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Jonathan Hawkins

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How can we consider the bible credible?

How could we rely on what the bible tells us? Looking at the bible from a historical point of view, it has been translated over and over again into hundreds of different languages. Over the years kings and rulers have altered and manipulated aspects to suit their reign. Even today there are multiple different interpretations. What effects do you think this has on the content?

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  • Mar 26 2013: There are many Biblical texts that survive from before the year 500 and several that survive from before the year 200. Major modern translations are done by teams of scholars with expertise in the original languages and the cultures in which those languages were situated with access to the earliest manuscripts in the original languages using sophisticated techniques of textual criticism. Any recent major translation is likely a more credible version of the Biblical text than has been available since the first few centuries AD. Along the way, many distortions were made for many ideological reasons. Right now, though, credibility is #1 on the list for translators.

    If your concern is how to take the Bible seriously, one tool that intelligent people need is awareness of literary styles, or, academically, "form criticism". Understanding what genre of writing a piece of writing is helps a lot. Genesis can be read as a creation myth. Revelation is a poem fully of vivid imagery. The biggest problem though is that these neat categories for types of writing don't hold up over thousands of years. If you read Thucydides accounts of the Peloponesian War as modern history accounts you'll find them lacking as well. Even though most of the Bible is "history", it's tremendously important to have a feel for what the purpose of writing a "history" was at that point and what counted as credibility. Often, credibility in our modern sense is not high on the Biblical author's list of priorities. The gospel writers rearranged events in Jesus ministry to construct narratives that made their points better. To your mind, that might make them less credible, but for them you idea of credibility wasn't at the head of the list of reasons why they were writing. They were primarily writing to communicate in a pure a way as possible the transforming power of knowing Jesus.

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