Mark Owen writes

Some errors in the 'infallible' Bible

(Most references are from the Revised Version of the Bible, published in England in 1898,
one of the most accurate translations of all.)



It is high time the Christian fundamentalists and their sympathizers among Roman Catholics and other religions were challenged over their continual reference to THE BIBLE as if this book actually conveyed the utterances of GOD.  'The Bible says' they so often proclaim, as if to utter this magical mantra settles all arguments.  It certainly does not.  Let the Christians first tell us why we should take notice of their Bible.  Why not, rather, the Hindu Vedas, or the Islamic Koran or the prognostications of Joseph Smith or the Reverend Sun Myung Moon to mention only a few?

The fundamentalists tell us the reason is that the Christian Bible is the Word of GOD (their particular GOD of course), at least it claims to be that. It has, we are told, stood the test of time.  Are they serious? Most intelligent high school kids could point out errors in the amazing farrago of nonsense called the Bible. I have been having a little fun collecting some of the glaring errors perpetuated within its covers. And DO NOT FORGET - the Bible as we now have it was filtered through many a dedicated scribe's hands over a long period of time - about three centuries.  Plenty of time to clean it up and make is presentable as the 'infallible' Word of GOD!  But even then they still couldn't get it right.

Just a few interesting points . . .

1. HOW MANY WOMEN SAW THE RESURRECTED JESUS?

The so-called 'historians' and biographers of Jesus the Nazarene displayed the most amazing confusion as to how many women went to the tomb of Jesus and, for that matter, how many angels appeared, and who came where, when and every which-way!

As we move into the dark, shadowy world of the garden in the early hours of that first day of the week (our Sunday) we move into the realms of pure fantasy. There are FIVE women (and maybe more, but at the very least, five) clearly present in the garden according to St Luke. He is very specific about this and isn't he the one the Church calls 'the historian'?  Luke 24:10 reads:  'Now there were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women [plural] with them.'

But Mark, too, is equally specific, and he knows of only THREE women, for in Mark 16:1 we read:  'Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.'  The numbers continue to diminish, for Matthew reports but TWO, 'Mary Magdalene and the other Mary' (Matthew 28:1).  And finally, neatly rounding off this story of the ever-diminishing ladies, we come to John 20:1, which tells us that but ONE woman, Mary Magdalene, went to visit the tomb.

If we try now to find a crumb of truth in these four conflicting accounts, it seems to come down to the fact that Mary Magdalene, at least, did visit the garden on that amazing morning.  She, in any event, must have been a significant figure in the whole account as she is mentioned by all four writers.  And that fact itself raises another very interesting point.  Where is Mary, the mother  of Jesus, through all this?  It would seem reasonable to me that she would have been the very first  to have seen him.  Passing curious, to say the least, when one contemplates her exalted status in the history of Jesus and his Church.

But the confusion of the inerrant Scriptures doesn't end with the women, by no means. Luke's five (or was it six or seven?) women find the stone already rolled away and they meet with TWO angels. Mark doesn't bother with the problem of the stone; he simply ignores it. But his three women meet ONE angel.  And what about Mary Magdalene, in John's Gospel? She sees that the stone has been moved but doesn't seem to meet an angel at all. Instead, she races off to tell the other disciples the startling news. And what about Matthew? His two women meet only ONE angel. And we are to believe that all this is true history?
 

2. WITCHES MUST DIE

Exodus 22:18 commands the people of Yahweh: 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.' Another translation for the Hebrew word [kashaph] is 'sorcerer'. In whatever manner you read this text, and others like it, the Bible clearly believes that witches really do exist. And, further, that the practice of witchcraft or sorcery is a sin (I Samuel 15: 23).  And as it was Yahweh who spoke these words, evidently the deity himself believes they exist. Do Christians believe this today? If they do, then do they advocate capital punishment for witches?  And, if they do not believe it, then this text must be wrong. They cannot have it both ways! Are they not reading the inerrant Scriptures? When can we expect the next public witch-burning?


3. YAHWEH CHANGES HIS LAWS

Let us look at the nasty Twelfth Commandment. In, too, is in the inerrant Scriptures. And you thought there were just TEN!  No, there are more than ten:  Read Exodus 21.) The Twelfth is the one (and if I were a betting man I'd sure bet this one has never been mentioned by your preachers) that prescribes conditions to be observed when a daughter has been sold into slavery by her father.  

Yes, this is what it says. Don't blame me, I'm merely quoting from the holy Book (Exodus 21:7). 

The inerrant Scriptures specified that the girl may become wife or concubine of the slave-owner or be given to his son. If she doesn't please the owner or the said son she is to go free.  But, and it is a big 'but', the onus is on the slave-holder as to when she is released, if ever!  After all, he may have chosen to keep her on as a  household drudge or sexual plaything, long after she ceased pleasing him in other ways.
 
Nasty law this one but interestingly Yahweh repeated these laws - for some strange reason - in the book of Deuteronomy. But we should note that in the second outburst of revealed truth he made some changes!  This is not uncommon among the gods. Fickle lot! Well, one of these changes seems to indicate that Yahweh had by then become a bit embarrassed by his rules governing daughter-slavery. They disappeared entirely from the new formulation! 

This is part of (and only part; there is more for those who go to the trouble of reading what the Bible really says) dark underside of that 'great moral code' of Moses; these are the parts of the story left out by the Christian moralizers who would fain tell us how we should live 'by God's laws.'


4. TWO ACCOUNTS OF CREATION IN GENESIS

There are two distinct - and contradictory - accounts of creation in the book of Genesis.  And there is no real debate about it; they are contradictory no matter what is claimed by fundamentalists. Firstly, we should note that more than one author was responsible for the text, as is plain for even the non-theologian to perceive, given careful study. Certainly Moses didn't write it, as claimed by many. He could not be an eye-witness of events that occurred thousands of years before he lived!

Which, then of these two accounts of the great act of Creation are we to accept?  After all, they do differ dramatically one from the other. You can read the rival accounts for yourself in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and in Genesis 2:4-25 and then choose the one you like best. It matters little which, for both are quite wrong anyway! 

The differences are dramatic.  In the first account man appears on earth on the sixth day, after the creation of animals, plants and, presumably, the rain needed to sustain such life, yet in the rival tale we are informed that man was formed before all these creations. In the first story male and female were created as distinct beings 'in the image of Elohim' ('the gods' note carefully, a plural term).

In the second history we are presented with that laughable story of woman being formed out of a rib taken from Adam's body. Need I say that medical science knows of no such missing rib in the male? Does not this second account, obviously from a different source to the first, indicate the concept of male supremacy so strongly held within the patriarchal society of the Jewish people? A dominant motif, I might add, in later religion, not only Jewish, but Christian and Muslim as well.

Not only is the Creation story a denial of all that we know for certain from modern science but the story itself is recorded in two conflicting versions! So much for divine truth!  Rather than being a true account of how the universe came into existence the inerrant Scriptures are the product of the primitive and superstitious gropings of the mind of early man. 

We can forgive them their ignorance, of course; how fortunate are we to know so much more. Yet we cannot forgive those who try to brain-wash innocent children today with this nonsense.


5. ST PAUL GETS IT WRONG ABOUT HUMAN HAIR

The closely cropped hair of the male human being is different to the long hair of the female, according to St Paul. Short male hair is a 'glory to God', while long female hair is 'a glory to man'.  In 1 Corinthians 10: 14-15 St Paul supposedly says (there are doubts as to the authenticity of many of his writings but that is another story): 'Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a shame unto him?  But if a woman has long hair it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.'  A very curious and specious argument on the part of St Paul. It so happens that the hair on the heads of males and females is biologically of the same length. Only tradition dictates how it is cut or kept in various cultures. Nature does not teach what St Paul teaches in the inerrant Scriptures, if anything the opposite. 


6. ISRAEL'S MANY GODS

Israel proudly boasts that it is monotheistic, and the Christians back this claim up, yet clearly in the book of Genesis we meet many gods!  In the very first verse of the very first chapter we read: 'In the beginning the gods created the heaven and the earth....'  Not quite as you read it in your inerrant Scriptures? Why, no, and perhaps, yes. You see the hard-pressed translators are a trifle embarrassed using the plural form to describe the deity.  But it is plural, quite definitely; the Hebrew says elohim, meaning 'the gods.' That's in the original, at least insofar as anything in the Bible can be termed 'original'.
 
Now while translators generally ignore the problem raised here, the Westminster Study Bible (RSV) at least has sufficient honesty to mention it in a marginal note, explaining the usage as 'denoting majesty and the totality of God's attributes.' Well, this is some sort of explanation, I guess. The Royal Plural, one might say!  But such specious explanations cannot hide the truth. There is not a shadow of doubt that there are multiple gods in Genesis. Plural usages are scattered liberally through the text. Who can argue with Genesis 1:26:  'Let us  make man in our  image, after our  likeness....'  or with Genesis 3:22: 'And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us....' ? 

The compilers of the Pentateuch were obviously pretty hopeless at the job of editing. They let all this slip through and then, when they realized the confusion this would cause in the minds of the believers, instead of going back over the text and cleaning it up, they simply added an explanatory statement (Exodus 6:2-3).  Quite amazing it is, too; really lets the cat out of the bag! They surely didn't fully realize the import of what they were saying. Here it is: 'And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Yahweh and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty [El Shaddai], but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them....'

And as if this isn't enough to shake the ramparts of Israelite monotheism, let us look back to what is perhaps an even more amazing passage (Exodus 3:13-15). Here is mumbo-jumbo such as to tie all translators up in knots. Moses has asked the deity what name he should use to explain to the Hebrews who it was that sent him to them. 'I am that I am,' is the answer.  Or, perhaps, 'I am, because I am,' or 'I am who am,' or 'I will be that I will be,' run the marginal notes for the Revised Version.  The Hebrew word used is Ehyeh, and it comes from the same root as the word now rendered Yahweh.  Seems as if the Bible itself isn't all that clear on just who GOD is!


7. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE EARTHQUAKE?

When, after Jesus was put to death, Mary Magdalene and 'the other Mary' went to the tomb, 'behold,' writes Matthew, 'there was a great earthquake; for an angel of Yahweh [trans.'the Lord' ] descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow: for fear of him the watchers did quake and become as dead men....'  (Matthew 28:2-4).

But, of course, there are four Gospels, four separate accounts of the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth in the inerrant Scriptures. So it would be interesting to study the other three Gospels and see what they have to say about this truly amazing intervention of heaven into the affairs of men. If only we could find what they have to say! For they have NOTHING WHATEVER to say.   
  
Are we seriously to believe that this staggering event, this encounter with the Other World, including even a 'great earthquake,' and involving that very same Mary Magdalene who appears in every one of the four Gospel accounts, fails to gain the tiniest hint of a mention in the other three Gospels? How could an earthquake pass unnoticed by the three writers? How could the stone be already rolled away in some accounts but seen to be rolled away by the angel in another?
 
Matthew's colourful account (and he has another of similar ilk concerning the crucifixion - see Matthew 27:51-54) is reminiscent of other Biblical scenes - the pyrotechnics around the mountain in Moses' time and the visitation experienced by those shepherds at Jesus' birth.  They all seem to lack credibility somewhat, to say the very least.


8. WHAT ISAIAH DID NOT SAY

In Matthew 1:23 we read a prophecy supposedly taken from Isaiah 7:14, one seized upon to prop up the absurd doctrine of the Virgin Birth: 'That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord [Yahweh] through the prophet ... the virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel....' 

One would have thought the Ghost might inspire the writer to use the original prophecy in its correct form when dealing with such an important 'proof text', that is, the prophecy as it appears in the Hebrew Old Testament. But the anonymous compilers of the inerrant Scriptures gave their game away, here as elsewhere. They had set out to prove that their god Christ was born of the 'virgin' Mary, but they apparently only had on hand the Septuagint, that is, the Greek version of Isaiah, and they quoted merrily from this. But the Greek version is itself in error (as it is in other places), incorrectly translating the Hebrew as virgin (bethulah) which is not what the original says. The original uses the word for young woman (hallmah). 

Thus this great 'proof text' of the Virgin Birth, forever trotted out by fundamentalists, does not even exist!   And when modern translators use the correct version (as they often have) their translations are lambasted for doing so!  But this is not the end of the matter. If we read the original prophecy in its correct context, it refers not to Messiah at all!  Easily confirmed by reading Isaiah 8:3. And, I ask you, when was Jesus ever called 'Immanuel'? Did he, like so many of the gods, have a variety of names?

And, in passing, it should be noted that virgin births were a common feature of ancient religions. The notion is not distinctive to Christianity.


9. WHERE WAS JESUS REALLY BORN?

The Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus was born in Nazareth, in Galilee (Mark 1:9, read in conjunction with Mark 6:1), his 'native place.'  Matthew and Luke also refer to Nazareth as being his native place but assert he was born in Bethlehem (in Judaea)!

The weight of evidence, both from these texts and from other references, suggests Jesus was indeed born in Nazareth. This is the simple and entirely logical reason he became known as Jesus the Nazarene.  Confirmation of this comes from an interesting encounter, recorded in John 7:40-42, when some Jews, listening to Jesus preaching, exclaimed: 'Doth the Christ [i.e. Messiah] come out of Galilee?  Hath not the scripture said that the Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?'

It is hard to deny the thrust of these words.  And John not only recorded them but failed to add any comment.  It would have been easy for him to affirm that Jesus did indeed come from Bethlehem, but he did not do so.  We must therefore conclude that John also believed Jesus was a Nazarene.
  
It was left to Matthew and Luke to 'cook the books' as they (or rather, their editors) were fond of doing.  Micah, the Jewish prophet, had prophesied Bethlehem as Messiah's birthplace so, regardless of where Jesus really  did come from, Matthew and Luke made certain they got Bethlehem into the story - somewhere, anywhere. These writers of the inerrant Scriptures had no more dedication to historical truth than the people who wove fancy tales around commonplace events in Jewish Old Testament pseudo-history.


10. JESUS CAN'T MAKE UP HIS MIND ABOUT FORNICATORS

In Matthew 19:9 Christ is said to have recognized fornication ('except for fornication' are the unambiguous words, however translated) as grounds for divorce. Yet in Mark 10: 1-12 we are quite plainly told that Christ forbade divorce on any grounds whatever! (This latter passage is, in fact,  quoted as the basis for the strict Roman Catholic teaching on the subject.) Once again the inerrant Scriptures pose a dilemma for the believer.


11. HOMOSEXUALITY ERRONEOUSLY CONDEMNED

In the book of Leviticus (18: 22) the Bible lays down the divine law: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, it is abomination.' Thus people with homosexual orientation, whether male or female, had always been treated as 'sinners' in the eyes of the Christ-god and Yahweh and persecuted. Yet today there is clear evidence that genetic factors provide the groundwork upon which the homosexual orientation is built. We might as well say that someone born with a cleft palate is a 'sinner'!

Much research has been conducted in recent decades on homosexuality. But even without such research it is plainly obvious that a tendency affecting perhaps ten percent of the population cannot be dismissed as a mere affectation.  And more, our knowledge of genetics and sexuality in general now makes it abundantly clear that every human being has within himself or herself certain feminine traits and certain masculine characteristics, in varying proportion. Truly we are ALL (yes, even Christian clergy) bisexual in varying degrees.
 
The male artistic type may have a higher proportion of 'feminine' characteristics, the 'macho man' is strongly endowed with male characteristics. Conversely, a woman may be thought to be 'mannish' or 'very feminine'.  The innate possibilities are strongly indicated by many surveys that show a far greater proportion of people than a mere ten percent - over one-third - have had homosexual sexual encounters at some time in their lives. And there is a strong appeal to many in the 'androgynous' look, which is why advertisers so often choose adults and children with such characteristics to feature in TV adverts.

There is now a mass of evidence to indicate the real truth as against the errors of the inerrant Scriptures. Take this: studies by Simon LeVay a neurobiologist at the Salk Institute in the USA indicate that the hypothalamus of the homosexual person has different characteristics to that of the heterosexual. Here's another: two researchers studied over a two-year period the rates of homosexuality in identical and non-identical twin brothers of gay men as well as adoptive brothers of gay men. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University and Richard Pillard of Boston University Medical School found that 52% of identical twin brothers were gay, as against 22% of non-identical twins and only 11% of adoptive, genetically unrelated brothers. There are many more such studies.

Conversely, all attempts to pin down social factors, such as parental behaviour, especially the behaviour of homosexual parents, have at best resulted in uncertainty. There has not emerged any clear evidence of such links. As one example, those cultures where homosexuality is tolerated do not appear to raise any greater number of gay men or women than cultures where intolerance is the norm. Clearly the Bible has again been shown to reflect nothing other than the primitive fears and unscientific notions of uncivilized peoples. Such beliefs may be primitive but today they continue to inform in a negative way the teachings of many in the Christian church who are singularly unable to cope with the 21st century.
 

12. BOOK OF DANIEL WRITTEN AFTER THE
EVENTS SUPPOSEDLY PROPHESIED!

The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, one of the prophetic books of the Bible with its famous Writing on the Wall, was put together by scribes about two centuries after the events it claims to prophesy, i.e. such events as the fall of Babylon, and suchlike. Curiously, although the Christian Church has taken Daniel into its bosom the Jews do not include it among their prophetic works.
 
Not only is it penned two centuries after the events but even then it gets its history wrong. Or at least the 'facts' included in this book do not agree with the same 'facts' in other Biblical books!  And as for the description of the last night of Babylon, it is a piece of sheer fantasy, nothing more. As no doubt was the writing on the wall!  With books like this to base their faith upon, the writing is indeed on the wall for Christians and their benighted faith in the inerrant Scriptures.


13. ST PAUL (OR WAS IT SAUL?) CAN'T MAKE UP HIS MIND

St Paul (aka Saul) had an amazing encounter, so he told people, with Jesus of Nazareth, after the death of that trouble-maker. Paul was 'yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord' (Acts 9:1), on the road to Damascus, and at midday (Acts 9:1-22), Saul was dazzled by a light even brighter than the sun. Saul fell to the ground and a voice came from heaven. It was the very voice of Jesus, who forthwith commanded Saul to travel to Damascus (blinded for the next three days) where we would receive further instructions as to the future course of his life.

Now all this sounds very impressive; it certainly impressed me in the days of my Christian obsession. In fact, I once thought it one of the most impressive passages in the whole of the inerrant Scriptures. The account appears to be from firsthand sources, presumably the writer of Acts (said to be St Luke), who gained the information from Saul himself. Pity isn't it that this same supposed author of the book of Acts seems to be ignorant of the Epistles of Paul and even contradicts them! So much for another of the certainties of the faith.
 
It should not, then, surprise us one whit that this story takes on a somewhat different hue, disturbingly different, when it is retold by Paul in two recorded sermons (Acts 22:3-16 and Acts 26:9-18). We detect some minor discrepancies first. In one sermon Saul falls alone to the ground, in the other it is Saul together with his companions. And the message from Jesus seems to expand with the telling. Another curious point: Jesus spoke to Saul in the Hebrew language, yet he had previously always spoken in Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Palestine of that time.
 
I may appear to be nit-picking, bringing up such matters at all, but they do seem to me to be important in an 'inspired' work like the Bible. All right, let's say I am nit-picking but worse follows; there is a more startling discrepancy concerning Saul's companions. In Acts 9:7 we read: 'The men that journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but beholding no man.'  But in Acts 22:9, recounting a later sermon, the very clear statement is made: 'They that were with me beheld indeed the light but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.'

Amazing isn't it? Come on, you clever Christian apologists. Wriggle out of this one! Was Paul's memory as faulty as this? How could such a drastic mistake be made by St Luke or Mr Anonymous, whoever it was who wrote the book?  What has happened to this inerrant Bible that two completely conflicting accounts of this amazing encounter with Jesus' spirit are peddled as truth?


14. SOMETHING WENT WRONG WITH PROPHECIES OF
ISAIAH & JEREMIAH WHEN BABYLON'S WALLS FELL

The Biblical prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah - part of the inerrant Scriptures I remind readers - thundered forth with angry words against Babylon. Their words paint for us a dramatic picture of falling ramparts, burning buildings and dead bodies strewn far and wide.  Children would be 'dashed to pieces' before their parents' eyes, and their homes destroyed. Men would be cut down like animals in a shambles, and the heat of the fires would even dry up the fountains of water.  A terrifying event, just punishment from the hand of Yahweh against the harlot city!

But what actually happened?  What was the true picture?  The Persian armies entered the city in the year 539 BCE without striking so much as a blow!  In fact, they had orders from King Cyrus that they were to respect the city property and do nothing to offend the populace!  Amazing!  What happened to the prophecies? 

If the nations were 'astonished' at all it was not because of the terrible destruction wrought by the invading army but simply because Babylon, which had first-rate defences and probably the most massive walls in the world, fell 'without a shot being fired' as we would say.  Two weeks after his army entered the city Cyrus himself arrived and thereupon set to work to improve and restore the neglected walls, temples and other buildings. 

Cyrus even told the Jews they could go free and rebuild their homeland. Few took up his offer!  Life in Babylon was more enticing.
 

15. THE CURIOUS TEST OF ADULTERY IN THE BOOK OF NUMBERS

Numbers chapter 5 has an 'adultery test': 'And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the women shall be a curse among her people.'  Medically speaking this test is arrant nonsense!  Try it out some time! Incidentally, no such test was ordered for a male suspected of transgressing!  But then Yahweh is presumably a male!  More from the inerrant Scriptures.


16. JESUS IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE!

The Gospel of Matthew says that the two Marys are specifically sent to advise the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead and that 'he goeth before you into Galilee....there  shall ye see him' (Matthew 28:7). The clear implication of this is that the disciples won't see him until they journey to Galilee, yet on 'that very day' two of them have an encounter with the Master not in Galilee but on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24: 13-32).

Confusion abounds in this part of the Bible story. There is little hope for ordinary folk like you and me to understand these goings-on when the Jesus-spirit himself proves to be so confused as to where he is actually heading that he turns up on that same evening not in Galilee at all, as he promised, but in Jerusalem! 

Arriving, apparently, in Jerusalem, he now countermands his previous orders and directs the disciples to stay in the city (Luke 24:49). John also confirms this appearance in Jerusalem. Not so Matthew who forthwith assures us Jesus did indeed go to Galilee and even to a specific mountain, where he meets with the disciples. But they were in Jerusalem; or were they? Who can possibly know?

It is in the context of this manifestly absurd, not to say wholly untrustworthy, account that we must examine one of the pivotal statements of the New Testament, one of the great 'proof texts' of Church authority. For it is in Galilee, according to Matthew, that Jesus pronounces the authoritative declaration that has been appropriated by the Christian priesthood to justify its claims over the hearts and minds of people through the ages:  'All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost....' (Matthew 28:18,19).
  
Now remember, the Master is still taking his disciples all over the place on their Magical Mystery Tour. Is he in Galilee? Is he in Jerusalem? Is he on the Emmaus Road? Is he in heaven? Or is he not perhaps stone cold dead in the earth, as we all shall one day be?

Clearly we have here not an authentic utterance from the mouth of Jesus but a carefully worded justification for priestly pretensions, complete with a suitable Trinitarian ascription, written into the text, like so much else, at a later date. For even if we grant that Jesus might have uttered such words (which I do not), why the complete and utter silence of Luke and John on this supremely important statement? 

But, wait, of course, the reason is plain. The message was given out to the disciples at Galilee, on that mountain. Matthew specifically mentions the Eleven (i.e., the original Twelve, minus the traitor, Judas) as being recipients of the message. Luke and John must have been waiting in Jerusalem, as they had been told to do. That is, if these two men were among the disciples at all at that time, and who knows whether this is true or not?

But we still have Mark to account for. Was he in Jerusalem or was he in Galilee? We cannot say, but there is a passage that comes right at the end of his Gospel - chapter 16, from verse 9 to the end - that repeats some of Matthew's story BUT almost all scholars, including conservatives, reject this section as spurious. It does not appear in the two most ancient Greek manuscripts.

Mark's additional verses (tacked onto Matthew's version) are very interesting. There are 'signs' to follow the Gospel preachers - casting out devils, speaking in tongues, taking up serpents, surviving deadly poisons and healing the sick (presumably miraculously). This forms part of the spurious text. Mind you, when we talk about spurious, there are what we might term 'degrees of spuriousness'! After all, very little of anything we have in the Bible could be fairly described as being 'original', probably nothing at all!

There are Christians who do believe such promises, though. Some of these well-meaning folk take up deadly serpents. Now and then one of their number dies. No doubt faith was weak in such cases. Quite a number don't actually die but do suffer fearful bites for their trouble and often bear scars to prove it. At least that is something they have managed to prove! Not too many believers try drinking deadly poison. But the followers of one prophet, Jim Jones, did; they died, nearly every last one of them.

But finally, even if, and it is a very big if, we assume Mark's account to be correct, why then did none of the other three make not the faintest mention of such promises? Any sane and reasonable person must reject out of hand the notion that in these Gospel records we have the outpourings of inspired writers. We have not, however, quite finished with our game of musical chairs. The book of Acts has something to say about the period immediately following Jesus' death. It records that Jesus showed himself alive to the disciples for forty days (Acts 1:3) and that while with them he 'charged them not to depart from Jerusalem' (Acts 1:4).   They were to wait there for the outpouring of the Ghost. So the disciples were, after all, in Jerusalem all the time.  Poor Matthew! Found out again. He was so very definite, too, that they were in Galilee, where they received that vital message. So much for the 'certainties' of the story of the Jesus in the inerrant Scriptures.


17. HONOURING THAT WHICH IS DISHONOURABLE?

The fifth Commandment says (Exodus 20: 12): 'Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord [Yahweh] thy god giveth thee.'  Every father  and every mother?  Parents who try to lead children into crime, or into drug-taking, or to have sex with them? Parents who beat their children without mercy? Parents who subject their children to emotional abuse? There is surely something wrong with these particular inerrant Scriptures. 


18. THREE SCORE YEARS AND TEN?

When I was growing up and faithfully following the Christian faith its seemed to be a clearcut issue that, give or take a few years, human life spanned about seventy years (Psalm 90:10). Or so we were told. Years later I discovered that for a great part of history and for most people life was much shorter, sometimes around 35 years or so.

Now the opposite is the case. Addressing a conference in Australia in 1988, Dr Robert Butler, of Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, said that human life expectancy had increased by about 25 years in the past century.  This equalled the whole increase in the preceding 5,000 years!  In the USA alone since 1776 average life expectancy had gone from 35 to today's 75 or more years. 

Recent news tells us that genetic engineering research may result one day in human beings living to be perhaps 140 years of age. There have been many such predictions; it remains to be seen what actually happens (and I won't be around to check it out!). However, it it evident that the achievements of medical science have resulted in the human lifespan in Western nations being extended considerably.  It is now heading well past the Biblical 'three score years and ten'. The inerrant Scriptures strike out yet again!


19. MENSTRUAL BLOOD FLOW SUPERSTITIONS

The Bible says that anyone lying with a woman within seven days of the onset of her period - even if it lasts only three days - 'shall be unclean seven days and every bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.' The Talmud, incidentally, went even further. If a woman at the beginning of her period even passes between two men she thereby kills one of them. The Islamics and many other primitive peoples likewise have superstitions concerning menstruating women. 

The whole concept of 'unclean' menstruating women in the inerrant Scriptures is a nonsense. There is no medical reason to consider the menstrual flow either dirty or harmful and it does not hinder intercourse, although, of course, it may be used as an excuse by some reluctant women! There may, however, be good reason for a woman to avoid intercourse at this time as she may not feel physically and mentally at her best during menstruation. 

20. JUST HOW ARE THE DISCIPLES TO DRESS?

In Matthew 10:10 we find Jesus of Nazareth sending forth his disciples to preach the word taking with them 'neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff.'  But if we turn to Mark 6: 8-9 we find instead that Jesus sent them forth with nothing 'save a staff only' and they were 'to go shod with sandals.'  Do the inerrant Scriptures here record Jesus changing his mind?

 
21. THE JEWISH PROPHETS MISS SOMETHING IMPORTANT

(The last one but my favourite)

In the very last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, we come across some magnificent language, words filled with poetic power. And they spell out Israel's hope: 'Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and Yahweh, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in, behold he cometh, said Yahweh Sabaoth ['Lord of Hosts'].  But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire....But to you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and gambol as calves in the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked....' (Malachi 3:1-2 and 4:2-3). Even my beloved Shakespeare hardly bettered these words. No wonder Mr Handel made such good use of them in his oratorio and no wonder they are a treasured part of the inerrant Scriptures.
 
In the four centuries after this passage was penned the Jews went through further tribulations and we next find them, at the beginning of our present era, annexed to mighty Rome. But those who in Israel looked for the coming of Messiah still held fast to their hope. First would come Elijah, then Messiah 'with healing in his wings,' and the suffering, the defeats and the failures of the past would all be swept away. The wicked would become 'ashes unto the soles of your feet' (Malachi 4:3). Israel would at last emerge triumphant at the head of humanity, 'the stone which the builders rejected....become the head of the corner' (Psalm 118:22).

And then someone did come. John the Baptizer came. And Jesus of Nazareth came. And some of the people said, here is Elijah and here is Messiah.  But, alas, they were sadly mistaken. John was not Elijah and Jesus was not Messiah. A few renegade Jews may have thought they were but most were not fooled.
 
Every so often we come across a passage in the New Testament that is manifestly true. Mind you, it is not all that often, but it sometimes occurs.  One such passage is this: 'He came unto his own and they that were his own received him not' (John 1:11). How true! But the standard Christian interpretation of this passage fails dismally to perceive the underlying real truth behind these words. Surely, one would think, the Jews of all people had good reason to embrace Messiah if the Galilean were indeed he. It would mean the end of Roman rule, the end of all oppression of their race. It would mean triumph at last for Israel. But they did reject him. 

Thereafter the Church seized the initiative and wrested the Jews' own prophets away from them, attaching its own interpretations to the prophetic utterances. The new religion, a strange amalgam of Hellenism, Mithraism, Zoroastrianism and plain old Paganism, grafted awkwardly on its Jewish host, sought to prove itself, snatching words out of context and claiming things of the Old Testament scriptures that few Jews in their right minds would ever have claimed.
 
Jesus the Nazarene, a Jew who went about doing good and who never ever thought of himself as a god, was elevated to the status of Messiah (for 'Christ' is but the Greek term for 'Messiah'). But more, the Christians were not content with appropriating the role of Messiah to Jesus. To the horror of the Jews, he was elevated still further, mystically co-equal with Yahweh himself, a very part of the eternal godhead.

Two thousand, four hundred years after Malachi's prophecies, the Christians still believe their Jesus to be the Messiah and the Jews still know he isn't. 

The Jews, at least those of their number who still have hope (and they are not all that many), look for his coming. They have a long wait ahead of them. They will continue to wait, for Messiah will never come.  All prophecy, whether found in the Bible or in other holy books, is fulfilled or unfulfilled according to how well the prophets guess future outcomes from present trends.
 
That all the Jewish prophecies arose from ecstasy rather than from divine revelation is proved by the greatest single failure of this whole body of writings. It failed dismally to predict the coming of Christianity!


Mark Owen, 1993 & 2011 - http://www.piperpost.net


Go to FRONT PAGE of site