It is often said that it is reasonable for people to believe that the Bible is the word of God because many of the events recounted in the New Testament confirm Old Testament prophecy.
A pathetic argument. Consider the following, how difficult would it have been for the Gospel writers to tell the story of Jesus’ life so as to make it conform to Old Testament prophecy? Wouldn’t it have been within the power of any mortal to write a book that confirms the predictions of a previous book? In fact, we know on the basis of textual evidence that this is what the Gospel writers did.
The writers of Luke and Matthew, for instance, declare that Mary conceived as a virgin, relying upon the Greek rendering of Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew text of Isaiah uses the word ‘alma’, however, which simply means “young woman,” without any implication of virginity.
Ironically, it seems all but certain that the dogma of the virgin birth, and much of the Christian world’s resulting anxiety about sex, was a product of a mistranslation from the Hebrew. Another strike against the doctrine of the virgin birth is that the other evangelists have not heard of it. Mark and John both appear uncomfortable with accusations of Jesus’ illegitimacy, but never mention his miraculous origins. Paul refers to Jesus as being “born of the seed of David according to the flesh” and “born of woman,” without referring to Mary’s virginity at all.
And the evangelists made other errors of scholarship. Matthew 27:9-10, for instance, claims to fulfil a saying that it attributes to Jeremiah. The saying actually appears in Zechariah 11:12-13.
The Gospels also contradict one another outright. John tells us that Jesus was crucified the day before the Passover meal was eaten; Mark says it happened the day after. In light of such discrepancies, how is it possible for people to believe that the Bible is perfect in all its parts?
And do they think of Muslims, Mormons, and Sikhs who ignore similar contradictions in their holy books? These faithful masses also say things like “the Holy Spirit has an eye only to substance and is not bound by words” (Luther). Does this make them even slightly more likely to accept their scriptures as the perfect word of the creator of the universe?
See other: Philosophical Conversations