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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 2

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

1 Thessalonians 5:26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.

Have you ever done that? I haven’t, and you probably haven’t, either. Why not? Because we live in a different culture. We are not the Corinthians, or the Thessalonians, and we don’t live in the first century. Kissing was a common part of greeting for them. Perfunctory kisses on the cheeks are still part of some cultures. In my culture, casual kissing, as a form of greeting, isn’t normal.

There is a significant fact about the Bible that the Bible doesn’t tell us. But it’s still true. That fact is that the Bible was written for a culture, or cultures, different than ours. They understood some things differently than we do. But we are still human, and God’s Word speaks to the twenty-first century. It speaks remarkably well, in fact. But there are things that readers and listeners took for granted when the 66 books of the Bible were first transmitted, that we just don’t take for granted, or, sometimes, even understand. Some of these differences are taken care of by translation, especially if the translation is not strictly word for word, but idea for idea. But some differences, like the “holy kiss,” just aren’t taken care of by translations.

[The book discusses the question of how long Christ was in the tomb in the book, at some length. The Bible says it was three days, but it wasn't, not as we count days -- He died on Friday afternoon, and had risen by early Sunday morning. But, in that culture, any part of a day would have been counted in numbering how many days something took. That's not the way we do it.

It also discusses the miracle of Joshua's long day. (I'm not sure exactly what God did then, but He did something!)  Did the sun stand still? If something like this happened today, we would say that the earth's rotation was stopped. But the people of Joshua's time had no idea that the earth rotated around the sun. Their culture hadn't realized that. The Bible was also written as if the earth was not spherical, in that story, and in other places.]

The Bible is not an astronomy or geology textbook. It describes the heavenly bodies, and the earth, in terms that would have been familiar to listeners and readers of that day. That doesn’t mean that the Bible is in error, unless you have an unreasonable standard for correctness.

In summary, to really understand the Bible, we need to do more than just read it. We should read it, recognizing that the Bible, although it speaks to us today, was written for cultures that were significantly different than ours. The Bible still tells us about Christ, and how the sin problem can be solved, and that applies to all cultures. The fact that the Bible was written for a different culture than ours, and one that didn’t have the same view of what the earth is like as we do, should not cause us to doubt its authenticity or inspiration. Rather, the fact that the Bible still speaks to us in such important ways is evidence for its Divine inspiration.

The above, except for the explanation in brackets, is an excerpt from my recently published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, public domain.

The previous post in this series is here.

Thanks for reading!


atlibertytosay said...

The Holy Kiss though should be understood as giving of the spirit in your greeting.

I've heard it referred to as "happiness with your handshake".

If you are someone that I know, care for, or I think deserves respect I have a much different handshake for those that I do have those feelings for. In general, I have "happiness in my handshake" for Christian brothers and sisters. My handshake is noticeably different than just grabbing your hand and squeezing with equal pressure. I always shake with my right, cover our handshake with my left, and smile if I care for you. If I don't, I give a light handshake and a smirk.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, atlibertytosay.

A smirk?