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Jonah and the whale … a true story?

Theology Today, By Ed HahnenbergI am a fan of George Gershwin’s music. In 1935, he and his brother Ira published a song that shocked those who read the Bible literally, “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” The song was written tongue in cheek, challenging many Christians’ belief in some of the biblical stories. The Discovery Channel’s documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” might have challenged the faith of some in this generation, despite the scholarly arguments against the documentary’s conclusions.

“De t-ings dat yo’ li’ble to read in de Bible, it ain’t necessarily so,” was the refrain line, and one of the song’s verses sang: “Jonah, he lived in a whale, Oh, Jonah, he lived in de whale, fo’ he made his home in dat fish’s ab-domen, Oh Jonah, he lived in de whale,” followed by the refrain: “It ain’t necessarily so…”

Jonah and the Whale

Jesus references the story of Jonah and the whale in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 12: 38-42 to predict his coming death and resurrection:

Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights ….

So, as adult Christians, what are we to make of this popular story in the Old Testament? The fact that Jesus uses the story would seem to give it iron-clad authenticity.

Yet, there are few scripture scholars today who would hold to a literal interpretation of the Jonah story. Today, the story is seen as a parable, whose purpose was to teach a lesson — namely, that the Jews were not the only people God loved. Remember, Jesus, too, very often used the parable to teach. The fact that this parable made it into the Jewish canon, or list of divinely-inspired books, is a miracle in itself, considering the thinking of the Jews that they were the chosen people of Yahweh.

To be sure, many fundamentalist Christian preachers still today hold to the literal interpretation of the Bible, allowing for no deviation in interpretation than what the literal words in Scripture say. Yet, there are many instances of problems interpreting the Bible with that approach.

I have studied Latin six years in college, Greek for five, and Hebrew for two. The nuances of translation between the languages are many. Words in the same language have different meanings in different times. The original Hebrew found in the Old Testament was written down without vowels. Imagine trying to translate the following:

DGSWDRWHTDNDGHTWSWDRWHTDRWHTSWGNNNGBHTN

Don’t forget that Hebrew is written from right to left. (The solution is at the end of this blog.)

The Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts were written without vowels. Written vowels came into existence through the Massorites, beginning with the long vowels and concluding with the short vowels and cantillation marks around 620 AD.

Most scripture scholars find many historical inaccuracies in Scripture. I, as a Christian, believe that the writers of Scripture operated under the Holy Spirit’s influence, but they were not immune to the way in which the oral traditions were committed to writing. There were no video documents to consult, and what was written down prior to the use of animal skins or papyrus was etched in steles or clay tablets.

Several of the stories of Genesis doubtless had pagan origins such as the flood story, an obvious retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh a thousand years later.

There is currently no argument among Christian scholars that the Bible is the Word of God. However, the historical-critical method of interpretation of the Bible has gained almost universal acceptance among mainline Christian scholars. Condemned at first by virtually all Christian groups in the nineteenth century, the method actually had its beginnings with Sts. Jerome and Augustine in the fourth and fifth centuries. Various aspects of this approach were popularized and developed by scholars like Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918), Hermann Gunkel (1862-1932), and others. More recently, Raymond E. Brown, SS (1928-1998) has earned universal acclaim developing this approach to understanding the Bible.

The fundamental principles of the historical-critical method in its classic form are the following:

It is an historical method, not only because it is applied to ancient texts — in this case, those of the Bible — and studies their significance from an historical point of view, but also and above all because it seeks to shed light upon the historical processes which gave rise to biblical texts, diachronic processes that were often complex and involved a long period of time. At the different stages of their production, the texts of the Bible were addressed to various categories of hearers or readers living in different places and different times.

It is a critical method, because in each of its steps (from textual criticism to redaction criticism) it operates with the help of scientific criteria that seek to be as objective as possible. In this way it aims to make accessible to the modern reader the meaning of biblical texts, often very difficult to comprehend.

As an analytical method, it studies the biblical text in the same fashion as it would study any other ancient text and comments upon it as an expression of human discourse. However, above all in the area of redaction criticism, it does allow the exegete to gain a better grasp of the content of divine revelation.

Back to the two page Book of Jonah…

You remember the story: Jonah is called by Yahweh to preach repentance to the Ninevites. Instead of going north to the land of Assyria, of which Nineveh was its capital city, Jonah goes west. There was a reason for Jonah’s reluctance — Assyria was the most fearsome ancient power of his time. It was Assyria that conquered Israel’s northern kingdom in 722 BC, and it was King Sennacherib who threatened annihilation of the southern kingdom and nearly destroyed Jerusalem during the reign of Judah’s King Hezekiah some twenty years later. From Assyrian texts, Sennacherib traps the Jewish king Hezekiah: “Himself (Hezekiah) I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.” The biblical account differs as to its spin: 2 Kings: 18, 19:

That night the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. Early the next morning, there they were, all the corpses of the dead. So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp and went back home to Nineveh.

The story line of the Book of Jonah follows:

Jonah boards a ship which runs into a severe storm. The sailors conclude that Jonah is to blame, so they throw him overboard… and you know what happens next. After three days in the belly of the “great fish,” he is spewed out on land. Convinced he must do the Lord’s bidding, he goes to Nineveh, where he fully expects to be killed for his preaching. Instead the King repents and so do the people. Jonah grumbles to the Lord about the turn of events and God describes his love for the Jews’ worst enemy, the Assyrians, in the final scene under the withered gourd plant.

There is no archaeological, corroborating evidence that Nineveh’s ruler or its people ever repented of their worship of their pagan gods, much less any tolerance of the Jews thereafter. Memorable as the Book of Jonah is, it is the opinion of most biblical scholars today that Jonah, a prophet named in 2 Kings 14:25 and estimated to have live in the 8th century BC, never was involved in the Book of Jonah.

The historical Jonah ben Amittai was selected by the book’s unknown author who wrote the book in the 5th century as a kind of anti-hero who had no connection with the Book of Jonah, nor did he get swallowed by a big fish, nor was Nineveh ever converted. How is the dating of language known? By studying comparable writings of the different times, certain words and phraseologies common to different eras, and translation differences. It is a science in itself, just as is archeology.

In the Old and New Testaments, as in other ancient writings, authorship of a book was often the work of an unknown writer who used a respected historical figure to gain a work’s credibility. Not that God was not the author of the work, but rather than the unknown author used a famous personage, such as a Solomon or a David, to further its acceptance. There was no need for Jesus, who referenced the story of Jonah, to get into a discussion of authorship or whether the story was a parable or history. He used the story for its parallelism to his upcoming Passion and death.

The Book of Jonah is a story of redemption to be sure, but of a different kind — a prefiguration of the redemption of all mankind by the true Jonah, Jesus Christ. As I have noted above, Jesus used many parables in his teaching. He used the familiar parable of Jonah to teach of his love for all mankind, Jew and Gentile alike, and to explain his upcoming redemptive act by his death and resurrection from the dead.

For more information on the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation, I refer you to my book "Understanding the Bible: A Layman's Guide to the Historical-Critical Method," available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders. Amazon has a neat “Search Inside” feature, so you can read portions of most books before you purchase. You can also access more information on my book at www.hahnenberg.org.

Oh yes, the correct translation is “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God.” (From the beginning of John’s gospel.)

  • Anonymous

    I found this essay to be interesting:

    THE BIBLE’S DEADLY ENEMY:
    THE HISTORICAL CRITICAL METHOD OF
    INTERPRETATION
    By Harold S. Martin
    The purpose of this essay is to tell what the historical-critical method is, and also how it works. I am convinced that the historical-critical method of Scripture interpretation is the greatest of all the enemies of the Christian faith.

    http://www.brfwitness.org/Articles/1993v28n1b.htm

    • Ed Hahnenberg

      And what convinces you that it is? That the Bible is God’s Word, that He wrote it, and that there is no inaccuracies in it? Who decided what books were to be included in the Bible, both OT and NT? In the case of the OT, it was the Jewish scholars. In the case of the NT, it was the early Christian scholars, like Jerome, Augustine, etc., and several Councils.
      I think you will find a bare minimum of biblical scholars, mostly fundamentalists, who try to argue against the historical-critical method. The method is accepted by all mainline Protestant scholars, the Catholic Church in Vatican II and other current statements, the Orthodox Church, and, for the OT, current Jewish scholars.

      The method answers many centuries-old questions of why the Bible seemed to be inaccurate, without destroying the fundamental belief that it is the product of the Holy Spirit working through men in the language and historical knowledge available to them during their day. The historical-critical method is no enemy of God’s word, but a realistic approach to understanding how God’s revelation came to the world.

      • Jeff

        Mr. Ed, you have an eye for science and theology, I can respect that a lot. Oldbluelight there is a die-hard literal interpretist with more bible thumpin’ in him that a south Tennesee baptist pastor. Thanks for not jumping on his bandwagon.

        • Anonymous

          Jeff, thank you for the complement! Have a great Memorial Day.

      • Anonymous

        The Catholic church holds church tradition at a higher level of authority than the bible, and Jewish scholars don’t recognize the N.T., so I would not refer to their use of the historical-critical method. As for churches and scholars picking and choosing which parts of the bible they take literally and the minority of scholars who argue against the historical-critical method, I refer you to Matthew 7:13-14
        “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” If I couldn’t believe Genesis as is, I would go back to being an atheist.

        • Ed Hahnenberg

          Au contraire. The Catholic Church holds Scripture and Tradition in equal stature. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 1, Section 1, Article 2, # 82: “Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” Also, from “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church”
          presented by the Pontifical Biblical Commission
          to Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1993: “Fundamentalism is right to insist on the divine inspiration of the Bible, the inerrancy of the word of God and other biblical truths included in its five fundamental points. But its way of presenting these truths is rooted in an ideology which is not biblical, whatever the proponents of this approach might say. For it demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research.”

          Mainline Protestant scholars would agree. Atheism is no answer to a scholarly study of Genesis as the Word of God understood in a better way today.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, I agree on the technical points about the “official” stance of the Catholic Church on Scripture and Tradition, however it has been my experience (not obviously an advanced study completed by Notre Dame) with my Hispanic & VERY Catholic in-laws and neighbors, that church tradition trumps the scriptures like the knave of the trump suit, no contest. Sound bible doctrine is available here: http://www.t4g.org/

          • Ed Hahnenberg

            I am not a Notre Dame grad, nor have I attended there. That distinction belongs to my son who earned his Ph.D. in theology there. I have earned college credit at 12 colleges and universities, with degrees at 4. My MA in Scripture comes from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit in 1999.

  • oldbluelightjackson

    I found this essay to be interesting:

    THE BIBLE'S DEADLY ENEMY:
    THE HISTORICAL CRITICAL METHOD OF
    INTERPRETATION
    By Harold S. Martin
    The purpose of this essay is to tell what the historical-critical method is, and also how it works. I am convinced that the historical-critical method of Scripture interpretation is the greatest of all the enemies of the Christian faith.

    http://www.brfwitness.org/Articles/1993v28n1b.htm

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    And what convinces you that it is? That the Bible is God's Word, that He wrote it, and that there is no inaccuracies in it? Who decided what books were to be included in the Bible, both OT and NT? In the case of the OT, it was the Jewish scholars. In the case of the NT, it was the early Christian scholars, like Jerome, Augustine, etc., and several Councils.
    I think you will find a bare minimum of biblical scholars, mostly fundamentalists, who try to argue against the historical-critical method. The method is accepted by all mainline Protestant scholars, the Catholic Church in Vatican II and other current statements, the Orthodox Church, and, for the OT, current Jewish scholars.

    The method answers many centuries-old questions of why the Bible seemed to be inaccurate, without destroying the fundamental belief that it is the product of the Holy Spirit working through men in the language and historical knowledge available to them during their day. The historical-critical method is no enemy of God's word, but a realistic approach to understanding how God's revelation came to the world.

  • oldbluelightjackson

    The Catholic church holds church tradition at a higher level of authority than the bible, and Jewish scholars don't recognize the N.T., so I would not refer to their use of the historical-critical method. As for churches and scholars picking and choosing which parts of the bible they take literally and the minority of scholars who argue against the historical-critical method, I refer you to Matthew 7:13-14
    “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” If I couldn't believe Genesis as is, I would go back to being an atheist.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Au contraire. The Catholic Church holds Scripture and Tradition in equal stature. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 1, Section 1, Article 2, # 82: “Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” Also, from “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church”
    presented by the Pontifical Biblical Commission
    to Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1993: “Fundamentalism is right to insist on the divine inspiration of the Bible, the inerrancy of the word of God and other biblical truths included in its five fundamental points. But its way of presenting these truths is rooted in an ideology which is not biblical, whatever the proponents of this approach might say. For it demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research.”

    Mainline Protestant scholars would agree. Atheism is no answer to a scholarly study of Genesis as the Word of God understood in a better way today.

  • oldbluelightjackson

    Yes, I agree on the technical points about the “official” stance of the Catholic Church on Scripture and Tradition, however it has been my experience (not obviously an advanced study completed by Notre Dame) with my Hispanic & VERY Catholic in-laws and neighbors, that church tradition trumps the scriptures like the knave of the trump suit, no contest. Sound bible doctrine is available here: http://www.t4g.org/

  • Ken

    Ed is not as smart as he (Tries to appear) with all of his schooling. “professing themselves to be wise they became fools” Rom 1:22

    “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” 1 Cr 3:19

    “The wise [men] are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom [is] in them?” Jer 8:9

    • Ed Hahnenberg

      Ken and oldbluelighthackson: I am not a minister and I hope I don’t proselytize. That is the role of the preacher and priest. I am a five decade teacher who likes to engage my fellow human beings in discussion in matters of theology and astronomy.

      So, if both of you hold to the fundamentalist method of biblical interpretation, why cannot you accept the literal interpretation of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist found in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions? It is clearly explained in John 6 and 1 Corinthians 11: 23-32, particularly v. 27: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.”

      Or, how about Peter’s successors being head of the Church? Matthew 16: 18: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the hell shall not prevail against it.” The popes were not saints in many cases. I would guess there are a few of them not in heaven. But there is a traceable apostolic succession of them and for 1500 years the Roman church was the only thing going in Christianity.

      I admire the verbal knowledge of scripture you both obviously demonstrate. It shows a deep love of His Word.

      When I was a child, I took everything in scripture literally, Jonah’s story included. However, after a life of study, my view and love of the Bible has risen quantum leaps. 1 Corinthians 11: 13: “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” That quote of Paul applied to me…maybe, just maybe might it apply to both of you?

  • Ken

    Ed is not as smart as he (Tries to appear) with all of his schooling. “professing themselves to be wise they became fools” Rom 1:22

    “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” 1 Cr 3:19

    “The wise [men] are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom [is] in them?” Jer 8:9

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Ken and oldbluelighthackson: I am not a minister and I hope I don't proselytize. That is the role of the preacher and priest. I am a five decade teacher who likes to engage my fellow human beings in discussion in matters of theology and astronomy.

    So, if both of you hold to the fundamentalist method of biblical interpretation, why cannot you accept the literal interpretation of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist found in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions? It is clearly explained in John 6 and 1 Corinthians 11: 23-32, particularly v. 27: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.”

    Or, how about Peter's successors being head of the Church? Matthew 16: 18: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the hell shall not prevail against it.” The popes were not saints in many cases. I would guess there are a few of them not in heaven. But there is a traceable apostolic succession of them and for 1500 years the Roman church was the only thing going in Christianity.

    I admire the verbal knowledge of scripture you both obviously demonstrate. It shows a deep love of His Word.

    When I was a child, I took everything in scripture literally, Jonah's story included. However, after a life of study, my view and love of the Bible has risen quantum leaps. 1 Corinthians 11: 13: “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” That quote of Paul applied to me…maybe, just maybe might it apply to both of you?

  • oldbluelightjackson

    Jeff, thank you for the complement! Have a great Memorial Day.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    I am not a Notre Dame grad, nor have I attended there. That distinction belongs to my son who earned his Ph.D. in theology there. I have earned college credit at 12 colleges and universities, with degrees at 4. My MA in Scripture comes from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit in 1999.

  • CDar

    Here’s a first: the astronomer and atheist agreeing. While we disagree that the Bible is divinely inspired, he is absolutely correct about the historical critical method of interpretation. Literal interpretation requires the suspension of science and common sense. I believe the old blue light has provided sufficient evidence of this.

  • CDar

    Here’s a first: the astronomer and atheist agreeing. While we disagree that the Bible is divinely inspired, he is absolutely correct about the historical critical method of interpretation. Literal interpretation requires the suspension of science and common sense. I believe the old blue light has provided sufficient evidence of this.

  • Lynn Spann

    Thankyou for that- whatever it was. I couldn’t disagree with you more. This idea that science has no bias is at best nieve and at worst dangerous.The problem with science and scientific theory is it is promoted by people. And believe it or not bias’s are like noses, everyone has one. As a christian I have a bias, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. As a christian I am not willing to subject what I consider to be the word of God to some other man’s version of history. At the heart of all this is the fact the neither one of us was there – whichever there you consider – if the there came before we did. Do I think it is futile to study history? absolutly not. What I am saying is that bias is not something to run from but to admit to and use as God intended, as a means to differenciate between views, ideas, and viewpoints. Without bias there is nothing to discus, because there is no difference.

    • Amazio

      Lynn … Biased views are part of the domain called “subjective truth.” All of us have a subjective view of truth, as you correctly point out. However, it seems to me that one of our goals in the life God has given us is to seek “objective truth.” In other words, there is a God or there isn’t. As a Christian I, as you, believe both subjectively there is a God…and I believe that because I have confidence from His revelation in Scripture that He exists, thus I am confident I have found objective truth.

      The problem with your position is that if you let biased subjective truth get in the way of your search for objective truth, you risk contradicting Christ’s statement that “the truth shall set you free”(John 8:23).

      I think you may have closed your mind to seeking objective truth about interpreting scripture because of your bias that scripture is literally true. It’s not a matter of whether this bias will affect one’s salvation, only a matter of learning how God worked through imperfect human instruments to reveal Himself to us. I find that more wonderful, and more like the creative God that He is, than limiting Him to the King James version of the Bible…which by the way was translated into English by fallible humans.

      • Anonymous

        Although the King James version was translated into English by fallible humans, a good bible teacher is well versed in the Greek and Hebrew languages, Therefore, they are able to discern the original intent of the bible authors. One example would be Pastor John MacArthur, however there are many other knowledgeable bible teachers. http://www.gty.org/Meet/JohnMacArthur

        • Ed Hahnenberg

          OBJ…The circle is complete. My point in the article is precisely that…to paraphrase your quote: “A good bible scholar who is well-versed in Greek, Hebrew, Ugaritic, and the Near East ancient languages is able to discern the original intent of the bible authors.” However, John MacArther was trained at fundamentalist Bob Jones University and received his doctorate at Talbot School of Theology, which maintains the belief that the Bible is without errors of any kind in its original manuscripts. His teachings have become more liberal, though, and thus have alienated some in the fundamentalist movement. Although he is a prolific writer, I doubt that his writings, while inspirational, rise to the level of serious scholarly historical-critical standards in interpreting the Bible.

    • CDar

      First, the correct spelling of the word is ‘naive’, which, coincidently, accurately describes your post. Your comments on bias are, at best, childlike. You fail to grasp that science uses the scientific method which provides accuracy and more importantly, falsifiability. Science is indeed done by ‘people’; all religions were made up by ‘people’. So please clarify how you discern the ‘Word of God’. The astronomer will concur that there are many versions of the bible with vast differences between them. How is it that you seem to know which is the correct one, or that Christianity is even the ‘right’ religion?

  • Lynn Spann

    Thankyou for that- whatever it was. I couldn't disagree with you more. This idea that science has no bias is at best nieve and at worst dangerous.The problem with science and scientific theory is it is promoted by people. And believe it or not bias's are like noses, everyone has one. As a christian I have a bias, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. As a christian I am not willing to subject what I consider to be the word of God to some other man's version of history. At the heart of all this is the fact the neither one of us was there – whichever there you consider – if the there came before we did. Do I think it is futile to study history? absolutly not. What I am saying is that bias is not something to run from but to admit to and use as God intended, as a means to differenciate between views, ideas, and viewpoints. Without bias there is nothing to discus, because there is no difference.

  • Amazio

    Lynn … Biased views are part of the domain called “subjective truth.” All of us have a subjective view of truth, as you correctly point out. However, it seems to me that one of our goals in the life God has given us is to seek “objective truth.” In other words, there is a God or there isn't. As a Christian I, as you, believe both subjectively there is a God…and I believe that because I have confidence from His revelation in Scripture that He exists, thus I am confident I have found objective truth.

    The problem with your position is that if you let biased subjective truth get in the way of your search for objective truth, you risk contradicting Christ's statement that “the truth shall set you free”(John 8:23).

    I think you may have closed your mind to seeking objective truth about interpreting scripture because of your bias that scripture is literally true. It's not a matter of whether this bias will affect one's salvation, only a matter of learning how God worked through imperfect human instruments to reveal Himself to us. I find that more wonderful, and more like the creative God that He is, than limiting Him to the King James version of the Bible…which by the way was translated into English by fallible humans.

  • CDar

    First, the correct spelling of the word is 'naive', which, coincidently, accurately describes your post. Your comments on bias are, at best, childlike. You fail to grasp that science uses the scientific method which provides accuracy and more importantly, falsifiability. Science is indeed done by 'people'; all religions were made up by 'people'. So please clarify how you discern the 'Word of God'. The astronomer will concur that there are many versions of the bible with vast differences between them. How is it that you seem to know which is the correct one, or that Christianity is even the 'right' religion?

  • oldbluelightjackson

    Although the King James version was translated into English by fallible humans, a good bible teacher is well versed in the Greek and Hebrew languages, Therefore, they are able to discern the original intent of the bible authors. One example would be Pastor John MacArthur, however there are many other knowledgeable bible teachers. http://www.gty.org/Meet/JohnMacArthur

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    OBJ…The circle is complete. My point in the article is precisely that…to paraphrase your quote: “A good bible scholar who is well-versed in Greek, Hebrew, Ugaritic, and the Near East ancient languages is able to discern the original intent of the bible authors.” However, John MacArther was trained at fundamentalist Bob Jones University and received his doctorate at Talbot School of Theology, which maintains the belief that the Bible is without errors of any kind in its original manuscripts. His teachings have become more liberal, though, and thus have alienated some in the fundamentalist movement. Although he is a prolific writer, I doubt that his writings, while inspirational, rise to the level of serious scholarly historical-critical standards in interpreting the Bible.

  • glh

    People can be saved by the bible without being scholars and over the years many people have been.

    It hurts no one to study Greek and Hebrew and it benefits one to have a Concordance handy when studying.

    The bible states that one can know the truth and it does not say that it is accomplished through colleges or degrees. Plenty of men have written good and helpful works who did not have degrees. The bible says that your serious study must be done in the Spirit in order for the truth to be discerned. If you do not believe then you will always have trouble with the Word of God – why would you expect anything else?

    I don’t believe the bible, so I don’t believe in the bible. I would understand that statement, but I cannot make you understand it with my scholarship. And you cannot make me discount my salvation with your scholarship.

    There are a plethora of verses in the bible that state Jesus is God – both in the OT and the NT. Jesus himself said it. If He was wrong, then the bible cannot be on equal ground with other religious works because that would make Jesus a liar and more than a little confused. If He is right, then the bible is above all religious writings that claim otherwise.

  • glh

    People can be saved by the bible without being scholars and over the years many people have been.

    It hurts no one to study Greek and Hebrew and it benefits one to have a Concordance handy when studying.

    The bible states that one can know the truth and it does not say that it is accomplished through colleges or degrees. Plenty of men have written good and helpful works who did not have degrees. The bible says that your serious study must be done in the Spirit in order for the truth to be discerned. If you do not believe then you will always have trouble with the Word of God – why would you expect anything else?

    I don't believe the bible, so I don't believe in the bible. I would understand that statement, but I cannot make you understand it with my scholarship. And you cannot make me discount my salvation with your scholarship.

    There are a plethora of verses in the bible that state Jesus is God – both in the OT and the NT. Jesus himself said it. If He was wrong, then the bible cannot be on equal ground with other religious works because that would make Jesus a liar and more than a little confused. If He is right, then the bible is above all religious writings that claim otherwise.

  • http://www.rts.edu/ Seminary

    Mr.Hahnenberg is an icon in the making. He has a broad knowledge for both science and religion. We at the seminary would love to hear more from you. KUDOS

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Thank you for the compliment! I have 50 other posts on theology at http://blogs.record-eagle.com/?cat=51.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Thank you for the compliment! I have 50 other posts on theology at http://blogs.record-eagle.com/?cat=51.

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