Sunday, 7 March 2010

Mistakes in the Bible (part 3 of 3)

This post continues on from the last two, which deals with an article I read on how the bible isn't inerrant and how the church fathers didn't think bible was either. It tunes out that while I was looking up the quotes in simple resources, the footnotes provided seemed to offer up some resolutions.

From the article:
...discussing John 2:12-15 and the difficulty of reconciling it with the first three Gospels, Origen emphasizes that the Gospels contain many a "discrepancy" of this kind, which he declares to be insoluble if we have to take each Gospel as attempting a historical account.

Origen said:
...The other three Evangelists say that the Lord, after His conflict with the devil, departed into Galilee. Matthew and Luke represent that he was first at Nazara, and then left them and came and dwelt in Capernaum. Matthew and Mark also state a certain reason why He departed there, namely, that He had heard that John was cast into prison....

...If the discrepancy between the Gospels is not solved, we must give up our trust in the Gospels, as being true and written by a divine spirit, or as records worthy of credence, for both these characters are held to belong to these works. Those who accept the four Gospels, and who do not consider that their apparent discrepancy is to be solved anagogically (by mystical interpretation), will have to clear up the difficulty, raised above, about the forty days of the temptation, a period for which no room can be found in any way in John's narrative; and they will also have to tell us when it was that the Lord came to Capernaum. If it was after the six days of the period of His baptism, the sixth being that of the marriage at Cana of Galilee, then it is clear that the temptation never took place, and that He never was at Nazara, and that John was not yet delivered up. Now, after Capernaum, where He abode not many days, the passover of the Jews was at hand, and He went up to Jerusalem, where He cast the sheep and oxen out of the temple, and poured out the small change of the bankers. In Jerusalem, too, it appears that Nicodemus, the ruler and Pharisee, first came to Him by night, and heard what we may read in the Gospel....There are many other points on which the careful student of the Gospels will find that their narratives do not agree; and these we shall place before the reader, according to our power, as they occur. The student, staggered at the consideration of these things, will either renounce the attempt to find all the Gospels true, and not venturing to conclude that all our information about our Lord is untrustworthy, will choose at random one of them to be his guide; or he will accept the four, and will consider that their truth is not to be sought for in the outward and material letter.

In the case I have supposed where the historians desire to teach us by an image what they have seen in their mind, their meaning would be found, if the four were wise, to exhibit no disagreement; and we must understand that with the four Evangelists it is not otherwise. They made full use for their purpose of things done by Jesus in the exercise of His wonderful and extraordinary power; they use in the same way His sayings, and in some places they tack on to their writing, with language apparently implying things of sense, things made manifest to them in a purely intellectual way. I do not condemn them if they even sometimes dealt freely with things which to the eye of history happened differently, and changed them so as to subserve the mystical aims they had in view; so as to speak of a thing which happened in a certain place, as if it had happened in another, or of what took place at a certain time, as if it had taken place at another time, and to introduce into what was spoken in a certain way some changes of their own. They proposed to speak the truth where it was possible both materially and spiritually, and where this was not possible it was their intention to prefer the spiritual to the material. The spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say, in the material falsehood....So much I have said of the apparent discrepancies in the Gospels, and of my desire to have them treated in the way of spiritual interpretation.

With this passage I have no quick footnote that explains why the order of some events in the Gospels are different, but I think it is because each author had a slightly different agenda, so they laid out events in different order to make a point. It's their narratives; they can choose what details to include and remove and if to inform us as to how much time passes between events. In fact we all do this when retelling events to friends, especially when talking about a movie, book or sporting event. Heck, I even cut out some of the above quote as it was too long, and in doing that I made a decision what to keep and so furthered my own agenda.

I should also note that in the article I am basing these posts on, there are other references to the church fathers not holding to inerrancy, (but maybe to further my own agenda or) because these posts are just long quotes, I am going to stop here.


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