Being Honest to the Bible’s Texts, Their Authors, and Their Beliefs

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I’d like to take the opportunity to open up a general discussion with my readers about my motives here and what the study of the Bible’s texts actually is, and is not, since this seems to be a recurring issue. It is notably an issue for passing Christian readers who arrive here through a Google search and miss the larger picture of what I’m doing. Certainly, and to some extent, I am partially guilty of creating this misunderstanding given the title of this website—Contradictions in the Bible.

At any rate, setting the record straight is important to me because in all honesty I’d like more of these passing Christians to take an interest in the biblical texts as well as this site and its aims—note, I said “the biblical texts” and not that which is implied or imposed in the label “the Holy Bible.”

Let me begin our discussion by reproducing a section from the Introduction of my forthcoming book whose subtitle is the title of this post.

Being Honest to the Texts and Their Authors

The subtitle of this book identifies our main objective as readers of the biblical text. Indeed, being honest to the Bible’s texts, their authors, and their beliefs should be our first, and in many regards our only, priority and goal. Believe it or not, however, this is often not the case at all. Often the Bible’s texts are read in such a way as to support a completely different agenda—legitimating the reader’s beliefs about the text.

Thus, it might initially be asked: what exactly does being honest to the texts and their authors mean, and conversely not mean? Furthermore, why is it that Creationists are neither honest to the texts nor their authors, although they would have you believe otherwise?

In general it might be said that being honest to the biblical texts and their authors means just that. It means that the biblical texts and the beliefs, worldviews, ideologies, culturally formed perceptions and even biases of their individual authors are our object of study. It means that our task, even obligation I would argue, is to read and understand these texts on the terms of the texts themselves, not on the terms, beliefs, nor contexts of later readers. It means understanding these ancient documents as their authors intended and as products of their own unique historical, cultural, and literary worlds. It means understanding what the texts say and perhaps more importantly do not say, and even why they say what they do. It means objectively identifying and understanding the beliefs and views of the authors of these texts, their original purposes for writing their texts, and in response to what historical circumstances, to whom, and in the context of what other literary works. In other words, the focus of our investigation are the texts, what the texts themselves reveal about their compositional nature, their authors, their historical and literary contexts, and their cultural worldviews and beliefs—and not what later readers have been conditioned to claim, believe, or think about these texts as the result of later interpretive frameworks and theological constructs.

In many regards, then, being honest to the texts requires that we distinguish between what the texts say on their own terms and as products of their own unique historical worlds, and what later readers have claimed or continue to claim about these texts. Being honest to the texts themselves, in other words, does not mean starting from theological or interpretive assumptions handed down to us by later interpretive traditions, such as those embedded in this collection of ancient literature’s title, “the Holy Bible.” This and similar interpretive frameworks are reader-oriented, theological constructs that were created centuries after these texts were written and to suit the needs and purposes of later readers. That is to say, the label “the Holy Bible” and the ideas and beliefs implied in this label—namely, that the text is the word of God, that it is a homogenous inerrant narrative or revelation, a unified doctrine of salvation history, etc.—represent the beliefs and theological convictions of later readers and how they, guided by their own theological concerns, perceived these texts, now conceptualized as a text in the singular, indeed as a holy book. Being honest to the texts and their authors, then, requires us to move backwards in time to the texts and their original contexts before they were co-opted for different purposes and meanings by later readers who imposed their own beliefs, labels, prejudices, and theological constructs onto this collection of ancient literature. Being honest to the texts puts the texts in their original contexts as our first priority.

Thus, like any field of study, knowing the meaning of these ancient texts, what their authors believed and why, what historical crisis or concerns were they writing in response to, etc. requires education. It requires possessing knowledge about ancient literature in general, about the historical contexts of texts written from approximately the eighth century BCE to the first century CE and from within two vastly different cultural contexts, the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world. It requires knowing the literature of these two cultures, and the literary genres they shared with our biblical scribes. It requires knowledge about who wrote ancient texts in general, why, and to whom. It requires knowledge about the literary precursors that our biblical scribes used in composing their texts, and so on. When modern readers profess to know the meaning of these ancient texts while ignoring or lacking this knowledge, what they are in fact doing is merely professing their own subjective beliefs about the text. They are spouting their meaning of the text and not the meaning of these texts per their authors. More than often they are professing a meaning of the text that accords with what the label “the Holy Bible” has come to mean to these readers personally, and not the meaning of the texts according to their once independent authors.

Of course, a Fundamentalist might respond by saying that the proper meaning and understanding of the Bible’s texts only come through divine guidance or inspiration, usually understood at the whims of the reader. But this is precisely my point: this and similar such interpretive frameworks are all reader-oriented, subjective constructs imposed upon these ancient texts centuries after they were written, and by a readership that possessed little to no knowledge about ancient literature in general and the historical contexts that produced these texts in particular. In this and similar scenarios, the starting point for the so-called “reading” of these ancient texts becomes the reader’s own subjective or inherited beliefs about the text, and not the texts themselves! Although this is an important part in understanding how later readers came to view this collection of ancient literature as the word of God,[1] in this book we are interested in what the texts themselves reveal about their own compositional nature and the beliefs of their authors long before they were co-opted by later readers and impregnated with new meanings, beliefs, and theological frameworks. Reproducing, understanding, and even defending the beliefs and messages of the authors of these ancient texts—against those of later readers—is one of this book’s central aims.

Thus I often find myself articulating that my aim is to defend the biblical texts, their authors, and their beliefs. This means that I am not interested in defending the beliefs, views, and agendas of later readers or faith communities, or the theological assumptions and beliefs implied in the label “the Holy Bible.” These are all the apologist’s agenda. As a biblical scholar my interests and aims are the beliefs of the authors who penned these ancient texts, to understand them, and to faithfully and objectively reproduce them. After all, this is not a book about my beliefs about these texts. Neither is it a book about the reader’s beliefs about these texts. Rather, it is a book about the beliefs and messages of the authors who penned these ancient texts long before they were edited together by later scribes and impregnated with new meanings by later readers who simply created new interpretive frameworks through which to “read” these ancient texts. Thus defending these once independent texts, their individual authors, and their unique beliefs is quite different from defending what is implied and often understood in the label “the Holy Bible.” These are two completely separate and even opposing aims. The latter advocates an understanding and “reading” of these texts through the theological lens of later readers where that which is implied in the label “the Holy Book” becomes the dominant message of these texts, now conceived as a text in the singular, while the former advocates being honest to the biblical texts on the terms of their individual authors and the cultural contexts that produced them before these texts were appropriated by later readers to be “read” through later interpretive and theological frameworks.

What I am proposing then is that the biblical texts themselves, each independently, become our object of study and each from within their own cultural context, so that it is the texts themselves in comparative study that reveal what they are and conversely are not, that reveal what their authors believed and conversely did not, that reveal the literary techniques employed by these ancient scribes in legitimating their beliefs, and so forth. In this paradigm learning about what these individual authors believed themselves, why they believed what they did, and the historical and literary circumstances that shaped those beliefs become our primary goal—not the varied and subjective beliefs of readers living centuries later. More specifically, this book is about the beliefs and worldview of the author of Genesis 1, regardless of the beliefs or non-beliefs of its modern readers. The point is not our beliefs about the text, but the author’s. Allowing this ancient document to invite us into its worldview—rather than imposing ours onto it—is our main objective. And this is accomplished by reading the text on its own terms and as a product of its own historical and literary context—not on the terms nor contexts of later readers and later interpretive frameworks.

[1]. See my forthcoming, The Making of Gods Book: How a Collection of Competing and Contradictory Texts Became the Word of God.

43 thoughts on “Being Honest to the Bible’s Texts, Their Authors, and Their Beliefs

  1. Author Bart D. Ehrman, in his “The New Testament, A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings,” gives us at least six methods of studying scripture:

    1) “The Literary-Historical Method,” which establishes the literary genre of a work and strives to understand how that genre “worked” in the ancient historical context in which it was used.

    2) “The Redactional Method,” which looks at how authors changed their sources in order to see what their vested interests were.

    3) “The Comparative Method,” which analyzes the similarities and differences between two documents, irrespective of whether one was the source for the other, in order to determine their distinctive emphasis.

    4) “The Thematic Method,” which determines the major themes of a book (for example, by seeing which issues regularly recur in it) and examines how these themes come to be played out throughout the course of the narrative or argument.

    5) “The Socio-Historical Method,” which tries to reconstruct the social history lying behind a document by taking clues from the text itself and establishing a plausible set of historical circumstances that can explain them.

    6) “The Contextual Method,” which he maintains is the “flip side” of the socio-historical method, in that it uses the reconstructed social history of the community lying behind the text to establish the historical context of what the author says, and thus shed light on the meaning of the text.

    I’ve followed your “Contradictions” for several years now, and look forward to the publication of your book. I should expect it to be a valuable addition to any serious study of ancient religious history.

  2. You along with Bart Ehrman, Craig Allerts “A High View of Scripture”, and Friedman’s “Who Wrote The Bible”, have given me grat insight on how and why the Bible came to be what it is. I appreciate your work very much.

    Rob Sinnige.

  3. Steven, do you plan on continuing past the Torah when you get finished with Deuteronomy? These blogs have been fascinating for me, as I do not read Hebrew, but seeing the way modern believers have influenced what was said into english, I find it amazing what was actually being said. The book of Daniel has been a book I have been researching quite a bit lately, and find it much the same way. It being written initially in circa 4th century BCE then edited redacted, added to, and finalized in the 2nd century BCE, but modern theologians date it to the 6th century and everything speaking about the Seleucid empire and 2nd century happenings were prophecy and ignore the actual prophecies that failed, regarding the empires in power at the time.

  4. I have found your site to be very valuable. I don’t understand Hebrew and thus am a prisoner of the decisions of translators when reading the Bible text. I have found sites such as yours helpful in making me more aware of how the text should be read based on its ancient context rather than through the prism of the Christian worldview.

    I would be keen for you to continue the site, thanks for your efforts thus far.

  5. Hi Steven,

    I have a questtion about Genesis 1:26,27 “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them”.

    The word for God sems to be plural in Genesis but the verb is singular. Yet here it says “us” and in “our” likeness. This is odd especially because this is from the P source. Do you have any thoughts on what the author might hevan meant? It seems at odds with monotheism.

    I like your work and look froward to your book.

  6. Robert, I’m sure that Steven will respond in his own time, so let me throw this in there while we’re waiting.
    There are several scholarly thoughts on that:

    With the exception of the followers of Amurru, god of the Amurrites (Amorites), who conquered Mesopotamia around the second millennium BCE, wresting it from the Akkadians, most civilizations of the time – the Sumerians (first rulers of the Mesopotamian Valley), the Akkadians who conquered them, and the Caananites (their descendants), worshiped a pantheon of gods. Even Yahweh was assumed to have had a court filled with lesser beings – the passage could well have been referring to just such a court.

    On the other hand, the passage could just as easily have been using what has become known as, the royal ‘we’, as in, “We are not amused.

    After all, the P (Priestly) Source, a group of Aaronid priests in captivity in Babylon, wrote what has become Gen 1, intending it to entirely replace what has become Gen 2, written by the Yahwist (J) Source, in Jerusalem, 400 years earlier, believing it to be too anthropomorphic, what with Gen 2’s god popping down to Earth for strolls, ‘in the cool of the day‘, when the heavenly air conditioning was on the fritz. If you’ve ever paid an AC repairman’s bill, you would automatically realize that none of them are getting into heaven, charging those prices, and so of course, there would be a shortage (an oversight on the part of an omniscient god –).

    The same god sewed clothes for the First Couple on his Celestial Singer, but that was not the kind of god the P Source priests believed the god of Israel to be, so they gave him a holy makeover, creating a more remote, stately, regal image, intending that their version of creation replace entirely that of the Yahwist Source. Fortunately, the Redactor, who combined all of the Sources around 400 BCE, didn’t know of their plan of 150 years or so earlier, so seeing two creation stories, simply included them both.

  7. @ Dr. Steven DiMattei

    Your central claim is that you study, and invite others to consider the “Bible’s Texts” for what they are, viz. “once independent texts”, spread over an ample period of time, which through various “agendas” gradually came to be perceived (by Israelites first, then, in an expanded version, by Christians) as one work, “the Holy Bible”, even inspired by God.

    Actually, you do quite a bit more than what you claim. For one thing, in your analysis, you do not even question the validity of splitting the texts according to the “documentary hypothesis”.

    There is a fundamental question I would like to ask you, and have replied honestly: wouldn’t you agree that ALL the texts comprising the Bible entail (or openly declare), on the part of the authors, the belief in a personal God, who interacts with the world and with humans, and, in particular, with the people of Israel? If you don’t agree, can you please provide evidence to the contrary? Thank you.

  8. Not Stephen here, Miguel, but I hope you won’t mind if I pop in.

    RE: “…wouldn’t you agree that ALL the texts comprising the Bible entail (or openly declare), on the part of the authors, the belief in a personal God, who interacts with the world and with humans, and, in particular, with the people of Israel?

    The Book of Esther never mentions a god or gods, so no.

    I’m curious as to what that has to do with your objections to the Documentary Hypothesis, which is accepted by respected biblical scholars everywhere, as well as “The New American Bible,” produced by the Catholic Church, which not only accepts its validity, but in the footnotes of each chapter, points out which of the Sources various verses of scripture are written by. So if you, yourself, are a doubter of the Documentary Hypothesis, I would suggest you first take it up with the Catholic Church, and attempt to convince them to withdraw their publication and issue a new one, disputing the hypothesis – please drop by and tell us how that went —

  9. Hi, Late Jurassic Bird,

    I understand from your latest commenent and the previous one, that you must be some sort of zealous secretary of Steven DiMattei, or perhaps just a varlet.

    Your certainly showed zeal with the citation of the Book of Esther. Actually, in the Hebrew Bible (the 24 books of the Masoretic Text) there is also the Song of Solomon (unless one wants to consider the Hebrew word sălhebetyáh a reference to Yahweh).

    The point that both DiMattei and you seem to miss is that there is no point in insisting that the Bible is a collection of disjointed texts, collected over time, that are only seen as unified because of an overwhelming interpretative approach (they are “inspired by God”) is pointless because, from the very earliest texts to the latest, the presence of a personal creator God is either explicit or implied.

  10. …you must be some sort of zealous secretary of Steven DiMattei, or perhaps just a varlet.” – Actually, I think varlet to be a very apt description, how very astute of you – as regards a secretary, I haven’t the legs for it.

    The point that both DiMattei and you seem to miss is that there is no point in insisting that the Bible is a collection of disjointed texts, collected over time, that are only seen as unified because of an overwhelming interpretative approach (they are “inspired by God”) is pointless because, from the very earliest texts to the latest, the presence of a personal creator God is either explicit or implied.

    You seem to be confusing implications with facts.

    Star Trek, the Next Generation” was a television series that ran for seven years, producing 176 episodes. All of those episodes followed a basic theme, although all were written by different screenwriters, primarily because one episode was built upon another – none of which means that any of the stories actually happened, nor that the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D, actually existed.

  11. Miguel

    one thing you have to consider here in the obvious inability or blindness that is exhibited…or even the unwillingness to address your main point…The gospel goes out and invites one and all to enjoy the grace of life that is only to be found in the personal God of Israel. It is an invitation to be part of the family of Israel. I don’t think the interest factor in that message is to be found here. Join Israel? This is where you go, like Haman, to destroy it. And so your point about what should be obvious is a total non starter for the “ordained of this order” (the faithful attendants, the acolytes) like the flying dinosaur.

  12. But clearly, K, Miguel feels a mandate to go about and spread his good news – we mustn’t deny him that, must we? After all, he’s trying SO hard.

  13. I can only assume, K, that by “the ‘ordained of this order’ (the faithful attendants, the acolytes),” you’re referring to we followers of evidence.

  14. archaeopteryx,
    please forgive the fact that I spoke about you, not to you.

    I seek to rectify that now. Could you address Miguel’s premise? The one that, “the texts comprising the Bible entail (or openly declare), on the part of the authors, the belief in a personal God, who interacts with the world and with humans, and, in particular, with the people of Israel…from the very earliest texts to the latest, the presence of a personal creator God is either explicit or implied.”

    Thank you.

  15. I believe I did address that, K – see my comment to Miguel, above – “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” is proof positive that not all books are true. In my opinion, the Bible belongs in the Fiction section of the library, along with the Harry Potter series.

    As for the other, I was not offended in the least.

  16. Hi, flying dinosaur.

    “In my opinion, the Bible belongs in the Fiction section of the library, along with the Harry Potter series.”

    I wonder if this is also the approach of your (unwitting?) employer. If that was the conclusion (or premise?), I am sure that all those treasures of biblical scholarship would be rather wasted … :(

  17. Sorry, easyk,

    but I was thinking of the German philosopher Johann Georg Hamann (with double “n” – 1730 – 1788) … I must confess that I had forgotten the name of the vizier of King Ahasuerus.

  18. I wonder if this is also the approach of your (unwitting?) employer.” – Being independently wealthy, I have no employer.

  19. Miguel,

    To respond to your initial question which seems to have sparked a slew of responses here: No, I would not agree that ALL the texts compromising what later became the Bible evidence what you suggest. There are exception(s), such as the Song of Songs, maybe even Paul’s letter to Philemon? But this is surely beside the point, which I think you haven’t fully grasped. Even granting this sweeping claim, what does it display or prove? That these diverse and varied authors (ancient priests, secular storytellers, prophetic schools, courtly scribes, theologians, and secular writers of various sorts, etc.) believed something in common? For indeed that’s what this website studies—the beliefs and worldviews, even competing ideologies and theologies of these authors as represented through their texts. These are the beliefs of these ancient scribes. Nothing more! Or what more could you possibly draw from this evidence?

    Conversely, most ALL ancient Greek literature evidences that its varied authors, from play-writes to historians to philosophers, believed in Zeus as the deity that controlled their lives and the world at large. What do these beliefs evidence? That ancient Greeks believed Zeus was God? What of other beliefs now embedded in time in the ancient literature of the past from other ancient cultures? What of the literature that compromises the Qu’ran? It too (give me some leeway; it’s been awhile since I’ve read it) expresses from its various authors that Allah is the personal creator deity who interacts with mortals, etc. Again, what does this prove but that a group of individuals in the past believed that Allah is God?

    So pointing to an ancient text and saying, “see here” this author believed X and/or that author believed X, is merely evidence for drawing the conclusion that said-author (and his larger culture?) believed X!

    In other words, wouldn’t you agree that as a general truth it might be said that ancient texts display the beliefs and worldviews of ancient peoples and cultures? As a historian of the early Christian period and a biblical scholar, this is what I study—ancient texts.

    First, this website, as with my work in general, makes no pronouncements on God, either for or against. When I do discuss Yahweh, it is always in relation to how a particular author envisions, has portrayed, Yahweh in his composition. Again, it is about the texts, and what they reveal about their own compositional nature (not that which is dictated through a later interpretive tradition) and what they reveal about the beliefs, agendas, theologies, and ideologies of their authors (again, not what has been dictated about these things from the perspective of a later interpretive framework). I hate when I have to reproduce the points of my post because my visitors fail to read it and grapple with its content.

    Second, the goal of that objective study—our object of study being the texts on their terms (not those implied by later tradition)—to take one example out of 66 let’s say, is to be able (as clearly indicated in the above post) to objectively understand the beliefs, worldview, cultural influences, historical context, literary context etc. of the author of Leviticus. What did HE believe and why, as evidenced through an honest, objective, and unbiased (non-subjective) reading of HIS text. Indeed, if you were to do this you would immediately perceive that the Yahweh of his composition declares a unique set of “eternal covenants’ and “eternal laws” that are not only NOT found in any other text of this collection of ancient literature, but which also are contradicted by, again to take one example, the Yahweh of the text of Deuteronomy. It is no coincidence that all biblical scholars perceive these stark differences because we study the texts on their terms! Conversely, and yes indeed, the later-centuries title “the Holy Bible” imposes a blanket theological lens and interpretive framework that “erases” the differences that the author of Leviticus and the author of Deuteronomy had about the priesthood, the cult, sacrifices, etc. Indeed, as an interpretive tradition, the label “the Holy Bible” does its job so well that modern readers, such as yourself, are unable to actually read heads-on the text of Leviticus for example with the sole goal of being honest to this text’s beliefs, worldview, and even competing theology and ideological program.

    Lastly, where is the evidence for these competing and contradictory theologies and ideologies? They come from the texts! Reading the texts on their terms—not the terms imposed by a later blanket theological grid that prescribes what these texts are and how they are to be read! To that goal, this site and my scholarship is dedicated. Indeed, I could say I defend the text and its beliefs by simply acknowledging them, attempting to understand them from within the historical and literary context of the text itself—not through the context of a later interpretive framework—and faithfully reproducing this text’s author’s beliefs, worldview, disputes he had with other ancient scribal guilds who also composed texts that were collected together by later editors to form the Bible, etc. Frankly, it is about them, their texts, and understanding, objectively and honestly, their beliefs!

    Finally, my forthcoming book, of which the above is part of its Introduction, textually demonstrates that despite what many modern Christians claim—in this case Creationists who claim that they believe in Genesis 1—honestly identifying, understanding, and reproducing as a product of its own cultural context the beliefs and worldview represented in this 2,500 year old text convincingly demonstrates that NO, we as a culture do not believe in the beliefs and worldview evidenced in this ancient text. The book, as this site, is a plea to our Christian culture in general to start acknowledging this and being honest to the beliefs and views of this ancient author by simply acknowledging: 1) his beliefs as a product of, and shaped by, his own cultural worldview, and at that competing beliefs, views, ideologies, etc., and 2) the very fact that we living 2,500 years later do not believe in the beliefs and worldview evidenced in Genesis 1 and 2. Indeed, I don’t think a modern “reader” of these ancient texts can get more brazen (and blasphemous) than by claiming that their modern day 21st century beliefs, whatever they may be, are substantiated by texts written 2,000-3,000 years ago. Such hermeneutic convictions place a larger emphasis on the readers of these texts and their beliefs, than the authors and an objective pursuit of understanding these authors’ beliefs. In other words, I’m attempting to move the paradigm to the authors, to their beliefs! And if you have a subjective engagement or attachment to this collection of ancient literature, then that enterprise is going to be difficult even insurmountable, because it asks of you for an objective, culturally-contextualized assessment of the text and the beliefs and worldview evidenced in it. But for you, the text exists as a mirror of your own subjective beliefs about the text, regardless of those actually evidenced in the texts themselves by their authors. That’s not to say that you or Christians at large do not believe in specific verses or even whole texts; indeed we can find snippets from any of the great books of the past which still speak to us on an individual or cultural level. But my point is that we must start acknowledging on the whole the specific culturally-conditioned and even competing beliefs and theologies of the Bible’s various texts, each on their terms as as products of their cultural and literary contexts. Again, it’s not about your beliefs or misbeliefs about these texts as the case may be, nor mine. It is about what the texts themselves reveal about their own compositional nature, period of compositions, reasons of their compositions, the literary conventions employed by ancient scribes, and the beliefs and views of their authors—all of which is clearly articulated above.

  20. Ahhh, now that Dr. Steven DeMattei has decided to join the fray, this should get interesting…

    but first to Mr.(? I don’t want to assume anything here) ‘archaeopteryx’. Am I right?; and did you not come in, before time as we know it; from traveling in space to settle here on this blog, October 19, 2015 ? Not as a space cowboy but as an astute reporter of sorts. Giving us valuable tools to study “da wordah gawd!” Then later as a stand up comic who has a rascally repertoire of rejoinder and repartee…touch’e! You could have been here before that? Anyway

    I had to laugh at your matter of fact approach with Robert on Nov. 10, 2015. You managed to come across as “it takes one to know one” as you detailed that, “There are several scholarly thoughts on that” and then after displaying your wares, spent the remaining 200 words or so defining the JEPD movement in a fashion that belonged on Saturday Night Live. Maybe even the best of. In fact, you may have set the record for brevity and sagacity as you more or less (remember, touch’e!) you proved the maxim that “even a fool, if he keeps his mouth shut, will be esteemed a man of great wisdom.” You need to teach that to Dr. DiMattei. Not only does he need a bit of the “less serious” in his ways, but his diatribes to the infidels put the Apostle Paul to shame when in comes to sentences that are paragraphs in which his epistles to “those who don’t or won’t get it” are longer that many books in the Bible. Like Philemon. Or Jude. Or Obadiah, for instance.

    But my question to you involves your “math”. Simply put, using the redactor @ 400BCE, and going back to the “P”ee-ers who were in Babylon, let us say for argument, Daniel and Ezekiel and then going back 4 centuries from there for YHVH, doesn’t that put it back to the monarchy of David/Solomon? The pinnacle; from which, then, everything went south…

    Don’t get me wrong, there is no lampoon intended by this question. Nor am I asking as one who is about to convert. Your “cheek”masks the fact that this is the essence, I think. Am I right?

  21. In The Multitude of Words There is No Lack of Iniquity

    Dr. DiMattei: You asked Miguel,
    “Even granting this sweeping claim, what does it display or prove? And for the record, what is that claim?”

    To quote Miguel, 1) “…from the very earliest texts to the latest, the presence of a personal creator God is either explicit or implied” and 2) ” Your central claim is that you study, and invite others to consider the “Bible’s Texts” for what they are, viz. “once independent texts”, spread over an ample period of time, which through various “agendas” gradually came to be perceived (by Israelites first, then, in an expanded version, by Christians) as one work, “the Holy Bible”.

    Let me say here, even the concept of being inspired by God. For we do not follow cleverly devised tales and we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place. No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from YHVH Elohim. And it was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but those in the future. Miguel disagrees with your incessant refusal to even intelligently discuss this from any other angle except your insistence that the authors in the Bible had no such intention. I have noticed that sometimes you allude to almost having possible conversation with Creationists and other “fundees” but it never happens.

    So as I read him, he proposed the first quote 1) “…from the very earliest texts to the latest, the presence of a personal creator God is either explicit or implied” and opposed the second.

    Dear brother DiMattei, may I call you that? I would like to address both of those. The “proposed” and the “opposed”. First what Miguel proposes.

    Think of a marriage proposal (I’ll get to that in a moment) and contrast it with the essence of the book of Philemon that you suggested doesn’t fit Miguel’s agenda.

    Both marriage and Philemon speak of relationships in regard to being transformed by a personal relationship with God. Despite what you insist, that is one of many themes that all the books of the Bible have in common. A relationship with the One who Created everything and everyone He created having a similar relationship with each other. That is what Paul could call both Philemon and Onesimus: spiritual brothers in The Anointed One aka Christ or Messiah, or Jesus if you will.

    The book of Philemon addresses the relationship they all had: Paul the prisoner imprisoned for preaching, Philemon his rich friend and one of his many spiritual converts, and Onesimus, this man’s former slave whom Paul also converted in prison. Theo, Deus, etc. is referenced there as well, by name on eleven separate occasions. In the book of Philemon it is clear that the gospel message was preached, believed and a relationship with the Creator YHVH Elohim ensued as evidenced by a loving relationship among the people of Israel who received it. One thing you can draw out from this book and yes, the other 65 if you will (and you don’t seem able to volitionally “go there”) is the aspect of the very basis of the gospel that all 66 books preach. That is the catalyst and the reason for my first remarks to Miguel, warning him on November 26, 2015. By the way, and I will address this as well, repentance is crucial.

    Now please let me seem to digress here and go to the texts referenced in Mark 12. There the basis for any relationship is addressed. First the Creator then your fellow man. There in Mark’s gospel, The Anointed One recited Israel/Judah’s SHMA, quoting from two separate sources (as per the JEPD, if you like) in Deut. 6:4-5 and Lev. 19:18. Ref. vs. 28-33 in this second gospel account of the New Covenant. A quick check will also reveal that I Samuel 15, Hosea 6 and Micah 6 are also references here in this brief encounter (may I suggest an impromptu relationship?) that happens between The Anointed One and the Jewish scribe.

    Then in verse 34, (where the Christian name is given) Jesus urges this man to go the next step and enter the Kingdom based on what he now knows. Before this, the scribe was an adversary. After confronting ‘ha Mashiach Yeshua’…to finish this passage it is quoted: “After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.” Being out of relationship with the One with whom someday we will all have to give an account of our stewardship, the time we spent here on earth; that can be intimidating to say the least.

    Now the reason I “veered off” like this is because, according to the testimony of the account in Genesis 12:1-3, the gospel was preached and received and believed by Abram. It involved eventually a change in his name because of this relationship that was initiated by his Creator in Ur where he was born.

    As a side note, some Jewish records indicate that Abram was mentored by Noah and Shem who both lived at that juncture in his life before the account in Genesis 12. That is where the promise, the good news, the gospel of the Kingdom contained the promise that he would receive the world as his reward for his faith. It began with one man and a relationship with his Creator that involved leaving behind everything and going to the “land that I will show you”. “Land”. The word is ‘eretz’ and it means the so-called Promised Land and the world as a whole. And the ensuing 65 books of the Bible are, in effect, commentary on the impact that the Creator has and is having on the world that was and is. As I said, “exalted father” had a name change because of the transformation that took place in his life that the book of Genesis details at great length. His new name became “the father of many nations”; as a result of this relationship with YHVH. He was called a friend. Yeshua called his disciples that too. Paul and Onesimus and Philemon were friends. Love your neighbor as yourself. Living out the relationship you have with the One who Inhabits Eternity (which is another one of those myriad names for Deity that go far beyond the scope of JEDP and a redactor). Loving Him who is unseen by loving one another like you would do if it depends on you.

    Now, let’s include the Song of Solomon which does include Ya and a very graphic physical picture of a spiritual relationship with our Creator. I’ll go more into the ‘very graphic’ comment in a bit. But for now, and yes, I know that Doc, Mr. DiMattei, you’re basically burning inside as you read me, but Paul quotes from Genesis 2 to point out that the original relationship that mankind had with God that included one called marriage and was reinforced and encouraged by the one with one another that Paul explicitly alluded to. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Paul pointed out that this physical picture, which goes on in the last verse of Genesis 2 to say, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed”; that the sanctity of marriage was a great mystery since it actually pictured the ultimate eternal relationship that all mankind is offered through the good news of the gospel…as he said, “but I am speaking in reference to The Anointed One and His bride the church.”

    See Ephesians 5: 22-33, esp. vs. 31-32. Paul deals with this same subject in his first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 6 where he warns those who are going and have gone in a direction that will not inherit the Kingdom that The Anointed One preached, the gospel of joining the family of Israel in the Kingdom (see my comments above “where I digressed”) and that as concerns marriage in all of it’s physical and metaphysical components, one of the essential ingredients of this form of the gospel (remember, the idea of relationship is what I am segueing) involved the aspect of repentance: verses 15-20.

    Now as for the graphic comment. Really, the only way you can fully appreciate this book in this context is in Hebrew and in really “knowing” the language. Yodeah. Intimately. Like Adam knew his wife and she conceived. This is the beautiful picture of eternity with our Creator in a limited physical sense. But one we can all grasp to some degree. Even if we are not married or never will be, like say the eunuch Daniel, the prophet. Being in a right relationship with your Creator is the basic message. The other side of the coin is found in Ezekiel 16 which basically describes the same things I mentioned in I Corinthians. Idolatry and paganism to be avoided.

    And to be graphic, what all the people on this planet, past and future have in common is another of the relationship ideas. In this case, the lack of one. That is what the Romans, Greeks, Moslems, and all the others you may have alluded to: you, me, everyone has it in common even though everyone of us is completely unique. We all are born, innately with the same propensity found before and after the Flood. See Genesis 6:5 and 8:21. The result of the incident described in Genesis 3. In a longer word than the evil “sin” word, I would call it simply, carnality.

    We are either remaining in our blood (ref. Ezekiel 16) or entering into an eternal love relationship as members of the family. That is a relationship, no matter if we’re in the role of parents or children.

    “To respond to your initial question which seems to have sparked a slew of responses here: No, I would not agree that ALL the texts compromising what later became the Bible evidence what you suggest. There are exception(s), such as the Song of Songs, maybe even Paul’s letter to Philemon? But this is surely beside the point, which I think you haven’t fully grasped.” Thus you said to Miguel.

    But maybe it is you, dear brother, who don’t grasp. Think about what you admitted to by trying, in vain, to hide behind the two books I have just explored here briefly. That means that the other 64 do indeed agree with Miguel’s proposal. Otherwise you would have said so or given a reason, as he politely asked, “why not?”

    And the opposition he makes. Number 2). That is the opposition to your so-called scientific approach here. “For one thing, in your analysis, you do not even question the validity of splitting the texts according to the “documentary hypothesis”. I don’t think he misses the so called big picture being presented here.

    “That these diverse and varied authors (ancient priests, secular storytellers, prophetic schools, courtly scribes, theologians, and secular writers of various sorts, etc.) believed something in common?”, you asked with incredulity. But, Yes! A relationship with the Creator. Even in disobedience… And we all also experience what is described elsewhere as this sin nature. The reason He became sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God through faith in his sacrifice for us.

    “Or what more could you possibly draw from this evidence?”, you asked Miguel.

    I’ll tell you what: the jury is still out. You need to consider, personally, the sin matter. Stop promoting the Ezekiel prostitute. Repent

  22. I Actually Wrote This Next One First

    Since we are all here discussing this current blog post by Dr. DiMattei, Being Honest to the Texts and Their Authors, http://contradictionsinthebible.com/being-honest-to-the-bible-texts-their-authors-and-their-beliefs/#comment-5771, it is obvious that one of the necessary ingredients to accomplish this task is for simple candor to prevail and being exercised by everyone. So let me be candid with both of you since we have been recently “talking”.

    archaeopteryx, while you have been faithful in part to my request by your frank, succinct analysis, at the same time, by purposefully dodging Miguel’s salient observation, you have done all of us who read this a great service. Thank you!

    You are acknowledging the “bottom line”, and what exactly just are the terms of debate around here. And as the saying goes, “he who sets the terms wins the debate”.

    Miguel, for your part, you need to understand that the main rule here is that the JEPD hypothesis, in the eyes of this latest iteration as espoused by DiMattei, is no longer just a hypothesis. That is what our “space cowboy/sky pilot” basically said in omission. And he didn’t come up with it on his own. DiMattei insists upon it. Read if you will the current discussion going on in another blog here as we speak: http://contradictionsinthebible.com/god-creates-the-heavens-and-the-earth/#comment-5775.

    It basically goes back to the beginning of Contradictionsinthebible.com.

    While other definitions of candor promote the idea of innocence and kindliness , as opposed to the “flying right in with the ‘junkyard dog’ approach”, you must face the fact that your perspective, which is one of the most concise and purest I have seen expressed on this blog; a worldview you share with that I would guess most of the visitors to this site share as well; is not the standard here. More like the exact opposite, as evidenced by the smattering of attendees who faithfully come to worship here at this altar. Unlike you, others who might also applaud your view are too intimidated to “blog on” for all the obvious reasons you will see if you go to the URL I gave you just above this paragraph.

    It is clear to you, at least, that there is obviously some “lacking in candor” (impartiality; the quality of being fair and unprejudiced) with Dr. DiMattei’s strident and uncompromising insistence that the “JEPD” is sacrosanct. That it is unequivocally the standard; that it is THE empirical, “scientifically” proven theology; which makes it impossible for your viewpoint to even be considered or addressed directly, much less properly debated. As he puts it here and similarly in so many other places and in countless comments where he shares what I believe is his personal and honest affront with your perspective; combined with what I think is a feigned ignorance of just,

    “why is it that Creationists are neither honest to the texts nor their authors, although they would have you believe otherwise?” And yet pretends at the same time to understand:

    ” It is notably an issue for passing Christian readers who arrive here through a Google search and miss the larger picture of what I’m doing. Certainly, and to some extent, I am partially guilty of creating this misunderstanding given the title of this website—Contradictions in the Bible.”

    As I said, your courage to speak up represents, potentially the vast majority of people who visit here out of curiosity or for some other reason. No, it is not a misunderstanding at all. Most if not all who come here actually do NOT “miss the larger picture” as THEY perceive it. Nor is it just an innocent “misunderstanding”. Dr.Steven DiMattei admits in other places as well as the one all ready noted, that his approach, beginning with his choice of the title, is a strategy to get people to come and listen and comment. And while he uses conciliatory phrases like, “so that we can hammer out our differences”, as you can guess, it will be you and your worldview that will get “hammered” before our blunt “flying” friend. You will be the one to get the hammer if or maybe since you don’t get on board. On board with the only truly objective and scholarly way of viewing the (lower case) “bible”… Dimattei can’t bring himself to call it Holy or Sacred or even a book.

    Thank you archaeopteryx for elevating the Bible to book status! It is the one book found in every library in the world.

    And Miguel, I’m afraid if you are too successful, you will go the way of the reader Laodeciapress, who at the very beginning back in 2013, was pulled off the stage, and given the shepherd ‘J’ hook.

    Revealing that this is not a public forum in the free market sense of the word where everyone can just say what he wants; e.g. the point made earlier…

    Dr. Steven DiMattei
    April 17, 2013 

    “Laodeciapress, This will be your last comment here, since you utterly fail to grasp…”;

    this person was never heard from again. And a quick perusal of some of the latest readers here in 2015 who dare to share and who refuse to bow down and worship the image of Baal (I’m not a ‘Treki/Star War’ type or use “Iron Man” to make an analogy) reveals that Dr. DiMattei will pull the plug if you don’t “stick to the program”. Any reference he makes to “texts” is an oblique reference to accepting his theological dogma and face the fact that his perspective must eventually be embraced by you, “or else”.

    Personally, I have no trouble coming to this type of church and doing as he asks by sticking to the texts since they were/are written in Hebrew. But by speaking to you as I have, I have probably put a bulls eye on my back. “Watch your back!”

    At any rate, and to quote Dr. DiMattei once again, applying his words to my hopes:

    “…setting the record straight is important to me because in all honesty I’d like more of these passing Christians to take an interest in the biblical texts as well as this site and its aims”. And to get over always worrying about being denigrated, and yet be willing, like you, to stick their necks out!

    In other words, ‘xtians’, if I can do it, why not you!

  23. I would not expect a Greek scholar to approach The Iliad with the assumption that everything in it is true, from the existence of Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus to the outcome of the Trojan War being decided by the whims of the gods. In the same way, I would not expect a secular Bible scholar to approach the Bible with the assumption that it is inspired by God and that everything in it actually happened.

    Sure, the authors of the Bible all believed in the existence of their God. That doesn’t mean the Bible is not a collection of disjointed texts collected over time. As nobody believes that Genesis and Ezekiel were written by the same person I don’t see how that’s even an argument.

    Furthermore, whether Genesis was written by one person or multiple people doesn’t have any bearing over whether the book is divinely inspired, either. If God’s purpose was to produce the Bible He could have inspired multiple people as easily as one.

  24. Sorry, ‘easyk,’ that Dr. de Mattai’s – how did you put it, “sentences that are paragraphs“? – were giving you such problems, ADD can be SUCH a handicap, can’t it?

    But my question to you involves your ‘math’. Simply put, using the redactor @ 400BCE, and going back to the “P”ee-ers who were in Babylon, let us say for argument, Daniel and Ezekiel and then going back 4 centuries from there for YHVH, doesn’t that put it back to the monarchy of David/Solomon? The pinnacle; from which, then, everything went south…

    I’m not entirely clear as to what you’re asking here. The first evidence that the Jews had developed the art of writing, dates back to a shard of pottery from c. 1000 BCE. The Yahwist (J) Source of the Torah, writing in the Southern Kingdom of Judea, at Jerusalem, has been dated by most reputable biblical scholars as c. 950 BCE, and yes, that would have placed them within the time of the monarchies, which, if you’re at all familiar with the work of Ysrael Finklestein of the University of Tel Aviv, were not nearly as grandiose as they have later been made out to have been.

    As for, “The pinnacle; from which, then, everything went south…” – that appears to be a statement of opinion on your part, to which of course you’re entitled, but upon which I don’t feel qualified to comment, as my “south” may possibly be pointing in an entirely different direction from your own.

  25. @easyK – wow, that was quite the tome you wrote, after criticizing Dr. diMattai for having written a tome – hm —

    For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from YHVH Elohim.” – That would be an opinion on Miguel’s part, certainly not in any sense verifiable.

    …according to the testimony of the account in Genesis 12:1-3, the gospel was preached and received and believed by Abram. It involved eventually a change in his name because of this relationship that was initiated by his Creator in Ur where he was born.

    According to William G. Dever, biblical archaeologist in the Levant for 35 years, “After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible ‘historical figures.’” (“What Did the Bible Writers Know and When Did They Know It,” William G. Dever, 2001) Interesting also that you should reference, “Ur where he [Abe] was born,” as “The New American Bible,” in a footnote to Gen 11:28, which informs us that Abe was born in ‘Ur of the Chaldees,’ that the Chaldeans didn’t occupy the area around Ur until the 700’s BCE – a fact that the Aaronid priests in captivity in Babylon in the 6th century could well have known, but of which those of old honest Abe’s time, would have been entirely ignorant.

    As a side note, some Jewish records indicate that Abram was mentored by Noah and Shem who both lived at that juncture in his life before the account in Genesis 12. – “…some Jewish records….” – did you by any chance mean, some Jewish legends’? If you enjoy those, may I refer you to Louis Ginzberg’s “Legends of the Jews” – you’ll love the one, based on the Gen 14 fable where old Abe and his 300 Ninja/shepherds defeated five battle-seasoned armies and chased them all the way back to Dan, which hadn’t been built in Abe’s time – according to Ginzberg’s “Legends,,” Abe grew to 85-feet tall, and each of his steps was a league, and thus he caught up to the fleeing five armies and defeated them singlehandedly – you should enjoy the book, easyK, it’s almost as comical as the Bible.

    We all are born, innately with the same propensity found before and after the Flood.” – By, ‘the flood,’ you ARE referencing the biblical flood fable that was plagiarized from the Sumerian poem, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” that describes in that fictional work, written about a hundred years before the biblical flood was alleged to have happened, regarding an ACTUAL flood in Mesopotamia, 200 years earlier, when the Euphrates River overflowed it’s banks to a depth of 15 cubits (the same 15 cubits, mentioned in Genesis, above which the highest mountains were inundated) – 22.5 feet – which covered an area about the modern equivalent of three counties:
    http://i887.photobucket.com/albums/ac73/archaeopteryx1/Ziusudrasflood.jpg
    Actual, historical King Ziusudra, of Shurrupak, escaped the flood by hopping aboard a trading barge loaded with cotton, cattle and beer, and floating on down to the Persian Gulf.

  26. @easyK – After that last loquacious comment, I find it hard to believe that you accused Dr. DiMattei of being overly wordy —

  27. It applies to everyone and I am the worst of them all. No argument there…one man’s record is another man’s legend. These are the things that we talk about each Shabbat @ our weekly Parashot. Sometimes we just laugh but we really enjoy our time going over ha Torah once again as we have done since time immemorial. This week’s is called, Vayashev and begins with Joseph’s dreams, his brother’s ‘solutions’ to his problem, exile in Egypt, prison, and ends with a couple of dreams from fellow prisoners. In between you have Joseph “stiffing” Pontipher’s wife like a halfback eluding a linebacker and an interesting side note about what brother Judah was doing as he tries to leave the family behind and become like a goy. Incest and twins as he loses his sons. What was YHVH trying to say?

  28. I get my stuff from the Biblical Archeological Review and you’re right on. More than not it is likely with Paleo script that they were literate from the time of Joseph onward, at least his two sons were and probably Moshe’s Levi Jeans too. Anyway, Joseph certainly knew how.

    Going south means everything went “belly up”. Hell is south. Don’t tell the south that though!

  29. OK Robert M

    — As nobody believes that Genesis and Ezekiel were written by the same person I don’t see how that’s even an argument.—

    That is Your comment.

    You’re arguing from a “whether/what if” platform here.

    “Furthermore, whether Genesis was written by one person or multiple people doesn’t have any bearing over whether the book is divinely inspired, either. If God’s purpose was to produce the Bible He could have inspired multiple people as easily as one.”

    But I can work with that. Using the documentary hypothesis. Let me illustrate….

    ***you have to kick in your imaginative juices here and let them flow. Imagine; you Robert M and all your fellow spacey friends. Imagine that we are in the opening scene which characterizes all of George Lucas’ Star Wars flix (maybe he’ll do otherwise soon in the movie theaters-we’ll just have to see) as they begin with a brief history; it slowly moves across the vast universe of black on the white of nothing but planets and stars moving from the bottom of the screen to the top before our eyes:

    So just to have something to argue about, here is the opening salvo of our little fantasy.

    …FROM THE PEDESTAL OF NON EMPIRICAL, Darth Vadar (that’s you) starts to fume once again against the little “melech tzadeek melech yirushalie(?)yim” (that is me) as Abraham returns from his assassination of Chederlaomer…

    And then the action begins.
    And now we’re in some kind of celestial (in this case, cyber) “shoot out”. I am the man with no name, a green serape and chomping on a miniature cigarillo (re: the opening scene for the Clint Eastwood character in ‘For a Few Dollars More’) and I wander into the opening bar scene of both the original Star Wars and somehow (remember, imagination! We’re in celestial cyberspace) and at the exact same time, I’m walking slowly in the rain and trying to smoke that “stow-gee” I somehow or other just managed to light up while it is coming down, ‘catzendawgs’. I get it done and then go down to the saloon to get out of the down pouring rain, and to get a light…the thing is out. That and get my man that I just saw emblazoned on the WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE post on the front of the “share a riff”‘s office. I walk up to him and ask for a light and then ask him where I can find the guy up there on the wanted poster stuck on the front of his office…

    Well, Robert, going back to your comment above about the Ezekiel argument, SOMEBODY from his time span wrote it. On this website mentioned it ahead of you; as per what you believe and the spacey dinosaur and Dr. DiMattei, et al. That was why I was quizzing my sky pilot. He confirmed it. So let us argue. We are just told that P, some unnamed person did it. Ezekiel was a priest if you ever take the time to read what you so confidently critique. If you know “beans” then you know as per ‘ha Torah’ that the priest was to teach the people the difference between the unclean and the clean (e.g. dietary laws) the profane and the holy (need I go back to Ezekiel 16?) and concepts like the difference between what is wicked and what is pretend righteousness. In other words,what is the difference between the wicked guy on the wanted poster and the religious hypocrite. from the prohibition league.
    Note that Ezekiel was not talking to the Jews. He was not speaking to Judah from whence he came. He was a Jew who had been exiled from the southern kingdom of Judah. But his calling, by and large, was to the northern 10 tribes which were still living in the area, having been exiled to that exact same area, modern day Iran and Irag, more or less. The last stage of it that completed that particular process ( by Assyrian Shalmanezer) took place in 722 BCE which meant that this priest named Ezekiel was dealing with a remnant of Israelites who were still in rebellion with their Creator. They still hadn’t gotten it yet and they were still in exile; they were still there after about 125 years or so.

    Look up his credentials in chapter 3:17-21. So he qualifies as a priest. Let’s say that the same fellow, this Ezekiel also wrote the opening chapter of the book with his name on it. That reads like a Frank Perreti novel. It is one of those places in the Bible that folks like you deride. Read it. Imagine (since none of us were there, we can do that sometimes); imagine that what inspired him to see this vision (imagine being in an American black Baptist church and hearing the American Negro spiritual called, “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kz-71n8K4LE) was as a result of what he was asked to do in chapter 4. Read it; and instead of accusing him of being on drugs or something, imagine that he actually did lay on his side for many days @ a time. Twice. The second time was much shorter than the first. But what does that have to do with the price of tea in Ceylon?

    There are different ways to reach a state that at least can resemble that of a hallucination. One way is to experience some form of severe physical deprivation. So the second directive Ezekiel received from YHVH Elohim, by way of example, wasn’t as long. But now imagine that this was the physical means that his Creator used to prepare him for revelation/inspiration that the prophet priest would record for us to read about.

    Now remember, we are imagining here since, I repeat, now of us were there anyway and the JEPD plus redactor never mentions any names. So, because the physical torture he went through was less severe, then the output in the form of Ezekiel chapter 1 is not as lengthy. Not as lengthy as the Book of Genesis which he got during the time he lay on his side for 390 days. Ezekiel 4. Read it and imagine.

    To be sure this is all a “SWAG” aka a “SCIENTIFICWILDASSGUESS”; I’m not claiming that this is a “this says the Lord”. But I am trying to work within the “system” here on this website.

    Now, despite trying to abide by at the very least, the spirit of the rules around here, I can still hear all the cat calls and hoots of scoffing and such as I type. My point is that if we are to believe the documentary hypothesis which states somebody or ‘bodys’ wrote Genesis at this time in Babylon; but never have we ever been told by the advocates of this unproven hypothesis just who the unnamed (non-existent) author(s) is/are who wrote the text of Genesis during the exact same time as when the Biblical prophet of Ezekiel was alive…why not pick Ezekiel as the one who owns this? Like a dog, he owns this. He is a P er -iss if you like but don’t diss my man!

    But while we argue Robert M, I do have to agree with you there. This man had integrity and character. Not like the unknown basketball team of 5 very morally challenged people who deceived and brain-washed the world until sometime in the 1800’s when Gaff and Wellhausen rode into town.

    And if you think this sounds ridiculous then join the skeptics. Like Miguel. If this is so absurd then Let us have a party! We can talk about it over a..ah, well, I’ll bring the Magan David sweet dark grape wine that I will commandeer from the synagogue tomorrow night and you and your ilk can bring the……….

  30. Are you saying the Documentary Hypothesis is invalid because it does not provide the names of the authors of the sources? We don’t know who wrote Job or the Epistle to the Hebrews, either, or Beowulf for that matter.

    As for Ezekiel, if P was written by a priest during the exile then I suppose Ezekiel, being a priest during the exile could be a candidate for being one of the writers. I don’t know enough about the Book of Ezekiel to say whether there is a good match as far as theology and doctrine. I was just pointing out that nobody thinks the two books were written by the same person because Genesis is, for the most part, comprehensible.

  31. Dear archaeopteryx,

    I have been meaning to get back to you and your comments about Driver on Abraham. Driver, publishing by 2001 might have been a little too preemptory. Certainly his data was collected well before the publishing date, by the very least let us say, the 1990s. And probably well before that time. Those were years that were still in flux when it came to his opinion making. That is, unless he came in, 35 years previously with an “axe to grind”, which I suspect. Let me share from the Leon Levy DEAD SEA SCROLLS digital library: http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/learn-about-the-scrolls/discovery-and-publication?locale=en_US

    ” For the first 40 years after their discovery, the study of the thousands of text fragments was monopolized by fewer then a dozen international scholars, all great experts in their respective fields. This limited team size prevented the speedy publication of the texts. In the early 1990s, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) took major steps to advance the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hebrew University Professor Emanuel Tov was nominated as chief editor and the publication was divided among about 100 international scholars; by 2001, the majority of the official editions had been published and were located in academic libraries.”

    The Isaiah Scroll which completely corroborates the Masoretic text of all 66 chapters of Isaiah (like you would find in the The New American Bible that you referenced) mentions Abraham four times. Using the JEPD method and in the words found in the blog of a ‘lady come lately seminary student’ https://lildov.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/the-three-isaiahs/ that she titles, CATHOLICS & BIBLE STUDY there is this comment you might find interesting:

    “The three Isaiahs

    Posted on November 9, 2011 by Martha Fitzgerald | Leave a comment

    Dead Sea Scroll – part of Isaiah Scroll
    Scroll of Isaiah

    So let’s get this straight. There are three, not one, prophet collections named Isaiah, and all are recorded in the single Old Testament book of the same name.

    First Isaiah, or Isaiah of Jerusalem, was a contemporary of Amos, Hosea and Micah. His career spanned four decades, during which he founded a school of prophecy. “The record is to be folded and the sealed instruction kept among my disciples.” (Isaiah 8:16). His words were valued as living texts, updated and re-interpreted in the wake of later events, chiefly the Babylonian Exile. Scholars today believe less than half of the actual words attributed to First Isaiah were his; the rest were added by anonymous scribes.

    Second Isaiah essentially was written after the exile to Babylon and predicts the restoration of Jerusalem. Third Isaiah dates from the period after exile ends. They inherited the spirit of Isaiah of Jerusalem and continued his work.

    Here’s the outline derived from critical scholarship:
    Chapters 1-39: First Isaiah/Isaiah of Jerusalem, 8th century BC.
    Chapters 40-55: Second Isaiah/Isaiah of Babylon, 6th century BC.
    Chapters 56-66: Third Isaiah/Isaiah of the restored Jerusalem, 6th century BC.

    The critical approach to the Bible, says John J. Collins (“Isaiah,” The Collegeville Bible Commentary, 411), enriches our understanding of Scriptures. It shows how the word of God is rooted in and speaks to concrete historical situations. “The Bible is not a book of dogmatic propositions to be learned and believed, but a moving illustration of the faith of a people in ever-changing circumstances.”

    Yeah, I know. I’m taking up too much bandwidth around here. But others are talking up to this point, not me. And notice that she is an example of another comment you made earlier about how the Catholic Church has basically gone “all in” for the JEPD. This gal is definitely one of your and Dr. Dimattei’s “HomeBoys”! So don’t tell me I aint working within the system.

    I wouldn’t be so confident that Abraham et al are just another fairy tale. The four places where Isaiah mentions Abraham;
    1) Isaiah 29:22New American Bible 22 “Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of the house of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham”
    So my point about Abraham and the gospel is found in Isaiah #1. This is the historically pre-exile prophet who lived in Jerusalem.

    2) Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, offspring of Abraham my friend—” Isaiah #2 The rest of the context of that chapter not only is one of encouragement but prophetically even addresses things like Contradictionsinthebible.com. For example, verses 21-24:

    Present your case, says the Lord;[a]
    bring forward your arguments, says the King of Jacob.
    22 Let them draw near and foretell to us
    what it is that shall happen!
    What are the things of long ago?
    Tell us, that we may reflect on them
    and know their outcome;
    Or declare to us the things to come,[b]
    23 tell what is to be in the future,
    that we may know that you are gods!
    Do something, good or evil,
    that will put us in awe and in fear.
    24 Why, you are nothing
    and your work is nought;
    to choose you is an abomination!

    Then there is the following commentary: “41:21–29 This indictment of Babylonian gods is patterned on a legal trial, in which they are challenged to prove power over events of history and so justify their status as gods (vv. 21–24). Israel’s God, on the other hand, has foretold and now brings to pass Israel’s deliverance (vv. 25–27). The accused are unable to respond (vv. 28–29). By such polemics (see also 43:12) the prophet declares that all gods other than the Lord are nonexistent; this implicit claim of monotheism later becomes explicit (see 43:10–11; 45:5–7, 14, 18, 21–22; 46:9; and note on 44:6).

    But let me put this in layman terms. There is no way that a redactor who is busy writing the entire OT would be pointing out that YHVH thinks his actions (which are described elsewhere as an eternal mistake ref. Revelation 22: 18-19) are a criminal and a capital offense deserving the ultimate, eternal penalty.This is the viewpoint of Isaiah #2

    3) Isaiah 51: 2 “Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth; Though he was but one when I called him, I blessed him and made him many.” This is also considered Isaiah #2 who is purported to have been some unnamed and unknowable scribe, living during the exile in 6th century Babylon.

    4) Isaiah 63: 16 “For you are our father. Were Abraham not to know us, nor Israel to acknowledge us, You, Lord, are our father, our redeemer you are named from of old.” Isaiah #3 not only made it back to Jerusalem, making him a contemporary of later minor prophets like Zechariah and Haggai, but even thinks that YHVH goes back to “from of old”. Before Abraham.

    Driver shot all his bullets before all the cowboys came home from the range. And missed. Bible translations are not necessarily the last word on commentary. They are translations. Commentary, or subjective biblical interpretation is a no-no around here; you should know that! Especially coming from a source that is not given good reviews around here to say the least. Being a translation of the Bible not only gives it credibility in the modern context which offends DiMattei, but is therefore to be thrown out of court since you are trying to use it to prove your point. Your source has no standing on this website, man!

    In other words, you probably needed to go to these folks at the New American Bible, tell them how you would use this quote on Abraham, and see if they would give you permission to be their “representative voice” on Contradictionsinthebible.com. If there were stipulations (let us say, in lampoon, that they don’t let atheists quote their material) then they too might totally disagree with your “proof”. Like I do. “Proof” that contradicts about 2-3 billion people of three different faiths which they hold dear (Abraham was real and is their “founding father”). In other words, you and Driver and this site are not only poor examples of a bounty hunter, but are statistically non existent. Not Abraham.

  32. All of you here should learn at least basic Hebrew grammar and have the Brown’s Lexicon handy to be able to understand and discuss the biblical text .
    You are trying to figure out the book that has been so grossly misinterpreted and mistranslated that doesn’t resemble the original .
    If everybody handled ancient or foreign literature like the bible has been treated ” Dante’s Inferno” would read like honey – boo boo .

  33. Unfortunately, knowing Hebrew doesn’t actually resolve many issues with Bible interpretation. Almost all modern OT translations were produced by examining Hebrew texts or earlier translations of those texts, and look how much they differ in some verses. The original language was so fragmentary that the texts can only be rendered honestly with a liberal usage of alternate readings and “[?]”s. Also, some passages simply use different wording in different MSS.

    But perhaps most importantly, one of the main points of this site is to discuss the changes that occurred between the original authoring of different sections and the time that the final text was composed, over the course of many generations. Since there were competing schools of thought which had their hands on the source texts, we can’t be sure how some parts were changed after their first composition. So there’s not really a single “Bible” to be translated, whether one knows ancient Hebrew or not.

  34. Actually knowing Hebrew explains everything . That’s why Jews need a TIKKUN book to read interpreted “torah ” text . The plain text is just a story of “drawn who got inspired by forces of nature” ; no god , no Moses , no problem .

  35. Dr. DiMattei

    First, let me thank you for your blog. I started to read it a few months ago and it has been both enlightening and thought-provoking.
    I would have a question about the beliefs of the authors:
    You wrote on several places that the priests altered previous accounts of events (e.g. Deuteronomy vs. Exodus), hence the contradictions you are highlighting. You also wrote that they (may have) invented stories in order to fit an political agenda (either their own or the agenda of a ruler to whom they reported). That explains their motivation for doing so. But what about their beliefs?

    Since they basically fabricated stories by even putting words in God’s mouth, what were their beliefs about God? When they wrote that God stroke down people for committing sin, didn’t they believe that they would be stuck down too for writing and propagating lies?

    I would appreciate your views on this.

  36. Hi Arthur, thanks for the contribution. My answer to your question must be a bit speculative here. I mean the biblical texts themselves certainly provide ample textual examples of later traditions/scribes rewriting/modifying earlier traditions/texts. And the best example of this in my opinion is what the Deuteronomist does to the earlier Elohist tradition that he inherits—which I still have yet to post about. The intentions behind many of these rewritten traditions in many cases also seems evident—to have the geopolitical background of the story fit the geopolitical reality of the author’s period, to have the theological or ideological message of the story fit in with this later scribe’s or his guild’s views, and to have the retelling express this later author’s worldview, beliefs, and ideology.

    One example I like to talk about is when the Deuteronomist renarrates stories of coming into the land. In the older tradition this is articulated by saying that Yahweh’s angel brought them into the land. But the Deuteronomist omits the reference to angels, on two different accounts. We might surmise that this author was uncomfortable with relegating Yahweh’s power to an angel, or he may not even believed in angels. The other example, a more blatant offense as it were, is when the Deuteronomist has Moses claim that Yahweh only gave the 10 Commandments at Sinai and gave Moses secretly the laws that he speaks in Deut 12-26. If as scholars have shown, the Deuteronomist had the Elohist tradition in front of him (Ex 20-23), then he consciously and willingly altered the tradition to its contrary. So this leads me to ask: How did this author view these traditions? And it seems like a reasonable conclusion—and this cuts against how many Christians view these texts—to say that he did not view these as historically accurate! For how could he change them?

    Additionally, I’ve often wondered if, using an analogy, the Deuteronomist freely changed details in the traditions that he received like we would alter the Cinderella story to emphasize a particular point or belief that we wanted to get across to our audience. In antiquity, these stories helped define a people. The exodus event, whether these scribes viewed it as historical or not, nonetheless gave this group of Israelites an identity that then shaped their reality. If a later writer sees that identity as having changed—say for instance we are now exiled in Babylon—then does he feel the need to alter the story to reflect that new identity? There seems to be support for this too.

    Yet on another level, when dealing with the book of Leviticus for example where I’ve argued that its author, the Priestly writer, crafted an image/portrait of Yahweh that supported and indeed legitimated his beliefs and worldview, I’ve often toyed with the idea that maybe this author really believed that Yahweh believed what he did. I kind of give the benefit of doubt to the scribe when I can. Confessedly, however, this is a difficult question to answer. Take another example: an Aaronid priest writes that all non-Aaronids cannot minister to Yahweh and will be killed if they attempt to (Num 16)—and say this scribe knows of an earlier tradition where all Levites could minister to Yahweh (Deut)—the question is does he then believe that Yahweh believes this to be the case, or is he writing “lies,” that is propaganda in order to legitimate his own guild’s ideology?

    To be frank, I’m uncomfortable with the word “lies.” It could be that from the perspective of ancient scribes, rewriting traditions in order to legitimate and authenticate a particular guild or even monarchical policy was so widespread and known about that this was common literary practice. This line of reasoning, uncomfortable as it may be, forces us to think that maybe belief in Yahweh and crafting texts that shaped Yahweh to suit the scribe’s agenda were two separate things??? But here your question still holds. Wouldn’t that scribe feel he was to be punished somehow…

    There’s a passage in Jeremiah where the author accuses another unidentified scribal or priestly guild with having written legislation falsely “with the lying pen of the scribes” (8:8). So maybe not only this accusation was common among competing scribal guilds but also that there was a conscious acknowledgement that scribes could and perhaps did alter traditions in deceitful ways. So when the later Aaronid tradition asserts that Yahweh chose only the Aaronids as his priests and they then write a text where this “divine decree” happens at Sinai and before their rival priestly guild, the Levites, say that Yahweh elected them (i.e., on the plains of Moab), then are they doing this with the intention to deceive or rather because they believe this to be true? Or are we to understand this as a purely literary phenomenon—a scribal exercise where one uses Yahweh as a literary mouthpiece to ward off rival claimants? And likewise, when the author of Hebrews claims that God even before the election of Aaron and his seed at Sinai had already chosen Jesus as high priest in the line of Melchizedek, is he too writing “lies” or does he truly believe what he writes, and if this were the case he then displays his ignorance about the traditions in the Torah?

    I’m sorry I don’t have an answer on this. It is an intriguing question. When I do get to posting the contradictions in Deuteronomy, I will try to keep focused on authorial intent when this writer alters the traditions handed down to him. Maybe we can get a clearer idea from these examples.

  37. Thank you for your detailed response. I appreciate that you are taking the time to answer your audience’s questions.

    I am looking forward to your new articles!

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