ANSWERING TARA CHAPMAN
In my last post, I took some examples of supposed contradictions Tara Chapman quoted as being only a few of many that she claims exists in the Bible. I then offered what I believed to be plausible explanations to explain how they were not at all discrepancies. The larger picture, however, that I wished to point out was her flawed hermeneutics for discerning whether or not certain portions of Scripture are in agreement with others. As I stated, it is ridiculous to read into any text without considering the literary styles of the times and cultures in which they were written. This is simply irresponsible, especially when making claims as bold as the Bible containing contradictions. I hope to identify some more of the idiosyncrasies of ancient literature to in this post to support my point. Additionally, I want to point out some more of the flawed lines of reasoning that Tara uses in support of her new beliefs.
First, let’s deal with the literary conventions. In one of her posts, Tara says, “I knew it [the Bible] had some contradictions and some translational errors…” Tara goes on to explain what one of these contradictions are, “One to three nights prior to the day, my Love and I were once again discussing things with one another, when he questioned what it says in the book of Matthew about Jesus being named so and then claiming it was because it was prophesied he was to be named Immanuel. I replied that I'd always thought it was just another name for him, like a middle name. He kept objecting, saying that the text said he was to be called Jesus based on the prophecy that said he was to be called Immanuel.”
This is an incredibly simplistic reading of the prophesy found in Isaiah. For starters, why should we assume that Immanuel was to be given to the Messiah as a literal name rather that a descriptive one? It isn’t as though this hasn’t been done numerous times in the New Testament itself (Alpha and Omega, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Holy and Reverend, etc.). Tara further reasons, “I grabbed a bible on my way out and proceeded to read the part in Matthew, then flipped back to Isaiah 7 to read. I frowned. Not only are the names Jesus and Immanuel different, with different meanings, but Isaiah was talking about someone entirely different! He wasn't prophesying about any future-coming Messiah at all!” Really?
As Tara should already know before drawing such a conclusion, biblical prophesy is composed in a highly idiosyncratic manner, as Hebrew poetry is. A remarkable feature about some prophesies is that they sometimes refer to more than one time period. Indeed, the prophesy here could have a meaning in Isaiah’s time of assuring Judah’s safety while possessing further meaning in Jesus’ time. I’m aware that not everybody accepts the dualistic interpretation of prophesy. Let me simply state that if you don’t like certain ideas presented to explain certain sections of Scripture, that’s fine. What’s not fine is to reject the idea that the Bible is divinely inspired when one is in no way qualified to do so. If my explanation seems as though I’m making something up out of thin air, then I’m going to ask what evidence people have for refuting what I’ve said, especially those who lack a sophisticated background in the study of the conventions of ancient texts.
(KEITH HUNT -- Joel 2 is a classic example of duality of prophecy. The context of Joel 2 is the end times, the day of the Lord, as many Old Testament prophecies call it. The whole context of Joel 2 and 3 is the very end time and the coming of the Messiah to dwell in Zion, Jerusalem, note chapter 3:14-21. Read the context of chapter 2 and 3; it is an end time prophecy. YET Peter on the day of Pentecost used Joel 2 and the heavenly signs to refer to just what had happened on Pentecost day - see Acts 2:14-21. Now back to Isaiah 7 and the "Immanuel" -- it was a prophecy for the coming then for Judah but it was a prophecy about a maid bringing forth a child who would be "God among us" (Immanuel). Now turn to Isa. 9:6-7. Another prophecy [as most Bible scholars admit] about Jesus and his Kingdom to come and sitting upon the throne of David. notice the "names" he has: Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace !!!! Now were those names on his birth certificate if say they had them back then as we do today [they did not of course]. No, the names given and what he went by on the day to day basis was "Jesus" and "Christ".... and he called himself the Son of God [as did others] and Son of man. It is like this: the fastest man to run the 100 metres is the man from Jamaica who hold the world record, as of 2014. He is CALLED "the fastest man on earth" - people say..." Usain Bolt....called the fastest man on earth." Now on his birth certificate you will not find under his technical name given at birth "fastest man on earth." The Messiah's technical birth certificate name was to be "Jesus" said the angel, for he shall save his people from sin -Luke 1:31. And notice verse 32, he was to be great and be CALLED "THE SON OF THE HIGHEST." Now that was not the name on his birth certificate [if they had one] - his name on his birth certificate was JESUS!
BUT he was also called "Son of the Highest." And he was also going to be called "Immanuel" [God with us]. So to correctly understand the Bible at time, you have to put verse with verse. Jesus was to have the name "everlasting FATHER" according to Isaiah. He was in many ways a "father" to us.....spiritual teacher, spiritual leader, leader of the church of God. But he was NOT God the FATHER!! So "father" is used of Jesus in a certain way, and the New Testament makes it as clear as day, that Jesus was NOT God the Father. God the Father is used as meaning the God being who is in the TOP position in the universe, the one with authority over every being in the universe including the one who is Jesus the Christ. I prove that in many studies on my website).
Another instance of failing to read in the context of ancient convention is in her reading of Jesus’ ascension. She states, “It's said that Luke authored Luke and Acts. The gospel "according to" Luke claims Jesus ascended later the same day he was resurrected. Read through it carefully. He met with the disciples, walked with them to Bethany, and then he ascended. In Acts it was forty days afterward.” Really?
The Gospels are written in the manner of ancient biographies, while Acts is written in the manner of Hellenistic historiography. In order to be able to discover whether or not any inconsistencies exist between the accounts, the details they present must be evaluated under the conventions and limitations of their respective genres. Very strikingly, the ancients weren’t as concerned with arranging history in chronological order as those in our contemporary culture. The Bible is not the only witness to this fact. If one takes the time to read ancient biographies, such as Tacitus’ Life of Agricola or the parallel lives by Plutarch, he should notice that chronological order is only one of several ways in which history could be ordered. A couple of other ways to arrange history could be topically or geographically. If Matthew and Luke were writing out of the conventions that existed in their time, then who are we to say that they were wrong in their presentations?
(KEITH HUNT -- this is really bad theology understanding on Tara's part. I'm shocked because she knows the Bible speaks of 3 heavens. Where God the Father is; where the universe is, where the birds fly. So on resurrection day. You might remember Jesus saying to one lady, don't handle me, touch me, for I am not yet ascended to the Father in heaven. Now in all the Lord's festival keeping Tara should know very well that the wave sheaf was cut and presented by the priests in the Temple on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. All explain fully by myself on my website [but not any more sure if Tara ever read it]. Jesus ascended into heaven to God's throne as the wave sheaf, then return and later that day as the Gospels say he was touched by the disciples. Now the account at the end of Luke Jesus blessed them and "carried up into heaven." Ah now which heaven? Elijah was carried up into heaven also [Protestants like to quote that to prove Elijah is now in the presence of God - living on in God's heaven; I disprove all that in one of my studies on my website]. Jesus at the end of Luke was taken away from them. He could have "vanished" out of their sight as he did in verse 31. But this time he simple was carried into heaven and went from them. I mean God can come and go as he wants, as he desires; so did Jesus. There are not words at the end of Luke to say he was taken to God the Father in the third heaven. Jesus was around on earth doing things for 40 days [Acts 1:3] and we are not told what he did on each of those days; we are not told how he came and went, only that he gave infallible proof that he was alive to various ones. Then when it was time for him to go to the heaven where God the Father is he did so as shown in Acts 1:6-11 given to us in a very specific way and going to come in "a like manner" [pretty close to the way he went but not exactly, for we are told in Revelation he will come on a white horse])
In addition to the freedom recording historical events, the ancients also had the creative license to omit or revise certain facts, within a limit, if it so served their purposes. For instance, Mark has the centurion saying of Jesus, “Surely this is the Son of God” while the Luke has his saying “Surely this was a righteous man.” One might suggest that he said both, but my stance is that either Mark or Luke modified what the centurion actually said. Is this a contradiction? It certainly isn’t within the literary conventions of their time. If one author had him saying that Jesus was righteous and the other the opposite of that, that would be a contradiction. In reality, however, both authors have the centurion saying the same thing but emphasizing different characters of his actual quote. Luke, in expressing that Jesus’ crucifixion shamed the system of Roman justice, rephrased what he said in order to make plain Jesus’ righteous character to Theophilus.
(KEITH HUNT -- and people should read the study on my website called "How Paul used the Old Testament" by an author that technically relates things that will blow you away, and at the same time amplifies what Matt has told you above)
Such was the creative freedom that the biblical authors had available to them. With this in mind, Tara continues, “Did he truly walk to Emmaus and then meet the disciples later that day in Jerusalem in a room, or did he rather meet them in Galilee? With the distance in mind, it's impossible both happened. Which was it? Did he say they needed to meet him in Jerusalem or Galilee? If one is true, the other is a lie.” What the Bible actually states is that Jesus remained on the Earth for 40 days following His resurrection and that Jesus and his disciples were at Galilee, Jerusalem, and on the road to Emmaus. It doesn’t necessarily specify the order in which these events took place within those 40 days.
(KEITH HUNT -- and if you did want to argue it all happened on that resurrection day. Then it could have indeed. Obviously not all disciples were in one room in Jerusalem, Two were walking to Emmaus. Some would have been in Galilee, some in Jerusalem and etc. With Christ being now an immortal Spirit being, he could come and go as fast as a thought. Be anywhere in as they say "a split second." He could have done all kinds of things on that resurrection day, appearing to as many as he wanted, anywhere. We are not told all the things he did on that day or any of the other 40 days he was proving he was alive to his disciples)
Tara also claims that Scripture contains translational errors, and I quite agree with her on this. However, I disagree with her when it comes to the idea that this is something scandalous that ought to alarm Christians. As far as I can tell, she is talking about the errors of the King James Bible (KJV) and perhaps other modern translations. She would be on more solid ground if she were to talk about either the Masoretic or the Received texts. I don’t know much about the latter, but I do know that we don’t possess any of the original Scriptures. I also know that, in all of its composite layers, the Masoretic Text (MT) contains errors. Is this something that proves that God isn’t capable of preserving His Word? Well, no.
(KEITH HUNT -- the method of preserving the Old Testament Hebrew scriptures was very very, and very exact. See "How we got the Bible" on my website. The Dead Sea Scrolls found in 1947, contained a copy of Isaiah. What surprised many was that it was 99.5 percent or more as the Hebrew of today that the KJV Bible was translated from. From the time of Isaiah to the sect of the people of the Dead Sea Scrolls the book of Isaiah was 99.5 or more preserved; so from the sect of Jesus' day who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls could not God use men to preserve all the other books of the Old Testament even down to today? I think so, if he can create the Universe, he can preserve his word for us. The Greek New Testament there are over 5,000 yes 5,000 MSS, parts of etc. Put together you get what the KJV translators used to write the KJV Bible. On my website you'll have under "How we got the Bible" J.P. Green's intro to his Greek/English Interlinear. The "majority text" is the very best. What does it mean? Well what it says.... "majority" of the Greek MSS. And as he says, there is very very little difference between the "majority text" and the "received text" used by the KJV scholars, and certainly nothing to change any doctrine of God's truths)
There are a few reasons as to why I believe these facts should only strengthen one’s belief in God. Today’s base texts may contain errors, contain some difficult to read characters, and may be partially destroyed, but these facts present only superficial problems. I think that this fact in of itself is evidence of a supernatural being who can preserve the important aspects of His Word, who can then guide His servants to resolve the problems with whatever data has been protected. For instance, the MT has some misusages of words. So what? These types of errors are similar to the morphological error encountered by translators of Old English in failing to identify the difference between a “y” and a thorn character. This character (the thorn), containing the pronunciation “th,” could be written so that it looked like a “y,” introducing the pseudo-archaic word “ye”. However, since readers of modern English understand that the definite article is “the,” it’s not a matter of significant consequence.
These same kinds of errors are the ones in the MT. Does this prevent us from understanding what the text is trying to say? Not at all. There may be cases where translators have a difficult time deciphering a character which can give a word one of two different meanings. I’ve only encountered this once in my studies, and the issue was whether or not a word could be resolved as one or another word with the meaning of shaving. Would a mistranslation of this sort create a huge problem of doctrinal error that can’t be resolved? I doubt it.
(KEITH HUNT -- as vowels were only added to the hebrew Old Testament in about 500 A.D. yes A.D. There are challenges for any even Hebrew scholar, at times when translating into English. But two things.... 1. There has never been anything so large as to change any truth of God. 2. God has seen fit to give us checks and balances with various scholars down through the centuries, to zero in on some things more technically correct. Example Mr. Fenton PhD in the 1800s said he would not translate the Hebrew and Greek until he was as naturally fluent with those languages as he was with English. He studied those languages for 50 years...yes 50 years, before setting about to give his translation of the Bible. So in parts he was more technically correct than other scholars; example. He renders Genesis 1:1 as "By periods God created....." He has a footnote saying, "the Hebrew word for 'beginning' is plural in the Hebrew." Hence should be "beginnings" - plural. He rendered it "periods" - plural. And so indeed modern science shows the universe was made in periods..... an on going creation, stars dying and stars forming, a universe still in expansion and etc. Then in another book I have the author tells you the word for "creator" in Ecc. 12:1 is in the plural.... hence should be "creators." Yes proof the God of the Old Testament was more than one person. We know from many other verses of the Bible the Godhead of the Old Testament was TWO persons... one became the Father and the other the Son as used in the New Testament. So God has through time given us checks and balances with scholars of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures that make up the Christian Bible)
While I am unaware of what is missing from the MT as a result of damage, it seems to be nothing to be concerned about. A parallel passage may provide the missing details, or perhaps we cannot know what certain passages said. If the latter, they certainly pose no consequence as to matters of salvation. I have found nothing indicating that any damage of the MT is so disastrous as to affect any important doctrine. Tara spoke about additions to Scripture, as if this should also scandalize Christians. It is a fact that the Masoretes added vowel characters to the text in an attempt to modernize it. Is this something that tampers with the original message of Scripture? I don’t see how it could. I invite anybody to do his own research of the MT to verify what I’ve said.
(KEITH HUNT -- again God gave us checks and balances down through time. And I have said that although the KJV is not perfect, God indeed has used it for centuries since 1611 to go around the world, and bring people to the knowledge of his truths. There is nothing so greatly amiss with the KJV that it cannot give you all the basic truths of God as listed in Hebrews 6:1-2. And with the KJV you can also understand Bible prophecy, end time prophecy, if you are given the gift of prophecy. If you have the gift of prophecy, all you need is the KJV Bible)
Granted, Tara was talking about additions of story elements that could affect the Scripture from a theological standpoint. She mentions one of them in pointing out that details supporting the doctrine of the Trinity were added by the KJV translators. However, isn’t the fact that we know this was an addition significant? If we know what has been added and what hasn’t, we can say that God has provided guidance as to what we should read and what we shouldn’t. However, Tara also claims that the last few verses of Mark were later added and that the story of the woman caught in adultery was a later addition as well. Again, in making such a claim, one has to ask how this may be proven. Is it a difference of writing style that inspired the idea? Was it something else?
(KEITH HUNT -- yes God has given us checks and balances; we are not left in the dark on all the important truths of God, not one bit. Tara has not used my website as she should have done over the last many years I've know her. If she had she would have read the "otherside of the story" from scholars who counter the idea of the last verses of Mark and the woman caught in adultery should not be in the Bible. I'm getting an uneasy feeling Tara has been looking for a way out of not being a Christian any more, and if you have that attitude, the agnostic and atheists people who trash the Bible and Jesus, well they will give you the way out if you want it)
Tara also claims that the New Testament (NT) canon wasn’t established until the fourth century at the (first) Council of Nicea. The idea that it was Eusebius who established the canon or that it has any one person or group of people in A.D. 325 is absolutely false. Ernest L. Martin in his book Restoring the Original Bible quite convincingly makes it clear that the canon – its books and its order – was handled by the original apostles. Yes, not all canonizations of the NT are the same. For instance, the Roman Catholics have added other books. However, this does not mean that an original, inspired canon was never created or that it doesn't exist today.
Before concluding this section, I’d like to state that I am in no way accusing Tara of purposefully ignoring details and wrongly approaching the biblical text. I will, however, say that she has been closed-minded in her approach to her new ideas. There are many resources that exist within the internet alone that could disprove what she has been saying, or at least offer alternative views. Most significantly, she has not used the full resources available to her from her mentor Keith Hunt’s web site and has not, as far as I can tell, adequately discussed her findings with him before committing to being a non-Christian. I sympathize with her in that I understand the confusion that can result from the clever arguments of men and also the experiences of being let down by people she’s trusted to know the truth. However, I must sincerely express my thoughts as to her shallow observations and impulsiveness in making false assumptions that many before her have done. This isn’t intended as a disdainful message, but rather a plea for Tara to seriously reconsider her approach towards the subject of Christianity.
To be continued