I was discussing the Bible with two of those wandering old ladies..you know the ones..they carry copies of the Watchtower to give away and want to discuss “our Lord and Savior” with not very knowledgeable people in an effort towards conversion.
I invited them in.
The discussion turned quickly to the discrepancies I (and others) have found in the Bible.
When I attended seminary the study of the Bible was done in an Historical/critical (critical thinking, not criticism) context. This is completely different from reading and studying the Bible in an evangelical context. The ladies wished to discuss evangelism…I did not. I immediately explained that I read the Bible a little bit differently…and told them why.
When most people read the Bible they read from beginning to end of each chapter. Doing so fails to see the discrepancies from book to book…and sometimes chapter to chapter. In Seminary, we were taught to compare..to read horizontally. That is to read each chapter, taking copious notes on what is actually written then compare to another book telling the same story. In doing so, one picks up things that are difficult to reconcile.
Just looking at the two Christmas stories in an historical context shows discrepancies that simply cannot be ignored. Were there wise men or shepherds? Was there a star, and how did it appear over Jerusalem, and disappear, then appear again but this time over Bethlehem? Why is there no historical record of such a heavenly body appearing in the region?
Why is there no historical record of a census during the time of Augustus? Roman’s kept records of everything, yet there is no record either in the Roman writings nor in the Syrian writings. It was supposedly the “first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Quirinius was the governor of Syria ten years after the death of Augustus. And why would people have to travel to their “ancestral homes” for this census? David lived a thousand years or more before Joseph.
No other Roman census mentions people having to travel to their ancestral homes…they were counted where they lived. Did everyone in the Roman empire have to travel back to their ancestor’s homes of a thousand years prior? Was this travel added in by the writer of the book to make Jesus birthplace coincide with prophecy?
Why is there no historical record of the death of every male infant under the age of two carried out at the behest of Herod? There is no record of Herod slaughtering children anywhere, much less in or around Bethlehem.
The ladies about the time I finished both looked stunned. Neither had a thing to say to me at that point, so I showed them to the door and told them to have a nice day.
Somehow I doubt they will come back to discuss the Bible again.