Showing posts with label #Difficulties. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Difficulties. Show all posts

When Abraham didn’t yet know God’s name. (Or did he?)

by K.W. Leslie, 08 November 2023

Genesis 12.8, Exodus 6.2-3.

Here’s a bible difficulty which tends to stymie a number of biblical literalists. Not all of ’em; most of them realize there’s a really simple solution to it. But some of ’em are in serious denial.

Genesis 12.8 ESV
From there [Avram] moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.
Exodus 6.2-3 ESV
2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.”

God, the Creator, is identified as the LORD in the very second chapter of the bible—

Genesis 2.4 ESV
These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

Throughout that book, the author of Genesis calls God “the LORD” or “the LORD God,” because he’s identifying which god he means. It’s not just אֵ֣ל/El, the generic Canaanite word for “god”; it’s not the Hebrew plural form of that word, אֱלֹהִ֑ים/Elohíym, which usually means the God, although of course it can sometimes mean “gods,” plural. The author is indicating this is the specific God who identified himself as יְהוָ֥ה/YHWH to Moses ben Amram—the God who rescued Israel from Egypt, who’s also the God who called their ancestor Avram ben Terah out of Sumer and renamed him Abraham, who’s also the God who created the sky and land. He’s not just one of the chief gods of a pagan pantheon; he’s the God, the only god they worship, ’cause he’s the only one who actually actively does stuff. He’s the living God.

But in Exodus, this specific God tells Moses that Abraham, and all the Hebrews since, didn’t know him by that name YHWH, which we traditionally translate “the LORD.” They knew him as אֵ֣ל שַׁדָּ֑י/El Šaddáy. Properly it means “Sovereign God,” but for the longest time people didn’t wholly know what šaddáy means (and it didn’t help that the Septuagint regularly translated it ὁ θεός μου/o Theós mu, “my God,” or ὁ θεός σου/o Theós su, “your God”). Most figured it means “high” or “mountainous.” Since sovereignty implies almightiness, “almighty” is fine; we needn’t nitpick the traditional translation. Anywho, God says they knew him as El Šaddáy, not YHWH.

Despite all the many, many instances of YHWH in Genesis—128 times in my copy of the Biblia Hebraica. That’s a lot of times they identify God by a name he’s not yet revealed!

But biblical literalists insist, on the contrary, it was revealed. It’s in Genesis, after all. People called the LORD by name!

Genesis 4.26 ESV
To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.

Seth was the son of Adam, the very first human; so all the way back then it looks like people identified the name of their Creator as YHWH, the LORD, and were using that name to invoke him. So… we got a difficulty here. What’s the way out of it?

Yes of course literalists have an answer. It’s that the LORD doesn’t really mean to say his name was unknown to the people before Moses.

Errors in the bible.

by K.W. Leslie, 16 March 2022

Years ago I was asked whether I believe in biblical inerrancy, the idea the bible contains no errors. Nope, I said. It’s got errors. We learned about ’em in bible college.

He was outraged. I learned about them in bible college? What kind of godless so-called “bible college” did I attend? Well it was an Assemblies of God school, which outraged him all the more because that’s his denomination, and he had presumed Assemblies professors would never, ever teach such a thing. (Actually that particular professor was Presbyterian, but I didn’t tell him that.)

I pointed out, same as my professor pointed out, that if he hadn’t told us about the errors, plenty of nonchristian apologists will gleefully tell us about ’em, just to freak us out. Better we learn about them and deal with them, than never learn about them… then have a massive faith crisis when we stumble across them. (Or when some antichrist forces us to look at them for fun.)

It’s for this same reason I’m writing about them here. They exist. Deal with ’em.

’Cause as you know, plenty of Christians refuse to deal with them. In fact this is part of the reason the New International Version is so popular: Its editors have deliberately edited out most of the errors. I’m not kidding. They straight-up changed the text… and now they can claim the NIV is error-free. And anyone who carries an NIV can claim, “I don’t know what you mean about errors in the bible; my bible doesn’t have any such errors.” Well of course.

How can they defend this behavior? Meh; they don’t even try. They just figure it’s their duty as good Christian inerrantists to delete the discrepancies, lest antichrists use the discrepancies against them. How they did it—yet can claim any degree whatsoever of intellectual honesty—is by moving ’em to the footnotes. When 2 Kings 8.26 says Ahaziah ben Jehoshaphat became king at 22 years old, but 2 Chronicles 22.2 says he was 42, the NIV makes ’em both say 22, and include this footnote in 2 Chronicles:

Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 2 Kings 8:26); Hebrew forty-two

My copy of the Septuagint says he was 20, not 22; so that’s an inconsistency as well.

But to be fair it’s not just the NIV which translated this verse this way. The Amplified Bible (current edition), CSB, ESV, ISV, Message, NASB, NET, NLT, and Voice have decided to ignore the original text, and go with a translation consistent with their personal beliefs. I leave it to you as whether it’s truly inerrantist of them to alter it this way. Because changing the verse to read “22” instead of the original text’s אַרְבָּעִ֨ים וּשְׁתַּ֤יִם/arbayím u-settím, “forty and two,” is actually a clear declaration the original text is wrong—and a clear attempt to hide this fact.

And what’s to say 42 is the wrong number, not 22? Maybe Ahaziah was actually 42 years old. You don’t know.

Lead us not into temptation.

by K.W. Leslie, 01 February 2022

Matthew 6.13, Luke 11.4.

This part of the Lord’s Prayer gets controversial, because it sounds like our Lord’s brother James totally contradicted it when he wrote,

James 1.13-15 NRSVue
13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it engenders sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.

So because James said God tempts nobody, people don’t know what to make of it when Jesus has us pray,

Matthew 6.13 NRSVue
“And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.”
Luke 11.4 NRSVue
“And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

’Cause praying that God not lead us into temptation, implies sometimes he might lead us into temptation.

Okay. The word in the Lord’s Prayer which popularly gets translated “temptation” in both Matthew and Luke, is πειρασμόν/peirasmón, “temptation, trial, test.” Yep, the translators got it right. It’s the noun-form of the verb James used, πειράζω/peirádzo. Means the same thing.

But while James said God tempts nobody, we got scriptures where it kinda looks like he does. Look up any Old Testament verses which include the word נָסָה/naçá, which means the same thing as peirádzo: Test. Try. Prove. Experiment. Tempt. Here, lemme quote just a few.

Genesis 22.1-2 NRSVue
1 After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.”
Deuteronomy 8.3 NRSVue
“He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
Deuteronomy 13.1-3 NRSVue
1 “If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents, 2 and the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (whom you have not known) ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you must not heed the words of those prophets or those who divine by dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.”

Heck, David even told God to put him to the test:

Psalm 26.2 NRSVue
Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and mind.

Not sure whether David passed that particular test; he was a horny fella. Definitely loved God though.

Anyway. How do we deal with this particular bible difficulty? Real simple: We remember James is wisdom literature.

Africanus and Eusebius on Jesus’s two genealogies.

by K.W. Leslie, 29 October 2021

Eusebius Pamphili was the bishop of Caesarea, Judea, from 314 to 339. He wrote the first full-length Christian history of the church, Historia Ecclesiae/Church History, sometimes called Ecclesiastical History, in part to defend the church as well as give its background.

Today’s excerpt is from Church History 1.7, in which he explains why Jesus has two genealogies. Popularly, Christians claim one belongs to his mom, and the other to his adoptive dad. Sometimes they vary about which belongs to whom; frequently Matthew is considered Mary’s, because it appears to have the more legitimate royal claim. (Though I remind you God can anoint anyone king he pleases, as he did Saul, David, Jeroboam, and Jehu; Jesus’s only ancestral “requirement” was he be David’s descendant, and he is in both genealogies.)

To help, Eusebius borrows a big long excerpt from fellow Christian historian Sextus Julius Africanus, from his letter to Aristides of Athens, now lost. (Some Christians have tried to piece it back together from the various ancient Christians who quoted it, but it’s just a bunch of big fragments; not the whole letter.) Sextus Julius’s nickname Africanus/“the African,” refers to his birthplace in Libya, though he considered himself from Jerusalem, and lived in Nicopolis (formerly Emmaeus; different Emmaeus than the one in the bible), in Palestine. We don’t know his dates. The usual guess is the early 200s, but Aristides died in 134, so either the guess is wrong or the letter to Aristides is bogus.

He did correspond with Origen of Alexandria, and wrote two other works—the the Chronographiai, his five-volume history of the world (in which he figured creation happened in 5500BC); and Kestoi, a scientific encyclopedia.

As far as we know, Africanus was the first guy to try to explain this particular bible difficulty in writing. No doubt plenty of Christians tried to explain it away with best guesses. Africanus’s explanation became the standard explanation of ancient Christians, but as you might notice, not many people today seem to know of it.

I’m not 100 percent sold on this explanation, myself. But regardless, here it is.

What became of Judas Iscariot.

by K.W. Leslie, 25 March 2021

Matthew 27.3-10, Acts 1.15-26.

Technically Judas bar Simon of Kerioth, the renegade follower of Jesus whom we know as Judas Iscariot, isn’t part of the stations of the cross. Whether we’re using St. Francis or St. John Paul’s list, neither of ’em figured his situation is specifically worthy of meditation. Although we should study Judas some, ’cause he’s an example of an apostle gone wrong—an example we really don’t wanna follow. Nor repeat. But Jesus was too busy going through his own suffering to really focus on what was happening with Judas.

Judas came up when he handed Jesus over to the authorities… and in three of the gospels, that’s the last we ever hear of him. The exceptions are Matthew—and since the author of Luke also wrote Acts, it’s kinda in another gospel, ’cause Acts is about how the Holy Spirit and apostles started Jesus’s church. But that’s a whole other discussion.

Here’s the problem: For the most part, the Matthew and Acts stories contradict one another.

Not that inerrantists haven’t tried their darnedest to sync them up, and I’ll get to how they’ve tried it. But first things first: The passages.

Matthew 27.3-10 KWL
3 Then Judas, who turned Jesus in, seeing the Senate condemned him,
feeling greatly sorry, returned the 30 silver coins to the head priest and elders,
4 saying, “I sinned; I turned in innocent blood.”
They said, “What’s that to us? Look out for yourself.”
5 He threw the silver back into the shrine, left, and hanged himself.
6 The head priests took the silver, saying, “It’s wrong to put it in the offering,
since it’s a payment for blood.”
7 Taking it, the Senate bought a field with it from a potter, for the burial of foreigners.
8 Thus this field was called Bloodfield to this day.
9 This fulfilled the prophet Jeremiah’s word, saying, “They took 30 silvers.
The penalty payment which they paid for Israel’s children.
10 They gave it for the potter’s field, as the Lord instructed me.”
Acts 1.15-20 KWL
15 In those days Simon Peter stood in the middle of the family.
He said, “The crowd is more than 120 people I can name.
16 Men, family: We have to fulfill the scriptures the Holy Spirit foretold through David’s mouth
about Judas, who became the guide of those who arrested Jesus.
17 Judas was counted among us.
He received a place in this ministry.
18 He thus got himself a plot of land from his unrighteous reward,
and was found face-down, burst open, his innards all spilled out.
19 All Jerusalem’s dwellers came to know it,
so the plot’s called in their dialect Khaqal-Dema” (i.e. Bloodfield).
20 “It’s written in the book of Psalms: ‘Make his house desert, and don’t let settlers in it.’ Ps 69.25
And ‘Another person: Take his office.’” Ps 109.8

The two creation stories.

by K.W. Leslie, 02 February 2021

I was raised to be a young-earth creationist, as are many conservative Evangelicals in the United States: We’re taught God created the universe only 6 millennia ago, precisely 4 millennia before Jesus was born, so 4004BC. And if a scientist or historian tells us otherwise, it’s either because they’ve been duped by nontheists, or because they’re nontheist themselves.

Young-earth creationists (YEC for short) claim their views are based on a literal interpretation of Genesis. It says God created the cosmos in 6 days, and if we truly believe bible, we gotta likewise believe God created the cosmos in 6 days. There’s no room for any other interpretation.

The universe… if we take Genesis literally. NIV Faithlife Study Bible

Problem is, when we do take the creation stories of Genesis literally, we might notice it’s not describing the cosmos as we know it. It’s describing the cosmos as ancient middle easterners knew it, meaning a flat earth, with a solid-wall dome above it, and the sky in between; Ge 1.6-8 and the sun and moon and stars and planets inside this dome. Ge 1.16-19 If you truly wanna be literal, you’re gonna be a flat-earther. (And no surprise, some YEC adherents are flat-earthers.)

Of course if you’re truly trying to be literal, you’re gonna notice Genesis doesn’t just have one creation story in it. It has two.

Yeah, a lot of you knew this already, ’cause you’ve read Genesis dozens of times, and duh, of course there are two creation stories in it. But you’d be surprised how many conservative Evangelicals, no matter how many times they’ve read Genesis, have been totally oblivious to the fact it starts with two creation stories. It’s simply never occurred to them. They’ve been taught, since they first became Christian, that the bible only tells one unified consistent story throughout, and any “bible difficulties” are easily explained away. These beliefs function as some mighty effective blinders.

Bible “difficulties”: The passages which won’t do as we want.

by K.W. Leslie, 13 September 2019

Whenever you hear Christians refer to “bible difficulties,” you’d think we meant scriptures which’re hard to translate, hard to interpret, hard to understand, or hard to follow. Often we do. Certainly I do.

But why do Christians consider these scriptures difficult? Three reasons.

  1. We believe the bible contains no errors—but these passages appear to be in error, or appear to contradict other scriptures. Like Jesus’s two different genealogies.
  2. We have certain beliefs, doctrines, traditions, or assumptions—and these passages appear to violate them. Like Christians who don’t wash feet, Jn 13.14 or Christian men who don’t kiss one another hello. Ro 16.16 We don’t wanna say these passages don’t apply anymore… but honestly, we don’t wanna follow ’em either.
  3. These passages actually are obscure, and Christians throughout history (and Jews too) have found ’em hard to interpret.

The most common reason would be the first one: Discrepancies. Scriptures which appear to contradict other scriptures… or reality itself.

Nearly every Fundamentalist insists the bible has no such contradictions. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “Have these guys ever read the bible?” Tried to line up the resurrection stories, or Jesus’s aforementioned genealogies?

Plus several orthodox Christian teachings—based on bible, I remind you—are kinda contradictory as well. Like how God’s kingdom is here, yet not yet here; like how God is one yet three. Fundies know all this stuff, but regardless: One of their fundamentals, one of their non-negotiable beliefs, is that the bible has no errors. Contradictions would be errors; therefore no contradictions.

Hence Fundamentalists have written big giant books about bible difficulties. In which they try to explain away any discrepancies, plus any other problem scriptures, as best they can. Sometimes reasonably, ’cause these passages only look like discrepancies but aren’t really. Other times Fundies really stretch reality in order to defend their doctrine.

The Adulterer Story… if it even happened.

by K.W. Leslie, 09 September 2019

John 7.53 – 8.11.

Today’s passage is called the Pericope Adulterae, the Adulterer Story, about a woman caught committing adultery, and Jesus was expected to judge her, and didn’t. It’s a really popular story in Christendom, and even pagans know the line, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Jn 8.7 KJV It’s used as the basis for a lot of live-and-let-live, “who am I to judge?” beliefs.

Two things though.

  • That’s not what Jesus meant by “He that is without sin.” I’ll get to that.
  • This entire story isn’t found in the earliest copies of John. Nor the gospels. It got added in the 300s. It’s a textual variant.

That second thing tends to really freak out Christians when I point it out to them. But just about every copy of the bible but the KJV points this out. The whole passage is put in brackets, or prefaced by “The oldest copies of John don’t have this story.” Some more daring bible translations even put the whole thing in the footnotes, and John 7.52 is immediately followed by John 8.12.

Here’s the story as the UBS has it. Lighter-text parts come from the Textus Receptus, which is where the King James Version’s translators got it.

John 7.53 – 8.11 KWL
53 Each person went to their house, 1 and Jesus went to Mt. Olivet.
2 At dawn Jesus went again to temple, and all the people came to him. He sat to teach them.
3 Scribes and Pharisees brought Jesus a woman caught red-handed in adultery.
They stood her in the middle 4 telling Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultering.
5 In our Law Moses commanded us to stone such people to death. Lv 20.10 So what do you say?”
6 They said this to test Jesus, so they could have an accusation on him.
Stooping down, Jesus was writing on the ground with his finger,
as if he weren’t listening, 7 while they continued to question him.
Then Jesus stood and told them, “Whoever among you haven’t sinned: Throw the first stone at her.”
8 And again Jesus bent down to write on the ground.
9 The listeners, one by one, convicted by their consciences, left, beginning with the elders.
Only Jesus, and the woman in the middle, were left.
10 Standing, seeing no one but the woman, Jesus told her, “Woman, where are they?
No one condemns you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.”
Jesus told her, “I don’t condemn you either. Go, and don’t sin from now on.”

The bible’s not a biology textbook!

by K.W. Leslie, 07 November 2018

Leviticus 11.13-19 • Deuteronomy 14.11-18 • Jonah 1.17 • Matthew 12.40

During a talk with a fellow Christian, we went off on a bit of a tangent.

ME. “…Like when Jonah got swallowed by the whale…”
HE. “Sea creature.”
ME. “Whale. How’re you getting ‘sea creature’ from kítus?
HE. “From what?”
HE.Kítus. The Greek word for ‘whale.’ The word Jesus used when he talked about Jonah being in the whale’s belly three days and nights. Mt 12.40 It’s the word we get our adjective ‘cetacean’ from, which refers to whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other marine mammals.”
HE. [confused; betcha he didn’t expect me to know what I was talking about] “But Jonah said he was swallowed by a great fish.” Jh 1.17
ME. “Sure.”
HE. “Well a whale’s not a fish.”
ME. “Not anymore. It was a fish in Jesus’s day.”
HE. “Whales used to be fish…?”
HE. “Yep. No, they didn’t once have gills then evolve lungs. They used to be fish because the ancients classified them as fish: If it lives in the sea it’s a fish. Then somebody realized some of these fishes have lungs, and decided if you have lungs you’re not a fish, and humanity redefined ‘fish.’ Well, the bible’s still using the old definition. So whales, in the bible, are still big fish.”
HE. [still confused] “But whales aren’t fish.”
ME. “Aren’t fish now. Were fish back in Jesus and Jonah’s day.”
HE. “So are you saying the bible’s wrong, or we are?”
ME. “Neither. The bible doesn’t define fish; it explains God. We define fish. You remember Adam got to name the animals. Ge 2.19-20 We get to decide what’s called a fish and what’s not. And if we update the words, we gotta update our bible translations. Problem is, sometimes we update ’em wrong and make the bible look inconsistent. It’s not. It’s just a quirk of language.”

Turns out his confusion came from the fact his updated bible translation changed the wrong word. It took Jesus’s kítos—which still means “whale” in modern Greek!—and rendered it thisaway:

Matthew 12.40 NIV
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Which isn’t an entirely illegitimate translation. To Jesus’s mind (at the time) a whale was a huge fish. But if we wanna be precise, he said kítus/“whale.” Whenever there appears to be a bible difficulty, the NIV is notorious for changing the text till it’s not so difficult anymore.

Problem is, people aren’t always gonna read an NIV bible. Plenty of people still read the KJV. All those Gideon bibles in the hotel rooms still read “whale’s belly,” and people are still gonna read ’em. And maybe wonder why Jesus thought a marine mammal was a fish. If you don’t know your history, you won’t know why it was totally okay for Jesus to think that.

How does one answer a fool?

by K.W. Leslie, 05 October 2018

Proverbs 26.4-5.

Whenever someone claims the bible never, ever contradicts itself, I like to take ’em to this pair of proverbs.

Proverbs 26.4-5 KWL
4 Don’t respond to a fool’s foolishness, lest you be compared to them.
5 Respond to a fool’s foolishness, lest they become wise in their own eyes.

Thing is, whenever I do this, the person immediately attempts to explain how they don’t contradict one another. Oh, they’ll do a terrible job of it. It’ll get ridiculous and illogical. But they do try.

Because at some point in their past, they heard the bible never contradicts itself. They liked the idea. So they made it a core belief: One of the things which defines their Christianity, which defines their trust in the bible, is this ground-floor idea it never contradicts itself. Shake that belief and now they gotta rethink their belief system from the ground up.

But there’s something in human nature where it’s just easier to go into full-on denial: “No it doesn’t contradict itself, and here’s why…” Instead of deal with the problem, they’d rather pretend it isn’t there.

Except it is. And it’s gonna bug them. And it’s either gonna unravel their Christianity, and even their trust in God; or it’s gonna kill their faith altogether, and they’re gonna pretend they trust God, but they no longer do.

Or, which is wisest, they’re gonna deal with the contradiction. ’Cause the editor of Proverbs put these two proverbs of Solomon right next to one another for a reason. And the reason is really simple: Depending on the circumstances, sometimes we follow verse 4, and sometimes verse 5.

Yep. The editor was trying to teach us situational ethics. Something a number of Christians insist isn’t a biblical idea; insist it’s even antithetical to the sort of absolute truth in the bible. Well, it’s not. And it’s probably a good idea to start doubting those absolutists, ’cause not everything they claim to be absolute, is. They’re way too quick to build their houses on sand.

Stick together.

by K.W. Leslie, 13 August 2018

Ephesians 4.1-16.

Now that God’s provided his adoptive kids with his superabundant riches, it’s time for us to live like his kids. So here’s the part of Ephesians where Paul moves away from the salvation theology, and gets into how we Christians are supposed to behave towards one another. We’ve been predestined for God’s kingdom; now let’s walk like inheritors of his kingdom.

Paul especially emphasized the unity we oughta see among Christians, who are after all sharing the same Master.

Ephesians 4.1-6 KWL
1 So I, the captive in the Master, encourage you to walk the calling you were called to,
appropriately: 2 With all humility and gentleness.
With patience, putting up with one another in love.
3 Eager to defend the Spirit’s unity, in peace’s joint captivity: 4 One body. One Spirit.
Just as you were also called in one hope of your calling.
5 One Master. One faith. One baptism. 6 One God,
and Father of everyone, over everyone, and in everyone.

Most of the time preachers apply this to Christians who are members, or regulars, of the same church. We’re supposed to love our fellow church members, be patient with them, live in unity with them. Which is true; we should. But that’s not at all the idea Paul had in mind.

Multiple denominations of Christians wouldn’t exist for another two centuries or so, and it’s likely Paul never expected them to ever exist. Even though multiple denominations in the Hebrew religion existed—Pharisees and Sadducees and Samaritans—the early Christians didn’t expect the body of Christ to be likewise fragmented. It’s a violation of Jesus’s will, y’know. Jn 17.20-23

So when Paul wrote this, it applied not just to Christians who shared a church body, but every Christian everywhere: We’re to put up with any and every fellow Christian, no matter what their stripe, whether we fellowship in the same congregation or not. Every denomination and theology. We’re to encourage unity with all of them, because that’s what Jesus wants. Because all of us do have one body, one Spirit, one Master, one faith, one baptism, and one God.

True, you get certain Christians who insist we can’t interact with certain churches. Because they insist they get to define orthodoxy, and if you’re not orthodox enough for them you’re not a true Christian. I would say otherwise: Only Jesus gets to define who’s his and who’s not, and when Jesus told us how to identify true followers, true teachers, and true prophets, he didn’t tell us to look for orthodoxy; he told us to look for fruit. Fruity Christians have the Holy Spirit in them, so they belong to Jesus. Fruitless Christians, no matter how orthodox their beliefs, aren’t obeying Jesus, and aren’t really his.

And y’notice Paul mentioned a few of the Spirit’s fruits in the above passage: Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Love. Peace. If you can’t be bothered to try these things, of course your church isn’t gonna hold together. Or interact with other churches. Or interact with anybody; you’ll turn into one of those isolationist cults who only come out in public to wave “God Hates Fags” signs. You’ll think you’re the only ones going to heaven, ’cause the rest of “Christendom” can’t possibly. And it’s gonna suck to be you when you finally stand before Jesus.

No one has ever seen God. Except 74 ancient Hebrews.

by K.W. Leslie, 31 July 2018

Exodus 24.9-11 • John 1.18 • 1 John 4.12-13.

Most of the reason we Christians are pretty sure John bar Zavdi wrote both the gospel with his name on it, and the letters with his name on them, is ’cause the same ideas and themes (and wording, and vocabulary) come up in them. Including today’s bible difficulty, the idea nobody’s ever seen God. John wrote it in both his gospel and his first letter.

John 1.18 KWL
Nobody’s ever seen God.
The only Son, God who’s in the Father’s womb, he explains God.
1 John 4.12-13 KWL
12 No one’s ever seen God, yet when we love one another, God’s with us.
His love’s been expressed in us, 13 so this is how we get to know we’re with him and he’s with us.
He’s given us his Spirit.

The reason it’s a difficulty? Because people have seen God. In Exodus 24, we have this interesting little story:

Exodus 24.9-11 KWL
9 Moses, Aaron, Nadáv, Avíhu, and 70 of Israel’s elders,
went up 10 and saw Israel’s God:
Under his feet was something like a manufactured sapphire pavement,
pure as the skies themselves.
11 As for the Israeli nobles, God didn’t strike them down:
They saw God, and they ate and drank.

Wait, what?

Yeah, nobody bothers to read their Old Testament, so it stands to reason they’d utterly miss this one. Or any of the other God-appearances in the scriptures.

In the OT, on a regular basis, humans freak out when there’s a chance they might see God. Jg 13.22 ’Cause a rumor was going round that if they did see God, they’d die. God’s pure, holy awesomeness would consume them like a volcano taking out stupid tourists. Although you do get the occasional dark Christian claim that God would be unreasonably pissed about it, and destroy them for daring to approach his majesty. Pretty sure that second idea only reflects their twisted secret wishes about how they’d like subordinates to approach them. God’s cool with his kids approaching him. Ep 3.12, He 4.16 But I digress.

Yeah, it was a rumor. And sometimes rumors are true. The LORD himself warned Moses he’d only get to see God’s back, because his front was much too much for the prophet.

Exodus 33.20 KWL
God said, “You aren’t able to see my face.
For a human cannot see me and live.”

And yet we have this story in the middle of Exodus, where apparently 74 people saw God, had lunch with him, and lived to tell of it.

And it’s not the only instance! Abraham had lunch with God too. Ge 18.1-7 Well, more like served him lunch. Isaiah and Ezekiel saw God on his throne. Jeremiah even experienced God touching him. Jr 1.9

Whenever I point out this rather vast discrepancy, Christians flinch, then usually respond one of two ways. Either they dismiss the passages where people got to see God, or they dismiss the passages where seeing God would get you struck down. The authors of the bible must not really have meant what the text clearly says.

Jesus’s two genealogies.

by K.W. Leslie, 02 November 2015

Which happens to be a big fat bible discrepancy many Christians skim over.

Matthew 1.1-17 • Luke 3.23-38.

Most Christians are aware Jesus has two genealogies.

These aren’t genealogies the way we do ’em. We do family trees: We include ancestors from all sides of the family, fathers and mothers both. Often we include aunts, uncles, and cousins; if we’re not particular about blood relations we’ll even include step-parents. Our family trees can get big and complicated.

Hebrew genealogies don’t. They turn into trees downward, when they’re listing one person’s descendants, as you can see from the first chapters of 1 Chronicles. But when they’re listing ancestors, they’re straight lines: You, your father, your father’s father, that grandfather’s father, that great-grandfather’s father, and so on back.

Thing is, Jesus has two of these lists. In Matthew 1, it’s a list of ancestors from Abraham to Joseph. And in Luke 4, it’s a list of male ancestors backwards, from Joseph to Adam to God. And they don’t match.

Parts do. But a whole lot of it doesn’t. I’ll let you read it. My translation. In Matthew I dropped the repetitive, superfluous instances of “begat”; in Luke all the “son of” (Aramaic bar) statements. You know their relationships.

Matthew 1.1-17
1 The book of the genesis of Messiah Jesus,
bar David, bar Abraham.
2 Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.
Jacob: Judah and his brothers.
3 Judah: Pérech and Zérakh by Tamar.
Pérech, Hechrón, 4 Ram,
Amminadáv, Nakhshón, Salmón.
5 Salmón: Boaz by Rahab.
Boaz: Obed by Ruth.
Obed, 6 Jesse, King David.
David: Solomon through Uriah’s woman.
7 Solomon, Rekhavám, Aviyáh,
8 Asáf, Yehošafát, Yorám,
9 Uzíyahu, Yotám, Akház,
10 Hezekiah, Manashéh, Amón, Josiah.
11 Josiah: Yekhonyáhu and his brothers during the Babylonian exile.
12 After the Babylonian exile: Yekhonyáhu.
Yekhonyáhu, Shaltiél, 13 Zerubbabel,
Avihúd, Elyakím, 14 Azúr,
Chadók, Yakhín, 15 Elikhúd,
Eleázar, Matdan, Jacob.
16 Jacob: Joseph, Mary’s man.
From her was born Jesus, who’s called Messiah.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David: 14 generations.
From David to the Babylonian exile: 14 generations.
From the Babylonian exile to Messiah: 14 generations.
Luke 3.23-38 KWL
23 Jesus himself was starting round his 30th year.
He was presumed the son of Joseph bar Ili—
24 bar Maddát, Leví, Malkhí, Yannaí, Joseph,
25 Mattityáhu, Amos, Nahum, Heslí, Naggaí,
26 Mákhat, Mattityáhu, Shimí, Yoshí, Yodáh,
27 Yochanán, Reishá, Zerubbabel, Shaltiél, Nerí,
28 Malkhí, Adí, Kosám, Elmadán, Er,
29 Yeshúa, Eleázar, Yorím, Mattát, Leví,
30 Shimón, Judah, Joseph, Jonám, Elyakím,
31 Maláh, Manáh, Mattatáh, Nathan, David,
32 Jesse, Obed, Boaz, Sheláh, Nakhshón,
33 Amminadáv, Admín, Arní, Hechrón, Pérech, Judah,
34 Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Térakh, Nakhór,
35 Serúg, Reú, Péleg, Éver, Sheláh,
36 Keïnán, Arfakhšád, Shem, Noah, Lémekh,
37 Metušelákh, Enoch, Yéred, Mahalalél, Keïnán,
38 Enósh, Šet, Adam, God.