The Naked Bible’s Thoughts on Inspiration, Part 5 – Which Edition of the Book of Jeremiah Originated with God but not the Human Writers?

Posted By on July 28, 2008

It’s been pretty quiet at The Naked Bible. The last post on the multiple editions of Joshua didn’t get much of a response. It’s made me wonder about posting more edition “problems” — especially this one — but I promised. Again, the issue of the biblical books being edited during and after the exile is not a problem with respect to the view of inspiration I’m espousing here. We have incontrovertible evidence that books were either edited well after the presumably original work was composed, or that books were put together by editors for the first time after the prophet was dead and gone — that is, his material was either written piecemeal by himself or recorded by others, and then only later fashioned into the “book” we have. I believe God was in this process and that, by providential means, his Spirit oversaw the results of what the original authors and later editors did to produce the canonical books.

We not turn to the most dramatic example of a biblical book in flux sometime between the exile and the “intertestamental” period: the book of Jeremiah. We know that those chronological boundaries are appropriate, since Jeremiah lived until shortly after the exile began, and since we have evidence for two dramatically different versions of the book at Qumran among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

There is quite a bit of difference between the Masoretic text (MT) of Jeremiah — the version our English Bibles are based on — and the Hebrew text underlying the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the OT (and so Jeremiah in this discussion), and the Bible quoted most often by the New Testament writers. The LXX of Jeremiah is about one-eighth shorter than the Masoretic text of Jeremiah. Since the book of Jeremiah is so long, this amounts to hundreds of verses and thousands of words. Additionally, the order of the chapters differs, and material within the chapters also differs in order. The following chart illustrates the chapter order divergence:

1:1-25:13 1:1-25:13a
25:14-46:5 46:1-51:35
46:6-51:64 25:13b, 15-31:44
ch. 52 ch. 52

Let’s think first about the ramifications of this data. Certainly the LXX is not to be considered superior or preferable in all instances where it differs from MT. However, the remains of many Hebrew texts at Qumran agree with the Septuagint against MT. A good number of those instances also coincide with NT quotations — and so we know the NT writers used or preferred the LXX against MT in those places. In fact, many specialists estimate that roughly 3/4 of the time a NT author quoted the OT, the quotation matches or is closer to LXX than MT. All this means that we can’t just write off the LXX and say “well, we’ll just go with the MT.” Lastly, if LXX is the better version or edition, or is even better half the time, then it could be argued that the Bible used in the English (only) reading world has a lot of added material in it. In reality, though, claims like “this version or that version is THE best version” can’t be made with coherence since we aren’t omniscient. We just can’t know how the version issue (which one was the final edit) can be resolved. For evangelical scholars who have facility with Greek and Hebrew, it’s a non-issue since scholars work hard to come to their own decisions passage-by-passage as to what was most likely original. Fortunately, more recent translations are starting to go with Dead Sea Scroll and LXX readings in the running text, which helps English readers have more confidence that their translation reflects the final form of the books of the Bible. UNFORTUNATELY, though, this hasn’t been done with Jeremiah since the results would frighten uninitiated pastors and laity. So we just live with MT for completely pragmatic reasons.

Before concluding, I should note that it isn’t only Jeremiah and Joshua that differ in order of material and significant amount of content. There are other books where evidence of more than one version exists. For instance, LXX Job is about one-sixth smaller than MT Job, and includes an ending not extant in MT Hebrew, and almost half of the verses in LXX Esther are not found in MT Esther.

This is the kind of “real world” data that “God alone” statements of inspiration ignore. There is no sense in denying anthropopneustos, and it seems dishonest to do so with respect to such data. Having humans as the immediate but not ultimate source of the biblical text is far more coherent; it gives pride of place to theopneustos without denying reality or claiming omniscience. This is why I think it nonsensical to ignore the data in favor of something like the Westminster Confession. Confessions are worthwhile, but they are historically circumscribed. I’m no expert in LXX studies, but I’m guessing the authors of the Confession may not have known much about these issues, or even the LXX. The LXX was certainly known in antiquity, but the loss of Greek in Europe in all but the monasteries until the Renaissance may have meant that few scholars before the 19th century did much work in LXX. I’m not an LXX expert, so I don’t know. Whether they didn’t know or didn’t care, it’s hard for me to understand how we should care more about how a 17th century Confession articulates inspiration than how contemporary scholars equally committed to inspiration would handle the issue.

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39 Responses to “The Naked Bible’s Thoughts on Inspiration, Part 5 – Which Edition of the Book of Jeremiah Originated with God but not the Human Writers?”

  1. By all means, keep posting the problems! For every one person who has the knowledge (and backbone) to post comments and critisms of your posts there has to be twenty non-posters like me who don’t know enough to mix it up with you guys but who are gaining an enormous amount of insight from the comments! Thanks for all the work! mj

  2. cwmyers007 says:

    You said: “This is why I think it nonsensical to ignore the data in favor of something like the Westminster Confession.”

    I have posted the paragraph 1 in the Westminster Confession regarding Scripture elsewhere in this blog. For some of our newer readers–I will post the entire thing now:

    I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;[1] yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.[2] Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church;[3] and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing;[4] which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;[5] those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.[6]

    II. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these: Of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Of the New Testament: The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians I, Corinthians II, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians I , Thessalonians II , To Timothy I , To Timothy II, To Titus, To Philemon, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The Epistle of James, The first and second Epistles of Peter, The first, second, and third Epistles of John, The Epistle of Jude, The Revelation of John. All which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.[7]

    III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.[8]

    IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.[9]

    V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture.[10] And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.[11]

    VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.[12] Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:[13] and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.[14]

    VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all:[15] yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.[16]

    VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;[17] so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.[18] But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,[19] therefore they are to be translated in to the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,[20] that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner;[21] and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.[22]

    IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.[23]

    X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.[24]

    Dr. Mike, I just do not understand how any of these paragraphs are not in line with any of the “problems” that you have delineated for us. Where are your contentions with this? Why do you think that these “problems” make the use of the Westminster confession for a rule of faith regarding scripture “nonsensical”! I could see you saying that things need to be “clearer” or “added” given some new evidence, however, it is not “nonsensical” to hold the Westminster confession to be just as true today as it was hundreds of years ago.

    Thanks ahead of time for clearing this up,

  3. Ivan Steel says:

    Why, even a child knows which version of Jeremiah is inspired: the AUTOGRAPH! That which dribbled from St Jeremy’s quill and none other. Once completed, the master copy was sealed and sent to the temple for reproduction. That’s it. End of story. Any material added to that original document after the fact is the vain corruption of men intruding in the space reserved for the Holy Spirit alone. It is anthropopneustical, and as such must be stricken from the pages of Holy Writ!

    Indeed: If it be incontrovertibly shown that the suffering servant material in Isaiah is an appendix to the autograph, doctrine demands that we must do without it. Thankfully, there is nothing of any grave consequence to be found THERE.

    Oh, wait …

  4. MSH says:

    @cwmyers007: I’m going to try this once more. My problem is with the people at Westminster SEMINARY who, in their firing of Peter Enns, said that we must deny that Scripture is the product of the human authors (anthropopneustos). THAT is the nonsense. If you believe the Westminster CONFESSION allows theopneustos, then you should email the people at Westminster and ask them why they said what they said in relation to the Enns affair. That isn’t a question for me. The people at Westminster believe (and you do not) that the Confession supports THEIR rejection of anthropopneustos. That is why they said in their settlement with Enns (blogged that) that Enss was in the evangelical tradition, but not in the reformed tradition represented by the Confession. That is their call. I think it is foolish to side with a Confession (actually, their interpretation of the Confession) against the real data we have in and with respect to the Scriptures as to its formation. It’s choosing their interp. of the confession over reality and over the Scriptures themselves as we have them.

  5. MSH says:

    @Ivan Steel: Crazy Ivan is BACK! What a relief! The bottom line is that there WAS an autograph (there *was* some *thing* that was produced at the end of the process of inspiration with all its stages). Our problem is THAT thing is not completely recoverable nor knowable. We would have to be omniscient for that, and we are not. Now, I would not actually call this a faith statement; it is rather logic-based with a firm grasp of reality. The world *did* receive a set of canonical books, regardless of how wide or narrow the canon is. Even if we take the widest number, the set was completed at some point, providence working in the recognition that the process has ceased. Therefore, it is completely reasonable to say the process produced something. The faith part comes in with a statement that says we believed God was in the process, and that he was satisfied with the results. This is linked to what I believe the “point of the exercise was,” which I will blog on in the near future. So, my “faith view” is working on the basis of a faith that is reasonable and not irrational. It can be summarized: Since I’m a theist, and since I believe that theism is demonstrably the most coherent worldview, I think it reasonable to believe that God was in the inspiration process that produced a set of canonical books. Naturally, I want to marry that to what I’ve said before about anthropopneustos and theopneustos in terms of describing the process.

  6. rode says:

    i got a question (kind of dumb hehe),
    i know that there are different bible versions, why is it that the “normal” evangelical bibles (king james, niv) have less books than the catholic bibles, why is that?

    i ask because that includes editing as well, right?

  7. drew says:

    I am another mj, but in the JPS Tanakh they raise a similar issue with 1 samuel 17 in that the LXX is shorter and lacks 17:12-31, 55-58 and 18:1-5. Explained by, the Masoretic is most probably a combination of two narratives, one identical with LXX , the other independant and unaware of the foregoing narratives.

    And narratives is most probably the biggest word i know!!

  8. Rairdan Brannach says:

    Crimony. So God uses man to communicate His word. Man has some role to play beyond that of dumb automaton. That much seems obvious. I can dig it.

    What I don’t see (yet) is how Scripture (the protestant canon, let’s say, just to qualify it) is different from any other communication, even from this blog comment?

    Does God enable this comment? Well, if he is the creator (by which I mean, whatever the method, he is responsible for the creation) then He is the prime originator of me writing (and editing, just had to backspace to fix a typo) this communication. So I guess he is ultimately responsible, in a Thomas-Aquinas sort of way. I’m writing, but he’s the prime mover. I write what he intends, but do it in my own Rairdan-ish sort of way. Right?

    So sure, talk about inspiration (blah, blah) but what I don’t remember reading (perhaps I missed it in the introductory reading) is a discussion on what Scripture is and how Scripture is different from other communication which God is ultimately the source of. Is Scripture different? How and why? This would help me understand why you’re going to all of this trouble to demonstrate (what seems obvious to me) that man plays some role in the whole thing.

    And, if you use the T-word (cue Tevye singing “Tradition!”) you need to explain how and if it differs from the Catholic explanation/doctrine of same.

  9. MSH says:

    @Rairdan Brannach: A very good comment, and an important one. This goes (in my thinking) to the issue of “what was the whole enterprise about?” My answer to that is about three posts away (counting the new one I posted tonight on 1 Sam 13:1). In a nutshell, what makes your comment and the Scriptures different is that God intended those who produced the canon to be producing material that was recognized as being in the prophetic discourse tradition and therefore binding on the community/people of God who received it. As cool as your comment was, it doesn’t fit that purpose.

  10. MSH says:

    @drew: Yes, the David and Goliath narrative involves the same “edition” issues. Nice catch!

  11. MSH says:

    @rode: I’ll give two very general reasons: (1) Different traditions have different canons because of decisions made in early church history about recognizing which books were sacred. More immediately (2) the Bibles we have reflect the decision of leaders of the Protestant Reformation to exclude certain books (of an OT flavor) that the catholic church accepted (some of which, for example, are found in the earliest complete or mostly complete manuscripts of the NT). Protestants wanted to approve (in theory) only those books of the OT recognized by the mainstream Jewish community.

  12. Rairdan Brannach says:

    Doc H writes:

    “In a nutshell, what makes your comment and the Scriptures different is that God intended those who produced the canon to be producing material that was recognized as being in the _prophetic discourse tradition_ and therefore binding on the community/people of God who received it.”

    I can hear Tevye signing already.

  13. MSH says:

    @Rairdan Brannach: Are you suggesting we should include everything written in the prophetic tradition, or that there is no such thing? :-)

  14. Rairdan Brannach says:

    Dr H —

    What I’m looking for (that probably doesn’t exist) is a clear, concise statement about why some writings we have are Scripture and why other similarly ancient and somewhat venerated writings we have aren’t without essentially saying “well, because that’s the way it’s always been”.

    I’m not saying you’re saying this, but when I see things like “prophetic discourse tradition” I see a grouping/association that probably exists only after the fact and not during composition/initial reception.

    OK, so it’s “prophetic discourse tradition”. But what qualifies something for that? Based on your question if I’m suggesting we “include everything written in the prophetic tradition”, I’d want to know why some things in the “prophetic tradition” are considered canonical and some things aren’t. If that’s the case, then why is “prophetic discourse tradition” the canonical filter?

    What is it about the canonical writings that separates them? Is it their source, or is it their content? Or both? Or all that and other stuff, like preservation and veneration?

    So many of these terms (inspiration, inerrancy, scripture, etc.) seem to be, at least popularly, circularly defined (scripture is God-inspired writing; scripture is inerrant; inspired writings are scripture because they’re inerrant; etc.) I just want to get an idea what one of the terms (scripture) means and how it is qualified without shoveling the difficult aspects of definition to some other term — e.g. the forever-intertwinedness of inspiration and inerrancy.

    (I have no attempt at this myself, it’s easier to throw stones than it is to protect the glass window).

  15. MSH says:

    @Rairdan Brannach: I think it would be true that no matter what expert you’d read on the canon and the process of its recognition, everyone would agree that it was through the believing community (its leadership, the practice of churches) that the canonical books were eventually agreed upon. That isn’t a “throw up the hands” answer; it’s historically what the evidence says. You suggest that this was divorced from the process of inspiration, basically for chronological reasons. That is a yes and no. Yes, there is chronological displacement – although I think we see that through the wrong lens. What I mean is to be taken in tandem with the “no” part. I haven’t seen anyone argue or suggest that the community of scribes (which were part of the believing community – the community that held this stuff sacred) that produced the final form of the canonical books was different in nature than the community that embraced the canonical books. They AREN’T different communities, though time passes and you have a chronological succession. It’s not like the community that God used to shape the canon had a substantially different theology than the community that embraced the canon, or a substantially different view of the sacred nature of the material. It’s ONE community (“the people of God”) over time doing BOTH activities. I think you create a false dichotomy in that sense. Personally, I think God was providentially active in both processes within this community.

    I would agree that many (evangelicals in particular) have created an indefensible notion of “how” canonicity was determined (things like “well, this book is inerrant, so it’s in” are false litmus tests). The major scholars on canon that I have read would say something like the believing community had a sort of intuitive sense of the “prophetic tradition” (that we are displaced from by centuries and even millennia) and, for the most part, had little difficulty in approving most of the books that would have sacred status across all Christian traditions (for sake of this discussion). Yes, there were debates as to whether to accept others. And it’s here that *we* have the difficulty — and (dare I say) a relatively greater difficulty than the more ancient believing community. THEY were content with having an ongoing discussion about the canon, recognizing that brethren in other parts of the world included some other books. WE,on the other hand, have little or no tolerance for that (and Protestants have the most narrow list). And it’s primarily the Protestant evangelicals who have tried to come up with litmus test checklists for justifying THE canon as the Protestant canon. That would be OUR problem, not to be transferred back to a more ancient time.

    I look at the “maybe there are other books that should be in the canon” with a good bit of apathy. I don’t care if more should be in because (a) I’ve come to grips with not being omniscient, (b) we have the books in question, and (c) I read them anyway, and use them for articulating what Jews or Christians believed or may have believed in antiquity, so I’m not missing anything.

    • Hanan says:

      You say :

      It’s not like the community that God used to shape the canon had a substantially different theology than the community that embraced the canon, or a substantially different view of the sacred nature of the material.”

      This is rather interesting as it slightly touches upon what I have recently asked you. (You know, the dichotomy of what was believed and recorded vs. what actually IS). Clearly, today, nobody believes in a divine council. The theology has changed significantly. In fact, that is why you have this blog, BECAUSE of the changes in theology. This blog is sort of your tool to set things straight. Therefore, how on earth is one to understand God behind this enterprise? You are left with two options. Either God allowed a lie to be recorded and be canonized (divine council ) or the evolution of our theology today is wrong, and we should go back to what the Israelites believed.

      Rairdan Brannach’s problem is not of denying the evidence. It’s that GIVEN the evidence “inspiration” because a rather broad, subjective concept without something concrete to glue us down to believe in it. We are asking people to live by these Books. To believe in them. Sorry to sound like a broken record but IF, much of the theology given in the scripture is a reflection of Israelite theology through the lens of their surrounding cultures, then explain to someone why they should trust any of it? If the Divine Council is influenced by surrounding culture…….why not the whole YAHWEH premise at it’s core? How can we be sure YAHWEH came first and then scripture vs scripture making Him up?

      Welcome to my frustration.

      • MSH says:

        I don’t see how a providential view of inspiration (which is how most articulate canonicity) doesn’t jive with the phenomena of the text and the nature and purposes of God. But I’m not sure what you mean by or see as “subjective” (i.e., what would “objective” – its opposite pole – mean?).

        • Hanan says:


          You are only answering part of the issue, but let me continue. I think this is the very issue over at Peter Enns blog. Inspiration becomes a very nebulous concept. How on earth is anyone truly going to trust anything it says? When it says “The Lord says do X, how are you supposed to know whether this is just something someone wrote down THINKING God wants you to do X or, if God REALLY said do X.

          Here is an example:
          I once brought up the issue of the Sabbath. One cannot escape its importance to the Israelites and that it holds a central tenant on the Ten Commandments to Jews and Christians. But when I asked you about the rationalization for it, which is based on Israelite cosmology, you said that is simply a gloss. Well, if that is just a gloss, than what is the Sabbath for? The text makes it quite clear that Moses is transmitting a revelation from God: that you keep the Sabbath because of Genesis. So how do you trust the text? If the priests were able to make a gloss like that, why not simply say there was no revelation at all? Don’t you think it requires a tremendous amount of temerity to stick words into God’s mouth?

          To put it another way, if you Mike were given privilege to open the Ark and see what was written on those Tablets in relation to the Sabbath, what do you think it would say?

          • MSH says:

            Here’s a dirty little secret: inspiration has ALWAYS been fuzzy. Once you dismiss dictation, which is easy given what’s found in the text, you’re left with how to articulate what happened or how that worked. There has never been agreement on that. Ever.

            • Hanan says:

              I agree. One cannot dismiss what is found in the text, but aren’t we then left with FUZZY theology?

              I keep asking you this question so I apologize, but I don’t think you have addressed this: How does one know what IS vs. what others THOUGHT there is?

              -Did God give 10 commandments or not?
              -Was there original sin or not?

              These two examples are something that all Christians I know feel are critical for theology, but if dictation is not true, how do you trust it, right? Did Jesus keep the Sabbath or not? If he did, I presume it is due to his belief in what it says about it (i.e. dictation).

              • MSH says:

                I’m kind of amazed at your questions. God gave ten commandments, and a whole lot more. I can’t figure out why you’re even asking it. The Bible describes an original sin (a first sin/violation on the part of Adam and Eve – see my latest comments about the historical Adam book reviews as well) but that is not the same as original guilt of all subsequent humans. You seem to be conflating the two, which is common (that’s the dominant view, but that idea is inserted into Rom 5:12). The obedience to the sabbath being linked to dictation is a huge leap in logic (and hermeneutics). Jesus would have know Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, too, and dictation is impossible there – they are the OT synoptics. You’re connecting ideas that not only can’t be connected, but shouldn’t be. You are creating either-or fallacies for yourself.

                • Hanan says:

                  >”The obedience to the sabbath being linked to dictation is a huge leap in logic”


                  If you were sitting with Jesus and asked him why he kept the Sabbath, what would he have said? He would have said that it is part of the law and the law SAYS (meaning God SAID) that it is an eternal sign (Ot hi l’olam) that God created the world in six days.

                  Now the problem starts:

                  You admit that that cosmology is an ANE idea (ie, man influenced, not God literally). You also admit then, that it is a gloss, that was later added. So do you see the dilemma? If it is just a gloss, what is the original justification for the Sabbath? Did Jesus know it is just a gloss? If you were privy to see the original tablets, what would it have said? Since God is incapable of lying, how could he give a justification for a law, that is in fact not true? :::remember, God didn’t literally create in six days::::: that was Israel writing based on their influence in Babylon.

                  I am certainly not the only person that has noticed this issue. I know you hate homework. so you can read his if you are in the mood :)


                  >”Jesus would have know Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, too, and dictation is impossible there.”

                  Right, but what does that have to do with anything? None of those books are part of “the law.”

                  • MSH says:

                    Obedience to a law does not require that law had been dictated. If you believed the law came from God through people (i.e., inspiration), you’d obey it anyway if you care about a right relationship with God.
                    You’re arguing a logical fallacy.

  16. Hanan says:

    I guess, in relation to biblical dictation and the question of what did God ACTUALLY give or didn’t, we can keep asking regarding what did God actually give in the 10 commandments.

    The third commandment says don’t make any graven images of things in the waters beneath the earth. As you are more of an expert on ANE cosmology, you can understand the problem of God giving this commandment as it is written in Exodus.

    The rest of that commandment which mentions God visiting the inequity of the fathers to the sons is directly contradicted by Ezekiel 18. So how could God give a commandment like that. Or, how can he tell Ezekiel something that goes against something he revealed on Sinai?

    This is binary. It’s either/or.

    God cannot lie and give information that is not true. How could God directly contradict his own revelation.

    The only witness we have for God’s revelation IS the dictation.

    • Hanan says:

      Sorry, I meant the second commandment.

    • MSH says:

      If you think dictation is the only way you can come out with God’s word, you should stop reading Scripture now. Or never read Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. And if you read the NT, avoid the gospels at all costs. They are lethal to dictation. Unless the Spirit is a psychopath, that delights in playing shell games with the words of the text. Then you can keep dictation.

      But I might be misunderstanding what you mean by dictation. I hope so.

      • Hanan says:

        1) None of the books such Samuel, Kings etc are part of the “law”, so dictation is not even an issue. There is no divine command theory relevant to those texts.

        2) I am waiting for a response to the Sabbath question because that is a perfect example of the issue of law, dictation and authority all rolled into one:

        a) You believe God gave the 10 commandments Himself

        b) The 10 commandments have a justification that, per your, comes from an ANE/Babylonian influenced cosmology.

        c) How could God give that Justification when we know 1) The earth was not created in six days and 2) It was a later cosmology? Remember what the text says “Ot hi le’olam KI sheshet yamim asa YHYW……. The commandment is justified as an eternal sign for not JUST creation, but the MANNER of creation. But again, the MANNER is an ANE myth.

        d) This is why I keep asking you and you don’t respond to: If you were privy to open the Ark and see what was listed as the 4th commandment, what would it say?

        3) I would bet my entire fortune (not much) that Jesus himself believed that each commandment, from dietary laws, to prohibited relations, to the holidays are the DIRECT word of God DICTATED to Moses by God. NOT something simply inspired at a later point and some obscure author decided to write it down with a later unknown editor putting all the Torah together. You yourself ADMIT that inspiration and canonization is “Fuzzy.” Do you really think that you can get obedience to law if it is FUZZY??? Mike…..authority comes from reliability……NOT fuzziness.

        This is NOT logical fallacy. There is a reason that Liberal theologies lose their followers. Because there is nothing tangible to tie them down. I leave you this quote for you to think about:

        ——-“With so many religions claiming that their scripture is divinely inspired and the others aren’t… You certainly can’t prove that any work is not divinely inspired. You can’t prove that Harry Potter isn’t divinely inspired. We don’t assume other books are divinely inspired. The burden of proof has to be on those who claim that the book is divinely inspired… If a belief can’t in principle be disproved, it’s not a strong argument for the belief. If it is not disconfirmable, then you can say anything you want.””———

        This quote is not against God. It is an argument against proclaiming divinity to a particular book. To put his quote in more familiar terms in regards to your research….if Genesis (for example) which you admit to being ANE myth taken from other cultures is Insipired, who is to say that the source work (from Babylon) is not inspired? Who is to say that Ugaritic text….which you admit plays a part of in Israelite theology, is not inspired either?

        Mike, I do hope that you can actually answer each of these questions without cherry picking what to answer. That would save time for me having to constantly repeat myself and bugging you. (You might as well have turned this into a guest post or something. I’m sure your readers would find this conversation at the heart of everything)

        • Hanan says:

          Seriously Mike, obedience to law when it is fuzzy??? Come on. The more I think about what you said, the more I am a bit shocked at you not realizing the consequences. You opened a pandora box here. You really believe Jesus thought it was fuzzy? You really think He believed the Torah came via some obscure authors that claimed some sort of “inspiration” that was fuzzy?

          In the books of Nehemiah when the Israelites return, and are eager to live life according to the law, do you believe they, and Ezra thought they are following something simply inspired and fuzzy?

          Now, you may still claim fuzziness in the agreement of what was considered inspired, but they did not. Which means you are here today, standing on generations before you, that brought the law down to Jesus and down to you, but based on a false belief of precise law via dictation from God to Moses.

        • MSH says:

          You don’t need dictation for the law. That the law exists does not mean it was dictated (nor any other part of Scripture). You need to prove that is the case before I’d spend hours on this.

          • Hanan says:

            I have nothing to prove because I never said you HAVE to have dictation to have law. We are discussing consequences and obedience here. Consequences which you readily admit to when you called the whole enterprise FUZZY. Those were your own words. I’m saying sound theology cannot exist when you admit to the core being fuzzy. Dictation ALLOWS for concrete rules and theology. This is why I asked you this which you have not answered:

            “I would bet my entire fortune (not much) that Jesus himself believed that each commandment, from dietary laws, to prohibited relations, to the holidays are the DIRECT word of God DICTATED to MOSES by GOD . NOT something simply inspired at a later point and some obscure author decided to write it down with a later unknown editor putting all the Torah together. You yourself ADMIT that inspiration and canonization is “Fuzzy.” Do you really think that you can get obedience to law if it is FUZZY??? Mike…..authority comes from reliability……NOT fuzziness.”******

            Back to the question at hand which for some reason you are not answering: We in fact DO have very clear documented case of dictation which is the Ten Commandments. You may try to say other laws are not, but the Ten commandments are clearly dictated by God on the Tablets which were placed in the ark, correct? Now you can go back and answer the issue of the 4th commandment.

            You don’t seem to have many options here Mike.

            You either believe that
            1) God never gave the ten commandments on the tablets Himself and some anonymous priest made it up.
            2) God gave the commandment minus the justification**
            3) God gave it WITH the justification but that would mean God is a liar, since we know that not to be a true account of creation in the least. And since God cannot be a liar he could not do this. I am sure you would not accept this one

            These are rather straight forward questions.

            ** If #2 is your answer, you are basically claiming anonymous Israelites had the gall to put words into God’s mouth. If this is so, then we go back to square ONE, which is the issue of Reliability. How could ANYONE dream of putting words into Gods mouth? If they did it this time, what makes us think they didn’t do it other times.

            ***** If I am wrong about my assumption about Jesus, please show me He allowed for the law and/or the Torah to be later creations by anonymous Israelites.

            • Hanan says:

              Mike, for clarification……

              My challenge of the ten commandments stem from your comment:

              “God gave ten commandments, and a whole lot more.”

              The only witness to WHAT he gave is the Torah, and we know the justification is wrong…..

              (now you can understand my challenge)

            • MSH says:

              You keep insisting on dictation. Until you prove dictation (a) happened and (b) is necessary, I’m not wasting any more time on this. Even the ten commandments have differences in them between Exodus and Deuteronomy. Did God forget how he dictated the law so that the next iteration was different? Dictation is a a demonstrable myth. I honestly can’t even recall why we ever got on this.

              • Hanan says:

                >I honestly can’t even recall why we ever got on this.

                Because you said “God gave the 10 commandments and other things”

                >Did God forget how he dictated the law so that the next iteration was different?

                Hence, the problem. So if you believe God gave the 10 commandments and I quote you ” God gave ten commandments, and a whole lot more.” then WHICH did he give? That is why I keep asking you, if you were able to see into the Ark, and look at the tablets, what would it say?

                The ten commandments is the example I use because it is THOSE laws that are said to have been given to Moses by God on a set of Tablets. That means, DICTATION, Mike.

                Now, if you don’t believe that there were actual tablets with the decalogue on them, then you can say that, and then I don’t have further questions. But if you DO believe the decalogue was dictated and inscribed on the tablets than we both have a problem

          • Hanan says:

            “You don’t need dictation for the law. That the law exists does not mean it was dictated (nor any other part of Scripture).”

            For clarification, i recall you stating that you are a Supplimentarian and that you believe SOME of it WAS dictated by Moses? This is your comment:

            “I don’t buy whole sources, and limited to four, nor do I exclude a Mosaic core of the Pentateuch. I believe in a core with material accrued to that core by many hands and various times. I’m what used to be known (of sorts) as a supplementation.”

            So you believe in some dictation, is that right?

            • MSH says:

              I never said some was dictated. I do think it reasonable that some material in the Torah has direct Mosaic origin (i.e., it originated in the time of Moses and may have been written by Moses). In any event, I don’t believe in dictation. Moses’ mind didn’t go blank so God could guide his hand – like paranormal automatic writing. I think that’s nonsense and actually *incompatible* with the idea of inspiration (at least how the Bible describes it and the content of the biblical text).

  17. Hanan says:


    I just stumbled on this on BioLogos where Reverend Mark Glaab was basically saying the exact same thing I have just been telling you. You can skip the entire essay and just read Mark Glaab’s comments.

    Jesus obviously believed in Moses and believed Moses’s dictation of the Torah he had. Yet, if the events in there did not really happen in real life (remember….you admit that Genesis is Israel’s version of other ANE cosmology,not what really IS), than how can any of it be reliable? How would you even trust Jesus? The laws are predicated on LIES and as the Paster says, he would be ready to dump the bible. If you said God actually gave the 10 commandments how can he give it based on events that did not literally happen?

    You only have a few options

    1) God never gave commandments and the entire enterprise is wise ancient people giving it their best shot
    2) God lied when he said the Sabbath is an eternal sign for him creating in six literal days and resting on the seventh.
    3) God gave “something” but nobody really knows what it is so “something” was recorded and they based it on their ANE mythologies. Something, that Jesus was not aware of when he claimed to trust Moses.

    So which is it?

    Mike, I know I can be annoying about this, but in my opinion, this is probably the most important topic on your site, that you for some reason have not put enough thought into. You can’t just use “inspiration” for everything because at a certain point, there has to be something more concrete from God (Sinai) that would lead his people to trust this enterprise. But if that “concrete core” is riddled with holes, we have a serious issue.

    • MSH says:

      See my other replies. If Jesus believed in dictation, then he was an inept quoter of Scripture – since his verbal citations of the text frequently don’t match. Jesus also used a translation (Septuagint) or paraphrased. Both big boo-boos in a dictation theory.

      The idea is demonstrably false.

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