Monday, May 26, 2014
THE NONSENSE OF SOME BIBLE NOTES
A LOOK AT SEEKING TRUTH WHEN OTHERS THROW US ROADBLOCKS
Some time ago, when reading in the Psalms, I came across a notation in my study notes that “blew my mind.” It was a note that said Psalm 6 was a prayer “in time of severe illness.” I immediately questioned that, and sought resources to help explain that to me. As I did, I found that the most trusted resources believe this to be a cry for help in a time of depression; his son was hunting him down like an animal; he was realizing that he had somewhere failed his son as a father; and he was exhausted* from his physical and mental trials.
This latter description is what I have long believed and, after researching other comments on this, I struck the NIV note out of contention with a big X.
Now I have come upon an otherwise unnoticed damaging bias of the NIV scholars who put these notes together: They very quietly indicate in several places that they believe the theory that Genesis 1, and perhaps all of Genesis, is a tale based on Ancient Near East mythology. WOW.
I had never even heard a whisper of such a thing until I was reading Psalm 36 and came across the phrase: “…surely when the mighty waters rise they will not reach him.” (vs 6)
But as I read through the notes on this chapter, I was astonished to find these words:
mighty waters – Powerful imagery for threatening forces or circumstances. This and related imagery was borrowed from ancient Near Eastern creation myths.
I pulled my jaw back up from where it fell and immediately put a huge question mark beside that note. What a lie that is! The writers of the Old Testament did not have any need to seek out mythology to write the stories of our God! That is a reference to the flood and to all the carnage it created in a sinful, unbelieving world; while lifting the believers up and out of harms way in the ark.
It is a reminder to us of God’s promises to us that He will never do that again, nor will He allow us to ever be totally overcome in any “waters” that besiege us in this life on earth. The very worst thing that can happen to us is actually the very best thing that can ever happen to anyone: In an instant we will be face to face with our Lord. There is a powerful lesson in these verses and it is not about any ancient mythology.
SO… I set about taking a look at other notes on this chapter and found that this verse has no notes at all in many Study Bible versions, and that most – well actually all of the places I found discussing this verse – completely ignored the claim of mythological foundations and went straight to how powerful a promise this is to us from our God. My buddy, J Vernon McGee, simply said, “When David refers to ‘the floods of great waters,’ I think he is referring to the flood of Noah’s time.”
He goes on to say, “Noah was in the ark when the Flood came and that flood, which destroyed others, simply lifted him up because he was in the ark. The waters of judgment could not reach Noah.” Bless his heart, he agreed with me! :)
SO… being the snoop that I am, I went back to check notes in Genesis 1. I have never paid any attention to them because I felt no need to check notes for clarification since I have studied this chapter many times under many scholars and teachers and I have it down pretty well.
At first the notes seem to be supportive of the common ground that God created and he did it in six days and He declared it good. But in this NIV version, the notes declare that some think this was a six day period and others declare that is an indefinite period of time. Uh oh. That simple statement may be true in fact – there are different opinions out there – but suggesting that these beliefs exist side by side and implying that this is okay does not ad up to truth. The impact is not equal. But even bringing it up indicates to me that they are unsure. The note is saying that there is room to maneuver here. More disappointment in trusting these notes at all.
As for creation “being good,” they speak of “no lingering traces of disorder and no dark and threatening forces arrayed against God or man.” This seems innocent enough, but I have also found a very excellent description of these mythological beliefs, and this is a direct reference to those beliefs.
They also use poetic terms in describing words used: In this chapter when they say that “in place” (referring to God giving the seas boundaries,) is a picturesque description of the seas, it belittles the fact that God placed the water where He wanted it and set real boundaries, holding the water back from covering the earth as it had previously.
The worst, though, comes in verse 16 which describes the duties of the sun and the moon (and the starlight) and they have this to say about that:
two great lights The words “sun” and “moon” seem to be avoided deliberately here, since both were used as proper names for the pagan deities associated with these heavenly bodies.
And then, for emphasis, they say that the term “govern,” refers to the myth that “the Great Creator-King assigns subordinate regulating roles to certain of his creatures.” That is a direct quote from the mythology of the godly role of kings in Ancient Near Eastern Mythologies.
You see, these myths are used in factual history for initiating kingly power with each new king as he came along. It gave each one supreme power over the people, allowing him to declare who would be favored and who would not. It was a way of passing deity from one to another. Thus each one took a turn at being god.
None of this has anything to do with our God or with the writing of Genesis or any possibility that Genesis was written under the influence of mythology.
Our belief that the Word of God is true and sufficient relies, partially, on the fact that nothing is written in any one place that is not supported in other places in the Word. And the creation account is recounted over and over again in the Word of God: no mythical accounting is required or found there!
Be careful what you let others put into your mind to cause confusion in your faith. That is one of Satan’s sneakiest ways to weaken you and make you doubt what you have been taught from God’s Word. If you have a wandering doubt, catch it and ASK about it. Find a leader, even your Pastor, and tell them that you are confused and need some help. Don’t put it off. Don’t let it take root.
And, since you are reading this online, I am assuming that you have a favorite search engine. Use it. Watch out for people who are biased against the Bible being completely true and sufficient for God’s people, but don’t be afraid to read alternate thinking now and then. It can strengthen your own thinking.
Just check your resources for who they are and what they represent and if you aren’t sure about them, ask. Always be ready to ask someone you trust to tell you the truth before settling for believing things you are told by “strangers.” I generally turn my deepest questions into emails to my Pastor. He is willing to take a look and give an answer. If time is short he will say so and come back to it later. I trust his judgment, and that is good because he is our guide and leader in this family of Christians.
One of the reasons I do not insert a lot of scripture addresses in my own remarks is that my desire is to get you interested in finding out if I make sense or not. Go for it. Get curious and stand your ground when people try to make you think that what you have been taught is wrong.
May God help us, as He has promised, when we set out to discover the mighty truths of His Word and of His heart. May we seek, always, to know just a little more about Him and about what He wants us to know and believe. And may we become stalwart in our beliefs and ready to stand firm in them no matter who tries to persuade us away from them. In Jesus name. Amen.
*Exhaustion is a very serious open door to confusion and depression; Watch out for it.
Note: This page is very, very long... just the first few paragraphs will give you an idea what I am talking about.