14 February 2012

Has the Bible been modified?

If we are to trust the Bible we need to know that it faithfully reproduces what was written by the original authors almost two thousand years ago, or earlier. It turns out that the Bible stands up to scrutiny better than any other ancient book.

Damaged papyrus of Matthew's gospelThe Bible is not really a book in the normal sense, rather it is a library of books written at different times and by different authors. Some versions of the Bible may include or exclude particular books for a variety of reasons.

But what can we say of the accuracy by which the books have been copied over the years and centuries since they were originally written? And how do the books of the Bible compare in terms of reliability with, say, Plato or Aristotle, Caesar or Cicero?

Surprisingly, we have a great deal of evidence for the reliability of both Old and New Testament books. Far more than we do for any of those other ancient books.

This is well-summarised in a web document by Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM).  Here's a claim made on that web page. Take a look at the page itself for the supporting argument.
The New Testament documents are better-preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writings. Because they are so numerous, they can be cross checked for accuracy... and they are very consistent.
Notice especially the table that shows how other respected ancient documents don't even come close in terms of early copies.

This section from an article on Wikipedia supports the accuracy of the New Testament, while another article, Textual variants in the New Testament, actually lists them for us. The majority are very minor indeed.

Whatever we may say about the comparisons to be made between the Bible and other ancient books, we may be quite certain that the Bible we read today has been faithfully copied. The New Testament we can buy and read today is very, very close to the original works written almost 2000 years ago. For the vast majority of the text (99.5%) the match is perfect across all copies.

Translation - Doesn't translation affect the meaning of the text, changing it from the originally intended sense? The purpose of good translation should always be to render the original meaning in a different language as accurately as possible. Many of the Bible translators have gone to extreme lengths in research, learned debate, discussion, checking, inviting critical comment, reviewing and revising. All this before they even consider printing a new version.

A far greater danger would be lack of translation, with less knowledgeable people trying to understand the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and probably making mistakes.

Paraphrase versions, like the Living Bible and idiomatic translations like The Message do their best to make the text more readable. These are not intended to replace the formal equivalence of more typical translations, but they can be an excellent way to introduce the Bible, making it more accessible and providing impact and immediacy.

Study aids - For serious study I recommend reading several modern translations along with Hebrew or Greek interlinears, good commentaries and Bible dictionaries (giving the range of meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words). There are excellent tools online, take a look at Bible Gateway and Biblos, but there are others out there. Try some out and bookmark those you find most useful.

And rest assured, the source material you are using (directly or indirectly) is of high quality and pretty much identical with what was originally written.

(Check linked articles on other blogs - please explore!)

13 February 2012

Review Award - Rhoda

< No earlier items | Index | Be the light >

It's time for the first 'Review Award' which goes to Rhoda's delightfully titled 'Living to Please God'. Why does she get the first of these? Because she sparked the idea recently so she deserves it!

Living to Please GodRhoda lives in Wales and has a blog called 'Living to Please God'.

Her husband is an American missionary leading a local church; they have a young family that Rhoda is home-schooling. That must be quite a challenge! She somehow finds time to write about many things including church, family, blogging, holiness and more - but all of them are rooted and centred on Christ.

Why I like the blog - That consistent Christ focus is one of the reasons I like Rhoda's writing. Another is her propensity for kindness and gentleness with her readers, even when writing on difficult or challenging topics, although she doesn't shy away from dealing with those issues. For a good example of this look at 'The dangers of questioning the Bible'.

What else? Ah well, the banner image is just wonderful. It shows a serene lake surrounded by mountains, possibly somewhere in Snowdonia which just happens to be one of my favourite parts of the British Isles. Am I allowed to like a blog for its banner? Of course!

And last, but by no means least, I have yet to see an article on Rhoda's blog that is not interesting and engaging. This blog is simply written, straightforward, and packed with good things.

Selected quote
This blog is here to share what God is teaching me about living for Him, in the hope that it will help and encourage others.
This simple statement sums it up, really. This is what 'Living to please God' is all about, and it's what Rhoda herself is all about. If we can't engage in ordinary, messy life and take Jesus there with us, we have failed to follow him as we should.

Conclusion - Jesus didn't call us to fine theological discourse or endless argument over small details, he left those things to the scribes and pharisees. Instead he healed the sick,  threw out demons, and made life better for ordinary people. He even provided wine for a wedding when it ran short. He covers our poor planning and our lack of resources in all that we do. He is - basically - a hero in every possible way.

If he's our hero what else should we do but learn to live for him, hoping to help and encourage others? If that is your goal you will find abundant hints and help in Rhoda's blog.

< No earlier items | Index | Be the light >

12 February 2012

The AAJ Review Award - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

Awarding a review and a badge to other bloggers seems like a good idea. It will be fun to do and will help link blogs together. Hopefully this and other schemes will encourage a developing sense of community.

The 'Review Award' is a new idea, sparked by a comment on one of my recent posts. It was really encouraging to receive an award, in fact it made me grin from ear to ear! And that's good; we should encourage one another.


Hopefully, review awards will help other bloggers by encouraging them, drawing new visitors to take a look, and strengthening the blogging community in general.

I like the idea of providing a badge and I'll start with the simple design displayed here - we'll see how it goes.

You can view recent awards, or pick from the list below (most recent awards are at the top).

2012


11 February 2012

Beech tree in the snow - IMAGE

(Click the photo for a larger view)

The beech tree in our neighbour's garden - 
Photo taken 10th February 2012

This beech tree grows next door but the branches cross high over our fence. With a fresh snow fall yesterday and a beautiful blue sky, what a glorious sight it is! If you enlarge it you can make out some of last year's beechmast husks still clinging on.

Click the 'image' label below to see other image posts.

10 February 2012

Index to themed articles

This post lists the series indexes on 'Journeys of heart and mind'. Each index collects articles on a theme, often written over a period of time.

An early indexFrom time to time I write a series of themed articles, and usually I provide an index article to make it easy to find the entire set. Now that there are several such indexes it seems time to make 'an index of indexes' - and this is it.

Alternatively you can view all the indexes as one, long page; the link for this is always available on the 'About' page (scroll down part way to find 'INDEX' in the 'Topics' list). But the brief alphabetical list below will often be more convenient.

So here it is...

04 February 2012

Praying for Britain

Some of us are thinking we should begin praying for Britain, for England, and for our local area. Megan first suggested the idea after reading John Richard's prophecy (item 4 in the list below).

A boat on Galilee, a good place to pray!Recently we've become aware of a series of events related to prayer for Britain. They're listed here in the order in which we heard about them. However, it was item 4 that provoked our interest in prayer.
  1. Prophetic opinion from Clifford Hill that there is a five year 'window of opportunity' for the church in the UK, there would now be about three years of this window left.
  2. Some thoughts from Clifford Hill, Wolfgang Simson, and Peter Farmer in the Millenials Meeting at Moggerhanger Park.
  3. A word from Mark Stibbe concerning the 'seven pillars of society'. There are details of the seven pillars online. It's an idea that goes back to the 1970s.
  4. prophecy from John Richards
  5. A second prophecy from Lance Lambert
As an initial response we plan to meet on Tuesday afternoon, 7th February at 15:00 to consider how we should take this forward. We will review the five items above, consider the practicalities of prayer and perhaps fasting, and decide if and when to meet again and whether to invite others to join us.

My feeling is that we should involve anyone in the St Neots area who feels led to take part. Whatever we do would probably be  non-denoninational, informal and very flexible. If enough people are involved we could consider meeting in a variety of places and at different times. Others may have different ideas and we'll know more after we meet on 7th.

Here are some factors that I regard as especially important as we go forward. There may well be others that we can add as we go along.
  • Love Jesus ever more fully and learn to listen better as the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
  • Love one another so that we can act in unity of heart and purpose despite any differences that might divide us.
  • Recognise that there is only one living Temple and we are all stones built into it.
  • Wholeheartedly give ourselves to whatever he shows us to do, even if it seems very costly or very stupid.
  • Understand Jesus' call to mission in the widest possible sense, and be ready to urgently reach those in our lives who need to hear the good news he has for them.
  • Keep everything as simple as the Father has made it, not adding the complexity that we may find more amenable.
  • Remember that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are in charge and we are not. Give them the glory and honour and praise they truly deserve, and humbly exercise the authority we have in them (which we do not deserve).
  • Our prayer should be to bless (in the manner of Ffald-y-Brenin).
If you are interested in this and live near St Neots perhaps you'd like to contact me. You can comment on this post below or you can mail me (chris@scilla.org.uk). I will pass your comments on when we meet on 7th.

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