If Judith be canonical

…then inerrancy must be abandoned.  Consider the chronology:

We have a seventh century B.C. Assyria, under the rule of a sixth century Chaldean (Babylonian) king, invading a fifth century restored Judah, with an army led by a fourth century Persian general (Holofernes was the Persian general under Artaxerxes III in the successful campaign against Egypt in the fourth century B.C.). In truth, no major attacks were made on Jerusalem while under Persian rule in the fifth and fourth centuries (an unprecedented period of peace for war-weary Canaan).

Similar problems can be leveled at Tobith.   Anchorites have tried to exonerate these two books, but their attempts prove my point.  Jimmy Akin suggests either (1) the errors are traced to bad manuscripts, or (2) they are fairy tales.  The problem with (1) is that Akin gives us no examples of this being the case, nor does he list any scholars who take that position.  (I am not an expert on apocryphal manuscript traditions, but I doubt many are; I have, however, read a good bit on the Apocrypha and for a time argued for it, and I never came across that claim.  There are no doubt minor manuscript variances–that is true with any document.  What the Anchorite needs to show, though, is that there is a significant error or variation at this particular point.  No argument was given, though).   Affirming (2) effectively concedes the point.  You can’t hold to inerrancy and call key parts of the Bible, which are presented as history, fairy tales.

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12 comments on “If Judith be canonical

  1. Eric Castleman says:

    If this argument is valid, then Joshua needs to be thrown out as well, since the genocide of the Canaanites has no historical truth outside of scripture – however – if we read both Joshua, and Judith in regards of hyperbole/exaggeration, then they make sense, and, are and Orthodox reading of the OT, not a reformed reading.

  2. There is a difference between historical contradiction and dearth of outside corresponding evidence. I have shown that Judith is the former; you assert Joshua is the latter. The problem with Judith/Tobit is not hyperbole. Hyperbole in OT books is like saying, “Our army faced and slew 100,000 thousand men,” when in actual fact it was around 70,000. That’s not what Judith is asserting.

  3. Eric Castleman says:

    There isn’t evidence for one death that is recorded in Joshua, in fact, historians say it is impossible to have ever happened.

    • I am aware of some of their assertions. The irony with evidence is that the nature of evidence is itself one of the things presupposed. They say “impossible;” well, the very word “impossible” begs certain questions. What I see them as saying is that there is no evidence of a Hitlerite genocide happening all at once between Israel and Canaan, and they are probably correct. Notwithstanding, those claims are representative of an older liberal scholarship which has been thoroughly answered in the past few generations.

  4. Eric Castleman says:

    It is Hyperbole- in that, destroying the opposing outsiders, is likened to a basketball player saying “we destroyed the other team”.

  5. Eric Castleman says:

    But, how does it escape the same criticism? Reformed theology has no issues with the reading of Joshua. They wouldn’t read Joshua as hyperbole. Secondly, reformed theology sees inspiration as monergistic, and impossible of error. Calvin argues that the contradictions in the gospels are purposely done by God so that we would remain our focus on Christ, and not the apostles as perfect. It is infallible error. Why can’t I read Judith the same way? It seems like a double standard. We have Christ being prepared for the crucifixion in to different gospels on two different days. We also have historical evidence stating that the said rulers of the time did not execute anyone like Jesus. But, those things are not reasons for the rejection of one gospel account, or another, so why is Judith held to a different standard?

    My position is this: If I relied on historians, I would/wouldn’t be a Christian depending on the time I lived in, because they are continually proving themselves wrong all of the time. For instance- Michael Horton to this day argues that the churches in India were founded by the Monophysites, and argues that the tradition in regards to Christianity in India is false. He cites that the rules of the time never existed, which historians did say until they found coins with the said ruler on them. Horton just doesn’t tell anyone that, or doesn’t care to research it. So, just because historians haven’t found a black swan, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

    • I will try to address your questions, though they really weren’t phrased as such, so if I miss the point it’s because I didn’t see it.

      1. ****Reformed theology has no issues with the reading of Joshua. They wouldn’t read Joshua as hyperbole.***

      I don’t see the problem here.

      2. ****Secondly, reformed theology sees inspiration as monergistic, and impossible of error. ****

      The second clause is true, but not the first one. No consevative evangelical scholar today sees inspiration as entirely monergistic. Ironically, your criticism does hit the Council of Trent head on, for they formed their view of inspiration in precisely those terms.

      3. ****Calvin argues that the contradictions in the gospels are purposely done by God so that we would remain our focus on Christ, and not the apostles as perfect. It is infallible error.****

      It seems like you confused Karl Barth for Calvin. Do you have a source? If it is true, then so what? I have an easy out: Calvin was wrong.

      ****Why can’t I read Judith the same way? It seems like a double standard.****

      You are welcome to, though you would be open to the same criticism as Calvin.

      4. ****We have Christ being prepared for the crucifixion in to different gospels on two different days.***

      Difference is not the same as contradiction, which is what is necessary for you to prove. I thought that given your reading of Maximus, you would have known that.

      5. ****We also have historical evidence stating that the said rulers of the time did not execute anyone like Jesus. ****

      Josephus says they did. Secular historical evidence is sketchy at best, as even jaded textual critics will admit.

      6. *****If I relied on historians, I would/wouldn’t be a Christian depending on the time I lived in, because they are continually proving themselves wrong all of the time. ****

      Okay. That’s good to know.

      7. **** For instance- Michael Horton to this day argues that the churches in India were founded by the Monophysites, and argues that the tradition in regards to Christianity in India is false. He cites that the rules of the time never existed, which historians did say until they found coins with the said ruler on them. Horton just doesn’t tell anyone that, or doesn’t care to research it. So, just because historians haven’t found a black swan, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.****

      Okay, that’s good to know.

  6. You asked me originally one question, but then springboarded into about fifteen different issues.

  7. Eric Castleman says:

    I was trying to flesh out my point. My original point went down other paths after you answered.

    Points 6 and 7 are important, in that, they show that your argument could be proven invalid some day, if it is even considered true by scholars today. Which leads me to wonder; where a you getting this from? I hope not the 19th century. So, as time goes on, if we relied on what people sy about the history of the texts, we would either be rejecting one book, and accepting another that was rejected previously for the same reasons.

    The Josephus reference isn’t used in any open forum on discussions on the existence of Jesus Christ, because it is so ambiguous. Bart Erhman is currently arguing for the existence of Jesus against the Mythicists, and he has no ground to stand on. Check those debates out.

    As for point 1- but, history says that your view is wrong, if you read it that way, since nobody was killed, as it seems to imply in Joshua.

    As for Calvin, his states this in his commentaries. I also think he mentions it in the institutes. However, why can’t I just say you are wrong?

    My point is, that if Calvin can push aside this problem with the gospels, why can’t we. Tough, I don’t take that line of thinking like Calvin, I just don’t see how such a criticism can be made against Judith can be made, when the gospels can be rejected on the same basis.

    We know that certain parts of the gospels were added after the 3rd century. We know that two gospels give two different days for when Christ prepared for the crucifixion. Those aren’t differences within the same idea, but two different ideas.

    • ***they show that your argument could be proven invalid some day, if it is even considered true by scholars today. Which leads me to wonder; where a you getting this from? I hope not the 19th century. So, as time goes on, if we relied on what people sy about the history of the texts, we would either be rejecting one book, and accepting another that was rejected previously for the same reasons. ***

      Sure, my argument could be proven invalid one day. Actually, it won’t. It could be proven false, but not invalid, since my implied premises are sound. I am open to the fact that future explanations might work. That is certainly possible. I have not read 19th century scholarship on the Apocrypha. My specific argument came from a recent essay I read this summer, but that essay simply summarized the standard objections to Judith.

      ***As for point 1- but, history says that your view is wrong, if you read it that way, since nobody was killed, as it seems to imply in Joshua.***

      Again, that begs the question on historical sources. Those “histories” are simply filtering evidence they do not like. But I’m familar with the objection. Standard responses to it are along the lines that the Israelites destroyed military outposts, etc., etc. In any case, what most fail to realize, is that the Biblical texts itself say that Israel didn’t kill that many people (which is why she had all the problems with idolatry later).

      ****My point is, that if Calvin can push aside this problem with the gospels, why can’t we. Tough, I don’t take that line of thinking like Calvin, I just don’t see how such a criticism can be made against Judith can be made, when the gospels can be rejected on the same basis. ****

      Again, that sounds more like Barth than it does calvin. Why can’t we? I suppose we “could,” but the better question is “should?” The difficulty with Judith is not the same as with the gospels, as Romanists like Jimmy Akin admit. For all of the differences in the gospels, no gospel is saying Jesus was killed under the reign of Nebuchanezzar for advocating a return to the tabernacle at Shiloh, which is the closest parallel in structure.

  8. […] shouldn’t be canonical.  I responded with the typical answer that Judith and Tobit are historical nonsense.  He deleted my response and told me it was […]

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