There are times when I want to pick the brains of people who believe that the Bible is, literally, the word of God. No, I don't want to get into familiar arguments over the obvious stuff, such as the believability of the creation myths in Genesis. Yawn
My concerns are subtler. Literary.
For a good example of what I mean, let's take a closer look at a quote from Galatians (King James translation) which appeared in our preceding post:
"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
-- Galatians 5:14-15
Now, on a superficial level, these words make sense. The basic message is: Be nice
. I get that.
What I don't get is this part: "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
Both "devour" and "consume" mean eat
. Thus, the following would appear to be a fair translation:
"If you eat each other, be careful not to eat each other."
Does that make any
sense to you? Did it make sense 2000 years ago?
I've looked up other translations of this verse. Some of them -- the freer ones, it would appear -- use the term "destroy" in place of "consume." That choice seems more reasonable, although the quote would still imply that it is possible to devour someone without destroying him. (Maybe such a thing is
possible. Marvel once published a really disgusting comic book in which the Hulk ate Wolverine and Wolverine survived.)
My basic question is this: If God wrote the Bible, why are some bits so badly written? Apparently, the New Testament is even more "iffy" in the oldest extant Greek texts, which contain many mistakes of grammar.
Again, I'm not talking about the credibility of the narratives or the advisability of the moral teachings. Although many of you will want
to talk about those matters, those arguments are for another time.
No no no. In this
post, I'm talking about literary quality
Take the Gospel of Mark, for example. Immediately after you hit this link
, you'll notice something odd. Immediately it will become apparent that Mark has a certain literary quirk. Immediately you will become annoyed at the way Mark begins many of his sentences. Immediately you'll begin to wonder if this really is the way God would write a book. (Immediately I should note that other versions offer a wider variety of translations for the one word Mark loves more than any other, a fact which may explain why Mark's impoverished vocabulary was not immediately apparent to you the first time you read the text.)
Mark 6:10 reads thus:
He said to them, "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there."
. Anyone who can manage to leave before
departing is a true miracle worker.