It's In the Bible
A collection of "oddities" from the Bible. The bits that are often not talked about in Sunday School (at least not a Sunday School I ever attended). Some are funny. Some are negative. Some are interesting. They are all over the board.
This is, perhaps surprisingly, not meant to be an attack on Christianity, the Bible, Religion, or Christians...per se. These are things that make me blink in the grand scope of contemplating Christians and their beliefs. Most of these things I, myself, did not notice right off the bat. Over time, though, they became more obvious to me.
While the below are in the Bible (or are NOT in the Bible but assumed to be, depending on the bit), a greatly interesting Wikipedia article on historical Bible Errata. This are misprints that go through, some of which, like "Thou shalt commit adultery" and "Go and sin on more", can change important verses quite considerably.
"Three Days and Nights" in the Biblical Sense
The common conception that Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights is a false one, at least in a literal sense. Jesus was said to be placed at the beginning of the Sabbath (friday evening) into the tomb, and then was removed the morning after the Sabbath (sunday morning). Unless one takes a "day and night" to mean only a portion of a day, this gives us friday evening, saturday day and evening, and sunday morning. All told, less than 48 hours (more on the order of 36). It bears to point out that Jesus was gone by Sunday morning and might not even include that time.
Some argue that this is a conflict borne out of not understanding what the Bible is really saying. One solution is that the Jewish really did count part days as whole days (in the case of friday, the last hour or so becomes one whole day and night). One solution is to have Jesus' word about three days and nights to be a Jewish idiom. Both of these are bad in that it is essentially weasling out of words or suggesting that Christ said words that he did not mean.
Another common tract of reasoning is that there were two Sabbaths that week. Both John and Matthew mention it being Passover (John implies Passover was coming, it seems, while Matthew discusses it being in the middle). The way this works is that if Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and Thursday was Passover, then it would have been two sabbaths: Thursday and Saturday, and then Sunday would have been the third day. The problem with this logic, as I see it, is that I have never heard any sort of "you shall not bury the dead during Passover" sort of bits. Passover is treated as a time of celebration, not complete rest. I am not sure if this logic actually accomplishes anything besides to show lack of Christian knowledge about Jewish traditions.
Those who hold to this theory claim that the Greek used is for sabbaths (plural), not sabbath. I am not a Greek scholar, but all Greek versions I could find, as well as all translated versions I could find, did not include this pluralization. I am not sure where this is supposed to have come from, but it does not seem to be sound.
The most interesting answer to this problem is one made on this page (if the page is not there anymore, it's ok, I'll summarize). Basically, this person says that the three days and three nights are not literal death, but figurative, representing the point in time in which Christ was betrayed and cast out from his people. The logic goes that Christ would have absorbed the sins upon the people, and been purely mortal at this time, i.e. in the grip of the earth (as the verse says). The argument seems more than valid to me. If I were a believer, then I would accept this as the answer.
What bothers me most about the whole thing is that it is overlooked by so many Christians. Most just recite exactly what they have been told without even looking back at it. In fact, most seem to be nervous to look up the topic.
Not Just Gays
It is not just the gays that are abominations. Keep this in mind next time you think it may be a good thing that Matthew Shephard was killed. Something that a lot of us forget is that God hates eating shellfish, eels, eagles, rabbit, pig, and "four legged fowl" (bats and flying squirrels?). This is in Leveticus 11. It seems that these things are not abominations, but are "abominations" to eat, but I doubt many Christians listen to this since a lot of them love shellfish and a lot of Southern Baptists eat catfish.
It is ok, though, to eat beetles, locusts and similar things in their kind (the four legged flying things might be refering to insects(?), by the way, since they are mentioned at a similar place).
Concerning Monthy Visitors
Looking at Leviticus 15 (19-3), we see that a woman (for the "sin" of allowing her uterus to discharge unused ovum, I suppose) is unclean. Any man who touches her is unclean. She makes the bed unclean. Having sex with a woman in menstruation (according to Leviticus 20) will "cut you off from your people". I am not sure if this is a permanent or less than permanent state.
If a woman has an unexpected flow (back to Lev 15), then she is to wait until it ends (she is unclean this whole time); give it another 7 days; and then, on the eigth day, sacrifice two doves to atone for her dirtiness.
Take My Virgin Daughter, Please!
We all know the story of Lot, right? In Genesis 19, we read how Lot, when confronted by a crowd demanding to have sex with his male (angel) visitors, offers up his virgin daughters as a better alternative. Most Christians take this to mean rape, and I will not argue the point.
In the case of Lot's daughters, they are spared by the men being struck blind (actually, the men already said they would not take them). In the case of the concubine in Judges 19, though, it does not go so good.
In this story, an unnamed Levite has went to retrieve his concubine who "played the harlot" (her actual sin is not listed, so it might be just that she ran away). After a beeming welcome from her father, he leaves and stops at an old man's house to spend the night. Again, a crowd show up, demanding the Levite. They want to "know" him.
Except rather than striking the men blind, the concubine is thrown to the men who "know" her all night. She dies the next morning from the abuse (the Levite seems peeved and humiliated by this) and he cuts her up and sends her to the twelve corners of Israel.
Richard Dawkins has used this story to bash the morality of the Bible. I wish to point out that the story offers very little moral acceptance of this. In fact, Judges 19 end with the exclamation by several neighbors that they had not seen such behavior "since coming out of Egypt" (implying not sense before the law was in place). It is stated fairly matter of factly.
I think the problem I have with it is the number of people that have felt the need to justify this (and the former) verse. The concubine might have been unfaithful. meaning she was meant to be stoned anyhow (though this is a somewhat less pleasant way to die). But what about the virgin daughters. The only "justification" comes out to be that anal rape of men is a full abomination when vaginal rape of women is just merely a breaking of the law (this is actually an argument used in its defense, that it would have been more wrong to be anally raped than to have a virgin raped).
Simon of Cyrene and the Cross
One of the biggest ideals of the Christian mind is "bearing one's cross". Jesus' carrying of his is touted as being central to the idealogy. The problem is, Simon of Cyrene carries the cross in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Only in John does Jesus carry his own cross.
Methuselah Couldn't Swim
Another golden oldie from the Bible is Methuselah. Here is a "coincidence" that I have never heard remarked upon. Methuselah was 187 when Lamech was born. And Lamech was 182 when Noah was born. This gives us 369 years. Noah was 600 when the flood came. Guess how old Methuselah was when he died? That's right, 969. It merely says "and then he died" and given an odd month or two, could have been dead before the Flood (though not before Noah built the Ark), though I find that it a tad bit funny to see the two numbers so synced up like that. Noah's dad, by contrast, died 5 years before the flood.
These numbers come from Genesis 5-7.
My Two Creation Stories
This is a commonly trucked out story amongst atheists taking a shot at the Bible. I wish it to be retired. It is not wholy considerate enough to take into account, in my opinion. But it is worth mentioning.
Gen 1:1-2:3 is the first story. It goes by the weekly standard. God creates heavens and the earth (or well, heavens and the seas) and separates light from darkness. He then goes on to separate out the land from the deep, to make plants, to set up day and night (making the moon for the night, though even if the story is all made up, most everyone knows that the moon switches around from a day to night cycle). Then comes beasts and finally man. Man was made in "our image" along with woman. (Note, at this time, God did not make carnivores).
With Gen 2:4 starts another creation myth, very similarly themed. In this one, though, plants come after God brings water unto the land. Then God makes man (specifically Adam). Then God puts Adam in Eden. Then, God makes the beasts to be helpers to Adam and finally Eve.
As you may note, the order is wrong. Most Christians arguing that these are actually the same myth usually use one or two tactics, that the order is not meant to be as strict in the first one or that the second specifically means Adam while the former meant all men.
At the beginning of Gen 5, it reiterates that man was made in God's likeness, which is of the first account. But it gives the lineage of Adam, as given in the second account. The average Christian, from my personal experience, mixes the two together, counting off the days but skipping the beginning of the second myth (Gen 2). I haven't a clue which one is supposed to be taken, though it does seem to me like they somewhat contradict, just not enough, in my opnion, to make this a lynchpin argument.
The Twenty (plus) Commandments
The Ten Commandments are everywhere. Alabama court houses, leaflets conviently left in the bathroom at rest areas, "the basis of our moral law found in the constitution as the 'Bill of Rights'" (I swear to you, this one, I have had several Christians tell me the Bill of Rights was based on the Ten Commandments). The problem is that so few people actually know what they are.
The "Ten Commandments" shows up in three places. Exodus 20 (1-17), Exodus 34 (10-28), and Deutoronomy 5 (6-21). Ex20 and Deut5 have very similar lists, so similar that the wording differences are largely aesthetic or a matter of differing degress of specificity. One issue is there are more than 10. Some counts put them at 14 (some at more, though they tend to include things not precisely commandments as definitions as well). Jewish, Catholic and Protestant believers all divide them up differently (only slightly). For instance, Protestants separate "No other gods" from "false idols". Catholics keep those together, but later separate "Covet your neighbor's wife" from "covet your neighbor's land".
The issue is that the stone tablets and the words "Ten Commandments" are in Ex34, and this is a different set of rules altogether. They are not wholy different, mind you, as some anti-christians claim. The Sabbath is retained. The "no other gods" is retained. But added includes bits about not eating a goat in its mother's milk and how the first born of any womb belongs to god. These are called the covenant, the "Ten commandments". Look it up real quick, it is suprising what is said there.
Some have argued that the stone tablets actually included more than the commandments, including numerous rules. The ten mentioned in 34 was meant to be representative. Others have held that the "ten" were actually earlier versions of rules that were later codified as what we call the "ten" now, though this contradicts order held in the Bible.
It bears to point out that the rules started in Ex20 do not stop where we tend to make them stop. Though go on for some time. The break here is that God was speaking to everyone at that point in time time, but the Israelites became afraid and asked Moses to, alone, hear the remainder.
Later, when the commandments are referenced (in the words of "the Ten Commandments") the writing of them on stone (Ex34) is again mentioned.
Ezekiel 23:19-20: Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.
"The hidden is greater than the seen."