Am I Just Giving in to Ignorance?

There’s a difference between saying they aren’t divinely inspired and they aren’t literal history. I think Genesis 1-3 is true and divinely inspired, but I take it as a theological narrative that teaches about God and humanity not the material origins of the universe. You don’t have to give up inspiration or even inerrancy to accept evolution. You just have to accept the idea that the texts need to be interpreted in light of their purpose and cultural context. But yes, taking everything at its face value “plain meaning” is easier and less messy and gives you a more of a sense of security and certainty. It doesn’t always get you to truth though.

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Obviously I am no biblical expert, but I think it’s pretty clear and most would agree that the bible as it exists today is not the same as the bible at the time of its creation. There’s loads of translation errors, lost books (the book of Jasher), removed books (such as the Apocrypha), books that some sects consider canon but not others (The Book of Enoch) and exaggerations. I don’t know a ton about Islam, but it seems they did a much better job of record keeping in regards to the Quaran (if you didn’t know, a direct copy of the original Quran is still in existence.)

Trying to follow a strictly literal interpretation of a book that has been changed so much and is incomplete seems…Unwise, in my opinion.

That being said, I don’t think that degrades the core value of the Bible or the commentary it makes on the human condition. It just means that you should take it with a grain of salt. Again, this is all just my opinion.

As a footnote, I personally believe the flood was a real regional flood that became exaggerated over time (or maybe deliberately changed in an attempt to illustrate the sheer power of God). Is that a common belief or am I just weird?

Well, you may still be weird, but that or a variation is a pretty commonly held position by many. I am not sure it was exaggerated so much as it was more a tribal story that became generalized but initially was relevant to only that tribal group, in much the same way the the famine in Joseph’s story did not cover the the “whole globe” but rather the “whole world” of the people group involved.

This isn’t really accurate.

The “canon” or collection of writings that is included in the Christian Bible was compiled around 200 AD and finalized and adopted in the fifth century. It’s not like the Bible has a “time of creation” or was written at some point as a single document and then messed with. It’s a collection of copies of scrolls that each had different origins and purposes, were written by different people in three different languages over two millennia, and were copied and edited over time by scribes. The Quran is a relatively short document written by the companions of Mohammed in the the 7th century AD. The Christian Bible has more than 10 times more words than the Quran, is comprised of 66 separate books, and Job, thought by scholars to be the oldest book in the Hebrew Scriptures was written in the 6th century BC. Muslims believe that the Quran is untranslatable and must be read in the original Arabic. Christians believe that the Bible is infinitely translatable (in fact much of the Bible itself is a translation, since Jesus spoke Aramaic and probably didn’t preach in Greek, the language the New Testament is recorded in and Abraham spoke Akkadian, not Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures) So comparing the Quran and the Bible is comparing apples to oranges.

The documents that make up the Christian Bible have been copied pretty meticulously over the years. There is a whole field called textual criticism that seeks to understand how they were compiled and redacted to give us the forms we have today. They study the different versions and translations of the earliest versions to try to reconstruct something they believe is pretty close to an “original.” With the New Testament at least, there is very little variation between extant documents and scholars think the Nestle-Aland text is pretty certainly the text that was originally copied except for a limited number of small variances.

Are you sure about that? Have you even read the Qur’an? It came much later than the Bible and has copied many stories from the Bible. It also used stories from the Christian Apocryphal deemed too late and unreliable to be included in the Christian canon. It also shows the influence of Gnosticism.

Most Christians and everybody else are free to really seriously study every aspect the Bible, debate it, and ask probing questions about its origins. The most trouble Christians will get into is being fired or having Ken Ham go after you.

It’s a different story in the lands of Islam. Ask too many questions about the Qur’an and its origins and your life will be in danger. Just look at Salman Rushdie and the “Satanic Verses.”

There isn’t much variation in the Qur’an because they didn’t keep different versions around.

btw, What is this “direct copy of the original Qur’an” you speak of?

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Faith in Jesus causes a person to be born of God, to become a New Creation, to be freed from the power of sin and the devil. The religions of this world only give rules to live by which does not cause a person to be born from above and have no power to make a slave of sin free from it. Rules cant change the very nature of evil that is in mankind, only the Spirit of God can through the New Birth that comes through faith in Jesus.

And how are we to understand the origin of that? I really struggle with the idea it literally came from an immortal woman eating an apple in a land full of animals that never die or reproduce, vegetarian lions and so on. I’m more inclined (but wouldn’t know, as a newbie) we are meant to see this as an expression that God saw fit to chastise our failure to follow the ideals laid out by Him and our attempts to make gods of ourselves. It seems to me you don’t need to write the entire story as myth. You just need to read it ever so slightly less literally than some do.

I’m currently reading through the Qur’an alongside the bible (which I’m currently working my way through Leviticus). I thought that if the bible provided me a strange sense of hope and comfort then maybe I could get something out of the Qur’an as well. I person I know told me that the Qur’an is essentially like an extra book of the bible but I’m the more I read the more I realize he probably didn’t know what he was talking about.

As for the direct copy of the original Quaran, this all comes from a book called ‘Meaning in the Qur’an’ which contains a chapter called ‘Reliability and Validity of the Qu’ran’. In a nutshell, after Mohammed died a man named Abu Bakr became the first caliph and decided to compile the Qu’ran into a single book. He only added verses to said book if at least two scribes could recite exactly the same passage from memory. Once completed this copy served as the gold standard to which all other Quranic texts were compared. This copy was entrusted to one of the wives of Mohammed for safe keeping.

Once Islam had spread far and wide people began to translate the Qu’ran into different dialects and inevitably translation errors and other things seeped into these translations. To fix this, the third Caliph had scribes make seven official translations of the Qu’ran into these other dialects using the original copy of the Qu’ran which had been entrusted to one of Mohammed’s wives. Two of these seven copies still exist. One is at Tashkent in Central Asia and the other is in Istanbul, Turkey.

Unfortunately it doesn’t say what became of the original copy after this,.

I appreciate the thoughtful reply.

These are all good points, but I must admit that I made a poor choice of words. I should have said ‘at the time of completion’ as in the time the bible was compiled into what it is now.

I also wasn’t trying to compare the Qu’ran to the Bible or anything like that. It just seemed to me that Muslims have reached some kind of general consensus about their holy book that some Christians haven’t.

I think my point about different sects having different canons still stands, though. Why is it that the Book of Enoch is considered canonical to some Christian Orthodox religions in Ethiopia but not others? Why do Mormons include a book in their bible that is younger than the United States? The question I’m left with is how exactly am I supposed to know which version is definitive?

I struggle with this, too.

I ought to view this movie as immensely blasphemous now, but, I still think this is immensely insightful.

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I realize it’s really messy. I’ve taken whole classes in this stuff and still can’t always keep it straight.

Back when they were ratifying the canon at church councils at various points in time not all the church leaders were present or voted the same or agreed with the majority decision. The Roman church had a canon the decided on in 382. But the Orthodox didn’t agree until 692. (The Coptic church split off really early in 451) The eastern (Orthodox) bishops split with the western (Roman Catholic) bishops in 1053 after centuries of kind of going their separate ways. The Roman Catholic church affirmed their canon in 1545 and the Eastern Orthodox church affirmed their canon in 1442. Then the Reformation came along in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and the Protestants split with the Roman Catholics and didn’t want the Apocrypha in the canon.

Joseph Smith claimed to dictate new revelation from God (The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price) and so those new books are part of what Latter Day Saints consider their Scripture in addition to the Bible. The fact that they have “new revelation” in addition to the Bible is why they are considered a separate religion by many Christians instead of a branch of Christianity.

The Qur’an isn’t an extra biblical book. Much of it is original material, but it clearly shows the influence of biblical books, apocryphal books, and Gnosticism.

It’s not so much that Joseph Smith claimed to have new revelation and new scriptures, but the content of them and his other claims.

He says he was praying about which church to join when God told him not to join any of them because they were all an abomination. So all Christians churches are an abomination.

He claimed that all existing churches had committed apostasy and that Smith was called to reestablish the one true church–the Mormon church (aka Latter Day Saints).

The theology of the Book of Mormon isn’t so bad–it is still monotheistic although it says Jesus appeared to natives in the Americas, and that these natives were descendants of Jews who had sailed to the Americas.

The unusual theology comes from their other books. For example, God started out as a man and became a god via some process. Mormons worship one god but they believe in many gods–they even believe that good Mormons will become gods one day and rule over their own planets.

Mormons believe in a pre-existence, and that they were spirit children of God before being sent to earth to human parents.

Mormons practiced polygamy until they wanted statehood for Utah.

So there’s a lot to think about.

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