The following is part of a Series called Conversation with a Deconverter.
Question Number 17
Christian Errors and Omissions
New Testament:- Thirty pieces of silver
It seems that the prophet Jeremiah was mistakenly put into Matthew 27:9-10. The supposed prophecy of the betrayer Judas returning 30 pieces of silver, and the purchase of a field, in Matthew’s Gospel 27: 9-10, is given in the 1611 British scholars’ King James Bible, i.e., the Authorised Version (and similarly in the 1582 Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims version):
However, the prophecy wasn’t really from “Jeremiah,” “Jeremy,” or “Jeremias”. A London 1956 edition of the Catholic Douay quietly footnoted the clause containing the error (Jeremias in Catholic circles then) as “Zach 11:12” (Zach. for Zacharias was known as Zech. for Zechariah in other Churches’ bibles.)
According to a footnote to the Catholic Ronald Knox’s 1957 version, “This seems to be, not a direct quotation, but a combination of Jer. 32. 7-9 with Zach. 11. 12-13. … However, in the Jeremiah/Jeremias passage the field cost 17 silver shekels, not 30. The Zechariah passage deals with a prophetic action in which someone is paid “wages” or his “price” of 30 shekels of silver, YHWH somehow thinking this was the price some sheep-dealers had valued Him, and the coins at His order being thrown into the Temple for the smelter – or other variants (see below).
Other translations that have tried to quietly sidestep the New Testament mistake include: The Good News Bible 1966/1976 (p 927); The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures 1984 revision (p 1254); and,The New Jerusalem Bible Pocket Edition 1990 (p 1180).
Metzger’s 1992 book says that St Augustine (354-430 A.D.) tried to claim that Jeremiah did not appear in all the manuscripts, “and that some of them state simply that it was spoken ‘by the prophet’.”
Matthew:19Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10and they gave them for the potter’s field, as YHWH directed me.”
Zechariah in first person: Zechariah:112Then I said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver.
Jeremiah:17Behold, Han’amel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, `Buy my field which is at An’athoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ 8Then Han’amel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of YHWH, and said to me, `Buy my field which is at An’athoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of YHWH. 9“And I bought the field at An’athoth from Han’amel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.
This is a tricky passage. The issue with it is that it amounts to a conflation, or confusion of the identity of Jeremiah with Judas. In the phrase, “… the price of him on whom …”, the writer is referring to “him” in the New Testament context as Judas, but in the Old Testament context to which the writer is explicitly referring it indicates that “him” is Jeremiah because it was Jeremiah, not Judas, on “… whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel.” The passage is internally inconsistent. Additionally, the difference in the price quoted suggests that the quote in Matthew is in fact referring to Judas while the quote in Jeremiah is referring to Jeremiah, as one would expect. But what this does confirm is that the author is indeed clearly speaking of Judas in the New Testament, even though the description of his situation applies uniquely to Jeremiah. Given the subtlety of the error, it is not clear to this author whether this represents an error of the author or the translator. However, the comments found in various Bible translations suggest that it is indeed an author error. If so, then this is a very serious problem for the veracity of the New Testament. This is because such an error is too characteristic of a human error and too uncharacteristic of a god for this passage to be anything other than something written by a human being with no divine guidance whatsoever.
The identities of the two men in this passage constitute too much of the overall meaning of the passage for it not to have been sourced directly to the presumed god; thereby rendering this god fallible.
And if one passage is not divinely inspired, then any passage need not be.
So, how would I know that any other pericope is divinely inspired by your One, True god?
Also, the use of silver had been discontinued some 300 years before Jesus’ time. Furthermore, currency was not “weighed out”, it was minted. Clearly this text was fabricated from fiction. Specifically, this indicates forgery by a person removed from the time of Jesus by several hundred years since any such forger would almost certainly be well educated. Only the separation of time could cause an error regarding the silver and minted currency: It was not known until the last 200 years that silver was not used during Jesus’ time.
A. Is it more likely that this is a human fabrication or is it more likely the divinely inspired word of The One, True God?
Similarly, another portion of Canon begs our attention. It deals with the use of a word in the New Testament read as “virgin” and meaning what it means in contemproaneous English (which is used in several places) whereas in its use in the Old Testament Hebrew the word meant “maid,” i.e., an unmarried female. This represents another very specific kind of problem possibly not evident on the surface. It is human error of a most subtle kind that belies the forgery of the entire New Testament, pretty much. If the reader will recall, in each of the birth stories of Jesus the woman, Mary, is clearly being addressed by an angel and is further described as a virgin. But the Old Testament word for maiden is incorrectly placed in that very same text. Simply arguing that the word “virgin” meant that Mary was in fact a maiden won’t wash, since the context of the passages show that the author’s did in fact intend to make Mary a virgin in the narrative. And if the entire narrative were forged to make Mary out to be a virgin instead of a maiden then, a) why did the forger misuse the word “virgin” and b) what are the odds that such a forger would have stopped with just that? What almost every commentator on this subject has completely missed is the simple fact that this ineluctably requires that the author of this passage was not a native speaker of the Hebrew language contemporaneous to the events in which the word was taken to mean “maiden”. This narrative was written by someone who, no matter how well educated they were, could not have realized that the word “virgin” was being used incorrectly since their education in Hebrew was contemporaneous to a different time period in which knowledge of this difference was not known. This is another smoking gun less noticed. It necessarily follows that: The author lived in a time separated from the purported time of events by a considerable span of time, hundreds of years at least. Taking the most conservative and naïve view; if just forging the word “virgin”, then the volume of forgery indicated solely by this fact is limited. However, if the entire virgin birth narrative were being forged, substantial portions of New Testament scripture are involved directly. The author of this narrative used the term “virgin” deliberately and with foresight to mislead and further an account the author knew to be false.
- The original author and creator of this narrative lived in a time separated from the purported time of events by a considerable span of time, hundreds of years at least.
- The original author and creator of this narrative used the term “virgin” deliberately and with foresight to mislead and further an account the author knew to be false.
B. Is it more likely that “Mary” was a real person who was a virgin dvivinely insemminated or is it more likely that the use of the word “virgin” (defined in the more recent terms of the New Testament), to include its intended meaning, was injected into the narrative by a human being desiring to augment the inference?
We’ve presented only two errors and omissions here, A and B, but there are literally hundreds. These two are particularly interesting because they do not lend themsleves to further analysis by pure textual or theological interpretation. The problems here are more fundamental than that. These errors speak directly to the very meaning of the stories, human error and the nuances of forgery. In our next question we will address a much bigger and more fundamental problem with the YHWH narratives that make it clear that a human hand is at work.
Proceed to Question Number 18.