Re: 2:7-8 and Contradictions?

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Wed Sep 24 1997 - 05:52:59 EDT

Andrew Kulikovsky wrote,

>On Tue, 23 Sep 1997, Jim Beale wrote:

>> Hi Paul,
>> The logic is not the problem. Logic deals with propositions in
>> formal language. The problem is that the Bible is not written in
>> formal language. It must be exegeted from a natural language into
>> formal language. And there is the rub. The local context must be
>> determinative of the meaning.

>I have to agree with Jim here. There seems to be a great tendency to try
>and apply rigid rules of logic to the biblical text as if it is some
>kind of mathematical formal specificication.

>As a software engineer I am often given specifications of processes or
>systems written in natural language and am expected to come up with a
>software solution. But even the best, most clearly and concisely
>written specs (often done by experts in the field) are still not
>logically consistent and are still ambiguous (I'm sure other software
>engineers on this list have had the same experience. Natural language apart
>from context can not communicate the precision demanded by formal logic.
>For years researchers have tried to come up ways to express
>program designs in a formal language - but for other than trivial
>programs, it is easier to write the program than it is to express the
>design in a formal language.

>The Biblical text is far more complex than a trivial program - it just
>doesn't fit the formal logic box - that doesn't mean what it says is
>illogical - just that it is not expressed using formal logic.

>Now, where logic should be applied is to interpretations of the
>scripture. I'm sure we all read lots of commentaries and articles where the
>arguments contain logical fallicies, hidden presuppositions or completely
>baseless ones.

Dear Andrew,

Have you ever tried to explain colours to one who is born blind? It would
be difficult indeed. Perhaps we could let him smell different flowers and
say that just as flowers have different odours which can be detected by the
nose, so objects have different characteristics called colours which can be
detected by the eyes. It would not be of much help but it is the best we
can offer.

We are born blind as respects the world where spirit beings are (1 Cor
13:12), and to give us a vague impression of this world, objects from our
world of three dimensions are used. But God does not consist of gold and
gems and angels don`t have wings. The language expressing the three
dimensions is the natural language of the time, and there usually are no
paradoxes. Thus the problem is not that the langugae is not formal, but the
fact that we are "blind" regarding this particular world.

Most of the contents of the Bible relates to our world. There is nothing
special with most of the language used in the Bible compared with the
everyday language of the time when the different books were written. People
don`t intentionally use paradoxes in their communication with others, so we
should not expect to find paradoxes or inconsistencies inside one
particular book, say 1 John. Only when there is no other logical
explanation available should we see a paradox. I am in line with Paul Dixon

The problem, therefore,is not the nature of the biblical language - it was
understood by the people of the first century in spite of occational
problems (2 Pet 3:16)- but the problem is our modern presupposition pool
which is coloured by our theology. Read in the light of this presupposition
pool there are paradoxes and inconsistencies. It is impossible to read the
Bible in a "neutral" way, but we should try as much as possible to come to
grip with the presupposition pool of the Christians, Jews and Greeks of the
first century. With some knowledge of this pool we can apply our logic
directly to the biblical text.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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