Re: Cud-Chewing Hare (was Hyers' Article - Cods Wallop!)

From: <>
Date: Sun Feb 29 2004 - 02:25:31 EST

Dick Fischer wrote,

> I haven't studied rabbits personally. I did read that they have been known
> to munch on their own feces. Whether rabbit pellets would qualify as "cud"
> to a Hebrew writer, I have no idea.
> But let us say we could isolate a genuine biblical statement that was
> undeniably false and couldn't be attributable to a scribal gloss, or a miscopied
> letter, or anything other than the writer made a bona fide misstatement of
> fact. Would that not constitute solid evidence that Scripture was uninspired?
> Or should we conclude that the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writer, is just
> mistaken from time to time?

No, eating feces is not the same thing as chewing the cud. The Hebrew
actually says "brings back up the 'cud'" the same thing a cow does. Eating feces is
bringing back down, but not up: with hares there is no regurgitation which is
of the essence in the passage. Secondly, eating feces could not be the action
referred to because "chewing the cud", (bringing back up the cud) made the
animal clean, whereas eating feces would never be thought of as making an animal
clean. On the other hand, it is an understandable mistake in that hares' jaws
go from side to side when they are filing their incisors, and this looks just
like the jaws of a cud chewing cow; plus they file their incisors even when
being away from food just as cows sometimes chew the cud without food being near.

I think it is fair to say that this is a biological error in Scripture which
cannot be explained by appeal to a scribal gloss or textual transmission, etc.

Now, the paradigm you are following gives just two options, as you say: (1).
The statement is not inspired or (2). the Holy Spirit inspired it but makes
mistakes from time to time. Since every passage of Scripture is inspired
according to 2Tim 3:16, I do not buy the idea that this biological error proves the
verse is not inspired. Since the Holy Spirit does not make mistakes, I do not
buy the second option either. This is admittedly the box into which many if
not most "conservative" Evangelicals (and the skeptics/atheists) put God, but
the box is neither biblically nor logically sound. The box is syncretistic with
its ultimate shape coming from human reason rather than biblical revelation.
God is bigger than this box and is not constrained by it.

Nowhere does Scripture say or imply or any prophet, apostle, or Jesus say or
imply that inspiration includes the correction of the science of the times or
that one of the purposes of Scripture is to correct the science of the times.
God promised no such thing. When the Bible is used to correct science, it is
being prostituted. God never intended it to be used that way.

So, what is the deal? The deal is this: divine revelation in the OT did not
come to a people whose minds were blank like those of a baby. It came to a
people who already had an established culture with various ingrained cultural
ideas. One of those ideas was that the hare actually chewed the cud just like a
cow (the Romans incidentally thought there was a fish that chewed the cud just
like a cow). Another of those ideas was that a man had a moral right to divorce
a wife for reasons other than adultery. Both of these culturally ingrained
ideas show up in Scripture (Lev 11:6: Deut 24:1-4) _even though God knew
better_. Jesus addressed the latter compromise and said it was a concession to the
hardness of the human hearts of the times. (Matt 19:8).
We can address the former compromise on a similar basis: God had delegated
the discovery of scientific truth to mankind (Gen 1:26-28), knew the Hebrews
would eventually learn better, did not need to correct it in order to communicate
his revelation, indeed may have hindered his revelation by attempting a
correction, and accordingly chose to accommodate his revelation to _their_
ingrained scientific idea about hares (not his revealed idea). The passage is inspired
and the Holy Spirit did not make a mistake.

The concessions made in Scripture to divorce, slavery, women's equality, and
all manner of scientific issues ruin the nice, neat, absolute system that
human Reason wants to build to escape the relativities of walking with an
invisible God.

Received on Sun Feb 29 02:26:23 2004

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