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Bible Difficulties

BOOK: Bible Difficulties
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Encyclopedia

of Bible

Difficulties

Gleason L Archer

1

INTRODUCTORY MATTERS ......................................................................................... 4

Recommended Procedures in Dealing With Bible Difficulties ...................................... 4

Introduction: The Importance of Biblical Inerrancy....................................................... 6

Without Inerrancy the Scriptures Cannot Be Infallible .................................................. 8

Without Inerrancy the Bible Cannot Be Infallible........................................................ 10

The Importance of Inerrant Original Documents.......................................................... 15

The Remarkable Trustworthiness of The Received Text of Holy Scripture ................ 17

Scripture and Inerrancy................................................................................................. 18

The Role of Textual Criticism in Correcting Transmissional Errors............................ 21

Genesis.............................................................................................................................. 45

Exodus............................................................................................................................. 104

Leviticus.......................................................................................................................... 122

Numbers.......................................................................................................................... 125

Deuteronomy................................................................................................................... 143

Joshua.............................................................................................................................. 152

Judges.............................................................................................................................. 160

Ruth................................................................................................................................. 165

1 Samuel.......................................................................................................................... 167

2 Samuel.......................................................................................................................... 182

1 Kings ............................................................................................................................ 191

2 Kings ............................................................................................................................ 204

1 Chronicles .................................................................................................................... 217

2 Chronicles .................................................................................................................... 226

Ezra ................................................................................................................................. 230

Nehemiah ........................................................................................................................ 234

Esther .............................................................................................................................. 235

Job................................................................................................................................... 236

Psalms ............................................................................................................................. 244

Proverbs .......................................................................................................................... 252

Ecclesiastes ..................................................................................................................... 256

Song of Solomon ............................................................................................................ 261

Isaiah............................................................................................................................... 264

Jeremiah .......................................................................................................................... 274

Ezekiel............................................................................................................................. 279

Daniel.............................................................................................................................. 285

Hosea............................................................................................................................... 298

Joel .................................................................................................................................. 300

Amos ............................................................................................................................... 301

Obadiah........................................................................................................................... 302

Jonah ............................................................................................................................... 304

Zechariah......................................................................................................................... 307

Malachi ........................................................................................................................... 308

The New Testament and the Old Testament................................................................... 310

The Synoptic Gospels ..................................................................................................... 314

2

Matthew .......................................................................................................................... 319

Mark................................................................................................................................ 368

Luke ................................................................................................................................ 372

John................................................................................................................................. 376

Acts ................................................................................................................................. 385

Romans ........................................................................................................................... 394

1 Corinthians................................................................................................................... 406

Galatians ......................................................................................................................... 413

Ephesians ........................................................................................................................ 414

Colossians ....................................................................................................................... 415

2 Thessalonians............................................................................................................... 419

1 Timothy........................................................................................................................ 420

2 Timothy........................................................................................................................ 425

Hebrews .......................................................................................................................... 427

1 Peter ............................................................................................................................. 432

2 Peter ............................................................................................................................. 434

1 John.............................................................................................................................. 437

Jude ................................................................................................................................. 439

Revelation ....................................................................................................................... 440

3

INTRODUCTORY MATTERS

Recommended Procedures in Dealing With Bible Difficulties

In dealing with Bible problems of any kind, whether in factual or in doctrinal matters, it is well to follow appropriate guidelines in determining the solution. This is most easily done by those who have carefully and prayerfully studied the Bible over a number of years and have consistently and faithfully memorized Scripture. Some guidelines are as follows:

1. Be fully persuaded in your own mind that an adequate explanation exists, even though you have not yet found it. The aerodynamic engineer may not understand how a bumble bee can fly; yet he trusts that there must be an adequate explanation for its fine performance since, as a matter of fact, it does fly! Even so we may have complete confidence that the divine Author preserved the human author of each book of the Bible from error or mistake as he wrote down the original manuscript of the sacred text.

2. Avoid the fallacy of shifting from one a priori to its opposite every time an apparent problem arises. The Bible is either the inerrant Word of God or else it is an imperfect record by fallible men. Once we have come into agreement with Jesus that the Scripture is completely trustworthy and authoritative, then it is out of the question for us to shift over to the opposite assumption, that the Bible is only the errant record of fallible men as they wrote about God. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, as Jesus said, then it must be treated with respect, trust, and complete obedience. Unlike all other books known to man, the Scriptures come to us from God; and in them we confront the ever-living, ever-present God (2 Tim.

3:16-17). When we are unable to understand God's ways or are unable to comprehend His words, we must bow before Him in humility and patiently wait for Him to clear up the difficulty or to deliver us from our trials as He sees fit.

There is very little that God will long withhold from the surrendered heart and mind of a true believer.

3. Carefully study the context and framework of the verse in which the problem arises until you gain some idea of what the verse is intended to mean within its own setting. It may be necessary to study the entire book in which the verse occurs, carefully noting how each key term is used in other passages. Compare Scripture with Scripture, especially all those passages in other parts of the Bible that deal with the same subject or doctrine.

4. Remember, no interpretation of Scripture is valid that is not based on careful exegesis, that is, on wholehearted commitment to determining what the ancient author meant by the words he used. This is accomplished by a painstaking study of the key words, as defined in the dictionaries (Hebrew and Greek) and as used in parallel passages. Research also the specific meaning of these words in idiomatic phrases as observed in other parts of the Bible.

Consider how confused a foreigner must be when he reads in a daily American 4

newspaper: "The prospectors made a
strike
yesterday up in the mountains." "The union went on
strike
this morning." "The batter made his third
strike
and was called out by the umpire." "
Strike
up with the Star Spangled Banner." "The fisherman got a good
strike
in the middle of the lake." Presumably each of these completely different uses of the same word go back to the same parent and have the same etymology. But complete confusion may result from misunderstanding how the speaker meant the word to be used. Bear in mind that inerrancy involves acceptance of and belief in whatever the biblical author meant by the words he used. If he meant what he said in a literal way, it is wrong to take it figuratively; but if he meant what he said in a figurative way, it is wrong to take it literally. So we must engage in careful exegesis in order to find out what he meant in the light of contemporary conditions and usage. That takes hard work. Intuition or snap judgment may catch one up in a web of fallacy and subjective bias. This often results in heresy that hinders the cause of the Lord one professes to serve.

5. In the case of parallel passages, the only method that can be justified is harmonization. That is to say, all the testimonies of the various witnesses are to be taken as trustworthy reports of what was said and done in their presence, even though they may have viewed the transaction from a slightly different perspective.

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