Is the Bible Literally True?

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Slemon

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Is the Bible Literally True?
« on: February 06, 2015, 06:56:46 AM »
There's been a lot of religious talk all over the forum recently, so I thought I'd make this.

Was the Bible intended as a historical document, at all, or just a theological guide?
if it was intended as accurate, is it literally true, or could some be merely metaphorical? Could errors have snuck in from human copying, because God would not have impinged on the free will of those doing the writing?

Basically, this is just an open thread to discuss whether or not the Bible is required to be literally true, even if Christianity holds. Please no "But God isn't real!" posts, I'm interested purely in the theistic perspective.

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Conker

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2015, 07:31:07 AM »
Thhe difference between historical and theological documents is only recent. Stories told generation from generation (and later, fundational texts) are the only documents ancient people had about their past. Millenia of transmission makes legend from truth undistinguishable.

I'm interested purely in the theistic perspective.
Oh well, nevermind. Seems I can't have a say on this
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Slemon

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2015, 07:33:19 AM »
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I'm interested purely in the theistic perspective.
Oh well, nevermind. Seems I can't have a say on this
You can answer on behalf of theism if you want, I just meant no assuming that "Of course it's not literally true, there's no God!"
Regardless of how accurate that might be, it doesn't add much to the discussion.

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Conker

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2015, 07:39:26 AM »
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I'm interested purely in the theistic perspective.
Oh well, nevermind. Seems I can't have a say on this
You can answer on behalf of theism if you want, I just meant no assuming that "Of course it's not literally true, there's no God!"
Regardless of how accurate that might be, it doesn't add much to the discussion.
How can I answer on behalf of something I oppose and disbelieve? Why do you think only theistic aproach is valid? Why do I have to believe in a god to take part on a discussion on the historical validity of religious fundational texts?
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Slemon

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2015, 07:47:44 AM »
How can I answer on behalf of something I oppose and disbelieve?
By thinking. It's how discussions generally work.
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Why do you think only theistic aproach is valid?
I don't, I just don't think it's relevant to say "The Bible's not true, because it says God exists." I'm asking purely after the historicity.
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Why do I have to believe in a god to take part on a discussion on the historical validity of religious fundational texts?
You don't, I've never asked you to, I just said that because I don't want the sum total of someone's addition to the discussion to be "It's false because no God."

Of course, if God doesn't exist, the Bible is not a true document. That's obvious, there's no point in talking about it. I seriously hope you're not contesting that. All I'm saying is let's ignore that trivial case.

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Conker

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2015, 08:10:18 PM »
You explicitally said you wanted a theistic aproach, which is not the same as dismissing atheist criticisms of the truth value of a religious fundational book whose truth value is dependent on god
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st james

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2015, 09:48:25 PM »
let's put it this way....its either ALL true or NONE of it is true.....there's no "middle ground".....the Bible doesn't leave you with that 'option'  :-X
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Slemon

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2015, 01:48:15 AM »
You explicitally said you wanted a theistic aproach, which is not the same as dismissing atheist criticisms of the truth value of a religious fundational book whose truth value is dependent on god
Kind of is. The atheistic perspective is that there is no God (or may as well not be, strictly speaking), the theistic perspective is that there is one. Beyond questions of degree like agnosticism, it's a true dichotomy. if there is a God, the Bible is true on that count, and we can get on to the actual meat of the discussion: that's all I'm asking for. Are you finished with such irrelevancies now?

let's put it this way....its either ALL true or NONE of it is true.....there's no "middle ground".....the Bible doesn't leave you with that 'option'  :-X
Why do you think that? (I'm not looking to criticize in this thread, just learn).

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Conker

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2015, 07:44:15 AM »
The Bible is not just a book about god, it is a book about the ethnical history, the legends and cultural developments of a certain culture in the Middle East over 3000 years ago. It is also a poetic book, an ethical manual, and a ritual descriptor. Whether the god  it claims to exist exists or not is irrelevant to the criticism of the different parts of it. For example, we know that Genesis is bs, not because god does or does not exist, but because it is demostrably wrong. The slavery period on Egypt, though, is actually (more or less) correct. So are the descriptions of the two temples of Jerusalem (disregarding details such as ancient jews believing pi = 3, and being unable to use measuring tools), the rites, and the descriptions of what did those ancient jews believed: Cosmology, ethics, religion, spirituality. It doesnt matter if it is true, or not. Te important thing was that people believed it, and acted acordingly. It tells us a very interesting story.

And btw, atheists do not believe there is no god. Atheists do not believe there is a god. There's a difference. While "God exists" hass a dichotomical truth value, thats not the matter in question. "Do you believe god exists" and "Do you believe god does not exist" are different questions, and one can say No to both (Explicitally becoming an atheist on the first question, becoming an unnamed ideology on the second, and arguably admitting agnosticism on both).

Disregarding this extremelly stupid thing, lets get back to your questions, on a purelly atheistic viewpoint.

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Was the Bible intended as a historical document, at all, or just a theological guide?
Both. As I said earlier, the distinction between factual history and legend is relativelly recent. People believed on the desertical flaming bush talking to Moses as they believed on the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. Both were history for them, only recently we can distinguish exagerated truth from legend.

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if it was intended as accurate, is it literally true, or could some be merely metaphorical?
Hard to tell, but I think it was mostly intended to be transmitted as accurate. Most of the bible was transmitted via oral tradition, AFAIK, until the settlement of jews in Judea. The hyperbolic and parabolic style of writing could be blamed on thousands of years of oral tradition. However, some books, as the book of Ruth, are clearly fable-like, and dont seem to have oral tradition behind it. Ruth's book, specifically, could have been written as an attempt to de-demonize Caananites, which were a hated ethnicity to jews, just as the Samaritans on Jesus times. Aparently didnt work, though.

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Could errors have snuck in from human copying, because God would not have impinged on the free will of those doing the writing?
Surprisingly, as the Dead Sea Scrolls prove, Jewish copysts were extremelly efficient. Development of checksum techniques for checking the accuracy of a writing made errors extremelly unlikelly, and, as a result, Torah's version of the bible barelly has changed in thousands of years of handwriting. We dont know how was the bible before it was written, though, so it is safe to assume that it suffered the same processes as oral legends did. On the accounts of Jesus on the New Testament, they were written at best 30+ years before Jesus alleged death, and by people who didnt meet Jesus at all. The most ancent texts we actually have are those by St. Paul, but it is this sinners opinion that Paul had an agenda, writing what suited his idea of Christianity, rather than accuratelly transmitting Jesus teachings, but thats just, like, my opinion, man.

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Orifiel

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2015, 04:50:39 PM »
No, the Bible is just a summarisation of the events that transpired over a long period of time that have been adulterated by kings, pharaohs, personal interpretations, and other human events.
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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2015, 01:56:43 PM »
The bible is supported by over 20,000 ancient manuscripts from around the world. Well more than those that back Greek and Roman philosophers. A lot of the stories in the bible are also found in historical records from around the world as well.
Search for the truth. Ask questions. Think for yourself.

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Socratic Amusement

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2015, 04:13:29 PM »
The bible is supported by over 20,000 ancient manuscripts from around the world. Well more than those that back Greek and Roman philosophers. A lot of the stories in the bible are also found in historical records from around the world as well.

Heh.

Heheheh.

HAHAHAHA!

No...no, no just no. None of that was correct. Not even close.



Holy crap that was funny.
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17 November

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2015, 07:45:07 PM »
Was the Bible intended as a historical document, at all, or just a theological guide?

Both.

It certainly includes portions intended metaphorically and symbolically such as the Lord referring to His body as a temple.  Even the historical portions contain symbols and lessons therein. The writings of Dionysios the Areopagite (Paul's disciple of Acts 17) explain about this in detail.  An example includes his teaching about angels who are bodiless. When they appear as youths or winged creatures, we are to understand that they are invisible by nature but assume or project a physical form or image in order for those men to whom they appear to understand or relate to them. The Angels are real, but their appearance to men is not their literal nature. The same goes for demons who are fallen angels and likewise invisible by nature and assume exterior forms. As to the appearance of angels, the details of their appearance includes symbols from which the reflective can learn as Dionysios explains in his letters or other writings such as 'The Celestial Hierarchy'.

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/areopagite_08_letters.htm

As to the historical and scientific facts stated in the Bible, these are literally true. The creation of the world in six days, the four corners of the earth, that heaven is located above us and hell beneath are literal facts. This literal interpretation of this does not contradict nor detract from the spiritual lessons as some heretics (of which atheism is one) teach, but buttresses the spiritual dimension.

« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 08:00:55 PM by 17 November »

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kman

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2015, 07:55:52 PM »
Scientific facts, such as bats being birds?
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st james

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2015, 07:58:33 PM »
The bible is supported by over 20,000 ancient manuscripts from around the world. Well more than those that back Greek and Roman philosophers. A lot of the stories in the bible are also found in historical records from around the world as well.

well...its certainly supported by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea_Scrolls ......one of the most exhaustively analysed and investigated documentary finds in history.....those alone go a very long way to establishing its veracity and authenticity....
(the Scrolls also raise the interesting claim that there are @ least two major books that have been excluded from the Old Testament that, more likely than not, shouldn't have been.....the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jasher)

other points:
the Bible claims that it is the inerrant Word of God.....
there's no way 'round that.....you either totally accept it or totally reject it....

Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
(Psalm 119)

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
(Book of Jeremiah the Prophet)

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual
(First Epistle of St Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
(Second Epistle of St Paul the Apostle to Timothy)

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost

(Second Epistle of St Peter the Apostle)

"Bible Codes"
are they real?
and......if so.....what does it mean?
http://www.ausdisciples.com.au/forum/showthread.php?676  ;

nisi Dominus frustra

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17 November

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2015, 08:11:10 PM »
A lot of the stories in the bible are also found in historical records from around the world as well.
No...no, no just no. None of that was correct. Not even close.

The flood story is confirmed in the ancient history of every nation in the world.
This fact has been documented even by modern uniformitarian geologists who believe in the  absurdities like geological ages and ice ages.

EDIT:
One part of the original statement is technically incorrect.
Bible stories have been found in historical records ACROSS the world - not around it.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 08:14:22 PM by 17 November »

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Socratic Amusement

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2015, 08:36:21 PM »
A lot of the stories in the bible are also found in historical records from around the world as well.
No...no, no just no. None of that was correct. Not even close.

The flood story is confirmed in the ancient history of every nation in the world.
This fact has been documented even by modern uniformitarian geologists who believe in the  absurdities like geological ages and ice ages.

EDIT:
One part of the original statement is technically incorrect.
Bible stories have been found in historical records ACROSS the world - not around it.

Again, literally everything you just said was incorrect.
"As for me, all I know is that I know nothing."

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FalseProphet

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2015, 05:56:35 AM »
If the bible is literally true, then God would be the same category as Hitler or Pol Pot.  So I understand well Fundamentalists who are terrorists, but I don't understand the ones that are not.

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st james

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2015, 06:42:57 AM »
I'm a racist.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 10:42:28 AM by Pongo »
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FalseProphet

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2015, 09:20:53 AM »
See what I mean?

Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2015, 09:35:38 AM »
I know it's easier to laugh it off and disregard . Even when facts are out there . I would also add that God is not like Hitler or whoever else you would compare Him to. That last rant about burning in hell is totally uncalled for as well.
 I'm not sure where people get the idea that God wants to kill everyone. If you refer to the scriptures, you might want to read them for yourself and find the context of His wrath as far as the purpose that is.  No where does Jesus teach hate and death of your enemies He says we should love and pray for them. Any Christian that would kill or even talk hatefully about anyone, needs to look at themselves first.  I for one top that list. In my answers I am not trying to offend.

 As for the Bible being literal. Yes is always my answer. Jesus says in the last days we would see signs in the heavens and the earth. With earthquakes and strange weather in various places ( paraphrasing). Well there certainly is an uptick of both all over. If you study the scripture you will also see evidence of "prehistoric" creatures as well. Yes dinosaurs and man together on earth. Call me crazy stupid whatever I'm cool with it.
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Socratic Amusement

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2015, 09:43:23 AM »
I know it's easier to laugh it off and disregard . Even when facts are out there . I would also add that God is not like Hitler or -Snipped Crazy-

I wasn't laughing because it is easy to laugh off your beliefs. I laughed because you would have to go out of your way and trying really hard to be that incorrect about facts that are not at all that difficult to verify.
"As for me, all I know is that I know nothing."

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Pongo

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2015, 10:44:01 AM »
St. James, please take some time to meditate on the meaning of racism, hate speech, and its place here are the Flat Earth Society.

Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2015, 05:23:23 PM »
Is the Bible literally true? INTERESTING question! Please realise that my answer only applies to the Hebrew Bible, ie, the Christian "Old Testament", since I am an Orthodox Jew. I have read the Christian Scriptures, ie, the so-called "New Testament", twice, but they are irrelevant to my purpose.

So, back to the question: I take the Bible as generally literal truth. I tend to be non-literal about the length of the first three days of creation, because the Sun had not yet been created (it was created on the Fourth Day). You can't have a 24 hour day without the Sun. The light that existed before the Sun and the Moon were created was the light that emanated from the glory of the Throne of G-d. After the Sun and the Moon were created, THEN you have 24 hour days. The first three could have taken any amount of time, determined only by G-d. That would account in my mind for the millions of years between the creation of the Earth and the arrival of Adam and Eve.

I do NOT pretend to understand the intricate nature of science. And I do not pretend that the Bible is a science book. I believe in the historical narrative that the Bible presents of my People, of course. The narrative has started to be proven in the historical and archaeological record. I believe that it will continue to be proven in said record. It will simply be a matter of time.

Are bats birds? Clearly not. Is the Bible a science book? No. Was it sufficient to call them birds for the purpose of the narrative? Yes. They fly through the air, and they are NOT kosher. That was all that needed to be known at the time.

So, there you are. I shall continue this interesting conversation with you tomorrow, but my wife is home now, and needs some TLC. Adieu.

« Last Edit: February 17, 2015, 07:52:45 PM by Yaakov ben Avraham »

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kman

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2015, 07:22:22 PM »

Are bats birds? Clearly not. Is the Bible a science book? No. Was it sufficient to call them birds for the purpose of the narrative? Yes. They fly through the air, and they are NOT kosher. That was all that needed to be known at the time.


I wish more people understood this.
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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2015, 07:28:20 PM »
Indeed. The Biblical inerrantists do get a bit ridiculous.

Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #26 on: February 17, 2015, 10:30:32 AM »
It's not a book of science, but neither is it an (accurate) book of history.
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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #27 on: February 17, 2015, 10:34:06 AM »
It's not a book of science, but neither is it an (accurate) book of history.

Well, I'll choose to disagree with that. More and more, they are proving vareious aspects of the Bible. They are finding evidence of David's Palace. I just saw a Youtube video about Pharaoh's chariots in the Red Sea. Granted, its going to take a long time before all of this is determined to be true, and some of it may never be proven. But for me, enough of it is proven for me to be able to accept it. And since it is the national story of my People, I don't quibble with it the way some persons might.

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sceptimatic

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Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #28 on: February 17, 2015, 11:00:22 AM »
How long has the bible been a complete bible?

To put it more plainly. How long has the bible been the bible we see today as a basic full on bible?
What date did the last entry to that bible end?

Re: Is the Bible Literally True?
« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2015, 11:13:32 AM »
How long has the bible been a complete bible?

To put it more plainly. How long has the bible been the bible we see today as a basic full on bible?
What date did the last entry to that bible end?

Well. THAT is a good question. First, are we talking about the Hebrew Bible or the Christian? I'll try to answer both questions. The Jewish Bible assumed its current form in approximately the year 90 CE. At the same time that Jews in the Land of Israel were formulating their Bible, Jews that spoke Greek in Alexandria were using what is known as the Septuagint. This was a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek for the benefit of Greek speaking Jews who knew no Hebrew. It includes 7 extra books, written in Greek or at least preserved only in that language, plus parts of Daniel preserved in that language, and a Greek version of Esther that is a bit different than the Hebrew Recension. Christians began to use the Septuagint as the basis for Christological interpretations of the Jewish Bible, so Jewish scholars about 90 CE went to the books preserved only in Hebrew and Aramaic, and discarded those preserved in Greek.

When was the last book of the Hebrew Bible written? Well, Malachi was the last Prophet to write. Nehemiah is also estimated by many scholars to be among the last. They are both estimated to have been written in about 420 BCE.

Regarding the Chrstian Scriptures, the last book written of he batch was Revelation, which is usually dated to 96 CE. As far as when the books began to be listed as Scripture approved for use by Christians in a list, it may have been as early as about 115 CE. However, the Council of Carthage did so in 181 CE, so far as I am aware, and the Council of Nicaea did so again in the 300s.