To Err or Not to Err – What’s the Question?

From the ‘Confessions of a Seminarian’ Blog – some of the crap I wrote about inerrancy.

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I see this is catalogued under inerrancy – do you believe the bible is without errors? Because inerrancy as a term is not within the biblical pages at all. It’s a question that might spark some debate – so I thought I would ask.

However I will give one example of a difference in 2 texts that exist in the bible for example’s sake.

Psalms 40:6 “Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required

Hebrews 10:5-6 “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE” (in reference to Psalm 40)

How is this one explained? A whole sentence is changed and ’sacrifice’ is added in in the 3rd part…but they are supposed to be the same passage.

Because it is right for everyone to desire to be understood on their own terms, it is appropriate for someone to assert that a reading of the Bible is poor if it neglects the intent of the author.” (Mike)

This comment could very well be made to the author of Hebrews – who changed a passage to make it mean something they needed it to make. Is Hebrews a poor reading of Psalms?

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So then they made a mistake? The passages are not only different in essence – they remain different in translation from original languages to English irregardless. So even if they are using Greek and translating it – they should of checked Psalm 40? Because the wording is so different that one has to plainly see the author in Hebrews added in stuff to make a point – changing the original Pslam portion to make a point about sacrifices – and added in ‘a body you prepared for me’ instead of ‘my ears you have opened’ – that’s not even close in interpretation to the original Psalm.

However, this is also used in Hebrews again – but the integrity is kept – see example:

Psalm 2:7 ” He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”

Heb 1:5 “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”?”

Heb 5:5 “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU

Uhm – same scripture and same exact teaching – from a Psalm and quoted in Hebrews…and the exact wording is used twice! Yet with the Heb 10 passage you think there was textual translation problems – well the author had no problem quoting Psalm 2 verbatim.

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As for Hebrews, it has this passage also oddly enough – and again we some changes to something from the Tanakh:

Heb 10:37-38: “FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.”

Hab 2:3-4: “Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

Maybe Hebrews is a paraphrase but again we see this concept in this book of some changes. ‘It’ turns to ‘he’ and ‘righteous one’ is personalized – also the ‘and if he shrinks back’ line – I am not sure where that comes from yet one would think this line was from that passage as it is quoted.

It does make me wonder why we would consider Hebrews the word of God since there seems to be some changes between the Tanakh and this NT letter – this is twice now I found this – maybe I should do a study in this letter and this changing of passages (or adding to them). Either way, this is a very loose way to play with God’s words – unless this letter is simply a doctrinal code of some sort and not the word of God per se.

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9 thoughts on “To Err or Not to Err – What’s the Question?

  1. The challenge here is two things:

    (a) The bible contains no errors…are we really that sure about that? I found 2 in one letter.

    (b) The view of the letters in the NT – are just that – letters. Now we can say people wrote as ‘inspired’ by God – true – but to say the letters contain the weight of the Torah or even the gospels – you have to be kidding. They are letters plain and simple.

  2. I would point out one more thing:

    Psalm 2:7 ” He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”

    There are no capital letters in Hebrew so this verse has already been interpreted for you by making son into Son and you into You. When I read my English translation of the Hebrew b’ni attah, it says My son. The whole verse: “I am obliged to proclaim that Adonai said to me, ‘You are My son, I have begotten you this day.’

  3. Does the Bible contain errors? Yes. Both the OT and NT have been translated by various groups, and all translations have tried their best to represent the existing and most reliable scripts. There are bound to be errors in both translation and original intent of the writer. I would contend that even the original writers were not without error in what they wrote.

    However, I do not feel that the Holy scriptures are required or intended to be without error. The wonderful thing about God is that He has demonstrated an ability to work a supernatural process via natural means. In other words, He can use even our faulty, error prone methods of communication to reveal His perfect truth.

    We see throughout the Bible how God desires to have a relationship with us mortals, His creation, and how we have demonstrated a general desire to be independant. The result is always one of two things. We either submit to His authority and realize we need Him, or we struggle (and never succeed) to find happiness and satisfaction elsewhere.

    The scriptures, errors and all, have managed to reveal God to millions. It is an embarrassment that many treat these words with such reverence, when the purpose is to bring us to revere God only. Yes they are valuable and I would rather all printed material be burned than lose the scriptures. But should the scriptures all be lost, God would continue to communicate with His creation somehow.

  4. On the topic of inerrancy, I think a First Nations perspective can help provide some insight.

    The two words that come to my mind are “Spirit’ and ‘intent”. These are words that are used quite frequently in Saskatchewan whenever we look at the documents known as the Treaties. The true purpose of the treaties is seen in the “spirit and intent” of the treaties rather than in the actual words. The ‘words’ when they are interpreted literally do not express very well the ‘spirit’ in which the treaties were negotiated and do not express very well the ‘intent’ of the treaties.

    Applying this thinking to the Bible, I believe it allows us to be at peace with the thought that the Bible’s words are subject to errors, either through human failure, miscommunication, or misinterpretation. The ‘words” of the bible do not express very well the ‘spirit’ in which the bible was crafted and do not express fully the ‘intent’ of the bible (especially when interpreted literally).

    However, I think it would be safe to say that the “Spirit and intent” in which the Bible was choreographed is inerrant.

    With that said, I believe it is the “Spirit and Intent” of the Bible is to foster healthy relationships. Healthy relationships with God and with others.

    I hope I’m making sense. To put it simply, the words of the bible contain errors, but the spirit and intent of the bible is inerrant.

  5. ” hope I’m making sense. To put it simply, the words of the bible contain errors, but the spirit and intent of the bible is inerrant.” (Just1)

    I think you and Ken are making the same point here – and I agree. To me it is not problematic the NT has some errors or mistakes – they are minimal and there is a few. However, the intent of the NT writers is to speak in a ‘spirit and intent’ about God and the good news for us – and the message is not error filled – and the spirit is not error filled – but authors are not perfect. I will not speak for the Tanakh.

    I also the NT as pulling us closer to God – a way if you will – to follow to find God in our present time (both personal and communal). Errors or not, this issue means about as much to me as the type of milk I drink, the message is intact.

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