Of all the criticisms I’ve received of my ongoing campaign to expose bible contradictions, one in particular is quite a powerful argument. The argument is essentially this: The bible was originally written as an inerrant document with no contradictions whatsoever. As the bible was translated and revised over the years, human error caused the errancy of the bible to become apparent. The original god-inspired documents — I repeat — are claimed as perfect. And like I said, this is a very powerful argument because I’m basing my contradiction campaign on modern translations and interpretations of the bible (I mostly use the Catholic texts). But, unfortunately for apologists, so powerful is this argument that it essentially guts Christianity. Within the framework of this argument, whatever damage exists to my arguments can be equally applied to the bible.
The claim that the bible was originally a god-inspired inerrant text is an unsupportable claim. We don’t even have the original documents, a fact that is central to the argument criticizing my list of bible contradictions.
The oldest intact copy of the bible is the Codex Sinaiticus, a Greek text that dates to ca. 350 CE. We have much older fragments here and there of various verses, but those too are in Greek or some other translation. Patrick D. Miller, the Charles T. Haley Professor of Old Testament Theology Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary, dates the oldest parts of the bible (Deuteronomy) to around the 7th and 8th century BCE. That’s a giant gap — at least 1,000 years from authorship to print. The newest parts of the bible were written between 70 CE and 300 CE. There exists no intact original document (or even anything in the original language) of any book of the bible.
In other words, no one knows what the original texts looked like. Not a single sentence in the entire bible, no matter what version you look at, and no matter how old your copy is, is in its original form. It has suffered from decades, centuries, or even a millennium or more of mistranslation, copy error, and human revision.
To say that these flaws in our current forms of the bible explain why contradictions exist is the same as saying, “Our faith is subject to obvious biblical flaws.” If this is your argument, then you build your faith on texts that you acknowledge do no reflect the inerrant word of god. You acknowledge that you put your faith in a text plagued by human error and that you are literally not following the original meaning of those texts.
This argument razes our modern conceptualization of Christianity, and it also acknowledges that the original conceptualization of Christianity is unknown, lost, and divorced from what is practiced today. In regards to my campaign to expose bible contradictions, I’ll take the hit if it also guts our modern bibles.
(Of course, even if this argument were an adequate criticism of my campaign to expose bible contradictions [it’s not], then I’ve really lost nothing. I’ve always argued the bible is manmade. I’m just exposing primitive man’s inability to coherently compile a document).