Biblical Errors: Section 2/4
Updated: Mar 4
“Every word of God proves true; he is as shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar”. ~ Proverbs 30:5-6.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17
There are of course multiple ways believers approach reading and interpreting the Bible. Some are literalists and assert no errors can be in scripture; it’s God’s word to mankind. Of course that’s what Islam, Mormonism and other religions claim also with their scriptures. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those that consider the Bible mostly literature, poetic and take a more figurative interpretation to the writings and are not concerned about errors because they would expect that from a human production primarily. For me, finding errors was a troubling issue because I had been taught that the Bible was either divinely produced or at least divinely inspired and thus should not have glaring errors present. After science, this was another major exit door for me. As I studied more and more biology and other sciences at the universities I could not accommodate scriptures to well established science, and applying a lot of metaphor, literature, and hyperbole to explain the problems away just meant to me that the Bible was joining Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. Nice stories and mythological events but certainly nothing to base your life upon. In addition, these narratives often portrayed Yahweh as a god who loved to kill innocent children. What moral lessons do we take from those that point to a religion to base our lives on if one wishes to view the Bible with figurative lenses?
Do apologists have answers to what I see as errors? Sure - they’ve had 2,000 years to come up with explanations. Please go read them. As the issues mount and their rationalizations and explanations become more and more strained and sometimes absurd, you will get an added bonus of seeing motivated reasoning in action.
These are some of the errors I found in the Bible that added to my journey out of Christianity, and eventually away from any religion.
1. Adam and Eve are not historical figures. We know from paleontology and other sciences that humans evolved and modern humans evolved about 300,000 years ago. There never was a bottle neck of two or 8 coming off an ark to found the world’s human population. The human population never went below about 10,000 by genomics research alone. Outside of Africa, all modern humans are a result of a small group that left east Africa about 70,000 years ago. If any creation interpretation can’t accommodate human evolution it’s just plain wrong. There are several major creationist approaches to Genesis: Figurative (literature), Day-Age, Gap, Progressive Creationism (Reasons To Believe), Young Earth Creationism from ICR, AIG and CMI, Evolutionary Creationism (TE or EC), and others where people tend to have various hybrids and mosaics that they mash together. Since evolution is true and only one creationism of the popular ones could accommodate science, I soon realized that since every world view needed a viable and true origin narrative as a foundation for their faith, the Bible did not have one nor would it ever have one. What about the one that could accommodate evolution and science? That would be theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism - God used or allowed evolution to unfold. It fails for other reasons, none too harsh in that it makes the Abrahamic God indifferent, incompetent, or malevolent for using or allowing evolution to create all the species that have ever lived. What about a liberal approach, figurative? To me that made scriptures dissolve into a fog of literature, to join Roman, Greek and Norse mythology and compromised the faith. No origin Genesis narrative can accommodate science and common sense. Nor do I ever expect to see one.
Amazing to me after 40 years arguing with anti-evolutionists that evolution is surely not only true but perhaps the most consequential scientific theory ever discovered. The evidence is finally causing some of the most prominent evangelical apologists to write books that try and put a historical Adam appearing as humans evolved. Francis Collins and Biologos arguing for theistic evolution as determined by newer DNA findings never had a great impact on the evangelical community. I am referring to William Lane Craig’s latest book (2021) at the time of this writing and that of Joshua Swamidass’ 2018 book. Of course their attempts are just fundamentalist rationalizing and presuppositions about Adam but the evidence they address for human evolution has convinced them they had to find a way to have human evolution and their Adam too. And that means that any creationist origin narrative that does not include human evolution (and others) is myth. WLC: In Quest for the Historical Adam
Joshua Swamidass: The Genealogical Adam and Eve
2. No Global Flood and no Ark. There is no evidence of a global flood in the fossil record or in geology. And there must be if this happened. What about a local flood? It does not seem to fit scriptures, which say specifically that the water covered all the high hills, and why take birds on board if it’s just local? Other problems arise with tons of coprolites (fossil poop). How did the dinosaurs poop all that out during a flood event? Fossil reefs found in different layers. Why did pterodactyls only end up in one layer - they could not have flown to the tops? Let alone that the ark of course could not have held all the species, so apologists turn to “kinds” and they can’t scientifically agree on what a “kind” is. To make it possible for all those animals to survive for a year on an ark (including baby dinosaurs and/or eggs) being cared for by 8 people only, the numbers had to be much, much smaller. One YEC has it at about 20,000 “kinds". But that just kicks the problem down the preverbal creationist road for to have the ark land and then populate around the globe with all the millions of species we know of in just a few thousand years would be hyper-evolution. Ironic. Then there’s Hawaii - how did all those unique species get there right after the Flood and how does one explain the plates moving so fast in a year over that hot spot to produce the Hawaiian chain and the Emperor Seamounts. The heat problem is an issue that continues to escape young earth creationists - and will forever. No way the Flood and Ark stories can be literal. Google is your friend. We know where the Bible writers got the Flood myth. Other older civilizations had a variation and we have a copy.
[book review - Grand Canyon: Monument to an ancient earth. Creationist geologists]
3. Women don’t have increased pain in childbirth from a curse. The result of having increased labor and birth pains due to a conversation with an evil talking snake who tempted a mythological Eve to eat forbidden fruit from a sacred tree planted in the middle of a mythological garden so Adam and Eve could not miss it did not happen. Even maternal death was not uncommon before modern medicine. It’s a result of bipedalism evolving first producing needed changes in the pelvis and making it difficult to pass a large headed fetus that evolved later. 4. The diversity of languages did not develop from a curse at the Tower of Babel. Languages evolved and we can study how, when and where that occurred and with branching. Pure myth. It was a primitive way to try and explain why there were so many different human languages. 5. The Exodus never occurred. We know from studies including genetics that the Hebrews emerged from the Canaanites. There were no Egyptian plagues (which is a good thing morally if you’re an Abrahamic believer which will be discussed in section 4). Millions did not spend 40 years wandering around the Sinai. It can be walked across in 6 days without stopping - use Google Maps on your phone. There are NO artifacts of this happening and there must be for this story to be true. Archeologists have looked. And Jewish archeologists gave up looking a long time ago. You don’t have millions or even thousands walking around an area the size of West Virginia for 40 years and leave no latrines, broken pottery, broken wheels, lots of graves, remains of large encampments. How much trash does the US Military leave during a war of just a few years let alone millions over 40 years? “However, the archeological conclusions are not based primarily on the absence of Sinai evidence. Rather, they are based upon the study of settlement patterns in Israel itself. Surveys of ancient settlements--pottery remains and so forth--make it clear that there simply was no great influx of people around the time of the Exodus (given variously as between 1500-1200 BCE). Therefore, not the wandering, but the arrival alerts us to the fact that the biblical Exodus is not a literal depiction.” Did the Exodus Really Happen? https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/judaism/2004/12/did-the-exodus-really-happen.aspx
“The most provocative items in the huge archeological exhibition opening March 4 at the Israel Museum are the ones that aren’t there. The exhibition, “Pharaoh in Canaan: The Untold Story”, is about the long relationship between the land of Israel and ancient Egypt. The hall is devoted to the best known part of the story - the Exodus from Egypt - is an empty room with exactly one exhibit on display: a movie featuring co-curator and Israel Museum Egyptologist Dr. Daphna Ben-Tor, who explains that the hall is empty because there is no archeological evidence whatsoever to the support the biblical tale.”
The Story of the Exodus and Lack of Historicity https://brewminate.com/the-story-of-the-exodus-and-lack-of-historicity/
New Exhibition Chronicles the Meeting of Ancient Israel and Egypt [the Exodus from Egypt is not supported by an archeological evidence whatsoever]
The Exodus never happened. https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateReligion/comments/o98wlm/the_exodus_never_happened/
The Biblical Story is Fiction
Did Jewish Slaves Build the Pyramids? https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4191
For You Were (Not) Slaves in Egypt https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/2019-04-19/ty-article-magazine/.premium/for-you-were-not-slaves-in-egypt-the-memories-behind-the-exodus-myth/0000017f-f246-da6f-a77f-fa4ef8220000
How did Israel form if the Exodus & Conquest aren't historically true? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFCljnmg9NI
6. The entire Pentateuch - the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah - is myth. Never happened.
7. Mark 4:31. “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which when sown on the ground is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,” The mustard seed is not the smallest seed on earth.
8. Insects don’t have four legs. Leviticus 11: 20 - 23. [insects have 6 legs]
“All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you. There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean.”
9. Jesus and his ultimate failed prophecy. The consensus of religious scholars outside conservative Christian teaching is that Jesus was another failed apocalyptic preacher at the time. Even reading the NT tells you this. His followers and later Paul all thought the end times were eminent. Of course you would not want to get married if that were true. Just look at all these NT verses:
Hebrews 10:37 - “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay”
Rev. 1:7 - “… he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him…”
Rev. 1:1 - “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to show to his servants the things that must soon take place”.
Rev. 3:11 - “I am coming soon.”
Rev. 22:12 - “Behold, I am coming soon”.
Rev. 22:20 - “…, surely I am coming soon. Amen”.
Rev. 22: 6 - 7. 6 “The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place. 7 Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll”. (NIV)
James 5:8 - “… for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
1 Peter 4:7 - “The end of all things is at hand.”
1 John 2:18 - “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”
1 Corinthians 7:29 to 31 - “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.”
Philippians 4:5 - “Remember, the Lord is coming soon” (NLT). “The Lord is at hand”. (KJV, NKJV, ESV, WEB, WBT, ERV, AmKJV, KJ2000). “The Lord will soon be here”. (Cont. EV). “The Lord is coming soon”. (GNB). There are several different translations. Many state that the “Lord is near”, which could be close-by versus soon. But those that do make the difference are clear that it’s time weighted and not personal distance or geography.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 - “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (ESV). Paul thought those dead would be raised first but those left and still alive would also be raised. This makes no sense if all are dead and Jesus is still coming (our time for example).
And to be sure the reader or listener understood that soon really means soon, the NT includes these verses also:
Matthew 10:23 - “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Mark 9:1 - “And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
Matthew 16:28 - “Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Luke 9:27 - “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
1. The Greek word for “soon” can also be translated as “quick” (adverb: ταχύ) and in many of the verses above they both fit if just reading an isolated verse. However, in the context of all the verses together “soon” is the best and most true, the most parsimonious, and the one that meets Occam’s Razor hands down. In addition, several verses that state some will not die before Jesus returns is again the best fit for “soon” and leaves no doubt which adverb is meant throughout the NT. If some will not be dead then some did die and attempts to apply the transfiguration for example as an interpretation that occurs only after a week reveals how desperate apologists can become to hold to a position that is inferior to the obvious and most straightforward. No hand waiving needed. Apologists who argue that all of these work well with quick instead of soon just reveal their bias and incredible motivated reasoning.
2. When looking at 61 different NT translations of Rev. 22:12 for example, 52/61 translate the verse “soon” and not “quickly.” When examining Philippians 4:5, only 34/61 translate purely “near”. Several of these - 14/61 translations - include a phrase or notation that near best refers to “soon” and not proximity. For example see AMPC and EXB.
Rev. 22:12 - https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Revelation%2022:123.
Philippians 4:5 -https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Philippians%204:5
3. The NT verse that states no one knows the time and day does nothing to rescue the apologist since that is not an issue; it was to happen soon, before some die. The exact time and day has no bearing on this red line for Bible believers.
Outside of the fundamentalist and other conservative Christian theologians it is well accepted that Jesus was just another failed apocalyptic rural preacher. The end of the world did not happen and neither did Jesus come back after his death. All the great religious scholars outside of sectarian schools teach this (Yale, Harvard, Princeton, U.of Chicago, U.of North Carolina, Stanford, etc.) Please note that the conservative seminaries often have a “statement of faith” all faculty must sign. If in their research they agree with the consensus of non-conservative religious scholars and publicly say so these scholars often must resign their academic positions. No such constraint exists for religious scholars at major universities. I don’t know how one could be even considered a respectable scholar under those conditions. Tim O’Neil: “That the historical Jesus was most likely a Jewish apocalyptic prophet preaching the coming kingship of God to fellow Galilean peasants is an interpretation that has dominated the study of the origins of Christianity for over a century. In his 1910 masterpiece The Quest of the Historical Jesus, Albert Schweitzer traced the scholarship on who the historical Jesus was from the eighteenth century attempts at gospel harmonization to the Historical Jesus Quest his own day, and decided that the idea of Jesus as an eschatological prophet preaching a coming apocalypse was the inevitable conclusion that had to be drawn… Obviously, a Jesus who was an apocalyptic prophet who proclaimed the kingship of God as coming in his lifetime or that of his listeners does not fit well with orthodox Christian beliefs, so conservative scholars have to work to explain all the evidence above in a way that somehow maintains the idea that Jesus was “God the Son” and a deity in human form - no small task… Now, as in Schweitzer’s time, almost all historical Jesus studies is either an endorsement of or a rear-guard action against the unavoidably powerful idea that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet.”
“As noted by E.P. Sanders (Jesus and Judaism, 1985, pp. 91-95) and many before him (e.g. Bart Ehrman, James D.G. Dunn and Klaus Koch), Jesus’ position between John the Baptist, for whom the imminent judgement was reportedly central, and the early church as reflected in Paul’s letters, who longed for the apocalyptic παρουσία in their lifetimes, means a Jesus who also expected the apocalypse soon makes most sense… Despite the rearguard actions of conservative and many progressive Christians, the conception of Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic peasant preacher is accepted in some form by many or even most non-Christian and even some progressive Christian scholars (e.g. Allison). Bart Ehrman, E.P. Sanders, Paula Fredricksen and many others fully accept this reconstruction of the historical Jesus.” https://historyforatheists.com/2018/12/jesus-apocalyptic-prophet/
See also links below if one has doubts that Jesus as failed apocalyptic prophet is not the consensus view among religious scholars who are not obliged to agree with conservative Christianity and in my view, many conservative religious scholars are compromised intellectually because of their faith commitments. > https://jewishbelief.com/jesus-failed-prophecy/ > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUdMaaKmgEc
> List of claimed messiahs by religion:
> Quick or Soon? https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/19844/rev-311-i-come-quickly-vs-i-come-soon
10. Revelation 6:13 is impossible.
“…and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.” Stars can’t fall from the sky onto the earth. As Neil deGrasse Tyson has noted whoever wrote that had no idea what stars are.
11. Joshua 10:13 and 2 Kings 20:11 never happened.
“So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.” No, the earth did not suddenly stop spinning at 1,000 mph, producing no effects. No other cultures noted it, especially those on the opposite side of the earth with a day of darkness. Let alone all the earthquakes and tsunamis that would have resulted.
Nor did the sun go backwards and thus the earth rotate suddenly backwards: “9 So Isaiah replied, “This will be your sign from the LORD that the LORD will do what he has promised. Shall the shadow go forward ten steps or go back ten steps. 10 Hezekiah answered, “It’s an easy thing for a shadow to lengthen ten steps. So let the shadow go backward ten steps. 11 So Isaiah cried out to the LORD, who brought the shadow back ten steps after it had gone down the stairway of Ahaz." ~ 2 Kings 20: 9-11.
12. Moses did not write the Pentateuch. Which means the theologians claiming this have chosen to ignore the evidence. Furthermore, their reasons reveal how much of their thinking is compromised by motivated reasoning. In the last book of the Pentateuch the death of Moses is discussed. Deuteronomy 34: 5-8: “And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.”
Obviously, Moses could not have written his own obituary in the third person. Most apologists claim that Joshua wrote Deuteronomy 34 - “It’s possible they write”. So technically the claim of 100% Mosaic authorship for the Torah is impossible, but apologists just argue that there is a minor exception here.
But more than the final chapter of Deuteronomy there is no way the Pentateuch was written by one author, in this case Moses. Scholars have known since the 1800’s that the first five books of the Bible were cobbled together from multiple sources and authors. This conclusion was put forth originally as the Documentary Hypothesis. The original has been shown to be incorrect in many areas and different forms of it are argued among scholars. However, in whatever form is true the main conclusion is that there is no hope of successfully arguing that it had one author, let alone Moses. “A version of the documentary hypothesis, frequently identified with the German scholar Julius Wellhausen, was almost universally accepted for most of the 20th century. It posited that the Pentateuch is a compilation of four originally independent documents the Jahwist (J), Elohist (E), Deuteronomist (D), and Priestly (P) sources… The consensus around the classical documentary hypothesis has now collapsed. This was triggered in large part by the influential publications of John Van Seters, Hans Heinrich Schmid, and Rolf Rendtorff in the mid-1970s…
As a result, there has been a revival of interest in "fragmentary" and "supplementary" models, frequently in combination with each other and with a documentary model, making it difficult to classify contemporary theories as strictly one or another. Modern scholars also have given up the classical Wellhausian dating of the sources, and generally see the completed Torah as a product of the time of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (probably 450–350 BCE), although some would place its production as late as the Hellenistic period (333–164 BCE), after the conquests of Alexander the Great." “Wellhausen used the sources of the Torah as evidence of changes in the history of Israelite religion as it moved (in his opinion) from free, simple and natural to fixed, formal and institutional. Modern scholars of Israel's religion have become much more circumspect in how they use the Old Testament, not least because many[who?] have concluded that the Bible is not a reliable witness to the religion of ancient Israel and Judah, representing instead the beliefs of only a small segment of the ancient Israelite community centered in Jerusalem and devoted to the exclusive worship of the god Yahweh." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Documentary_hypothesis https://www.thetorah.com/article/genesis-exodus-and-the-composition-of-the-torah
So, just using an honest close literary analysis of the Torah, it’s clear to non conservative religious scholars that the Pentateuch was not written by one author. If possible, we’d like another independent method to confirm this. And we have that through science. In 2011 an Israeli team ran a program using AI to look at authorship of the Torah (Pentateuch). Importantly, they also tested it on other books in the OT where authorship was settled to use as a control. “Software developed by an Israeli team is giving intriguing new hints about what researchers believe to be the multiple hands that wrote the Bible. The new software analyzes style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors, and when applied to the Bible its algorithm teased out distinct writerly voices in the holy book. The program, part of a sub-field of artificial intelligence studies known as authorship attribution, has a range of potential applications - from helping law enforcement to developing new computer programs for writers. But the Bible provided a tempting test case for the algorithm’s creators.” “Today, scholars generally split the text into two main strands. One is believed to have been written by a figure or group known as the "priestly" author, because of apparent connections to the temple priests in Jerusalem. The rest is "non-priestly." Scholars have meticulously gone over the text to ascertain which parts belong to which strand. When the new software was run on the Pentateuch, it found the same division, separating the “priestly” and the “non priestly”. It matched up with the traditional academic division at a rate of 90 per cent - effectively recreating years of work by multiple scholars in minutes, said Moshe Koppel of Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, the computer science professor who headed the research team.”
“Before applying the software to the Pentateuch and other books of the Bible, the researchers first needed a more objective test to prove the algorithm could correctly distinguish one author from another. So they randomly jumbled the Hebrew Bible’s books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah into one text and ran the software. It sorted the mixed-up text into its component parts “almost perfectly”, the researchers announced.”
And of course, whether Moses is all myth or mostly legend it’s certain that the Moses as portrayed in the Bible never existed. The Exodus certainly never happened, nor the plagues, nor the conquest of Canaan. “Moses himself has about as much historic reality as King Arthur,” British archaeologist Philip Davies famously concluded. A more moderate conclusion comes from the historian Tom Holland: “The likelihood that the biblical story records an actual event is fairly small. Cyprian Broodbank, the Disney professor of archeology at Cambridge University, wrote in his recent history of the Mediterranean the exodus was “at best a refracted folk memory of earlier expulsions of the Levantine people” following the reconquest of the Nile delta by the Egyptian king Ahmose around 1350BC.”
13. You don’t make striped animals by mating them in front of rods. Genesis 30:37-43 “Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+30&version=NIV
One apologist answer to me: that was just a one time miracle. Ah yes, the ultimate solution to explain that the God inspired Bible didn’t know anything about genetics. The same God who for some reason just couldn’t tell the human race about germs causing disease either to save millions.
14. The origin of Yahweh is well established by scholars. And it’s not what you may have been taught. First of all there are many names for God in the Hebrew (OT) Bible.
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty): number of times mentioned - 7
El Elyon (The Most High God) - 28
Adonai (Lord, Master) - 434
Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah) - 6,519
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner) - 1
Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd) - 1
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals) - 1
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There) - 1
Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness) - 2
Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You) - 2
El Olam (The Everlasting God) - 3
Elohim (God) - 2,000+
Qanna (Jealous) - 6
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide) - 1
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace) - 1
Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts) - 285+
As can be seen, of the three most common names above, Yahweh is the most frequently used. Most Christians are taught that this has always been the Hebrew’s name for God. However, after a French archaeological expedition in 1928 discovered the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit they began excavations the following year that revealed ancient tablets carved with cuneiform script. The tablets were written around 1300 - 1200 BCE and were written in Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurritic and Ugaritic. These texts referred to deities such as El, Asherah, Baak, and Dagan. “Other deities worshipped at Ugarit were El Shaddai, El Elyon and El Berith. All of these names are applied to Yahweh by the writers of the Old Testament. What this means is that the Hebrew theologians adopted the titles of the Canaanite gods and attributed them to Yahweh in an effort to eliminate them… Besides the chief god at Ugarit there were also lesser gods, demons, and goddesses. The most important of these lesser gods were Baal (familiar to all readers of the Bible), Asherah (also familiar to readers of the Bible), Yam (the god of the sea) and Mot (the god of death). What is of great interest here is that Yam is the Hebrew word for sea and Mot is the Hebrew word for death!… One of the most interesting of these lesser deities, Asherah, plays a very important role in the Old Testament. There she is called the wife of Baal; but she is also known as the consort of Yahweh! That is, among some Yahwists, Asherah is Yahweh’s female counterpart! Inscriptions found at Kuntillet Ajrud (dated between 850 and 750 BCE) say: I bless you through Yahweh of Samaria, / and through his Ashram, / and his enemies have been conquered through Yahweh’s Asherah…Thus, for many in ancient Israel, Yahweh, like Baal, had a consort.“
“El was the chief god at Ugarit. Yet El is also the name of God used in many of the Psalms for Yahweh…Yet when one reads these Psalms and the Ugarit texts one sees that the very attributes for which Yahweh is acclaimed are the same for which El is acclaimed. In fact, these Psalms were most likely originally Ugaritic or Canaanite hymns to EL which were simply adopted by Israel… El is called the father of men, creator, and creator of the creation. These attributes are also granted to Yahweh by the Old Testament. In 1 Kings 22:19 - 22 we read of Yahweh meeting with his heavenly council. This is the very description of heaven which one finds in the Ugaritic texts. For in those texts the sons of god are the sons of El.”
“Yet another interesting parallel between Israel and Ugarit is the yearly ritual known as the sending out of the scapegoats ; one for god and one for a demon. The Biblical text which relates this procedure is Leviticus 16:1-34. In this text a goat is sent into the wilderness for Azazel (a demon) and one is sent into the wilderness for Yahweh. This rite is known as an eliminatory rite; that is, a contagion (in this case communal sin) is placed on the head of the goat and it is sent away. In this way it was believed that (magically) the sinful material was removed from the community” “One of the most famous of the lesser deities at Ugarit was a chap named Dan il. There is little doubt that this figure corresponds to the Biblical Daniel; while predating him by several centuries. This has led many Old Testament scholars to suppose that the Canonical prophet was modeled on him. His story is found in KTU 1.17 - 1.19. Another creature which has ties to the Old Testament is Leviathan. Isaiah 27:1 and KTU 1.5 I 1-2 describe this beast. Also see Ps 74:13-14 and 104:26."
After the Babylonian Exile (6th century BCE), and especially from the 3rd century BCE on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal rather than merely a local religion, the more common Hebrew noun Elohim (plural in form but understood in the singular), meaning “God,” tended to replace Yahweh to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others. At the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“My Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Masoretes, who from about the 6th to the 10th century CE worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible, added to “YHWH” the vowel signs of the Hebrew words Adonai or Elohim. Latin-speaking Christian scholars replaced the Y (which does not exist in Latin) with an I or a J (the latter of which exists in Latin as a variant form of I). Thus, the tetragrammaton became the artificial Latinized name Jehovah (JeHoWaH). As the use of the name spread throughout medieval Europe, the initial letter J was pronounced according to the local vernacular language rather than Latin.
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Yahweh “Although the biblical narratives depict Yahweh as the sole creator god, lord of the universe, and god of the Israelites especially, initially he seems to have been Canaanite in origin and subordinate to the supreme god El. Canaanite inscriptions mention a lesser god Yahweh and even the biblical Book of Deuteronomy stipulates that “the Most High, El, gave to the nations their inheritance” and that “Yahweh's portion is his people, Jacob and his allotted heritage” (32:8-9). A passage like this reflects the early beliefs of the Canaanites and Israelites in polytheism or, more accurately, henotheism (the belief in many gods with a focus on a single supreme deity). The claim that Israel always only acknowledged one god is a later belief cast back on the early days of Israel's development in Canaan.”
This is settled ancient history at major universities around the world and contradicts Christian dogma which of course was well established before 1929. We know that Yahweh was a lesser god under the Canaanite pantheon of gods, with El as the chief deity. The Hebrews elevated him to be their sole god and worked to eliminate the other gods. That’s how monotheism developed. It also explains word derivations we see today:
Israel - El rules (God rules) or Land of El (God)
Bethel - House of El
Karmiel - vineyard of El
El Shaddai - God of the mountain (derivation of Shaddai still controversial; also God of the wilderness)
Elad - Forever El (God)
"The Pagan Gods That Still Exist in the Holy Land's City Names"
The Christian/Jewish narrative that the Hebrews waged war on the Canaanites and the “promised land” never happened. The verses condemning those who worshipped Baal and other gods just due to sin are wrong, but it makes sense if Yahweh was in the Canaanite pantheon and monotheism was forming. There was no Exodus. The Hebrews emerged from the Canaanites. Yahweh was a lesser god which the Hebrews adopted eventually as their only God. Yahweh was originally a god of war or weather. This explains why the first commandment was “You shall have no other gods before me”. There were other gods and the prophets were in a struggle to move the Hebrews to monotheism. You had better fear Yahweh - it’s not just respect him. It also explains the OT verses like Gen. 3:21 “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” And Gen. 11:7 “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
Who is “us”? From the ancient near eastern cultures we know that the “us” is probably the divine council. “For centuries, Christians have been quoting the cryptic plural language in this passage as a reference to the Trinity speaking amongst itself. In reality God is not addressing other persons of the Trinity in this particular text [Get 1:26] but is speaking to his divine council, “sons of God”. We can be fairly confident of this because this same plural language parallels how an Assyrian tablet from c. 800 B.C has the same humanity formed… Both this text and Gen. 1:26 are grammatically analogous. In the Assyrian text, a class of gods called the Anunnaki are announcing their plan to the other members of the divine council. The Genesis author likewise adopts the same form of address (what grammar geeks call the cohortative) to depict Israel’s God expressing his intentions to his own heavenly entourage. This style for divine counsel “let us…” language is very common in Mesopatamian literature.”… The vast majority of modern biologists and geneticists believe humanity physically came about through millions of years of evolution. Genesis 1 contradicts this by siding with virtually every other creation account in the Near East.” The creation narrative of the OT is not unique. (Mis)interpreting Genesis:… 2020. Stanhope, Ben. Louisville, KY: Scarab Press. Pg 164-5.
Origins of Yahweh:
When the Jews Believed in Other Gods: https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/2018-07-26/ty-article-magazine/.premium/when-the-jews-believed-in-other-gods/0000017f-dc52-d856-a37f-fdd222920000
Yahweh as God of Metallurgy. Thesis of Yahweh in the Canaanite Pantheon.
Ugarit and the Bible, Hebrew Bible
“Why should people interested in the Old Testament want to know about this city and its inhabitants? Simply because when we listen to their voices we hear echoes of the Old Testament itself. Several of the Psalms were simply adapted from Ugaritic sources; the story of the flood has a near mirror image in Ugaritic literature; and the language of the Bible is greatly illuminated by the language of Ugarit."
15. The Bible's erroneous cosmology matches that of other civilizations around the world at the time. But it is not their fault; it is what most people in many parts of the world thought of cosmology at that time.. The Bible again is shown to be the product of men, men of their times. For the conservative Christian, often evangelicals and literalists, besides learning about where the Biblical God really came from, a second shock may be that Genesis had the earth, universe and the solar system so incorrect. Modern scholarship has known for many decades how to interpret Genesis correctly - what the writers really meant. Much hinges on what the Hebrew word translated as “firmament” in the KJV means. I could have referenced many scholars from many different universities but I will limit the notes below to just a few authors because this
consensus is well known outside evangelical seminaries.
Used under guidelines of Faith/Life and Logos/Bible Media. Logos Free. Fair Use Attribution
Bible verses that apply:
Heaven, Realm of God - Ps 104:2-3. Deut 26:15, Neh 9:6
Waters Above and Below: Gen 1:6-8, Ps 104:3, Ps 148:4
Firmament (Dome): Gen 1:6-8, 14-19, Job 37:18, Ps 19:1
Sun, Moon, Stars Move: Eccl 1:5, Ps 19:6, Josh 10:13, Enoch 75:3-4
Stars Fall to Earth: Is 34:4, Matt 24:29, Rev 6:13
Circle of the Earth: Is 40:22
Center of the Earth: Dan 4:10
Waters Below: Gen 1:7, Gen 1:9
Earth Immovable: 1Chron 16:30, Ps 93:1, Ps 104:5
Underworld: Phil 2:10-11, Rev 5:3,13
Foundations of the Earth, Pillars: 1Sam 2:9, Job 38:4, Ps 75:3, Ps 104:5
“While it may come as a surprise to many, modern scholarship has long argued that the Hebrews, along with most other ancient peoples, believed that the heavens (as in‘the sky’) were made of some kind of solid substance, whether it be of bronze, iron, or precious stone. This heavenly vault or dome had hatches in it, so it is argued, that released the waters that were contained above it. According to this view, this was the ancient explanation for where rain comes from. While this modern scholastic view goes well beyond what pious ancient interpreters thought, we can conveniently group together all views that thought of the rāqîaʿ as a solid object the firmament concept. ‘Firmament’ being the well-known King James Version translation of the Hebrew word rāqîaʿ. One may question if such a view is nothing more than a modern scholarly invention. As understandable as that would be, the very etymology and long-term usage of the (English) word firmament testifies that the notion of a cosmic ‘vault,’ or conversely of some kind of crystalline celestial sphere (which concepts, however, are far from identical),3 has long been believed in. Firmament is a transliteration of the Latin Vulgate’s firmamentum, the Vulgate being a 1,600 year old translation. The Vulgate itself was influenced by the Septuagint’s στερέωμα (stereōma), the Septuagint itself being a 2,300 year old translation. Stereōma comes from the word στερεόω (stereoō) – ‘to make or be firm or solid.’ While secular scholarship and conservative belief alike distinguish between the original intent of the Bible and later interpretations of it (no matter how old those interpretations may be), it is nonetheless a remarkable fact that the earliest ever translation of the Hebrew Bible, from circa 250 B.C., interpreted the rāqîaʿ as referring to some kind of hard heavenly object. In summary, this ‘dome theory’ or ‘firmament notion’ represents the almost unquestioned consensus view of modern scholarship, while ancient Jewish and Christian interpretation has itself long supported important aspects of this model. Furthermore, while a segment of scholars, almost entirely from the evangelical community, previously opposed this view, particularly in light of the scientific problems it introduces, an increasing number of professing evangelical scholars have now openly embraced the firmament interpretation. The earlier evangelical view is represented by the translation of rāqîaʿ as an expanse, rather than as a firmament or dome:…”
https://hebrewcosmology.com/expanse-firmament-raqia/introduction-to-the-raqia-problem/ I think it best to see what modern Hebrew scholars show what Genesis is describing. It’s no wonder that the Catholic Church put Galileo on trial for suggesting a heliocentric solar system and an earth that moved. The Bible told them so, and often Christians will believe the Bible’s errors over sound evidence.
I will also list a few sources that go into slightly more depth with a discussion of bible verses that detail, like other ANE civilizations at that time, a flat earth, immobile, and with the sky and heavens as depicted above.
The Three story universe of the Bible -
“The most striking feature of the Old Testament world is the "firmament," a solid dome which separates "the waters from the waters" (Gen. 1:6). The Hebrew word translated in the Latin Vulgate as firmamentum is raqia' whose verb form means "to spread, stamp or beat out." The material beaten out is not directly specified, but both biblical and extrabiblical evidence suggests that it is metal. A verb form of raqia' is used in both of these passages: "And gold leaf was hammered out..." (Ex. 39:3); and "beaten silver is brought from Tarshish" (Jer. l0:9). There are indeed figurative uses of this term. A firmament is part of the first vision of Ezekiel (1:22,26), and the editors of the evangelical Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament cite this as evidence that the Hebrews did not believe in a literal sky-dome. It is clear, however, that Ezekiel's throne chariot is the cosmos in miniature, and the use of raqia' most likely refers to a solid canopy (it shines "like crystal") than to a limited space.(6)
The idea of the dome or vault of heaven is found in many Old Testament books, e.g., "God founds his vault upon the earth..." (Amos 9:6). The Hebrew word translated as "vault" is 'aguddah whose verb form means to "bind, fit, or construct." Commenting on this verse, Richard S. Cripps states that "here it seems that the 'heavens' are 'bound' or fitted into a solid vault, the ends of which are upon the earth." We have seen that raqia' and 'aguddah, whose referent is obviously the same, mean something very different from the empty spatial expanse that some evangelicals suggest.
In the Anchor Bible translation of Psalm 77:18, Mitchell Dahood has found yet another reference to the dome of heaven, which has been obscured by previous translators. The RSV translates galgal as "whirlwind," but Dahood argues that galgal is closely related to the Hebrew gullath (bowl) and gulgolet (skull), which definitely gives the idea of "something domed or vaulted." In addition, Dahood points out that "the parallelism with tebel, 'earth,' and 'eres, 'netherworld,' suggests that the psalmist is portraying the tripartite division of the universe--heaven, earth, and underworld.”(8)" https://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/gre13.htm
And a good discussion by David Bailey is available. His site actually has a wealth of information on several similar topics. See citation below.
“In fact, numerous biblical passages state or affirm the geocentric cosmology that prevailed in much of the ancient world until Greek and Roman times, and, of course, which was not fully modernized until Copernicus and Galileo [Aune2003; Berlin2011]:
The Earth itself is flat and immovable, encompassed by a circle (like a coin), and set on a foundation of pillars.
Above the Earth stands a "firmament" (later thought to be a system of crystalline spheres), a few hundred (or at most a few thousand) feet above the Earth, on which the stars, planets, sun and moon revolve.
Heaven or the realm of God is a set of chambers just above the firmament.
Above the firmament and the heavenly chambers lies the upper seas or the "waters above the firmament"; below the Earth and the underworld lie the lower seas or the Great Deep.
According to Kaufmann Kohler and Emil G. Hirsch, in a Jewish Encyclopedia article [Kohler2018],
The Hebrews regarded the Earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse.” https://www.sciencemeetsreligion.org/theology/bible-cosmology.php
Ben Stanhope in his book Misinterpreting Genesis points out that many cultures of the time had the same cosmology ideas as the Biblical writers.
1. Qur’an - “…The evidence indicates that Muhammad assumed some cosmological notions shared by the Syriac Christian writings we have. Probably the most explicit example of this is contained in a fascinating story the Qur’an relates about Alexander the Great (called here “The Two-Horned One”) in surah 18:86… until, when he reached the place of the sun’s setting, he found it setting in a putrid spring and he found by it a people… A Hadith reports… Abu Dharr had a conversation with the prophet about the setting of the sun, and Muhammad purportedly told him that it sets in a spring of water… The Qur’an also uses the term “heavenly course” (sabab) to describe the heavenly conduit that Alexander follows.
2. Native American Legends - “Levy-Bruhl writes, “In North America, in Indian belief, the earth is a circular disc usually surrounded on all sides by water and the sky is a solid concave hemisphere coming down at the horizon to the level of the earth… indigenous North Americans believed the earth is “flat and round below and surmounted by a solid firmament in the shape of an inverted bowl… The Navaho story of creation better describes the solid dome (apparently made of stone) and claims that a race of blue-headed people lives above it in a second blue world.”
The Shishoni imagined a sky made of a great dome of ice, the Cherokee had a belief that the sky was a vault of solid rock, constantly rising and falling and will crush those who try to go beyond. This concept was also expressed in the Iroquois, the Omaha, Sioux and the Tillamook of Oregon. Some mention piercing the heavenly vault.
3. Australia - “Most Australian Aboriginal people held a common view of the earth as a flat disc surrounded by the boundless water of an ocean. Above this earth-disc was as solid vault or
canopy. Beyond this vault was the sky-world, a vast, plentiful and beautiful place.”
4. Oceanic People Groups - “… the Dyak of Borneo consider the earth to be a flat surface, whilst the heavens are a dome, a kind of glass shade which covers the earth, and comes into contact with it at the horizon… Among the Melanesians we are told, “Many of the natives thought if they could only reach the [horizon] they would be able to climb up to the sky”… In Fiji, we find represented the motif of the warrior who climbs a tree to reach the vault in a previous age when it was much lower.”
“… the great Italian religious historian Raffaele Pettazzoni wrote the following: The notion of a firmament as a solid vault made of a hard, blue, transparent substance is quite wide-spread in Polynesia, from the Tonga Islands to Mangaia, from Tahiti to the Marquesas.”
5. China and Japan - “A Chinese text… that may date as early as 1,000 BC… talks about the gai tian or Celestial Lid - a dome with attached celestial bodies. The ancient Chinese thought of the earth as surrounded by an ocean like the Hebrews, but unlike them believed the earth was a square instead of a disc, a view partly motivated by Taoist geometrical harmony… we should not minimize the tenacity of the solid dome in China. In addition to the Chinese examples, Japan also had mythologies about the sun concealing itself in a rock-grotto in the sky, and we find that the stone firmament is represented in Shinto temples.”
6. India - “The earliest source, Rig Veda, dated around 1500 BC, clearly articulates a solid firmament… One creation hymn speaks of the god “by whom the dome of the sky was propped up (10.121.5).”
7. Africa - “… the Tswana of South Africa mentions the cosmology of the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Hebrews and tells us that the Tswana vision of the universe “departs little from this picture”… We find that “the Tswana universe is geocentric; the stars, sun and moon revolve round the earth which is flat. At the edge of the earth is water. The sky is made of stone, the stone of God, beyond which God lives. Water is beneath the earth and above the sky… The same idea [of a solid vault] is found in Africa not only in Madagascar but also in southern Nigeria… Cameroons, among the Pangwe,… among the Djagga.”
8. Scandinavia and Russia - “The Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, speaks of smith god Ilmarinen who, along with forging the sun and moon from gold and steel, “shaped the sky, hammered out the lid of heaven”. Fortson points out that the Proto-Indo-European “word for ‘stone’ secondarily refers to ‘heaven’ in Indo-European and Germanic”.
9. Central and South America - “In Central and Yucatec Maya thought, the earth was sometimes conceived as the back of a colossal caiman floating among these cosmic waters. One also observes the Aztecs referring to it as a disk surrounded by a ring of water, as well as square with four cardinal posts upholding the sky like a construction of a house… The solid firmament is well attested in the Amazon… the remote Yanomami… consider it a primary job of their shamans to uphold the heavenly vault with rituals, envisioning that one day it will collapse and destroy the world.”
10. Greece - “The Illiad (XVII:425) and the Odyssey (XV:329) tell us the sky is made of iron, an idea that Pontani quotes throughout other Greek texts. The Greeks conceived it, “as a bowl-like hemisphere…covering a flat earth. Seely likewise cites five other Classical scholars who agree among Homer and Hesiod, “The sky is a solid hemisphere like a bowl… cover [ing] the flat round earth”.
Stanhope, Ben. (Mis)interpreting Genesis: How the Creation Museum Misunderstands the Ancient Near Eastern Context of the Bible. Louisville, KY. Scarab Press, 2020.
In part 1/4 I detailed the continuing changes that I consider contaminations or adulterations in the Bible throughout history. Whatever was in the original documents we don’t have. What we do have has been changed and changed often. Believers are not using the Word of God. They are reading words of men only and men have changed the verses over time for various reasons. Christians can’t even decide on what constitutes the “correct” Bible. Worse, conservative religious scholars know about these but still leave them in while claiming that the NT is the Word of God.
In part 2/4 I have brought forward many errors in the Bible if one is going to take it at its word. Entire books have been written discussing all the errors. After I reached a dozen or so I didn’t need anymore to know this is another example that the Bible is not divine nor divinely influenced unless God is incompetent. Rather, it just represents the understanding 2,000 to 3,000 years ago as men tried to make sense of what they were experiencing in nature. How do Christians get around glaring errors? By applying hyperbole, metaphor, analogy, claiming that these verses are taken out of context, that this word in [Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Greek] has multiple meanings and I’m applying the wrong interpretation, etc. This really is not honest scholarly work, especially if one must sign a statement of belief to remain on the conservative faculty at a school. Resources:
Biblical Errors - Why The Bible is Not God’s Word
Biblical Scientific Errors
The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible:
Introduction to the OT (Hebrew Bible). 2006. Christine Hayes, PhD. Yale lecture series,
Errors in the Bible http://www.extremelysmart.com/insight/mistaken/Bible_errors.php
Errors in the Bible
101 Myths in the Bible. How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical history.
Greenberg, Gary. President, Biblical Archeology Society of New York. Sourcebooks, Inc. 2002, Naperville, Ill. 319 pages
The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy. 1995. C. Dennis McKinsey. Prometheus Books. Amherst, New York. 553 pages.
All That's Wrong with the Bible: Contradictions, Absurdities, and More: 2nd edition. 2017. Jonah David Connor, PhD. His book of only 126 pages is an easy and relatively quick read of more examples. As a graduate of the fundamentalist Liberty University and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin, he is well qualified to show numerous major problems in taking the Bible as divinely derived. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1976427096/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1
Errors in the Bible? (Frank Turek vs Bart Ehrman)