Bible Study 101 – Live Devotion notes
We’ve talked about how we know God exists.
We’ve talked about what it means to have faith.
We’ve talked about studying the Bible in small sections.
We’ve talked about choosing a topic to study. This helping us to connect with scripture because it touches us where we are.
Today let’s talk about how to answer questions in our mind or in a question asked of us, about the reliability of scripture.
Early manuscripts were preserved and copied by scribes from one generation to the next. Some ask how can we be sure mistakes weren’t made along the way? How can we be sure someone didn’t add some stuff to move people toward a particular agenda?
The first manuscript was a tablet of stone on which Moses wrote the ten commandments. These were considered so precious, so holy that God commanded they be kept in the Ark of the Covenant which was kept in the Holy of Holies. These words were a reminder of the covenant between God and the people of God. These words were treated with the utmost respect. Anyone who touched the Ark of the Covenant died. These were not something to be trifled with.
Later as God directed more writings they were written on a scroll and kept in the temple, and then in the synagogues. They were only taken out to be read to the people in the synagogue. These scrolls were treated with the utmost care. These were the words of God and God was not to be trifled with. The Hebrew people didn’t even speak God’s name it was too holy to cross their unclean lips.
We think of the possibility of changing God’s word to suit our agenda only because we do not have the same respect for God in our society as a whole. We hear people regularly using God’s name as a curse word. So, we don’t understand the awe that existed among the scribes that copied these words so that they could be shared from one generation to the next.
The Dead Sea scrolls found in 1947 confirmed the consistency of the OT writings with the writings before it. All copies found everywhere have been the same.
Archeological discoveries have found items dating back to almost 2000 years before Christ. There are 25,000 archeological sites that are connected with Biblical stories in the Middle East. No archaeological evidence has been found to refute any of the Biblical stories.
When the Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) scriptures were translated into other languages there are sometimes difficulties finding words that accurately translate the text. Not all languages have the same expressions – thus there may not be words to translate a particular expression. We have to work harder to understand scripture due to the language barrier.
One instance I read yesterday in James Geary’s book Wit’s End. He explains how the Fruit of the Tree of Life became an apple.
“Once upon a time, in 382 CE, to be exact, Eve bit into an apple. Seeing it was good, she offered the apple to Adam, and he also took a bite. Whereupon Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked. Ashamed at having broken God’s sole commandment not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve hid themselves when He came walking in the garden. And the rest, of course, is history.
God in His wrath decreed that henceforth man must earn his daily bread by working the earth and woman must suffer agony in childbirth. As a final punishment, He cast Eve and Adam forever out of Eden.
Prior to the fourth century, however, no one knew exactly which forbidden fruit Eve and Adam ate. Genesis records only that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was off-limits; it does not specify what edible flower that tree produced.
Apples appears in 382 because that’s when Pope Damasus I asked Saint Jerome to translate the Old Latin Bible into the simpler Latin Vulgate, which became the definitive edition of the text for the next thousand years. In the Vulgate, that adjectival form of “evil,” malus, is malum, which also happens to be the word for “apple.” The similarity between malum (evil) and malum (apple) prompted Saint Jerome to pick the word to describe what Eve and Adam ate, thereby ushering sin into the world.
The truth is, though, the apple is innocent…”
You understand now how translations have caused some difficulties. We have words in the English language that are spelled the same but have different meanings. Sense (noun) – "the bear has a keen sense of smell that enables it to hunt at dusk" And sense (verb) "with the first frost, they could sense a change in the days"
These difficulties in translate do not mean that God’s word changes or is incorrect due to human error. It means we have to rely on the Holy Spirit more to help us understand.
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you.
Bible Study begins with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to teach us.
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