One of the things that I find most irritating about the Christian faith is their excessive claims to absolute truths based on their own superstitious delusions which they derive from a book. In my opinion these claims fall flat for several reasons. The first of many reasons is that this book, the bible; is man made, produced, edited and distributed. The fact that everything in this book is based loosely on popular oral traditions of the times based allegedly on "divine" revelation makes these claims seem even sillier.
"Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication-- after that it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it can not be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to ME, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him." [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
The fact that there are no extant copies of these texts available to date and that what we have are imperfect copies of copies of these texts makes it impossible to know what the original texts said in the first place. Remember that these copyist known as scribes copied these texts entirely by hand ( they didn't have digital copiers back then) and were prone to make mistakes and even be tempted to "correct" or insert their own bias and interpretations into the texts. And since we don't have the original texts we have nothing to compare our current copies to for accuracy.
The fact that there are so many contradictions in the scriptures are proof of them being due mostly to the authors interpretations of the teachings in the texts. So basically even before you get your English translations of the bible you are already dealing with an "interpretation" of not just the original mostly anonymous authors but of their various scribes and translators.
Even if you were inclined to learn Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek (the original languages that the bible books were written in) you would still not be able to grasp the true meaning and intent behind the scriptures and particular doctrines you may be studying, for the simple fact that we don't have any of the originals to compare these scribal copies to.
The fact that the many Christians sects and denominations the world over can't agree as to what the bible says and teaches is a testament against absolute truth. Remember that each sect and denomination is another group of believers who disagree with the others that have arisen before them. The funny thing about this all is that they expend as much energy discrediting each other as they do in their feeble attempts to discredit atheism, evolution, naturalism, etc.
As in English and many other languages they all have one thing in common; they evolve with time. Just like we have English words that have several meanings independently and in the context in which the words are used so does Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek, especially in their ancient forms. A word may have had several meanings when they were written that are no longer used today or understood in the same manner. One of the rules I use to try and understand biblical texts is the formula of who, what, when, where, and why.
- Who wrote the text in particular?
- What was he referring to or writing about? What was going on in the region at the time?
- When was he writing as in what time period?
- Where was he writing and to whom was he referring to?
- Why was he prompted to write about that particular subject matter?