"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" The Preacher's Search For Meaning - II (2:1-26) INTRODUCTION 1. Our previous lesson noted how the Preacher began his search for meaning in life a. Observing the futility seen in the cycles of nature and life - 1:4-11 b. Beginning with human wisdom - 1:12-18 1) Having already been blessed with great wisdom from God 2) Which he used to search out the value of human wisdom 2. His conclusion concerning such wisdom in providing the answer? a. Trying to find the answer in human wisdom was "grasping for the wind" - 1:17 b. Such wisdom was the source of much grief and sorrow - 1:18 3. So he began to look elsewhere, and in the second chapter we read... a. Of his efforts to explore the value of mirth, pleasure, wine, folly b. Of his search to find meaning in the acquisition of wealth and in great accomplishments [Did he find the answer there? If not, what conclusions did he reach? In this lesson we shall simply allow the Preacher to tell us for himself. We first note how...] I. THE PREACHER TESTED LIFE A. HE SUMMARIZES WHAT HE FOUND... 1. Mirth and pleasure is vanity - 2:1 2. Laughter is madness, mirth accomplishes little if anything- 2:2 B. HE DESCRIBES WHAT HE DID... 1. He experimented with wine and folly - 2:3 a. Using the wisdom he had b. For he was seeking to find what was truly good for people to do "under heaven all the days of their lives" 2. He made many things - 2:4-6 a. Such as houses, vineyards, gardens, orchards, water pools b. Notice also 1Ki 7:1-12; 9:15-19 3. He acquired whatever he desired - 2:5-8 a. Such as servants, livestock, silver, gold, treasures, singers, and "the delights of the sons of men" (concubines or musical instruments? cf. NIV, NASB, NKJV) b. Notice 1Ki 9:28; 10:10,14,21,27; 11:1-3 4. He became great and seemed to be happy - 2:9-10 a. Greater than any before him, while maintaining his wisdom b. Having all his eyes and heart desired, finding enjoyment in his labor C. HIS CONCLUSION FROM WHAT HE DID... 1. Upon reflection, looking back at what he did - 2:11a 2. He concluded: a. "All was vanity, and grasping for the wind." - 2:11b c. "There was no profit under the sun." - 2:11c [The conclusion drawn by the Preacher may seem strange, when he admitted that he found joy in his labor (2:10). But when we consider what he says next, we begin to understand why after his great experiment...] II. THE PREACHER HATED LIFE A. AFTER REFLECTING UPON WISDOM, MADNESS, AND FOLLY... 1. Realizing his unique opportunity (who can do more than what he has done?), he considered the relative merits of wisdom, madness, and folly - 2:12 2. He saw that wisdom was better than folly - 2:13-14a a. Just as light is better than darkness b. At least the wise man can see where he is going 3. But ultimately the advantage of human wisdom is vanity! - 2:14b-16 a. For both the wise man and the fool die b. After death, there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool 4. Thus the Preacher hated life, because all the work done "under the sun"... a. Was grievous to him b. Vanity and grasping for the wind - 2:17 B. AFTER REFLECTING UPON HIS WEALTH... 1. He came to hate his labor - 2:18-19 a. Because he must leave it to one after him b. Who knows whether those who inherit will be wise or foolish? - cf. Solomon's son, Rehoboam, 1Ki 12:1-19 c. In either case, someone else will rule over all the results of his labor! 2. He came to despair of all his labor "under the sun" - 2:20-23 a. For a man with wisdom, knowledge and skill must leave his heritage to one who has not labored for it b. He did not think this right ("this also is a vanity and a great evil") c. In the end, what does he have for all his efforts? 1) Sorrowful days, restless nights 2) Grievous work, leading to vanity [Looking at life "under the sun", trying to find meaning in this life for all of one's labors, the Preacher came to hate and despair of all his great efforts. But as he said, "my wisdom remained with me" (2:9). With that wisdom he shares for the first time what one should do in life. As he does so, we see that...] III. THE PREACHER ACCEPTED LIFE A. MAN SHOULD SEEK TO ENJOY THE GOOD IN HIS LABOR... 1. There is nothing better, a conclusion he will draw six times - 2:24a; cf. 3:12-13; 3:22; 5:18-19; 8:15; 9:7-9 2. Note carefully: a. The Preacher is NOT promoting the fatalist view of "Let's eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." b. He is saying to enjoy what you do and what God has given you - cf. 1Ti 6:17 B. THE ABILITY TO ENJOY ONE'S LABOR IS A GIFT FROM GOD... 1. He saw that the ability to enjoy one's labor is a gift from God - 2:24b 2. For no one can truly enjoy life without God - 2:25 (cf. footnote, NIV, NASB) a. To those good in his sight, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy - 2:26a b. To the sinner, God gives the work of gathering and collecting - 2:26b 1) To give to the one who is good before God - cf. Pr 28:8 2) For the sinner, his work therefore becomes (to him) vanity and grasping for the wind! - cf. 6:1-2 -- Yes, some are very successful in accumulating wealth, but for what end? CONCLUSION 1. For the first time, the Preacher has introduced God into the picture 2. Up to now, he has looked at life "under the sun" without God... a. He has sought for meaning through wisdom, folly, madness, pleasure and wealth b. Even when successful, the realities of life and death can cause one to hate life -- He could only conclude that "under the sun" all is vanity and grasping for wind 3. But now, with God giving wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man... a. One can enjoy the good in his labor b. A purpose and meaning for life is now possible That purpose and meaning for life will be developed further as we make our way through the book. In the meantime, since "God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight" (2:26), have you consider what is essential to please Him? One begins with faith... "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (He 11:6)
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016
The Claim of Inspiration
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Do biblical claims of divine inspiration really mean anything? Should we stress the fact that thousands of times in the Bible a person can find sentences prefaced by the words “God said…” or “Thus said the Lord God…”? Recently I received a letter that read: “To say that ‘all scripture is by inspiration of God’ is pointless double-speak that proves nothing!” Is this an accurate statement?
Admittedly, the mere claim that a certain document is inspired of God does not mean He actually inspired it. If a person attempts to defend the inspiration of the Bible solely on the premise that the Bible claims inspiration, likely his efforts to convince an unbeliever will fail. Simply because a particular book claims to be from God does not mean that it is from God. However, to say that the claim of inspiration “is pointless double-speak” greatly diminishes the importance of such a claim.
The fact is, the claim of inspiration at the hand of God is extremely rare. Many books assert special importance, while others claim to be a kind of “creed book.” But, as Kenny Barfield noted in his book, Why the Bible is Number 1, only seven documents exist in the whole world that openly claim divine inspiration (1997, p. 186). Sadly, misguided devotees of various religions clamor about, defending books and various writings as allegedly being “inspired of God” when, in fact, the books themselves do not even make such a claim. Take for instance, the many Hindu writings. Of their six most notable “sacred” texts, including the Vedas, the Laws of Manu, and the Puranas, only the section of the Vedas known as the Rig Veda claims inspiration. Similarly, the Christian Science group has led many to believe that the writings of Mary Baker Eddy are inspired. Yet, even though her writings claim special importance, they never openly claim divine inspiration (Barfield, p. 186). Why would anyone want to follow a creed book and claim it is from God when the book itself does not even make such a claim?
I repeat: the claim of inspiration at the hand of God is extremely rare. For this reason, one of the best places to begin a Bible study with someone concerning the Bible’s divine origin is with these claims of divine inspiration (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2; Acts 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; etc.). Such claims are only “pointless double-speak” if we never continue to give evidence proving that the Bible truly is a book from Almighty God.
Are there other books in the world that claim inspiration? Yes, but they are few and far between. And none of them exhibits such amazing qualities as the predictive prophecy and scientific foreknowledge that can be found in the Bible. Furthermore, the unity of the Bible and its accurate historical documentation of biblical people, places, and events is unparalleled in human history and bears testimony to the fact that the very existence of the Holy Scriptures cannot be explained in any other way except to acknowledge that they are the result of an overriding, superintending, guiding Mind.
Barfield, Kenny (1997), Why the Bible is Number 1 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers)
The Canon and Extra-Canonical Writings
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). These two verses are the alpha and omega of the biblical text, the first and last verses in our Bible. In between (and including) these two verses lays God’s Word, the Bible—sixty-six generally accepted books composing one book that defines Christianity and its tenets. However, people assault this composition from every perspective. Theists and atheists alike attack its inspiration. Scholars in our universities attack its message. Infidels and skeptics allege that it contains numerous discrepancies. Even its make-up is subject to intense scrutiny. With attacks growing more hostile (as is evident by an article titled “The Lost Gospels” that appeared in the December 22, 2003 issue of Time magazine; see Van Biema, 2003), some ask, “What books really belong in the Bible?”
This question is difficult for many people, because beyond the pages of the Bible lie a number of works which some people hold as inspired and therefore worthy of inclusion. Still others examine the Scriptures and read citations of works such as the Book of Jasher or the Acts of the Seers—none of which is included among the writings of our Great Tome. Some people turn to these existing, but unaccepted, works to “add to their faith.” The answers to this difficulty lie in understanding the canon of the Bible and considering what additional books, if any, we should include.
THE QANEH OF SCRIPTURE
Our word “canon” comes from the Greek word kanon and Hebrew word qaneh. These two words originally meant “reed.” The Greeks and Semitic peoples used reeds as measuring instruments, and so the meanings of kanon and qaneh changed gradually into “rule” or “measure.” To refer to a canon is to refer to those things that have been measured for acceptance; to refer to the biblical canon is to refer to the books considered Scripture—divinely inspired works that have been preserved for a purpose (Lightfoot, 2003, p. 152). The canons of the Old and New Testaments were set at different times, but each one had the influence of the Guiding Hand.
Development of the Old Testament Canon
The majority of Protestant translations of the Bible contain thirty-nine books in the Old Testament. These are divided into the five books of Law (also called the Pentateuch or Torah; Genesis through Deuteronomy), twelve books of History (Joshua through Esther), and five books of Poetry (Job through the Song of Solomon). The five Major Prophets (Isaiah through Daniel) and the twelve Minor Prophets (Hosea through Malachi) complete the thirty-nine books. Our Old Testament canon comes from the canon of the Hebrew Bible. [NOTE: Some Old Testament canons include certain apocryphal writings, which we will discuss later. However, these apocryphal writings were considered non-canonical by the Jews, and therefore were not included in the Hebrew Bible.]
The Hebrews divided their Scriptures, twenty-four books total, into three sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (also called the Hagiographa or Holy Writings). The order and numbering of the Hebrew Bible is different from the Old Testament, which explains why they list twenty-four books, while we list thirty-nine. The Law consisted of the five books of the Torah, exactly like our English Bible. The Prophets contained Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Twelve Prophets, in that order. They considered these eight books, but we divide Samuel into two parts, Kings into two parts, and the Twelve Prophets into their respective parts—yielding a new number of twenty-one books out of the same set of the Prophets. [NOTE: Stephen, in Acts 7:42-43, quotes from Amos 5:25-27 and cites it as the Book of the Prophets, showing how the Minor Prophets were considered a single composite work.] Finally, the Hebrew Bible placed Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, and Chronicles in the Writings. Our Bibles divide Ezra into two books (Ezra and Nehemiah) and Chronicles into two books. This order in the Hebrew Bible follows a rough chronology of authorship, based on Jewish tradition (Bruce, 1988, pp. 29-30; Rodkinson, 1918, V:44-45). However, the question remains. Whence did the canon of these books come?
From evidence in the New Testament, it is obvious that the Jews had a canon—a group of accepted scriptures—that included the Law and the Prophets (see Matthew 5:17-18; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16-17; John 1:45; Acts 13:15; 24:14; 28:23; Romans 3:21). In one passage, Jesus mentioned the Law, the Prophets, and Psalms (part of the Writings) together (Luke 24:44), showing that at some point before the time of Christ, the Jews had codified a group of literature into Scripture. History supports this view. Flavius Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, wrote (c. A.D. 90) of twenty-two books “which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine….” Five of these were written by Moses (the Torah), thirteen books were written between Moses and Artaxerxes, King of Persia (the Prophets and part of the Writings using a different order and enumeration), and four books contained hymns and moral precepts (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) [Against Apion, 1:38-40]. He went on to state:
It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation, is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but it comes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them (1:41-42, emp. added).
Josephus considered everything written after the time of Artaxerxes to be non-canonical, because prophetic messages had ceased. It is highly probable, since Josephus was a historian, that this was not his own idea, but reflected an earlier Jewish tradition (see Bruce, 1988, pp. 32-34). [NOTE: Josephus added Ruth to Judges and Lamentations to Jeremiah, making twenty-two books (Bruce, p. 33).] Also around A.D. 90, a group of Jewish rabbis gathered at Jamnia in western Judea to discuss the established canon. Testing for books that “defile the hands” (i.e., were prophetically inspired), they debated including certain apocryphal books and removing some disputed books. However, the conclusion was that only the books that comprised the Hebrew Bible were the inspired, canonical books (Bruce, pp. 34-36; McDowell and Wilson, 1993, p. 37).
The Talmud speaks in several places of the inspired Scripture. The Talmud is a collection of Hebrew oral law (the Mishna) along with transcribed scholarly discussions and commentary (the Gemara). The Mishna was written in the second century A.D., and the Gemara was added later (see Bass, 2003). While the Talmud was completed after the first century, it does contain the oral traditions from the post-exilic Jews. Tractate Baba Bathra contains the divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa) with their contents, along with the traditional authors of each. The books listed match the books of our Old Testament—nothing added or taken from them (Rodkinson, 1918, V:43-46). The most interesting evidence concerning the Hebrew canon comes from tractate Sanhedrin: “The rabbis taught: Since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit has left Israel…” (Rodkinson VII/VIII:24). Thus, Jewish oral tradition held that Malachi was the last inspired book of the Old Testament.
It is clear from the evidence that the Jewish people accepted the thirty-nine Old Testament books as their canon—no more, no less. The New Testament refers to an established division. Josephus said that Malachi, as the last inspired author, completed the canon of Hebrew Scripture. The rabbis at Jamnia, who had access to apocryphal writings, did not include them in the canon of Scripture. Moreover, the ancient oral tradition of the Jews held that the thirty-nine books in our Old Testament are the only Scriptures. This, however, does not explain how the canon came to be. Unfortunately, the first collection of these canonical books has been lost, but from the Bible we can construct how some books were canonized. It probably was a “piecemeal” process; as the inspired writers produced their books, they added them to the canon. Deuteronomy 17:18 refers to the Law as something written down in a book kept by the priests and Levites (see Deuteronomy 28:58; 28:61; 29:21; 30:10). Deuteronomy 31:9-13 and 31:24-29 recorded that Moses wrote the Law in a book and gave it to the priests and the elders, commanding them to read it before all the people every seven years. Immediately after the death of Moses, God Himself spoke to Joshua and referred to a Book of the Law that Moses had given to the people (Joshua 1:7-8). It is at this point that the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, was canonized—when it received God’s spoken seal of approval as the Law of Moses (see Joshua 8:30-35; 23:6; 2 Kings 14:6; 22:3-20, etc.). In like manner, the book of Joshua was canonized when Joshua wrote it down in the Book of the Law of God (the Old Testament), which, until then, contained only the Law of Moses (Joshua 24:26).
The remaining books of the Old Testament have no clear point of canonization; any dates or persons given for this process are speculation. Some have said that Ezra—with the assistance of Nehemiah, Zechariah, Malachi, and others—established the current canon before 400 B.C. (Milligen, 1868, pp. 155-159; see also Motyer, 2001, p. 15), while others have disagreed with this view (e.g., Briggs, 1970, pp. 120-122). The most likely theory is that the authors themselves were inspired to add their writings to the canon. At least part of Jeremiah appears to have been written by Jeremiah using Baruch as a scribe (Jeremiah 36, esp. vs. 32; 45:1), and perhaps the rest by his own hand (51:60). Sections of the Psalms contain the names of their authors, and tradition attributed the other books to various authors. According to tractate Sanhedrin,
Old Testament Authorship (Talmudic Tradition)
Torah, Job, and Psalm 90
Joshua 1-24:28 and Deuteronomy 34
1 Samuel 1-24, Judges, and Ruth
Gad and Nathan
1 Samuel 25-31 and 2 Samuel
David, et al.
Jeremiah, 1 and 2 Kings, and Lamentations
Hezekiah, et al.
Isaiah, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes
The Great Assembly
Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and Esther
Ezra and 1 and 2 Chronicles
Moses wrote Job in addition to the Torah. Samuel wrote the book that bears his name, along with Judges and Ruth. 1 Samuel 25:1 recorded the death of Samuel, so Jewish tradition held that Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet finished 1 Samuel and wrote all of 2 Samuel. Jeremiah, in addition to his book of prophecy, wrote Kings and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and “his company” (according to the Talmud) wrote down Isaiah, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. The men of the Great Assembly (a group of post-exilic Jewish religious leaders that was founded by Ezra) copied down Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and Esther; Ezra wrote Ezra and Chronicles (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-4), and Nehemiah appended Ezra’s book with his writings (Rodkinson, 1918, V:45-46). [NOTE: Some held that Nehemiah wrote all of Ezra/Nehemiah (Rodkinson, VII/VIII:284).]
This tradition shows the possible development of the canon. Moreover, the New Testament supports some claims of the traditional authorship. If Ezra was the last author of Old Testament history (1 and 2 Chronicles according to the Talmud), then it would explain the order of martyrs that Jesus used in Matthew 23:35. While rebuking the Pharisees (Matthew 23), Jesus mentioned two martyrs: Abel and Zechariah. The story of Abel, the first martyr, is found in Genesis 4:1-9. Zechariah was a priest who was martyred by King Joash of Judah (2 Chronicles 24:17-22), and the last martyr mentioned in the historical books of the Old Testament. It appears that Jesus was giving the record of martyrdom from the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis, written by Moses) to the end of Hebrew Scriptures (2 Chronicles, written by Ezra in the days of the last prophets)—thus denying any other books inclusion in the Old Testament canon (e.g., 1 and 2 Maccabees, which were penned after Ezra’s writings).
The conclusion, therefore, to the development and establishment of the Old Testament canon is this: certain portions of the Hebrew Scriptures were canonized upon the deaths of the authors (Genesis through Joshua); while men added the rest as they were written and/or collected—all under the oversight of God. The Jews considered inspiration to have ended with Malachi, and their canon of twenty-four books (the same as our thirty-nine books) supports this view. The New Testament writers, Josephus, the rabbis at Jamnia, and Talmudic tradition supported this finalized canon. This is what our Old Testament is based on, and we know that these thirty-nine books are in the canon, but the question remains: Should we add more books to this established Old Testament canon?
Development of the New Testament Canon
The New Testament contains twenty-seven books that are divided into five subcategories. These are the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the book of Christian history (Acts), thirteen Pauline epistles (Romans through Philemon), eight general epistles (Hebrews through Jude), and one apocalyptical epistle (Revelation). [NOTE: Hebrews sometimes falls among the Pauline epistles.] Colossians 4:16 states that the churches shared their epistles, and we know that the majority of the New Testament took the form of an epistle (the exceptions being the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John—their original form cannot be determined, but they were probably epistles). Over time, men gathered these writings and made lists of which epistles they considered acceptable reading in worship services. As early as the second and third centuries, there was a known canon of Pauline literature that usually included Romans through Philemon, although some placed Hebrews with them. This is evidenced by frequent allusions to Paul’s letters in the early Christian writings, showing that there was a commonly accepted set. The early Christian writers also referred to the gospels, again meaning that there was an accepted group of books (Matthew through John). As the other epistles spread, they became part of these sets of New Testament writings.
One of the first New Testament canons we see in history comes from the second century heretic Marcion. He was a radical who accepted Paul as the only “uncorrupted” apostle, and so accepted only the Pauline epistles. He wrote the Gospel, which was a corruption of Luke, and placed at the front what he considered the Pauline canon: Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Laodiceans (which was the name he gave to Ephesians; see Metzger, 2000, p. 532), Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. Marcion also subjected these epistles to extensive editing; he took out anything that did not conform to what he thought was Paul’s “doctrine” (Bruce, 1988, pp. 134-141). Some have held that Marcion left the book of Hebrews out of his canon because of its close association to the Old Testament (Aland and Aland, 1981, p. 49).
A mutilated fragment of papyrus, known as the Murtorian Fragment, from the late second century, also contained a partial canon. It placed Luke and John as the third and fourth gospel accounts (mention of the previous two gospels existed at the top of the original manuscript, which is missing from the fragment), and attributed Acts to Luke. Paul’s letters were listed in the order of Corinthians (1 and 2), Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, Thessalonians (1 and 2), Philemon, Titus, and Timothy (1 and 2). It also mentioned Jude, two epistles of John (probably 1 and 2 John), and Revelation. It leaves out Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, and 3 John, but accepts as canonical the Apocryphal book Wisdom of Solomon (but it did not claim that it was written by Solomon himself, saying that it was “written by the friends of Solomon in his honour”). The Murtorian Fragment also stated that some accepted the Apocalypse of Peter, while others did not; and it mentioned the Shepherd of Hermas as a recent, uninspired composition (Caius, 1971, V:603-604). Kurt and Barbara Aland, a husband-and-wife team of distinguished Greek scholars, contended that the epistle to the Hebrews was left out of the Murtorian canon because of its “denial of a second repentance, cf. Heb. 6:4ff ” (1981, p. 49).
In his First Apology, Justin Martyr (c. 110-165) referred to the gospels as containing the account of the Last Supper, although he did not list the titles or authors (1973, I:185). He later mentioned that the writings of the apostles were read along with those of the prophets in the Sunday assembly (I:186). Origen (c. 185-254), one of the most prolific early Christian writers, mentioned Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as genuine (1974a, X:412; Eusebius, 1971, I:273), along with Paul’s writings (without listing or numbering them), 1 Peter, 1 John, and Revelation. He listed 2 Peter, and 2 and 3 John as disputed by some; and Origen mentioned a story from Acts as an apparent fact (the raising of Eutychus, Acts 20:7-12), which means he probably took Acts as a genuine writing (1974b, X:346-347; Eusebius, 1971, I:273). In his Homilies on Joshua, Origen listed the twenty-seven canonical books of the New Testament as abolishing idolatry and false philosophies (McGarvey, 1974, I:66), showing that as early as the mid-third century, these were the accepted writings.
Eusebius (c. 270-339), the famed historian of the early church, wrote concerning the accepted, disputed, and rejected books of the canon. He began the list of universally accepted works with the four gospels (previously listed as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John [1971, I:152-155]). To them he added Acts and the Pauline epistles (without listing them), 1 John and 1 Peter. The disputed books were Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation (I:155-157). Athanasius (c. 296-373) listed the canon of the New Testament—the twenty-seven books that comprise our current New Testament. Of these books he said, “These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these” (1971, IV:552).
Early Christians in other parts of the world received certain books and translated them into their native tongues. Evidence from the earliest versions of the New Testament (the Old Syriac, Old Latin, and Coptic versions) shows what books were accepted in the second century. The Old Syriac version is the translation from Greek into the Syriac (Aramean) language of Syria and the northern part of Mesopotamia. It contained all the New Testament books with the exception of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation (McGarvey, 1974, I:34, 78). The Old Latin version was the African translation of the Bible into Latin during the second century; it lacked only Hebrews, James, and 2 Peter (I:34-35, 79-80). The Coptic (Egyptian) version of the New Testament existed in two dialects: Sahidic, used in Upper Egypt, and Bohairic, used in Lower Egypt. Both of these Coptic versions included all twenty-seven books of the New Testament, though they sometimes placed Revelation in a separate volume, as if they doubted its canonical status (I:35-36, 77-78). In speaking of the Old Syriac and Old Latin versions, McGarvey said:
Consequently we find the existence of every book of the New Testament except II Peter attested by translations as early as the middle of the second century. They were translated because they were the authoritative books of the churches, and they were authoritative because the churches believed them to have come from the apostolic hands. Is it possible that these churches could have been totally mistaken about such facts when the interval had been so short? (I:80).
Moreover, 2 Peter, which was found in neither the Old Latin nor the Old Syriac versions, was found in both the Coptic Sahidic and Coptic Bohairic versions of the New Testament—showing that it was accepted by the early Egyptian Christians. Even the councils of the Catholic Church, which added the Apocrypha into the canon of the Old Testament, listed only the accepted twenty-seven books as canonical in the New Testament. The Council of Hippo (A.D. 393) accepted them; and the Third Council of Carthage (A.D. 397), the Sixth Council of Carthage (A.D. 419), and the Fourth Session of the Council of Trent (A.D. 1546) reaffirmed this (Bruce, 1988, pp. 232-233,247). The very councils that added books to the Old Testament refused to add anything to the New Testament beyond the twenty-seven inspired, commonly accepted books.
While these early men, early versions, and the Roman Catholic councils show the progression of the canon’s acceptance, they did not establish the canon. God established the canon for the New Testament through the inspired writers of the New Testament. Since the majority of Jesus’ disciples were Jews, they knew the Hebrew canon was inspired. Thus, anything placed on the same level as that canon, they considered inspired and therefore canonical. In 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter stated that Paul had written to them “things hard to understand which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures” (3:16). Thus, Peter placed the writings of Paul (Romans through Philemon, and possibly Hebrews) on the same level as Scripture—referring to them as canonical alongside the Hebrew Bible. Paul, in Ephesians 2:19-20, placed the teachings of the apostles in the same category as those of the prophets, making the writings of Matthew, John, and Peter canonical. Again, Paul, in 1 Timothy 5:18, quoted from Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7, citing both as Scripture. This leaves only Mark, Acts, James, Jude and possibly Hebrews unsupported by internal canonization. Mark and Acts were virtually undisputed in early Christian history, and Hebrews, James, and Jude gained acceptance over time; while other works that were previously accepted—such as the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas—were removed from the canonical lists by the fourth century (Athanasius, 1971, IV:552).
The writers of the New Testament obviously considered each other’s writings as inspired work, and the majority of the New Testament writings were canonized internally. The inspired writers themselves added the books to the canon, and slowly the early church accepted them as canonical—eventually the Christian writers of the first four centuries wrote down lists of these accepted books. While there were disputes over certain books, eventually the majority of Christians accepted them, though other books lost their canonical status. “The New Testament canon was gradually formed, on the model of the Old, in the course of the first four centuries, under the guidance of the same Spirit, through whose suggestion the several apostolic books had been prepared” (Schaff, 1910, 2:516-517). We know that these twenty-seven inspired books are canonical, but the question remains: Should we add more books to this established New Testament canon?
The Biblical Canon
The canon is the rule, the measure, by which books are accepted or rejected. If they are inspired, then they are canonical. We know that the sixty-six books currently in the canon are inspired. God inspired men through the Holy Spirit to write them down, and as the books were completed, the authors added them to the canon of Scripture by inspiration. All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), recorded and taught through the Holy Spirit by prophets, ministers, eyewitnesses (1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:16-21), or by those who, also through inspiration, compiled the accounts of eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3). These men received the words of Christ Himself, and dispensed these words to the rest of Christianity; commanding that nothing but their words, which were the word of Christ, be taught and preached (Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:11; Galatians 1:8-9). As Geisler and Nix said, “Canonicity is determined or established authoritatively by God; it is merely discovered by man” (1986, p. 221, emp. in orig.). This is how we know what books belong in our Bible. What, then, do we say concerning such books as 1 and 2 Maccabees, or the Gospel of Mary? Do they also belong in the canon, and if not, why?
THE EXTRA-CANONICAL WRITINGS
Every piece of literature outside of the Bible is extra-biblical. Everything of a biblical nature that is not included in the Bible is extra-canonical, which include the apocryphal writings, pseudepigraphal writings, and the Apocrypha. These are composed of books of prophecy, gospels, histories, acts, and apocalypses—many claiming to authorship by men and/or women mentioned in the Bible. Books have been attributed to Adam, Enoch, Barnabas, Thomas, Paul, and a number of others. Some are compilations containing the acts of such men as Pontius Pilate, Paul, Peter, and other noted men of the New Testament. The topics covered by this vast array of literature are extensive, from a yearly horoscope as found in the Treatise of Shem, to the childhood of Jesus as found in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.
The Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
There are two sets of Old Testament extra-canonical writings: the Apocrypha and the pseudepigrapha. When most people hear about the extra-canonical (also called the deuterocanonical) books, the books that come to their mind are the books commonly known as the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha are a subset of the apocryphal writings, which literally means the “hidden away” writings. These words (Apocrypha and apocryphal) are derivatives of the Greek apokruphos, which is a compound of apo (“away from”) and krupto/kruptos (“I hide/hidden”) [Danker, 2000, pp. 114,105-107,570-571]. The Apocrypha refers to the apocryphal books that the Catholic, Russian Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox Churches accept as canonical, but that the Hebrew canon rejects. The Catholic and Orthodox canons vary, not only from the Hebrew and Protestant canon, but also from each other. The Catholic Church regards Tobit, Judith, an additional 107 verses scattered throughout the book of Esther (see Apocrypha, 1977, p. 96), the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and 1 and 2 Maccabees as canonical. 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh were added as an appendix at the end of the New Testament, and are considered non-canonical by the Roman Catholic Church (Apocrypha, pp. xi-xii). The Greek Orthodox Church accepts the Catholic canon, but adds 1 Esdras, Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 3 Maccabees to their canon, while placing 4 Maccabees in an appendix. In addition to the Catholic canon, the Russian Orthodox Church regards 1 and 2 Esdras (which they called 2 and 3 Esdras), Psalm 151, and 3 Maccabees as canonical (Apocrypha, pp. xiii). How did these additional books come to be regarded as canonical by some, but not by others?
As the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) gained prominence throughout the world, a group of writings was added to the traditional twenty-four of the Hebrew canon—these were the Apocrypha. Why would these books be in the Greek Old Testament but not in the Hebrew Old Testament? In his book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim gave a probable explanation for the development of both the Apocrypha and Old Testament pseudepigraphal writings. With the translation of the Old Testament into Greek around 250 B.C., the Jewish people (particularly those outside of Palestine) began a transition from traditional Judaic thought to Judeo-Hellenistic thinking. This involved the melding of Grecian philosophies, most notably Stoicism and Epicureanism, with Old Testament theology. As this digression from traditional thought occurred, a new group of writings was sought that would help reconcile sometimes opposing viewpoints of Judaism and Hellenism. The result was the Apocrypha and the Old Testament pseudepigrapha—books that were the middle ground between the truth of the Old Testament and the mythology and humanistic philosophies of the Greco-Roman world (1972, 1:31-39). It is because of this that the Apocrypha, which had some verifiable historical significance to the Jewish nation and theological significance to the Hellenistic Jews, were included in the Greek canon of the Old Testament.
While the Hebrew canon never included the Apocrypha, the Hellenist and some early Christian canons and manuscripts included them. Existing copies of the Septuagint include them, some of the early Christian writings quote from them, and some Greek Church Fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, et al.) regarded them as canonical (Geisler and Nix, 1986, pp. 266-267). The Catholic Church’s Council of Hippo (A.D. 393), the Third Council of Carthage (A.D. 397), the Sixth Council of Carthage (A.D. 419), and the Fourth Session of the Council of Trent (A.D. 1546) accepted the Apocrypha as canonical (Bruce, 1988, pp. 97,104-105). Thus, they gained acceptance in the Catholic Church and the later divergences of the Orthodox churches, but why do we reject them? One objection is that they were written after the Old Testament revelations had ceased (after the time of Malachi), and before the New Testament revelations had begun. While certain books, like 1 and 2 Maccabees, contain accurate historical records, they should not be included any more than the histories written by Tacitus or Herodotus. In addition, many of the apocryphal additions to the Old Testament contain errors and contradictions. Nevertheless, the foremost objection to the inclusion of the Apocrypha is that the Hebrew Bible did not include them, and the majority of Jews did not consider them inspired writings. The Jews considered the canon complete and closed, consisting of only those thirty-nine books that make up our Old Testament. It was closed in the days of Ezra, and should not be re-opened to include such late additions as the Apocrypha.
The Old Testament pseudepigrapha are the set of writings that are attributed falsely to Old Testament era men, hence their name as the “false inscriptions.” The word is a Greek compound of pseudos (“false”) and epigraphe (“inscription,” which comes from epi, “upon,” and grapho/graphe “I write/writing”) [Danker, pp. 1097,369,363-367,206-207]. Some scholars contend that certain books from the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Apocrypha (Wisdom of Solomon, 2 Esdras, and the Letter of Jeremiah) belong in the Old Testament pseudepigrapha because they are falsely attributed, while certain books in the pseudepigrapha (3 and 4 Maccabees) should be included in the Old Testament apocryphal writings (Ladd, 1986, 3:1040). One of the most extensive and authoritative editions of pseudepigraphal writings of the Old Testament comes from James H. Charlesworth’s two-volume set entitled The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, which includes fifty-two complete works and a supplement containing fragments of other Old Testament pseudepigraphal writings.
Charlesworth gave the following requirements for a book’s inclusion in the Old Testament pseudepigrapha: (1) They are predominantly Jewish or Christian; (2) Usually, they are falsely attributed to Old Testament figures; (3) Most of them claim inspiration; (4) Often, they expand stories and concepts in the Old Testament; (5) They were either written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200, or they preserve tradition from that time period (1983, 1:xxv). The pseudepigrapha include apocalyptic books, testaments, legends, wisdom and philosophical literature, Old Testament expansions, prayers, psalms, and odes.
Why are these books not included in the canon? The first, and most obvious, answer is that they contain false information about their respective authors. If a book lies about its origin, then its contents most likely contain falsehoods. If a book requires a false attribution in order to be canonical, then it must have characteristics that make its inspiration and canonicity suspect. For example, these books were written far too late to be included in the Hebrew canon of the Bible, and therefore do not belong in the canon of our Old Testament. Geisler and Nix rightly noted that “the Pseudepigrapha books are those that are distinctly spurious and unauthentic in their over all content…. Although they claim to have been written by biblical authors, they actually express religious fancy and magic from the period between about 200 B.C. and A.D. 200” (1986, pp. 262). They also stated regarding the pseudepigrapha:
There are a vast number of false and spurious writings that deserve mention at this point; not because anyone would seriously contend for their authority, but because they do represent the religious lore of the Hebrews in the inter-testamental period. The New Testament writers make use of a number of these books… Of course, it should be remembered that the New Testament also quotes from the heathen poets Aratus (Acts 17:28); Menander (1 Cor.15:33); and Epimenides (Titus 1:12). Truth is truth no matter where it is found, whether uttered by a heathen poet, a pagan prophet (Num 24:17), or even a dumb animal (22:28). Nevertheless, it should be noted that no such formula as “it is written” or “the Scriptures say” is connected with these citations. It should also be noted that neither the New Testament writers nor the Fathers have considered these writings canonical (p. 262, emp. added).
They contain fanciful additions to the biblical record, a mixture of Greek philosophy/mythology and Old Testament theology, platitudes that contradict the Bible, and errors in the areas of science, history, geography, etc. It is on these grounds that we reject the pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament as non-canonical. Nevertheless, some canonical books contain possible references to pseudepigraphal writings. Geisler and Nix maintained that there were possible quotations or allusions in Jude and 2 Timothy to the pseudepigraphal books of 1 Enoch, the Testament of Moses, and the book of Jannes and Jambres (1986, pp. 262). The Testament of Moses and the book of Jannes and Jambres date to the first century A.D. or later, so if Jude and Paul were referring to them, it would have been as contemporary fictional literature. The same is true for 1 Enoch, which dates between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D. In a similar fashion, preachers today sometimes use extra-biblical sources in their lessons in order to make a point. Nowhere does the biblical text state that Jude and Paul equated pseudepigraphal writings with those of Scripture, so any reference to them in the biblical account was merely inspired use of an uninspired source.
The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
The New Testament pseudepigrapha are those books that were written in the form of New Testament works (gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalypses) but that exist outside of the New Testament canon. They often bear the names of apostles, prominent disciples, early Christian writers (e.g., Clement, Matthew, Barnabas), or famous figures from the New Testament (such as Pilate and Gamaliel). Some of them were attributed to groups of people, such as the Egyptians or Ebionites. We can quickly reject the New Testament pseudepigrapha because of their false attribution, errors, discrepancies, and false teachings. They were also written too late to be inspired, and some exist only as fragments. Moreover, most importantly, the early church rejected them as non-canonical.
However, despite their non-canonical status, many of the New Testament pseudepigrapha are useful historical and theological writings, because they show the traditions, myths, and superstitions of some of the early Christians, as well as the heretical branches of early Christianity (i.e., Doceticism, Gnosticism, Asceticism). One of the most extensive and authoritative editions of pseudepigraphal and apocryphal writings of the New Testament comes from R.M. Wilson’s English translation of Wilhelm Schneemelcher’s two-volume set titled New Testament Apocrypha, which includes translations or discussions of about ninety of the most prominent writings. [NOTE: In the ninth century, Photius listed around 280 pseudepigraphal and apocryphal works of the New Testament, and more have been discovered since then (Geisler and Nix, 1986, p. 301). Because of their great number, it is almost impossible to include all of them in a single collection, causing Schneemelcher to include only the most prominent in his work.]
However, there were some writings that early Christians accepted as either inspired works, or genuine (but uninspired) works—the New Testament apocrypha. Geisler and Nix listed these as the Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas, 1 and 2 Corinthians from Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Acts of Paul and Thecla, the Gospel According to the Hebrews, the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, and the Seven Epistles of Ignatius. Many of these were listed or included in the best Greek manuscripts (Sinaiticus [א], Alexandrinus [A], and Bezae [D]): the Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas (א and D), 1 and 2 Corinthians from Clement (A), the Shepherd of Hermas (א and D), the Apocalypse of Peter (D), and the Acts of Paul and Thecla (D). Moreover, some of the early Christian writers cited these as Scripture or listed them among sacred writings: the Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas (Clement of Alexandria and Origen), the Shepherd of Hermas (Irenaeus and Origen), and the Didache (Clement of Alexandria and Athanasius) [Geisler and Nix, 1986, pp. 313-316]. With this evidence, why do we reject these as uninspired?
First, listing or including books in a Greek manuscript does not make it part of the canon of Scripture. Most of the books that were included in the manuscripts were placed after Revelation, almost as an appendix to the canonical works. Most modern Bibles contain a concordance, dictionary, or maps after the text, but none of these are considered inspired. In a similar fashion, these apocryphal works were included in the manuscripts (which date from the fourth and fifth centuries) as additional—but uninspired—literature. Moreover, the books that some early Christian writers listed as Scripture were not included in the canon lists of these men. They may have considered them as genuine as Scripture, but uninspired—and therefore non-canonical. For other writings (1 and 2 Corinthians from Clement, the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, and the Seven Epistles of Ignatius), the authors never intended them to be Scripture, but simply letters from one Christian to another. Some of these apocryphal works contained errors and false teachings, making them uninspired. Finally, they were written after the time of inspiration, and therefore after God had closed the canon. Nevertheless, these are some of the most valuable non-canonical writings. Even more than the New Testament pseudepigrapha, the apocryphal writings show what the early Christians thought concerning the church, worship, and the tenets of Christianity.
Many of the early Christian writers cited the New Testament apocrypha genuinely historical or as something of religious value, but uninspired—some even considered them canonical. Eventually, however, these works lost their status as canonical works, and rightly so. They were written too late to be inspired, and some teach religious errors and discrepancies. Gnostics and other heretics wrote several of the pseudepigrapha, and so introduced their deviant ideas through letters, gospels, and apocalypses under the guise of authentic New Testament figures. While some of the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha of the New Testament are valuable for historical and theological study, they should not be placed on the same level as inspired Scripture.
God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him…” (2 Peter 1:3), and our knowledge of Him is complete through the revealed Word. “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). The Bible that we possess is the inspired Word of God, and the only thing we need—no additions and no subtractions, only sixty-six canonical books. While some of the extra-canonical writings are useful for historical or literary study, they are not inspired and do not belong within the pages of the Bible. They do not possess the same authority as the sixty-six inspired books, and should not be regarded as Scripture. This canon was created and established by God, and was closed by Him.
However, God presented these books to us with special directives. The writer of Proverbs said: “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar” (30:5-6, emp. added). Moses commanded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 4:2: “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Again, in Deuteronomy 12:32, Moses said: “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” As diligent students of the Scriptures, let us always keep in mind that these sixty-six inspired books contain everything we need to know. We have the Word of God just as He wanted us to have it—nothing more, nothing less.
Aland, Kurt, and Barbara Aland (1981), The Text of the New Testament, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995 reprint), second edition.
The Apocrypha of the Old Testament: Revised Standard Version (1977), ed. Bruce M. Metzger (New York, NY: Oxford).
Athanasius (1971), “Letters of Athanasius,” The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, eds. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Bass, Alden (2003), “What is the Jewish Talmud?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2270.
Briggs, Charles Augustus (1970), General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), revised edition.
Bruce, F.F. (1988), The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Caius (1971), “Fragments of Caius,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Charlesworth, J.H. (1983), “Introduction for the General Reader,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments, ed. James H. Charlesworth (New York, NY: Doubleday).
Danker, Fredrick William (2000), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago), third edition of Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich.
Edersheim, Alfred (1972), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Eusebius (1971), “Church History of Eusebius,” The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix (1986), A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Josephus, Flavius (1987), The Works of Josephus, transl. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Ladd, George Eldon (1986), “Pseudepigrapha,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988 reprint).
Lightfoot, Neal R. (2003), How We Got the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), third edition.
Martyr, Justin (1973), “First Apology,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson.
McDowell, Josh and Bill Wilson (1993), The Best of Josh McDowell: A Ready Defense (Nashville, TN: Nelson).
McGarvey, J.W. (1974), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Metzger, Bruce M. (2000), A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft), second edition.
Motyer, Alec (2001), The Story of the Old Testament, ed. John Stott (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Origen (1974a), “Commentary on Matthew,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Allan Menzies (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Origen (1974b), “Commentary on John,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Allan Menzies (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Rodkinson, Michael L. (1918), New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, ed. J.B. Hare (Boston: The Talmud Society), [On-line], URL: http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/talmud.htm.
Schaff, Philip (1910), History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973 reprint).
Van Biema, David (2003), “The Lost Gospels,” Time, 162:54-61, December 22.
The Biblical View of Women
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
It has become increasingly popular in our secular culture to caustically criticize God, the Bible, and the Christian religion. Many best-selling books by high-profile atheistic writers are filled with accusations against God and alleged reasons why Christianity cannot be the true religion devised by a moral God. One reason commonly given by the skeptical community for its rejection of the Bible and Christianity is the way that women are purportedly viewed in the Scriptures. According to these secular apologists, the Bible writers viewed women as inferior creatures who are less valuable than men and do not deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
Evangelist-turned-skeptic, Charles Templeton, summarized this view well when he wrote, “The Bible is a book by and for men. The women in it are secondary creatures and usually inferior” (1996, p. 177). In addition, the God of the Bible and various Bible writers are accused of hating women. In his book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins stated that the God of the Bible is “misogynistic” (2006, p. 31). Dan Barker made a similar assertion when he wrote: “Although the bible is neither antiabortion nor pro-family, it does provide modern antiabortionists with a biblical basis for the real motivation behind their views: the bible is not pro-life, but it is anti-woman. A patriarchal system cannot stand women who are free” (1992, p. 212, italics in orig.). Famed skeptic Christopher Hitchens wrote:
A consistent proof that religion is man-made and anthropomorphic can also be found in the fact that it is usually “man” made, in the sense of masculine, as well…. The Old Testament, as Christians condescendingly call it, has woman cloned from man for his use and comfort. The New Testament has Saint Paul expressing both fear and contempt for the female (2007, p. 54).
Is it true that the biblical treatment of women presents an immoral code of ethics and falsifies the idea that the Bible was inspired by a perfectly moral Creator? Certainly not. In fact, just the opposite is the case. The Bible’s treatment of women is in perfect accord with truth and legitimate moral teaching. The accusations leveled against the Bible in this regard are vacuous and cannot be used in any legitimate way to militate against either the morality of God or the inspiration of the Bible. On the contrary, it is the teachings and logical implications of atheistic evolution that cannot hold up under the scrutiny of reason.
THE DARWINIAN VIEW OF WOMEN
Atheistic Darwinism is plagued by a host of problems regarding morality. In fact, it has been conclusively demonstrated that without a belief in God, concepts such as good and evil, moral and immoral, have no meaning (see Butt, 2008). Only a supernatural, moral Creator can explain the very existence of morality in man. Therefore, any attempt to question the morality of the God of the Bible based on atheistic ideas is fraught with error and self-contradiction from its inception.
Furthermore, the logical implications of Darwinism lead the honest thinker to the conclusion that equality for all humans is illusory. Not only did Charles Darwin admit that Darwinian evolution implies that certain races of people are inferior to others, with equal candor he concluded that women are inferior to men as well (see Lyons and Butt, 2009). In his monumental work, The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote:
The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands.... [T]he average of mental power in man must be above that of woman.... [M]an has ultimately become superior to woman (1871, pp. 873-874, emp. added).
According to Darwin, males had evolved to a higher level than females. As evidence of his conclusion, he simply stated that males “attain to a higher eminence” in everything that they take up when compared to females. Using this line of reasoning, it would be impossible to condemn men for treating women as inferior, because, if men have the mental or physical ability to treat women as inferior, it must mean that men are stronger or more fit to survive and rule. It is ironic that the atheistic community, which is so enamored with Darwin, is suggesting that the Bible’s view of women is immoral. In reality, if their view of atheistic evolution is true, then all male-dominated societies are such because males are more able to dominate. And since survival of the fittest is desired, one must conclude that a male dominated society, in which women are viewed as inferior to men (as Darwin put it), must be at least one very prevalent natural order of things. Even if the skeptical community is right concerning its accusations about the Bible’s “mistreatment” of women (which it is not), how could the Bible be accused of maintaining an immoral stance, when that stance coincides perfectly with the Darwinian view of the “natural order of things?” In truth, those who propound atheism and Darwinian ideals have a much more thorny problem with the logical implications of their ideas as they relate to women, than those who teach that the Bible is the inspired Word of a perfectly moral God.
THE VALUE OF WOMEN ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE
When they use the treatment of women in their attack on the integrity of the Bible, most skeptics make blanket statements about the Bible’s position, without presenting anything resembling a balanced handling of the topic. For instance, Templeton wrote: “Women were associated with evil and weakness. Indeed, Israelite males sometimes thanked God in the synagogue that they had not been born women” (1996, p. 184).
Such generalized statements are designed to appeal to the emotions of a 21st-century audience, but they simply do not accurately represent the true sentiments behind the biblical texts. For instance, using the type of reasoning in which we cherry-pick verses without adequate explanation, we could say that men are treated unfairly in the Bible because husbands are told that they must be willing to give their lives for their wives, while the wives are never commanded to make such a sacrifice (Ephesians 5:25). In addition, we could accuse the Bible of mistreating males, because, throughout its pages, men are told they must work to provide food for their entire households, while women are not held to such a standard (Genesis 3:17-19; 1 Timothy 5:8). Such indiscriminate statements should be viewed by the honest observer as suspect, and a more complete and accurate picture of the biblical view of women should be sought.
Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that both the Old and New Testaments present a picture of woman that appraises her worth as equal to that of the man. While it is the case that the Bible presents different roles for men and women, it is not the case that men are valued more than women. A look at various biblical passages confirms this truth.
Wisdom as the Portrait of a Woman
The book of Proverbs, written primarily by King Solomon, is a literary genre known as Wisdom literature. The main theme of the book is the concept of wisdom. The writer stated: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom” (4:7). To further stress the importance and value of wisdom, he penned: “For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her” (8:11). Building on the idea of the immeasurable value of wisdom, the writer of the book of Job stated: “But where can wisdom be found? It cannot be purchased for gold, nor can silver be weighed for its price. It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire…for the price of wisdom is above rubies…. Nor can it be valued in pure gold” (28:12-19). It is clear that the Bible writers viewed wisdom as a personality trait of inestimable value.
What picture, then, was used to personify this trait of such value? Throughout the book of Proverbs, the idea of wisdom is personified by a woman. The text reads: “Wisdom has built her house” (9:1); “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill” (8:1-2). The most illustrative picture of the virtue of wisdom that the Proverbs writer could conjure was that of a woman (Willis, 1993, p. 37). How then can the Bible writers be so misrepresented as to suggest that they did not value women, when wisdom, which is “the principle thing” according to Proverbs, is portrayed as a woman? Additionally, the Proverbs writer stated, “A gracious woman retains honor” (11:16). The inspired writer also included a lengthy section (31:10-31) in which he extolled the worth of a virtuous woman who is clothed in “strength and honor,” who “opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household.” Needless to say, you do not hear these passages about wisdom personified as a woman and the value of virtuous women in the jaded rants of the modern skeptic.
God’s Attitude Toward His People as Illustrated with Traits of a Woman
While it is true that God does not have a specific gender as humans do (see Thompson, 2000), it is the case that God sometimes illustrates some of His personality traits by comparing them to personality traits possessed by certain categories of people. For instance, it is a well-known fact that the God of the Bible often compares the love that He has for His created humans with the love that a father has for his biological children (1 John 3:1-2). If the God of the Bible were truly sexist, it would be obvious that comparisons between God and any human being would be confined to the masculine gender. A truly sexist god would never compare Himself to a woman.
Yet the Bible records instances in whichthe God of Heaven compares traits that He possesses to similar traits found in women. For instance, John Willis noted: “A most compelling piece of evidence that OT writers had a high regard for women is that they describe God as a mother” (1993, pp. 37-39). Willis then mentioned at least three passages as examples, including Isaiah 66:12—“For thus says the Lord…. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Furthermore, if it truly were the case that the apostle Paul was a misogynist, was afraid of women, and had contempt for them, it would be unreasonable to imagine him comparing himself to a woman. Yet in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 he wrote: “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So affectionately longing for you.” Surely a misogynistic man who is “afraid” of women would never describe himself in such feminine terms. Such examples as these bring to light the fallacious idea that the Bible writers hated women or viewed them as inferior to men.
Women Made in the Image of God
Many skeptics insinuate that the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib to be a helper for man manifests a view that woman is less valuable or inferior to man. Recall the claim of Hitchens when he wrote: “The Old Testament, as Christians condescendingly call it, has woman cloned from man for his use and comfort” (2007, p. 54). Supposedly, the fact that Eve was Adam’s helper somehow “proves” inferiority.
The problem with this line of reasoning is at least two-fold. First, it completely ignores the stress that the Bible places on women being made in God’s image exactly like man. Genesis 1:27 states: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female he created them.” Contrary to many religious groups and male chauvinist thinkers, from the very first chapter, the Bible insists that both male and female were made in God’s image, and both deserve to be treated with the dignity that is inherent in that composition.
So what of the word “helper”? Is it true that a “helper” implies that the person he or she is helping is viewed as superior or of greater worth? Such an incorrect position is impossible to maintain in light of the clear biblical teaching regarding those who help others. For example, in John 15:26, Jesus explains that the Holy Spirit was going to visit the apostles after His resurrection. He stated: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” Using the skeptic’s reasoning, we would be forced to conclude that the Holy Spirit is inferior to the apostles, since He is referred to as “the Helper.” Such a conclusion is obviously absurd. [NOTE: It is understood that the skeptic will not concur that there even is a Holy Spirit. This example, however, is used only to show that the Bible consistently maintains a picture of “helpers” and “helping” that in no way insinuates inferiority or less value.]
In Philippians 4:3, Paul urged the receiver of his epistle to “help these women who labored with me in the gospel.” Did that mean Paul viewed the one who received his letter as inferior to those women with whom he had labored? Not in any way. Furthermore, Jesus Christ Himself stated that He came into this world not “to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Would that imply that since He was “serving” or “helping” mankind, He was inferior in some way to humans? Certainly not. The concept of “helping” or “serving” carries with it no inherent meaning of inferiority.
Many Examples of Worthy Women in the Bible
In an attempt to bolster their misrepresentation of the biblical view of women, skeptics often “count noses” and insist that far too much biblical “press” is given to narratives whose central figures are men, while not enough time is given to women. In addition, many in the skeptical community insist that if God truly viewed women as equal, they would have been granted equal positions of leadership in both Old Testament times and in the ministry of Jesus. Dan Barker stated: “Jesus upheld the Old Testament view of women. Not a single woman was chosen to be among the 12 disciples or to sit at the Last Supper” (2008, p. 179).
Such statements are plagued with dishonest selectivity. When the entire biblical picture is viewed objectively, it is easily seen that women in both the Old and New Testaments played vital, powerful roles in God’s plans for the national rule of Israel, and for the spiritual Kingdom established by Jesus Christ. And, while space is lacking in this article to adequately list and describe each of these women, a few of the most notable will be addressed.
The fact that women attained prominent, powerful positions in Israel militates strongly against the skeptic’s accusation that the biblical view of women is sexist. For instance, the book of Judges relates the story of Deborah, a prophetess and the recognized judge and ruler of the Israelite nation during her lifetime (Judges 4:4). A close look at the narrative shows that Deborah was the woman who commissioned Barak, a man, to lead the Israelites in battle against the foreign forces. When the time came for action to be taken, it was Deborah who said to Barak: “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?” (Judges 4:14). After the battle was won, and Sisera, the opposing general, was killed by a woman named Jael, Deborah and Barak composed and sang a victory hymn. Throughout the hymn, Deborah is mentioned as the leader of Israel who, with Barak’s help, defeated Sisera and Jabin. The text says: “Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7). “And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah” (5:15).
Using the skeptic’s logic, should we conclude that the Bible views all men as inferior to women since Deborah was a female leader of Israel at the time? Should we conclude that since Deborah’s story is recorded in a book that claims inspiration, such a claim is negated because, based on the Deborah narrative, whoever wrote the Bible hates men, shows contempt for them, and treats them as less valuable than women? Such reasoning is obviously flawed.
Once it is shown that the story of Deborah exalts women to an equal position with men, however, the skeptic is forced to back peddle and attempt another tactic. While it cannot be denied that the story of Deborah manifests an exalted view of women, the skeptic contends that such stories are few and far between. If God and the Bible really viewed women as equal in worth to men, then the Bible would have just as many stories about women rulers and leaders as it has about men.
This faulty assertion can be answered in two ways. First, how many examples would the Bible need to provide of the Gospel being preached to Ethiopians to prove that the Bible writers considered them just as valuable as Jews, and just as viable candidates to hear the Gospel? Would anyone contend that in order for the God of the Bible to be vindicated of bigotry against Ethiopians, the text must contain just as many conversion stories about Ethiopians as it does about Jews? Certainly not. When the book of Acts records that Phillip the evangelist delivered the Gospel to Candace’s Ethiopian treasurer (8:26-40), that one example is sufficient to provide evidence that all Ethiopians are just as valuable to God as all Jews, Arabians, or Egyptians.
Furthermore, let us apply the skeptic’s reasoning to a brief history of the United States of America. Were we to attempt to relate the history of our country, spending our time dealing with the Presidency, how many stories about women would we be able to include who have ascended to the presidency? To date, our nation has inaugurated 44 presidents, and not a single one of them has been a woman. Using the skeptic’s accusations as a springboard, should we insist that the ancient nation of Israel had a more “enlightened” and elevated view of women than does the United States in the 21st century? Moreover, would we despise and accuse of sexism those history writers who spent the majority of their texts focusing on the men who held the office of President? Such thinking flies in the face of common sense and could only be concocted by those who refuse to deal honestly with actual history and the biblical text.
Huldah, the Prophetess
Second Kings 22 records the life and reign of Josiah, the righteous king of Judah. In the course of his attempts to eradicate idolatry from Judah, he made a focused effort to repair the temple of God that had fallen into a state of disrepair. He commissioned Hilkiah, the high priest, to collect money to be used to clean out and repair the temple. During Hilkiah’s labors to revamp the temple, he stumbled across a copy of the book of the Law of Moses. Having read it, he sent it to Josiah, who listened to the words of the Law and was heartsick because the nation of Israel had wandered so far from God’s commands. Josiah commanded Hilkiah and several of the other religious leaders to “go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found” (2 Kings 22:13). The text then states: “So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her” (22:14). After speaking with her, Huldah delivered a message from God to Josiah through these officials.
Not only did these leaders in Israel seek out a woman prophetess, though she was married, there is no indication that the advice or counsel of her husband was sought. The envoy journeyed to a woman’s house to hear a message that the Lord related to a woman. Also notice that Josiah was recognized as one of the greatest rulers that Judah ever had, yet this passage shows that he sought the counsel of a woman of God. Here again, the narrative about Huldah undermines the skeptics’ assertion that the Bible views women as inferior.
Various Women in the Bible
Much could be said concerning women of prominence in the Bible, such as Esther, about whom an entire book is written. She ascended to the queenly throne of Persia and heroically saved her people. A lengthy section relating the selfless sacrifice of Ruth for her mother-in-law (Naomi) would further undercut the skeptics’ argument, especially in light of the fact that Ruth is listed in the genealogy of Christ as the great grandmother of David. Moreover, the faith of Hannah and her prayer for, and subsequent birth of, Samuel, one of the greatest prophets to ever live in Israel, would go far to put to silence the skeptics’ assertion that women are viewed as inferior by the Bible writers. Attention could be directed to Lydia, the seller of purple whom Paul and his companions found praying by the riverside, or Priscilla, who helped her husband Aquila teach the eloquent Apollos the Gospel of Christ (Acts 18:26). Additional information refuting the skeptics’ claim could include the faith of Jochebed, or the leadership skills and prophesying of Miriam, or the courage of Rahab, or the faithfulness of Jesus’ mother Mary, or the good deeds of Dorcas. One wonders how many examples of women in exalted positions the skeptical community would need in order to be satisfied that the biblical treatment of women is not sexist. Unfortunately, no matter how many examples are given, the skeptical answer about this and so many other things is, “Just a few more than we have.” In reality, the biblical examples of how the God of the Bible views women are more than sufficient to refute the tenuous complaints of the naysayers.
Numbering, Genealogies, and Traveling Groups
Certain practical matters must be properly considered in order to achieve an accurate picture of the biblical view of women. Some people who read the biblical text are struck by the fact that some of the genealogies only include the names of the men in the family. As Templeton wrote: “In the long list of Adam’s descendants over the hundreds of years that intervened before the Great Flood, not one female is so much as named” (1996, p. 178, italics in orig.). Furthermore, it is often the case that, when counting or listing the numbers of people involved, the Bible generally only counts the males. These instances have been viewed as sexist and discriminatory against women.
Upon further inspection, it becomes apparent that such accusations fail to take into account certain practical aspects and the cultural context. For example, Templeton mentioned the genealogy in Genesis five as an example of a “sexist” view, but he failed to mention the genealogy of Jesus Christ that is listed in Matthew 1:1-17 in which the women Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary are mentioned. Additionally, the text states: “And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ” (1:16, emp. added). The prepositional phrase “of whom” relates back to Mary, thus indicating that Jesus was the biological son of Mary. Would it be proper to use this genealogy to insist that God has a lower view of men, since the text specifically mentions that the Christ descended biologically from a woman? No. And neither can the “male genealogy” idea be used to sustain the false accusation that the Bible views women as inferior. Add to that the fact that even today in 21st century America, the majority of wives assume their husbands’ last names and daughters assume their fathers’ last names, and are thus recorded in modern genealogical records [such as Annaka Harris, the wife of Sam Harris, or Juliet Emma Dawkins, daughter of Richard Dawkins (Periera, n.d.)], and the skeptics’ charge becomes manifestly erroneous.
In a similar vein, biblical numbers often only included the men. For instance, Numbers 1:2 states: “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually” (emp. added). Is this numbering an example of biblical sexism, or evidence that the Bible writers thought women of so little value they did not need to number them? Not in any way. The simple, practical aspect of this numbering system had only to do with able-bodied men who went out to war. As the text explains: “according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war”(1:20, emp. added). In the same way that we could not use such numbering systems to insist that the God of the Bible, or the Bible writers, devalued children under 20, or old men past the age of battle strength, we could not use this method of numbering to disparage the biblical writers’ view of women. And, while the skeptic might attempt to argue that it was sexist for women to be excluded from military service in Bible times, a simple response could be that it was unfair to men to force them to be numbered for military service, while women were exempt from such. Would it be fair to state that since men were “serving” their women by providing military protection, their “service” shows they were inferior? To ask is to answer.
Other practical matters, including such simple concepts as travel and sleeping arrangements, must be factored into this discussion. For example, Dan Barker was quoted earlier in this article as saying: “Jesus upheld the Old Testament view of women. Not a single woman was chosen to be among the 12 disciples or to sit at the Last Supper” (2008, p. 179). While this statement is true, the skeptic Charles Templeton offers an extremely plausible reason for this:
The New Testament frequently reveals Jesus’ concern for women…. There were no women in Jesus’ band of apostles, but there would have been compelling reasons for this. Jesus and the disciples travelled frequently, often daily, invariably on foot. Often they slept out in the open. In the circumstances it would have been impossible—and potentially scandalous—for a woman to be a part of that male group (1996, pp. 184-185, emp. added).
Even a cursory consideration of certain practical matters that relate to numbering, genealogies, and travel arrangements serves to defeat the skeptics’ claim that the Bible devalues women.
Was Jesus Rude to Women?
Those who are antagonistic to the Bible sometimes accuse Jesus of being rude to others, especially his own mother. Christopher Hitchens quipped: “Jesus makes large claims for his heavenly father but never mentions that his mother is or was a virgin, and is repeatedly very rude and coarse to her when she makes an appearance, as Jewish mothers will, to ask to see how he is getting on” (2007, p. 116, emp. added). Richard Dawkins commented in a similar vein: “Jesus’ family values, it has to be admitted, were not such as one might wish to focus on. He was short, to the point of brusqueness, with his own mother” (2006, p. 250, emp. added).
A more thorough analysis, however, reveals that what these writers are attempting to label as rudeness was nothing of the sort. In his article, “How Rude!?”, Eric Lyons effectively demonstrated that the way Jesus addressed His mother was neither rude, nor disrespectful (2004). Jesus’ statements in response to His mother are in perfect accord with the biblical injunction to honor one’s parents. Only a misunderstanding of the original languages and phrases used, and a cynical approach to the text, could lead a person to accuse Jesus of rudeness in these instances. His statements to His mother coincide completely with the fact that the Bible’s overall treatment of women presents them as neither inferior nor superior to men, but as equals.
GALATIANS 3:28—THE GOLDEN TEXT OF EQUALITY
The apostle Paul is often demonized as a woman-hater who feared the opposite sex and held them in contempt. The skeptical attitude toward Paul is summed up well in Templeton’s statement: “To judge by his epistles, the apostle Paul was a confirmed misogynist” (1996, p. 185). Such statements conveniently overlook one of the boldest statements of gender and race equality in all religious literature. In Galatians 3:28, Paul wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (emp. added). About this verse, Jan Faver Hailey wrote: “Common exegesis understands Paul here to be advocating that access to God is open to all through faith in Christ, without regard to race, social standing, or gender” (1993, p. 132, emp. added). To insist that Paul was a misogynist in light of his statement in Galatians 3:28 runs counter to evidence-based reasoning.
So why do some aver that Paul hated women, even with Galatians 3:28 in view? The main reason for this assertion is that Paul consistently maintained that, while men and women are equal in God’s sight, they have been given different duties and roles. The skeptical community mistakenly equates the concept of different roles, with the idea of different status. As Templeton wrote: “In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul states unequivocally that men and women have a different status before God” (1996, p. 186, emp. added). Allegedly, since Paul instructs men to be elders (Titus 1:5-9), and to lead publically in worship (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:8-15), and husbands to be the “head” of their homes (Ephesians 5:22-24), then he must view women as less able, less valuable, or inferior to men. [NOTE: See Jackson, 2010 and Miller, 2005 for biblical expositions of these verses.]
Is it true that since the Bible assigns different roles to the different sexes, their status or worth must be unequal? Certainly not. In Titus 3:1, Paul explained to Titus that Christians were supposed to be subject to rulers and authorities and to obey the government (see also Romans 13). From that statement, is it correct to conclude that Paul views all those in governmental positions to be of more value than Christians? Does this passage imply that, because Christians are to obey other humans who are in governmental positions, Paul sees those in governmental positions as mentally, physically, or spiritually superior to Christians? Not in any way. The mere fact that Christians are to obey those in the government says nothing about the spiritual status or value of either party. It only addresses different roles that each party plays.
Again, in 1 Timothy 6:2, Paul instructs Christian servants to be obedient to their own masters. Does this imply that Paul believed masters to be superior, or to be of more inherent worth than servants? No. It simply shows a difference in roles, not of status. Logically speaking, different roles can never be used to support an accusation that such roles necessitate different value or status.
Furthermore, while the skeptic is quick to seize on Paul’s ordination of men as elders and leaders in their homes, those skeptics neglect to include the responsibilities involved in such roles. Husbands are called upon to give their lives for their wives (Ephesians 5:25), physically provide food, shelter, and clothing for their families (1 Timothy 5:8), and to love their wives as much as they love themselves (Ephesians 5:25). While much is said about the “unfairness” of Paul’s instructions, it is productive to ask who would get the last spot on a life boat if a Christian husband and wife were on a sinking ship? The Christian husband gives himself for his wife in such instances. Is that fair that he is called upon to accept the sacrificial role of giving himself for his wife? Is she more valuable than he because God calls upon him to protect and cherish her and die for her if necessary? No. It is simply a difference in assigned roles, not in status or worth.
The militant skeptical community incessantly attempts to discredit the Bible and the God Who is represented in its pages. One line of reasoning used in their efforts is to demand that the Bible presents a sexist picture of men and women, in which God and the Bible writers place more value on men, and view women as inferior and of less inherent worth. This accusation falls apart, however, when the entirety of the text is considered. Careful study reveals that Bible writers personified and illustrated such invaluable attributes as wisdom in the form of a woman. God himself compares traits that He possesses to similar traits found in women. Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with narratives lauding the actions of faithful, powerful women. The apostle Paul, who is often accused of misogyny, makes one of the boldest statements of gender equality ever recorded in religious literature. And the misguided attempt to discredit Paul by claiming that different gender roles in his epistles prove he valued women less cannot honestly or reasonably be sustained. In truth, the Bible presents the clearest picture of gender equity, value, and inherent worth ever recorded in either ancient or modern literature. The status of women in the Holy Scriptures, not only is not a challenge to its divine inspiration, but the biblical treatment of women actually provides another piece of evidence for the Bible’s perfection and inspiration.
Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).
Barker, Dan (2008), godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Butt, Kyle (2008), “The Bitter Fruits of Atheism: Parts 1 & 2,” Reason & Revelation, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3740 and http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3762.
Darwin, Charles (1871), The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (New York: The Modern Library, reprint).
Dawkins, Richard (2006), The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin).
Hailey, Jan Faver (1993), “‘Neither Male and Female’ (Gal. 3:28),” Essays on Women in Earliest Christianity Volume 1, ed. Carroll Osburn (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Hitchens, Christopher (2007), god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: The Twelve).
Jackson, Wayne (2010), “Women’s Role in the Church,” http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/169-womans-role-in-the-church.
Lyons, Eric (2004), “How Rude!?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/593.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2009), “Darwin, Evolution, and Racism,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240063.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Female Leadership in the Church,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2694 .
Pereira, Oliver (no date), “Descent of Richard Dawkins from Edward III,” http://humph rysfamilytree.com/Royal/Notes/dawkins.txt.
Templeton, Charles (1996), Farewell to God (Ontario, Canada: McClelland and Stewart).
Thompson, Bert (2000), “Is God Male?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/162.
Willis, John T (1993), “Women in the Old Testament,” Essays on Women in Earliest Christianity Volume 1, ed. Carroll Osburn (Joplin, MO: College Press).