5.17.2007

Levitical Law and the Inspiration of Scripture

My brother and I had a two-hour long phone conversation last night about the nature of Scripture. It started at the creation account and whether or not it was necessary to believe in a literal 6-day creation timeline. Many scholars believe the "days" aren't actual 24-hr days, but are actually longer periods of time that would allow for God to have created the universe using some form of evolution. Jason and I both agree that the Bible is referring to a literal 6-day creation, but I stated that I don't have a problem with the alternative theory because it really doesn't affect my faith if the world was created in 6 days or 6,000,000 years. Jason, however, takes the issue much more seriously. He thinks it brings into question the inerrancy of Scripture if you don't believe in a literal 6 days.

The conversation then moved to Levitical law. Now if you've ever read Leviticus you know that there are some pretty crazy things in there. For instance, when a woman was on her period she was declared unclean and had to live outside the camp for a certain period of time. There were also rules that declared a man unclean if he encountered, how shall I say it, "night emissions". Anyway, according to Leviticus these laws were passed from God to Moses. Now these hygiene-type laws are understandable when you consider that this more primitive culture didn't have the same knowledge of health and hygiene that we currently have. But God did. So if these laws came from God and he is all-knowing why would he make these people take seemingly unnecessary precautions? If these laws really came from God as Leviticus states, why aren't we still following them. God is unchanging, even though we're living under the new revelation of Christ now. It seems to me that a law from God himself would be pretty binding.

All this to ask, is it possible that some of the Levitical laws weren't actually from God, but just laws that the Israelites came up with on their own and lumped in with the ones that came directly from God?

I'm not saying I believe that. It's just one of those questions that keep me up at night if I think too hard about it. Let me know your thoughts on this (just for the sake of conversation).

5 comments:

jacob said...

my initial reaction to that last idea you presented would be to say that leaves a crack open for the errancy of scripture. just sounds a little fishy. good thought though.

Jeff Myers said...

Jacob - I hear you. And again I'm not saying I believe that. I definitely believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. It's just one of those questions that nags at me occasionally. Like what does it mean that God wrestled with Jacob and Jacob won? Things that make you go...hmmmm.
Jeff

Eric Neill said...

As a non-Christian who has spent many an intriguing hour discussing such things with your brother Jason, allow me to offer another idea:

Perhaps God changes his mind from time to time about what is sinful. We can be fairly sure this happened at least one time in the Bible, in the case of incest. At one time, it was not a sin (how else did God expect Adam and Eve's children to go forth and multiply), later it was. Somewhere along the way, God saw fit to change the rules about which relationships were proper.
Perhaps the anomolies you site with Levitical Law could tie in to that in some way.

This solution doesn't contradict an inerrant Bible, although I admit it does create other problems relating to God's eternal judgement.

I don't claim to have any answers... but I too spend a lot of time considering this stuff.

Enjoy the blog.

Jeff Myers said...

Eric - You offer an interesting perspective. There are certainly cultural taboos of Biblical peoples that we would dismiss today. As for the incest thing - necessity sometimes trumps acceptable behavior I suppose. Then again, perhaps the actual location of Eden is somewhere in Arkansas.
Jeff

Anonymous said...

Remeber that Scripture is written through the hands of man, and the Bible as we know it today was compiled a long time ago. There are really more books of the Bible, such as Enoch, Maccabees, Tibet, etc. They were seperated from "inspired" Scripture by priests that felt that they were not inspired. These books are now known as apocrypha, and are some of the most interesting books I have ever read. Did you know that Jude makes a reference to the book of Enoch?