Q. Thank you for your insights. I’ve been reading about the inerrancy of the Bible, or rather, of the original writings. I’ve been systematically looking up the various verses that have discrepancies and reading about the reasons for that discrepancy. In reading the answers (which are all due to copyist errors), I wonder why, if the original writings were without error, don’t the bible translators/editors go back and correct those copyist errors … why leave them in? And, if the original writings are not available, how do you know they were without error?
A. Bible inerrancy is best viewed in the macro rather than micro sense. The only reason it’s an issue at all is that some want to decide for themselves which parts of the Bible to believe. By finding errors they feel justified in questioning the Bible’s overall accuracy.
A better way to view the issue is to ask yourself if you believe the Bible is the Word of God, or does it merely contain the Word of God? If you choose the latter, then you’re giving yourself leeway to disregard parts of the Bible that conflict with your opinion.
Copyists errors are often left in with notes because the original language is lost and anything they say would be conjecture. These errors are sometimes discovered when passages conflict with one another for no good reason. For example in 1 Samuel 17 it’s clear that David killed Goliath. But in 2 Samuel 21:19 some texts say that Elhanon killed Goliath. It’s thought that the 2 Samuel passage should say that Elhanon killed Goliath’s brother and 1 Chronicles 20:5 confirms this. But translators are often reluctant to change the wording of a passage, preferring to use a footnote.
It’s important to remember that none of these so-called errors changes the overall message of the Bible, or causes confusion over exactly what God has done for man and what He asks in response.
It’s just man’s way of trying to find loopholes in God’s Word.