Why trust the Bible?

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2... Why trust the Bible?

2a... Isn’t it circular reasoning when the Bible prophesies something and then later says it was fulfilled?

David prophesied specific details of Christ’s death hundreds of years before Christ’s birth. Or was David's prophecy added to the Bible after Jesus’ death? The Bible isn’t truth just because it says it is. This page shares some reasons why we can trust the Bible’s history and moral teaching.

2b... Why are Old Testament quotes appearing in the New Testament not verbatim?

2c... I don't care if the Bible is textually reliable.

It is an immoral book that supports genocide and slavery.

This page mostly examines the textual reliability of the Bible. But what about its message? Is the Bible an evil book?

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Table of contents:

2c... I don't care if the Bible is textually reliable.

It is an immoral book that supports genocide and slavery.

A... Google, not academic research

B... Works for me, Your mileage may vary.

C... Truth

Relative truth

D... I didn’t know where to put this

E... Standard Christian answers

F... Bible manuscripts

G... Errors in the Bible

Metaphorical language

Miracles

2b... Why are Old Testament quotes appearing in the New Testament not verbatim?

Differences between multiple accounts of the same event

Assuming a Partial Report Is a False Report

The Bible was written in an oral culture.

H... History is speculation.

Legend:

This font... Quotes from the ESV bible
This font... Quotes from the internet
Underlined text... Key words... the moral of the story... Why I chose the verse

This font...

My comments

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2c... I don't care if the Bible is textually reliable.

It is an immoral book that supports genocide and slavery.

Genocide is addressed here

Slavery:

We're having this discussion, because everyone today knows slavery is wrong.
But what did the Bible teach?

The Ten Commandments

1 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”

18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

(Exodus 20:1-21)

Laws About Slaves

1 “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. 2 When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.

7 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

12 “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. 13 But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. 14 But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.

15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

16 “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.

17 “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

18 “When men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist and the man does not die but takes to his bed, 19 then if the man rises again and walks outdoors with his staff, he who struck him shall be clear; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall have him thoroughly healed.

20 “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

22 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

26 “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. 27 If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.

28 “When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. 29 But if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 If a ransom is imposed on him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is imposed on him. 31 If it gores a man's son or daughter, he shall be dealt with according to this same rule. 32 If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

Laws About Restitution

33 “When a man opens a pit, or when a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit shall make restoration. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead beast shall be his.

35 “When one man's ox butts another's, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and share its price, and the dead beast also they shall share. 36 Or if it is known that the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall repay ox for ox, and the dead beast shall be his.

1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, 3 but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.

5 “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man's field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard.

6 “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.

7 “If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man's house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. 8 If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor's property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.

10 “If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe, and it dies or is injured or is driven away, without anyone seeing it, 11 an oath by the Lord shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor's property. The owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. 12 But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. 13 If it is torn by beasts, let him bring it as evidence. He shall not make restitution for what has been torn.

14 “If a man borrows anything of his neighbor, and it is injured or dies, the owner not being with it, he shall make full restitution. 15 If the owner was with it, he shall not make restitution; if it was hired, it came for its hiring fee.

(Exodus 21:1-22:15)

You Shall Keep My Statutes

19 “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.

20If a man lies sexually with a woman who is a slave, assigned to another man and not yet ransomed or given her freedom, a distinction shall be made. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free; 21 but he shall bring his compensation to the Lord, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, a ram for a guilt offering. 22 And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven for the sin that he has committed.

23 “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. 24 And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the Lord your God.

26 “You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. 27 You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. 28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.

29 “Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity. 30 You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

31 “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.

32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

35 “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. 36 You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the Lord.”

(Leviticus 19:19-37)

Kindness for Poor Brothers

35 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. 36 Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. 37 You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

39If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: 40 he shall be with you as a hired worker and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. 41 Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers. 42 For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. 43 You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God. 44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. 46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.

Redeeming a Poor Man

47 “If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger's clan, 48 then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself. 50 He shall calculate with his buyer from the year when he sold himself to him until the year of jubilee, and the price of his sale shall vary with the number of years. The time he was with his owner shall be rated as the time of a hired worker. 51 If there are still many years left, he shall pay proportionately for his redemption some of his sale price. 52 If there remain but a few years until the year of jubilee, he shall calculate and pay for his redemption in proportion to his years of service. 53 He shall treat him as a worker hired year by year. He shall not rule ruthlessly over him in your sight. 54 And if he is not redeemed by these means, then he and his children with him shall be released in the year of jubilee. 55 For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

(Leviticus 25:35-55)

The Sabbatical Year

1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. 2 And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord's release has been proclaimed. 3 Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. 4 But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— 5 if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.

7 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9 Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. 10 You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

12If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13 And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same. 18 It shall not seem hard to you when you let him go free from you, for at half the cost of a hired worker he has served you six years. So the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.

19 “All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and flock you shall dedicate to the Lord your God. You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20 You shall eat it, you and your household, before the Lord your God year by year at the place that the Lord will choose. 21 But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22 You shall eat it within your towns. The unclean and the clean alike may eat it, as though it were a gazelle or a deer. 23 Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.

(Deuteronomy 15)

Marrying Female Captives

10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12 and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

(Deuteronomy 21:10-14)

Miscellaneous Laws

15 “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.

17 “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. 18 You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

21 “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin. 23 You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.

24 “If you go into your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25 If you go into your neighbor's standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor's standing grain.

(Deuteronomy 23:15-25)

Miscellaneous Laws

5 “When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.

6 “No one shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge, for that would be taking a life in pledge.

7 “If a man is found stealing one of his brothers of the people of Israel, and if he treats him as a slave or sells him, then that thief shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

8 “Take care, in a case of leprous disease, to be very careful to do according to all that the Levitical priests shall direct you. As I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. 9 Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.

10 “When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to collect his pledge. 11 You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. 12 And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge. 13 You shall restore to him the pledge as the sun sets, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you. And it shall be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.

14 “You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. 15 You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.

16 “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.

17 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge, 18 but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.

19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.

1 “If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, 2 then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. 3 Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.

4 “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.

(Deuteronomy 24:5 - 25:4)

Solomon's Other Acts

10 At the end of twenty years, in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king's house, 11 and Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired, King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12 But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the cities that Solomon had given him, they did not please him. 13 Therefore he said, “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?” So they are called the land of Cabul to this day. 14 Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents of gold.

15 And this is the account of the forced labor that King Solomon drafted to build the house of the Lord and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer 16 (Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer and burned it with fire, and had killed the Canaanites who lived in the city, and had given it as dowry to his daughter, Solomon's wife; 17 so Solomon rebuilt Gezer) and Lower Beth-horon 18 and Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, 19 and all the store cities that Solomon had, and the cities for his chariots, and the cities for his horsemen, and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. 20 All the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of the people of Israel— 21 their descendants who were left after them in the land, whom the people of Israel were unable to devote to destruction—these Solomon drafted to be slaves, and so they are to this day. 22 But of the people of Israel Solomon made no slaves. They were the soldiers, they were his officials, his commanders, his captains, his chariot commanders and his horsemen.

23 These were the chief officers who were over Solomon's work: 550 who had charge of the people who carried on the work.

24 But Pharaoh's daughter went up from the city of David to her own house that Solomon had built for her. Then he built the Millo.

25 Three times a year Solomon used to offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar that he built to the Lord, making offerings with it before the Lord. So he finished the house.

26 King Solomon built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. 27 And Hiram sent with the fleet his servants, seamen who were familiar with the sea, together with the servants of Solomon. 28 And they went to Ophir and brought from there gold, 420 talents, and they brought it to King Solomon.

(1 Kings 9:10-28)

Elisha and the Widow's Oil

1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” 3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” 5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.

(2 Kings 4:1-7)

10 Do not slander a servant to his master,

lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.

(Proverbs 30:10)

Job's Final Appeal

1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes;

how then could I gaze at a virgin?

2 What would be my portion from God above

and my heritage from the Almighty on high?

3 Is not calamity for the unrighteous,

and disaster for the workers of iniquity?

4 Does not he see my ways

and number all my steps?

5 “If I have walked with falsehood

and my foot has hastened to deceit;

6 (Let me be weighed in a just balance,

and let God know my integrity!)

7 if my step has turned aside from the way

and my heart has gone after my eyes,

and if any spot has stuck to my hands,

8 then let me sow, and another eat,

and let what grows for me be rooted out.

9 “If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,

and I have lain in wait at my neighbor's door,

10 then let my wife grind for another,

and let others bow down on her.

11 For that would be a heinous crime;

that would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges;

12 for that would be a fire that consumes as far as Abaddon,

and it would burn to the root all my increase.

13If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant,

when they brought a complaint against me,

14 what then shall I do when God rises up?

When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him?

15 Did not he who made me in the womb make him?

And did not one fashion us in the womb?

16 “If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,

or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,

17 or have eaten my morsel alone,

and the fatherless has not eaten of it

18 (for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father,

and from my mother's womb I guided the widow),

19 if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,

or the needy without covering,

20 if his body has not blessed me,

and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep,

21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,

because I saw my help in the gate,

22 then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,

and let my arm be broken from its socket.

23 For I was in terror of calamity from God,

and I could not have faced his majesty.

24 “If I have made gold my trust

or called fine gold my confidence,

25 if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant

or because my hand had found much,

26 if I have looked at the sun when it shone,

or the moon moving in splendor,

27 and my heart has been secretly enticed,

and my mouth has kissed my hand,

28 this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges,

for I would have been false to God above.

29 “If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me,

or exulted when evil overtook him

30 (I have not let my mouth sin

by asking for his life with a curse),

31 if the men of my tent have not said,

‘Who is there that has not been filled with his meat?’

32 (the sojourner has not lodged in the street;

I have opened my doors to the traveler),

33 if I have concealed my transgressions as others do

by hiding my iniquity in my heart,

34 because I stood in great fear of the multitude,

and the contempt of families terrified me,

so that I kept silence, and did not go out of doors—

35 Oh, that I had one to hear me!

(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)

Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!

36 Surely I would carry it on my shoulder;

I would bind it on me as a crown;

37 I would give him an account of all my steps;

like a prince I would approach him.

38 “If my land has cried out against me

and its furrows have wept together,

39 if I have eaten its yield without payment

and made its owners breathe their last,

40 let thorns grow instead of wheat,

and foul weeds instead of barley.”

The words of Job are ended.

(Job 31)

Zedekiah to Die in Babylon

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all of its cities: 2 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. 3 You shall not escape from his hand but shall surely be captured and delivered into his hand. You shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak with him face to face. And you shall go to Babylon.’ 4 Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the Lord concerning you: You shall not die by the sword. 5 You shall die in peace. And as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so people shall burn spices for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!”’ For I have spoken the word, declares the Lord.”

6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, 7 when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, Lachish and Azekah, for these were the only fortified cities of Judah that remained.

8 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them, 9 that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should enslave a Jew, his brother. 10 And they obeyed, all the officials and all the people who had entered into the covenant that everyone would set free his slave, male or female, so that they would not be enslaved again. They obeyed and set them free. 11 But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free, and brought them into subjection as slaves. 12 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 13 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, 14 At the end of seven years each of you must set free the fellow Hebrew who has been sold to you and has served you six years; you must set him free from your service.’ But your fathers did not listen to me or incline their ears to me. 15 You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name, 16 but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves.

17 “Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the Lord. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— 19 the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. 20 And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. 21 And Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon which has withdrawn from you. 22 Behold, I will command, declares the Lord, and will bring them back to this city. And they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.”

(Jeremiah 34)

Live as You Are Called

17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

(1 Corinthians 7:17-24)

The Law and the Promise

15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

(Galatians 3:15-29)

Bondservants and Masters

5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

(Ephesians 6:5-9)

Rules for Christian Households

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

1 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

(Colossians 3:18 - 4:1)

Warning Against False Teachers

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

(1 Timothy 1:3-11)

Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

(1 Timothy 6:1-2)

Teach Sound Doctrine

1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

(Titus 2)

Submission to Authority

13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

(1 Peter 2:13-25)

Greeting

1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon's Love and Faith

4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Paul's Plea for Onesimus

8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

Final Greetings

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

(Philemon 1)

When we compare the Old Testament laws to today's culture, some of the Old Testament laws sound barbaric.
But what laws did they replace?
Slaves may have had no rights before the biblical laws were given.
The biblical slavery laws may have elevated slaves' rights.

Slavery was part of biblical culture.
The Bible does not condone slavery just by mentioning it.

The Old Testament seems to talk about slaves as property, while the New Testament talks more about the relationship between slave and master.

Many biblical laws gave Jews preferential treatment over Gentiles.

In Matthew 19:3-10, the Pharisees came to Jesus, attempting to trap Him with questions about the Old Law. They asked: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Jesus informed them that divorce was not in God’s plan from the beginning. Thinking they had trapped Him, they inquired: “Why, then, did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and to put her away?” If it was in the Old Law, they suggested, then it must be God’s ideal will. But Jesus’ answer quickly stopped that line of thinking. He responded:

Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.

Jesus’ point was crystal clear—some things permitted in the Old Testament did not necessarily represent the ideal. Due to the hardness of ancient Israel’s heart, God tolerated (and regulated) some things under the Old Law that He did not endorse. As He did so, however, He progressively revealed His divine will to mankind, clarifying that will more fully through Christ....

.... Many of the injunctions found in the Old Testament pertaining to slavery fall into the category of regulating something that was “less than ideal.” Even in the Old Testament, God desired that all people love their neighbors as themselves (Leviticus 19:18). Yet, in a time when God used the children of Israel as His arm of justice to punish evildoers, certain questions arose. What was to be done, for example, with the survivors of those wicked nations? What was to be done with a man who was so far in debt that he could not repay his lender? These issues, and others like them, necessitated that God institute some form of humane regulations for “slavery.”....

.... However, those who take such a position fail to consider that certain types of slavery are not morally wrong. For instance, when a man is convicted of murder, he often is sentenced to life in prison. During his life sentence, he is forced by the State to do (or not do) certain things. He is justly confined to a small living space, and his freedoms are revoked. Sometimes, he is compelled by the State to work long hours, for which he does not receive even minimum wage. Would it be justifiable to label such a loss of freedom as a type of slavery? Yes, it would. However, is his loss of freedom a morally permissible situation? Certainly. He has become a slave of the State because he violated certain laws that were designed to ensure the liberty of his fellow citizen, whom he murdered. Therefore, one fact that must be conceded by anyone dealing with the Bible and its position on slavery is the fact that, under some conditions, slavery is not necessarily a morally deplorable institution....

....Who has the right to determine when slavery can be imposed on a certain person or group of people? The answer, of course, is God. In the Old Testament, immoral nations who practiced unspeakable evils surrounded the Hebrews. In order to rid the world of their destructive influence, the children of Israel dealt with them in several ways. One of those ways included forcing the wicked nations into slavery. Many of the slave regulations in the Old Testament deal with the treatment of individuals and nations who had committed crimes against humanity that were worthy of death. The wicked people were graciously allowed to live, but they were subjected to slavery, much like a lifetime prison sentence in modern criminal cases.....

.... Bankruptcy laws, prison terms, community service hours, and garnished wages are morally acceptable modern equivalents to certain types of slavery that were prevalent during the time of the biblical writers.

(from http://www.apologeticspress.org/ apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1587 )

Wikipedia: The Bible and Slavery

A... Google, not academic research

This required a lot of googling, because I’m not a textual critic or whatever they’re called. I did not have the patience or interest to read all the technical stuff or complete a comprehensive search, in part because I trust the Bible and no longer really question it. So here is what I cherry-picked...

B... Works for me, Your mileage may vary

I don’t trust the Bible primarily because of the reasons presented below, but because of my personal experience over time. I’m trying to follow Jesus. Trusting a person doesn’t happen overnight. It happens as you spend time with them. I’ve read the Bible a couple times and think it’s amazing, relevant, helpful, deep, poetic and beautiful.

I heard a Christian teacher say, “It works”, speaking about observing Christian families and principles in action over the years. It’s easy for a Christian to say that. The Bible means something different to Christians and non-Christians.

Ask, and It Will Be Given

7Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

(Matthew 7:7-11)

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Proclaiming Christ Crucified

1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 1:18 - 2:16)

C... Truth:

It's hard to reason someone out of a belief they didn't reason themselves into.

(from https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/163u2w /atheists_have_no_moral_compass_without_the_bible/ )

Relative truth:

When someone says that truth is relative, what he normally means is that there is no absolute truth. Some things may appear true to you but not true to me. If you believe it, it is true for you. If I don’t believe it, it is not true for me. When people say things like “that’s fine if God exists for you, but He doesn’t exist for me,” they are expressing the popular belief that truth is relative.

The whole concept of “relative truth” sounds tolerant and open-minded. However, upon closer analysis, it is not open-minded at all. In essence, to say that “God exists for you but not for me” is to say that the other person’s concept of God is wrong. It passes judgment. But no one really believes that all truth is relative. No sane person says, “Gravity works for you, but not for me,” and proceeds to jump off tall buildings believing no harm will follow.

The statement “truth is relative” is, in fact, a self-refuting statement. In saying, “Truth is relative,” one states a purported truth. But, if all truth is relative, then that statement itself is relative as well--which means we can’t trust it to be true all the time.

Certainly, there are some statements that are relative. For example, “the Ford Mustang is the coolest car ever made” is a relative statement. A car enthusiast may think this to be true, but there is no absolute standard by which to measure “coolness.” It is simply one’s belief or opinion. However, the statement “there is a red Ford Mustang parked outside in the driveway, and it belongs to me” is not relative. It is either true or false, based on objective reality. If the Mustang in the driveway is blue (not red), the statement is false. If the red Mustang in the driveway belongs to someone else, the statement is false—it does not match reality.

Generally speaking, opinions are relative. Many people relegate any question of God or religion to the realm of opinion. “You prefer Jesus--that’s fine if it works for you.” What Christians say (and the Bible teaches) is that truth is not relative, regardless of the subject matter. There is an objective spiritual reality, just as there is an objective physical reality. God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6); Jesus likened His teachings to a solid, immovable rock (Matthew 7:24). Jesus is the only way of salvation, and this is absolutely true for every person at all times (John 14:6). Just like people need to breathe in order to live, people need to be born again through faith in Christ to experience spiritual life (John 3:3).

(from http://www.gotquestions.org/is-truth-relative.html )

There is only one truth. Conflicting statements can’t both be truth.

D... I didn’t know where to put this:

It has inspired some of the great monuments of human thought, literature, and art; it has equally fuelled some of the worst excesses of human savagery, self-interest, and narrow-mindedness. It has inspired men and women to acts of great service and courage, to fight for liberation and human development; and it has provided the ideological fuel for societies which have enslaved their fellow human beings and reduced them to abject poverty. ... It has, perhaps above all, provided a source of religious and moral norms which have enabled communities to hold together, to care for, and to protect one another; yet precisely this strong sense of belonging has in turn fuelled ethnic, racial, and international tension and conflict.

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible#Views )

E... Standard Christian answers:

10 Reasons to Believe IN THE BIBLE

1 ITS HONESTY.

The Bible is painfully honest. It shows Jacob, the father of its “chosen people,” to be a deceiver. It describes Moses, the lawgiver, as an insecure, reluctant leader, who, in his first attempt to come to the aid of his own people, killed a man and then ran for his life to the desert. It portrays David not only as Israel’s most loved king, general, and spiritual leader, but as one who took another man’s wife and then, to cover his own sin, conspired to have her husband killed. At one point, the Scriptures accuse the people of God, the nation of Israel, as being so bad they made Sodom and Gomorrah look good by comparison (Ezekiel 16:46-52). The Bible represents human nature as hostile to God. It predicts a future full of trouble. It teaches that the road to heaven is narrow and the way to hell is wide. Scripture was clearly not written for those who want simple answers or an easy, optimistic view of religion and human nature....

....10 ITS POWER TO CHANGE LIVES.

Unbelievers often point to those who claim to believe in the Bible without being changed by it. But history is also marked by those who have been bettered by this book. The Ten Commandments have been a source of moral direction to countless numbers of people. The Psalms of David have offered comfort in times of trouble and loss. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has given millions an antidote for stubborn pride and proud legalism. Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 has softened angry hearts. The changed lives of people like the apostle Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Newton, Leo Tolstoy, and C. S. Lewis illustrate the difference the Bible can make. Even entire nations or tribes, like the Celts of Ireland, the wild Vikings of Norway, or the Auca Indians of Ecuador have been transformed by the Word of God and the unprecedented life and significance of Jesus Christ.

(from https://discoveryseries.org/courses /10-reasons-to-believe-in-the-bible/ )

2. Has the Bible changed over time, or do we have what was originally written?

Some people have the idea that the Bible has been translated "so many times" that it has become corrupted through stages of translating. If the translations were being made from other translations, they would have a case. But translations are actually made directly from original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic source texts based on thousands of ancient manuscripts.

The Old Testament's accuracy was confirmed by an archaeological discovery in 1947, along today's West Bank in Israel. "The Dead Sea Scrolls" contained Old Testament scripture dating 1,000 years older than any manuscripts we had. When comparing the manuscripts at hand with these, from 1,000 years earlier, we find agreement 99.5% of the time. And the .5% differences are minor spelling variances and sentence structure that doesn't change the meaning of the sentence.

Regarding the New Testament, it is humanity's most reliable ancient document. We have thousands of copies of the New Testament, all dated closely to the original writing. In fact, we are more sure the New Testament remains as it was originally written by its writers, than we are sure of writings we attribute to Plato, or Aristotle, or Homer's Iliad.

For a comparison of the New Testament to other ancient writings, click here: SHOW / HIDE CHART....

....5. Are there contradictions in the Bible?

While some claim that the Bible is full of contradictions, this simply isn't true. The number of apparent contradictions is actually remarkably small for a book of the Bible's size and scope. What apparent discrepancies do exist are more curiosity than calamity. They do not touch on any major event or article of faith.

Here is an example of a so-called contradiction. Pilate ordered that a sign be posted on the cross where Jesus hung. Three of the Gospels record what was written on that sign:

In Matthew: "This is Jesus, the king of the Jews."

In Mark: "The king of the Jews."

In John: "Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews."

The wording is different, hence the apparent contradiction. The remarkable thing, though, is that all three writers describe the same event in such detail -- Jesus was crucified. On this they all agree. They even record that a sign was posted on the cross, and the meaning of the sign is the same in all three accounts!

What about the exact wording? In the original Greek of the Gospels, they didn't use a quotation symbol as we do today to indicate a direct quote. The Gospel writers were making an indirect quote, which would account for the subtle differences in the passages.

Here is another example of an apparent contradiction. Was Jesus two nights in the tomb or three nights in the tomb before His resurrection? Jesus said, prior to his crucifixion, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40). Mark records another statement that Jesus made, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise." (Mark 10:33,34)

Jesus was killed on Friday and the resurrection was discovered on Sunday. How can that be three days and nights in the tomb? It was a Jewish figure of speech in Jesus' time to count any part of a day or night as a full day and night. So Friday, Saturday, and Sunday would be called three days and three nights in Jesus' culture. We speak in similar ways today -- if a person were to say, "I spent all day shopping," we understand that the person didn't mean 24 hours.

This is typical of apparent contradictions in the New Testament. Most are resolved by a closer examination of the text itself or through studying the historical background.

(from http://www.everystudent.com/features/bible.html )

F... Bible manuscripts:

Textual criticism (sometimes still referred to as "lower criticism") refers to the examination of the text itself to identify its provenance or to trace its history. It takes as its basis the fact that errors inevitably crept into texts as generations of scribes reproduced each other's manuscripts. For example, Josephus employed scribes to copy his Antiquities of the Jews. As the scribes copied the Antiquities, they made mistakes. The copies of these copies also had the mistakes. The errors tend to form "families" of manuscripts: scribe A will introduce mistakes which are not in the manuscript of scribe B, and over time the "families" of texts descended from A and B will diverge further and further as more mistakes are introduced by later scribes, but will always be identifiable as descended from one or the other. Textual criticism studies the differences between these families to piece together a good idea of what the original looked like. The more surviving copies, the more accurately can they deduce information about the original text and about "family histories".

Textual criticism uses a number of specialized methodologies, including eclecticism, stemmatics, copy-text editing and cladistics. A number of principles have also been introduced for use in deciding between variant manuscripts, such as Lectio difficilior potior: "The harder of two readings is to be preferred".[5] Nevertheless, there remains a strong element of subjectivity, areas where the scholar must decide his reading on the basis of taste or common-sense: Amos 6.12, for example, reads: "Does one plough with oxen?" The obvious answer is "yes", but the context of the passage seems to demand a "no"; the usual reading therefore is to amend this to, "Does one plough the sea with oxen?" The amendment has a basis in the text, which is believed to be corrupted, but is nevertheless a matter of judgement.[6]

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Biblical_criticism#Textual_criticism )

Textual criticism and interpolations

Main article: Textual variants in the New Testament

See also: List of Bible verses not included in modern translations

Textual criticism deals with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts. Ancient scribes made errors or alterations (such as including non-authentic additions).[123] In attempting to determine the original text of the New Testament books, some modern textual critics have identified sections as additions of material, centuries after the gospel was written. These are called interpolations. In modern translations of the Bible, the results of textual criticism have led to certain verses, words and phrases being left out or marked as not original.

For example, there are a number of Bible verses in the New Testament that are present in the King James Version (KJV) but are absent from most modern Bible translations. Most modern textual scholars consider these verses interpolations (exceptions include advocates of the Byzantine or Majority text). The verse numbers have been reserved, but without any text, so as to preserve the traditional numbering of the remaining verses. The Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman notes that many current verses were not part of the original text of the New Testament. "These scribal additions are often found in late medieval manuscripts of the New Testament, but not in the manuscripts of the earlier centuries," he adds. "And because the King James Bible is based on later manuscripts, such verses "became part of the Bible tradition in English-speaking lands."[124] He notes, however, that modern English translations, such as the New International Version, were written by using a more appropriate textual method.[125]

Most modern Bibles have footnotes to indicate passages that have disputed source documents. Bible Commentaries also discuss these, sometimes in great detail. While many variations have been discovered between early copies of biblical texts, most of these are variations in spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Also, many of these variants are so particular to the Greek language that they would not appear in translations into other languages.[126]

Two of the most important interpolations are the last verses of the Gospel of Mark[127][128][129] and the story of the adulterous woman in the Gospel of John.[130][131][132] Some critics also believe the explicit reference to the Trinity in 1 John to have been a later addition.[133][134]

The New Testament has been preserved in more than 5,800 fragmentary Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Ethiopic and Armenian. Not all biblical manuscripts come from orthodox Christian writers. For example, the Gnostic writings of Valentinus come from the 2nd century AD, and these Christians were regarded as heretics by the mainstream church.[135] The sheer number of witnesses presents unique difficulties, although it gives scholars a better idea of how close modern bibles are to the original versions.[135] Bruce Metzger says "The more often you have copies that agree with each other, especially if they emerge from different geographical areas, the more you can cross-check them to figure out what the original document was like. The only way they'd agree would be where they went back genealogically in a family tree that represents the descent of the manuscripts.[126]

In "The Text Of The New Testament", Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement.[136] They concluded, "Thus in nearly two-thirds of the New Testament text, the seven editions of the Greek New Testament which we have reviewed are in complete accord, with no differences other than in orthographical details (e.g., the spelling of names, etc.). Verses in which any one of the seven editions differs by a single word are not counted. ... In the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater"[136] Per Aland and Aland, the total consistency achieved in the Gospel of Matthew was 60% (642 verses out of 1071), the total consistency achieved in the Gospel of Mark was 45% (306 verses out of 678), the total consistency achieved in the Gospel of Luke was 57% (658 verses out of 1151), and the total consistency achieved in the Gospel of John was 52% (450 verses out of 869).[136] Almost all of these variants are minor, and most of them are spelling or grammatical errors. Almost all can be explained by some type of unintentional scribal mistake, such as poor eyesight. Very few variants are contested among scholars, and few or none of the contested variants carry any theological significance. Modern biblical translations reflect this scholarly consensus where the variants exist, while the disputed variants are typically noted as such in the translations.[137]

A quantitative study on the stability of the New Testament compared early manuscripts to later manuscripts, up to the Middle Ages with the Byzantine manuscripts, indicated that the text had more than 90% stability over this time period.[138] It has been estimated that only 0.1% to 0.2% of the New Testament variants impact the meaning of the texts in any significant fashion.[138]

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Historical_reliability_of_the_Gospels #Textual_criticism_and_interpolations )

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Textual_variants_in_the_New_Testament

New Testament authenticity and the historical Jesus

Multiple attestation

The criterion of multiple attestation or "independent attestation" is an important tool used by scholars. Simply put, the more independent witnesses that report an event or saying, the better.

The gospels are not always independent of each other. There is a possibility that Matthew and Luke copied contents from Mark's gospel.[19] There are, however, at least four early, independent sources. The criterion of multiple attestation focuses on the sayings or deeds of Jesus that are attested to in more than one independent literary source such as the Apostle Paul, Josephus, Q, and/or the Gospel of the Hebrews. The force of this criterion is increased if a given motif or theme is also found in different literary forms such as parables, dispute stories, miracle stories, prophecy, and/or aphorism.[20][21]

Multiple attestation has a certain kind of objectivity. Given the independence of the sources, satisfaction of the criterion makes it harder to maintain that it was an invention of the Church.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28] [...]

[...] Embarrassment

The criterion of embarrassment, also known as the "criterion of dissimilarity", is an analytical tool that biblical scholars use in assessing whether the New Testament accounts of Jesus' actions and words are historically accurate. Simply put, trust the embarrassing material. If something is awkward for an author to say and he does anyway, it is more likely to be true. [30]

The essence of the criterion of embarrassment is that the Early Church would hardly have gone out of its way to "create" or "falsify" historical material that only embarrassed its author or weakened its position in arguments with opponents. Rather, embarrassing material coming from Jesus would naturally be either suppressed or softened in later stages of the Gospel tradition, and often such progressive suppression or softening can be traced through the Gospels.

The evolution of the depiction of the Baptism of Jesus exhibits the criterion of embarrassment. In the Gospel of the Hebrews, Jesus is but a man (see adoptionism) submitting to another man for the forgiveness of the "sin of ignorance" (a lesser sin, but sin nonetheless). Matthew's description of the Baptism adds John's statement to Jesus: "I should be baptized by you", attempting to do away with the embarrassment of John baptising Jesus, implying John's seniority. Similarly, it resolves the embarrassment of Jesus undergoing baptism "for the forgiveness of sin", the purpose of John's baptising in Mark, by omitting this phrase from John's proclamations. The Gospel of Luke says only that Jesus was baptized, without explicitly asserting that John performed the baptism. The Gospel of John goes further and simply omits the whole story of the Baptism. This might show a progression of the Evangelists attempting to explain, and then suppress, a story that was seen as embarrassing to the early church.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_criticism# New_Testament_authenticity_and_the_historical_Jesus )

There isn’t one best translation of the Bible (for example, the King James Version). Reading multiple translations brings richness and clarity to Bible interpretation.

Do we get the same richness from the four accounts of Jesus and the thousands of Greek manuscripts used in translating our bibles? Or do the differences and variants among them contradict each other?

G... Errors in the Bible:

Metaphorical language:

“Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). Of course, a person might ask for clarification, and be told, based on Old Testament passages, that Jesus isn’t literally a wooly farm animal, but that He’s the fulfillment of the Law and the divinely chosen sacrifice to redeem the world. The figurative nature of John’s statement doesn’t make his statement untrue, simply metaphorical. It’s good to remember that the Bible is comprised of sixty-six separate books, and each of them often contains different types of literature and a mixture of literal and figurative language.

(from http://www.gotquestions.org/is-the-Bible-true.html )

Miracles:

Christianity is a religion of the miraculous—from God’s creative acts of Genesis 1 to the wonderful events of Revelation 22. The Bible does not tell us how any of these happen, other than that God wills them to happen and they do. He may use (intensify) some existing natural law (as in Noah’s Flood), or all participation of nature may be excluded (as in the Resurrection). Often the miraculous effect lies in the providential timing of natural events (as in God’s partition of the Red Sea by a strong wind that blew all night—Exodus 14:21).

Miracles rest on testimony, not on scientific analyses. While it is interesting to speculate on how God might have performed any particular Biblical miracle, including Joshua’s long day, ultimately those claiming to be disciples of Jesus Christ (who authenticated the divine record of the Bible) must accept them, by faith.

(from http://creation.com/joshuas-long-day )

2b... Why are Old Testament quotes appearing in the New Testament not verbatim?

Differences between multiple accounts of the same event:

Assuming a Partial Report Is a False Report

Critics often jump to the conclusion that a partial report is false. However, this is not so. If it were, most of what has ever been said would be false, since seldom does time or space permit an absolutely complete report. For example, Peter's famous confession in the Gospels:

Matthew: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (16:16, NASB).

Mark: "You are the Christ" (8:29, NASB).

Luke: "The Christ of God" (9:20, NASB).

(from https://www.namb.net/ apologetics/are-there-any-errors-in-the-bible )

The Bible was written in an oral culture much different from ours.

Gospel writers who differ on minor points such as times, number of angels at a tomb, exact locations, and so on, are signators to a semantic contract that Westerners haven't even read. Let's look at some related points that note this from a secular perspective.

Boyd and Eddy in The Jesus Legend note that sociologists aware of this phenomenon have referred to it as "relevant precision" and indeed quote a secular sociology periodical as saying much the same thing I do: That to insist on a greater level of precision that was intended for a context would be "sanctionable, pedantic, or intrusive." [433]

Similarly, Jocelyn Small in Wax Tablets of the Mind (5-7) further confirms and elucidates these points, which have special application to alleged problems in wording across the Gospels. As she puts it, "Exact wording is rarely crucial in oral societies, but often of great importance in literate ones, though this aspect took centuries to develop." As a result, "it is not the words but the story or the gist that counts." Gospel writers would not be expected to get the verba (exact words) of Jesus, but the vox (voice).

Furthermore, the need for most people to memorize material (since 90% were illiterate) meant that artistic structuring was sometimes used to aid the memory (118). This might sacrifice the precision that we moderns so value, but that is our problwm, [sic] not theirs.

(from http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/gospelprecision.php )

Imagine all you'd have to remember if you couldn't read or write (and it cost money you didn't have to have someone do it for you -- and there aren't any charities to help you learn to read or anything like that). Furthermore, writing materials such as parchment and ink are very expensive and very hard to get. You have only a limited amount of space to write something, and if you have an area of concentration, you don't need distracting "by the way" elements running around in your account. You get to that point, and you don't waste expensive and limited resources talking about what in your context is a non-essential.

(from http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/demoniactale.php )

1 Does the Bible as it was originally recorded contain any mistakes? Are our copies still completely error-free today?

In answer to the first question: No, the Word of God, as originally given, contains no mistakes. Paul tells us, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV), and God doesn’t make mistakes. However, Bible scholars recognize that as the scriptures were hand-copied over the centuries, minor scribal errors crept into the text. The Bible as we have it today, therefore, is not completely free of human error. This is what evangelical Christians mean when they say the Bible is “inerrant in its original autographs.”

While the Hebrew scribes took great care to copy the scriptures accurately, they occasionally made mistakes. This was understandable, given that the Hebrew text had no separations between words and that the words consisted of only consonants—no vowels.

During the a.d. 600s to 900s, Jewish scribes called Masoretes followed very strict rules for making copies of the text and added helpful vowel points to the consonants. This reduced scribal errors dramatically. The Masoretic text (MT) was so renowned for being error-free that it was accepted as the official version of the Old testament.

But what about inaccuracies introduced into the text before the Masoretes? until 1947, skeptics argued that there were probably so many mistakes in the Hebrew text that there was no way of telling how closely the MT resembled the original documents.

That year, however, a remarkable discovery was made. Jars full of ancient scrolls were discovered in caves near the Dead Sea in Israel. These scrolls dated back two thousand years to between 225 b.c. - a.d. 70. The jars contained at least fragments of every Old testament book but Esther. The “dead Sea Scrolls,” as they came to be known, have confirmed the remarkable accuracy of the Masoretic text. Yes, there are differences between the MT and certain manuscripts, but the MT is virtually identical to a majority of the ancient copies.

2 What kinds of errors did the scribes make as they copied the text?

The books of 1 and 2 Kings and their “companion” books, 1 and 2 Chronicles, include an example of what is clearly a copyist’s error.

First and 2 Kings, which scholars generally agree were compiled between 562-538 b.c., detail the history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The parallel histories recorded in 1 and 2 Chronicles focus on Judah, and scholars date them to Ezra’s day, some one hundred years later. When recounting the same historical events, Chronicles usually differs from Kings only in that it supplies extra information about the kingdom of Judah.

But here’s one striking discrepancy:

The writer of Kings writes, “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months” (2 Kings 24:8 NKJV). However, Chronicles states: “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days” (2 Chronicles 36:9 NKJV). The ten days is accounted for by the fact that the compiler of Chronicles is, as usual, supplying extra details. The real question is this: Was Jehoiachin eighteen or eight when he became king?

Second Kings 24:15 tells us that Jehoiachin was married at the time he became king and had more than one wife, so obviously he was eighteen, not eight. Indeed, one ancient Hebrew manuscript differs from the Masoretic text and has “eighteen” in both 2 Chronicles 36:9 and 2 Kings 24:8.

So how did this error happen? Well, the Hebrew text of 2 Kings 24:8 literally reads “son of eight ten years Jehoiachin,” and the text for 2 Chronicles 36:9 would have originally said the same thing. Very likely, a later scribe, while copying the passage in 2 Chronicles, lost his place and his eyes skipped over the word ten to the next word, “years.”

(from https://www.wordsearchbible.com /products/37666/sample_text )

Christ's Glory and the Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

(2 Peter 1:16-21)

H... History is speculation.:

And in all of this, we must remember that origin-science of whatever flavour is inherently different from operation science (how the universe presently works—gravity, physics, chemistry, etc.) because we can’t directly test or observe stories about the past.

(from http://creation.com/hanging-loose-what-should-we-defend )

Science deals with concrete things that can be touched, weighed, measured, and evaluated under laboratory conditions. Science deals with concrete, verifiable objects. History, on the other hand, does not deal with materials that can be touched, weighed, and measured. History is inferential i.e., it infers the past on the basis of partially known facts. True, the historian makes use of some concrete materials in his work, such as documents, diaries, newspapers, and contemporary accounts in his investigations, but from these he must infer the past. He cannot weigh or measure these materials as the scientist can weigh or measure his materials." [History: Meaning and Method, by Donald V. Gawronski, Scott Foresman:1969 (rev. ed), p. 4.]

(from http://christianthinktank.com/ordorise.html )

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