Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Ten)

Is God Partial?
            How could the scriptures say of God: “Jehovah is good to all,” or: “Jehovah your God . . . treats none with partiality and does not accept a bribe?” (Psalm 145:9; Deuteronomy 10:17 NWT) What caused Peter to say: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him?” (Acts 10:34,35 NWT) For, Jah is clearly biased, accepting Abel over Cain and Jacob over Esau! (Genesis 4:4; Romans 9:13) His angel says to Mary: “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30 WEB) And he says to his people at Leviticus 26:9 (NWT): “I will direct my favor to you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will keep my covenant with you.” Even Christ said: “Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter any Samaritan city; but instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6 NWT) How can these be harmonized?
            Firstly, the skeptic has to read into the account of Cain and Abel that which is not there, favoritism. It is true that little is said about Cain, yet we see that his works were wicked, and why? Because he hated his brother, seeking God only outwardly, but internally consumed in envy. (1 John 3:12) Esau, too, was not a spiritual man, but ‘one who did not appreciate sacred things.’ – Hebrews 12:16 NWT
            What of Mary? She was righteous, so God’s favor was not groundless. What of God’s people? Plainly, he did not treat them with favoritism, for he did not spare them discipline. Further, God “did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving [all the nations] rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying [them] with food and filling your hearts with gladness.” (Acts 14:16,16 NWT) And, during this Jewish period, anyone could join God’s people and become part of Jehovah’s nation.
            And, while it is true that Jesus focused his ministry to the Jews – though he did come into contact with non-Jews and taught them from time to time – it was not at the total exclusion of the nations. For, it was Jesus who gave the Great Commission, saying: “[Y]ou will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth,” and: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations.” – Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18 NWT
            So, it can’t be argued that God is partial. The skeptic, though, in most na├»ve fashion, confuses favor with favoritism and hate with arbitrary disdain. He confuses the purpose for Jesus’ mission, that it was directed chiefly toward Jews, with a bias on God’s part, all the while, however, he ignores clear evidence that gives us the complete picture.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Nine)

Does God Sit or Stand to Judge?
            Isaiah 3:13 says he stands, but Joel 3:12 says he sits! Two things can be said in response. Primarily, these verses are metaphoric, God is not physical and with him there is no standing or sitting! Secondly, and not really necessary to mention, these refer to different judgements, given at different times, so we don’t have two different mutually exclusive claims being made about the same instance – a fundamental requirement of contradictions.

Does God Tire?
            Isaiah 40:28 (NWT) says: “Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, is a God for all eternity. He never tires or grows weary.” But, Jeremiah 15:6 (NWT) reports: “‘You have deserted me,’ declares Jehovah. ‘You keep turning your back on me. So I will stretch out my hand against you and destroy you. I am tired of feeling pity for you.’” The skeptic rashly sees the words “tires” and “tired” and assumes they refer to the same kind of thing, that is, literal tiredness. However, Isaiah 40:28 refers to Jehovah’s great power, but Jeremiah 15:6 refers to Jehovah’s patience and how Jehovah would not tolerate continued rebellion against him. His tiredness in this case is in regard toward his pity, not to his power, for he previously mentions that he will destroy them – can one who is tired do that?

Did God Love Zion?
            Psalm 87:2 and 132:13 tell of God’s love and desire for Zion. However, Jehovah seems to have intended to deny any love for Zion, saying: “For this city, from the day that they built it down to this day, has been nothing but a cause of anger and wrath to me, so that it must be removed from before my face.” – Jeremiah 32:31 NWT
            Yet, the fact remains that Jehovah did not actually intend to deny any previous love for the city, but to make a strong affirmation of his then present anger. Need I again relate how it was a custom to deny a true statement to make a stronger point? He was not lying about his former love for the city.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Eight)

Does God Create Confusion?
            1 Corinthians 14:33 (ASV) states: “God is not the author of confusion.” In fact, according to Proverbs 6:16,19 (NWT): “[H]e that soweth discord among brethren” is “an abomination unto him.” So, how could we justify this with the fact that God diversified the languages of man, an event that caused great confusion? – Genesis 11:7-9
            Firstly, Proverbs 6:16,19 condemns the one who sows discord, not just “confusion.” It is spread by gossip or slander and the like, so it has no real connection to what God did. Secondly, 1 Corinthians 14:33 deals with congregational arrangements, where confusion was to be avoided. The phrase “God is not the author of confusion,” must be understood in that context. When we do so, we see that this does not conflict with Genesis 11:7-9.

Does God Dwell in Eternity or With Men?
            Previously, I have chided the skeptic for pitting two contiguous verses against each other, however, in this case he pits one verse against itself. Isaiah 57:15 (NWT) says: “For this is what the High and Lofty One says, Who [inhabiteth eternity – ASV] and whose name is holy: “I reside in the high and holy place, But also with those crushed and lowly in spirit.””
            Clearly, the skeptic thinks that Jehovah literally inhabits eternity, as if eternity is a place, despite the more appropriate (if not literal) translation: “who lives forever.” Further, he thinks that these two statements are not both true, as if they are set against each other. In some sense they are, but only to highlight that both are true, making God’s humility more remarkable. The very contrast the skeptic highlights serves to disprove his position; there is no contradiction.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Seven)

Does God’s Anger Last Long?
            By reading Psalm 30:4,5 (NWT), which says: “[B]eing under [God’s] anger is only for a moment, But being in his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may come in the evening, but in the morning, there is a joyful cry,” we may – but should not – get the impression that under all circumstances God’s anger is short. So, when we read Numbers 32:13 (NWT), which says: “So Jehovah’s anger blazed against Israel and he made them wander about in the wilderness for 40 years, until all the generation that was doing evil in the eyes of Jehovah came to its end,” we might conclude that God’s anger is not short, therefore the Bible is contradictory. In addition, we may find it hard to reconcile what God says in Jeremiah 3:12 (NWT), namely: “I will not stay resentful forever,” with what he says at Jeremiah 17:4 (NWT), namely: “[Y]ou have kindled my anger like a fire. It will burn for all time.”.
            However, we need to consider the context of each scripture in these contradictory sets. Psalm 30:4,5 is a personal song, so we can say that God’s anger with us due to our sins is not everlasting, but momentary – the effects of the anger may linger on, yet we will have our mourning changed into rejoicing. (Psalm 30:11) Numbers 32:13, however is God’s judgement against an entire nation, who throughout the 40 years of their punishment continued to provoke his wrath. It would be impossible for them to have God’s anger subside, for they had no intention of repenting.
            Similarly, God urges those in Jeremiah’s time: “Return, O renegade Israel . . . I will not look angrily on you, for I am loyal . . . I will not stay resentful forever.” (Jeremiah 3:12 NWT) The duration of God’s anger is therefore dependent on the ones with whom he is angry. In the case of Judah, they had a chance to avert God’s wrath, yet by refusing they forced God to punish them with exile. There, they lived among their enemies, for God’s anger was kindled forever.
            However, it is evident, as has been discussed elsewhere, that “forever” is hyperbole. The generation that went into exile (the targets of God’s hostility) ceased to be alive, and God’s anger with Judah subsided. So, even on a larger scale, God’s anger does not last long, it needed not continue for generation after generation, but the continued provoking of a stubborn people necessitated it; the promise of momentary anger is not unconditional. Still, when their sin had been accounted for, God’s anger faded as he promised.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Six)

Is God a Warrior?
            In two places, the scriptures refer to God as a warrior. Israel sang: “Jehovah is a man of war, Jehovah is his name,” at Deuteronomy 15:3 (ASV). Further, David lauds God at Psalm 24:8 (NWT): “Who is the glorious King? Jehovah, strong and mighty, Jehovah, mighty in battle.” I affirm these points, so what will the skeptic say to move me to declare that the Bible contradicts itself? He cites Romans 15:33, highlighting that God is called “the God of peace,” and also 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NWT), which says of God: “God is a God not of disorder but of peace.”
            Yet, I have not seem him frame these as mutually exclusive options! The first two scriptures deal with literal warfare, however, the latter two have nothing to do with warfare; 1 Corinthians 14:33 deals with order during Christian gatherings! There is no contradiction. And it is impossible that Paul, who wrote both Romans and 1 Corinthians, thought of God as only a God of peace (a term the skeptic has a too simplistic view of). – Romans 2:5

Does God Get Angry?
            Phrases such as ‘my fury shall be poured out’ pepper the scriptures; Jeremiah 42:18 is such an example. “However, if this is the case,” the skeptic asks, “why does God say at Isaiah 27:4 (NWT): “There is no wrath in me?” Or, why could Nehemiah say of Him: “[Y]ou are a God ready to forgive, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love, and you did not abandon them?”” (Nehemiah 9:17 NWT)
            The skeptic’s reference to Nehemiah is not valid; the skeptic can pretend that mercy cannot exist with rage, but such an erroneous statement is not incumbent upon us. Neither is his use of Isaiah 27:4 skillful. It clearly is not an absolute statement that God never has anger, nor was its audience all inclusive. It is part of a song that will be sung “in that [as of yet future] day . . . in the land of Judah,” which describes, not pre-exile Judah, but “[a] nation that is keeping faithful conduct.” – Isaiah 26:1,2
            This is, despite the skeptic’s interjection, harmonious with the God of Jeremiah 42:18. This fact is evident by what God himself says: “In that day you will certainly say: “I thank you, O Jehovah, For although you were angry with me, Your anger gradually subsided, and you comforted me.” (Isaiah 12:1 NWT) The lesson learned: God has fury, but it is not all consuming, and does fade; a God of mercy is he, yet not one who excuses without cause.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Five)

Does God Create Evil?
            Against the saying of Moses: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, [f]or all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness who is never unjust, Righteous and upright is he,” at Deuteronomy 32:4 (NWT) is set against Jehovah’s own declaration at Isaiah 45:7 (ASV): “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things,” by the skeptic. But, aside from referring to older translations, the skeptic has nothing to offer.
            Let us first reason the matter out. In Isaiah, Jehovah contrasts two sets of things; light and darkness and peace and evil. However, evil is not the opposite of peace as darkness is for light. Disturbance, calamity or disaster, however, are. Further, the Hebrew word translated in the American Standard Version as evil, rah, can mean, not just “evil,” but also “adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeasure, distress” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Seeing as the context indicates that moral evil is not implied, it would be improper for us to say that God creates such evil. He, however, did bring about calamity upon those who sinned against him, this is in full harmony with his justice, for “they are the ones who have acted corruptly. They are not is children, the defect is their own. They are a crooked twisted and generation!” – Deuteronomy 32:5 NWT

Is it Fearful to Fall into God’s Hands?
            Hebrews 10:31 (NWT) states: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” So, given that information, David must have a different God, into whose hand he desires to fall into – or, the Bible contradict itself. At 2 Samuel 24:14 (WEB), he says: “I am in distress. Let us fall into the hand of Yahweh; for his mercies are great.”
            I am surprised that the skeptic finds these statements to br contradictory! For, Hebrews refers to the hands of God, but David had in mind the hand of Jehovah! Joking aside, however, I am pleased that the skeptic is not more hyper-literal that usual. Still, his understanding of context could use some work. Has it crossed his mind that, depending on the situation, falling into God’s hands could be good for one or fearful?
            The context of Hebrews informs us that those who have no “sacrifice for sins left,” have a “certain fearful expectation of judgement.” To them, God’s hands are fearful to fall into. However, in David’s case, Jehovah did forgive him; so, to David, Jehovah’s hand was merciful.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Four)

Are God’s Wonders Innumerable?
            Psalm 40:5 (NWT) states: “How many things you have done, O Jehovah my God, [y]our wonderful works and your thoughts toward us. None can compare to you; If I were to try to tell and speak of them, [t]hey would be too numerous to recount!” The skeptic takes this literally, thinking that God’s works and thoughts are infinite. So, when he comes across Psalm 26:7, where David says: “That I may make the voice of thanksgiving to be heard, [a]nd tell of all thy wondrous works,” he concludes that there is a contradiction.
            He interprets these statements as literal and having the same intended meaning. However, the point of the former statement is to highlight the sheer number of God’s wondrous works. If we use “countless” in hyperbole, why can’t David? The purpose of Psalm 26:7 was to express David’s earnest desire to glorify God by proclaiming what he has done. The word “all” must be understood in this context, for David wrote both psalms. Once we do so, there is no contradiction.

Is God the Only One Working Wonders?
            Psalm 136:4 (KJV) says of God: “[He] alone doeth great wonders.” So, the skeptic would want us to naively assume that 2 Thessalonians 2:9 (KJV), which says about the “lawless one,” that his “coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,” contradicts this. Unable to comprehend the nuance of language, the skeptic has taken to a misguided rule of the use of “all.” The Hebrews, however, would not deny that demons preformed wonders, for they knew of the dealings of the priests of Egypt. But, they would deny the lesser thing to extol the greater thing; Jehovah’s works outperformed those of his Egyptian rivals and were of greater and lasting impact, for example, so truthfully, albeit not literally, Jehovah alone preforms wondrous works.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Three)

Is God Always Near?
Psalm 145:18 (ASV) states: “Jehovah is nigh unto all them that call upon him.” Upon this verse, the skeptic hangs his first statement: God is always near. He also cites James 4:8 (NWT), which states: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” In contrast to these he cites Psalm 10:1 (NWT), which says: “Why, O Jehovah, do you stand at a distance? Why do you hide yourself in times of distress?” Also, Lamentations 3:44 (NWT), which says: “You have blocked approach to yourself with a cloud, so that our prayer may not pass through.” From these, he hangs the statement: God is not always near.
            It is easy enough, however, to see that Psalm 145:18 (ASV) ends with the word: “To all that call upon him in truth.” Similarly, James 4:8 is addressed to “sinners” and “indecisive ones.” Therefore, the need to call to God in truth and out of a clean heart with pure motives is apparent. In this regard, then, Acts 17:27 (NWT) is helpful; it says: “if [men] might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.” Therefore, God is close to us.
            Yet, Jehovah’s being close does not mean that he will be readily found by us when it merely suits our whims, he is not a help readily found by those who repeatedly rejected him.[1] Jeremiah laments the destruction of Judah and how Jehovah had abandoned them to Babylon for seventy years. Those whom Jehovah did not hear were the ones who first abandoned him and paid no heed to his words of warning; of them, God commanded Jeremiah: “[D]o not pray in behalf of this people. Do not cry out or offer a prayer or plead with me in their behalf, for I will not listen to you.” (Jeremiah 7:16) So, we do recognize that there are things that can separate us from God and cause our prayers to be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7) It is our sins that separate us from God, to keep in them will prolong the separation, but a contrite heart and honest repentance can readily restore us to him. (Isaiah 59:1,2) Did not Jeremiah know this? Jehovah was near to him, and he knew how Judah could regain God’s favor, namely: “Let us examine and scrutinize our ways, and let us return to Jehovah. Let us lift up our hearts along with our hands to God in the heavens.” Yes, even when God is “far away,” he is near.
            What of Psalm 10? Did he think that God was far away? Consider that the psalmist says in verse 14 (NWT): “But you do see trouble and distress. You look on and take matters in hand,” and in verse 17 (NWT): “You will hear the request of the meek, O Jehovah,” from which we can conclude that the psalmist, when saying that God ‘stands far away,’ was describing how he felt, how it seemed to be. Outwardly it may seem that God is far away – though this is not the same “distance” as is described by Paul, James or Isaiah – yet the psalm itself concludes with an affirmation of faith that Jehovah sees and will “pay close attention to [the meek].” (Psalm 10:17 NWT) So, the skeptic’s claim that Psalm 10:1 contradicts other scriptures as wrong as his general assumption.

[1] See The Self-Harmony of the Bible, p. 4

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Two)

Is God Omniscient?
            Proverbs 15:3 (NWT) states: “The eyes of Jehovah are everywhere, [w]atching both the bad and the good.” Similarly, Hebrews 4:13 (NWT) states: “And there is not a creation that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account.” So, the skeptic asserts that Genesis 18:20-21 (NWT), which says: “Then Jehovah said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy. I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it,”” contradicts this – why would God have to get to know something? Further, he alleges that Exodus 12:13 and Hosea 8:4 likewise portray God as lacking knowledge and having to gain it. These (NWT84) respectively read: “And the blood must serve as YOUR sign upon the houses where YOU are; and I must see the blood and pass over YOU, and the plague will not come on YOU as a ruination when I strike at the land of Egypt,” and: “They themselves have set up kings, but not because of me. They have set up princes, but I did not know it. With their silver and their gold they have made for themselves idols, to the end that they may be cut off.”
            We note, however, that Genesis 18:20-21 is set in the context of Jehovah bringing judgement against the five cities of Sodom. In that era a judge was expected to be present during judgment. Jehovah, listening to the outcry felt compelled to go there “himself” and get to know it in this judicial sense. Others, too, have suggested that God has the ability to know everything, but like a strong man, he does not have to exercise his ability at all times in order to be all-knowing.
            Concerning Hosea 8:4, let us ask the skeptic this question: If Jehovah did not know of the princes, how is he now coming to know of it? Is it for no reason that other translations render the phrase in Hosea 8:4: “They have made princes, and I didn’t approve?” (WEB) Yes, the context has to do with Israel’s rebellion in their setting up kings and princes apart from Jehovah, whom he does not recognize, and idols to worship instead of him. Certainly, this has nothing to do with divine omniscience, for how could he mention them if he did not know of them?
            What of Exodus 12:13? I must assume that the skeptic thinks that Jehovah needed a sign to know who was an Israelite. However, the blood on the doorposts was the token to prove obedience, and anyone could do to avoid the impeding judgement – not just Israelites. (So, the supposed thing that Jehovah needed to know, is irrelevant.) He again was “there” when this judgement was performed. By definition, in order to know who obeyed, he had to see proof thereof, but this is no lack in his omniscience. As soon as they obeyed, he knew that they had.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part One)


It is with satisfaction that I have prepared this fifth part. In it we’ll examine claims that Jesus’ and Jehovah’s actions, attributes or natures are contradictory.  Some could be taken as contradictions by honest-hearted people; others, however, are so clearly wrong that I feel obligated to include them to discount the skeptic (or, his scruples) and to provide some amusement. All are explainable after sufficient evidence is gathered. Further, the principles that refute easy contradictions are also used in harder contradictions. So, while it is true that the evidence may be different in those cases, we should be confident in the principles gleaned from the easy ones, so that when we come across these harder cases, we will remain unmoved. So, I prepare this work for you, my brothers, with the hope that your appreciation of the Sacred Scriptures is heightened.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 4 (Part Twenty)


            I hope, brothers loved by Jehovah, that this has been of some help to you. I must bid you farewell until we join back together in my fifth book. In it I wish to finish this work for you. Keep on progressing in your faith.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 4 (Part Nineteen)

When Did Jehoram Begin to Reign?
            2 Kings 8:16 (NWT) reports: “In the fifth year of Jehoram the son of Abab the king of Israel, while Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram the son of King Jehoshaphat of Judah became king.” (Jehoram of Judah became king in the fifth year of Jehoram of Israel.) Yet, 2 Kings 1:17 (NWT) reports: “Jehoram became king in his place, in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah.” (Jehoram of Israel became king in the second year of Jehoram of Judah.) Let us examine the solutions presented and see if these can be harmonized.
            Benson suggests that Jehoram was made king twice; the first time being seven years before the second time. He says: “Jehoram was first made king or viceroy by his father, divers [several] year before this time [the fifth year of Jehoram of Israel], at the expedition to Ramoth-gildead, which dominion of his [Jehoram of Judah] ended at his father’s return.” And: “By comparing 2 Kings 3:1, and 2 Kings 8:16 [with 2 Kings 1:17], it will appear that there is a considerable difference in the reading of the dates . . . To reconcile, however, the above-mentioned passages, some have supposed that Jehoshaphat, in his seventeenth year, when he went to Ahab, and with him to Ramoth-gilead, appointed his son Jehoram as viceroy, and (in case of his death) his successor. In the second year from that time, when Jehoram was thus made vice-king in his father’s stead an absence, this Jehoram, Ahab’s son, began to reign. . .  which was about the twenty-fourth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign.” Then, the second time Jehoram of Judah was made king, was during this time that Jehoram of Israel was king of his nation.
            Does this stand up? Of course there is nothing in the scriptures that contradicts this outright. However, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges notes (in connection to 2 Kings 1:17): “[T]here [is not] satisfactory evidence that a son was ever king along with his father.” This assertion, though, is not universally agreed with. Matthew Poole’s Commentary for 2 Kings 1:17 states: “[I]t was a usual practice among kings in former ages, to make their sons sometimes their viceroys and deputies in the administration of the kingdom; and sometimes formally kings in conjunction with themselves, and whilst they lived; whereof there are instances, both in profane [secular] history, among the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, and in sacred Scripture.”
            It would be fair to examine how such a divergent set of claims could be made; is there evidence of this practice or not? Such disharmony resolves around whether this practice was common among the Judeans and Samaritans, for it is certainly attested to in other cultures. (The fact that these cultures were often neighbors of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah should be taken to the credit of the harmonization thus far presented.)
            Matthew Poole cities David and Uzziah as examples of this practice in sacred Scripture.[1] 2 Chronicles 29:22 (NWT) does state: “for a second time they made Solomon the son of David king and anointed him before Jehovah as leader.” Further, 2 Chronicles 26:21 (NWT) relates: “King Uzziah remained a leper until the day of his death, and he kept staying in a separate house as a leper, for he had been excluded from the house of Jehovah. His son Jotham was in charge of the king’s house, judging the people of the land.”
            Some might object to Solomon’s case, since years did not elapse between the two appointments, but all that I use it to prove is that David and Solomon were both kings at the same time and Solomon was made king a second time. In regards to Jotham, we see that due to his father’s illness, he assumed active leadership of Judah. Nevertheless, his father did not cease to be king, nor was he alone one who rightly could be called king. Could such an arrangement not have been done with Jehoram of Judah seeing as if his father were to die in the campaign with Ahab, Judah would need a king without a risk of civil war?
            The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges does not think so, and notes at 2 Kings 8:16: “Jehoshaphat was a vigorous monarch and zealous for the service of Jehovah, and was not likely to take as coadjutor a prince so weak in character, and of such different religious feeling as Jehoram.” However, this counterclaim is not entirely waterproof, for Jehoshaphat made a marriage alliance with Ahab, which almost lead to the destruction of his own house! He himself was a zealous man to be sure, but this did not prevent him from making severe lapses in judgement. Also, this work assumes that Jehoram’s true character was evident, but this ignores that other kings started out fine, but ended up sinning badly. Also, it could be that Jehoram was the best of all of his sons. Therefore, I feel reasonably confident of this harmonization.
            But, what if the current manuscripts do contradict each other, and that this harmonization is incorrect because it is not necessary? Then, we suppose that the figures have suffered corruption and we do not really know when Jehoram became king. In that case, it is not a matter that is difficult to explain. The skeptic, of course, would like us to suffer cognitive dissonance, thinking that we do not know what about the Bible we can trust as being faithfully transmitted. However, let us not exaggerate the nature of such textual corruption in the best preserved text of antiquity, where it has been said that 95% of the Old Testament has been preserved and 99% of the New Testament. Nor, should we equate corruption in regard to numbers and names as the same as corruption in morals, commandment and doctrines, nor should we think that nothing can be gleaned for the historical accounts – rather they are beneficial in a great way. To naively assume that inerrancy requires perfect manuscripts today is just as much an error as assuming that one scribal error outweighs the evidence in favor of the self-harmony of the Bible.

[1] He also cities “to come close to the point” the example of Jehoshaphat and Jehoram. I will refrain from using this instance, which the skeptic sites as a contradiction, as proof for the harmonization. But, it is not possible to dismiss this case as an example of coregency just yet.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 4 (Part Eighteen)

What Did Solomon Pay Hiram?
            The skeptic notes that 1 Kings 5:10,11 records Solomon as giving Hiram 20,000 cor measures of wheat and 20 cor measures of very fine olive oil for timbers of cedar and juniper, but 2 Chronicles 2:8-10 has him giving 20,000 cor measures of wheat, 20,000 cors of barley, 20,000 baths of wine and 20,000 baths [or 2,000 cor measures] of oil for timbers of cedar, juniper and algum. We note these things t00, but we also keep in mind other facts.
            Looking at the accounts together, we note that 1 Kings is shorter. It only notes two kinds of trees, so why should it surprise us if it also shortens the payment given by Solomon? Further, the scribal error in regard to how much oil was given is nothing important, nor unexpected. For these reasons there is no contradiction here.
Of Which Tribes was the Coppersmith’s Mother From?
            1 Kings 7:13 (NWT) calls his mother “a widow from the tribe of Naphtali,” yet she is also called, “a Danite woman,” at 2 Chronicles 2:15 (NWT). How can this be harmonized? There exists two solutions. Firstly, the view taken by a number of scholars is that she was born of Dan, but had been widowed by a man of Naphtali. Or, her tribal identify has been corrupted by a scribal error.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 4 (Part Seventeen)

Did Jehoshaphat Remove the High Places?
            Jehoshaphat’s “heart,” 2 Chronicles 17:6 (NWT) says: “became bold in the ways of Jehovah and he even removed the high places and the sacred poles from Judah.”  However, 1 Kings 22:43 (NWT) informs us that “the high places were not removed, and the people were still sacrificing and making sacrificial smoke on the high places.” Similarly, 2 Chronicles 20:33 (NWT) states: “[T]he high places were not removed, and the people had not yet prepared their heart for the God of their forefathers.” How can this be explained?
Jehoshaphat’s situation is explainable with the Biblical evidence we have. Concerning that evidence, we see that the accounts of Jehoshaphat measure about three thousand words in 2 Chronicles and about three hundred in 1 Kings. Therefore, we see that 1 Kings would be prone to give us a summary of his reign, the net result being noted, but the happenings and conditions in the between time would be ignored. Further, what it states agrees with what 2 Chronicles 20:33 states, so 1 Kings offers nothing new to our discussion. The question is: what does 2 Chronicles 20:33 mean?
            We see that Jehoshaphat did remove high places. But we need not assume that all were removed forever. Certainly, if the people he ruled over bore any resemblance to the historic pattern of Israel and Judah (they did), they were only all to ready to adopt pagan worship. In 2 Chronicles, we note the contrast offered between the beginning of Jehoshaphat’s account, his bold heart, and the end of his account, the lack of motivation on the people’s part. No ruler under those circumstances could effect a permanent uprooting of the high places. They were bound to come back after earlier being removed. There is no need to cite this as a contradiction.
All we are told is that he removed the high places; but we are nowhere told that this campaign lasted his entire reign. It was after this campaign that they came back. Since these later high places did not exist during the removal, can we suppose that 2 Chronicles 17:6 discusses their removal? No. Therefore, the two scriptures that say ‘they did not depart from the land’ make more sense. They describe the net result of his religious reforms, the people did not prepare themselves to seek Jehovah, so the high places were still around. In like manner, we can say that Hitler was bold and captured Poland and yet he did not control Poland by the end of the war, and not be contradicting ourselves.
Did Jehoshaphat Accept Ahaziah’s Assistance?
            1 Kings 22:49 (NWT) states: “Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat: “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships,” but Jehoshaphat did not consent.” However, 2 Chronicles 20:35,36 (NWT) seemingly contradicts that, saying: “King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who acted wickedly. So he made him his partner in making ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Eziongeber.”
            However, we do not rush into such bold claims. The context will reveal that these accounts mesh perfectly. 1 Kings 22:48,49 reports that Jehoshaphat made ships that ended up being wrecked. Then, Ahaziah offers to have his servants accompany Jehoshaphat’s servants. Jehoshaphat refuses that particular offer of assistance. Parallel to that, 2 Chronicles 20:35-37 reports that Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahaziah. Then, they become partners in making ships. Eliezer, then, prophecies against them and they are thus wrecked.
            Therefore, we see that Ahaziah made two offers of assistance. The first was to make ships, which was accepted. Both accounts then agree that the ships made by the two were wrecked, but were not a total loss, for the king of Israel offers to have his servants go in the (new and/or repaired) ships with Jehoshaphat’s. However, taking heed of the prophecy of Eliezer, Jehoshaphat refuses that second offer. He knows that they were sunk, not because his servants were not skilled enough to steer them, but due to the wickedness of Ahaziah. The offer accepted differed from the one refused, both in content and time, a fact noted when both harmonious accounts are read in full.