bible difficulties

On The Method­ol­o­gy For Deter­min­ing The Var­i­ous Bible Difficulties

The Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies in their ini­tial response to our list of Inter­nal Con­tra­dic­tions of The Bible have made the claim that we are :

…more both­ered with seek­ing excus­es not to take the Bible seri­ous­ly, than find­ing rea­sons for their [our] own faith.

In light of this excuse” by the mis­sion­ar­ies to avoid the gory details of the mass of con­tra­dic­tions with­in the Bible, we find it nec­ces­sary to hence out­line our method­ol­o­gy for deter­min­ing the var­i­ous dif­fi­cul­ties inher­ent in the Bible text, insha’allah.

We also aim to edu­cate the Mus­lims about the cri­te­ria that the Bible sets for itself in order for it to be con­sid­ered an inspired” text from God, and hence the seri­ous­ness of the var­i­ous Bible dif­fi­cul­ties found are not to be tak­en lightly.

Judg­ing The Authen­tic­i­ty of the Bible Literature

In judg­ing the authen­tic­i­ty of the Bible, the cri­te­ria should be on sci­en­tif­ic grounds — grounds which are help­ful in defin­ing the authen­tic­i­ty of any oth­er old doc­u­ment. A doc­u­ment is first exam­ined inter­nal­ly and then externally.

Inter­nal evi­dence is the study of the text itself while the exter­nal evi­dence is the study of the his­tor­i­cal process through which the text was trans­mit­ted to us. Inter­nal evi­dence deals with the con­tent of the text, and if there are any errors, it should be deter­mined whether they are inter­nal con­tra­dic­tions or exter­nal errors. If the text suf­fers from errors and incon­sis­ten­cies of either the for­mer or the lat­ter, then it is clear that such text is con­trary to what it is claim­ing. For an exam­ple of an inter­nal con­tra­dic­tion, if a frag­ment in a pas­sage talks about a red chick­en” in a con­text but then a few para­graphs lat­er talks about a blue chick­en” in the same con­text, that is cer­tain­ly a contradiction.

An exam­ple of an exter­nal error would be if sup­pos­ing that same frag­ment pur­port­ing to be Shake­speare­an in ori­gin talks about King James trav­el­ling in the Space Shut­tle Colum­bia and using Pen­tium Com­put­ers, we would be oblig­ed to reject it right there as a Shake­speare­an writ­ing and would not waste time in exam­in­ing it any fur­ther, since it is in con­tra­dic­tion with his­tor­i­cal evi­dences, i.e. that there were cer­tain­ly no such thing as space shut­tles or com­put­ers in exis­tence dur­ing Shake­speare’s era.

Based on the above method­ol­o­gy that we have out­lined, we will look at a list of the many dif­fi­cul­ties with­in the text of the Bible, where­by the read­er is encour­aged to read in order to ver­i­fy it for themselves.

Bible Cri­te­ria For Deter­min­ing Divine Inspiration”

The Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies, as is their nature of mak­ing excus­es, seek to triv­i­alise the impor­tance of these Bib­li­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. They appear to have com­plete­ly giv­en up on refut­ing the proof of dis­tor­tion and have now resort­ed to spir­i­tu­al­iz­ing” the Bible and adamant­ly refuse to believe that any­one has changed the word of God” or that the Bible con­tain any con­flicts what­so­ev­er, no mat­ter how much the evi­dence is pre­sent­ed. They are will­ing to either :

  • Explain it away using abstrac­tion to explain the true” mean­ings of the vers­es pre­sent­ed, or
  • Explain it based upon assump­tions of their own not con­tained with­in the Bible, or
  • Explain it away by attribut­ing it to scrib­al error” (the most com­mon expla­na­tion), but a few lines lat­er they say that as long as the con­tra­dic­tions does not affect doc­trine, it is OK for the Bible to have mis­takes, or
  • Claim that these mat­ters are all insignif­i­cant and that the words remain the inspi­ra­tion of God even if we do not know who the inspired” authors were and their nar­ra­tions con­tra­dict one another.

The prob­lem in many cas­es is that it is human nature when giv­en a choice between two mat­ters, to take the sim­pler of the two, some­times even against one’s bet­ter judgement.

For exam­ple, let us look at an answer giv­en for the numer­i­cal dis­crep­an­cies in the Bible by a Christian :

Lin­guis­ti­cal­ly, none of these vers­es con­tra­dict. One can have 40,000 stalls for hors­es and still have 4,000. If the verse said ONLY 4,000, then it would be a con­tra­dic­tion. Like­wise, if you have three cars and you say I have a car,” it does not mean you don’t have three, but you do have one.

So, using his stan­dard of explain­ing”, can I say that when I have three daugh­ters and instead I say I have a daugh­ter”, does it mean that, lin­guis­ti­cal­ly, that it does not mean I don’t have three daugh­ters, but I do have one daughter”?

We are amazed at such an abstract” expla­na­tion being used to brush away the dif­fi­cul­ties in the Bible. For such peo­ple who have been very well-indoc­tri­nat­ed, the answer is very sim­ple — all of the changes to the text are all triv­ial” and incon­se­quen­tial”. For them, errors evi­dent in the inspired word of God” is very accept­able, and is just a mat­ter of the spir­it” of the book. For them, some of the words of God are not real­ly that impor­tant and can be dis­re­gard­ed. But to under­stand the cri­te­ria for divine­ly inspired” writ­ings, we would have to look at the nature of God as out­lined in the Bible itself.

First­ly, we are told in the Bible that God does not lie or change His mind after He has made a promise :

God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent. Has He said He will do some­thing and will not do it ? Has he promised some­thing and not ful­filled it?“1

We are also told that God is not the author of confusion :

…because God is not a God of con­fu­sion, but of peace.“2

We note that Jesus him­self is report­ed to have said that

But he [Jesus] answered and said, It is writ­ten, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that pro­ceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ 3

In oth­er words, if the Bible con­tains var­i­ous irrec­on­cil­able dif­fi­cults, it would be con­trary to the nature of God as high­light­ed above, and hence the Bible is cer­tain­ly not the divine­ly inspired” Word of God as believed by Christians.

Chris­t­ian Dilem­ma With Bible Difficulties

Hence, to charge us with that the dif­fi­cul­ties in the Bible are mere­ly “…excus­es not to take the Bible seri­ous­ly” is no doubt an attempt to triv­i­alise and make a mock­ery of the nature of God, as out­lined in the Bible itself.

Dr G.C Van Niftrik and Ds B.Y Boland them­selves admit that :

Kita tidak usah malu bah­wa ter­da­p­at berba­gai kesala­han dalam Alk­itab, kesala­han dalam angka-angka, per­hi­tun­gan, tahun dan fak­ta-fak­ta. Dan tak per­lu kita per­tang­gung­jawabkan kesala­han-kesala­han itu berdasarkan caranya isi Alk­itab telah dis­am­paikan kepa­da kita, sehing­ga dap­at kita berka­ta dalam naskah asli ten­tu­lah tidak ter­da­p­at kesala­han-kesala­han, tetapi kesala­han-kesala­han itu baru­lah kemu­di­an ter­ja­di didalam sali­nan-salainan naskah itu.

Trans­la­tion : We should not be ashamed of the var­i­ous errors in the Bible, the con­tra­dic­tions in num­bers, cal­cu­la­tions, years and facts. And we should not hold the trans­mis­sion of the Bible text respon­si­ble for the cause of these errors, for we say that in the orig­i­nal texts, there would not be any errors, but the errors only occur in the copies of that orig­i­nal text.4

The point here is that there are cer­tain­ly grounds for the Mus­lim posi­tion that the text of the Bible has been tam­pered with by human hands, and thus the errors of the text of the Bible in our hands today are the result of this human tam­per­a­tion. Mus­lims indeed hold that the Tau­rat, Zabur and Injeel are from God but do not accept that the var­i­ous books added to these books and form the bulk of the Bible in our hands today as whol­ly inspired” by God.

This is no doubt con­sis­tent with mod­ern schol­ar­ship find­ings that say that the Bible is a liv­ing text“5 and was not even free from fac­tu­al error(s)“6.

Con­clu­sions

At the end of the day, belief in some­thing does not make it so. For many cen­turies, schol­ars believed that the earth was flat. On lat­er exam­i­na­tion, it was dis­cov­ered to be round — not flat. Those schol­ars did not change their minds sim­ply because facts and truth proved them wrong, they con­tin­ued to believe what they had always believed because they were unable to face the fact that their belief had been disproved.

Thus, we do not expect to have the slight­est effect on any big­ot­ed Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ary who real­ly thinks that the Bible is inerrant and infal­li­ble, in spite of the Bib­li­cal prob­lems that have been pre­sent­ed. Instead, our expo­si­tion on the mat­ter is to edu­cate Mus­lims who are the tar­get of judge­ments, crit­i­cisms and accu­sa­tions by the Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies ; and also for those who are hon­est enough to seek the truth.

And only God knows best !Endmark

Cite this arti­cle as : Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, On The Method­ol­o­gy For Deter­min­ing The Var­i­ous Bible Dif­fi­cul­ties,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, Octo­ber 15, 2005, last accessed April 14, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​b​i​b​l​e​/​b​i​b​l​e​-​d​i​f​f​i​c​u​l​t​i​es/
  1. Num­bers 23:19[]
  2. 1 Corinthi­ans 14:33[]
  3. Matthew 4:4[]
  4. Dr G.C Van Niftrik & Ds B.Y Boland, Dog­mati­ka Masa Kini. The trans­la­tion into Eng­lish was done by the author.[]
  5. Aland & Aland, The Text Of The New Tes­ta­ment, p. 69[]
  6. See M. F. Wiles, Chap­ter 14 : Ori­gen As Bib­li­cal Schol­ar in P. R. Ack­royd & C. F. Evans (eds.), The Cam­bridge His­to­ry of the Bible : From the Begin­nings to Jerome, Vol­ume 1 (Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1970), p. 463[]

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *