Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A question about the Bible

Last year a friend of mine sent me an interesting question about the Bible. In many respects it is similar to questions that I was asked on a regular basis while I was on my mission, but in this case I got to talk a lot longer and, perhaps, develop my ideas more fully. That's code for: I enjoyed answering this one.

A. K.
September 22 at 8:17pm

Do you know how many different versions of the bible there are? I don't understand how any of it could be true when it's been edited so much. I was thinking about getting a Hebrew bible once. I figured that might be as close to true as you could get but I'm sure that's been edited way beyond truth too.

Michael Maier
Today at 4:35pm
I hope that this answers some of your questions:

While each translation of the Bible may differ somewhat in style and wording, I have found that the translations themselves tend to agree on nearly all of the larger points of content and doctrine. I feel that the truth is not entirely dependent upon semantics, or the finer points of translations. Remember that the word "Bible" was originally "Biblia" and they both mean bookS plural. The bible didn't grow on a tree or pop into existence overnight, rather it is a collection of SOME of the writings of SOME of the prophets of God which were set down over the course of Centuries. And the few that we have are only those that have survived the ravages of time.

It is important to consider who actually wrote the Bible. Did God write the Bible? Actually, no he didn't. Could he have reached down and written the bible in 10 foot tall fire letters on the side of a mountain somewhere for all to see? Sure. Did he? No. Why not? The answer is simple: In Amos 3: 7 God himself reminds us through his prophet Amos that "Surely the Lord God will do NOTHING, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets". So the Bible was written by Prophets: inspired men who spoke and wrote as they were moved upon by the Lord through the Holy Ghost (see 2 Peter 1:19-21; D&C 68:1-4). It wasn't written by great scholars or erudite philosophers, but rather by simple men who held the authority to speak in God's name. They were the only ones who had the authority given them by God to write and interpret scripture, and thus were the only ones who were capable of writing the books that eventually formed the bible that we have today. When you consider the chasm of time and culture that separates us from the inspired men that wrote the Bible, it is a true miracle that it translates at all.

On occasion, the bible has been tampered with, and mistranslated by well-meaning but misguided scribes, but that fact alone should in no stretch of logical reason lead one to conclude that the whole of it must be false. The bible never claimed to be flawless, and it is a false sectarian notion that says that it is, but the fact remains that the Bible is divine in origin and intent. Please do not mistake me, your points are valid, but I would submit that a question about the veracity of the bible is the whole reason why we need "another witness of Jesus Christ". The Book of Mormon supports the Bible in it's truth, clarifies where the Bible may be unclear, and corrects many of the false notions that have crept into the current incarnations of the Bible. Any doubt of the divine origin of the Bible is removed as one gains a testimony of the truth of this second witness of many of the same truths.

Oh yes, one more point, the Hebrew bible consists solely of the books which largely constitute our old testament. It has never contained the new testament, and it would be pointless to render it in the Hebrew as the New Testament was originally written in the Greek. Christ himself is believed to have spoken aramaic, as was the case with his apostles, though some of his apostles appear to have learned greek later in life. My point is that even at the time of it's original composition the languages of the Bible were fluid and changing.

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