Problems with strict inerrancy and a question


#1

Hello
I know many Catholics are trying to convert Evangelicals by emphasizing the inerrancy of the bible, but I would point out that these views are without a doubt the most common reason I see for people to give up faith in Christ entirely.

“I stopped believing because I actually started studying my Bible and the faith I had grown up in. As I studied, the handful of contradictions I knew of grew in number, the examples of God behaving like a moral monster in the Old Testament grew in number, and the problems kept piling up until I no longer COULD believe. I wanted to, oh how I wanted to. I read numerous apologetics books that were recommended to put my doubts to rest and books by Christians who had gone through questions and ended up still believing. None of these books gave satisfactory answers. For me, the bottom line was the evidence did not support the faith I had always believed and try as I might, I could not continue to believe it.”

I just read this in a blog. I could give quote after quote of people losing there faith due to some relatively obscure passage in the old testament because inerrancy was taught as if it were a foundation of the faith. Bart Ehrman is one more prominent example.

Now for my question.
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 in the NIV version says:
“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”

Now I realize it does not explicitly say rape in the Catholic translations. For example this is how its worded:

“25 But if it is in the open fields that a man comes upon the betrothed young woman, seizes her and lies with her, only the man who lay with her shall die.
26 You shall do nothing to the young woman, since the young woman is not guilty of a capital offense. As when a man rises up against his neighbor and murders him, so in this case:
27 it was in the open fields that he came upon her, and though the betrothed young woman may have cried out, there was no one to save her.
28 If a man comes upon a young woman, a virgin who is not betrothed, seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered,
29 the man who lay with her shall give the young woman’s father fifty silver shekels and she will be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her as long as he lives.”

So in our bible it is interpreted as “seizes her and lies with her” which is not necessarily rape. Now I am not a Hebrew scholar but I do note that the same “seizes her and lies with her” language is used above at verse 25 which does indeed seem to mean rape.

But even if we accept that this does not mean rape it does indicate that a man must marry a woman who he lies with. This clearly contradicts Catholic teaching.

Now I understand that as a Catholic we believe these rules of deuteronomy were essentially overruled by the new covenant. (although I would love to see some clear authority on this) The reason these could be overruled is that that these were evidently not moral teachings (God’s moral teachings never change right?) Well then is the Catholic Churches teaching (that people should not get married just because they lie together) that overrules this, a moral teaching? Can that change?

And what of the people in the past before Christ. Did God require that they marry if the man “seizes her and lies with her” (whatever that meant) or not?

If we do then it seems we have to read “seizes her and lies with her” to mean rape in one sentence but something different in a few sentences above. Or we are saying God requires a woman to marry her rapist.

Are these laws to be considered laws from God that are “not good” Ezek 20:25–26?

Thanks for reading and I appreciate any thoughts on this even if they involve some conjecture.


#2

Discussed here:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=863226&highlight=rape


#3

A long post, perhaps best taken in small chunks. About inerrancy. The CCC (para 107) teaches:

“Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”

This does not mean that every single statement in the Bible is LITERALLY true. For example, Scripture gives two accounts of creation in Genesis (Chapter 1 and Chapter 2). In chapter 1 man is created first. In chapter 2 man is created last. However, each chapter is trying to teach the same truth - that man is uniquely created by God (separate from the rest of creation).

Are there APPARENT contradictions in Sacred Scripture? Yes. Are there ACTUAL contradictions in Sacred Scripture? No - not when the passage(s) are correctly understood. And it is the role of the Church to supply the “correctly understood” part.


#4

According to what I read in St. Therese of Lisiuex’s The Story of a Soul, the reason Old Testament laws were so harsh by modern standards is that mankind before the coming of Jesus was hard-hearted and given to self-love, hence the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” from Leviticus 19:18. However, once Jesus gave Himself up for us through the Eucharist, He now dwells within believers, so we are now capable of following the “new command” from the New Testament: “Love one another as I have loved you” from John 13:34. Now we are capable of following that commandment, with the fullness of Divine Revelation.

Hope that helps. :slight_smile:


#5

Please keep in mind that from one translation to another, the translators are constrained not only by the original texts, but by copyright law. I took the time to compare several different translations of a text and the wording was always twisted, so that one could not be accused of plagiarism and copyright violation.

So, I wouldn’t suggest that you take it upon yourself to make major decisions because of the differences in translations. The Pontifical Biblical Commission recommends that the average Catholic should read the Bible alongside a commentary, to help understand it.

I recommend also that we are all to be very humble when approaching the word of God. We should not jump to superficial text criticism, when we are not formally qualified to do such a thing.

One comment about this particular text, is that it describes a command (lifelong marriage) as a deterrent against the action it describes.

Consider the command that a son who does not obey his father and his mother is to be stoned to death. This is obviously a command that is written to deter the action it describes, to be the “stick” type of command to keep one from disrespecting one’s parents.

Consider the joy when a son contemplates the truth of God’s law and lives according to it.

Don’t be so quick to criticize God.


#6

I don’t think that mankind has changed all that much from the OT. We have laws in Western society that makes us appear less barbaric but look at countries that don’t have such laws, they seem as harsh as any OT story (women have virtually no rights in many countries today).

Not everyone follows the “love your neighbor as yourself”. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were so because there would be no wars and women everywhere would enjoy equality.


#7

It’s an excellent question and one that deserves an answer.

I personally believe that the Bible is figurative. Both OT and NT must be the same because “God does not change” (after-all, Jesus was always quoting the prophets, treating those as the very words of God).

In the NT parable of the virgins (Matt. 25) they were virgins because of *following the word of God * (or what they thought it was, although five were foolish).

God is not a person of contradictions, and being “all knowing” and therefore, knowing that people and situations are different would not put a ‘carte-blanche’ stamp on everything.


#8

Another example is a virgin (in a physical sense) that was raped and struggled against the act. Would God judge her as unclean because of a situation that was forced upon her?

If He did then He would be unjust but we know that He is just, so then the figurative meaning makes far more sense.

I’m thinking of real life situations. I know women that lived during WW11 and told of when the Russians overran Germany at the end of the war. The Russians were brutal and raped women (continuously) as old as 80 years old and as young as 12 (that I heard). I can tell you that those women did not want it that way and did not ask for it. And God would never be so cruel as to judge them for it, nor would He turn around and make them marry the man/men - because very often there were many men that raped the same girl or woman. So if the verse holds true, then which man that raped her should marry the girl or woman?


#9

It’s ironic for me to hear that “many Catholics are trying to convert Evangelicals by emphasizing the inerrancy of the bible,” when, among many other protestant churches that I visited before converting to the church which Christ Himself established, I briefly attended a fundamentalist Baptist church, and heard the phrase, “the inerrancy of the King James Bible.”

The King James Bible in its original format contained the apocryphal texts when it was printed in 1611. It wasn’t until 1885 in the USA that those books were removed. A pastor at that fundamentalist church told his congregation on many occasions to thank Calvin, Luther, and Tyndale for the “true” bible that they hold in their hands.

Years before I attended that church, while taking a basic history course in college, the professor, who was Jewish, told the class about the editing which had occurred in the King James and subsequent bible “versions.” I was shocked and appalled. Who would change the words of God?! Anyway, the problem for me was absolutely that I desired to know what it was that God wanted me to know, without error. That was the start of my 22 year search for “God.” But that is another story.

In all the years that I compared the Vulgate, the Septuagint, the Douay Rheims, the King James and other protestant bibles among other Christian writings, I was never approached by a Catholic at my doorstep or in any other place either public or private regarding conversion or damnation or inerrancy, etc.

I apologize for not addressing certain specific points in your question, brother. But some of those points remind me of issues I found offensive in various protestant churches. As for the issue of inerrancy in THE bible, I suggest getting as close to the original source (Christ Jesus, the Apostles, the prophets, and God the Father) as possible.

Peace be with you


#10

I agree. Anyone who’s been in a Protestant church knows that they are strict adherents of the inerrancy of the Bible, because even though they venerate many of the martyrs and saints of Protestantism, for them *the Bible * is the final word on everything.

It was a huge mistake to remove the apocryphal books (Adam and Eve, Enoch, Odes of Solomon) as they are actually repeats of the Bible and so inspired.

It’s a common bias that the Jewish Professor has, some things were added like, “and these three are one” and the name Lucifer - but for the most part the KJV has retained it’s otherworldly attributes more than other versions, otherwise the confirming principle would not work as well as it does:

“Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings **out of his treasure **things new and old.” (Matt. 13:52)

"Where **your treasure **is, there will your heart will be.” (Matt. 6:21, Luke 12:34)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is** like unto treasure **hid in a field; the which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.” (Matt. 13:44)

“(10)Who can find a virtuous woman?…(16) She considers a field and buys it.” (Prov. 31:10-16)

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” (Prov. 31:10)

“No mention shall be made of coral or quartz, for the price of wisdom is above rubies.” (Job 28:18)

“For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.” (Proverbs 8:11)

Therefore we know that the virtuous woman (feminine sense) is wisdom (referred to as she and her)


#11

As for your first paragraph, I don’t know why you would change your beliefs in order to convert me, truth is truth or what you say is false. Don’t adhere to the inerrancy of the Bible for my sake, even though I trust the Bible 100%. Always adhere to what you believe is true.

Secondly, the passage is pretty clear at first that the man who raped her is to be killed; however a reasonable punishment during that time is the man would pay up and be forced to marry her so that she would not have to worry about raising a child of rape or worry about no man wanting her due to her no longer being a virgin.

You see, back then a woman relied on a man’s protection and his ability to provide; therefore if a woman was raped she had no hope in meeting such a man. Her life was ruined, therefore the man had to prove he could provide by paying a ransome and never leaving her after marriage, being forced to take care of only her for the rest of his life. Otherwise he would face death.

Such is not the Law anymore but it was once for the protection of the woman and her future. I know it sounds nuts but it was the lesser of two horrible situations; one, the woman is with an awful man, or two, the woman likely starves because she will never find a provider.

He likely could have been put to death even if he could afford the silver, but some women would choose the alternative knowing that their life went away with their virginity.


#12

I’m ultra conservative, strict, biblical inerrancist, protestant.

What I found is it takes more study to reconcile perceived discrepancies, but it also reveals more as you do the study.

I’d love to see your contradictions and discuss them with you. I highly doubt any Priest, Bishop or other would have issues with my answers for you.


#13

Biblical inerrancy is completely false.

But the Bible was never intended to be read literally from start to finish.

When the Torah was first edited together by the scribes and priests during the Babylonian exile, the teaching from that point onward was that the Torah was given in two parts; the written Torah and the Oral Torah. The written Torah is a coded text and the Oral Torah is the key, or codex for unlocking this code and understanding the language that the Bible was written in. The texts called the writings and the prophets were also written in this same code and the oral Torah was likewise needed to decode these writings.

During the time of Christ, the priests, following the lead of a priest named Sadoc (and that’s why they were called the Sadducees), had abandoned this teaching. They had abandoned the Oral Torah as well as the writings and the prophets and limited their theology to a strict, literalist reading of the written Torah.

The scribes upheld this teaching, the written and Oral Torah as well as the writings and the prophets, and so broke off from the Sadducees. They became known as the Pharisees, which means, “separated ones” in Hebrew.

In Matthew 23:1-3, Jesus endorses the authority of the Pharisees and their teachings, saying that they sit on the seat of Moses. Judaism was divided up into a number of different sects during Jesus’ lifetime and the Pharisees were the only group whose teachings Jesus ever endorsed.

The Catholic Holy Traditions descend from the Tradition of the Pharisees. IWO, the Oral Torah and the Holy Tradition are one and the same. The Holy Spirit is made manifest in the Oral Torah/Holy Tradition and when the it says, in Acts, that the Holy Spirit was poured down upon all flesh, part of the meaning of this was it was time to spread the religion of the God of Israel, including both the written teaching and the Oral Tradition, to all people everywhere.

Among the functions of the Oral Torah/Holy Tradition is that it is a guide to which parts are to be taken strictly literal and which parts are symbolic/allegorical/metaphorical.

I have no idea what HeteroDoxical thinks he has to offer (and I mean no offense toward him personally by saying this) but no amount of serious study in the absence of the Oral Torah is going to clear up the problems that arise as a result of the false doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.

I know. I grew up as a protestant and was a serious Bible student as a child and deconverted to atheism in my late teens/early twenties. The reasons for my deconversion can all be summed up in the two false doctrines of Biblical inerrancy and Sola Scriptura.

Both of these doctrines are demonstrably false, just about any educated atheist or otherwise nonbeliever knows this and no amount of insisting otherwise will make it any less true (sorry HeteroDoxical. I already know your arguments are flawed without ever having to see them).

What brought me to being a believer again was learning to read the Bible, not as the inerrant Word of God, but as an ancient piece of literature and learning to interpret it within the time period and culture in which it was written.


#14

One more thing. I’ve found that teaching people about the Written and Oral Torah/Holy Tradition actually undoes the damage that the Biblical inerrancy causes. I’ve found that a number of atheists and otherwise nonbelievers are a lot more receptive to the Bible once they have some understanding of how it was written and that the ‘codex’ for interpreting it is actually still around.


#15

WELL!!! That settles that. Completely resolved, Jeremyah says so. :expressionless: Who can argue with that. Do you drive a FIAT? Or just use Fiat…

reading it literally, and biblical inerrancy mean what??? How are they related here? Are you going to say no six day creation, so the Bible isn’t inerrant??? That’s going to be comical… no?

And, when you can show that the Oral Torah contradicts and corrects the Written Torah, ye gotz a case…

And when the stars are just right and the mystics share fondue then they can make sticks into snakes.

This makes reading this worth while… :slight_smile:

This would make a good light reading book of history if there was one… or for Discovery channel…

That didn’t take away anything from the Sadducees though… as he addressed them respectively too.l

I’m sorta good with this, as long as it doesn’t create condundrums.

Spoken with the Hubris of a once, or future atheist. :stuck_out_tongue: It’s ok nuttin personal. But, Jerrbare, I’ve had the discussions thousands of times with some relatively intelligent as well as well known Atheists. I’m quite confident I have things to offer you haven’t heard. But, I don’t really care, no skin off my back. I offered, I didn’t expect things.

And, that obviously makes you more intelligent than me. I lose by default. :slight_smile:

Right, I can’t argue with you know my thinking better than I know it. I mean, no matter what I would say, you’d just dismiss me as, “you didn’t think that…” and FIAT kicks in. I can’t win. BUT, that’s what makes it fun, to watch that sorta posturing before any conversation happens. At least, if I do have a chat with that person, I know the amount of narcissistic view points I must over come.

those aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. BUT, don’t let reality mess with your reality. :slight_smile:

Enjoyed it. I got as much information as I did chuckles, I’d say that’s positive all the way round!


#16

Funny, I can accomplish the same claims, the other way.

The preponderance of Atheists, aren’t, they are Pathostheists… sick of God or the people screaming they speak for God.

After I can deprogram all that bs they have been taught… we can have real conversations with things they had never heard of.


#17

This post was not an attempt to argue against Biblical inerrancy but instead started from the point of view that the falseness of Biblical inerrancy was a forgone conclusion and how to proceed from there.

reading it literally, and biblical inerrancy mean what??? How are they related here? Are you going to say no six day creation, so the Bible isn’t inerrant??? That’s going to be comical… no?

Biblical inerrancy, strictly speaking, means that there are no errors in the Bible. And in a strict sense, this is demonstrably false as their are numerous contradictions, factual errors, absurdities and so on.

This is not the same thing as saying that the Bible is infallible. Inerrancy and fallibility are not the same thing. The Bible is, in fact, infallible but only so long as one knows the right way to read it.

There are quite literally millions of different protestant interpretations of the Bible. I have no idea which one you subscribe to. To some protestants, Biblical inerrancy means that the person really believes that the earth was created in six literal days around 6000 years ago, that the stars were placed in the sky on the fourth day and that people at one time really lived almost a thousand years.

To read the Genesis creation story straight, the entire account is erroneous. The earth is 4 billion years old, the stars predate the earth by still more billions of years and humans have never lived for a thousand years.

And, when you can show that the Oral Torah contradicts and corrects the Written Torah, ye gotz a case…

The Oral Torah doesn’t function that way. It appears you don’t really have any knowledge of the written Torah.

And when the stars are just right and the mystics share fondue then they can make sticks into snakes.

You wrote this in response to:

[quote=Jeremyah]The written Torah is a coded text and the Oral Torah is the key, or codex for unlocking this code and understanding the language that the Bible was written in. The texts called the writings and the prophets were also written in this same code and the oral Torah was likewise needed to decode these writings.
[/quote]

It appears that you don’t have any clue at all what I’m talking about and so I’ll try to clear it up for you.

Religious cultures predate religious texts and the religious texts are written in the language of the religious cultures that give rise to the texts in the first place. And so in order to understand the use of language of a given religious text, it is necessary to be familiar with the religious culture that gave rise to the text.

This phenomenon is not unique to Judaism or Christianity. The Thai Buddhist culture has it’s own list of symbols. In the Thai Buddhist culture, the tiger is used as a symbol to represent certain specific meanings that are unknown to the rest of the world. If one reads about tigers in a Thai Buddhist religious text, they must be familiar with the way that a tiger is viewed in the Thai Buddhist culture in order to properly understand the meaning of the text.

The Torah was first given to Moses from God on Sinai but the Oral Torah was given first. The only part of the written Torah that was given was the Ten Commandments (and Moses destroyed the original tablets that they were written on). The Oral Torah was the religious culture that was given to Moses from God and that Moses taught to the Hebrews during the 40 years in the wilderness before entering the promise land.

The written Torah, AKA, the books of Moses, were first edited together into one collective work during the Babylonian exile. Until then, the written Torah was not one single work but was a collection of scrolls in no particular order. When the Temple was being destroyed, the priests and the scribes grabbed what they could carry and brought it with them when they were transported to Babylon.

Since they were the educated class, it was up to them to preserve the religion and the culture. Since they were surrounded by Pagan Babylon, it was necessary to codify the religious practice. And so they edited the various scrolls into one continuous work and codified the religious culture and practice around this continuous work.

This would make a good light reading book of history if there was one… or for Discovery channel…

I don’t know what you are getting at.

That didn’t take away anything from the Sadducees though… as he addressed them respectively too.l

Jesus respected their office but never endorsed their doctrine. The teachings of the Sadducees were in direct conflict with the Pharisees and Jesus took the side of the Pharisees.


#18

I’m sorta good with this, as long as it doesn’t create condundrums.

Again, I don’t know what you are driving at here.

Spoken with the Hubris of a once, or future atheist. :stuck_out_tongue: It’s ok nuttin personal. But, Jerrbare, I’ve had the discussions thousands of times with some relatively intelligent as well as well known Atheists. I’m quite confident I have things to offer you haven’t heard. But, I don’t really care, no skin off my back. I offered, I didn’t expect things.

I was an atheist at one time. I’m not now but I was an atheist for 14 years and I have a pretty good knowledge of a long list of the atheist arguments from a number of different angles.

And to be quite honest and frank, I doubt seriously that you really understand how a rational, logical, scientifically skeptical atheist’s mind works. I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that you have ever been able to convince one of these types that the Bible is, in fact, inerrant.

Quite frankly, the protestant position is absurd, ahistorical and demonstrably false and most atheists of this stride are not going to find any argument for God or Christianity that is based in Protestantism to be the least bit convincing. Protestant arguments rarely (if ever) amount to anything more than just preaching to the choir.

And, that obviously makes you more intelligent than me. I lose by default. :slight_smile:

In response to:

I know. I grew up as a protestant and was a serious Bible student as a child and deconverted to atheism in my late teens/early twenties. The reasons for my deconversion can all be summed up in the two false doctrines of Biblical inerrancy and Sola Scriptura.

Maybe not necessarily more intelligent over all but more familiar with the territory, that being people that have read the Bible and rejected faith in God as a result of doing this.

I won’t say you loose by default of me just being more intelligent. If you want to hash out Biblical inerrancy and Sola Scriptura, you’ll loose because you’ll be arguing from demonstrably false positions.

Right, I can’t argue with you know my thinking better than I know it. I mean, no matter what I would say, you’d just dismiss me as, “you didn’t think that…” and FIAT kicks in. I can’t win. BUT, that’s what makes it fun, to watch that sorta posturing before any conversation happens. At least, if I do have a chat with that person, I know the amount of narcissistic view points I must over come.

I’m not a narcissist. I’m just already familiar with the protestant “answers” to biblical contradictions. I wouldn’t just dismiss you with , “you didn’t think that…” (whatever that means). Instead, I would use the given information and point out where you were wrong.

those aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. BUT, don’t let reality mess with your reality. :slight_smile:

I believe that the Bible is both a piece of ancient literature and the infallible Word of God. But again, being infallible is not the same thing as being inerrant.

I doubt that very, very seriously. When I was an atheist, I knew a plenty of other atheists and, like myself, they didn’t find the protestant arguments to be even the very least bit convincing.

From the Jewish and Catholic side, I find that I am able to make arguments that shakes their confidence that all religions have it wrong. The biggest problem I have arguing from this point is that so many of these atheists are so used to thinking of God in protestant terms that I have to constantly remind them that I’m talking about something else entirely.

The preponderance of Atheists, aren’t, they are Pathostheists… sick of God or the people screaming they speak for God.

These aren’t the people I’m talking about. I’m talking the scientfically skeptical, logical and rationally minded folks that gave up religious belief (or never bought into it in the first place) because the were presented with a version Christianity/religion that was demonstrably false.

You seem to talking about people that rejected faith in God for emotional, instead of logical or evidential, reasons. Completely different crowd.

After I can deprogram all that bs they have been taught… we can have real conversations with things they had never heard of.

Again, I am very skeptical. If you want to take me on, I’ll give you a go. I am kind of curious to see if actually have some tricks in your hat that I haven’t seen before. But, again, I’m also extremely skeptical of that. You are, after all, a protestant and so I already know from the get go that your arguing from a demonstrably false premise.


#19

Jeremyah,
Are you saying the online Catholic Encyclopedia is wrong?

“The Bible not only contains the word of God; it is the word of God. The primary author is the Holy Ghost, or, as it is commonly expressed, the human authors wrote under the influence of Divine inspiration. It was declared by the Vatican Council (Sess. III, c. ii) that the sacred and canonical character of Scripture would not be sufficiently explained by saying that the books were composed by human diligence and then approved by the Church, or that they contained revelation without error. They are sacred and canonical ‘because, having been written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, that have God for their author, and as such have been handed down to the Church’. The inerrancy of the Bible follows as a consequence of this Divine authorship. Wherever the sacred writer makes a statement as his own, that statement is the word of God and infallibly true, whatever be the subject-matter of the statement.”


#20

That’s what you say, but that’s not what the Catholic Church teaches. If there are contradictions in the Bible, more so if there are absurdities, then God could not be its author. But the Catholic Church teaches that God is the author of Scripture.

This is not the same thing as saying that the Bible is infallible. Inerrancy and fallibility are not the same thing. The Bible is, in fact, infallible but only so long as one knows the right way to read it.

Meriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary:
inerrant- free from error
infallible- incapable of error

When I say there are no errors in the Bible, is it the same as saying the Bible is infallible?
Certainly, because if it is incapable of error, then it must be free from error.


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