The Bible (Letter 5)

Sir Tom,

So here we are again and as we focus this month on the Bible I think there are 2 things to keep in mind.

  1. Biblical reliability. This was why I wanted to do the Bible before Jesus, because when one talks about Jesus one uses the Bible; we talk about prophecies of His life and death, but they only work if we can believe that they are true.
  2. How do we read the Bible? This is the big one, isn’t it? What’s the purpose of the Bible? And that depends on our views of inerrancy, infallibility and Sola Scriptura.

So let’s unpack number 1, get on the same page (or at least know which pages we’re both on). My first big deal is Old Testament dating. I don’t see any issue with taking scholarly dating of the Bible (even though that disqualifies inerrancy) because scholars agree that the books of the OT are based on earlier writings. I don’t want to go too far down this road, but it does lead to 2 interesting points. Firstly, there’s no need. If they’re made up then you only need to date them to their earliest manuscript. Secondly, where is the REAL Israelite history?

So we know that the Bible is reliable because the claims against the Bible don’t stack up. That being said a lot of the issues with the Bible in terms of contradictions are solved by taking the Document Hypothesis of multiple sources being used to construct the first books of the Bible.

So the problem is really not with the historicity of the Bible, but really with a rejection of magic. Magical stuff happens in the Bible, therefore it must be made up. That being said, I think anyone would be hard pressed to point to anything in history or science that says magic can’t happen.

I think we need to talk about this somewhat explicitly in the podcast, but I also think it needs to run through everything we say. The idea that at each point this is reliable, this is true. And true separate from inerrancy. I don’t think it is good enough just to say ‘yeah it’s all true and reliable because the Bible can’t be wrong’.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts,