Tangerine Sheri on Aug 4 2008, 11:02 PM, said:
Risking enraging Jo-rel all the more, I will challenge his claim of being an "expert" on the Bible. I maintain that there are no experts . . . . only varying degrees of ignorance.
Throughout centuries the book has been studied, altered, translated, suffered insertions and forgeries, deletions and spurious interpretations and while the apologist will insist that its central theme has remained intact, its references to historic places and events cannot no longer be considered reliable. Some even say that you could remove every other verse and the theme would continue to be consistent . . . . but that is like saying that if I removed every other scene from the Wizard of Oz, I would still know that it's about a little girl, her dog and some very strange looking characters.
Unfortunately, modern "experts" appear to be little more than those who offer the most extensive interpretations or exegesis. This is done through a circular pseudo-academic system of supporting one scripture with another until a network of verses serves as self-justification created for particular Biblical scenes that are usually the most controversial. In theological circles this is considered scholarship but the same process in any other field of serious research would find the system wanting and too dependant upon human opinion and perception to be wholly valid.
The frailty of theological scholalrship is testified by the influence that the Dionysian manuscripts had on Christian thought for centuries. Some Bible colleges and seminaries still teach that angels are classified as Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Thrones, Principalities and Dominations even though this information originated from a completely fraudulent source.
Some, like Wellhausen and Noth have attempted to reconstruct Biblical history by combining scripture with known historical data and with little success. The applied researcher, however, should have mastery of Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian and Greek - backed up by Latin and German. Very few do even though the same languages are demanded of those who work deciphering museum manuscripts or any research into comparitive cultures.
One of the first clues we have about Biblical expertise is when someone offers, "The Bible says . . . ." The Bible doesn't say anything. Less than 2,000 years ago writings were formed from contrasting cultures and beliefs, alphabets and tongues and represented multiple interests . . . . some noble some personal. Once collected into a composite form, it remained fragmentary in nature and remains so today as it fails to provide a smooth, fluid flow of language or meaning. It is nothing more than a collection of thoughts and stories given a name that from the German merely means "library." And that is what it is . . . . a library of diverse writings about a somewhat singular theme.
Being "expert" is further thwarted by the confession by most translators that portions of syntaxes of the languages remain a mystery that has yet to be solved. Many portions of the book have "supposed translations" and it has been impossible to determine what influence on the meaning of the text could be credited to local dialects of where originals had been written.
Most of the time when we hear about "study" and "understanding," we are being subjected to some rather one dimensional views of Scripture without the benefit of the lost contexts they may have once held.
So it is . . . . a book held sacred by some and silly by others . . . . but again, containing portions deserving my respect . . . . but portions that simply do not.