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Answers to a Claim of
Errancy of the Scriptures
by Marion R. Fox


1995 / May-June



In his debate with Jerry Moffitt, Farrell Till made the claim that the Scriptures contain at least one error. His claim was based upon the assertion that the prohibition of Deuteronomy 23:2 would have prevented David from serving as king of Israel. This assertion will be examined in this brief treatise.

Common Errors Made by Atheists and Agnostics

Many of the arguments made for claims of errancy in the Scriptures are of two different forms, the first one being if p then q, not p, therefore not q. This argument contains the fallacy of denying the antecedent. The following argument illustrates this fallacy:

Both the first and second premises are true in this hypothetical syllogism, but the conclusion is not true. Some of the arguments of those who claim the Bible is errant are of this form. They argue the following:

The argument contains the fallacy of denying the antecedent.

The second basic argument of those who claim the Scriptures are errant is of the following form:

This argument also contains the fallacy of denying the antecedent. This is the kind of reasoning being done by many skeptics and modernists when they approach the Bible.

This fallacy was committed for a number of years in the form of the following argument:

Linked with this argument was the following argument:

It is evident that the Hittite nation existed and that the conclusion of the first hypothetical syllogism is unsound.

A Consideration of Deuteronomy 23:2

Farrell Till claims that the entrance of both David and Phinehas into the assembly of Yahweh were violations of Deuteronomy 23:3 (TSR, Spring 1994, pp. 7,12,16). There are several possible explanations of this passage that would not cause Yahweh to be violating His word by placing these men into leadership roles in the assembly.

The first explanation is that David might have been the generation that was allowed to enter the assembly (the tenth generation). Farrell claims that "the expression in the original Hebrew did not mean even to..." (Ibid.). Several translations render it as "even to" or an equivalent expression. These are the KJV, ASV, NASV, NIV, and NRSV. But, for the sake of argument, let it be given that the words "even to" should not be in the translation. Farrell must know that there are no gaps in the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 2:3-15. Farrell makes the following argument:

This argument is an excellent example of the fallacy of begging the question. In order to know that his argument is sound, Farrell must know that there are no gaps in the genealogy. Since gaps are common in the genealogies of the Bible, it is certainly possible that Farrell is wrong on this point.

The second explanation is derived from applying the logical principle of contraposition to the first premise of the argument of the prior paragraph. The first premise becomes, "If David serving as king is not a violation of Deuteronomy 23:2, then there are gaps in the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 2." This argument is based upon the assumption that Perez was a bastard. If it can be proven that Perez was not a bastard, this argument vanishes. The reader should note that the union of Boaz and Ruth is likened to the union of Judah and Tamar ( Ruth 4:10-12). Since the union of Boaz and Ruth was a levirate marriage (cf. Deuteronomy 25:5-10) and the union of Judah and Tamar was a parallel to the union of Boaz and Ruth, the union of Judah and Tamar was also a levirate marriage. According to the book of Ruth, the levirate marriage included more than a brother; it related to the near kinsman ( Ruth 2:20, 3:9-13, and 4:1ff.). Onan refused to perform the duty of the levirate marriage ( Gen. 38:8-10) and was punished by God. Judah promised Tamar that his other son Shelah would perform the duty ( Gen. 38:11), but he feared that Shelah would also die and did not keep his word. By this law, Tamar had the right to have a child by the next of kin, and if she had this right the child was not a bastard. Judah recognized that Tamar had the right to a child ( Gen. 38:26). In fact, the expression "knew her" is used for their sexual relations ( Gen. 38:26). This expression is commonly used to refer to sexual relations in marriage ( Gen. 4:1, 17, 25, etc.). A bastard, by definition, is one who is illegitimate (one born from an unlawful sexual union). In no instance does the Bible refer to their sexual union as adultery. I offer the following argument to prove that the argument of Farrell Till is unsound:

The third explanation is that God is not unrighteous in that He does not have any ex post facto (retroactive) laws. This type of law is prohibited by the constitution of the United States of America (Article I, Section 9). The interpretation of this passage set forth by Farrell Till requires that it be an ex post facto law. I offer the following evidence that Far- rell has begged the question in this matter:

The major premise is axiomatic, and the conclusion is what Farrell is attempting to prove. In order to prove the conclusion, Farrell must prove his minor premise. Where is his proof? He assumed it without a proof! He begged the question.

The fourth explanation is that Farrell must assume that the expression "enter into the congregation of the LORD" means to become a leader. Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Deuteronomy, lists other explanations of this expression.

The fifth explanation of Farrell's charge that Phinehas should have come under the ban is that Phinehas might not be a descendant of Perez. Farrell claims that Phinehas was a descendant of Perez. In order to know that Phinehas should not enter the assembly, Farrell must know, not just think, that Amminadab and Nahshon are the same persons in the genealogy of David. There were at least three men named Amminadab ( 1 Chron. 2:10, 6:22, and 15:10). Is it possible that the Amminadab of Exodus 6:23 is a fourth Amminadab? Or is it possible that the Amminadab of Exodus 6:23 is the same Amminadab of 1 Chronicles 6:22? In addition, Farrell must know that there are no gaps in the genealogy of Phinehas and Perez.

In conclusion, the argument set forth by Farrell Till is unsound. Perez was not a bastard, and all of Farrell's arguments on this matter are moot. He is guilty of the fallacies of begging the question and denying the antecedent. There is no contradiction in this passage, and a rational interpretation of this passage demonstrates that Farrell Till has failed to consider all possible solutions to the problem. In order to know that a contradiction exists, Farrell Till must know that all of the above explanations are wrong, not just think they are wrong or wish them to be wrong.

(Marion Fox, OKC School of Biblical Studies, 11826 S.E. 59th, Oklahoma City, OK73150.)
 



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