Skip to comments.The Bible: Embarrassing and True
Posted on 05/06/2010 4:31:20 AM PDT by Kaslin
What are your most embarrassing moments? You dont want to admit them. And if you do admit them, you certainly wont add to your shame by inventing embarrassing moments about yourself to make you look even worse. Whos going to lie to make himself look bad? People will lie to make themselves look good (especially politicians), but no one will lie to make himself look bad.
Thats why when historical accounts contain events embarrassing to the authors (or heroes of the authors) those events are probably true. Historians call this the principle of embarrassment, and its one reason why I think the writers of the Bible are telling the truth. There are far too many embarrassing details about the supposed heroes of the faith to be invented.
Just take a look at the Old Testament storyline. Theres little chance the Jews would have invented it. A story invented by Hebrews would more likely depict the Israelites as a noble and upright people. But the Old Testament writers dont say this. Instead they depict their own people as sinful and fickle slaves who, time after time, are miraculously rescued by God, but who abandon him every chance they get. For example, after witnessing miracle after miracle that frees them from slavery in Egypt, they cant resist worshiping the Golden Calf when Moses spends a few extra nights on the mountain. Talk about ungrateful folks with short memories! (We seem to suffer from this in America too).
The Old Testament writers record a Hebrew history filled with bone-headed disobedience, distrust, and selfishness. Their leaders are all world-class sinners, including Moses (a murderer), Saul (a paranoid egomaniac), David (an adulterer, liar, and murderer), and Solomon (a serial polygamist). These are supposed to be the chosen peoplethe ones through which God brings the Savior of the world? Yes, and the Old Testament writers admit that the ancestors of this Messiah include deeply sinful characters such as David and Solomon and even a non-Hebrew prostitute named Rahab. This is clearly not an invented storyline!
While the Old Testament tells of one embarrassing gaffe after another, most other ancient historians avoid even mentioning unflattering historical events. For example, theres been nothing found in the records of Egypt about the Exodus, leading some critics to suggest the event never occurred. But what do the critics expect? Peter Fineman imagines what a press release from Pharaoh might say:
A spokesman for Rameses the great, Pharaoh of Pharaohs, supreme ruler of Egypt, son of Ra, before whom all tremble in awe blinded by his brilliance, today announced that the man Moses had kicked his royal butt for all the world to see, thus proving that God is Yahweh and the 2,000-year-old-culture of Egypt is a lie. Film at 11:00.
Of course no press secretary for Pharaoh would admit such an event if he wanted to keep his head! The Egyptian silence on the Exodus is understandable.
By contrast, when the Egyptians scored a military victory, they went to press and exaggerated greatly. This is apparent from the oldest known reference to Israel outside the Bible. It comes from a granite monument found in the funerary temple of Pharaoh Merneptah in Thebes. The monument boasts about the military victory of the Pharaoh in the highlands of Canaan, claiming that Israel is laid waste, his seed is not. Historians date the battle to 1207 B.C., which confirms that Israel was in the land by that time. We know this account is exaggerated because, as history attests, Israel was not laid waste. Its seed lived on and sprouted into a great empire under David 200 years later. And its seed lives on to this day more than 3,200 years later.
How does the New Testament measure up to the principle of embarrassment? While embarrassing testimony is alone not enough to ensure historical reliabilityearly, eyewitness testimony is also necessary (which the New Testament has)the principle of embarrassment is even more pronounced in the New Testament. The people who wrote down much of the New Testament are characters (or friends of characters) in the story, and they often depict themselves in an extremely unflattering light. Their claims are not likely to be invented.
Lets put it this way: If you and your manly friends were concocting a story that you wanted to pass off as the truth, would you make yourselves look like dim-witted, uncaring, rebuked, doubting cowards who ran away at the first sign of trouble while the women were the brave ones who remained faithful? No way! But thats exactly what we find in the New Testament. Thats one reason why I dont have enough faith to believe that the New Testament tells an invented story.
Ill highlight some of the New Testaments more embarrassing details in the next columneven a few details that some could interpret as embarrassing to Jesus. In the meantime, you can find a cumulative case for God and Christianity in the book from which this column is adapted: I Dont Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
“I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist”= Outstanding book. Two thumbs up.
I’ve heard the argument, which I find compelling, that Peter’s actions are proof of the Resurrection. Before the Resurrection, Peter cowardly denied Jesus three times and hid in the Upper Room. But he emerged from hiding and denial, he went to Rome, center of the pagan Empire, to bravely preach the Word even to his death by upside down crucifixion. What changed him? It is attributed to some great event that would remove all fear of death, such as seeing his Lord and Savior alive and among men.
I remember the first time I actually read through the Bible I was startled from my preconceived idealistic thinking that all of God's chosen were perfect specimens beyond reproach.
It was humbling & healing to find them broken men & women ...like me, some flawed beyond measure... sinners saved by God's Grace alone.
Sounds like this is what the book is referencing.
As John Piper says..."We are all broken"....
..and only God's redeeming love can save us.
Yes through man’s unfaithfulness and rebellion God desires to redeem us and turn us to himself by his mercy and grace through Jesus. The Bible shares the whole truth, warts and all, and provides the answer to the human condition. When reading the Bible story’s place yourself in there and see how God always desires that folks come to repentance and experience mercy despite themselves. We always tend to look at the Jews in the OT and say “Man they were not bright.” We are just like them today and that should be quite obvious. We are a people needing mercy and grace and a turning to God to bring it about even today. Some things never really change even when we desire “Hope and Change.”
Vittorio MESSORI pointed that in his best-seller “Hypothesis on Jesus” in the 70’s.
That’s why the Bible(ancient and new Testament)has nothing common with the Koran
An interesting and insightful perspective.
Interesting point. Common sense also works too!
Thanks for sharing. This is very interesting. I had never thought of it from this perspective of documenting embarrassing moments.
This is, if one ignores the Ipuwer Papyrus:
This table comes from the first chapter of Immanuel Velikovsky's Ages in Chaos. The full text used to be available on line but now it appears to be restricted.
IPUWER PAPYRUS - LEIDEN 344 TORAH - EXODUS 2:5-6 Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.
2:10 The river is blood.
2:10 Men shrink from tasting - human beings, and thirst after water
3:10-13 That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin.
7:20 all the waters of the river were turned to blood.
7:21 ...there was blood thoughout all the land of Egypt and the river stank.
7:24 And all the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.
2:10 Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire.
10:3-6 Lower Egypt weeps... The entire palace is without its revenues. To it belong [by right] wheat and barley, geese and fish
6:3 Forsooth, grain has perished on every side.
5:12 Forsooth, that has perished which was yesterday seen. The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax.
9:23-24 ...and the fire ran along the ground... there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous.
9:25 ...and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.
9:31-32 ...and the flax and the barley was smitten; for the barley was in season, and flax was ripe.
But the wheat and the rye were not smitten; for they were not grown up.
10:15 ...there remained no green things in the trees, or in the herbs of the fields, through all the land of Egypt.
5:5 All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan...
9:2-3 Behold, cattle are left to stray, and there is none to gather them together.
9:3 ...the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field... and there shall be a very grievous sickness.
9:19 ...gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field...
9:21 And he that did not fear the word of the Lord left his servants and cattle in the field.
9:11 The land is without light 10:22 And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt. 4:3 (5:6) Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls.
6:12 Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets.
6:3 The prison is ruined.
2:13 He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere.
3:14 It is groaning throughout the land, mingled with lamentations
12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the prison.
12:30 ...there was not a house where there was not one dead.
12:30 ...there was a great cry in Egypt.
7:1 Behold, the fire has mounted up on high. Its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land. 13:21 ... by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. 3:2 Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze... are fastened on the neck of female slaves. 12:35-36 ...and they requested from the Egyptians, silver and gold articles and clothing. And God made the Egyptians favour them and they granted their request. [The Israelites] thus drained Egypt of its wealth.
To be sure, most mainstream historians do not accept the link (maybe because it wasn't one of their own who made the observation). They say the papyrus and the Exodus were 200 years apart. Of course Velikovsky deals with this pretty directly as the title of his book might suggest. (Einstein wasn't an historian either, but he was impressed.)
Then there are those two inconvenient first century historians Josephius and Philo. I know that Josephius actually spoke to people who knew Jesus.
Go to work and read this later.
A major issue in the NT is the giving of too many facts which can be used to verify witnesses. for example Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’s body. He and his ancestors could have been tracked down and interviewed by doubters.
Yes, thinks like "Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus," or "Anna, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher." When my Sunday School students ask why this information is in the Gospels, I tell them it's because the authors and the readers would have known Alexander and Rufus, or could have known living relatives of Anna.
Moo ham head
“wrote” the Koran by going into some psychotic trance
and having a transcriber write down what he said.
He then reviewed the writings to determine what he (as a man)
wanted to remain in, and what were the “Satanic verses”
that he didn’t want to be in it.
I doubt there’s anything “embarrassing” about his life in the Koran.
It was written by a man,
whereas the Bible was written as men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
The Bible: Embarrassing and True
Once I got into my teenage years, it was eye-opening to realize
how much “R-rated” material there is in the Bible.
Hm, interesting angle.
Good perspective... but just a little off. You’ll note that the Apostles still kept themselves secluded and hidden in the Upper Room after the Resurrection. Jesus met them there at least twice by passing through locked doors. It wasn’t the Resurrection Itself that awoke the fire in Peter and the Apostles... it was the fire of the Holy Spirit on Pentacost. When you read the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, note the timeline when the Apostles (specifically Peter) find their voice and courage to confront their countrymen. Their courage is kindled when they emerge after receiving the Holy Spirit as Tongues of Fire.
There's a lot of material there that you don't want to explain to kids. I knew the story of the mob that attacked Abraham's nephew Lot in Sodom years before I had any idea what that mob was after. I can still remember the way my dad looked at me when I mentioned the story to him, as if he were wondering how much I understood at the age of 8.
All the same, you might check out how when the Bible recounts such stuff, it avoids the titillation that you find in pr0n. Stuff like the rape of Tamar by Amnon, where the writer manages to make the scene practically materialize before the reader, as he does with all the events in his history, but completely without salacious details. If a modern novelist were to write the same story, there would be no avoiding such.
loved your response...
An interesting perspective on the history presented by the Bible.
THX FOR THE PING.
Will check it out.
But the Old Testament writers dont say this. Instead they depict their own people as sinful and fickle slaves who, time after time, are miraculously rescued by God, but who abandon him every chance they get.
Just like the rest of us fallen creatures unless and until God grabs us by the collar, gives us new ears and new eyes and a heart of flesh in place of our heart of stone, and renews our mind by the Holy Spirit so that we can understand the things of God and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, God and Savior.
Initially, a bit "embarrassing," given none of us sinners deserves any of those free gifts. But all in all, a miraculous plan ordained by God, all for His glory and the welfare of His family, named and numbered from among all nations and races and eras who mercifully have been redeemed by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
I like your homepage. Just think how different this world would be today if Duncan Hunter had been elected to the Presidency. (((sigh)))
The page has been taken down from Townhall.
Still comes up for me.
Isn't that the truth!
Right! And saying Song of Solomon is R-rated would be too nice.
Must’ve been temporarily down, I have it now, thanks.
Right! And saying Song of Solomon is R-rated would be too nice.
I’m no Biblical expert...but I do recall hearing on some radio program
(Focus On The Family??) that “Song of Solomon” was generally kept
behind locked doors (during Biblical times).
And it was only available to young Israelis when they were approaching “adult” status.
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