Does the Bible Claim to be the Word of God?Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Many religious leaders and other people claim that the Bible is the Inerrant Infallible Authoritative Word of God. Many of those people also claim that the Bible itself claims to be the word of God. Let's look at what one of those authors wrote:
"One of the objections raised by critics of biblical inspiration is that the Bible is not the word of God but that it contains the word of God. Is this accurate? No. First of all, this doesn't fit what the Bible says about itself. The collection of 66 books that the Christian Church recognized as being inspired speaks as the very words of God in many places.
"Thus says the Lord" occurs over 400 times in the Old Testament.
"God said" occurs 42 times in the Old Testament and four times in the New Testament.
"God spoke" occurs 9 times in the Old Testament and 3 times in the New Testament.
"The Spirit of the Lord spoke" through people in 2 Sam. 23:2; 1 Kings 22:24; 2 Chron. 20:14."1
The inference here is that just because a book says "Thus says the Lord" OR "God said" in it's content, then that proves that all the text before and after "what God said" was also spoken by God. Does this even make sense?
It says that God spoke.... or God said. Now to whom did he speak each time. It doesn't say that God "wrote" anything. But rather, God "spoke" to specific people for specific purposes. In fact, was anything said about putting "what God said" in a book?
"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." Hebrews 1:1-3
Making a claim doesn't make the claim true. Just because a writing has some words that are claimed to be from God, does that mean that the entire writing has written by God? No, of course not. The Bible makes no claims about itself because it is not an entity in and of itself. The Bible is a collection of the writings of various authors spanning perhaps a couple thousand years. When the claims were supposed to have been made, there was no such thing as the Bible.
Let's look at a hypathetical example. Let say that, as a college student, you write a letter home to your mom who wants you to come home for the holidays. In your letter to her, as you explain why you can't, you quote your professor word for word. You write that Professor Smith said, "You failed that test, which makes up 1/2 of your grade for the course. I'm going to give you another chance, I will retest you right after the holidays. If you wish to pass the test, and thereby past this course, you will need to stay at college and study hard for the test." In your letter you go on to say how much you love your mom and how much you will miss her. You also write a lot of other information in the letter.
I ask you, who wrote that letter? You. Whose letter is it? Yours. Just because you would have quoted your professor doesn't mean that the Professor wrote your letter. It doesn't matter if you quoted the professor once or a thousand times, it is your letter. You wrote the letter. In the same way, if the writers who wrote the different documents of the Old or New Testament said that "God said" or "God spoke" or "Thus says the Lord" doesn't mean that God wrote those entire letters. The human authors wrote each of those documents by their own hand. Within the context of their letters they quoted what they thought God had said.
The Bible is not an authority or an identity in itself. The Bible cannot speak itself. It can make no claims regarding itself. It is merely a collection of writings of various authors. We have to look at what each writer said in context.
Often times an whole bunch of Bible verses are given at one time to "prove" that the Bible is the "Word of God". Well, let's take a look at the common verses that are use to make that claim.
In reality, is there any such thing as the Bible, or the Old Testament or the New Testatment? Each of those is really just a collection of writings of various prophets and other authors. If you look carefully through each of the books of the Bible, or Old Testament, or New Testament, you will notice something. None of any of the writers had any idea that someday their writings would be part of something call the Bible, The Word of God, The Old Testament or the New Testament. It was only many centuries after they were written that MEN put them together into a book form.
Much of the New Testament was written in Greek. Greek was not a "Christian" language, but was just the common language of the people. To find out the true definition of Greek words we should not go to a "Theological" or "Biblical Greek Dictionary". Instead we should go to a common language Greek Dictionary.
Biblical scholars are often promoting the study of (Biblical) Greek, as if that it he best way to understand "the book that God wrote". Consequently, in Christianity today you would think of Greek as a "Biblical" or religious language. In reality, Greek was just a common language of the day. It was not a religious language. (See "Biblical Greek".) Paul and the other writers used common Greek words. They did not make up words to write their letters, otherwise no one would have understood them.
Here is one of the verses that religious people have used to "prove" that the Bible is the Word of God. Let's examine it more closely.
2 Timothy 3:16
" All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.........."
Let's look at the word "scripture" that is used in the New Testament. Let's see how a common Greek dictionary defines it:
According to http://en.wiktionary.org the Definition of the Greek word for Scripture
Etymology: From γράφω.
Noun: γραφή (genitive ?) ?, (graphē)
3. writing, a writing
γραφή (grafí) f.
2. writing (written letters or symbols that express some meaning)
3. script (written characters)
4. hand (style of penmanship), handwriting
In other words, the word "scripture" means "the act, process, or the product of writing". There is no "spiritual" meaning to the word itself. It was just a common word to describe either the act of writing or a document (of any type).
Now, let us look at the concept of "prophets". Is that a specially appointed office designated by God himself?
2 Peter 1:21
"For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (NIV)
Definition of the word: "proph·et (prft)
1. A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.
2. A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression.
3. A predictor; a soothsayer.
4. The chief spokesperson of a movement or cause."
Again, starting with the word "prophet", let's put aside the the thought of "Biblical Greek?" and the "religious" definition and look towards a more common down-to-earth definition. So, let's examine #2 above, and possibly #4. Let's also look at the meaning of Holy Spirit, as decribed here, meaning "pure and blameless mental disposition". So, the meaning of the prophet goes very well with definition #2 "A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression".
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