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Recently, I had a friend tag me on Facebook to an article that had been shared on a public page asking me my thoughts on it. The article was listed on FB as “22 Weird Things You Never Noticed in the Bible” but when I clicked on the link, the article title is “Things You Won’t Believe in the Bible” while the webpage heading in the browser is “22 Controversial Bible Verses That Lead to Much Debate”. After I replied to my friend’s tag, addressing each item, I thought that it would also make a great series of blog posts, so here goes.

Some of these actually aren’t controversial and some of these are arguments that atheists or skeptics use. The 22 points of the article are:

1. Unicorns Are Mentioned Not Once, but Many Times Throughout the Bible
2. Eve’s Apple Incident Wasn’t Why She and Adam Were Kicked Out of Eden
3. Many of the Names in Gensis Incorporate the Ancient Hebrew Name for ‘God’
4. The Bible Revealed That the Earth Is Round Thousands of Years Ago
5. Your Mental Image of God May Actually Be of an Ancient Canaanite Storm Deity
6. Christ Probably Couldn’t Have Even Pronounced the Name “Jesus”
7. The Bible May Not Be as Sexist as It Seems
8. “Biblical Marriage” May Not Mean What You Think
9. Certain Divination and Fortune-Telling Techniques Are Actually Condoned in the Bible
10. The Magi May Have Had a Much Longer Journey Than You’d Think
11. “Ye Shall Not Add Unto the Word Which I Command You.”
12. God Never Actually Promised Not to Give Us More Than We Can Handle
13. Not Every Part of the Bible Was Intended for Everyone
14. Sodom May Not Have Been Destroyed for the Reasons You Think
15. God Had to Re-Do the Ten Commandments After Moses Broke the First Drafts
16. Many Biblical Heroes Weren’t Exactly Upstanding Citizens
17. There are Two Different Creation Stories in Genesis
18. The Bible Hates Judgey People Just as Much as You Do
19. None of the Ways We Imagine the Devil Are Biblical
20. Noah Was Old. Like Really Old.
21. Jesus Christ Had Nothing at All to Say Against Homosexuality
22. Before You Condemn Islam As Violent…

Some of these aren’t really controversial while others are actually taken out of context or don’t tell the full story. To cover all 22 and keep each blog within my self-imposed blog length, this will take 5 posts to cover. Today’s blog will cover 1 through 7.

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  1. Unicorns Are Mentioned Not Once, but Many Times Throughout the Bible

Though most modern translations have since replaced it with other words, the King James Version uses the term “unicorn” a staggering number of times.

Isaiah 34:7- “And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”

Psalm 22:21- “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”

Deuteronomy 33:17- “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns.”

The mythical creatures are also mentioned in Psalm 92: 10, Psalm 29:6, Job 39:9-12, Numbers 24:8, Numbers 23:22.

The article is only showing half the story. Yes, unicorns are mentioned in the King James translation. Which was translated in the 17th century, when the word unicorn was applied to rhinoceros. This article, Why Does The Bible Mention Unicorns?,explains this in more detail.

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2. Eve’s Apple Incident Wasn’t Why She and Adam Were Kicked Out of Eden

Though many people believe that Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden because Eve couldn’t keep her curiosity (or hunger) in check at the Tree of Knowledge, their banishment was actually meant to keep them from eating from a second, often overlooked tree called “The Tree of Life.”

In Genesis 3:22-23, God implies that now that humanity knew of the existence of good and evil, the last thing He wanted was them taking a chomp out of the Tree of Life’s fruit – which would’ve made them immortal – until He could tell which side they were going to come down on.

In reality, this doesn’t seem too off base.

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3. Many of the Names in Gensis Incorporate the Ancient Hebrew Name for ‘God’

In Exodus 6:3, God tells Moses that He appeared to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob using the name El Shaddai (which means ‘God Almighty’). He did not reveal Himself to them by the name “Yahweh.”

Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that many of the names of the characters in Genesis incorporate the term ‘El.”

For instance: Ishma-EL, Ab-EL, and Isra-EL. It was also incorporated into the names of all the archangels, such as Gabri-EL, Micha-EL, and Rapha-EL.

This isn’t controversial.

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4. The Bible Revealed That the Earth Is Round Thousands of Years Ago

Though it was believed for most of history that the earth was flat, Isaiah 40:22 specified that the Earth was round (or a “circle”) thousands of years before humanity realized it was actually true.

I believe Astrophysicist Hugh Ross as well as other commentators say this as well. However, the issue with this one is the “thousands of years before humanity realized it was actually true” statement. This seems to give credence to the flat earth myth, or as even Wikipedia puts it:

Beginning in the 19th century, a historical myth arose which held that the predominant cosmological doctrine during the Middle Ages was that the Earth was flat. An early proponent of this myth was the American writer Washington Irving, who maintained that Christopher Columbus had to overcome the opposition of churchmen to gain sponsorship for his voyage of exploration. Later significant advocates of this view were John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White, who used it as a major element in their advocacy of the thesis that there was a long lasting and essential conflict between science and religion. Subsequent studies of medieval science have shown that most scholars in the Middle Ages, including those read by Christopher Columbus, maintained that the Earth was spherical. Some studies of the historical connections between science and religion have demonstrated that theories of their mutual antagonism ignore examples of their mutual support.

And this article from the History channel, Christopher Columbus Never Set Out to Prove the Earth was Round, even says this:

That was thanks to scientists, philosophers and mathematicians who, as early as around 600 B.C., made observations that Earth was round. Using calculations based on the sun’s rise and fall, shadows and other physical properties of the planet, Greek scholars like Pythagoras and Aristotle determined that the planet is actually a sphere.

Isaiah was written between 740 and 700 BC. So not thousands of years later, but maybe a century later.

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5. Your Mental Image of God May Actually Be of an Ancient Canaanite Storm DeityMuch of our modern day imagery of God as an old man with a long beard was originally borrowed from an ancient Canaanite storm god who was also known as El (God), Il, or sometimes Latipan.

He was known as the Father God of a pantheon of smaller Canaanite gods, and was often depicted as a wise old man with a long flowing beard whose throne sat on top of a mountain surrounded by clouds. Sound familiar?

When I read this accusation, I can’t help but think of how Monty Python portrayed God in The Holy Grail. But in reality, God is beginningless, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, enormously powerful Personal Creator of the universe.

At its essence, the claim from the article is the claim that God was copied from ancient myths, claiming that He was copied specifically from an ancient Canaanite storm deity. Cross Examined has this blog, Was the God of the Bible Copied From Ancient Myths, deals with that issue.

I should also point out the Zeus resembles the description of Latipan as well, so did they copy from each other? Just because there are similarities doesn’t imply copying. As I wrote in this blog, Was Jesus Based on Myths Like Horus and Osiris, just because there are similarities doesn’t imply copying or fiction, because using that logic, you could write away the sinking of the Titanic (as a fiction book very similar to it was written before it happened), President John F Kennedy (who bears a LOT of similarities with President Lincoln), and 9/11 (as there was a B1 bomber that struck one of the towers about 50 years before with many similar details).

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6. Christ Probably Couldn’t Have Even Pronounced the Name “Jesus”

Though Christians around the world know the Christ of the Bible as “Jesus,” this not only was not His actual name, but it was a name He probably wouldn’t even have been able to pronounce. You see, the letter “J” didn’t even exist in any language until about the 14th century and is absent to this day from the Hebrew alphabet.

Jesus would have most likely spoken either Aramaic, in which His name would’ve been pronounced “Eashoa,” or Hebrew, in which His name would’ve been “Yeshua.” 

This really isn’t controversial. The name Jesus is the English spelling and translation of Yeshua, which would have been the name that he was called in 1st Century Israel.

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7. The Bible May Not Be as Sexist as It Seems

While 1 Timothy 2:12 may appear about as sexist as it gets, it’s one of those Bible verses that prove how important it is never to take a single verse out of context.

While Paul advises that the women of a particular church not be allowed to teach, many scholars believe that 1 Timothy 2:9 hints tht he was addressing this specific church, not necessarily all churches for all time.

Having just learned that they were “children of God,” many of the women in this particular congregation were actually showing up at church dressed as literal goddesses and may or may not have been ready to gear up to teach Sunday school.

The following verses, however, reveal that many Biblical women were revered as teachers and leaders: Galatians 3:28, Acts 2:18, Acts 18:26, Acts 2:17, Judges 4:4.

It’s a common claim that the Bible is sexist, but in reality, it is actually for women. Lenny Esposito of Come Reason Ministries has a great blog that addresses this: Is the Bible sexist against women? that goes into detail answering this and putting it in context.

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This is points 1 through 7. I will continue this in the next blog, 22 Controversial Bible Verses That Lead to Much Debate: 8-9: Biblical Marriage? and Divination?