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NOT A God of Confusion? My response to Timothy Paul Jones - Misquoted Truth.

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

I was recently challenged on my personal facebook page by a former student of mine.

His challenge to me, in light of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus," was to read the Timothy Paul Jones rebuttal: "Misquoting Truth."


After a little bit of back-and-forth I bought the book, accepted the challenge, and let him know that I would be getting back to him with my response.



This is my response.


Now, to be sure, it is not the most comfortable feeling in the world to find myself challenging the very deeply held beliefs (religious, Christian, political or otherwise) of a young man who is many years my junior (especially that of a former student) EVEN if that challenge is brought to my own front door. (i.e. my private FaceBook page.)


After all, for those that consider themselves to be a 'Bible-believing, Evangelical, born-again Christian,' there is a lot to seemingly lose upon the discovery that one's faith and experience may all be based on a lie - or, at best, a very unstable foundation of what is considered to be 'Truth.'


Every aspect of the born-again Christian’s life is impacted by this faith. It filters and shapes how they see themselves, their loved-ones, the afterlife, strife & turmoil while here on earth, hope in what is to come AFTER the strife & turmoils of this earth, their marriage, their children, their community, their politics, etc. etc. etc.


In considering this potential loss of faith, and all that goes along with it, why would I WANT to be a stumbling block for impressionable young minds?


After all, I, myself, when I was the same age as this young man, and for many years after, was a devout Christian. I took my faith, the Bible, and my relationship with God, through Jesus, very personally and seriously. I strove to live my life as if I was in an ongoing conversation with God.


In short, I wanted to be that man after God’s own heart.


My entire identity was wrapped up in Him. And I found my way into that faith by very personal experiences that were completely divorced of my actual upbringing.


So yes - this response - potentially uncomfortable indeed.


At the same time, if we were JUST talking about matters of faith, joy, peace, hope, love, afterlife, etc. - that would be one thing.


But we are not.


For the same religious and personal faith that reaps these good fruits is the same faith that has and continues to reap much bad fruit.

Stemming from this tree of faith are teachings that have caused, or continue to cause, direct harm to countless.


So, on balance, when I have to weigh the potential discomfort that comes with challenging the faith of a young adult vs. that of the great harm that is being done to countless children, teens and adults as a result of that faith, well….


Let’s just say I don’t mind being uncomfortable.


Now to the book.



Strawmanning the Truth?


Before I even picked up the book, Misquoting Truth, I had a mental list of presumptions and expectations - most of which I found to be true.


However, I want to begin with discussing a presumption that I had NOT made.


That is, in a book titled: "Misquoting TRUTH" I was NOT presuming or expecting the author to....well....lie.


And lie he did.



“Ehrman’s estimate of 400,000 variants among the New Testament manuscripts may be numerically correct - but what Ehrman doesn’t clearly communicate to his readers is the insignificance of the vast majority of these variants.” (Jones, Misquoting Truth, pg 43)


Well, this statement is beyond problematic when you consider Ehrman’s words:


“Most of these differences are completely immaterial and insignificant. A good portion of them simply show us that scribes in antiquity could spell no better than most people can today (and they didn’t even have dictionaries, let alone spell check).” (Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus pg 10-11)


I’m not sure how Ehrman could have made this more clear.


And this is a point that Ehrman makes many times in several of his books, live-debates, blog, etc. It is just not truthful on Jones' part to make this statement but it does help him set up a false argument and narrative that he then spends over half the book defending in an attempt to convince his reader that he’s really solidifying a seemingly weak foundational argument of Ehrman's.....which he is not.


Not only does Ehrman make this point often in his other writings but he makes that point several times more in....???


MISQUOTING JESUS!


“In fact, most of the changes found in our early Christian manuscripts have nothing to do with the theology or ideology. Far and away the most changes are the result of mistakes, pure and simple — slips of the pen, accidental omissions, inadvertent additions, misspelled words, blunders of one sort or another. (Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, pg 55)


"Scholars typically differentiate today between changes that appear to have been made accidentally through scribal mistakes and those made intentionally, through some forethought. These are not hard and fast boundaries, of course, but they still seem appropriate: one can see how a scribe might inadvertently leave out a word when copying a text (an accidental change), but it is hard to see how the last twelve verses of Mark could have been added by the slip of a pen." (Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, pg 90)


"To be sure, of all the hundreds of thousands of textual changes found among our manuscripts, most of them are completely insignificant, immaterial, of no real importance for anything other than showing that scribes could not spell or keep focused any better than the rest of us." (Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, pg 207)


Again - these quotes come straight from Misquoting Jesus so it is quite telling to me that Jones either didn’t really read the book he is endeavoring to correct or is just flat out lying to his audience.


Either way….there is a lie involved.


And then he kind of lies……again.


“Simply put, if Ehrman’s conclusions about the biblical text are correct, there is little (if any) reason to believe that my copy of the New Testament accurately describes anything that Jesus said or did.” (Jones, Misquoting Truth, pg 15)


But this statement completely (and perhaps conveniently) ignores another passage of Ehrman's book:


“It is probably safe to say that the copying of early Christian texts was by and large a conservative process. The scribes….were intent on ‘conserving’ the textual tradition they were passing on. Their ultimate concern was not to modify the tradition, but to preserve it for themselves and for those who would follow them.” (Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, pg 177.)


And, again, this is an argument that Ehrman makes time-and-time again in various writings and speeches.


Jones is simply not being truthful.


But it’s more than that…..there is a reason that he is not being truthful.


Instead of coming up with an actual argument that answers to the actual challenges that Ehrman discusses (I’ll get to these later)......he simply strawmanns Ehrman.


He creates a false narrative and argument….spending page, after page, after page, after page…..after page…. propping up that narrative…..while actually saying nothing at all.



Wishful Thinking or Disingenuity?


Of the many disingenuous statements and narratives made in Misquoting Truth I find the following to be the most disingenuous of all:


"Certainly, these verses have been misconstrued at times in ways that dishonor and subjugate women. This is inexcusable - just as Christians' choices to twist the good news of Jesus Christ into excuses to violate Jewish people and to suppress African Americans have been inexcusable. And yet, the fault is not with the biblical text. It is with the choices of individuals to wrench the biblical text to sanction something less than what God has offered humanity in Jesus Christ. " (Jones, Misquoting Truth, Pg 71,72)


And yet, the fault is not with the biblical text.


Ummm.....Isn't it?



SUBJUGATION OF WOMEN


subjugate = to bring under control and governance; to make submissive


1 Timothy 2:11-15 - A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing - if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.


Genesis 3:16- To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."


1 Corinthians 14:34-35 - The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.


Ephesians 5:22-23 - Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.


Colossians 3:18 - Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.


Add these to a plethora of Bible passages that oppress, demonize, and treat women as second-class citizens.


Genesis 2:22 Genesis 19:1-8

Exodus 20:17

Exodus 21:7-11

Exodus 22:18

Exodus 38:8

Leviticus 12:1-4

Leviticus 12:4-7

Leviticus 15:19-23

Leviticus 19: 20-22

Numbers 1:2

Numbers 5:13-31

Numbers 31:16-35

Deuteronomy 21:11-14

Deuteronomy 22:13-21

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

Deuteronomy 22:28-29

Deuteronomy 24:1

Deuteronomy 25:11-12

Judges 11:30-40

Judges 19:22-29

1 Kings 11:1-4

Job 14:1-4

Proverbs 7:9-27

Proverbs 11:22

Isaiah 3:16-17

Ezekiel 16:45

Matthew 24:19

Luke 2:22

1 Corinthians 11:3-15


The fact is from cover-to-cover the Bible has an issue with women.


A big issue.


Sure - you may find a passage here-and-there that would seem to contradict what ALL of these other passages are more than suggesting. But with that the BEST you can say is that the Bible is inconsistent in its treatment of women.


Again...that's the best you can say. A rather charitable assessment indeed.


Jones talks as if the MANY, MANY, MANY Christians in history who used the Bible to abuse and subjugate woman were the aberration of their day.


Indeed they were not.


These people were the Christian standard. And those who spoke out and fought against these abuses were the exception and accused of not being in lock-step of the Will and Word of God.


Over the ages the Christian church fought long and hard to keep women from advancing in both church, home and society. The church fought long and hard to continue the subjugation and oppression of women.


And all the while they used the Bible, easily and convincingly, chapter and verse, to do so.


"Each of you women is an Eve...you are the gate of Hell, you are the temptress of the forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law." - Tertullian


"If a woman grows wear and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it." - Martin Luther




VIOLATION OF JEWISH PEOPLE


John 8:44 - You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.


Matthew 27:25 - All the people answered, "His blood is on us and on our children!"


1 Thessalonians 2:14b-16 - You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displeased God and oppose all mankind in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.


Is it any wonder, that from the evil soil contained in these Biblical passages, that the following fruits of evil grew from some of Christianity's most earliest and prominent church fathers who laid the very foundation of the Christian theological faith tenets we know today?


“What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?...Let me give you my honest advice. First, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire. Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books…- Martin Luther, a 16th century German professor of theology, composer, priest, Augustinian monk, and the seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.


Their rejection of Jesus has resulted in their present calamity and exile. We say with confidence that they will never be restored to their former condition. For they have committed a crime of the most unhallowed kind, in conspiring against the Savior.” - Origen


“ Jews are slayers of the Lord, murderers of the prophets, enemies of God, haters of God, adversaries of grace, enemies of their fathers’ faith, advocates of the devil, brood of vipers, slanderers, scoffers, men of darkened minds, leaven of the Pharisees, congregation of demons, sinners, wicked men, stoners and haters of goodness.” - St. Gregory


“Judaism is a corruption. Indeed Judas is the image of the Jewish people. Their understanding of the Scriptures is carnal. They bear the guilt for the death of the Saviour, for through their fathers they have killed the Christ.” - St. Augustine


“It would be licit to hold Jews, because of the crimes, in perpetual servitude, and therefore the princes may regard the possessions of Jews as belonging to the State.” - St. Thomas Aquinas:


“Know, 0 adored Christ, and make no mistake, that aside from the Devil, you have no enemy more venomous, more desperate, more bitter, than a true Jew who truly seeks to be a Jew... a Jew, a Jewish heart, are hard as wood, as stone, as iron, as the Devil himself. In short, they are children of the Devil, condemned to the flames of hell.” - Martin Luther



THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY


Timothy Paul Jones, by all accounts a Southern Baptist, is part of a denomination that, itself, was founded on the protections of slavery in the south and ardently, and convincingly, used Scripture to justify that brand of hatred.


Debt Slavery

Leviticus 25:38-43 If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: he shall be with you as a hired worker and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers. For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.


Chattel Slavery

Leviticus 25:44-46 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.


Sex Slavery, Human & Sex Trafficking

Deuteronomy 20:10-15 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.


Deuteronomy 21:10-14 When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.


Numbers 31:17-18, 25-28, [The Lord said to Moses] Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.


(25) The Lord said to Moses, (26) “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured. (27) Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community. (28) From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the Lord one out of every five hundred, whether people, cattle, donkeys or sheep.



RACISM TOWARDS AFRICANS & AFRICAN AMERICANS


As uncomfortable and painful as it is for me to say it, where racism towards the African is concerned, fundamentalist Christians believed they did have the Bible on their side of the argument (Christian Abolitionists soon found they did not) and we have a plethora of Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian literature to back it up.


At the heart of this centuries-old harmful tenet of the Christian faith lied the "Curse of Canaan."


After some - ummmm- questionable behavior by his son Ham (and after awakening from his own drunken stupor) Noah imposed the following curse on Ham's son Canaan:


(Genesis 9:25-27)


He said,

“Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”

He also said,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”


At first glance this may seem like a relatively harmless passage but it is packed with a certain soil that would bear much bad fruit throughout the ages.


First of all, let us not overlook the simple fact that SLAVERY was injected as a curse into mankind by God, through Noah. I say 'by God, through Noah,' because as far as I understand, Noah, himself, was mere mortal. Therefore, cursing generation, after generation, after generation of people would have not been much of a curse at all had it not had the power of an Almighty God to implement and enforce it. And, as already indicated, will see full implementation and enforcement of this practice in the Law that God, Himself, handed down to Moses for His people to adhere to and live out - a Law that contained an owners guide and manual for the slave-holder.


But there is something else going on here besides the sanctioning of an evil institution.


This was a very specific curse that targeted a VERY SPECIFIC GROUP of people.


And who are these people?


It's not automatically clear who these people are other than the descendants of Canaan. But when we look at the following chapter, we get a much clearer picture.


Genesis 10 gives a detailed outline of the Descendants of Noah and where they ended up in the lands.



Genesis 10:6, 15-20


6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan....


15 And Canaan begat Sidon his first born, and Heth,

16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,

17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,

18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.

20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.


The issue?


The Genesis 10 breakdown on the descendants of Noah more-or-less places the descendants of Shem in Western Asia, the descendants of Japheth in Europe, and the descendants of Canaan???


In Africa.



"It matters but little which version we receive, as the meaning is nearly the same. Blessings are promised to the posterity of Shem and Japheth, and the curse of slavery to those of Ham, through his son Canaan. It must be evident to every reader of the Bible, that the afflatus of Noah was divine....The prophecy of Noah, like that of the Angel concerning Ishmael, and those concerning Esau, and the twelve Patriarchs, was to be fulfilled, not in the individuals named, but nationally in their descendants. Canaan's whole race were under the malediction.


These people were peculiarly wicked, and obnoxious to the wrath of God. Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities of the plain, were destroyed for their abominations. And the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Canaanites, the Hitties, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, were destroyed or expelled by the Israelites, by the command of God.....


'Ham,' means black, or burnt. He was the father of Canaan.


His descendants settled the hot regions of Asia, on the Persian Golph, Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and Africa." (Alexander McCain, Biblical Defenses of Slavery (1864), Pg. 10,11)





"Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren, and he said Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japhet and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.' Here, Nellie, is the origin of slavery, it comes directly from God through His servant Noah.....The curse pronounced by God, through Noah, upon Ham and his descendants, is subject to no such restrictions and limitations as governed enslaved Hebrews. It was to extend from generation to generation, to be perpetual. Hence you see Abraham, the father of the faithful, the friend of God,' was the owner of a large number of slaves. Some were 'born in his house,' and some were bought with his money.'


So it is evident that slavery was common in those days; and the domestic slave trade, so much abhorred by the abolitionists, and which affords themes of such bitter denunciations against the South, was also practiced, even by the very best men. Abraham trafficked in human flesh, when he bought servants with his money." (Warren, E.W. [Ebenezer W.] , Nellie Norton (1864), Pg. 9-11)


"God, who made all things, and endowed all animated nature with the strange and unexplained power of propagation, superintended the formation of two of the sons of Noah, in the womb of their mother, in an extraordinary and supernatural manner, giving to these two children such forms of bodies, constitutions of natures, and complexions of skin, as suited his will. Those two sons were Japheth and Ham. Japheth He caused to be born white, differing from the color of his parents, while He caused Ham to be born black; a color still further removed from the red hue of his parents than was white, events and products wholly contrary to nature, in the particular of animal generation, as relates to the human race. " (Josiah Priest, Bible Defense of Slavery (1852), Pg. 33)


"Of course you 'gentlemen of the cloth' know better than I do what authority Noah had over the children of Ham. Judging from his words, without reference to his authority, it looks very much like an intention to enslave that unfortunate race; and, if the negroes belong to it, as some suppose, accounts for that perpetual bondage which has always been their lot." (John Richter Jones, Slavery Sanctioned by the Bible. (1861), Pg. 11,12)


"In the exposition of the prophecy of Noah, we have seen that it was a purpose of God, revealed at the very origin of the present race of men, that one portion of the reace should be doomed to servitude. (Rev. Stuart Robinson, Slavery as Recognized in the Mosaic Civil Law, (1865), Pg. 8)



“For the Egyptians are prone to a degenerate life and quickly sink to every slavery of the vices. Look at the origin of the race and you will discover that their father Ham, who had laughed at his father’s nakedness, deserved a judgment of this kind, that his son Canaan should be a servant to his brothers, in which case the condition of bondage would prove the wickedness of his conduct. Not without merit, therefore, does the discolored posterity imitate the ignobility of the race.” - Origen of Alexandria, a 3rd century Christian scholar, ascetic, and theologian from his “Homilies on Genesis



As disgusting, disturbing and disheartening as these CHRISTIAN readings are, the fact of the matter remains....


...book after book, tract after tract, sermon after sermon, etc. - the Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian Church quoted the Bible - chapter and verse - in defense of not just the institution of slavery and the slave trade, but enslavement of the African.


In other words,


Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians, by use of the Bible, were JUST as convinced back then that the black man was inferior to the white man and destined to a God-ordained life of perpetual servitude as that same brand of Christian is convinced, today, that homosexuality is inherently abominable, evil, sinful and problematic. (Leviticus 20:13 ....and other passages)


This tenet of the Fundamentalist Christian faith would soon evolve to promote Jim Crow Law, segregation, anti mixed-race marriage, etc. WELL into the 21st century.


Did people, including Christians, use the Bible to harm and actively hate others?


Definitely.


But it is disingenuous for Timothy Paul Jones to ignore the very obvious fact that the Bible - the actual text of the Bible - offered a solid foundation for them to root these acts and harmful tenets of hatred.


Just like the series of Bible passages that forms the very fertile soil of hatred that plaques members of the gay community today.


I mean, does it get any more evil and dark than declaring that 'homosexuals should be put to death?" (Leviticus 20:13)



So what should the standard of 'Truth' be anyway?


And perhaps here lies the ultimate issue: the standard or bar one uses to determine whether-or-not, in light of what we now know concerning the text of the Bible....


-Text that was changed

-Text that was added

-Text that was subtracted

-Text that reveals literary contradictions

-Text that reveals historical contradictions

-Text that reveals moral contradictions

-so called prophecies that were manufactured and manipulated

etc.


Perhaps my bar is just too high?


Or, perhaps....


Timothy Paul Jones' bar is just too low.


I recently heard a preacher declare that a progressive Christian has to be pretty creative to determine that the Bible does not, in fact, condemn homosexuality.


And, even as a gay man myself, I tend to agree with him.


But I don't agree with the hypocrisy and double standard that quickly follows.


Sure - I can agree that you have to be pretty creative with the text to somehow show that it does not, in fact, condemn the practice of homosexuality. But you have to be just as creative, if not more, to somehow show that the Bible does not, in fact:


  1. sanction, endorse and condone practices that we, today, consider to be immoral; (debt slavery, chattel slavery, sex slavery, human trafficking, genocide, murder of homosexuals, a host of oppressive practices towards women, etc. etc. etc.)

  2. contain a host of literary and historical contradictions - even some irreconcilable

  3. two completely different birth stories

  4. two different dates/times for the crucifixion (Mk. 14:12; Mk 15:1; Mk. 15:25 vs. Jn. 13:1; Jn. 18:28; Jn. 19:14)

  5. two different genealogies of Christ

  6. two different versions of who killed Goliath (1 Sam. 17 vs. II Sam. 21:19)

  7. two different versions of the Creation story

  8. two different fathers for Selah (Gen. 11:12 vs Lk 3:35,36)

  9. two different ages of Abraham when he left Haran (Gen. 11:26-32 vs, Gen. 12:4, vs. Acts 7:4)

  10. different fathers for Bashemath (Gen. 26:34 vs. Gen. 36:3)

  11. two different high priest when David fled Saul (1 Sam. 21:1-6 vs. Mk. 2:26)

  12. was the name "Yahweh" revealed to Abraham? (Gen. 15:7,8 vs. Ex. 6:3)

  13. Has anyone seen Yahweh? (Gen. 32:30; Ex. 24:10-11; Is. 6:1 vs. Jn. 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:16)

  14. Can someone see Yahweh's face and live? (Gen. 32:30 vs. Ex. 33:20)

  15. What are the Ten Commandments? (Ex. 20 vs. x. 34)

  16. Why was the Sabbath instituted (Ex. 20:11 vs. Dt. 5:15)

  17. Does Yahweh dwell in houses built by men? (Ex. 25:8 vs. Acts 7:48; Acts 17:24)

  18. Who bought the field with money from Jesus' betrayal? (Mt. 27:6,7 vs. Acts 1:16-19)

  19. Why was the field called "field of blood?" (Mt. 27:7 vs. Acts 1:11)

  20. When did Satan enter Judas? (Lk. 22:1-7 vs. Jn. 13:27)

  21. Where did Paul go immediately after his conversion? (Acts 9:1-22 vs. Gal. 1:15-17)

  22. Is Abraham an example of salvation through faith alone? (Rom. 4 vs. Jam. 2:21-24)

  23. Are we justified by works? (Gal. 2:16 vs. Jam. 2:24)

  24. Where did Joseph and Mary go after Jesus' birth in Bethlehem? (Mt. 2:13-23 vs. Lk. 2:21-39)

  25. What did Jesus do after his baptism? (Mt. 4:1,2; Mk. 1:12,13 vs. Jn. 2:1)

  26. For how long did Jesus make appearances after the resurrection? (Lk. 24:13,36, 50-52 vs. Jn. 20:19,26; Jn. 21:14 vs. Acts 1:3.

  27. Did Jesus come to judge the world? (Jn. 9:39 vs. Jn. 12:47)

  28. (My favorite) Did Jesus ride one animal or two animals into Jerusalem? (Mt. 21:2-7 vs. Mk. 11:2-7)


(A-Z and this doesn't even come close to being an exhaustive list.)


Indeed, you have to be very creative to justify and explain away all of these contradictions.


And what about the moral contradictions?


In addition to what I have already mentioned early...there are other confusingly moral contradictions:


  1. Can we really say that Lot was righteous? (Gen. 19; II Pet. 2:7) Are we talking about the same guy that offered his virgin daughters up to be raped and, while drunk, impregnated both of them himself? That's righteous?

  2. Can we really blame Pharaoh for his actions when God, Himself, chose to harden his heart and punished all of Egypt as a result? (Ex. 10:1,2; Ex.12)

  3. God hardened MANY hearts and offered no mercy (Dt. 2:30-35; Jos. 11:20)

  4. God ordered that practicing homosexuals be put to death. Today we call this a hate crime and murder. (Leviticus 20:13)

  5. etc.


The list could certainly go on....and on.


But back to my point.


The bar?

The standard?


Timothy Paul Jones, along with every other Biblical-Apologists I know, goes to great lengths to reconcile all of these contradictions in order to defend the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible, inspired 'Word of God.'


It seems reasonable to me that, regardless of how the errors or contradictions, whether big or small, significant or insignificant, intentional or unintentional, in a text that is supposedly the Word of an all-knowing, all-loving, almighty and all-powerful, omniscient God......


well....


that it would be free of ANY error.


ANY contradiction.


ANY mistake whether intentional or unintentional.


Why on earth would one want to believe that a compassionate, merciful, and loving God would expect His creation to be held accountable to His words in the form of an ancient text without preserving that word in its original form.



Oh the Humanity


Jones, and other Biblical apologists attempt to skirt around the issue of Biblical contradictions by making arbitrary comments like these:


"Where Ehrman errs is in his assumption that these manuscript differences somehow demonstrate that the new Testament does not represent God's inerrant Word. The problem with this line of reasoning is that the inspired truth of Scripture does not depend on word-for-word agreement among all biblical manuscripts or between parallel accounts of the same event." Jones, Misquoting Truth, pg. 31


"Ehrman seems to expect God to work around humanity to preserve his words, so that textual criticism wouldn't even be necessary. " Jones, Misquoting Truth, pg. 48


Both of these rather arbitrary statements are rather problematic as they are simply based off of conjecture. They are simply, and rather conveniently, made up statements that reflect a made-up and imaginative standard for what the basis of truth should be - and all of it based on circular reasoning.


"The Bible says it's the word of God - therefore it must be."


Who says that 'the inspired truth of Scripture does not depend on word-for-word agreement among all biblical manuscripts or between parallel accounts of the same event?'


On what does Jones base this standard....or....truth?


I happen to believe that the inspired truth of Scripture DOES depend on word-for-word agreement among all biblical manuscripts or between parallel accounts of the same event?"


And further....


Who says that expecting God to work around humanity to preserve his words, so that textual criticism wouldn't even be necessary" is an expectation of great error?


It makes perfect sense to me.


Or this arbitrary statement....


"God never promised that the process of determining which books represented eyewitness testimony would be without error." Jones, Interrupting Truth, pg. 137.


Well - He never promised it wouldn't be either.


But in a very real way, God did make a promise to that end which brings me back to the title of this Blog.


NOT a God of Confusion?


For God is not a God of confusion......(1 Corinthians 14:33)


It would appear that if God had deemed it necessary to preserve the very same text He would hold us accountable to there would be much less confusion around this matter in the world.


But not so.


Not only are there over 4000 religions in this world but, under the Christian umbrella alone, there are over 45,000 denominations globally.


That's 45,000 Christian denominations each believing that it, alone, is practicing the absolute Truth as it believes is revealed in this ancient text.


And there is really no surprise to this when you take into account the many contradictions contained within the Bible - some small - some rather significant.


That sounds rather confusing to me.


It's especially confusing when you take into account that we are talking about matters of spiritual life and death here.


Why would a loving and compassionate God set things up like this?


As it so happens, I don't believe a loving and compassionate God did set things up like this and I don't know why anyone would want to believe that He did.


I don't know why anybody would want to believe that an Ancient Text that sanctions many practices that we consider today to be immoral, not to mention all of the errors, additions, subtractions, adjustments, contradictions, etc. would actually be 'THE WORD OF GOD."


But whereas it makes no sense to me that God could have inspired this ancient text it absolutely makes sense to me how this ancient text could have been created over a span of 1500 years...written by men living in a hyper-patriarchal society, with agendas (political, historical, theological, and otherwise) to advance and a self-given identity to protect as His Chosen - men who invoked the name of an all-powerful, all-mighty, all-knowing, all-loving God in an attempt to validate those agendas....


Yes....now that makes perfect sense to me.


PAUL'S WRITINGS


Not surprisingly Jones spends quite a bit of time referencing the variants found in Paul's letters and yet, spends little to no time in addressing what I believe to be a more important issue...


Did Paul really write them?


Study after study finds that Biblical scholars, though they believe SOME of these letters to be written by Paul, were not all written by Paul.


Fundamentalists Biblical Apologists fight this claim of course - and with good reason. After all, who would want to admit that the man who penned the phrase: All Scripture is God-breathed lied about his identity.


As it is, of the 14 books that were traditionally taught to be written by Paul, scholars on both sides of the issue are in agreement that Paul wrote 7 of these books. (1 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philemon and Philippians.). Of course, though it is widely believed that, generally speaking, Paul wrote these 7 letters, there is ample indication that some passages were added/edited by Scribes.).


Two of the books normally attributed to Paul are in some dispute among Biblical Scholars: 2 Thessalonians and Colossians.


However, the remaining 5 books are not in wide-dispute among most Biblical Scholars....


Paul simply did not write Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus or Hebrews.


From my research, virtually the ONLY biblical scholars that are holding onto the belief that Paul wrote these 5 books are Fundamentalist Biblical Apologists.


How confusing.


How telling.




In Closing


As it is, I don't believe that even the most devout of fundamentalists Biblical Christians has a true belief that they have the actual Word of God, or even inspired Word of God, in their hands.

Let me explain...


This entire blog entry began with a challenge from a former student on a FB post I had made concerning the fact that we have quite a list of Scripture references, cover-to-cover, that are not found or contained in the earliest of our manuscripts.


Even most Biblical apologists are ready to concede that...."sure....that passage MAY have been added later by a Scribe" ....or something akin to this based on the reference in question.


But here is what informs me...


They are okay with these passages remaining in the text.


Sure.....modern copies typically place some type of marking (such as as bracket or footnote) along with the questionable texts....


But should that really matter?


If you TRUELY believe you are dealing with the actual Word of God why on earth would you dare to add anything to it whether utilizing brackets or not?


What about....


Revelation 22:18-20 "I testify to everyone who hears the words of prophecy in this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"


When you take into account that the supposed character of God does not supposedly change how can Timothy Paul Jones, and those like him, take such a delicate stance on these happenings?


These many happenings.


It would appear that Biblical apologists like to have their contextual cake....and eat it too. They take no issue in bending, adding, omitting, redefining, reimagining, twisting matters of text and Scripture as long as it aligns with their modern world-view.


As it is, for a book titled Misquoting TRUTH, it is clear to me that Jones is just as unsure of what the actual truth is as anybody else.


But catchy title though.


But if he is not sure of what the actual truth is I'm not sure how beneficial it is to accuse somebody else of MISQUOTING it.













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