9 Apr 2016

Strange World of the Bible #2: Ten Things the Bible Does Not Say

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Cool Stuff, Discipleship, Faith, Women

BurgandyHave you ever noticed that sometimes we assume something but turned out  just not so.  I have actually done this both in reading the Bible and in ordinary life. That is why I offer this second This is second of short blogs on the “strange world of the Bible.”  The first is here Strange World of the Bible : Nudity, Public Bathing & Dogs

My goal is not to make fun (though I may attempt some humor) but simply to encourage closer reading of the text, to constantly ask questions, to practice something like the “Socratic method” with ourselves.  We are all on a fallible quest for truth.  We have not arrived but we quest on. So in today’s strange world of the Bible, I want to share ten things that you may or may not know that are in or about the Bible.

Some Bible Surprises

1) It will come as a shock to some who believe in calling “Bible things by Bible” names that the word Bible never occurs in “the Bible.” Now how ironic is that? In fact the “new testament” is a phrase that never occurs in the “New Testament” in reference to 27 documents but refers to the blood of Jesus.  Likewise readers of this blog know that the phrase “Old Testament” never occurs in the “Bible” in reference to 39 books of the “OT.”  Melito of Sardis in 170 AD gave Christianity that term in reference to those books.

2) It will come as a surprise to those who say “all I need to read is the Bible” that Paul the apostle read more than the Bible (Paul never read a “New Testament” though). The climax of his sermon in Acts 17, Paul reveals he was a reader, and memorizer, of Greek literature. He quotes from two classic poets in the same verse (v.28). He says “For in him we live and move and have our being” which comes from Epimenides the Cretan from about 600 BC. He also says “we are his offspring” which comes from a poem, Phainomena, by Aratus after 310 BC.

3) I grew up on the verbiage of a “scripturally organized church.” As I was raised, this meant that a New Testament church had to have elders, deacons and perhaps a minister. But have you noticed that when Paul sent Titus to Crete to “straighten out what was left unfinished” that Paul exhorts him to get on with appointing elders but there is not a word about deacons! Did churches on Crete not follow the “pattern?” Our usual approach to Timothy and Titus is simply to smash them together (and both loose their Spirit given integrity as letters). Some never notice that the elder qualification list in Timothy and Titus (though similar) is not the same and we literally import deacons into Titus of which there is not a single word about in the little letter.  Topical preaching frequently hides the distinctives of each text.

4) Did you know that David had no biblical authority to build or plan to build a temple for God? It was  his own human idea. God approved the idea though he did not let David do the actual building.

5) Did you know that most scholars believe a woman was the author of Psalm 131? This is not the only time a woman’s voice is offered as guidance in the Scriptures.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up,
My eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with it mother;
my soul is like the weaned child
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time on and forevermore

6) Did you know that the “doxology” at the end of the Lord’s Prayer is found only in the King James Version, Mt 6.13. Though this verse has been omitted from English Bibles since 1826 with Alexander Campbell’s Living Oracles (no modern translation has it except the flawed NKJV). This doxology does not come from Jesus at all but from Solomon when he dedicated the temple that David did not have the authority to build. So in the NIV at 1 Chronicles 29.11ff we read the source of the KJV: “Yours, O LORD, is greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor …

7) Did you know that if you open your Bible to 2 Kings 19-20 and Isaiah 37-39 and read them out loud you will hear the Bible “in stereo.” Begin with 2 Kings 19.1 and Isaiah 37.1 and the texts are verbatim and the material in Isaiah is the material from 2 Kings.

8) Have you noticed that Jesus’s baptismal scene in Luke is very different than that of Matthew? In fact there is no description of the baptism by Luke at all. If we read Luke, not Matthew, have noticed that the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus “as he was praying” not as he was being baptized (Luke 3.21-22). If we read Luke carefully this plays into two themes that run thru Luke and Acts – Prayer and the Spirit are tied together.  The Gospels often suffer the same fate at Timothy and Titus.  They are simply mashed together and we create a text that the Holy Spirit never gave and what the individual writers wrote is lost.

9) Did you know that Apollos was a scholar. He had deep command of the Bible (like Paul he also never saw a “New Testament” in his life).  He understood discipleship in Jesus. He was a powerful preacher of Jesus. But he was wrong about baptism – had deficient understanding of it. A woman named Priscilla, and her husband Aquila, heard him preach. Luke says that they took him home and “explained to him the way of God more adequately.” But the text never says that he was rebaptized due to his insufficient understanding. This is fascinating. You can read the story in Acts 18.24-28. Was he? Luke is silent on the matter. People have more to say than Luke does.

10) Did you know that the Hebrew Bible does not teach that Israelites were saved by law or works. Did you know that the Hebrew Bible teaches that Isrealites entered into a relationship with God based on grace not law. The Hebrew Bible teaches that “Exodus comes before Sinai. Grace comes before faith or obedience.” Thus we can say

Exodus comes before Sinai.
Calvary comes before Pentecost.
Grace comes before Faith.
It ALWAYS has. It ALWAYS will.


9 Responses to “Strange World of the Bible #2: Ten Things the Bible Does Not Say”

  1. Paulus Trimanto Wibowo Says:

    Thank you for good articles.

  2. Ralph Williams Says:

    “I believe exactly what the Bible says…” We were treated to a couple of interesting insights into the world of textual scholarship and translation while we were in Ukraine. The Synodal version was apparently translated from a fairly corrupt edition of the Byzantine text (and yes, I know that some people think the Byzantine text was inspired). At the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, there is an insert from the parallel wording from Christ’s baptism: “…and the spirit descended on him as a dove.”

  3. Glenn Browning Says:

    Thanks for you scholarship through the years.

  4. Jovan Says:

    On #9, would you agree that the group of disciples in Acts 19 are in a similar situation as Apollos and while the text says nothing about his rebaptism Acts 19 does speak to the Ephesian disciples being baptized by Paul due to deficient understanding between John’s baptism and the one Paul preached?

    I’m not picking an argument, and in general I agree with the thrust of your article. But, while it is true the text says nothing (either way), there is a parallel situation addressed in greater detail by Paul.

    • Bobby Valentine Says:

      Jovan delighted to have you read my blog and comment on it. I didn’t think you were picking an argument 🙂 It is possible that Apollos was in a similar situation as in Acts 19. It could be that he had been baptized by John (how else did he learn of John’s baptism?) many years before. If so he would be like the apostles who are never said to be baptized “again.” I do not know one way or the other. My only point is to call us to read the text and let the text itself speak. What ever we say one way or the other will be a hazardous inference, a mere possibility. Sometimes we get pretty dogmatic about things that the “Bible” itself does not even say a word about. I find it interesting though given Apollos status that nothing is said about his baptism at this point. Blessings.

  5. Damien Barber Says:

    Not to nit-pick too much, but technically the Greek word from which we get Bible (biblos) is in the Bible, including numerous times in the New Testament referring to Old Testament books, so thus “Bible” is in the Bible… just not to refer to the Bible as a whole… but then again could we really expect it to be since the “Bible” could not have been formed prior to having been fully written. Your point is valid, but I believe the way you have phrased it has created a fallacy.

    • Bobby Valentine Says:

      Good to have you Damien and I appreciate your comment. The word biblos does occur a few times in the Greek of the NT and in the LXX. For example it occurs in Mt 1.1. The very first word. But it does not refer to the Bible there but to the genealogy of Jesus (cf. NRSV/ESV). There is no place Bible, in any translation known to me, where the word “Bible” occurs.

      The biblos could have been used for “Bible” and had been before the NT period. The first time it occurs is in the Letter of Aristeas where the contents of the Greek LXX are referred to as “the biblos.” Blessings

  6. Dwight Says:

    We have taken “speak where the bible speaks” and added “use Bible words where the Bible speaks them”, except many of the “bible” words like “church” are not bible words and many bible words are not the meanings, but transliterations, such as baptism. Thus we do a great disservice to ourselves if we don’t understand context and the meanings of the words that may or may not be “bible” words.
    Such a concept leads to “church of Christ” as the name, when it was “churches of Christ”, which was really “congregation of Christ”, which meant the “people who were in Christ” and not a particular name or a particular group.

  7. Tonia Says:

    Whoa! Mind blown on the 2 Kings 19-20/Isaiah 37-39! I love things like this; to me it just really opens up the “Bible” and what God want’s us to know and understand about Him. Thank you! 🙂

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