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Skeptic's Annotated Bible, Misconceptions And Misinterpretations


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I recently purchased the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, looking forward to a bible I could actually read... So much for that.

 

One of the first examples of a lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine is found in the commentary for Genesis 1:26 "And God said. Let us make man in our image..." The Skeptic's Annotated Bible comments on the verse being a contradiction and insinuating the existance of more than one God, failing to read it in the appropriate context of the Trinity and reference to the Holy Spirit.

 

This is just one of many such examples of blatant innaccuracies contained therein.

 

What do you guys think?

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I recently purchased the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, looking forward to a bible I could actually read... So much for that.

 

One of the first examples of a lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine is found in the commentary for Genesis 1:26 "And God said. Let us make man in our image..." The Skeptic's Annotated Bible comments on the verse being a contradiction and insinuating the existance of more than one God, failing to read it in the appropriate context of the Trinity and reference to the Holy Spirit.

 

This is just one of many such examples of blatant innaccuracies contained therein.

 

What do you guys think?

 

The SAB is right.  Genesis draws from an earlier story that came from the time when Hebrews were polytheistic.  The God Most High was the father of 70 other gods and goddesses including Yahweh and Yahweh's wife Asherah.  Christians came along later and fudged over this but it doesn't change the fact that here is a Bible contradiction.

 

Another example is in Job where the 70 children of God Most High walk into the divine throne room.  It was edited later but it's still a contradiction.  Trinity doctrine wasn't even invented until after the Bible was written and edited into its final form.  Trinity was a response to all the contradictions that couldn't be fixed with editing.

 

Furthermore, what is Trinity?  Trinity is the doctrine that you have to understand that you can't understand.  It paints God's nature as nonsense that followers have to blindly accept.  It builds this wall around God's nature so that Christians can't look at it or examine it.  Are there any examples of tri-une within nature?  Of course not.  1 is 3 breaks the basic laws of math.  Christians like to cite the three forms of H20 but that would be modalism rather than Trinity.  And modalism is heresy according to those who invented Trinity.  So those Christians need to get themselves down to a stake and light themselves on fire in order to purge the modalism from their soul.  Trinity is nonsense but it helped Rome spread Christianity into pagan, polytheistic regions.

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the SAB is not airtight and irrufutable. some of the "comments" are not necessarily fallacies or inerrancies.

 

while i definately love it. i would like a more serious and more thoroughly argumentative version.

 

i read in another thread on this site about the SAB and someone say they equate it to the amazing atheist or cult of dusty. and i agree

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To the OP:

I encourage you to read the Karen Armstrong series of books, the History Of God and The Battle For God. Quite in-depth.

The problem with the Christian idea is this: They assume Jews to be God's Chosen People. But they don't assume Jewish interpretation to be correct. The Jews do not, and did not, have a concept of the Trinity. They didn't have the concept of the Son of God. Even Jesus Himself in a very nontrinitarian fashion, deferred to the Father, and called Himself the Son of Man.

I know the Christian argument, as explained to me: You are a father, (speaking to me as a man), you are also a son, and you are also a husband. But you're still the same you." That is modalism. It's three presentations of one personality, one individual. If you killed me, all three of those presentations, and there are more than just those three, would die. There would no longer be Leo the Father, Leo the son, and Leo the husband. There wouldn't be any more Leo the software developer, Leo the bird guy, Leo the volunteer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Leo the volunteer with the Portland Food project, Leo the member of a local atheists meetup group, and so on. All gone, snuffed out, if you just kill one Leo.

The Trinity cannot be understood. If it cannot be understood, it cannot be believed in a meaningful way. Since Christianity hinges entirely on belief, we're all guilty of damnable heresy, every one. Committed Christians too, especially those who try and explain it in nonTrinitarian form.

Oh and what about the old cherry pie, or egg, example? Bottom crust, top crust, and cherry filling. If you take one of those away, you still have two parts. Take the bottom away, and you actually have something like a cobbler. Take the top away and you have something like a German dish couken or something. Take the middle away you still have two crusts. But you don't have a pie, they say. But the parts are still there.

Even in trying to deconstruct trinitarianism, you run into nonsense like I just did.

I agree there are a lot of weak atheistic arguments. But this is not one of them.

Read the Karen Armstrong series. They're great for understanding the culture and context. The History of God will explain to you the societies and gods from whence it came. The Battle For God will explain to you how modern fundamentalism came to be. I would add one other book to help you: Jeff Charlet's book "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism Behind American Power." This is not an academic work. It's more journalistic, something along the vein of The  series The World Is Flat and Hot, Flat and Crowded.

Anyway I have not read this Bible, but I am aware of weak atheist arguments, just like there are stronger and weaker arguments for Christianity. Every argument has its holes.

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So they finally got around to publishing a printed version of the SAB? I frequented their message board for a few years about a decade ago.

 

Other replies above are correct to point out that the "Trinity" theological argument doesn't work with Genesis. The "Trinity" was devised by the Christian church as a way to deal with conflicting things about God and Jesus in the Bible and Christian doctrine. There was no such concept in mind when Genesis was written hundreds of years earlier.

 

I will say, though, that any large volume cataloging Bible problems will most likely have flaws. I'm sure there are some misconceptions with the SAB. The example given in this thread is not one of them, though. Just because Christians from many generations later invented a new interpretation of something from the Jewish scriptures does not change the fact that it really meant nothing of the sort.

 

Looking at a text through Christian spin is not an honest approach. Looking at the original text in its original context is the way to go.

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I recently purchased the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, looking forward to a bible I could actually read... So much for that.

 

One of the first examples of a lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine is found in the commentary for Genesis 1:26 "And God said. Let us make man in our image..." The Skeptic's Annotated Bible comments on the verse being a contradiction and insinuating the existance of more than one God, failing to read it in the appropriate context of the Trinity and reference to the Holy Spirit.

 

This is just one of many such examples of blatant innaccuracies contained therein.

 

What do you guys think?

The trinity doctrine came much much much later in history. It was later used to explain the plural name for god used in Genisis One. The trinity is Christian doctrine, for sure. But it was non-existant at the time Genesis was written. Genesis one draws heavily from the Enuma Elish and probably other earlier creation myths. All of which were polytheistic. Given that, and that ancient Judeism as polytheistic, it is almost certain that the god word in those versus is due to a polytheistic belief at the time.

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I looked at it online. You can read the entire text of the SAB on its website (or so the last time I checked). There are a lot of arguable points presented in the SAB.

 

However, one thing that disappointed me was the failure to recognize different genres of literature whose nature is different from ordinary prose. For example, apocalyptic literature by its nature uses exaggerated symbols, and imagery that is surreal and fantastic. This is intentional. To fault it for not using realistic imagery and for not being like ordinary prose is unfair. So to fault it for its own nature does not seem to be intellectually honest.

 

Apocalyptic literature is not trying to portray normal reality. A person might dismiss all such literature simply because they don't like its nature. But to say it is not believable because its imagery is unrealistic is pointless. The images themselves are not meant to be believable. It's the sensation or effect they create for the reader and the messages they convey that are important. A person might dismiss the conveyed message as not being believable (i.e., the principles or implied truths). But that's a different matter.

That's a good point Human. It does everyone a disservice when critics don't take these things into account. The problem, of course, is that so much of the bible is symbolic. The story of Jonah, for example, is thought by many Jewish scholars to be a detailed parable, a made up story to make a point. It is actually a sort of Jewish comedy due to the extremes it represents. Yet so many wish to assert that the bible is largely literal. The primary problem though is that no amount of text (literal intention or not) can prove, or even be concisered evidence of, supernatural claims. When much of the claims are taken literally, you have constant introductions and assertions that don't line up with reality, non-falsifiable claims, etc.

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I recently purchased the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, looking forward to a bible I could actually read... So much for that.

 

One of the first examples of a lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine is found in the commentary for Genesis 1:26 "And God said. Let us make man in our image..." The Skeptic's Annotated Bible comments on the verse being a contradiction and insinuating the existance of more than one God, failing to read it in the appropriate context of the Trinity and reference to the Holy Spirit.

 

This is just one of many such examples of blatant innaccuracies contained therein.

 

What do you guys think?

 

That verse actually is polytheistic. There was no "Trinity" implied in the Old Testament, but there are numerous examples of the belief in multiple gods. In places where you see "The Most High God" near to "the LORD" you're seeing two different gods. ("The Most High God" is El Elyon, and "The LORD" is YAHWEH or Jehovah, who is one of 70 sons of the Most High God.) In Deuteronomy, Moses doesn't tell the people that the gods of the other nations aren't real, he simply says that YAHWEH is their god and that they shouldn't worship the others.

 

However, I do agree with you about the Skeptics Annotated Bible. There's a lot of stuff in there that is simply ignorant. I've only seen it online, but it didn't take long to find things they call contradictions that simply are not.

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I am not a theologian and never went to Bible school. I simply was unaware that apocalyptic literature was deemed to be symbolic. My Wife's Ministry Readiness certification, a task of 3 years' education in the Foursquare church, did say some things were symbolic. But their interpretation is that it was literal. They believed in the inerrancy of Scripture, a test of theirs that when She brought it home, I failed. Failed so badly that even a new-ager with a bell curve would concede to give me a big fat F.  They allowed that some symbols did exist, but that they pointed to literal activities expressed in the rest of the test.

My failure of theirs had nothing to do with such deep theological things, it was just plain simple pointing out that insects had six legs and not four, and that there are simple arithmetic errors in their texts for alleged census counts and other things I don't remember anymore since I put the Bible down about 8 months ago, and quit reading their apologetics ™ about 2 years ago.

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However, one thing that disappointed me was the failure to recognize different genres of literature whose nature is different from ordinary prose. For example, apocalyptic literature by its nature uses exaggerated symbols, and imagery that is surreal and fantastic. This is intentional. To fault it for not using realistic imagery and for not being like ordinary prose is unfair. So to fault it for its own nature does not seem to be intellectually honest.

 

Apocalyptic literature is not trying to portray normal reality.

The problem I have with this is that many Christians (especially conservative fundies) don't view books like Revelation as apocalyptic literature, in their eyes it is the literal, unaltered Word of God. And as far as they are concerned, those who interpret the book as mere "literature" are in essence, rejecting God's Word. So I don't think it is at all inappropriate for SAB to also adopt that view.

 

JMHO...

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I recently purchased the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, looking forward to a bible I could actually read... So much for that.

 

One of the first examples of a lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine is found in the commentary for Genesis 1:26 "And God said. Let us make man in our image..." The Skeptic's Annotated Bible comments on the verse being a contradiction and insinuating the existance of more than one God, failing to read it in the appropriate context of the Trinity and reference to the Holy Spirit.

 

This is just one of many such examples of blatant innaccuracies contained therein.

 

What do you guys think?

What are you going to believe? The Bible, the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, or your own lying eyes?

 

Of course you are comparing apples to apples. If the Trinity is true, then Genesis must also be true, right?

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In ye olde english and many other languages the plural was used to indicate respect (ye vs you). This is generally the Jewish take on it from what I have read. 

The Jewish take tends to be a bit more complicated than that. Plural as a way of indicating respect (historically, for those not in the know, 'you' was the respectful one, although by KJV times, 'thou'/'thee'/'thy'/'thine' was already so far on the road to being lost that it was misunderstood by subsequent generations as the respectful pronoun) in European languages is *more recent* than the Bible. We don't know for certain when it appeared, but we have good reasons to think it's either late Roman empire era or even early middle ages. Also, we have very little reason to think anyone ever used it in the first person until fairly recent. 

 

The Talmudic rabbis explained it like this: to teach humility, God deferred to the ministering angels - by phrasing himself thus, he, as it were, let the angels take part in his act of creation.

 

Obviously, the most economic explanation is that it's a leftover from polytheist versions of the narrative.

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I am not a theologian and never went to Bible school. I simply was unaware that apocalyptic literature was deemed to be symbolic. My Wife's Ministry Readiness certification, a task of 3 years' education in the Foursquare church, did say some things were symbolic. But their interpretation is that it was literal. They believed in the inerrancy of Scripture, a test of theirs that when She brought it home, I failed. Failed so badly that even a new-ager with a bell curve would concede to give me a big fat F.  They allowed that some symbols did exist, but that they pointed to literal activities expressed in the rest of the test.

My failure of theirs had nothing to do with such deep theological things, it was just plain simple pointing out that insects had six legs and not four, and that there are simple arithmetic errors in their texts for alleged census counts and other things I don't remember anymore since I put the Bible down about 8 months ago, and quit reading their apologetics about 2 years ago.

Leo,

 

You demonstrate an important point. Many Christians -- and non-Christians, for that matter -- don't remember learning or didn't learn in school about different genres of literature, and the nature and style of them. Then, fundamentalists and evangelicals who don't know better teach and preach for generation after generation that these literary details are literal rather than figurative, relative to their genres. So, Christians believe, expect, and imply that so much is literal when it isn't. It makes the general readership, and the general public who don't read the bible, confused. And it makes Christians look stupid, which isn't always really the case.

 

A major problem with Christianity and many religions is the amount of extraneous literature. Christinity would've been much better off with only the gospels and discarded all the rest. It may not have become a world-wide religion, or by far not the dominant, but it might've demonstrated some appreciable integrity instead.

 

Human

 

 

I can't say that the word integrity comes to mind when I am thinking or talking about people who believe fantasy is real life.

 

it matters not that this man has written this. Literal or not does not make it less a lie.

 

Christianity would have been better off never existing, and so would the multitude of deaths it caused and people it has hurt. In reality it is just other people doing that but give fools and excuse and they will follow.

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I recently purchased the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, looking forward to a bible I could actually read... So much for that.

 

One of the first examples of a lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine is found in the commentary for Genesis 1:26 "And God said. Let us make man in our image..." The Skeptic's Annotated Bible comments on the verse being a contradiction and insinuating the existance of more than one God, failing to read it in the appropriate context of the Trinity and reference to the Holy Spirit.

 

This is just one of many such examples of blatant innaccuracies contained therein.

 

What do you guys think?

I do think the SAB is rather sloppily done and employs many strawman arguments, but I don't think that in this case a trinitarian doctrine is the valid response. Even as an evangelical I wasn't under the impression that Jews ever had a trinitarian view of God. Furthermore, I read evangelical commentaries suggesting that this passage, among others, referred to discussions between God and his angels. A sort of view into the divine court, if you will. The Genesis creation account is definitely redacted from earlier polytheistic sources, but the authors have a clear monotheistic or henotheistic agenda, and the suggestion that polytheism was even in their minds is absurd. At best, the author envisions God speaking to lesser gods under his control. But definitely not to peers in a pantheon.

 

Of course I'm not a scholar of near eastern religion, so if someone knows better than me, feel free to offer a correction.

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I recently purchased the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, looking forward to a bible I could actually read... So much for that.

 

One of the first examples of a lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine is found in the commentary for Genesis 1:26 "And God said. Let us make man in our image..." The Skeptic's Annotated Bible comments on the verse being a contradiction and insinuating the existance of more than one God, failing to read it in the appropriate context of the Trinity and reference to the Holy Spirit.

 

This is just one of many such examples of blatant innaccuracies contained therein.

 

What do you guys think?

I do think the SAB is rather sloppily done and employs many strawman arguments, but I don't think that in this case a trinitarian doctrine is the valid response. Even as an evangelical I wasn't under the impression that Jews ever had a trinitarian view of God. Furthermore, I read evangelical commentaries suggesting that this passage, among others, referred to discussions between God and his angels. A sort of view into the divine court, if you will. The Genesis creation account is definitely redacted from earlier polytheistic sources, but the authors have a clear monotheistic or henotheistic agenda, and the suggestion that polytheism was even in their minds is absurd. At best, the author envisions God speaking to lesser gods under his control. But definitely not to peers in a pantheon.

 

Of course I'm not a scholar of near eastern religion, so if someone knows better than me, feel free to offer a correction.

 

Some evangelical scholars actually do seem to believe that a trinitarian belief system was what Judaism originally had, and that the loss of it was a distortion brought on by pharisees and sadducees. It's a weird hypothesis, and the evidence in favor of it is pretty much nonexistent.

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Some evangelical scholars actually do seem to believe that a trinitarian belief system was what Judaism originally had, and that the loss of it was a distortion brought on by pharisees and sadducees. It's a weird hypothesis, and the evidence in favor of it is pretty much nonexistent.

 

 

 

Really?  This is interesting.  I was of course sure that some evangelicals somewhere might believe this; indeed, the only thing I know of that unifies evangelicals is belief that Jesus is the sole means of salvation from eternal hell, and that his death provides a substitutionary sacrifice for sin.  But to hear that scholars, even in the evangelical world, would go this far is quite surprising to me, and I'd be very intrigued to know their denominational affilation.  Could you point me in the direction of one or two of these guys?

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I've heard this also, what Miekko is stating about evangelicals believing that Genesis indicates a Hebrew concept of the trinity. I've heard it more from Messianic Jews (who believe Jesus is the Messiah).

 

 

Oh yes, and I should reiterate I never suggested this belief doesn't exist among evangelicals.  In fact I'm sure that among laypeople it is the dominant belief.  But since I went to an evangelical church run by highly educated elders, and since my Bible study was populated mostly by scientists and engineers, I was probably somewhat insulated from people with the poorer defenses of orthodox doctrine.  My point here is that among evangelicals, there exists an accepted interpretation of Genesis 1:26 which doesn't require the suggestion that pre-Christian Jews ever believed in a trinity.  As such, an SAB observation of this belief doesn't constitute a powerful refutation of the Christian religion.  To draw an analogy, it's a lot like making the statement, "the earth is greater than 6,000 years old, therefore the Bible is false," knowing full well that many evangelicals believe in old earth creationism.

 

In order to refute evangelical doctrines, we must attack those beliefs which are held by the vast majority of evangelicals.  Otherwise, all we do is allow evangelicals to shed one interpretation of scripture and adopt another, much as a person discard a pair of old shoes in favor of a new one.  If the SAB helps people to see the Bible in a new (and hopefully less favorable) light, then hey, who am I to argue?  I just don't see its arguments as holding water when subjected to the ferocity of a skilled evangelical apologist.

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Some evangelical scholars actually do seem to believe that a trinitarian belief system was what Judaism originally had, and that the loss of it was a distortion brought on by pharisees and sadducees. It's a weird hypothesis, and the evidence in favor of it is pretty much nonexistent.

 

 

 

Really?  This is interesting.  I was of course sure that some evangelicals somewhere might believe this; indeed, the only thing I know of that unifies evangelicals is belief that Jesus is the sole means of salvation from eternal hell, and that his death provides a substitutionary sacrifice for sin.  But to hear that scholars, even in the evangelical world, would go this far is quite surprising to me, and I'd be very intrigued to know their denominational affilation.  Could you point me in the direction of one or two of these guys?

 

Margaret Barker isn't even particularly evangelical - she seems to be more of a methodist with an episcopalian bent. The thesis she represents in The Great High Priest. The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (and apparently in other of her books) is basically that Yahwists tried to kill off belief in a trinity, but luckily, Christianity saved it while it still could be saved.

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Some evangelical scholars actually do seem to believe that a trinitarian belief system was what Judaism originally had, and that the loss of it was a distortion brought on by pharisees and sadducees. It's a weird hypothesis, and the evidence in favor of it is pretty much nonexistent.

 

Really?  This is interesting.  I was of course sure that some evangelicals somewhere might believe this; indeed, the only thing I know of that unifies evangelicals is belief that Jesus is the sole means of salvation from eternal hell, and that his death provides a substitutionary sacrifice for sin.  But to hear that scholars, even in the evangelical world, would go this far is quite surprising to me, and I'd be very intrigued to know their denominational affilation.  Could you point me in the direction of one or two of these guys?

 

Margaret Barker isn't even particularly evangelical - she seems to be more of a methodist with an episcopalian bent. The thesis she represents in The Great High Priest. The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (and apparently in other of her books) is basically that Yahwists tried to kill off belief in a trinity, but luckily, Christianity saved it while it still could be saved.[/size]

 

So she would view Jesus as teaching the trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Does she think Jesus taught that Yahweh was the Father? Or does she suggest that the Father in the trinity was a different entity? Was Yahweh in or not in the early trinity?

 

I don't recall the details really, as my mind was not in it while reading it - she had made too many very speculative assertions with no backing evidence (and at that point was basically using grave fallacies) for me to really maintain any interest. IIRC she things YHWH is the whole trinity, and the father is just one part of YHWH (the way the trinity is its parts and the parts are the trinity). 

 

She basically thinks the Yahwists rejected an earlier form of Yahwism, I guess.

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Bhim, I was mainly agreeing with Miekko that I've heard evangelicals teach that Genesis indicates a pre-Christian Hebrew concept of the trinity. I don't necessarily think that's what Genesis indicates. And I'm not impressed with the SAB. And I think intelligent evangelicals will see that the SAB is weak on many points. (I posted a few other comments in the thread.)

 

 

 

The author of the SAB made a choice to only focus on the Bible and not bother to chase all the apologists who came later.  As for intelligent Christians they have chosen to consume a steady diet of fallacies and they are not going to get their thinking right until they deal with it.

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Bhim, I was mainly agreeing with Miekko that I've heard evangelicals teach that Genesis indicates a pre-Christian Hebrew concept of the trinity. I don't necessarily think that's what Genesis indicates. And I'm not impressed with the SAB. And I think intelligent evangelicals will see that the SAB is weak on many points. (I posted a few other comments in the thread.)

 

 

 

The author of the SAB made a choice to only focus on the Bible and not bother to chase all the apologists who came later.  As for intelligent Christians they have chosen to consume a steady diet of fallacies and they are not going to get their thinking right until they deal with it.

 

Many claims in the SAB are fallacies too, however, and I fear the effects that this supplementary diet of fallacies can have on new deconverts.

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Bhim, I was mainly agreeing with Miekko that I've heard evangelicals teach that Genesis indicates a pre-Christian Hebrew concept of the trinity. I don't necessarily think that's what Genesis indicates. And I'm not impressed with the SAB. And I think intelligent evangelicals will see that the SAB is weak on many points. (I posted a few other comments in the thread.)

 

 

 

The author of the SAB made a choice to only focus on the Bible and not bother to chase all the apologists who came later.  As for intelligent Christians they have chosen to consume a steady diet of fallacies and they are not going to get their thinking right until they deal with it.

 

Many claims in the SAB are fallacies too, however, and I fear the effects that this supplementary diet of fallacies can have on new deconverts.

 

 

 

Of course the SAB contains errors.  But fallacies, really?  Would you provide some examples please?  I had not noticed this before.

 

For the record if I were going to make a SAB style commentary I would have made a different choice from the SAB's author and addressed the most common apologist arguments for various passages.  I would have found that more satisfying.  However I recognize that that I do not have the energy or drive to sink so much time and effort into the Bible so the author's less ambitious accomplishment beats the hell out of my version which will never exist.  He did the work and got the project done.

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