Monday, 10 March 2014

Chapter 6: Doubting the bible

19 And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow.

1 Samuel 6:19 Most Hebrew manuscripts struck of the people seventy men, fifty thousand men.

Intrigued by the footnote, I checked various commentaries, including the interlinear Bible, regarding the numbers. What I then discovered was a great debate with conflicting and irreconcilable views. It is obvious to both sides that the number seventy, fifty thousand, is an amount too great to be left without any explanations. However, scholars throughout the ages faces this issue in varying ways.

Most modern translation, like the one quoted above, simply brush the number fifty thousand aside as another copy error. Yet there are others who insist on the correctness of the number fifty thousand and provides differing explanations. However, to me, there is a greater question mind: is it possible that the Bible I am currently capable of accessing, aggregated through many non-primary sources and translated, contains fundamental, non-trivial, theological errors? Although I do believe sincerely that the Bible is infallible, I don't respect Bible translations and the current version of the Bible that we have now to the same degree.

After some pondering, I remembered a passage from the Bible:

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] [c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Acts 8 NIV

For those who have never read Isaiah, it is one of the obscure book of the Bible that gets quoted often, but never finished by casual reader. And this is a time when even no book of the new testament is even written yet. But yet, he was saved through that obscure passage with the help of Philippi.

Now I would like to argue this way. Whatever pieces of the Bible we have at our hand, be it incomplete, full of errors and inaccurately translated, it will be made sufficient. With bountiful grace, God will send his spirits, his people, for all the knowledge and understanding you need, not only for your own salvation, but also for your evangelism.