Text Tuesday – Proper principles lead to proper evaluations

I am grateful for my encounters and discussions with people of other faiths and their questions about the Holy Book I submit to. Particularly valuable are the encounters with lovely folks from the unfortunately ever newsworthy Islamic faith. Without their comments and questions, at times insightful, sometimes ridiculous, I never would have gone on this journey of seriously thinking about what exactly the Old and New Testaments are; what they look like and consequently what they can’t look like (obviously, though often missed, because of what they actually look like.) Key travelling companions on this new journey which is just at its very beginning are Expectations and Weighing Scales seasoned with a generous dollop of the wonderful word ‘appropriate’.

I am learning how to understand what the Bible itself is and isn’t, and how to evaluate it with appropriate expectations. If you have a wrong understanding of anything, a wrong evaluation tool and the wrong expectations in the first place then you will misread many things, misterpret somethings and miss the whole point of the actual thing.

In understanding what the Bible itself is  & isn’t – we can say the Bible is never less than a work of history, a work of a faith community, a work of man – never less than that but always more – a work of God. Other supposed works of God are proposed as just that, only that – never less or more than that. A work of God only. It’s important to notice what a thing is, is supposed to be according to itself and what it is understood to be by those most closely connected to it. In my career I have been paid to notice things. Now as a very amateur theologian I am starting to notice things more easily. Noticing what a thing purports to be and what it is said to be, by the community with familiarity and allegiance to it, is vital. This will set an appropriate understanding, an appropriate scales for evaluaton and ultimately an appropriate relationship to the thing in question – in this case the Old & New Testaments.

scales

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J. Warner Wallace (a former detective – I am married to a sort of detective – more on that another day) sets out some principles for evaluation a Text which is the work of God & man. Both. If it’s the work of both God and men (and the men have not been somehow roboticised or become some kind of fitful autoscribes (neither have ever been suggested of the men who have penned the Jewish and Christian scriptures) then the principles should do justice to it being the work of God while at the very same time accommodating it being the work of men in history, writing in literary genres with the ear of the hearing audience in mind. Though narrowly focused I find these principles to have the wisdom to bear broad application. Here’s the start of Ten Principles When Considering Alleged Bible Contradictions with the click to his site to catch the rest – I never know if it’s ok to reblog it all. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I have not today but have linked to it – he was a detective afterall.

Ten Principles When Considering Alleged Bible Contradictions

As a detective, I’ve learned to accept the variation I see between eyewitness accounts. I’ve interviewed witnesses of crimes (occurring just hours earlier), only to find what appeared to be significant “contradictions” between the accounts. It’s my job, as the investigator, to determine why the eyewitnesses appear to contradict one another, even though there is doubt the event occurred and the witnesses were telling the truth. There are times when similar variations (or alleged “contradictions”) are observed in the Biblical accounts. It’s our job, as Christian Case Makers, to apply a few simple investigative principles to determine whether or not these differences impact the reliability of the accounts. I want to offer a few investigative principles and filters for investigating these alleged Bible contradictions. These principles are not outrageous or unusual. They’re not specific to the Bible. They’re not Christian tricks or devices used to cover up inadequacies. They are straightforward tools and approaches useful when examining any ancient document or piece of evidence. If we objectively examine the Scriptures with these principles in mind, we’ll not only grow in our understanding of the Bible, but we’ll better comprehend and resolve the difficulties:

Principle #1: Begin With A Fair Attitude
Imagine you’re driving down the street and you come to a stop sign. You don’t assume the sign is wrong. Even if you don’t see opposing traffic or you don’t understand the reason for the sign being at that particular corner, you still stop for the sign. Even if no other car shows up at the intersection, you don’t simply blow through the sign. You give the sign the benefit of the doubt. In essence, you don’t assume a street sign is wrong until proven right. When you begin to read the Bible and examine what it says, it’s important to start off with a fair attitude. You don’t need to treat it as something unquestionable and beyond examination, but you do need to afford it at least as much consideration as you would afford a street sign, a box of macaroni or a friend. Before you jump up and call it a liar, take a second to examine what it says fairly.

The Example of Biblical Genealogies
As an example, let’s examine Biblical genealogies. Some have tried to use the Biblical genealogical lists with a particular Click here to get to the full article at the J. Warner Wallace’s site.

Changing word Unexpected into Expected

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