Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Did Abraham know God as Yahweh?

One of the things we’ve been talking about on the Bible Answer Man broadcast of late is Bart Ehrman and his attempt to cause people to doubt the veracity of Scripture. He is the chair of the Religious Studies department at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, but suffers from simplistic, close-minded, black/white stereotypical fundamentalism. He is now, unfortunately, receiving a wide audience in the media, and shaking the faith of Christians—as he claims too and he’s proud of it. He does this though with very simplistic reasoning that might sound good on the surface, but after a little probing, demonstrates that the supposed conundrums that he raises are not problems at all.

For example, an alleged contradiction that he brings up involves God’s progressive revelation of all that is imbued in His name. Ehrman says, “In the book of Exodus, God tell Moses, ‘I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD [=Yahweh] I did not make myself known to them’ (Ex. 6:3) How does this square with what is found earlier in Genesis, where God does make himself known to Abraham as the LORD (Gen. 15:7)?”[1] So Ehrman is asking, did Abraham know God as Yahweh or not?

Now what Ehrman considers a problem, I would submit is a profound and glorious truth, because implicit in the name of “Yahweh” is the profundity that we as mere mortals perceive God progressively in the performance of His promises. Abraham caught a glimmer of that reality when the infinite I AM brought him from Ur of the Chaldeans. For Abraham, God was indeed the Almighty provider and sustainer (the meaning of El Shaddai in Gen. 17:1), though the promises God made to Abraham remained largely unfulfilled. Moses experienced the glorious revelation of Yahweh, the eternal “I AM that I AM” in a progressively greater and I would say more intimate way which culminates in the literal awesome exodus out of the land of Egypt. Yahweh’s deliverance of His people manifested ever more clearly His enabling power and enduring presence.

As those of Ehrman’s students who have grappled with Jewish law know full well, the words of the Torah are at once deceptively simple, yet deeply profound. Because of that, a wooden literalist is rendered impotent to grasp its profundities. Contra Ehmran a subtle and sublime sophistication is at work in the Torah and certainly with respect to the divine name.

Let me make one more point—I want to say this as forthrightly as I can—there’s an unsettling lesson to be learned in the questions that Bart Ehrman raises ad nauseum ad infinitum. If we harden our hearts against divine revelation, the very words of Yahweh will become to us an indecipherable parable that can’t be understood. Jesus put it this way, “They may be ever seeing but never perceiving and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven!” (Mark 4:12, NIV).

God’s revelation, bottom line, is either an occasion to receive and be healed, or to reject and be hardened. No one remains unaffected. But make no mistake about it, Bart Ehrman has not uncovered some alleged inconsistencies in the Bible that other people haven’t been able to find before. These are the same old problems regurgitated now by Professor Ehrman in the popular media and people who are not easily conversant with how to read the Bible for all it’s worth, who are not equipped to answer the objections he throws at their feet.

For further information on alleged Bible inconsistencies, please check out The Complete Bible Answer Book and The Bible Under Siege both available at our website of or by calling 1-888-275-4265.


Cathy Gale said...

I have a question, which perhaps you can answer on your next show. I'm an atheist, and I can't make it very far in the Bible without being turned off by it. One thing that really stunned me was the story of Moses and the ten curses of Egypt. In the Bible *I* read, the Pharaoh always decides to let Moses and his people go, but then God *hardens his heart* so that he changes his mind. After nine times of Pharaoh deciding to let the people go and God changing his mind for him, after immense suffering by the Egyptians, God lets Pharaoh finally let the Isrealites go. What's up with that? Kind of sadistic, I always thought. Now, I brought this up on a religous message board, and someone else had a bible where God did *not* harden Pharoah's heart. So, which translation is correct? And ifthe God hardened Pharoah's heart translation is correct, is there any justification for that?

Then of ourse there's Joshua 11, verse 20: For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses.

So God creates all these people, selects the Jews as his "chosen ones" then goes about "hardening people's hearts" so they'll go about attacking the Jews so He can kill 'em all!!!


Boris said...

How about Judges 11 where God demands and receives the human sacrifice of the Israelite general's daughter? Hank has about the most ridiculous pack of lies he tells in defense of this story. But the fact is that Yahweh (the Bible God) set up rules for human sacrifice in Leviticus: "No human beings who have been devoted to destruction can be ransomed; they shall be put to death" - Leviticus 27:29.

As far as the best English translations of the Bible they are the NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), a Catholic Bible and the NWT (New World Translation), the Bible of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Unlike most Bibles these two translate the OT directly from the original Hebrew instead of the Greek Septuagint. The NRSV and some others do also but the NJB and NWT use the divine name for God, Yahweh or Jehovah, instead of the Christianized "the LORD." This gets you up close and personal with the most evil character in all of fiction, the God of the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Cathy just imagine if there is a God who judges people upon their death and you were a Christian apologist promoting these absurd stories about God in the Bible. Would you want to be Hank Hanegraaf on that judgment day and have to explain why you told people all those stories about God in the Bible were true.

God: "Hank why did you tell all those people I did all those crimes described in that stupid Bible of yours? Why did you make promises about me I have no intention of keeping? For this you will be punished in a special place I've reserved just for Christians I call Hell. Now go join your heroes Martin Luther and Adolph Hitler. Away with you liar! Oh yeah, I never knew you."

Anonymous said...

Abraham knew Christ as Yahweh.

Lilorfnannie said...

Hank, no offense meant but you seriously need to install better filters and start monitoring your comments.

家出掲示板 said...