Tag Archives: bible

The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 1

In the beginning, God said: Let there be lights in the vault of the sky… and let them be lights in the vault of the sky. God created us in his image, and in his image he created us. And that’s the story of the heavens and earth when they were created, when God created the earth and heavens.

That sounded awfully unnecessarily repetitive, didn’t it? Well, that’s pretty much how those parts, and a whole lot more, are written in the Bible. Unnecessarily repetitively. Imagine how much shorter the Bible would be without all that pointless repetition…

The Bible says Ephron the Hittite sold Abraham a field with a cave in Machpelah near Mamre, and then Abraham buried his wife in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre. And then it says Abraham bought the field and the cave. For the purpose of burial. Later, Jacob told his sons to bury him in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, which was the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre that Abraham had bought with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite and buried his wife. Then he says the field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.

It tells you that the master of the cupbearer and baker of the king of Egypt was the king of Egypt. It says he put those two people, who were the cupbearer and baker, in custody. And then it tells you what happened to each of those two people (who were the cupbearer and baker of the king of Egypt, who were in prison) after they had been in custody.

God says he’s seen how the Egyptians are treating the Israelites, and he has heard their cry. And then he says it again. God tells Moses he’s the Lord, and to tell the Israelites that he’s the Lord, and that he’ll free them from Egypt. Because then they’ll know that he’s the Lord, who freed them from Egypt. Also, he’s the Lord. (And that’s just in one chapter; there’s plenty more of the same later.)

When a cloud covered the tabernacle and the glory of God filled the tabernacle, Moses couldn’t enter the tabernacle because a cloud covered the tabernacle and the glory of God filled the tabernacle. It says Moses sprinkled some oil and blood on Aaron and his garments, and on Aaron’s sons and their garments. And that’s how he consecrated Aaron, and his sons, and their garments.

Near the end of Leviticus, the Lord decides he needs to tell everybody that he’s the Lord a couple more times. When some Israelites were challenging Moses’s authority, Moses said God would have whoever really belonged to him come near him, and the man he chose he would cause to come near him.

When the priests and soldiers were marching around Jericho for seven days, it says on the seventh day they marched around the city seven times, the same way they had on the previous days, except this time they circled the city seven times. Then when Israel attacked the city of Ai, it says they left no survivors or fugitives. That’s redundant, because in that situation anyone who was one of those things would also have to be the other.

After God is done talking to Job, he tells the people who have been defending him against Job’s blasphemy Job’s friends that unlike Job, they have not spoken the truth about him. Then he says the same thing again.

Post-settlement stories

In a story in Judges, six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate, and five men went in and took the idol, the ephod, and the household gods that somebody had in his house, while the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate.

The story of Ruth begins by telling us about a man from Bethlehem in Judah who took his family to live in Moab. Then it mentions that they were from Bethlehem, Judah, and that they went to Moab, and lived there. Later, it says that man’s wife had a relative from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz. And then it says the wife’s daughter-in-law went to work in the fields of Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.

David told Jonathan that tomorrow would be the New Moon feast. Then after they discussed what they would do tomorrow, Jonathan told David that tomorrow would be the New Moon feast.

After Jonathan died, David asked if there were any relatives left for him to show kindness to. Whoever he was talking to summoned a servant, and then David asked the servant the exact same question. Was it really necessary for the story to include that first part, where he doesn’t get an answer? The servant then tells David about Jonathan’s son, and mentions that the son is lame in both feet. Ten verses later, the narration mentions that Jonathan’s son was lame in both feet.

Rehoboam was advised to be a servant to his people and serve them, so that they would always be his servants. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.

When the king of Assyria removed the Israelites from their land and replaced them with foreigners, he was told that the people didn’t know what the god of that country required. And he was told that that god had sent lions after them, because the people didn’t know what the god of that country required.

When the king of Babylon removed the people of Judah from their land, he carried off all the fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans. He also deported the entire force of fighting men, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans.

Jesus (who was God, who was all-knowing) informed God that his disciples were “not of the world” any more than he was, and then he said it again, in case he hadn’t heard himself. According to John, when Judas came to betray Jesus, Jesus betrayed himself instead. And then when nobody arrested him, he did it again. Three times in a row, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, Peter said he did, and Jesus told him to feed his sheep.

In three different chapters in the book of Acts, Peter tells people that when God sent Jesus to them, they had him killed, and then God brought him back to life.

Continue reading The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 1
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Literal vs liberal interpretation

I was raised to believe that everything the Bible says is literally true, and as a nonbeliever I still tend to interpret the Bible pretty literally. Here’s why:

Literalism is the natural form of religion that results from reading the scriptures. When people read the Bible with no preconceived ideas about what it should say, they will tend to assume it means exactly what it says. Why would it even occur to anyone that the Bible might not simply mean what it says (unless somebody else told them to think that)? I think the main reason is that some people can’t accept what they’re reading because they already have other, more strongly-held beliefs that are incompatible with the Bible.

Non-literalist religion is a self-deceptive phenomenon that results when people consider themselves religious, but also have beliefs and values that conflict with the scriptures. If they don’t want to outright reject the Bible or admit that their values don’t come from their religion, they have to make up metaphorical interpretations of the Bible that agree with what they already believe, and ignore what the Bible actually says.1

In a lot of cases, what the Bible says was meant completely literally, and was originally interpreted literally, and no one saw a problem with that. But as humanity’s knowledge of the world and standards of morality have improved over time, it has become increasingly clear to most people that what the Bible says literally is absurdly wrong. So those who can’t admit that the Bible is wrong have had to increasingly reinterpret it figuratively. Some take it so far that they’re basically atheists in denial.

Even literalists are now so used to thinking of certain concepts and expressions used in the Bible as figurative that it might not even occur to them that those things might have once been meant literally. But compared to what the writers intended, literalists aren’t literal enough! Like most people in ancient times, the writers of the Bible actually believed that people literally thought with their hearts. And their kidneys.2

Continue reading Literal vs liberal interpretation
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Contradictions in the Bible

For a supposedly error-free book supposedly written under the influence of a supposedly perfect God who supposedly wants everyone to know the truth, the Bible sure contradicts itself a lot.

When the Bible contradicts what we know about reality, Bible believers have the option of denying those inconvenient facts. But when the Bible contradicts itself, the only thing that can be wrong is the Bible.

And the Bible does contradict itself, constantly. On this blog, I plan to write about hundreds of biblical contradictions,1 many of which you won’t find documented anywhere else.

Here are all the biblical contradictions (questions that the Bible answers in multiple incompatible ways) that I’ve written about so far. I will be adding a new one every two weeks.

Continue reading Contradictions in the Bible
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Bible stories

Have you ever noticed how the serpent in the garden of Eden didn’t actually tell any lies? Have you ever thought about the implications of God’s statement that Job had told the truth about him and that his friends had not? Did you spot the huge flaw in Joseph’s plan to save Egypt from the famine?

Have you noticed that despite how much the Bible tries to make him look bad, the guy with the talking donkey was a consistently obedient servant of God? Did you catch the fact that the story of Jonah is about God forcing someone to tell a lie? Or that when Daniel’s friends are disobeying the king so they won’t have to disobey God, the Bible suspiciously fails to mention what Daniel was doing at the time, and vice versa?

Probably not. Maybe you’ve never read the Bible. Maybe you’ve only read “sanitized” versions of the Bible that left out all the awkward parts. Maybe you’ve read the Bible, but you had preconceived ideas of how the stories were supposed to go and what the characters were supposed to be like, which got in the way of seeing what the Bible actually says.

Maybe you’re so familiar with certain passages that when you see them, you just recognize-and-ignore them, instead of thinking about what they’re saying. Maybe the relevant passages were just so far apart in the Bible that you forgot about one by the time you got to another, so you never realized what they imply if you put them together.

It’s easy to miss a lot of surprising things like these in the Bible, for one reason or another. In this monthly series of summarized Bible stories, I’m going to be making those things a lot harder to miss.

I will include a moral at the end of each story. Not all of them are good morals, and not all of them are ideas that Christians are likely to agree with, but they are all lessons that can be learned from the Bible’s stories. For the Parables, I will also include an interpretation at the end, so you can easily see what everything in the story represents.

Below is a list of the Bible stories I’ve published on this blog so far, as well as the rest of the stories I’ll be posting in the future. If you like these stories, you can subscribe to my blog to make sure you’ll get to read more stories as they come out each month. There are several ways you can stay updated, so find something that works for you:

  • Get push notifications on this device by clicking the bell icon in the lower-right corner of the screen.1
  • Use a tool like BlogTrottr to get my posts sent to your email.
  • If you use a feed reader such as Feedly, you can get updates there.
  • Follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Or if you don’t want to wait a month for each new story, you can read more of my Bible stories right now on Patreon.

Continue reading Bible stories
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