Joshua 10:40


#1

Hi All

I am struggling with the old testament "genocides".

Joshua 10:40 - "So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded."

In Joshua the Israelites utterly destroy every living thing of

people of Ai
the Gibeonites
people of Makkedah
the Libnahites
the people of Lachish
the Egonlites
the Hebronites
the Debieites
the people of Anikim

How is this Christian?

And the virgin Midianites of Numbers 31. The Israelites killing woman and children, and taking the virgin females as captives.

It just seems so evil, even if accept this is not real history and just a story.

I dont know how to reconcile this with the God of love of the new testament? :shrug:

I believe in God and want to continue to be a Christian, but this is a major stumbling block for me.

Help please.


#2

Actually, the Gibeonites survived because they tricked Israel into making a covenant with them (God punished Israel during the reign of King David because King Saul had killed some Gibeonites in his zeal for the Lord).

Would God be just in executing judgment against someone when they sin? Even in the NT, we see Ananias and Sapphira being killed by God for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). Even babies die (thanks to original sin). The fact that God does not kill us immediately when we sin is a testimony to His goodness, mercy, and extension of grace. In the case of the peoples wiped out by the Israelites, they had corrupted themselves to the point that God removed His mercy and grace from them, allowing them to be killed by Israel. This was God's judgment against these people. You may ask, "Why didn't God just kill them Himself?" Can't God use men to fulfill His will? Didn't God use Assyria to punish Israel? I would also point out that God promised to drive them out little by little so that the land wouldn't become full of wild animals. I would suggest that this also allowed Israel the time to occupy the territories they were allotted.

Rest assured, God is just, and His command to wipe these people out was a righteous command. He did extend mercy in that He allowed for virgin girls to be spared (He also gave specific instructions on how they were to be treated). I believe God still uses men (and nations) to carry out His will today. I find no inconsistency between God in the Old or New Testament.


#3

[quote="Cachonga, post:2, topic:346193"]
..Rest assured, God is just, and His command to wipe these people out was a righteous command...

[/quote]

Wiping people out means killing thousands upon thousands of men, women and children. Isnt there something wrong with this image? :shrug:

I was reading some writing of Padre Pio and he frequently refers to God as having "infinite love". What about love towards the people of Canaan and Midian? Didnt those children deserve a chance of a life?

If they are born into the wrong place it wasnt their fault. And surely innocent babies shouldnt pay with their lives. How is that "righteous"?

If we are as people imperfect in our love, and we can see that killing is wrong esp. innocent women and children, shouldnt logically, it follow, that a being of infinite love would show compassion towards all of his creation, and not just a chosen people?


#4

[quote="Cachonga, post:2, topic:346193"]

[/quote]

It says "former roman catholic" by your name? Why did you leave, and what to?


#5

What about the flood? God wiped out the entire human population except for Noah and his family (not to mention animals as well). Was God justified in wiping out those people? Including women and children? You seem to have a problem with the idea of people being "innocent" before God. If God had killed Adam as soon as he ate the forbidden fruit, would He have been just? I would say so! Again, this is a demonstration of His mercy and grace. We are all born with original sin (thanks to Adam), which is why babies die. Even baptized babies die (which leads me to believe that baptism doesn't wash away original sin, but that's another topic for a different thread). Because of sin (including original sin) nobody is "innocent" before God.

In regard to God's love, remember the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt 13:24-30)? The field was the world; the wheat was God's people; the tares were the devil's people. God allows them to grow together, but that doesn't mean He loves the tares as much as the wheat (and we never see in any parables or other teaching in Scripture where someone changes from a tare to wheat, or vice-verse. Remember, God is the potter, we are the clay. He makes us for His purpose, whether for honor or dishonor. If God loves everyone the same, why is John known as the disciple that Jesus loved? Do you think God loves those in Hell in the same way He loves those in Heaven (like Mary)? I would suggest that if that was the case, He would be very sad because those in Hell are not with Him in Heaven.

As far as why I left the church, since that is personal and off topic, I will answer by way of PM.


#6

Here is a link to Jimmy Akin's take on the "dark passages" of Scripture. It goes into some detail about several different passages that can trouble us.

jimmyakin.com/2012/10/the-dark-passages-of-scripture.html

A couple of other points to consider in all this:

  1. God owes us nothing. He can end all life right now if He chooses, and He would not be "wrong" in doing so. We only exist because He creates us. If He chooses to stop creating us, He has done nothing wrong.

  2. All people are going to die. Many in absolutely awful and terrible conditions for their entire life. But God will judge them perfectly and reward them if over-abundantly should they be seeking to do His will as best they can if they do not know Him, or by following Christ's commands.

  3. You are assuming these people were good or decent. We have no knowledge of that. In fact, the few pieces of info we have on them, they are wildly evil people.

  4. The innocents who died will be protected by God in Heaven.

  5. They could at any point withdraw and leave, but chose to stay and fight. In these battles, long before the army even arrives, messengers are sent ahead to offer them the opportunity to vacate and be spared. These battles didn't happen suddenly, they took weeks and weeks or longer.

Hopefully this helps. I would strongly urge you to read Jimmy Akin's take. He puts it into perspective.


#7

For some reason you can't receive PM's, so I'll go ahead and put my intended PM message here -

I left the church for a lot of reasons, but primarily because I became convinced that Sola Scriptura was correct. I find nothing in Scripture to support many of the dogmas and teachings of the church. Even Catholic scholars like Ludwig Ott admit that things like the immaculate conception and bodily assumption have no basis in Scripture (other than "indications" that have to be read out of context to even get the idea of the dogma). I have listened to Catholic Apologists in debate with protestants (like James White), as well as their own teachings (by way of CD or MP3). I find many of their arguments to be very surface level (good rebuttal for Jack Chick, but not so much for knowledgeable Protestants). When I look up references, I find many times they are taken out of context (such as the claim of 33,000+ Protestant denominations), or even non-existent (such as "Rome has spoken, the case is closed"). Shouldn't someone who claims to represent the God of Truth speak the truth? I would think so!

I have had a long journey to get where I am now, but I am a convinced, full, 5 point Calvinist, and a member of a Reformed Baptist Church.


#8

[quote="zz912, post:6, topic:346193"]
Here is a link to Jimmy Akin's take on the "dark passages" of Scripture. It goes into some detail about several different passages that can trouble us.

jimmyakin.com/2012/10/the-dark-passages-of-scripture.html...

[/quote]

Thanks for the link and your points to consider. I read this and give it some thought.


#9

[quote="Cachonga, post:7, topic:346193"]
..I have had a long journey to get where I am now, but I am a convinced, full, 5 point Calvinist, and a member of a Reformed Baptist Church.

[/quote]

A radical change! I bet you have some interesting debates here.


#10

[quote="Dave_B, post:1, topic:346193"]
Hi All

I am struggling with the old testament "genocides".
...

How is this Christian?

[/quote]

I too have struggled with these verses, among others. I have come to realize that these verses are not historical. There is absolutely no archaeological evidence to support the conquests and genocides in Joshua. Archaeological evidence only corroborates Bible stories beginning with the Book of Judges, the book after Joshua in the Biblical chronology.

These are figurative stories, though inspired, that fit into a larger narrative of how Israel became the chosen people of God, and how they came to settle into their land. In particular, the book of Joshua is believed to be a product of the "Deuteronomist" author/editor, which had an theological emphasis on Israel as the chosen people, dwelling in the chosen land, worshiping in the chosen temple.

I find that looking at the Bible as a product of inspired humans, who modified the text and canon over time is both consistent with modern Biblical scholarship and avoids the notion that God is genocidal -- a notion that is very troubling to me as well.

I'm editing this reply to say that another "dark passage" is what drove a friend of mine to atheism as a young teenager. She had been very devoutly Catholic, and when she told a nun that she was considering a vocation, that nun recommended that she begin reading the Bible. She was 12 or 13 when this happened. When she came to the passage in Genesis where Lot offers his daughters to the mob, it caused her to doubt the goodness of God, and to start her eventual walk to atheism. I wish that someone had guided her more...


#11

You may want to double check that assertion. There is archaeological evidence for the conquest of Canaan. Keep in mind, some evidence is hard to find since Joshua was commanded to wipe out all traces of the conquered people (see here for an example).

These are figurative stories, though inspired, that fit into a larger narrative of how Israel became the chosen people of God, and how they came to settle into their land. In particular, the book of Joshua is believed to be a product of the "Deuteronomist" author/editor, which had an theological emphasis on Israel as the chosen people, dwelling in the chosen land, worshiping in the chosen temple.

You sound like a liberal theologian that doesn't believe that Scripture is God-breathed. Is what you're claiming "infallible" church teaching, or is it just your opinion?

I find that looking at the Bible as a product of inspired humans, who modified the text and canon over time is both consistent with modern Biblical scholarship and avoids the notion that God is genocidal -- a notion that is very troubling to me as well.

There's the problem. Scripture was given by God. He used men to write it, but it is from God, not man. I find it very disturbing that someone who claims to be a Catholic would treat Scripture in this way!

I'm editing this reply to say that another "dark passage" is what drove a friend of mine to atheism as a young teenager. She had been very devoutly Catholic, and when she told a nun that she was considering a vocation, that nun recommended that she begin reading the Bible. She was 12 or 13 when this happened. When she came to the passage in Genesis where Lot offers his daughters to the mob, it caused her to doubt the goodness of God, and to start her eventual walk to atheism. I wish that someone had guided her more...

Why would the failing of a man be counted against God?


#12

[quote="Cachonga, post:11, topic:346193"]
You may want to double check that assertion. There is archaeological evidence for the conquest of Canaan. Keep in mind, some evidence is hard to find since Joshua was commanded to wipe out all traces of the conquered people (see here for an example).

[/quote]

Without going into detail, I'll suggest you watch a documentary on the history of the Hebrew Bible. For example, The Bible's Buried Secrets (PBS Nova).

You sound like a liberal theologian that doesn't believe that Scripture is God-breathed. Is what you're claiming "infallible" church teaching, or is it just your opinion?

It's not my opinion. It's the mainstream opinion that results from analyzing the Bible with historical-critical methods, which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said were important, and which the Pontifical Biblical Commission endorsed as a valid method of scriptural study, as long as it's done prayerfully.

There's the problem. Scripture was given by God. He used men to write it, but it is from God, not man.

So did God make the mistake in Mark 1:2-3 where the author attributes the entire quote to Isaiah? Perhaps it was God who corrected his own error in Matthew 3:3 and removed the part of the original quote that came from Malachi?

Sorry, that the authors was inspired does not mean that the Bible contains the literal words spoken by God. The Holy Spirit is responsible for the process, but it's humans that do it.

I find it very disturbing that someone who claims to be a Catholic would treat Scripture in this way!

Why so? As I've noted, the Pontifical Biblical Commission -- the preface to which was written by the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) has endorsed the method. To quote:
"The historical-critical method is the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of ancient texts. Holy Scripture, inasmuch as it is the "word of God in human language," has been composed by human authors in all its various parts and in all the sources that lie behind them. Because of this, its proper understanding not only admits the use of this method **but actually requires it.*"
* (emphasis added by me)

I'll add my personal view that to refuse to consider scientific and historiographic analysis of the Bible is to court idolatry. The Bible is Holy Scripture, but how we interpret it is not given by God.

Why would the failing of a man be counted against God?

Don't ask me, it was my friend's interpretation that led her to atheism. And I know plenty of other young women who found the text troubling. Lot is the "good guy" in that part of the story, so I'd guess that she found issue with his actions.

Overall, the BIble has many passages that people find objectionable, and it's not because they're not trying to "conform their will and intellect" to God's wisdom. These passages are legitimately difficult and troubling and their interpretation can't be forced into a pietistic "this is God's word... accept it as holy or else." I know people (generally, people raised in fundamentalist-oriented families) who have walked away from faith because they were told that using their reason was not an important part of faith.

That is how as a Catholic I can read the scripture like this. Because I place my trust in Jesus to lead me to the truth. He is the center of my faith. I trust the Holy Spirit to be with me when I read the Bible. When someone comes to me with a troubling verse, I encourage them to be honest with themselves because in bringing their troubles to God, he opens our minds to Him.


#13

PBS Nova? Is that what you consider fair and unbiased? I would consider this almost as reliable as anything you could find on Wikipedia (which I do not consider a reliable source of info). Question - has any archaeological discovery ever DISPROVEN any Biblical claim?

It's not my opinion. It's the mainstream opinion that results from analyzing the Bible with historical-critical methods, which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said were important, and which the Pontifical Biblical Commission endorsed as a valid method of scriptural study, as long as it's done prayerfully.

Sadly, the "mainstream" is heading more to the left all the time. I believe what the Scripture says about itself ("All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice," 2 Tim 3:16 DRA). I do recognize that textual variants have crept in over the years (only to be expected with hand-written documents), but the actual writings are still present and discernable (in spite of what Bart Erhman and other athiests have to say).

So did God make the mistake in Mark 1:2-3 where the author attributes the entire quote to Isaiah? Perhaps it was God who corrected his own error in Matthew 3:3 and removed the part of the original quote that came from Malachi?

While I am not a Scriptural scholar, it seems to me that it is not out of line the add a verse from a minor prophet (like Malachi) without naming him when it's in connection with a quote from a major prophet (like Isaiah). I find nothing inconsistent with Mark 1:2-3.

Sorry, that the authors was inspired does not mean that the Bible contains the literal words spoken by God. The Holy Spirit is responsible for the process, but it's humans that do it.

Sorry that you don't believe what Scripture says about itself!

Why so? As I've noted, the Pontifical Biblical Commission -- the preface to which was written by the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) has endorsed the method. To quote:
"The historical-critical method is the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of ancient texts. Holy Scripture, inasmuch as it is the "word of God in human language," has been composed by human authors in all its various parts and in all the sources that lie behind them. Because of this, its proper understanding not only admits the use of this method but actually requires it."
(emphasis added by me)

Sorry that Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus) doesn't believe what Scripture says about itself!

I'll add my personal view that to refuse to consider scientific and historiographic analysis of the Bible is to court idolatry. The Bible is Holy Scripture, but how we interpret it is not given by God.

No problem. I feel the same way about prayers to the saints, but that's another topic for another thread.


#14

By Nova, I gave a single example. I didn’t mean it to represent the totality of available evidence. However, to discount a particular program/media group simply because you don’t find it appeals to your sentiments is to also present a know cognitive bias: confirmation bias. That is, to only reference evidence that supports your own views, and to discount others (usually without reference to the merits of their argument). Please feel free to look up any other source, but please don’t “cherry pick” that which you consider to be theologically acceptable.

Question - has any archaeological discovery ever DISPROVEN any Biblical claim?

Well, it’s almost impossible to prove a negative. But given that, it can be said that, for the stories of the conquests of Canaanite cities by Joshua, there are no archaeological signs of a battle in which one army conquered the cities. Archaeologists are often able to find signs of battle where and when they occur; in the case of the battles in Joshua, there’s just no evidence.

Sadly, the “mainstream” is heading more to the left all the time.

Again, please make sure not to simply discount sources because the results of their research make your beliefs more difficult to accept.

I believe what the Scripture says about itself (“All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice,” 2 Tim 3:16 DRA). I do recognize that textual variants have crept in over the years (only to be expected with hand-written documents), but the actual writings are still present and discernable (in spite of what Bart Erhman and other athiests have to say).

The quote from 2 Timothy say absolutely nothing about how to interpret scripture, nor does it actually define what scripture is! What are you supposed to teach from scripture? For example, do you teach that Job was a real person, or that the story is a figurative story that teaches truths about human suffering? 2 Timothy is utterly no help here.

Second, given the time and place for its authorship (likely the early 2nd century), it is unlikely that any standard canon of scripture was available. As evidence of that claim: the Book of Jude. It cites two works that are not part of the Hebrew canon, nor any Christian canon: the Assumption of Moses (Jude 9) and the Book of Enoch (Jude 14–15). 2 Peter (probably the last-written book of the New Testament) cites Jude and omits those lines, probably reflecting a growing sense of canonicity about the Hebrew scriptures.

While I am not a Scriptural scholar, it seems to me that it is not out of line the add a verse from a minor prophet (like Malachi) without naming him when it’s in connection with a quote from a major prophet (like Isaiah). I find nothing inconsistent with Mark 1:2-3.

Then why did the author Matthew remove the quote from Malachi when using the material from Mark? Matthew is recognized as the “most Jewish” of the Gospel writers (which I would dispute, given John’s use of midrash-type narrative). Matthew appears to have recognized that Mark misquoted Malachi as Isaiah and corrected it.

Actually, Mark misquotes scripture elsewhere. In Mark 2:25-26, he incorrectly recounts the story of David from 1 Samuel 21:2-7. There’s extremely good historical-critical reason to believe that this text was not actually spoken by Jesus (reference: John P. Meier – see this link.) Jesus was a noted debater who regularly engaged the Pharisees, who were scriptural experts, in debates over halakha (Jewish law). Jesus would not challenge the Pharisees by recalling the story of David wrongly, so it’s evidence that Mark invented the words in order to provide a teaching story about Jesus’ views of the sabbath (i.e., “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”)

Sorry that you don’t believe what Scripture says about itself!

I don’t understand what you’re saying. 2 Timothy doesn’t say anything whatsoever about how to interpret scripture! There is absolutely nothing there that says that you have to take stories in scripture literally.

Sorry that Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus) doesn’t believe what Scripture says about itself!

Maybe you could explain what scripture says about itself. 2 Timothy says that studying and teaching scripture is a good thing. No disagreement here. What else are you getting out of that passage that I’m not?

The bottom line for me, given the OP and the topic of this thread, is that the genocidal stories of Joshua, plus other “dark passages” (e.g., Psalm 137:9, Exodus 12:29-30, Deuteronomy 15:5-15) have to be taken with a view toward what the writers were trying to teach. Most of those stories are about God making Israel the elect, putting it ahead of all other nations. And God did that.


#15

[quote="Dave_B, post:1, topic:346193"]
Hi All

I am struggling with the old testament "genocides".

Joshua 10:40 - "So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded."

In Joshua the Israelites utterly destroy every living thing of

people of Ai
the Gibeonites
people of Makkedah
the Libnahites
the people of Lachish
the Egonlites
the Hebronites
the Debieites
the people of Anikim

How is this Christian?

And the virgin Midianites of Numbers 31. The Israelites killing woman and children, and taking the virgin females as captives.

It just seems so evil, even if accept this is not real history and just a story.

I dont know how to reconcile this with the God of love of the new testament? :shrug:

I believe in God and want to continue to be a Christian, but this is a major stumbling block for me.

Help please.

[/quote]

I know it is hard to reconcile these with God's love in the New Testament. And yet God's word is truth. If that is so then the killings were definitely not because God did not love them.

We often rationalize the action of God according to our own terms thus perhaps this is one reason why it is so difficult to understand what God is doing.

Maybe a guide here and God's truth too: that death and sicknesses are not necessary punishment of God.


#16

[quote="fnr, post:10, topic:346193"]
... I'm editing this reply to say that another "dark passage" is what drove a friend of mine to atheism as a young teenager. She had been very devoutly Catholic, and when she told a nun that she was considering a vocation, that nun recommended that she begin reading the Bible. She was 12 or 13 when this happened. When she came to the passage in Genesis where Lot offers his daughters to the mob, it caused her to doubt the goodness of God, and to start her eventual walk to atheism. I wish that someone had guided her more...

[/quote]

I think this is very common, and this is why we shouldnt ignore these concerns, and sweep them under the carpet. But should aim to understand why they are written and what it means, and be honest with ourselves, even if it may put into question scriptural inerrancy. I am glad I am not the only one uncomfortable with "dark passages" in the OT.


#17

I have examined programs from Nova, PBS, Nat Geo and others, and I find them to be consistently biased against the divine inspiration of Scripture.

Well, it's almost impossible to prove a negative. But given that, it can be said that, for the stories of the conquests of Canaanite cities by Joshua, there are no archaeological signs of a battle in which one army conquered the cities. Archaeologists are often able to find signs of battle where and when they occur; in the case of the battles in Joshua, there's just no evidence.

So if there is no evidence that the conquest of Canaan didn't happen as described in the OT, then why should I doubt the truth of Scripture?

Again, please make sure not to simply discount sources because the results of their research make your beliefs more difficult to accept.

Again, I have examined many "mainstream" views and find them just as unreliable as anything found on PBS, Nova or Nat Geo.

The quote from 2 Timothy say absolutely nothing about how to interpret scripture, nor does it actually define what scripture is! What are you supposed to teach from scripture? For example, do you teach that Job was a real person, or that the story is a figurative story that teaches truths about human suffering? 2 Timothy is utterly no help here.

The point of quoting 2 Tim is that Scripture is God-breathed, which (I would assert) removes it from other human writings, and therefore the historical-critical method of interpretation may not be the best (just curious, but how would the historical-critical method help you interpret the book of Judith?).

Second, given the time and place for its authorship (likely the early 2nd century), it is unlikely that any standard canon of scripture was available. As evidence of that claim: the Book of Jude. It cites two works that are not part of the Hebrew canon, nor any Christian canon: the Assumption of Moses (Jude 9) and the Book of Enoch (Jude 14–15). 2 Peter (probably the last-written book of the New Testament) cites Jude and omits those lines, probably reflecting a growing sense of canonicity about the Hebrew scriptures.

Odd that Peter would mention Paul's writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Don't forget, Paul also quoted from pagan philosophers, and nobody accepts those writings as Scripture (these are good arguments against the deuterocanonical books, but that's another topic for another thread). BTW - the books of the NT were written in the 1st century (when the "authors" were still alive).

Then why did the author Matthew remove the quote from Malachi when using the material from Mark? Matthew is recognized as the "most Jewish" of the Gospel writers (which I would dispute, given John's use of midrash-type narrative). Matthew appears to have recognized that Mark misquoted Malachi as Isaiah and corrected it.

Matthew quotes from Malachi again in Matt 11:10, yet doesn't mention who the prophet was that said this. In fact, there are many times when no Prophet is named when Scripture is quoted.

Actually, Mark misquotes scripture elsewhere. In Mark 2:25-26, he incorrectly recounts the story of David from 1 Samuel 21:2-7. There's extremely good historical-critical reason to believe that this text was not actually spoken by Jesus (reference: John P. Meier -- see this link.) Jesus was a noted debater who regularly engaged the Pharisees, who were scriptural experts, in debates over halakha (Jewish law). Jesus would not challenge the Pharisees by recalling the story of David wrongly, so it's evidence that Mark invented the words in order to provide a teaching story about Jesus' views of the sabbath (i.e., "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.")

You missed the context of Mark 2:25-26. Jesus is not quoting 1 Samuel 32:2-7 (notice how He doesn't say, "It is written" before making the statement), but is simply recounting the incident (paraphrasing, if you will).

I don't understand what you're saying. 2 Timothy doesn't say anything whatsoever about how to interpret scripture! There is absolutely nothing there that says that you have to take stories in scripture literally.

Again, the point of 2 Tim is that Scripture is God-breathed, not human-inspired.

Maybe you could explain what scripture says about itself. 2 Timothy says that studying and teaching scripture is a good thing. No disagreement here. What else are you getting out of that passage that I'm not?

Once again, the point of 2 Tim is that Scripture is God-breathed, not human-inspired.

The bottom line for me, given the OP and the topic of this thread, is that the genocidal stories of Joshua, plus other "dark passages" (e.g., Psalm 137:9, Exodus 12:29-30, Deuteronomy 15:5-15) have to be taken with a view toward what the writers were trying to teach. Most of those stories are about God making Israel the elect, putting it ahead of all other nations. And God did that.

Would the "lessons" be any less valid if the events described actually happened? Sorry that you think there are "dark passages" in Scripture (I don't find them to be so).


#18

[quote="Cachonga, post:17, topic:346193"]
I have examined programs from Nova, PBS, Nat Geo and others, and I find them to be consistently biased against the divine inspiration of Scripture.

[/quote]

Well, then I would guess that you would reject most modern historiography, including that used by Catholic scholars (e.g., John Meier, Pope Benedict XVI) and most other Christian scholars (e.g., Craig Evans, Craig Blomberg, N.T. Wright, Daniel Wallace). Every single one of them uses what's called the "historical-critical" approach.

This approach to scripture is based on understanding that a text was written in a particular historical context, with a particular audience in mind. It's a basic part of both exegesis and of historical studies of the Bible.

If you start from the presumption that God wrote Scripture in an inerrant manner, it becomes impossible to conduct objective historical research. I don't want to presume that you do so, but could you reference for me scholars that you think are both credible and objective?

So if there is no evidence that the conquest of Canaan didn't happen as described in the OT, then why should I doubt the truth of Scripture?

Because for just about every major battle that ends in the destruction of a city, there is a very clear archaeological record. While it's possible to do mental gymnastics to come up with a historical explanation that avoids any of the troubling lack of evidence, it's impossible to objectively discount all archaeology because it doesn't support your view of scripture. God doesn't want us to suspend our reason!

Again, I have examined many "mainstream" views and find them just as unreliable as anything found on PBS, Nova or Nat Geo.

It seems as though you define reliability on the basis of the conclusions that researchers draw. I would suggest that you instead define reliability on the basis of using the methods of professional historiography. If a historian uses methods that are widely accepted by other historians (who can be Christian, atheist, Muslim, or any other religion), then their conclusions should be treated with equal regard as those of any other historical work. If the work is done carefully and objectively and their conclusions are based on documentation of sufficient evidence, that to me defines "reliable."

Bart Ehrman, for example, is an atheist/agnostic text critic. That is true. He is also the author of an "Introduction to New Testament" textbook that is (from what I've heard) the most widely-used textbook in Christian seminaries. Does his being an atheist disqualify his scholarship? Not at all. If he uses adequate methods, it's valid work.

Granted, Ehrman engages in much polemical debate in which he talks about the "copies of copies of copies" of biblical manuscripts, but he reaches conclusions that I don't believe any modern Biblical critic dismisses out of hand. For example, the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 is not in any of the earliest manuscripts we have. Does the fact that he, an atheist, thinks it was added to the manuscript by later Christians mean that he's "unreliable?" Or does the fact that the story's not in any of the earliest manuscripts of John provide evidence? Or, I suppose, we could do mental cartwheels to say that the "real manuscripts" were somehow destroyed, but that's not scientific!

The point of quoting 2 Tim is that Scripture is God-breathed, which (I would assert) removes it from other human writings, and therefore the historical-critical method of interpretation may not be the best (just curious, but how would the historical-critical method help you interpret the book of Judith?).

Well, how about we turn to 2 Timothy itself? It claims to be written by Paul. Was it? Here is a quotation from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop's introduction to the epistle in the New American Bible:
From the late second century to the nineteenth, Pauline authorship of the three Pastoral Epistles went unchallenged. Since then, the attribution of these letters to Paul has been questioned. **Most scholars are convinced that Paul could not have been responsible for the vocabulary and style, the concept of church organization, or the theological expressions found in these letters.* A second group believes, on the basis of statistical evidence, that the vocabulary and style are Pauline, even if at first sight the contrary seems to be the case. They state that the concept of church organization in the letters is not as advanced as the questioners of Pauline authorship hold since the notion of hierarchical order in a religious community existed in Israel before the time of Christ, as evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Finally, this group sees affinities between the theological thought of the Pastorals and that of the unquestionably genuine letters of Paul. Other scholars, while conceding a degree of validity to the positions mentioned above, suggest that the apostle made use of a secretary who was responsible for the composition of the letters. A fourth group of scholars believes that these letters are the work of a compiler, that they are based on traditions about Paul in his later years, and that they include, in varying amounts, actual fragments of genuine Pauline correspondence.
*

For a counter-argument, here's a reference. I'll note that David Wallace, the author (whom I respect very much as a scholar) teaches at an institution where the (unbiblical) doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is promoted.

And even if we assume (against most evidence) that Paul wrote the letter, which I'm absolutely willing to do, I still don't get how you conclude from that text that this means that we don't have an obligation to look at scripture objectively.


#19

Here’s the citation in its larger context in 2 Tim:
"10 You have followed my teaching, way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, persecutions that I endured. Yet from all these things the Lord delivered me. 12 In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. 14 But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, 15 and that from infancy you have known [the] sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work."
Here, scripture is not taken out of context, but described as part of how a believer remains faithful, which includes those “from whom you learned it.” In other words, Sacred Tradition. Scripture does not speak for itself, but is illuminated through the teachings of the Church.

Odd that Peter would mention Paul’s writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Don’t forget, Paul also quoted from pagan philosophers, and nobody accepts those writings as Scripture (these are good arguments against the deuterocanonical books, but that’s another topic for another thread). BTW - the books of the NT were written in the 1st century (when the “authors” were still alive).

Yes, 2 Peter references Paul’s writings, but that doesn’t tell us how we are to read them.

As to the authorship of the books of the NT, I’ll just say that the majority of Bible scholars do not agree with your assessment of timing.

Matthew quotes from Malachi again in Matt 11:10, yet doesn’t mention who the prophet was that said this. In fact, there are many times when no Prophet is named when Scripture is quoted.

But Matthew uses 95% of the text of Mark, so his editing of the quote suggests that he was correcting it.

You missed the context of Mark 2:25-26. Jesus is not quoting 1 Samuel 32:2-7 (notice how He doesn’t say, “It is written” before making the statement), but is simply recounting the incident (paraphrasing, if you will).

Here are the verses:
*25He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? 26How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?”
*
So here, Jesus is depicted is challenging the Pharisees on what is written. But what he says is not written in 1 Samuel, or in any other portion of the Old Testament. In all likelihood, the author of Mark made the mistake, not Jesus.

Again, the point of 2 Tim is that Scripture is God-breathed, not human-inspired.

By what possible reading of this verse do you reach the conclusion that Christians should not be critically evaluating the Bible?

Would the “lessons” be any less valid if the events described actually happened? Sorry that you think there are “dark passages” in Scripture (I don’t find them to be so).

OK. But the entire point of this thread is that the OP did have trouble with these passages. Many people do. That doesn’t mean we’re not faithful. It means that we’re taking our honest concerns to the foot of the Cross and asking Christ to help understand in love what is written in scripture.


#20

Thanks for that comment! I totally agree. When someone has trouble with a passage, it does no good (IMHO) to tell them that they just shouldn’t. God doesn’t want us lying to ourselves. Part of faith is being willing to take that discomfort and bring it to other Christians. We are the Church for one another, and together in prayer we can find a way to talk about those passages in a manner that respects God and our intellect.

Fundamentally, I do not believe that it is possible to be honest with other people if we’re not honest with ourselves about this kind of verse in scripture.


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