what we seek. Keep praying.

New Evidence Confirms Jerusalem Destruction as Bible Records

Jeremiah 52:12-13On the tenth day of the fifth month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guards, entered Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the Lord’s temple, the king’s palace, all the houses of Jerusalem; he burned down all the great houses. 

Around two weeks ago, it was announced by IFLScience that recent archaeological excavations have shown that about 2,600 years ago, during the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, the Babylonians decided to cause a widespread fire that ended up burning down the city, the capital of Jerusalem. And indeed, these archaeological discoveries in ancient Jerusalem perfectly corresponds to what the Bible narrates in 2 Kings 25:8-9 and Jeremiah 52:12-13, thus we have yet another archaeological confirmation of the biblical narratives. This is the second time an archaeological find has proven the Bible this month, the first being earlier in July when archaeological excavations in Jezebel confirmed that the region housed vineyards.

The biblical books of II Kings and Jeremiah tell us that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel around 587 BC and eventually conquered the nation and burned down the houses of the city of Jerusalem. The excavations confirmed a widespread fire during this period by showing that the entire area was practically burnt around the early 6th century BC in accordance with Babylon’s invasion of Jerusalem. The story tells us that Nebuzaradan’s, a high-ranking military figure of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, brought the Babylonian forces and encircled Jerusalem. He then broke into the city, destroyed the Temple (hence ending the First Timple Period), burned down all that he could and forced the population into exile. We now know this entirety is a historical truth. Thank God.

Copies of copies, the telephone game

A few weeks ago, I was having a debate about the reliability of the New Testament with someone who goes by Professor Taboo. Once, he claimed that the New Testament couldn’t have been preserved because we know messages get corrupted throughout time as they’re continuously transmitted because of the telephone game. He said the following;

“But if the originals are lost, and the nearest-originals do not have as many additional events as the copies done 300-years later (which make up the vast majority of your 25,000+ manuscripts), what does that imply about the veracity of ANY manuscripts/testaments written AFTER Paul’s epistles about 52 — 60 CE? Wouldn’t this progression be similar/identical to the Chinese whisper/telephone game where the final story is convoluted or contaminated from its original content and meaning?”

Many people, when talking about whether or not the Bible is preserved or not, have sought to use the example of the telephone game to prove that the Bible couldn’t have been preserved. In the telephone game, you have a group of people that form a circle. One person begins with a message and whispers it to the person beside them, and then that person whispers whatever it is that they heard to the next person beside them, and so on and so on until the message gets finally passed on through the entire circle. By the end of the round, the original whispered message becomes completely corrupted as the message slowly becomes misunderstood through its transmission in the circle as it slowly becomes less and less like the original, and everyone has a good laugh at the end.

So wouldn’t the same happen to the Bible through its preservation? As the Bible gets copied and copied into more and more manuscripts, the message gets more corrupted through each transmission as happens in the telephone game, and what we have today is only the result of a long history of corruption and textual mistakes that is nothing like the original text, which we know happens because of the telephone game.

Here, I’ll show this analogy clearly doesn’t stack up. Indeed, trying to use the telephone game as an analogy for the transmission of the biblical text is actually fallacious, just because the two processes are so unlike. In a round of the telephone game, one person can only tell the next person the message one time, whereas when copying a manuscript, you can cross-check the original as many times as you want before copying it down. Furthermore, in the telephone game, you have to intentionally whisper the message to the person beside you, to try to make sure they have a hard time getting the message, something that is totally unparalleled when a scribe copies from a manuscript. The objective of the telephone game is to corrupt the message, whereas the objective of manuscript transmission is to preserve the message. As the prestigious scholar, Daniel Wallace remarks;

…it’s a ridiculous comparison, frankly. For one thing in the telephone game the purpose is to skew the message so you can have a big laugh, and in fact the message is usually somewhat convoluted right to begin with, difficult to remember, and not something that’s easily communicated. Secondly, it’s all done orally, by whispers without repeition. You don’t get a chance to say “tell me that message again.” Thirdly there’s a single line of transmission only. Fourthly you only get to interview the last person in the line of transmission. With the New Testament manuscripts we’re dealing with written documents, we’re dealing with documents that are copied multiple times, and even the original texts of the New Testament would have been copied multiple times, so you’ve got various streams of transmission, not oral transmission, you’ve got multiple copies, and you can interview the witnesses earlier on in the transmission, so the comparison is really quite silly, it just doesn’t work.

In other words, the analogy of the telephone game falls apart when trying to challenge the preservation of the New Testament, especially when you just take a look at the astounding preservation of the biblical text we have through our many tens of thousands of copies we have preserved from ancient times.

Old or Young Earth?

Once, I had a conversation with a very nice fellow Christian who told me that I presented my arguments for my claims in a very clear, concise, decisive and convincing way. He only had one disagreement with me though, and that was regarding the age of the universe. I think it is billions of years old, however, he believed that this view was incompatible with Scripture. I responded to him, and I think that I’d like to share this response with everyone else who decides to read it to give everyone a better understanding of my view on the Bible, and why I take it. This was my response to him;

Hello, and thanks a lot for your kind words about my argumentation, research, and presentation of my facts.

It seems that you have a word or two for me about the age of the Earth. Listen dude, God gave us two ways to know the truth, and one of them is the Bible. The other one is nature, and the fact is that these two can’t contradict each other. If it is an objective fact that clouds exist in nature, then it must also be an objective fact that clouds exist in the Bible because these two sources cannot conradict each other, they both have the same source of course, God. Likewise, if it’s an objective fact that the universe is billions of years old in nature, then it’s an objective fact that the universe is billions of years old in the Bible, because these sources cannot contradict one another.

On that note, I do think there is good reason to think the universe is billions of years old, and there are good reasons why the primordial history of Genesis (Genesis chapters 1-11) is non-literal. Firstly, the age of the universe. There are galaxies that are located billions of light years away from our own galaxy, and light from those galaxies has reached our own galaxy. So, light that is located, for example, three billion light years away from us has arrived to our galaxy, meaning that it took three billion years to do so (since light travels one year in a light year). In other words, as far as I know, there is good reason to believe that the age of the universe is rather large. If my scientific theory is true, then the same is true in the Bible regardless of how ‘clear’ a simple reading of scripture might be, since it is true in nature. So this is why I think the age of the universe is very large.

Now, for my reasons for not interpreting Genesis 1-11 necessarily literally. It’s possible, and I’m always open to it. I’ve been a young-earth creationist in my life before. I’m simply trying to find the truth and I’ll leave old earth creationism in an instant if I don’t find it viable. But for now, I do. Let’s go to the flood story in Genesis. Specifically, the following passage;

Genesis 7:1-2: Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female,

God tells Noah to take seven pairs of every clean animal and two pairs of every unclean animal. However, God only revealed the list of clean animals in the Torah to Moses, meaning that the entire concept of clean and unclean animals was non-existent in Noah’s time — so how could God have told Noah to take pairs of clean and unclean animals? It makes no sense. I think it’s possible to make sense of Noah’s flood story in the following way: Jesus died for the sins of the world and took its punishment upon Himself, so that we don’t have to. On the other hand, God is showing us that, with Noah, what happens when humanity and the entire world pays for its own sins. God destroys the entire world and kills almost all of humanity, besides Noah, the one righteous man. God destroys the world for its sins, in effect. And what happens almost immediately after Noah gets off the Ark? According to the Bible, he got drunk (Genesis 9:21). So what happens now? Noah is destroyed and the world ceases to be. But that’s not what happens, as Noah’s keeps on having descendants. I think that Noah’s story presents a message, alongside the rest of the Genesis’ primordial history, about the coming of Christ and God’s plan for the world.

God created all reality and everything in it. I don’t exactly accept evolution, and I do lean towards the idea that God started humanity with Adam and Eve. I can’t claim to know how God did it all, but I don’t think that God did it in the way that you think it happened. I’d like you to see this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9h-hmlMz5c