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Some blog posts

ReligionPosted by Jim Baker Sat, April 04, 2015 12:08PM
Some good blog posts I have read today:

Spontaneity vs Craftsmanship [in Christian art]

The Moral Urgency of Anna Karenina

Thoughts on Note-Taking During Sermons

America's Muddled Morality About The Unborn

And also this one though I'm not sure how much I can agree with it.

The creation of man

ReligionPosted by Jim Baker Fri, November 14, 2014 07:53PM

http://www.worldmag.com/2014/11/interpretive_dance/page1:

"The BioLogos website states, “Genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago.”

But Stephen Meyer, a Discovery Institute leader of the intelligent design movement, told WORLD BioLogos leaders are using “an unsubstantiated and controversial claim to urge pastors and theologians to jettison a straightforward reading of Genesis about the human race arising from one man and one woman. They think ‘the science’ requires such a reinterpretation, but apart from speculative models that make numerous question-begging assumptions, the science does no such thing.”

The version of Genesis in my Bible has the creation of humans of undetermined number and both sexes (1:27), followed by what appears to be a separate account of the creation of one particular man Adam and subsequently his wife Eve (2:5-25). That these are separate accounts is obvious from the fact that the relative order of creation is different in both places: the creation of man precedes the growth of plants (and possibly animals) in chapter 2 but follows them in chapter 1. Possibly Genesis 2 refers to a "second" act of creation in Eden specifically: there is no particular reason to believe that the "mankind" of chapter 1 refers to the Adam and Eve of chapter 2, though of course it's a possibility.

Chapter 4 introduces us to Cain, who is scared someone might kill him (v14), implying there are other people around who might do so, who then marries a previously unmentioned woman (v17), and subsequently starts building a city, implying there are plenty of people around who might want to live in it. One possible interpretation is that Adam and Eve had loads of children we simply aren't told about, but another - and it seems to me the more natural one, given chapters 1 and 2 - is to assume that there were a number of other people around separately created by God.

The idea that there existed humans who were not descendants of Adam and Eve is not, therefore, definitely in contradiction to the text and is arguably supported by it. Dismissing anyone who claims otherwise as unbiblical is a somewhat careless thing to do, therefore.

The real difficulty comes in trying to reconcile the genetic data with the story of Noah.

7:50

ReligionPosted by Jim Baker Sun, July 20, 2014 12:04AM
The "seven-fifty" in "seven-fifty.net" does not refer to a Bible verse, but if it did these are the ones it could potentially refer to (NNIV):

Numbers 7:50 - one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense;

1 Kings 7:50 - the pure gold basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers; and the gold sockets for the doors of the innermost room, the Most Holy Place, and also for the doors of the main hall of the temple.

Nehemiah 7:50 - Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda,

Luke 7:50 - Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

John 7:50 - Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked,

Acts 7:50 - Has not my hand made all these things?



Brief notes on reliability of Bible manuscripts

ReligionPosted by Jim Baker Thu, October 24, 2013 11:42PM
I have just read this article here: http://www.e-n.org.uk/6419-Unapologetic-Christianity.htm. Bart Ehrman, the subject of the article, has estimated "400,000 variations" among New Testament manuscripts, which looks like a big number.

From my own work, I can report that there are approximately 5000 words in the Greek text of just one manuscript, Codex Bezae, that display "variation" by not being spelled in the standard way. There are also about 5000 Greek NT manuscripts altogether, so assuming Bezae is indicative we can predict that there may be about twenty-five million variant spellings in the entire corpus. (This estimation is far from exact for various reasons I won't go into, but it may well be about right.)

This is far more variation than even Ehrman estimates. But the point that needs making (and the article linked does make it) is that this sort of variation is basically irrelevant - it does next to nothing to change the meaning of the texts. Simply identifying variation, to whatever degree, does not prove the texts unreliable. What matters is variation that actually makes a difference to the meaning of the text - and there is not nearly so much of that, and when it does crop up there are generally reliable ways of working out what the original probably said.