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Darkness to Light - Vol. V, No.1
Darkness to Light
Volume V, Number 1
Presented by Darkness to
Light Web site
Director: Gary F. Zeolla
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I would like to wish all
readers of this newsletter a
Happy and Blessed New Year!
Scripture Workbook: For Personal Bible Study and Teaching the Bible - This book contains twenty-two individual "Scripture Studies." Each study focuses on one general area of study. These studies enable individuals to do in-depth, topical studies of the Bible. They are also invaluable to the Bible study teacher preparing lessons for Sunday school or a home Bible study and can be used for group studies.
Emails on a Variety of Topics
As we enter 2007, I was going through some old emails from 2004. Below are several on a variety of topics. The emailers' comments are in black and enclosed in greater than and lesser than signs; my comments are in red.
>Subject: What's real?
What's the difference between the Bible, the Koran, or the Book of Mormon? How do you know which one is real?
Thank you for your email. Entire books have been written on the questions you ask, so I cannot go into too much detail in an email. But in a nutshell, all three books claim to be inspired by God. But that is where the similarity ends.
The Bible is actually a collection of 66 books that were written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), on three different continents (Africa, Europe, and Asia), over a period of 1500 years (1400 BC-100 AD), by over 40 different authors. But despite this diversity, it is consistent in all of its major teachings.
The Bible also contains much history, much of which has been verified by archeological research to be accurate. It also contains many prophecies that have been literally fulfilled. And in many other ways, there are reasons to be able to trust the Bible.
The Koran, OTOH, was written in Arabic, in the 600's AD. Muhammad claims the angel Gabriel revealed the contents to him. He, being illiterate himself, recited the revelations to his followers, and they wrote them down. There is no history or prophecies to speak of. So there really is no way to verify it.
The Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith in the early 1800s. He claims he translated them from some ancient golden plates that an angel directed him to. The angel then conveniently took the plates back to heaven, so they are no longer available.
The BoM is mainly the supposed history of the earliest inhabitants of the Americas. However, there is NO archeological evidence supporting this claim. Mormons will claim there is, but as I document on my site, trustworthy organizations like the Smithsonian Institute and National Geographic both say there is no such evidence.
As I said, much more could be said on these matters. I would suggest you check out the sections on the Bible, apologetics, Mormonism, and Islam on my site for further details.
First, I truly enjoy the DTL newsletters, very informative and very thought provoking; they make me hungry to learn all I can about God's word.
I am currently perplexed by a personal church issue and thought you might provide the insight I'm looking for.
When I was a child my mother believed our house was possessed, she called the church (Roman Catholic) for an exorcism. They offered to bless the house, which they did.
Recently I lost my beloved pet while doing what I believed was work in Christ's name. I was helping a homeless acquaintance with a possible mental condition to get on his feet. I prayed asked for guidance and protection. I really believed I was supposed to help this person back onto his feet and be the Christian example that would encourage him to seek truth and love in Christ.
Well, among many wrong doings to me, he poisoned my beloved dog. I will have her cremated and have prepared a prayer on a piece of fabric to "go" with her; I have asked a priest to bless this prayer, and he acted aghast at the request, "That is not holy, and I will not bless it." He said the most he would do for a dog is say the Prayer of St. Francis for a living dog. I asked about her ashes with a rosary; he said no.
I'm having difficulty seeing why it is the okay to bless a structure but not the remains of a life given for Christ. To me, life is life and all life is of God. Am I wrong? Have I made a blasphemous request?
Thank you for your time.
It is somewhat unique to ask for a prayer for a dog, but it is not blasphemous. Many people are so close to their pets that they feel like they are a "part of the family." I see nothing wrong with saying a prayer for a departed pet, thanking God for the joy the dog brought into your life. But if your prayer gets into theologically controversial issues like assuming dogs have souls like humans do, then I can understand the priest's reluctance.
I have seen and bought the newest repackaging of the "GNB" [Good News Bible, a.k.a. Today's English Version] I like it. I have read the GNB years ago and it is OK if you are just starting out in the Christian faith. But I looked though your site and you have no write up on it, or do you?
I will be the first to say the GNB is not the best or the strongest translation you can read, but if you want to get the big picture of the Bible, this would be the one you can read. So what is your opinion on the GNB?
Thank you for your time,
I discuss the GNB in chapter three of my Differences Between Bible Versions book. Basically, you are correct that it is "not the strongest translation." The problem is, many of its "translations" are more interpretations. So you're basically getting a commentary more than a translation. I detail some examples of this in my book.
That said, the GNB is a very easy to read Bible version. And for getting the "big picture" of the Bible, it could be worthwhile. Just be sure to have a more literal version on hand to compare verses before basing too much on how something is worded in the GNB.
I want to ask you a couple of questions about tradition. I showed my cousin (who's Catholic) Colossians 2:8, and he was explaining to me that there's 2 types or tradition. He said there is tradition of man and Tradition with a capital T. So my question to you is that is there 2 types of tradition that the Bible speak of?
I know of a verse in 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 in the KJV that talks about keeping tradition which my cousin brought up to show that there are 2 types, but I'm not going to take his word for it. So I am asking you.
And another question is, what does Colossians 2:8 speak about when he said tradition of men?
Thanks again Gary for helping me out.
2Thes 2:15 So, consequently, brothers [and sisters], be standing firm and be holding [or, keeping] the handed down teachings which you* were taught, whether by word or by our letter.
Col 2:8 Be watching out lest anyone will be carrying you* away as spoils of war [fig., taking control of you*] through philosophy [or, human wisdom] and empty deception, according to the traditions of people, according to the rudimentary elements [or, basic teachings] of the world and not according to Christ.
The above is how I translated these verses in my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament. As can be seen, in the first I used "teachings" not traditions. But the important point is that these were teachings/ traditions given by Paul, an apostle. That is a far cry from a church's own teachings/ traditions. The point is, the only teachings/ traditions we are to follow are those from the "apostles and prophets" that are contained in the Bible. These are the only ones we can be assured are in fact from the apostles and prophets.
So yes, there are two kinds of tradition, those contained in the Bible that came from the apostles and prophets and those that are not Biblical.
The Catholic Church tries to claim that many of its traditions come from the apostles if though they are not in the Bible, but in many, many cases, this can be shown not to be so. There is no evidence whatsoever, for instance, that the apostles prayed to Mary or other departed "saints." And they most definitely did not create statues of them and bow before them and pray to them. Not only is there no Biblical support for such practices, but there is Biblical evidence against them.
As for Col 2:8, the point of "the traditions of people" is that Paul is referring to any tradition that is not given by God, again through his apostles and prophets. And again, the only ones we are sure of are those in the Bible.
>Subject: About Allah
Greetings in Jesus' name,
I've been blessed by reading your article about Islam. I, myself, am a former Muslim and an Arab. It is amazing how the Lord is revealing the same things/Scriptures regarding Allah. The day Jesus revealed Himself to me as being GOD ALMIGHTY (Rev.1:8), He also revealed to me that Allah is the DESTROYER (Rev.9:11).
Because of that revelation, I immediately renounced Islam and everything that linked me to it and received Christ as my Lord and Savior. The revelation was a great shock for me, but the biggest shock was when I found that the Arabic Bible refers to Yahweh by the abominable name Allah. To me it sounds like using Satan as a name for God. It's unbelievable! For years I've been trying to convince Christians that Allah is indeed the DEVIL. I searched the Scriptures and one of the passages that the Spirit has shown me is Isaiah 14:12-15, the one you quoted, and here is another one Ezekiel 28:12-19.
Thank you for your email. And praise God for you conversion! Your story is particularly interesting as I recently had a Muslim email me and tell me that no one ever leaves Islam for the Christian faith. That obviously is not true.
>Subject: Armageddon does it have to happen?
I'm a fiction writer looking for some information and opinion please. Do we have the power to avert Armageddon as in the Bible? Say as a race we have a miraculous turn around, spiritually, do you think God would lets things go on? Or just call time? Is it a sin to avert it? Since it is God's work?
Is there any mention in the Bible about this, any warning of not messing with God's work? b/c the date is set so to speak?
Any information or opinion would be great please.
I had to think about this one. Most Christians do believe that Armageddon is "destined" to happen since the Bible prophecies as such. And, if is prophesied to happen, it will happen.
However, even if something is destined to be, it does not mean we should not work to avert it. For instance, Jesus said, "The poor you will have with you always." But just because this is so, it does not mean that Christians should not work to alleviate poverty as much as possible. IOW, Christians should work to try to avert suffering even if their efforts will not be fully effective.
So should Christians work to try to avert Armageddon? I would say yes. Will their efforts be totally successful? Probably not. But maybe our efforts could lessen the severity of it.
I should also note that there are some Christians who do not agree with the whole prophetic scheme that includes Armageddon. But that is a complex matter, and one in which I'm not sure where I stand. Although I don't specifically address Armageddon, I present the differing prophetic views in the chapter on prophecy in my Scripture Workbook.
>I need your advice. I have studied the Majority text and Revised text and know some Greek. But I recently read that the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament is not as accurate as the Septuagint. And this article says Jesus and the Apostles used the Septuagint. It was the Greek-Hebrew Text there is no doubt. They give several Scriptures that say the opposite of the Septuagint Version. One is Ps 22:16.
Are there quite a few words in the Septuagint that are more accurate. The masorettes did their copy about 700-1000 AD. The Septuagint from 265 BC on past the 1st Century. Which translation is more correct??
It is true that some of the quotes in the NT are from the Septuagint (LXX), but many others are from the Hebrew text. If you look for the "LXX" notation in the Scripture references in my Analytical-Literal Translation, these indicate where the apostles are quoting from the LXX when it differs from the Hebrew.
As for the accuracy of the LXX, it is a translation, so it suffers from the same possible defects as any translation. The Torah books are relatively literal and accurate, but much of the rest of the OT is less literal and accurate.
As for the Masoretic Text, it is true the oldest manuscripts we have are from 700-1000 AD. However, discoveries of older Hebrew manuscripts, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, show that these are very accurate. Meanwhile, note that the LXX was translated in the second century BC, but the oldest manuscripts we have are far more recent (I'm not sure of the exact date). So not only do you have the translation errors to deal with, but also possible copyist errors, just as with the Hebrew texts.
Between Bible Versions
Discusses translation principles, Greek text-types, and KJV Onlyism.
Advocates a literal or formal equivalence translation method.
Advocates the use of the Textus Receptus or Majority Greek Text for translating the New Testament.
Over thirty Bible versions are compared and evaluated.
Also by Gary F. Zeolla:
Fitness for One and All Web site and FitTips for One and All newsletter.
Helping people to attain their health, fitness, and performance goals.
All material in this newsletter is copyrighted © 2006 by Gary F. Zeolla or as indicated otherwise.