Tuesday, December 23, 2008

So Saul died for his transgression (1Sam 31)

Here in the final chapter of this book, the SAB has only one question: "How did Saul die?" The page pointing out the apparent inconsistency gives four possible answers. Now while one can easily dismiss the account of the Amalekite as a lie (after all, he had no witnesses, and apparently assumed that telling David that he had killed Saul would curry favor) I don't think it's necessary, and besides, preachers who cover that story rather like to point out the irony of Saul being killed by an Amalekite, since he was ordered by God to wipe them out and failed.

The thing is, all four of these explanations can be correct in a sense. As I've said before, in some sense, everyone gets killed by God, so no need to explain that. Saul was killed by the Philistines because he died while in battle with them, being struck a mortal blow by Philistine arrows. Knowing that he was as good as dead he endeavored to kill himself rather than be subjected to torture. It may be that he failed to kill himself, and the Amalekite ended up landing the final death blow upon Saul.

The battle is a resounding defeat, and Saul dies along with his three sons, and many of the troops. The next day, Saul's body is captured by the Philisties, who hang his head on the wall of the city of Bethshan.

7 comments:

Errancy said...

Interesting one this. It's not often that so many different accounts can be harmonised plausibly, but in this case I think I'm persuaded.

Brucker said...

I love the visual look of your site, and the one post I read so far seemed well-written. I'm guessing you don't mind if I link to you?

Errancy said...

I'd be delighted; please, go ahead...

If you'd like to help with the project of sifting better claims of error from worse by leaving your ratings for them, then you'd be more than welcome to do that too.

Brucker said...

"Ratings" is a tough concept. I think it's one of those things people really need to decide for themselves. Also, I thin kthere are two aspects to how serious a problem a passage poses, and I'm not sure what you're rating. On one hand, a passage may suggest an error that is either not an error at all, or a clear-cut error that is impossible to deal with. On the other hand, there are errors that are issues of no consequence or issues that pose serious problems.

For instance, the error you have right now at the top of your page is concerning the age of Ahaziah. It's a good example of an error that one simply must shrug and say "It's a scribal error, and no soolution is likely to come of it." Furthermore, since it technically contradicts another verse logically that's a real problem. However, as to the second consideration, I'm not really highly concerned with Ahaziah's age, so it doesn't bother me.

If you're a strict inerrantist, of course every error is a serious one. Clearly, I'm not.

Errancy said...

The intention is to have people rate the claims of error according to how problematic they are for inerrancy. If there's a clear error that disproves biblical inerrancy, that's a 10. If two supposedly inconsistent verses don't conflict at all, that's a 1. If a case isn't clear, then it's somewhere in between.

I'm less interested in the raw numbers (which will be skewed depending on whether the site attracts more inerrantists or skeptics) than in the relative numbers. Someone who rates all errors between 1 and 3 (or between 8 and 10) may skew the raw numbers, but they're still indicating which claims of error are most persuasive. What I really want to see is what rises to the top, as that's where the debate should be focused.

For what it's worth, I understand inerrancy to relate to the original autographs (if God protected translations against error, then I would have found my NT Greek exams much easier), and so rate scribal errors as a 1.

Brucker said...

...if God protected translations against error, then I would have found my NT Greek exams much easier...

That gave me a hearty laugh!

Depending on how mathematically inclined you are, and how ambitious as well, I've seen sites that have impresssive methods for weighting ratings. If someone never rates higher than a four, and suddenly they rate something a six, you might consider that like someone else's ten. I don't know the formulas, though.

Errancy said...

I need a lot more data before any complicated maths is worthwhile, but yes, that does interest me. Any pointers you can give me would be very welcome.