Christopher's Bible Blog

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

Monday, December 18, 2006

Exodus 1-15: Out of Africa

When last we left the story Joseph, easily the most decent member of his family, had endured much hardship and scored a cushy job in the Egyptian administration. Fast forward 400 years or so and the leadership has changed, meaning that Joseph's people are on the "out" list. How out? In Exodus 1:15, the Pharaoh demands that all male Israelite babies be put to death. This is important to remember when we examine the fairly brutal retribution that follows.

Anyway, enter Moses (who would probably prefer we call him by a non-Egyptian name), who escapes this fate in a custom-made basket. As a young adult and self-identifying Israelite, he kills a taskmaster who's beating one of his kinsfolk. The Pharaoh catches wind of it and Moses high-tails it to Midian, whereupon our story becomes pretty familiar.

God, masquerading as a flaming shrub, has hatched a plan to show his power. As a side benefit, the Israelites would be delivered from Egypt as well - in fact, that's the first part he pitches to Moses (3:7-11) - but it's not exactly his primary concern. Verse 4:21 gives us our first clue, and our first iteration of what will be a common theme: "I will harden (Pharaoh's) heart, so that he will not let the people go." Anyway, Moses, who must have reformed since his killing days, is now something of a pantywaist, so God dispatches his brother Aaron to help out.

What follows is a frightening display of stubbornness - not on Pharaoh's behalf, as I always took it, but on God's. I'll not even discuss the historicity of the plagues; even if you read it as literal (in fact, especially if you read it as literal), this is a troublesome story. Bear in mind also what 4:19 tells us, which is that the Pharaoh who ordered the baby-killing is not the same one who gets the plagues.

The new Pharaoh is able to dismiss the first few plagues out of hand, as his court magicians can duplicate them. I'd like to see their books of illusions, because I'm not sure why they could conjure frogs but not gnats. Anyway, soon thereafter the sickening repetition commences.

In 8:8, Pharaoh offers to let the Israelites go. In 8:15, when the frog mess is gone, "he hardened his heart... just as the Lord had said. In 8:19, even though the magicians are telling him divine things are afoot, "Pharaoh's heart was hardened, just as the Lord had said." In 8:25 (after flies), Pharaoh capitulates. In 8:32, his heart is hardened. In 9:7 (post-anthrax), his heart is hardened. In 9:12 (apres boils), "the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh." In 9:27, after a hailstorm, Pharaoh says "This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong" - a bona fide Dickensian turnabout. Sure enough, in 9:35 "the heart of the Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses." Locusts and darkness don't do the trick either, and the point of all this repetition on my part is clear when you remember the final plague.

All along, God meant to kill the Egyptians' firstborns. Otherwise, he wouldn't have had to mess with the Pharaoh's free will and "harden his heart" repeatedly. Pharaoh didn't know it, but he was playing a rigged game, preprogrammed to end in genocide. In fact, as the preparations for the final plague are being made, in 11:9, God reiterates his stance, which has nothing to do with the plight of Israel: "Pharaoh will not listen to you, in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt."

One might think that the carnage of the Passover would slake God's thirst for blood, but one would be wrong. The Israelites officially ditch their Egyptian citizenship in Chapter 12, but in 14:4, as God tells them to camp by the Red Sea, he throws in: "I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue (the Israelites), so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army." So the army chases Israel across the Red Sea, which Moses has parted, and then, in 14:24-5, God impedes their progress, even as they decide to surrender, specifically so he can drown them, which he does.

The last verse of Chapter 14 tells us this: "So the people feared the Lord." To say "no kidding" would be a hefty understatement.


A couple of notes on names, which are nearly always important and appropriate in the Old Testament: Moses means "to draw out," which niftily refers to both his salvation from infanticide and his role in Jewish history.

The burning bush scene allows God to name himself for the first time - "I am who I am." Moses had to ask, because there were so many gods to choose from at the time, and business cards hadn't yet been invented.

One final question: did Egypt even worship YHWH for any significant period of time thereafter? I suppose I'll have to read further to find out if the wholesale slaughter had any productive outcome.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Genesis 37-50: Many-colored sleeves

Genesis ends with Joseph's story, which is refreshing to me after reading about his forebears' exploits. The first thing we learn about Joseph is his robe--which NRSV says is "a long robe with sleeves," signifying exemption from labor according to Oxford. This is quite different from the "coat of many colors" I heard so much about as a kid, and makes for a more compelling reason for his brothers' jealousy (unless they just really liked rainbows).

The second thing we learn about Joe is that by 17 he hadn't learned much about when to keep his mouth shut. 37:5-11 show him telling the bros about dreams he had, whose obvious interpretations showed that they would wind up being subservient to him. Let me tell you, if I were trying not to be sold into slavery by my siblings, I'd keep that stuff on the DL, but Joe did not - how surprised could he have been when that's exactly what happened? Oops. The interesting thing I'd forgotten about is that the other eleven originally intend to kill him, before deciding that they may as well make a few bucks - in this case, greed leads to the betterment of mankind.

Chapter 38 gives us a detour, wherein we learn about Onan (among some stories I don't get but would love to have explained). The sin of Onan has frequently been stated as... how do I say it politely? It rhymes with "blasturbation." That's always kinda annoyed me, since the act he performs reads more like something that rhymes with "bloitus blinterruptus." Of course, his actual sin is disobeying God, which is certainly worse than blanking the blonkey.

After Joseph gets to Egypt, he is once again hornswoggled, this time by Potiphar's wife who, having had her sexual advances rebuked, accuses him of attempted rape (39). Oops. It's very "Edward Scissorhands."

In jail, he finds his talent for interpreting dreams, as opposed to just running off at the mouth about them. He correctly predicts the fates of the Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker, though the former turns out to be a lousy secretary. He's supposed to put in a good word for Joseph and get him out of the pen, but instead - oops - forgets for two years. Finally, Joe gets his big break sussing out visions for the Pharaoh, consequently ensuring Egypt's survival through a global famine, and at the end of Ch. 41 gets picked for what sounds like "Vice Pharaoh." Go Joe!

When his estranged family comes looking for food, Joe messes with them quite a bit (justifiably), but ultimately embraces them like brothers. Thus the people of Israel relocate to Egypt and live well, until the Pharaoh gets all nervous and starts oppressing them in the beginning of Exodus, which we leave until the next entry.

Purely examining the plot, as though it were a novel, this is pretty cool - Genesis, with all its anti-heroes, ends with an account of a genuinely righteous and affable guy... who unwittingly leads his people into centuries of servitude. "Oops" is a word that comes to mind frequently.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Genesis Chs. 24-36: God's wascally wabbits

The stories of Isaac and Jacob cast the early Israelites in a very interesting light. The "virtues" they valued are clearly much different from the morals and ethics that most of us, Christian or otherwise, pursue today. Basically, any manner of trickery seems to be kosher so long as it helps extend the family line.

Isaac's life, post-"sacrifice," is largely uneventful. God continues to physically direct him, telling him where to live and where not to, places he can find suitable brides for his sons and things like that. Chapter 24 is where Isaac finds his own wife, Rebekah, and it's a romantic (if less than grippingly told) tale of predestined love. In the interest of securing territory for his family, in 26:6-11 Isaac pulls his dad's favorite trick, telling the local men that Rebekah is his sister so they won't kill him--consequently putting them in the path of God's wrath if they sleep with her.

By the way, I didn't make a big point of expressing my personal distaste for this tactic the last time out, so I will here. I really can't imagine why an omniscient God couldn't come up with a way to ensure the safety of his chosen people that doesn't involve needlessly endangering the life of innocent "foreigners" (actually the "invaded" party, as it were). Insight from any of you astute and knowledgeable readers would be quite welcome.

Isaac's son Jacob is an unmitigated ethical disaster from the getgo, from a modern point of view--a wascally wabbit if eva thew was one. Granted, a lot of the sibling rivalry stories seem to be allegorical explanations of the failure of the kingdom of Edom (King Saul smacks them down later on). Nonetheless, Jacob's story carries on the unnerving tradition of screwing people over in the service of the Lord.

First, at the end of Chapter 25, brother Esau (father of the Edomites) comes in hungry while Jake's cooking stew. A good brother would hand some over no questions asked, but instead Jake makes the dimwitted Esau fork over his birthright (leadership of the family and a double portion of the inheritance, according to Oxford).

In Chapter 27, Rebekah becomes an accomplice to Jacob's wascally behavior as Isaac lies on his deathbed. It seems that a verbal blessing was a pretty big deal in the day, and poor blind Isaac is intending to confer one on Esau. When Bek overhears the plan, she tells Jake, who runs, makes some food, dresses himself up like Esau and steals the blessing. "Isaac trembled violently" upon learning his mistake, verse 33 tells us. That's a great way to treat your dying father. Esau, who may have actually been trying to give away the birthright earlier, was definitely incensed by having his blessing stolen; in fact, he consoled himself by vowing to kill Jacob.

Bear this in mind: Jacob the blessing-stealer, according to tradition, is the progenitor of all the Jews and Christians in the world. It's really hard for me to square Jacob's behavior with modern Christian ideals.

It doesn't stop, either. Later, after Jacob marries Rachel, we get a fantastically long and convoluted screw-job on Laban (Rachel's dad), wherein they essentially kidnap his whole family and steal all his stuff... then Rachel sits on it while "the way of the woman is upon me" (31:35).

Jacob's crowning moment of okayness is his wrestling match with an angel at Peniel (32:24-32). Like his grandparents (Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah), he emerges with a new name--the radically different "Israel" (God rules). The story is intriguing enough in itself, especially as it seems to imply that the angel cheated ("When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket and Jacob's hip was put out of joint" [v. 25]), but I never knew the context before, and I'm glad I do now.

See, this wrestling match happens right after Jacob learns that an all-growed-up Esau is one county over and heading this way. Jacob is understandably nervous, and sends out a gigantic gift to try to smooth things over. The thoughts that must have gone through Jake's mind when a guy jumped out of nowhere and started whaling on him are intriguing. Furthermore, the fact that he was left with a limp by the angel's heel turn couldn't have helped his mindset. In the end, though, Esau turned out to be a fantastic sport, and "fell on his neck and kissed him" (33:4)--not a bad example of "forgive and forget" Christianity. I wonder if the Edomites expressed this trait, and if it didn't get them killed.

Finally, I promised in the last entry to say why I expect Jacob to be found eventually. He dies at the very end of Genesis, by which point his son Joseph is second-in-command of the Egyptian empire. The account tells us that they spent forty days embalming him, and then he lay in state for another 70. After that, his remains go to the same cave in which Abraham was buried--in both Jake's and Abe's death stories, pretty explicit directions are given.

Meanwhile, as we know, Egyptian embalming techniques were pretty darned advanced (ask Tutankhamen), so I suspect that Jacob's mummified body, the identity of which could likely be verified by DNA testing against any ethnic Jew, is sitting in a (possibly underground) cave somewhere in Israel, waiting to be discovered. Get out your sand shovels, boys and girls.

Friday, July 14, 2006

FAQ: How do I comment?

Some of us have been blogging since before there was a word for it, and some of us are new to the 'sphere. Even some of us old hands may not be intimately familiar with this particular software. Anyway, for whatever reason, some of you seem to be having trouble commenting.

If you have no interest in starting your own blog, but would like to comment on this one, first find the line uner the post that tells you how many comments it has. Click on that. Now type your comment in the big box, then mark the "Other" button under "Choose an Identity" below. Type in your name and Web site, if you have one, and you're ready to rock.

If you would like to blog yourself, I would recommend signing up for an account. It's free, and it's not like you have to actually go through with blogging (though if you do, will host it for you).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Genesis Chs. 12-24: Abraham and Co.

As I'm reading it, this is where the Bible starts its fascinating storytelling prowess. With Abraham, we pass from the old stories into more precisely historical accounts. More to the point, we begin to experience God as a character, in the sense that we think of characters today. He has a personality, he makes himself available and manifest in more than just sporadic bursts--yes, he remains temperamental, but he's a richly textured character.

In Abraham, God does not choose a perfect person. In 12:11-20, he lies to the Egyptians about the identity of his wife, fearing that they'll kill him to have her (she was evidently quite a looker). The entirety of Ch. 20 chronicles the same trick pulled on King Abimelech of Gerar. In both of these instances, Abraham is clearly taking advantage of God's distinctly idiosyncratic sense of justice--God, hating adultery, threatens to make things seriously bad for Sarah's would-be suitors despite their rightfully professed innocence. Of course, God is simultaneously making use of Abraham's... shall we say, lack of qualms about little white lies... to keep him safe as he wanders around doing God's bidding.

Funny thing is, Abraham's son Isaac, who may or may not have heard these stories, pulls the exact same trick later on.

As I mentioned in the flood story, the OT God was given to changes of mind. Chapter 16 tells of Ishmael, born of Abraham by his wife's handmaid Hagar when it becomes clear Sarah herself can't conceive. Later on, at the beginning of Ch. 21, a seriously aged Sarah indeed conceives Isaac, which is to say God makes good on his covenant to make Abraham the father of a great nation twice.

The other nation, according to tradition, is Islam, and with the benefit of hindsight this change of God's mind becomes incredibly important. Upon Isaac's (father of the Jews) birth, Sarah becomes jealous of Ishmael (father of the Muslims), technically Abraham's firstborn, and everyone agrees that Ish and his mom should probably scram. 21:14-18 tell us how God consoles them by promising to make Ishmael a great nation as well, et voila--two nations predisposed to hate each other. Anyone who doesn't understand why the Muslims have a chip on their shoulder hasn't read closely enough.

Meanwhile, Abraham has also haggled with God in the leadup to Sodom and Gomorrah. He really doesn't want God to destroy the towns, where his nephew Lot lives, and manages to convince God to spare the cities if he can find ten righteous people. Fat lot of good it does them, of course--there aren't that many good people there. In fact, there may just be the one (Lot), as his wife can't follow a simple instruction (19:17 and 26), and even his daughters are evidently not above liquoring up their dad and conceiving children by him (19:30-38).

As for the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, it of course must be mentioned that it is evidence for the sinfulness of homosexuality. There isn't any other way to read it, really--although Lot's wife's fate makes a nice solution to the riddle of why there are big salt pillars out in the middle of nowhere. All we'll say for now is that the framers of the OT weren't big on the gay thing, a notion which will be repeated in the law books a bit down the road. When we get to NT evidence, we'll look at it, but feel free to discuss between now and then.

Of course, Abraham's coup de grace is the near-sacrifice of Isaac, his favorite son, in Ch. 22. Again, we find the father of two nations lying his ever-loving head off, making Isaac schlep his own bier while telling him "no, it's cool, there'll totally be a lamb when we get there" (22:6-8, paraphrased). Of course, at the last second God jumps in, Abe having proved his faithfulness, and spares Isaac, and they all lived happily ever after. Abe even remarried after Sarah died, having six (!) more kids, named in 25:2--which makes Ishmael's tragedy, and that of God's second-favorite nation (from a Jewish viewpoint), all the more poignant.

25:8 sees Abraham's death, and in the next entry, covering Isaac and Jacob's generations, we'll see why someone ought to be able to find his grave. Joseph will be in a separate post since his story, properly read, seems to be a prologue for the exodus more than anything else.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Singing In the Rain (or, 150 days of indoor fun)

From the tone of my first entry, you might think you can guess what I'm going to say about the Flood--but then, I did say it was trickier. I hope you've been able to handle the suspense.

The historicity of the flood is a mess, from what I can see. It always seemed like an out-and-out fable to me. In college, when I read The Epic of Gilgamesh and found a very similar story starring someone named Utnapishtim, I felt vindicated. Clearly, either (a) someone had plagiarized, or (b) there was some kind of flood that covered a lot of Mesopotamia, and it was important enough to the early humans that it was recorded as part of cultural heritage.

It turns out, though, that many, many early civilizations have stories about a great flood that wiped out all but a handful of people, and all over the world. Check 'em out here. It's kinda freaky.

Now it's time to figure out what the heck happened, and I'm going to be asking for a lot of help. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it didn't happen the way the Bible says it happened. Really sure, in fact. Again, this skepticism stems from information the writers didn't have. Enough water would have to have been generated to raise the level of the sea over the surface of a planet 510,000,000 square kilometers in surface area, an average of 750 feet a day. Someone with a good scientific calculator can figure out how much water that is, but it's a lot, and it all had to have gone somewhere, which it demonstrably did not. Add to that the problem of collecting animals from various continents (if God flew them to Saudi Arabia personally, I would think that would be a sensational enough sight to make it into the narrative), and the logistics are beyond miraculous. I know someone will say there's no such thing, but seriously, where did the water go? A wind blew it away, evidently (8:1)--it must have been transdimensional or something.

KJV, which I happen to have handy as I type this, says "all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered" (7:19). Nonetheless, the account itself seems to admit, albeit unwittingly, the dubiousness of that claim. After all, the fact that the ark comes to rest so close to its point of departure suggests that Noah and crew didn't sail past the Himalaya to see what was going on there, and no one else survived to give report.

Regardless of the historicity of the deluge itself, its clear moral, which isn't a bad one, is "don't mess with God." The effects are far-reaching: it is after this point, in fact, that the spirit of God leaves humans and thus stops allowing them to live so long (can't find the reference at the moment). It gives a nifty origin story for rainbows.

More importantly as we go forward, it establishes the precedent of God's prerogative to change his mind as he sees fit. In 6:6, he second-guesses the creation of man, which is how he devises the flood, and in 8:21 the smell of burning sacrifice brings him to his senses, and he promises not to do that again.

Anyway, the historicity is a problem. Clearly there was widespread flooding, perhaps at the end of the last ice age (makes sense to me, anyway), but how did all our species survive it? We have an awful lot of biodiversity nowadays, and for all of it to be postdiluvian deems far-fetched to me also. If only low-lying areas around the world were flooded, as seems more likely, that would partially explain it--but still, a few thousand years doesn't seem long enough to evolve new species to fill the erstwhile seas (the aforementioned low-lying areas, in case I got too highfalutin for a second).

I guess what I'm saying is that this story, of everything in the Bible, because of its corroboration by numerous independent sources, seems to imply divine intervention. We have to make a couple of assumptions to get to the impasse, but the impasse is real to me nonetheless--wouldn't it take a god to see all us organisms make it this far?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Genesis Chs. 1-5 and 10-11: Everything but the flood

Since I’m reading the Bible from start to finish, I unfortunately have to start with one of the most controversial things, from a certain viewpoint anyway, that I hope I’ll wind up saying. At Chapter 12, the book abruptly shifts in scope, tone, detail and pretty much every other way possible—it begins to cover the history of Abraham and his next few generations. In other words, it settles into a whole different literary genre.

The genre into which the first 11 chapters fall is folklore, and pretty clearly.

To refresh, these chapters cover creation (1-2), the fall (3), the first murder and interstitial genealogy (4-5), the flood (6-9), and more genealogy followed by the tower of Babel (10-11).

These stories resemble the oral tradition of pretty much any ancient society. Any group of people with decent stability will concoct a story of where the world came from; in this case the story, written by Jews, naturally connects those people with the creator of the universe. What better endorsement is there?

This is the story that Abraham would have told a precocious young Isaac when he asked, as children do—not necessarily even because he believed it, but because that was the best he had to offer; it’s what he would have been told when he asked his father, Terah.

It’s unfortunate that we’ll never be able to confront the OT writers with the mountains of evidence supporting evolution theory, to see if the story would change. Nonetheless, we know that they didn’t have access to that information, and the credibility of a 144-hour creation process is necessarily weakened because of this.

For another interesting take, read Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, which posits that the Judeo-Christian creation story was originally written not by the Jews, but by a hunting-gathering people vanquished by the early farmers.

Anyway, my definition of folklore basically implies a series of implausible events that explains how something came to be. It is passed down orally over many generations until the identity of the writers is unknown, and it becomes true not because it was ever actually true, but just because everyone knows it to be.

The creation, fall, first murder and Tower of Babel stories are well enough known that I won’t recount them here—I’ll just say that they fit well within that definition of folklore and leave it at that. These same passages are the only ones in the Bible that mention people living nearly a millennium, led by Methuselah, who evidently made it to 969.

The flood is a little trickier, so I’ll leave it for the next entry.

My wife read this installment and said that I’ve already failed in my stated goal of objectivity. The thing is, I don’t think that’s what I meant. I’m reading the book to see what it says to me, and that’s my overwhelming impression. When all is done, I hope to come to a knowledge of two wonderful and widespread world religions that doesn’t require the complete abandonment of my understanding of how the world works—and I would imagine there are plenty of others who would like that as well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A quick note on commenting

Please don't make me moderate comments, which would quickly make this not at all fun. Be sure to include your name, and no matter what, be sure to be respectful. Thanks.

In the beginning... (or, read me first)

So, I'm reading the Bible, and blogging about it. I'm sure it's been done before, though I don't have time to check by whom or how many. After all, I'm a rock musician, a perhaps-soon-to-be novelist, a husband, dog-walker, dish-washer, and oh yeah--forty hours a week, I'm an editorial assistant. This will likely be a long-term project.

So why am I reading the Bible and blogging about it? Let's start with the second part of the question.

In addition to the above list, I am a Discordian, a Buddhist, and an agnostic. You can be all three--I checked. I was raised in a Baptist church, in a Baptist household. I was fed Bible verses and stories out of sequence and out of context for quite some time, and at the age of twelve I walked away. I am probably the youngest person I know to look Baptist dogma in the eye and determine it wasn't for me, a fact I've shared with some pride for a while.

As a result of this personal history, nearly everyone I know fits into one of two categories. There are the biblical literalists, comprising my family, my wife's family, countless generations before them, and pretty much everyone they voluntarily associate with on a regular basis. Post-faith-loss, there are the atheists, close friends all, who believe that the Bible is wholly or in large part bogus, a book full of quaint morals mixed with abominable policies, all in all irrelevant to their lives.

Somewhere in the middle is me, which brings me to the first part of that first question. I'm reading the Bible because I'm curious.

A few Wikipedia searches brought me the knowledge that there exists a modern translation of the Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, prepared by an ecumenical council including at least one real live Jew. The motto of this group was "as literal as possible, as free as necessary," and the result is a readable but precise version of the Scriptures, as nearly as I can tell thus far. Furthermore, it incorporates the latest (and oldest) manuscripts, which ensure the highest possible degree of accuracy. Further furthermore, Oxford University Press, a publisher with which I am familiar and in which I trust in pretty much all scholarly matters, has an edition (look for it here if you'd like to read along), annotated, prefaced, and including those mysterious deuterocanonical/apocryphal books I've always heard about but never read any part of.

If such a version existed, by golly, it was my duty to read it. After all, divinely inspired or not, no one can really argue against the Bible's status as the book with the most prominent role in shaping our modern western society.

So here's what I hope to accomplish with this blog. I am a guy with at least a minor in English (exactly a minor, to be more precise), and someone who has read a fair amount of literature of both the antiquated and modern varieties. I possess a critical eye, and almost no agenda--that is to say, naturally, I start the reading with some preconceived notions, but I'm doing my best to lay them aside as I progress.

I shall be inviting people in both of the above categories to share in this project with me, and asking frequently for clarification regarding the historical context of the passages I read. I shall be giving my impressions of each book as I read it, and welcoming commentary from anyone who cares to offer it. I'd like to provide jumping-off points for discussions between the literalists and the atheists, who all too often either vehemently argue or settle for an uneasy silence when they meet, and everyone in between.

Perhaps the most important thing for readers to know before we start the long main event is the baseline understanding with which I'm setting forth. The Hebrew Bible, which I will henceforth refer to by its more familiar, if somewhat derogatory, name, the Old Testament or OT, is a history, written by the timelessly oppressed Jewish people, of both their forebears and the God who has brought them safe thus far. The New Testament was written by early Christians to explain the life and significance of Jesus, their Christ, and to convert whoever reads it. Christian salvation relies solely on the believer's belief that (a) the historical Jesus was God's son, (b) he died for mankind's sins and came back to life, and (c) he currently resides in Heaven, accepting anyone who believes (a) and (b).

As you will quickly learn, I don't believe that a subpoint (d), "the Bible is true in every word," belongs on that list--but like everything you read here, this will be open for discussion. Thanks for joining me.