Isn’t the Bible the Infallible Word of God?

I have dealt with this topic somewhat in previous posts, and I expect this repository page to grow in the future. The short answer is “no”; but since that will create the false impression that I am an atheist among most modern readers, I will elicidate.

The first reason is simply that the Holy Bible is not a word, nor was it written by God. The Bible is not a verse, a book, nor even a single anthology; rather, it is a collection of four separate themed anthologies, collected over thousands of years, of writings considered to be either Divinely-inspired, or deeply important to the history of the Israelite and Christian religion.

Even if we wish to insist on some poetic use of “word” which would encompass the entire work, we are still faced with the dilemma of hundreds of versions of the Bible existing. Notwithstanding the fact that meaning is always lost in translation (more on that later), Christian Bibles are in a different format than the Hebrew Bible of which the Christ was a rabbi.

The TaNaKh, or Hebrew Bible, contains four anthologies: the Torah (“the Law”), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (“Writings”). Christianity takes these same books and arranges them to lead more logically from the birth of Judaism to the birth of the Christ. If the Holy Bible is the Word of God, then the Hebrew Bible must certainly be; in re-ordering the texts, Christianity would have changed the Word of God, invalidating itself.

The second issue with referring to the Holy Bible as “the infallible Word of God”, is that it is, in fact, fallible. At least three sorts of error exist in the text, and are magnified with each successive translation.

The first type of error exists as simple mechanics. The most glaring example is “Jesus Christ”, which many modern readers actually believe to be the first and last name of a person who lived before “last names” were invented.

In fact, “Jesus Christ” is an Anglicized form of “Iesus Christus”, taken from the Vulgate and other Latin Bibles. “Iesus Christus”, likewise, is the Romanization of “Iesous Xristos”, where “Xristos” is the Greek word for Savior. This is what the Christ was called in the earliest editions of the Bible, which published the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and (occassionally) Greek works into a single Greek collection for widest dissemination.

But “Iesous Xristos” is actually a translation of the Aramaic “Yehoshuah Meshiach”. So, the correct translation of the Christ’s name into English is actually “Joshua, the Anointed One.”

A second type of error found in the Holy Bible comes from idiom. Imagine translating “wet behind the ear” into a foreign language. Would you do it literally, or to preserve the intent (“lacking experience”)? In either case, some meaning is lost. Similarly, the Book of Genesis tells us that an unnamed woman, “Lot’s wife”, was “turned to a pillar of salt” when she witnessed the destruction of the city of Sodom. In modern English, this is read as a literal supernatural event. But in Semitic idiom, to be “turned to a pillar of salt” is the equivalent of the English “petrified”–that is, immobilized with fear.

This is compounded in the Bible by the fact that every Hebrew character has numerological and symbolic meanings which are required to interpret religious writings. However, that is beyond the scope of this particular essay.

Finally, we have deliberate errors introduced in English. For instance, John 1:1 tells us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Did the Bible exist prior to creation? Clearly not, as it is a collection of works by historical human beings. Is the Bible God? This is idolatry, pure and simple. There are other obvious questions: what language did the Word come from? Why was there any language when God was the only being?

The answer is simple: the word being translated as “Word” in John 1:1 is “logos”, which doesn’t actually mean “word”. It means “reason” (as in “logical analysis”). In the same way that “logos tou bios” (“biology”) means “reason of life”, not “word of life”; “logos tou theos” does not mean “the Word of God”. God did not bring forth the universe from darkness and chaos by speaking (before air or physical bodies existed) a word (from a language which had no reason to be, and certainly wasn’t English).

God brought the world out of chaos by imposing Logos (reason) upon it.

%d bloggers like this: