Monday, July 16, 2007

Promises, promises

I've been busy or distracted or lazy over the last few months and haven't posted often. Not only that, in those few posts I promised to write follow-up or related posts and have not managed that.

I wrote about a journalism teacher at a US college whose students didn't really care and who wrote himself about what excellent teachers needed to do in that situation. I said that I would relate that to my classes and write an evaluation of my just-finished semester and plans and goals for next semester. I expect to do that soon.

I also told readers that I would go into more detail about my Jeju trip.

Finally, I completed an online quiz about atheism, posted the results on my blog and a commenter challenged me on the subject. We discussed things back-and-forth for a while before events (not serious, just the sort to take me away form my of-so-important computer time) at home pulled me away. I thought it would be a brief interruption but it's been a few weeks. Sometime, and not in the near future, I plan to repost those comments or parts of them.

Here's some big news: I have decided to read the bible! -What, it doesn't need an exclamation point? Alright, but it's a fairly major undertaking and I had to consider my motivation before starting.

I read the bible in grade three - I think it was a Gideon bible and I probably have it at home, still. It meant nothing to me at the time but I found the bible before going to university and took it there for some reason (it returned home, unread). Anyway, I will be reading an online version.

Why will I read it? There are a lot of reasons of secondary value but the primary reason is simple curiosity. What is all the excitement about?
Of lesser importance: I will check what others have said: there are two versions of Genesis and they don't agree with each other, The ten Commandments are different from when Moses drops them and when they appear elsewhere in The Book, Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem for a Census although there are no records of a Census that year.

Secondly, many have said the writing in the bible is beautiful. Even Dawkins suggests reading the bible because it is the source for so many traditions in other literature. A teacher at my high school had students read the book of Job as literature.

I may post a few notes regarding my reading but I will not hurry so don't expect much here on the subject.


Anonymous said...

Although the KJV version is a fine rendering of the greek original, the NIV or NASB are clearer to understand:

Other issues and a great section on Genesis:

A useful 'Bible difficulties' section (on the lefthand column):

I hope verses like Matt 7:7, John 4:14, and Ephesians 2:8 will move you to consider the deeper, darker chapters, such as Job 33, Isaiah 53, and Romans 7.

Anonymous said...

An article on why the birth of Christ is so crucial to Christianity

A fine traditionalist is Matthew Henry, a good contemporary is David Guzik. You can click on relevant chapter links, (eg. for Christ's birth, the census etc. click on Matthew 2 and Luke 2)

Jeff said...

I wish you all the best as you journey into the world of the bible. One thing that helps me is to remember that the authors of the bible were not writing from a post-enlightenment perspective. They were writing to make a point of truth - not to construct a rationalistic argument.

kwandongbrian said...

I guess you should get some of the credit for my decision to read the bible.
I want to be careful though; I know I have some preconceptions and prejudice (but, I think, no prejudgement) going into this endeavour but I think I really am doing it out of curiousity. With that in mind, I may look at your links after read the relevant sections, not before, as I wish to read as much like a novice as I can.

I am reading the text from:

It is the KJV.

Anonymous said...

the link for those commentators

all credit to God alone

Anonymous said...


Sorry to over-burden you with stuff but I was thumbing through my 'Halley's Bible Handbook' and saw the following...

Luke 2:1-5 The Census of Quirinius

"This was a census of the Roman Empire. (The purpose of the census was taxation, as the KJV indicates.) Roman historical records place the census of Quirinius in A.D. 7, which was 10 to 13 years after Jesus was born. This historical discrepancy was for a long time troublesome to Bible students. But in recent years ancient papyri have been found that show that Quirinius was governor twice. Luke expressly says that this was the first census. It has also been discovered that people were indeed required to go to their ancestral homes for the census. Thus the spade of the archaeologist goes on, confirming one by one and in detail the historical accuracy of biblical statements."

And on a related note:

I'll leave you alone now!

Nathan B. said...

Hi Brian!

As a former fundamentalist, I look forward to your thoughts on the Bible. The KJV remains worth reading for two reasons: it set a standard for the English language, and it was a pretty literal translation of the original--when they were using the correct text with the correct understanding. When you read the KJV, you can pick up on a lot of Hebrew idioms that have been translated literally. Many of these idioms are translated more idiomatically in the more modern versions used by the various churches.

I would really caution against quack scholarship--it's everywhere, and it's on both the fundamentalist and atheist sides of the equations.

In any case, if you're starting in Genesis, you can see how two different creation accounts have been artificially put together, the first ending early in chapter 2. The first creation account has a different order of events than the second account (vegetation first, man last), while the second one has the vegetation being created after the creation of "the man." (And the article is there in Hebrew as well as English.)

I have a real bone to pick with the NIV translation of Gen. 2:8, by the way. The NIV deliberately mis-translates one of the verbs as (in English), a past perfect.

Compare the KJV:

"And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed."

In the KJV, as in the original Hebrew, the creation of the man is chronologically first (witness the English past perfect), and the creation of the garden is after (only the simple past in English).

The NIV makes a subtle change here:

"Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed."

Notice that "had planted" is the past perfect so that the sequence of the verbs has been changed. I often feel that was done for theological reasons so that Gen. 1 & 2 would not be seen to be contradictory. The translation was based upon a linguisic argument made by the Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke--who worked on the NIV--in his book on Hebrew syntax. As far as I can tell, that linguistic argument has not won over many scholars. (By the way, I once audited a course with Bruce Waltke when he taught at Regent College; I was the only undergrad student in the class.)

There are cases when the King James Version, which is, in the main, accurate, is problematic. It's particularly bad when the NIV follows these mistakes, even after all the advances that have been made in the last 200 years.

Take the famous verse from Isaiah 7:14 that reads (in the KJV) "A virgin shall conceive." Modern scholarship after the time of the KJV has indicated that the Hebrew just says "a young woman." When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek in ancient times, the word in Greek used to translate the Hebrew word was "virgin." When the writers of the New Testament use this verse as a "prophecy" of the birth of Christ--they were not using the original Hebrew, but a Greek mis-translation of that Hebrew original. It is this mis-translation by Jewish-Greek scholars in ancient times that is the basis for the subsequent Christian doctrine of the Virgin Birth--a delicious irony.

The KJV, translated before the advent of modern scholarship, can be excused here, but it is inexcusable for the NIV to have still insisted on using the word "virgin" in this passage. It is most unfortunate that the NIV has doctrinal biases which are influencing their linguistic decisions.

A few reasonably good translations, other than the KJV, would be the New Jewish Publication Society translation, and the New Revised Version.

kwandongbrian said...


Thanks for the information. I'm currently away from home, working at a camp, so I'm not doing wuch with the blog for a few days (weeks?).

Anonymous said...

While 'quack' scholars merit scorn, true faith is not to be found in scholars, grammarians or Bible versions but in Christ, "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30)

We refuse to recognize that all Scripture is 'God-breathed' at our peril, for "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor 1:20)

Anonymous said...

Some interesting info (more kosher than quack!)