Monday, June 16, 2008

Answer to Mother Of Many in Response to my Post on Bible Interpretaion

(I have reposted my original article in the post below this one. It is the article that Mother of Many is commenting on that I posted originally as a comment on the VTC Blog- So See My Post for June 15th to view that article.)

Mother of Many Posted this Question to Me in My Comments Section in Response to my Article on Bible Interpretation. Here is her comment and question back to me below, and then my answer to her question.

Sorry this is off topic, but I didn't see an email link and didn't know where else to put it.

I read your post about the Bible at VTC and wondered how you can believe God could perfectly preserve his word through man in oral tradtion but isn't able to perfectly preserve his word in print?

There are many studies available by not only translators from different faiths but also non-believers about how astoundingly accurately the Bible has been preserved, especially after the Quamran caves were found and the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered and studied.

What about verses such as Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:10-11, Psalm 12:6-7, Psalm 19:7, Psalm 102:18, Psalm 119:9-11, Proverbs 30:5, 1 Chronicles 16:15, Matthew 22:29, Mark 13:31, Luke 1:37, John 20:31, Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 3:16, etc.?

If you do not believe the Bible has been perfectly preserved, is it accurate to say Catholics hold the scriptures and tradition in equal authority?

Thank you. (from motherofmany)

Hi, I just want to say these are my own personal thoughts and conclusions that I have come to over many years of study. They aren't set in stone, but do reflect where I am coming from at this moment in time. So be patient and understanding with me. I am by no means a Bible Scholar, but I am trusting the Lord and the Scriptures that say "Seek and ye Shall Find", So I have been doing that all my life. Thanks for writing.
I didn't really want my blog to become an apologetics blog so I was posting on the other blog. But OK Since you asked. :-)
On the other blog, I was simply trying to point out the problems with "Personal"Bible Interpretation. I guess my first question would be when you say perfectly preserve his word in print--hmm which printed version is perfectly preserved? Is there a perfectly preserved version in every language? I will say it again, the only perfect infallible scriptures are the original manuscripts in the original languages. Languages don't translate perfectly into other languges for all the reasons I mentioned in the other post.

I found it interesting one time in a Bible study that a Spanish speaker had said she had trouble with the English version of the "Our Father" the line in English is "lead us not into temptation.. She said that made no sense to her because why would we have to ask God not to tempt us? She said in the Spanish language the phrase is more aptly translated keep us from being tempted. I don't know if that is a good example but that is what I had off the top of my head.

OK here is I think a good example and I'll use the King James
Luke 14:26 (King James Version)

26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

OK the word "hate" are you really suppose to "hate" your father, mother ......
We are suppose to honor our Mother and Father and If we look at

1 John 3:15 (King James Version)
15Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Numerous Greek scholars have added their combined years of study to the discussion to testify that the word “hate” (miseo) in Luke 14:26 does not mean “an active abhorrence,” but means “to love less.”

The Greek word has a subtly different meaning or more meanings than our English word hate.

Here is another example (and I know I am opening a can of worms with this one) :

John 3:5 (King James Version)

5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The Problem " Born of water and the Spirit"

Those that want to say baptism is just a symbol say that Jesus here is not referring to water baptism. They either say that the "water" here is the preached word of God, or I have also heard, that the water here refers to amniotic fluid or fleshly natural birth. OK which is it? (Acutally I have studied this to death over the past 20 years) I will go with history and Apostolic Tradition on this one. The early Christians uniformly identified this verse with baptism. Water baptism is the way, they said, that we are born again and receive new life—a fact that is supported elsewhere in Scripture (cf. Rom. 6:3–4; Col. 2:12–13; Titus 3:5). And by many other early church documents and writing of the Early Church fathers.

No Church Father referred to John 3:5 as anything other than water baptism. Actually a wonderful early church document gives instructions on how baptism is suppose to be done. It was written about 70 AD written during the time of the Apostles and is called the Didache.
Actually the idea of "Being Born Again" as a personal spiritual conversion experience was unknown to early Christians. This idea didn't come along till much later in History.

Someday I would love to be a Bible Scholar, but I'm too busy being a mom right now. Even with a Greek and Hebrew lexicon that I have there are still translation issues.

I absolutely agree with you that the Bible is astoundingly accurate as a whole. One of the wonderful books I read in High School was Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowel'sl (Sp?) I also heard him give a lecture in College. Yes the Quamran Caves is an awesome find and actually pieces of several of the deuterocanonical books were found there. Those are the books that were eventually excluded from most Protestant Bibles. They were part of the Septuagint which was the Greek version of the Old Testament used at the time of Christ.

Ok I was going to print all the scriptures you mentioned but that got to be a bit long. But in all of these the gist is God's Word is accurate and will be preserved. I would ask you is that just his written word? Or is that his written word, his oral word and the word incarnate? I would say all 3.

I would say Scripture and Tradition compliment each other and need to be in agreement with each other. Tradition cannot contradict Scripture. Likewise I don't think you can fully understand Scripture without Apostolic Tradition. (I am not talking about the traditions of men here) You need both.

The concept of Scripture Alone and that Scripture is "All" sufficient is actually not Biblical. Nowhere in the Bible does it claim that all you need as your rule of faith is the Bible. The Church is the Pillar and Foundation of truth 1 Tim 3:15
1 Timothy 3:15 (King James Version) 15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16 Is not a proof text for the Sole Sufficiency of the Bible and doesn't even refer to the New Testament

2 Tim 3:16 (New American Standard Bible)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

In context it refers to the scriptures of Timothy's youth. The new Testament didn't exist in Timothy's youth. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (New American Standard Bible)
14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The Bible denies that it is sufficient as the complete rule of faith. Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2). He instructs us to "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15).

This oral teaching was accepted by Christians, just as they accepted the written teaching that came to them later. Jesus told his disciples: "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me" (Luke 10:16). The Church, in the persons of the apostles, was given the authority to teach by Christ; the Church would be his representative. He commissioned them, saying, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19).

And how was this to be done? By preaching, by oral instruction: "So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). The Church would always be the living teacher. It is a mistake to limit "Christ’s word" to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion.

Further, it is clear that the oral teaching of Christ would last until the end of time. "’But the word of the Lord abides for ever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you" (1 Pet. 1:25). Note that the word has been "preached"—that is, communicated orally. This would endure. It would not be
supplanted by a written record like the Bible (supplemented, yes, but not supplanted), and would continue to have its own authority.

This is made clear when the apostle Paul tells Timothy: "What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). Here we see the first few links in the chain of apostolic tradition that has been passed down intact from the apostles to our own day. Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the oral teachings (traditions) that he had received from the apostle. He was to give these to men who would be able to teach others, thus perpetuating the chain. Paul gave this instruction not long before his death (2 Tim. 4:6–8), as a reminder to Timothy of how he should conduct his ministry.

In Summary my current position on the issue. Tradition does not supercede or supplant the written word of God the Bible. However it is necessary for correct interpretation and understanding. So I guess to answer your initial question, I believe that the written word of God is preserved along with the oral interpretation to understand it correctly. Ok that is where I am at at this present time.

Sincerely, Deeny Sorry if I rambled a bit.


motherofmany said...

Thank you for your reply.

While I do not agree with your view that scripture is not sufficient (i.e. 2 Timothy says scripture makes us perfect and thoroughly furnished, meaning we don't need anything else or we couldn't possibly be perfect and thoroughly furnished; Paul's words were considered scripture when he wrote them 2 Peter 3:15-16) or that the oral tradition is any different than the written tradition, it would take forever to go through all of those topics in one post!

So I will stick with my original question which was that if you don’t believe God is big enough to perfectly preserve his written word, how can you believe he is big enough to perfectly preserve his spoken word? To use your criteria, we would all have to be able to speak and read ancient Hebrew and Greek, because the apostles gave their original teachings in these languages.

I do believe God has given a perfect translation in every language. The world will be judged by the word (John 12:48). In order for God to be a just God, he would have to give us a perfect set of instructions. It would not be just to judge based on imperfect instructions.

Deeny said...

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (King James Version)
16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

No where in that scripture does it say that scripture alone is totally sufficient. It says it "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
It says "thoroughly furnished" , but thoroughly furnished for what? For good works.

Also that particular scripture in context is referring only to the Old Testament and not the New. It is talking about the scriptures of Timothy's youth. The New Testament, including Paul's writings, did not exist in Timothy's youth.

Second, I answered your original question. I do believe his Word is preserved perfect both Oral and written to give us what we need for salvation and to be recociled to God and to live a Christian life. I believe that both the written and oral word both compliment and support each other and are in agreement.

Now if by perfect you mean a perfect written translation or copy, free of copy errors, translation errors, etc. Which of the many English translations is it? Scholars do not agree. Different Christian Denominations do not agree. There are definitely some translations that are better than others. I have yet to find that perfect translation. I prefer the New American Standard. It is a Protestant Bible and does not include the deuterocanonical books. From my research it is probably the best for Bible study. It is the one I have had for the last 23 years. It is the one I had as a Fundamentalist/Evangelical. The Catholic Bible I prefer is the RSV (Revised Standard Version) Catholic Ed.

>>To use your criteria, we would all have to be able to speak and read ancient Hebrew and Greek, because the apostles gave their original teachings in these languages.<<

That is why I am glad I have the benefit of 2000 years of knowledge and teaching from the Church.
If I had to figure it out all on my own it would take more than a lifetime. I have already spent more than 35 years at it.

Just an interesting note to think about:. The Jewish people of the Old Testament and today still use the Hebrew Scriptures for study. They read the Hebrew Scriptures in their synagogues. Their Children learn Hebrew so they can read and study the Old Testament in the language it was written.

Now the Bible is a collection of books. Who determined which books were to be included? When was the final number or the Bible as we have it today decided upon? Who preserved the oldest manuscripts. How were they copied etc. There are many books on the history of the Bible. I have read many of them. It is interesting research. But even with all my research I haven't discovered the perfect translation, so again I will ask you. Which is this perfect translation you speak of?

>>I do believe God has given a perfect translation in every language. The world will be judged by the word (John 12:48)<<

Judged by the word- Is that the written word, or oral or both? I believe both.

My position is that you need the Church along with the written word. I will restate from my original post on VTC that the Bible and personal Bible study is a recent thing in History. It is only since the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 that the Bible could even be produced for the masses. It is only very recent in our history that People have access to Bibles in their own languages and it is still not translated in every possible language today. It is only recently people can afford Bibles. And it is only recently the majority of people are literate and can read the Bible. We are talking less than 500 years. There was no Bible in the form we have it today with all the books compiled into the one Bible for the first 400 years of Christian history. So for 1500 years what did people do? Was God so careless as to leave Christians in the dark for 1500 years? No he gave us a Church. The Church is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth.
1 Timothy 3:15 (New American Standard Bible) 15but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

>>In order for God to be a just God, he would have to give us a perfect set of instructions. It would not be just to judge based on imperfect instructions.<<

Absolutely that is what the Church has preserved, not only the Written scriptures but also Sacred Tradition to understand them.

The Concept of Sola Scriptura (or the idea of scripture alone) is a new concept that was born out of the Protestant Reformation. Another eye opener from history for me is the fact that the Jews of the Old Testament were not Sola Scriptuirsts.

I believe that the concept of Sola Sciptura is unbiblical. I can post several scriptures that talk about Sacred Tradition. But I am sure you know your Bible well and can find them as easily as I can if you wanted to.

I Believe Scripture and Sacred Tradition together make up God's Holy Word. That is the conclusion that I have come to for all the reasons i stated and many more. I have come to this conclusion through years of Bible study. I have also studied history. Cardinal Newman once said "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." and that is where I am at.

So I guess we are going to have to disagree on Sola Scriptura.

motherofmany said...

vcyhjgYou are right that we are just going to have to disagree, but I think you're still missing my point. Based on your explaination, there is no perfect translation in English, yet the church has been given the job to perfectly preserve the word of God. So did the church fail?

Also, owning a copy of the scriptures is a new concept, but the Israelites had the scrolls at their daily disposal and many of them knew large sections by heart, as did their children. They were more familiar with the scriptures than many people today who own Bibles. Thus the command in Deuternonmy to discuss them when lying down and rising up, going out and comng in. The New Testamane Epistles were passed around and copied. As I stated before, the other apostles considered the writings of Paul as scripture even as they were being written, including the letters to Timothy. So the verse in that letter does include all of the scriptural writings that were and would be. All scripture.

Perfect and thoroughly furnished also apply to the preceeding words, which include doctrine. And if I were to say that the items needed for your trek up the mountain were thoroughly furnished in your backpack, it would make no sense for you to then look elsewhere for equipment because I have said you are thoroughly furnished. I think the view that the church's oral teachings are necessary creates a need to read it differently, even if the parallel would make no sense in everyday life.

I do understand what you are saying about hyperbole and why it is beneficial to learn Hebrew in order to read the scriptures. But not understanding the hidden conotations is not a stumbling block to salvation. It is something of the meat of the word, to be studied after the basics are mastered.

If the church is all authoritative why would we be commanded to study to show ourselves approved and to able to rightly divide the word of truth? All we would need to do is accept the teachings we hear- no reading or dividing. But we are commanded to study for ourselves and to understand for ourselves. That is why we are given the Holy Spirit as teacher and guide.

Deeny said...

>>On Jun 17, 2008, at 11:08 AM, motherofmany wrote:

Based on your explaination, there is no perfect translation in English<<

Yep you got it. I do not agree that there is a "perfect" English Translation. Copyists, translators, type setters and, publishers were not inspired and all are human and all make errors.

Also you have the burden then of proving and figuring out which English translation is the "perfect one". It can't be done. Which English one is "perfect"?

Wycliff (c1320-84), Tyndale (c1492-1536), Coverdale (1488-1569), The Great Bible (1539), The Geneva Bible (Used by the Puritans and brought to America) 1557, 1560, The Bishops Bible (1568), King James (1611 ed), King James (1612 ed), King James (1631 ed)King James Oxford Ed (1795), The English revised Version (1881, 1885), The American Standard (1901), The Revised Sandard (1946, 1952) I could go on and this is not even a complete list.

I do believe that we have all we need for Doctrine and Salvation and that it has been preserved in a form we can know and understand it.

>>On Jun 17, 2008, at 11:08 AM, motherofmany wrote:
But not understanding the hidden conotations is not a stumbling block to salvation. It is something of the meat of the word, to be studied after the basics are mastered.<<

I agree and neither are the minor translation issues, copyist issues etc. in our English Translations.

Although I will not say any translation or copy other than the originals are "perfect". I believe what we do have has been remarkably preserved and not a stumbling block to Salvation either.

>>On Jun 17, 2008, at 11:08 AM, motherofmany wrote:
If the church is all authoritative why would we be commanded to study to show ourselves approved and to able to rightly divide the word of truth?

We would be commanded to study it because it is s profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

The Church has authority given to it by Christ and is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth. (that is a whole nother apologetic study)The Church has preserved the scriptures and deposit of faith.

Let me ask you can "all" people study. Are all people literate? As I have pointed out all people/ the masses did not even have the means to study until recent history. look at the English Translations the earliest don't even go back a 1000 years.What did English speaking people do before that? What did the people do for the first 400 years of Christian history, when there was no complete Bible? You can learn from a teacher, you can study from oral tradition. God appointe teachers. You can learn the Bible stories from hearing them. Why is the Church the Pillar and Foundation of Truth and not the Scriptures?

Romans 10:16-18 (New American Standard Bible
16However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?"
17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
18But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Not reading.

My son is Blind and mentally handicapped. he will never read the Bible or study it. There are mentally handicapped , there are many with learning disabilities to different levels. I was a Special Ed teacher. Not all can study the way you describe.

Here is a question to put everything back into perspective.

Is it necessary to study the scriptures for salvation? Do I need a perfect understanding of all the scriptures for salvation? Do I need to even believe that there is a "perfect" English Translation for salvation? The answer is NO

Even though we disagree I hope this has not been too heated of a discussion. I can tell that both of us are passionate about our views.

PS: I had lots of spare time today LOL.

motherofmany said...

I didn't think it was heated at all. You were very gracious and answered my questions honestly and politely.

I don't argue that some people cannot read in order to study- but where do those teaching them get the information to teach them? Just as the Hebrews who did not have copies of the scrolls, even if they could read, were taught daily in the synagogues.

I also read 1 Timothy 3:15 differently- God's word is truth (John 17:17) and the church is the founadtion and pillar of truth- in other words, the church upholds the truth. The foundation of your house is not the house- it holds the house up.

You are right that we will have to agree to disagree. I just didn't understand the statement that there is no perfectly preserved copy of scripture available to us in light of the statement that tradition and scripture are equal.

Thank you for taking the time to address my question.

Deeny said...

Hi mother of many,
Here is my email
If you visit any of my older web sites the email there does not work because it is an older email and since I no longer have that service anymore I don't have access to my older pages to change it.

Thanks for writing- Even though we have some different views it was/is fun and challenging to dig and explore these issues I know I always learn a lot about myself and grow in my faith.

On Jun 17, 2008, at 11:50 PM, motherofmany wrote:

I didn't think it was heated at all. You were very gracious and answered my questions honestly and politely.

Thank you. I thought you were polite too. I believe growing in faith is a lifelong continuing process and I will be forever learning. These are my views at this moment in time and the conclusions that I have come to. My views have changed and even flip flopped many times.

On the issue of personal Bible study: As you and I have proven, you and I look at the same scriptures and see different things? Whose right? I know my heart. I know God knows my heart and I cling to the scripture that says seek and ye shall find. God wouldn't let me find something I wasn't suppose to. I definitely believe I have discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit. I know when something is off it erks my Spirit. I am pretty sure you feel the same way.

I have been a Bible Believing Fundamental/ Evangelical Christian for most of my life (I hate to use denominational terms- I like to say simply Christian too- but that means different things to different people. )

Thanks for writing. I wrote the next post about my faith Journey so you could maybe understand a little more about how I came to my conclusions. It is there if you are interested. At first I really didn't want to publish it all to the blog, but after writing it and editing it a trillion times i decided it wouldn't hurt to let it stay up and posted to the blog for awhile.
I really like your blog and have enjoyed getting to know you a bit through your blogs and your postings here. Even if we don't agree on a lot of things, I hope we can still be friends. I do appreciate all your insights. As I said I am still learning and I am sure i still have a lot to learn.
Sincerely Deana