[Marxism] Christianity Today and the passages of the Lord

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Tue Dec 14 14:51:41 MST 2004

The comrades from Christianity Today have a reassuring message for all of us 
in the latest issue:

"Because the Bible is God's Word and God cannot lie (Isaiah 55:10-11; John 
17:17; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 4:12), it's totally trustworthy, free from any 
error. God's Word is described as "the word of truth" (2 Corinthians 6:7; 
Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). Inerrancy isn't a theory about 
the Bible; it's the teaching of the Bible itself. What most people claim as 
errors in the Bible aren't errors but difficulties. People think they've 
stumbled upon apparent inconsistencies when they haven't taken the time to 
find out all the facts, or made an in-depth study of the passage. Many Bible 
questions have been answered as new discoveries have been made in fields 
such as language, history, archeology, and other sciences. Regardless of the 
kind of difficulty found, not a single irreconcilable error can be found in 
the Bible's pages."


So how does this work? Since Isaiah is mentioned, let's try for a more 
in-depth study of a straightforward passage from Isaiah chosen at random 
(1-18). You've heard about the Godfather who makes an offer you can't 
refuse, but now have a look at this and think of Derrida. My first try here 
is the English Standard Version:

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like 
scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, 
they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall 
be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

It is added here in a special note, that "reason" might also be rendered as 
"dispute". Not altogether the same thing, I would have thought. Now for the 
New Living Translation:

"Come now, let us argue this out," says the LORD. "No matter how deep the 
stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly 
fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as 
white as wool. If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will 
have plenty to eat. But if you keep turning away and refusing to listen, you 
will be destroyed by your enemies. I, the LORD, have spoken!"

As you can see here, "reason" or "dispute" has become "argue out". The 
"scarlet" sin has become a "deep stain". The sins can become not wool, but 
"white as wool" (which isn't very white, actually). A whole new sentence 
suddenly appears about cleaning. Being willing and obedient becomes obeying 
the Lord and letting him help you. You don't get "the good of the land" here 
but "plenty to eat". Refusing and rebelling becomes "turning away and 
refusing to listen". You no longer get eaten by the sword, but you are 
destroyed by your enemies.

Let's now try Young's literal translation:

"Come, I pray you, and we reason, saith Jehovah, If your sins are as 
scarlet, as snow they shall be white, If they are red as crimson, as wool 
they shall be! If ye are willing, and have hearkened, The good of the land 
ye consume, And if ye refuse, and have rebelled, [By] the sword ye are 
consumed, For the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken."

Here there is nothing anymore about obeying, but being "hearkened". The 
suggestion here is Jehovah is praying you to come, and that through reason, 
the sins will be white as snow. There is nothing about stain-removers here 
though. The good of the land is not "eaten" here, but "consumed". Failure to 
co-operate means being "consumed" by the sword, not destroyed by enemies.

The Contemporary English Version has a friendlier version (but with a clear 
warning), which is subtitled "An Invitation from the LORD":

"I, the LORD, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet 
red,  but they will be whiter than snow or wool. If you willingly obey me, 
the best crops in the land will be yours. But if you turn against me, your 
enemies will kill you. I, the LORD, have spoken."

Here, there is no reason, dispute, arguing or praying, but instead a civil 
invitation, "let's talk it over". There is no crimson here. The sins, not 
the person, become "whiter than snow or wool". It is not "if" your sins are 
scarlet, but they are scarlet. There is no suggestion of eating or 
consuming, but more a transfer of property: the crops will become yours, 
that's the deal. There is no refusing or rebelling, but a more general 
"turning against me." Here the enemies do not destroy, but kill. The mouth 
of the lord becomes a simple "I".

There is also the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which says:
"Come, let us discuss this, says the LORD. "Though your sins are like 
scarlet, they will be as white as snow;     though they are as red as 
crimson, they will be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will 
eat the good things of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you will be 
devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Slight change of emphasis again - "come, and let's discuss". The mouth, 
crimson and the sword are back. Well, I won't go on in the exegesis or the 
concordance or the whole history of it, I think the point is clear: you can 
always find a passage that agrees with you, and in that sense there is no 
"single irreconcilable error" possible... although of course finding the 
passage itself might occasionally be difficult.


And if you pick up a book and you're starting to read it,
I'll tell you what you'd better do,
You can read it till the end and even if you believe it,
That doesn't mean to say it's true...
Don't believe what you read.

- Boomtown Rats, "Don't believe what you read"

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