Episode 003

Episode three of The Human Bible is here! Today, we get up to speed on the many names of God—can’t he just pick one already? We answer questions on plagues and virgin births, wonder where C.S. Lewis came up with some of that stuff, and read into the verse that claims Paul took over for Jesus when he wasn’t quite suffering enough—wait, what? Don’t miss it!

A special thanks to Avinash and Jim for sending in the questions answered on today’s show!

The Bible, love it or hate it, is a book filled with puzzles and mysteries. It will be a hard task to one Ravell as many of them as possible. We want to understand the Bible is a human book, not a book inspired by a God. I’m Robert M. Price, and this is the third one. 

I am your host, Robert Price, and this is the Human Bible, the human Bible is a radio show and podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing science reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values in public affairs and at the grassroots. And, you know, we always start with a segment called Up to Speed. Up to speed, where I try not to take for granted what you may or may not already know about biblical criticism, you know. I don’t know if I’ve told you this before or not, but I realize the necessity for this sort of thing. Years ago, when I began teaching introductory Bible courses at a college in low with a remote wilds of eastern North Carolina, about an hour from where I live now. And I figured what they were in the Bible Belt. All these kids know about the Bible tends to be on the safe side. I gave a Bible knowledge quiz, which I quickly renamed the Bible Ignorance Quiz. I would ask things like Kenya, name any of the Ten Commandments. Who were the apostles? Who wrote the Gospels? Just, you know, very fundamental stuff like that. Nobody knew anything. Now, what do you think of the commandments? Vow shalt not drink. Holy mackerel. So I’ve learned I couldn’t take anything for granted. I, as the writer to the Hebrew says, Brethren, we are persuaded of better things concerning you. But, you know, there are some esoterica regarding biblical criticism that we probably ought to deal with. And today is is pretty simple yet. If you don’t know what it’s confusing. And I’m thinking of the names of God in the Hebrew Bible. But before that, let me just deal with the Hebrew Bible versus Old Testament. I generally speak of the Old Testament. Now, what’s so surprising, some people are so axiomatically, I think hypersensitive that they try to speak of the Jewish scriptures, of the Hebrew scriptures, or really get politically correct. The first testament and stuff like that. I actually think I’m being more ecumenical than thou on this, because it seems to me if you’re going to speak of the Hebrew scriptures of the Tanach, you ought to be at least your leading people to expect you will be speaking of it as Jews understand it. 

And I do not presume that I am speaking from the standpoint of, you know, a European row. I guess once modernist, Christian and secular criticism of the Bible and I say all sorts of things about the texts that naturally would make an Orthodox Jew cringe. So I feel it would be better if I stuck to the phraseology Old Testament to say, yes, I’m talking about it in the higher critical sense, not in the Jewish religious sense. So that’s one thing. Well, once you get into the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, you can notice that there are various names for God, some that are used quite a bit. But I say you got to get into the Hebrew text because it is not apparent in most English translations. Now, luckily, they’re beginning to revise this, but they were afraid it would freak out readers. And they don’t want to do that because as a friend of mine who worked for the American Bible Society once admitted, they want to sell some Bibles. So, you know, they’re going to leave it on the shelf if they paged through it. What the heck is this? I’ve never heard of this, but they’re beginning to have some guts. And let me just tell you the code. It’s quite simple. 

You know, when you’re reading in an English Old Testament and you run across the word Lord in all caps, usually there’s a larger capital L, but the O r d are in capitals to just smaller typeface. What’s going on there? 

Well, that is not what the Hebrew says. Not even the equivalent. That is the divine name proper. The Tetragrammaton, as they used to call it. That is the four letter name. And it’s this is the one that is commonly rendered Jehovah and has been for a long time, I think, in the American standard version from the turn of the 20th century. 

They actually translated Jehovah. So they had some guts. Nowadays, most scholars think that is not the best way of transliterating the Hebrew into English, much less of pronouncing it. So it’d be a little closer to to write it. Why a h w e h. Which people usually pronounce your way? I think that is probably not quite right. So I find myself imitating a teacher of mine from years ago and saying it ya may with the aspiration. And at any rate, the name Jehovah or ja way are ya. They take your pick. That is the actual name of God. And there’s some evidence that it was more widely used. So that way back there. There were people all over the Near East who might have had their own yerby. But then again, it might mean that it was kind of a generic name for God. The evidence is pretty, pretty sparse. But in the Bible, it refers to Jehovah, the one God or in earlier texts, the king of gods. OK. So whenever you see Lord in all capitals in an English text, that is your haveI. If, however, you see God in all capitals, that’s Yoffie too. Now, why are they consistent? Well, you see this dojos sort of a mess. There are times when you have a phrase that appears in like the King James is the Lord God. I you know, you can almost not say that without doing a Charlton Heston impression. Look at God. All right, then. I’m not even thinking of Moses and that great movie with Yul Brynner and Heston, the Buccaneers Heston place, Andrew Jackson boy just looks just like him. And he’s trying to stop a riot that’s starting and equip Satis. Gunnarsson says it’s swear by the Lord. Got it out. Kill the next man who moves. 

Well, the Lord God, if God is all capitals there, the what’s the phrase in Hebrew says, is the Lord Yoffie or the Lord Jehovah, if you prefer. So it’s it’s like a title and then the name. 

But if you’ve got the Lord God with Lord all capitals and God not like you have in the Garden of Eden story. That is a compound name. Yea they l’eau heem. 

Usually that’s an attempt to show you that the two names are referring to the same God and L.O. Heem. Well that’s just God with regular capitalization. So you’ve got Lord in all capitals. That’s Jehova or Yahav. You’ve got L.O. Heem which is just rendered as God with a capital G. And if you’ve got God in all capitals, once again, that’s your haveI or Jehovah. But because Lord is preceding it and it is the Hebrew word Addo NIJ. And that’s sort of a name and the title because like Bayle, it just means Lord, but came to be used as as a title. And so if you got Lord God with Lord in regular caps, God and all capitals, it’s Adonai. Yahoo! In fact, if you didn’t translate it but transliterated it, it would be. And I think that’s the better way to go. It would be Lord Yahav. That makes a lot of sense more than the Lord God business, I think. So just one more time, L.O. Heem God a name but generic because other deities can be referred to as the yellow heem. It’s a plural word. That’s a. Question, I’m going to get into another time, what is God’s name, have a plural ending, but l’eau Heem is a God or gods. And that’s just God with a capital G, Lord with a capital L and small o r d. That’s Adam Nye again, generic meaning Lord, but also used as a name. It’s the same name as a donnis, obviously. Right. That’s a Syrian deity just next door then with again. If God or Lord is in all caps, that’s Jehovah or or Yoffie. Why did they do this? Well, I’ve already said they don’t want to sound odd to English readers to want to be comfortable with the Bible. I understand that their Bibles I just can’t stand reading because I think the translation is so bad style wise. I understand that. But the original reason goes way back into Judaism, around the New Testament period. 

And you see the scribes and the Pharisees who were ultra strict. They wanted to be very careful with the commandments so as not to get close to breaking them. They had a strategy called building a fence or a hedge around the Torah law. 

The point was, our goal is not to break those commandments, the written commandments like the Ten and the others. 

Well, let’s play it safe and not get within breaking distance. Let’s set up a cordon of preliminary laws. And if you are busy about keeping them, you’re not even going to risk breaking the actual law. This is what’s going on in the so-called antithesis of Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount. The contrast when it says you’ve heard it was said to the men of old, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, whoever looks at another man’s wife with lust, he’s already committed adultery in his heart. What’s the thinking there? He’s saying the goal is not to commit adultery, but if you govern your passions, as I’m suggesting, you won’t even have to worry about that. Says don’t break your vows or your oaths. Hey, look, you won’t even have to take an oath if you are so honest all the time that no one will require an oath of you. You see what’s going on there? Or to give you an example from the Baptist Church, I used to be a member. I was a teenager. We couldn’t go to movies. Even Billy Graham movies if they were in the local theater because they figured, we really don’t want you to go see sex movies. Admittedly, there’s nothing wrong if you go see King Kong versus Godzilla or The Sound of Music or something. 

But if we leave it open for your judgment, you might not make the right one. And so we’ll do it for you. Why don’t we just square off, go into any movies? Because if you don’t go see Bambi, there’s no way you’re going to wind up in the audience for Deep Throat. Right? That’s the the idea. Well, OK. What does this have to do with the name of God? Well, there’s that commandment that as we usually read, it says, you shall or thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, your God in vain. What does that mean? And why isn’t the name used? And thereby hangs a tale. Actually, in Hebrew it says you shall not take the name of your they your God in vain. Well, taken it in vain. Don’t have time to explain the whole deal, but it probably means perjury or breach of contract. You’ve sworn an oath with invoking the name Yoffie as ja they lives. I’m telling you the truth. Well if you lie you’re, you’re invoking his name in vain or falsely, but you’ve got to save a name. So if you don’t ever say the name, you can’t break the commandment. Now you could commit perjury. But the thing is, they weren’t absolutely sure what taking his name in vain might include. Oh, yeah, it’s got to be perjury. It’s got to be a breach of contract. But could it mean just using it too glibly, like in the life of Brian, where the guy’s about to get stoned to death? 

And he says, but all I said was this highly butter’s good enough for Jehovah. And is that taken it in vain? And I didn’t know and they didn’t want to take the chance. So they said, okay, how about this? Nobody is going to use the divine name at all except the high priest who can utter it once a year on the day of atonement in the inner sanctum at the temple. But the rest of us know, even if we’re doing a public reading of the text of the. Heibel where the name appears. We’re going to say sup melts like add on NIJ. 

Now admittedly that’s a sacred name too, but not as sacred as the Tetragrammaton. So that entered into Bible translations. This this, I should think, excessive veneration for the name of God. You know, when Jesus says in the Lord’s Prayer, hallowed be thy name. Well, in other words, let people not use it. They’re hallowing if they’re keeping it sacred by not dragging it around. And that’s so that’s why they still do that in most Bible translations. It’s this very ancient custom of play, an extra safe with the name of God. But those are the names of God. And there are a few others, but they’re mainly variations on those themes. So that’s worth knowing, knowing, because then you can understand the weird capitalization in the Bible. If you ever hear me reading from the revised standard version or something and which I usually do in my Charlton Heston voice, so I just read it straight. 

The Lord God. But if I don’t, I often say the Lord Yoffie because I wanted to be more authentic. But you know you know me. No logic, just wims. So we’ll have another sort of basic piece of biblical criticism next time on Up to Speed. 

But I’d like to get to a question. I always love the stump, the human Bible thing. 

I’d I love you to send him in, email them. You know, all the different ways Twitter. And we haven’t had so many voicemails lately. And I, I urge you not to be microphone shy and call up and record that question. Otherwise, if you just hear me all the time, you may fall asleep and miss something important. Yeah. Anyway, here’s one from Ivy Nash. I hope I’ve got that pronounced right. 

It says, I have heard a rumor that the 10 plagues were to represent 10 different gods. I’ve heard many people dismiss this, and I did, too, until I read this quote, numbers 33 for four. The Egyptians were burying all their first born, whom the Lord had killed, among them also on their gods. The Lord had executed judgments. What’s your opinion on it? Actually, I think that’s probably correct. And you’re right, this one verse is the big tip off. 

Now, I have to admit, I cannot recall now who is the God of of what. But I have read these lists, too, that each one of these things, the frogs, the Nile, et cetera, et cetera, that are involved in the plagues that Moses unleashes on Egypt do have a particular God in charge. And I have to say that probably is assumed. We don’t know for sure. But otherwise, what the heck does this mean on their gods? The Lord had executed judgments. I guess it could mean, well, they’re not able to protect Egypt from his depredations. So I guess that just discredits them. But I don’t know. To me, that’s a kind of an under interpretation. 

I think this is probably correct that the authors certainly knew who the Egyptian gods were. You can hardly not know it in that mill. You again. Egypt had ruled that owned the Palestine for a long time before the time of Abraham. So, yeah, I think that is probably correct. Maybe sometime I’ll pull out the list of the DTD. But now there’s one where you kind of hear that often in fundamentalist commentaries. I don’t know why more there than any place else. But I think they’re quite right about it. And in all likelihood. 

Now it’s time for one of my favorites. So I guess they’re all kind of my favorite segments of the show. Apologetics is never having to say you’re sorry. Enough you’re old enough to get that terrible joke, but at least die. I bet you know that apologetics doesn’t really mean what apologize means today, namely to say I’m wrong. I’m sorry about it. But rather an app, a rendering, an apology, a defense. And so apologies to those who were giving a defense of the faith. And my goal here is to kind of poke some holes in that. And I tend to I kind of got where I am by finding a lot of these defenses rather inadequate. And this segment of the show is an attempt to show the inadequacies of those those defenses. So apologetics is never having to say you’re sorry. 

Anyway, the much interested in the defense of the faith thing, I used to defend it. Now I attack the defenses of it. And here’s one of my old favorites. May I read you something from Mere Christianity by good old C.S. Lewis, Clive Staple’s Lewis. 

No wonder he went by the name Jack. He says. 

Oh, let’s see. Christ says he is humble and meek and we believe him not noticing. I do feel we are merely a man. Humility and meekness. So the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of his sayings. I am trying to prevent anyone saying the real a foolish thing that people often say about him. 

I am ready to accept Jesus as a great model teacher. But I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who is merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great model teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice either. This man was and is the son of God. Or else a mad man and saw something worse. You can shut him up for a fool. You can spit on him and kill him as a demon. Or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any paid tyrannizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to do things, Jack. This, I think, is full of holes. 

Remember Walter Bjork, who used to have a Bible question show on WFM TV network, Harold Camping of ill repute started. 

He would be asked about the pre tribulation rapture. And Bjork would say, you know, every theory has got some holes in it. 

But this one is all whole. 

Now, I’m afraid that’s what I have to say about this, too, because let’s leave aside the outrageous oversimplification whereby Lewis is virtually a fundamentalist, assuming Jesus said everything ascribed to him in the gospel of John or any gospel, which just as you know by now, just extremely debatable, especially John, where it sounds completely different from the other gospels, whereas it sounds just like the epistles of John and all the characters in John’s Gospel sound alike, as if you’ll watch in a Woody Allen movie. And they all say, that’s crazy. Right. Everybody sounds the same. Well, there is no way, according to critical scholars, me included, that Jesus said this stuff, though even John, it’s not clear that he actually says, hey, everybody, I’m God. That takes a little bit of text twisting, but let’s assume it was in John. Let’s assume Jesus did say it again. Those are huge ifs. But, you know, you got Grantham to get on to. What else is wrong with it? And here’s the well, here’s another problem. We do know of other religious prophets and gurus who have said or intimated in some way that they are divine and they don’t appear to be charlatans, necessarily, much less crazy. And that kind of leads to the crux of the argument. Lewis is saying that no. Whole sane, sound human mind could sincerely entertain the conviction of its own godhood. I think that’s a fair way of summing it up so that somebody who said that they were God could just be lying about it. And you know, that that could well be that. Certainly a lot of religious liars out there. But on the other hand, if somebody did think it well, ipso facto they have to be insane. Right. According to Lewis’s assumption, because a normal sound human mind can not entertain so grandiose a conviction. So what do you got? Is Jesus telling the truth or is he insane? Well, he doesn’t seem to be insane. He’s not actually saying he’s a poached egg or anything or he’s not wearing a Napoleon cap or something like that. So it’s not like exit a door on the old Mork and Mindy show talking to invisible people. So he gives every sign of being sane. So I guess he must really be God. 

Boy, you know, there’s a real problem here because isn’t Lewis assuming that Jesus doesn’t have a true human psyche? Because if you can’t entertain the belief in your own godhood as a true human being without being a lunatic. Doesn’t that mean that Jesus, believing in his own deity, would have to have been insane even if he were right now? I think secretly smuggled in here is what used to be called the Apollinaire Aryan heresy back in the fourth century Apollinaire areas. 

Who is a disciple of the great theologian Saint Athanasius? He Athanasius had been involved in this huge Christology debate. Is is Jesus Christ that the word made flesh? Well, yes. But what is the word? Is it fully and truly divine or is it just like the divine nature and Athanasius one the day that yes, he is of the same substance as the father. So and this, of course, is where the trinity comes from, a different person than the father. But truly, God and of the same divine nature as God, the father. So. All right. He’s God and he’s man. 

Well, a pollen. Arius came along and said, yeah, I believe that too. But, Chief, have you ever wondered what the recipe would be for that psychologically? I mean, how can it be both completely God and completely man? 

It’s not like we want to say he’s a demigod like Hercules, half man, half God or like Gilgamesh, two thirds God, one third man. I was wondered how they figured that one out. No, no. He’s fully God and fully man. I mean, he’s got a human body. Yeah, everybody would agree on that. He must have had human emotions and human thoughts. But there’s got to be something in the ordinary human makeup that the divine law gosse the divine word part of him substituted for. 

And what was that? Well, it must have been its spirit. He didn’t have a human spirit such as we do. Instead, he had the divine spirit. Oh, this created a fire storm. And eventually other theologians said not that doesn’t work because if he was only like two thirds human, how could he save a whole human being? 

You know, we say that he took on human nature in order to transform and save it by combining it with this divine nature. But if he didn’t take on the whole human existence, he Aceh two thirds a savior. And yeah, the vote went with these guys and a polin areas. This view is considered a heresy. Well, I want to say I think Lewis was really an Apollinaire Aryan because he is say I mean, he he didn’t put it that way. He didn’t think of it that way. 

But it seems to me that’s the unintended consequence of saying that if Jesus. 

Believed he was God and was not insane. He, therefore, was not a person with a true human mind if he was. It would have driven him insane to believe that he was God, even if he was God. Now, if that rings a bell to you because you say you’ve seen Jesus portrayed that way, that’s because you’ve seen The Last Temptation of Christ or read it. It did occur to Nikos Kazantzakis who wrote that, that if Jesus was a real man and did begin to hear voices telling him he is God as well, it would have driven him nuts. And that’s what people found so objectionable about the movie and the novel. It does drive him insane. So he noticed the missing piece that Lewis did not notice. And so I think if a defender of the faith wants to give was Lewis his argument, he’s free to do so. But he’s arguing for heresy, not orthodoxy soloists. 

You know, if he were still around, put that in your pipe and smoke it. I wonder what he was smoking in that pipe some of the time when I hear different things, he said. But I have a love hate relationship. Louis, I love the guy and his writings. And yet I now really disagree with virtually everything he says. But you can’t dislike him. Once I had the great thrill of going to Wheaton College in Indiana for the summer, and even though Lewis wasn’t enough of an in test to teach their course, the thought of doing it never entered his mind. But he couldn’t have gotten a job because he believed the Bible had myths in it. 

But they love this guy. They have a C.S. Lewis library that’s virtually a shrine and they have Lewis’s own desk. I don’t know how they managed to smuggle out out of the U.K., but ho ho, what a thrill. Sitting at Lewis’s desk. So I feel that way about John Warburg, Montgomery and various other conservatives. I really enjoy their writings. I think they’re really great characters. I just disagree with them. It’s like a sport. 

Well, all right. Next time we’ll pick another one at two to respond to. But at the moment, let’s have another question. Jim asks a friend of mine once told me that the whole virgin birth notion was the result of a mistranslation. Evidently, the words for Virgin, an unmarried woman, were the same and either Hebrew or Greek once translated to a Western language. The differentiation was created. Does this hold water? Well, actually, that’s not quite right. But I do know what he’s referring to. I think he’s he’s got a slightly garbled. Here’s the thing. And this led to Bible burnings, believe it or not. When the revised standard version came out, I think in 1952, somebody noticed that. And I say a seven 14. It said, behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son and you’ll call his name Emmanuelle, etc.. Well, and isn’t that a virgin schellekens? Same. Well, what the RSV translators knew was that the Hebrew original, if I say is prophecy, uses the word our ma, which can mean virgin, but it can also as easily mean maiden in the looser sense. Think of some terrible sex pun in there. I don’t mean it that. Namely she is of a marriageable age. Whether she’s married or not is up in the air if you use the word out, ma. If you had used the word Bethune’s of Isaiah had them probably mispronouncing this, that would have to mean that she had not had sex. She was technically a virgin. But that’s not the word he uses. He uses our ma. So she’s a young woman. And there is reason in the context to think that he means the king’s wife or his own wife, who is a young woman. But but not a virgin. So that’s, I think, why the RSV translators picked young woman. It could mean virgin, but it wouldn’t have to. Now, in Matthew, of course, it’s written in Greek. And it quotes this passage from from Isaiah, some 14. And it says that this is a prediction in some esoteric sense of the conception of Jesus and his birth. And it uses its quoting from the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint. And in that it uses the Greek word polyphenols. If you ever parthenogenesis, virgin birth. That, we’re told, does specifically mean a sexually innocent woman, one who has not had sex. And so has Matthew read something into this? Does Matthew know of the doctrine of the virgin birth? Because either it’s fact if you’re a real conservative believer or let’s say the idea has been borrowed from pagan mythology, which strikes me as quite likely. But for whatever reason, he believes Jesus was conceived miraculously and a woman who had not had sex and therefore he chooses the Greek Septuagint. That translates the word parthenios technical intact virgin. Now, I think what you’re even closer to what your friend is saying is the another possibility that he just mis understood it, that he had never heard of the virgin birth doctrine. But reading the Septuagint and coming to believe some for some reason, I won’t get into the moment that this was a prediction of Jesus. He saw the word parthenios in the Greek and didn’t really bother looking at the Hebrew or didn’t care. And so he said, well, I guess Jesus was born miraculously of a virgin. And so that’s why in the revised standard version, it’s got young woman in the Hebrew Isaiah quote. But Virgin in the Greek passage in Matthew, where the Greek version of ISIS quoted. 

It gets messier than this, though, as Raymond Brown, the great Roman Catholic scholar, pointed out, maybe. 

The Septuagint translators didn’t mean to say that the woman Isaiah was talking about was technically a virgin. There was no particular reason in the context formed to think that. Could it be that Omar was ambiguous and that the Septuagint translators picked Parthenios because that was already equally ambiguous in the same way? 

I mean, you know, of course, words change their meaning and get looser, like the word refute. Used to mean you demonstrated that someone was wrong when you refuted them. Now it tends to mean you are challenging what they say, whether effectively or not. Right. The same sort of thing here. Could it be that the Greek translators didn’t mean by using the word parthenios that that the the woman was technically a virgin? And if that’s the case, are we as as Brown student Jane Sheinberg pointed it out? Are we so sure Matthew even means that Jesus was born of a virgin? 

Maybe the Greek word was just as ambiguous. And in fact, Sheinberg makes a fascinating case for saying that Matthew wasn’t trying to say that Jesus was miraculously conceived. In fact, he he’s dealing with the anti Christian argument that Jesus was illegitimate and that Matthew was saying, well, yes, but God has brought his providence out of such shenanigans before and he’s doing it again this time. 

There’s more to that argument than I can pursue here. But it does have to do with the possibly different meanings of parthenios in Greek, as in the Greek translation of Isaiah and Matthew’s quotation of it. 

But depending on what it means, it could be a good translation for the ambiguous Alma. 

So it remains open, as do as still, whether Isaiah, the Septuagint, translators and or the evangelist Matthew, whether any of them meant to say that there was a virgin birth going on here, or simply if a young woman would conceive and bring forth a son. Now, that may sound like an awful over answer, but unfortunately, the very ambiguity that makes us want to raise these questions necessarily invites a truckload of explanation. 

So I hope that I haven’t just confused the issue further. Who knows? Well, let’s get to something that might be a little simpler, though, equally bizarre. One of my favorite segments on the show is that in the Bible. 

Is that in the Bible where we deal with a different passage that has just set heads to scratch in for a long, long time, and my old professor, Gordon Cornwell’s seminary, David Scholer, great scholar, used to say that when there are loads of different interpretations of Bible verse, it’s probably because the meaning is obvious. That is so obvious and offensive that people will try to make it mean anything else. Well, we’ve got one of those here. I’m thinking of the epistle to the Colossians, either written by Paul or somebody posing as Paul. That’s another kettle of fish. But in chapter one, verse 24, he says, Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake and in my flesh, I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body. That is the church of which I became a minister according to the divine office, which was given to me for you to make the word of God fully known, et cetera, et cetera. What’s that again? In my flesh I complete. What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body? That is the church. Oh, boy. 

How? Wait a minute. How’s that? I forgot the. The atoning death of Christ was complete in its effectiveness. Like the old hymn says, all sufficient grace for even me and all that stuff. Right. What do you mean? There was something lacking in it and that Paul’s sufferings as a persecuted apostle are filling up. What was missing from the Atonement? Well, I’ve heard all kinds of gymnastics, people trying to get around this, and it has never seemed to me that any of them are reasonable even and not even plausible that you just have to basically rewrite the text the way you wish it had been, because it appears that either Paul himself or some latter day fan writing in his name, view him as a co redeemer with Jesus Christ, very much like Roman Catholics would later say about the Virgin Mary that she was the co redemptive tricks, that her sorrows at seeing her son horribly treated and executed were somehow redemptive, just like his. And they’re saving in some manner. It seems to me somebody is saying that about Paul, which means Paul is getting elevated close to the status of a second Christ. And we sure see that happen in the acts of Paul. Where are this apocryphal word from a second century where Paul is doing all kinds of healing’s, preaching and stuff, and he eventually gets beheaded by the Emperor Nero and then comes right back into the court with his head reattached and telling Nero that you’ve seen the last of me. But your next buddy and then his disciples go up to his grave and find it empty and Paul rises into heaven. 

Wait a minute. Who are we talking about here? Jesus or Paul? What’s the difference? And this you know, this has happened with various saints. They kind of take the place of Christ. And it seems to me that this has already happened and that people simply cannot stand seeing what this verse says. So they try to make it as if Paul had said, well, you know, the suffering of Jesus, you can kind of look at me as. As doing my fair share, following him and close. But no cigar. That’s. 

And the others are even other interpretations are even worse than that, because people just cannot have the New Testament saying that the the atoning death of Christ was not quite sufficient. Now the Moonies say something like that and that kept them out of the World Council of Churches. Yeah, well, there are all kinds of fun conundrums and mysteries of the Bible, some of them genuine. Some like this one that are just the results of people being unable to believe their eyes. The Bible like did say that. No, it’s like Luke Skywalker when Darth Vader tells him that he’s his father. 

I know that can be true. But if I am afraid it is and will deal with a bunch more of those next time when we get together on the Hilman Bible. 

Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Human Bible to send us questions or comments on the show, which we really hope you do. You can e-mail questions at the human Bible, dot net or feed back at the human bible dot net. We’re also on Twitter at Human Bible, on Facebook at slash the Human Bible. And you can even leave a voicemail on our human bible hotline by calling seven one six seven one. B, i. B, Ellie. You can get all that information and more on our Web site. The human Bible dot net views expressed on the human Bible aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor its affiliated organizations. The Human Bible is produced by Adam Isaac in Amherst, New York, and features contributions from Debbie Goddard. I’m your host, Robert M. Price.