27 Feb 2011

Know the Word

Religious 19 Comments

Today in church they went over one of my favorite Bible stories, when a 12-year-old Jesus was found asking questions of the teachers of the Law. I love that story because it indicates that Jesus didn’t come out of the womb omniscient, but was fully man and had to grow into His role.

This reminds me of another point I’ve been meaning to mention, which is the importance of the Law. I confess that when I decided to roll up my sleeves and read the Bible cover to cover (after becoming a born-again Christian), I had a hard time getting through Deuteronomy. The other stuff was fun, albeit with some slow parts, but come on Deuteronomy just seemed like an agonizing list of arbitrary rules. And yet look what happened when Jesus faced off against Satan himself:

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”[a]
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘ He shall give His angels charge over you,’


‘ In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”[b]

7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”[c]
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you,[d] Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”[e]
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.


1. Matthew 4:4 Deuteronomy 8:3
2. Matthew 4:6 Psalm 91:11, 12
3. Matthew 4:7 Deuteronomy 6:16
4. Matthew 4:10 M-Text reads Get behind Me.
5. Matthew 4:10 Deuteronomy 6:13

So notice two things. First, Satan quotes Scripture in an attempt to trick Jesus, so you’d better know it inside and out. Second, all three of the passages that Jesus uses to defend Himself come from the book of Deuteronomy.

It’s a good thing that 12-year-old had a longer attention span than I do.

19 Responses to “Know the Word”

  1. Skyler Collins says:

    A bit of trivia for you. We Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was tasked as a prophet of God to make corrections to the Bible where corrections needed to be made. These changes are known as the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, or the JST.

    One of those corrections was in Luke 2:46. The corrected verse reads, “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, and they were hearing him, and asking him questions.”

    This is quite the change when you consider it’s implications. I thought I’d share that bit of Mormon trivia.

    (More on the JST can be found here: http://lds.org/scriptures/gs/joseph-smith-translation-jst?lang=eng&letter=j)

    • Daniel Hewitt says:

      Now that, I did not know before. Did Joseph Smith leave any rationale as to why he chose to make each individual change that he did in his own translation?

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        A question that could be posed to Luke himself, while we’re at it.

        I wouldn’t hold your breath for an answer 🙂

        • Daniel Hewitt says:

          Well, Luke was written after Mark, and does indeed have some differences. And Luke is believed to have used a unique source (Q) from Mark. But one could say these things about Smith’s translation too, I suppose.

          On a slightly related note, I had to go back and check BibleGateway to see if it had the “JSV” on its drop down list of translations, and maybe I just didn’t notice it all this time. It’s not there. So it looks like I am not unobservant, just ignorant. Not sure if that’s the better of the two!

      • RobertH says:

        Joseph Smith wrote about all sorts of factually and historically incorrect things (plants, animals, technology, cities, currency, etc.) that I do not think a single thing he wrote has any merit in Christianity.

      • Skyler Collins says:

        It is believed that these changes were made by direct revelation from God. In other words, God, specifically, Jesus Christ, revealed to him the changes that needed to be made. Considering that it is also believed that the Book of Mormon was translated through divine revelation, and the Doctrine & Covenants being a collection of “thus saith the Lords”, it’s not really a stretch to believe the JST was also received by revelation. Is it?

        And for the record, I am a devout Mormon. ^_^.

        • Daniel Hewitt says:

          Yeah, I thought you might say that Skyler. But as Daniel K correctly noted above, Luke and Matthew’s gospels were a bit different than Mark’s and they used the non-canonical Q as a source. Yet they also claim divine revelation. So no, the concept of divine revelation itself is not a stretch.

          For the specific case of Smith’s revisions and his writings, those should be scrutinized in the same manner that the traditional canonical writings were to assess their legitimacy. I’m afraid that I’m ignorant on this topic, I don’t know much about Mormonism.

  2. Anon says:

    This might be the wrong thread for this question, but is the evidence that Jesus existed and performed miracles any better than the evidence that David Copperfield transformed Bobo the Elephant into Peter the Panda?

    • RobertH says:

      For a skeptical non-Christian historian that thinks Jesus existed you can look at Bart Ehrman. He surprises non-believers frequently, one time saying, “I am surprised people think I don’t believe Jesus existed, I wrote a book about what he said and if he didn’t exist he couldn’t have said anything!”

      For Christian Historian who goes very very indepth you can look into Michael Licona and Gary Habermas.

      • Anon says:

        Thanks for the info!

        I found a debate between Ehrman and Licona on the historicity of the resurrection. Ehrman blew Licona out of the water (in my opinion), and he didn’t even bring up the obvious point that the author(s) of Paul and the Gospels could have been mistaken or lying (like so many others who have made supernatural claims throughout the history of humanity).
        Here’s the debate (in four parts), if you’re interested.

        Part 1:


        Part 2:


        Part 3:


        Part 4:


      • Anon says:

        Here’s a debate between Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Arif Ahmed (atheist) on the resurrection (near the top of the page: “Debate at Cambridge University”):


        I didn’t find Dr. Habermas to be particularly compelling. His main argument was that a resurrection is more likely than multiple people hallucinating. I would dispute that point, but more importantly, he never addressed the question of whether a resurrection is more likely than the Pauline and Gospel texts containing falsehoods (purposeful or otherwise).

        • RobertH says:

          I have watched the Licona & Ehrman debates. I do not think Licona is near as good a debater as say William Lane Craig, who almost always blows his opponents out of the water, even on the resurrection. Licona is a really good writer, however.

          William Craig & Ehrman have debated at least once, I believe.

          Actually, according to historians (such as Ehrman) these people do not discount the writings of Paul and several other writings. Licona and Habermas have several books on the resurrection (as well as articles) that, if you really want to dig in, will give you more information than you can imagine is out there (I know, happened to me!).

          This link I think you will find surprising! It is Ehrman talking to another skeptic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRx0N4GF0AY (that is just part 1)

          • Anon says:

            Thanks for the link!

            Did you notice this interesting exchange at 8:45?

            Infidel Guy: What do you think about Dr. Bob Price?

            Ehrman: Don’t know him.

            IG: You don’t know Dr. Robert M. Price?

            E: He’s the guy who denies Jesus existed?

            IG: … yes.

            E: Yeah… uh, I mean… I… I don’t think he… uh… I mean… he’s not… I don’t, I don’t really know him, no…

            IG: Hmm… Interesting.

            E: Why… why would I?

            THEN… 15 seconds of conversation later…

            Ehrman: Yeah, he’s actually communicated with me.

        • RobertH says:

          Here is one of the debates:


          That’s I think the first one, and it is the complete one.

          • Anon says:

            Thanks for the debate link! I just watched it.

            Yeah, William Craig is much more intelligent than Licona, but their arguments are essentially the same: they site Christian texts as evidence for Christian claims.

            By the miracle of circular reasoning, the claims serve as their own evidence. Paul said that Jesus rose from the dead. And what’s the evidence for this? Paul said it.

            Pardon me for being underwhelmed.

        • RobertH says:

          If you are underwhelmed it is only because you are not paying close enough attention and you caricatured/strawmanned the argument. They are treating the NT texts as normal ancient documents not as the inspired word of God. They are not saying because the texts say the resurrection happened that it therefore happened. Instead, they are saying that the followers had a sincere belief in Jesus’ post-mortem appearance which gives high plausibility to the resurrection of Jesus. Especially when considering Paul, who was a well-off Pharisee that persecuted the Christians! You have to apply the historical approach to answer the historical criteria and nothing fits it better than the resurrection actually happened.

          Yeah, I thought the part about Bob Price was interesting. Maybe Bart didn’t remember the name off the top of his head? I don’t know.

          • RobertH says:

            Oh, wanted to add: glad you liked the link.

  3. Kyle says:

    Bob Murphy, have you ever read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?