Thank you Erhman and Licona. Thank you all for your comments. Please keep the conversation going.
The other night we were watching a programme called “Posh Pawn”. An upmarket pawn shop where items can be (and are) valued in big numbers. A few pieces of jewelry @ £48k. A car @ £100k. These are offers to buy – made only after careful checking. These are numbers the pawn shop is confident of – because they are confident of turning a profit when they sell the item on.
Which is why they turned down one piece presented as “unique” with a hoped-for value of £25k. With regret (it was a tasty item) the pawn shop was unable to establish beyond doubt the provenance of this item. And because the item was (probably) so unique, and the seller’s expectation (definitely) so high – they chose not to offer any price at all. The owner left with a smile.
But we all “knew” he was unhappy – or else why try to sell it for £25k in the first place?
Is the bible historically reliable?
I have now heard at least four versions: “Yes it is – all of it” … “Yes – mostly” … “Yes – but not those parts” … “No it isn’t – not any of it.”
I have heard “evidence” convoluted. I have seen claim and counter-claim. I know some believe it explains the beginning of time – others regard it as a cruel fairy story. Proving provenance is the goal. My version has value – your version does not. My opinion is true – yours is not. Mine is the real deal – yours is a sham. Mine is good theology – yours is bad.
And the dialogue comes straight back to a belief in God proving provenance of the sacred text. Except that “theology” is “the study of the nature of God“. So good or bad theology is not “evidence” for the bible as historically reliable. Not unless the bible is God and God is the bible. And that is straight back to faith based belief.
Is the bible historically reliable and accurate?
I grew up believing it is and was. Because our Queen is the protector of the faith. Because senior politicians are seen attending church and mentioning their faith as provenance of their integrity. Because we have public holidays because of the bible. We spend a fortune each year at Christmas because of the bible. So when my parents …. and their friends at church … and bible reading notes … and the clergy … and the whole country and the annual calendar of my country … when all “that” lines up …
What’s not to believe? Which means the bible and religion are part of all our daily lives. So provenance must have been proven – or else why all “that”?
So is the bible historically accurate?
Well … And now the variants of Yes and No continue. And with it the invention of provenance of the bible as historically accurate or not. And with it all the vested interests that hang from it or not.
I have a very serious question.
If I believe the bible is not totally historically reliable … if I see no merit in filleting out the bits that might be reliable from the bits that are not … if the bible is so unique (or maybe is not) … if, like the pawn shop, I feel unable to say “yes the bible is reliable historically” … where do I then fit if I continue to live my life with a “real deal divine being” of some sort (like GSHJ)?
Because what I see in this dialogue of evidence and reliability is that along with this “assumption of provenance” lies this “reality” that: Either …
I don’t believe the bible is historically reliable so I cannot believe in God (as defined – and all that goes with it). Or …
I do believe the bible (ditto) so I must believe in God (as ditto). But …
(there seems to be no third option)
I don’t believe the bible is historically reliable, and I still believe in “God” as love, and I can (and do) find “God” as love in the bible.
Objection, you honour, objection! The witness is once again seeking safety in that of which there is no evidence. This really will not do. We deal in facts in this court, and facts require only a yes or no – we cannot have an “either or”. M’lord, I really must insist that there are no “buts” allowed in this courtroom!
Does the church agree? (It does m’lord) Does the non-church agree? (It does m’lord) Very well then, no “buts” allowed. We will restrict ourselves to only that which allows a yes or a no.
(And then we are so far from faith that we need “religion” to fill the void. And religion fulls that void with “faith based” facts as answers for every question.)
(tomorrow my “personal summation” – wahoo!)