What are Some known Errors in the Bible
A bit about my background: After high school, I attended and graduated from a church affiliated private university. A church affiliation was common with many private universities and colleges. Many today including my school, no longer have a strict religious affiliation but then, such was not the case, Princeton and Harvard among them. I didn’t attend either.
At my school, I was required to take several religion based courses. Among them were studies in Old Testament, New Testament, and Judeo-Christian Heritage. I also studied Buddhism, the Philosophy of Eastern Religions, Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and others.
These courses were taught to me from an academic, historical and philosophical perspective rather than a religious one.
At the time I resented being told that I had to take those classes because I wanted to become a scientist but now I have to admit I would not trade my liberal arts courses for the world. They expanded my knowledge and interests in so many ways. They led me to explore and created a lifetime of interests in many subjects.
It was In those courses that I was first exposed to errors contained within the Bible.
Since then I have studied and read hundreds of books on those and other subjects, and taken additional college courses. I have also co-produced several documentaries that have fortunately made it into distribution, one of which was on this subject which was distributed world wide and been shown on TV, and in a few select theaters.
The presumption from many believers I have met, is that the Bible has no errors at all. Not a typo, not a mistake, not a misstatement or mistranslation. It is flawless.
I apologize for my enthusiasm but I could not resist diving into that flawed presumption.
While I do not concede that God does or does not exist – discussed in a different article- for the purpose of examining the veracity of the Bible, let’s presume “He” does, and as is the presumption I have heard many, many times, that he divinely inspired those who wrote down his revelations.
I have divided Biblical errors into two types; first, less serious internal errors within the bible from among other things, mistranslation of ancient Hebrew with no vowels and Aramaic, a language that contained few vowels into Greek, from whence most of our translations come and second, serious errors where modern science knowledge has proven something to be wrong- different from what was thought at the time and incorporated and stated as factual.
These are hence errors from ignorance of knowledge from when that first material was written down and later assembled by vested religious interests and finally the early church – into the book we know today.
Errors in translation are human errors. They are mistakes, but still allow the original work the possibility of its divineness. These errors in and of themselves prove evangelicals wrong about the Bible being flawless, but it does not change the possibility that God inspired the original writer.
The first important one for me was the name of God -YHWH – The Tetragrammiton. The oldest written name of God yet found was on the Mesha Stele dating to about 840 BCE (BC). Translated Yahweh as opposed to the incorrect mistranslated name Jehovah, a Greek invention. There was no J sound in ancient Hebrew.
I urge you to research both names yourself. Draw your own conclusions. The name Jehovah did not appear in the original Hebrew. YHWH did.
Next was my realization that the exodus from Egypt was not the spectacular Cecil B Demille “Ten Commandments”crossing of the Red Sea or this recent absurd reconstruction, “Gods and Kings”. It is irresponsible and academically offensive. In spite of mistranslated versions of Exodus 14, no one in the exodus crossed the Red Sea.
Also repeated here: Hebrews 11:29
“By faith they crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.”
The proper name is Yam Suph- reed sea or sea of reeds not Red Sea. Quite a different place to cross. Still today we see nonsense docudrama programs and writings that totally ignore the original writing and seek to try to prove the error to be correct.
Seek verification for yourselves. Look to academic rather than religious sources who express a viewpoint that promotes their own agenda.
The exodus, by the way, is the probable story of the expulsion of the Hyksos- a Semitic people who lived in Egypt. There is an interesting article on the internet from biblicalarchaeology.org and I suggest you read it. Look up the Hyksos.
It was not the Hyksos or Semitic people that built the pyramids or other public works either as slaves or otherwise. They were built by a skilled native labor force. Perhaps some of those were semitic. They were not slaves.
Their capital was likely at Avaris.
Next the Jonah story:
The following is taken from the American Standard version of the Bible
“And Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
“… Jonah was three days and three nights in the whales belly”
So which was it? A whale is not a fish it is a mammal, unknown at the time this was written. This is an example of perhaps an error in translation or it is an error of ignorance of biology which at the time was quite limited.
In Part 2, I will deal with more serious errors in thought and “knowledge”, and the writing down of that error.
My premise: A God inspired writing that contains an error means somebody made a mistake. Either God errored or the person who was supposed to be inspired errored. In either case it calls into question the veracity and the “flawless” character of the material contained within the work.
It does not render the whole work as flawed, only the part containing the flaw. In addition if the flaw is not material to the point being made, it does not, in and of itself, render the point invalid either.
If you are a believer you will need to decide the relevance of the points made. Perhaps it means the book is not the inspired word of God, or perhaps you can work around them.
Maybe the points are irrelevant to you. The Bible still contains a lot of good moral guidance.
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