John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Notes, written ca. March 1975


in the text, and recently written notes, are indicated by brackets […].]

Most people claim that Daniel wasn’t written
by Daniel.
Most scholars nowadays believe that Daniel
was written around BC168 when Antiochus
Epiphanes was attacking the Jewish nation,
as a piece of apocalyptic to help the people
retain their national hope and faith that
God’s righteousness would triumph.

[I expanded this note on 10th May 1975. Although, e.g., chapter 9 of the Book of Daniel internally claims to be a prophecy dictated to Daniel by Gabriel during the Babylonian captivity, some modern scholars believe that the Book was pseudepigraphically written in the mid-2nd century BC, and that rather than being a genuine prophecy the passage was a postdiction, written as a polemic against Antiochus IV Epiphanes.]

I get the impression sometimes that maybe
some of my religious beliefs are scientifically
suspect — i.e. that some of its premises are
not true e.g. historically.
This comes to me as a vague anxiety,
a continual nagging inside.

  • Belief in Adam and Eve as our first parents.
  • Special creation.
  • Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.
Have conservatives got the truth, or are they
just clinging to an outmoded and
false system of thought and belief?

Are these suspicions founded in truth? Or
are my original beliefs? I’ve got to know,
but maybe it can’t be known.

Or at least, I’ve got to find the most credible
position compatible with my conscience. ∴

  If A is more credible than B: assume A true
  A [greater than] B does not discredit Jesus Christ.

I’m sick of suspicions and anxious
doubts arising in my mind and suppressing
them by the main force of blind faith, —
guilty conscience for fear of betraying God, —
bigotry and tradition.

On the other hand, is it not true that you
come to conclusions which depend solely on
your starting bias, without coming nearer to any ultimate truth?

bias A [pointing in a leftward direction, leading,
with the application of several steps of] logic [to]
answer A [further in the leftward direction; and]
bias B [pointing in a rightward direction, leading,
with the application of several steps of] logic [to]
answer B [further in the rightward direction]
Conclusions A and B are widely divergent.

You have to be biased at the start, you
call it your working hypothesis if you

Could this happen?

bias A [pointing in a leftward direction, leading,
with the application of several steps of] logic [to]
answer A [further in the leftward direction.]
→ this lacks credibility ∴ abandon
(this could happen an indefinite no. of times) →
bias B [pointing in a rightward direction, leading,
with the application of several steps of] logic [to]
answer [further in the rightward direction.]

Or is faith so strong as to preclude this

Example of suspicion:
Premise 1:        Premise 2:
Mosaic authorship ————– divine inspiration
could ⇒ no contradiction  ⇒ no contradiction
    no discontinuities
could ⇒ conflation of
    written and/or oral
    source material
    by Moses
   → contradiction

  • Mixed use of divine name
  • Ishmael being placed on
    Hagar’s shoulders at age 15
  • Mixed etymology of Beersheba
⇒ conflation

[The two premises that I started with, were:
  • that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, and
  • that it, as part of the Scriptures, was inspired by God
I asked myself what those premises implied. If it were written by Moses one might expect to find no contradictions and no discontinuities in the narrative. However, if Moses were the author of the Pentateuch, in that he conflated already-existing source-material, one might expect to find contradictions and discontinuities. If, in addition to that, though, the Pentateuch was inspired by God, that might lead one to expect no contradictions and no discontinuities. Most advocates of a source-conflation hypothesis, though, saw a later hand or hands than Moses’ in the process. What led to the hypothesis of source-conflation, were things like
  • the mixed use of the divine name (e.g. God in Genesis 1, YHWH God in Genesis 2; the Patriarchs calling God sometimes God Almighty and sometimes YHWH, yet Exodus 6:3 saying, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name YHWH I did not make myself known to them.”
  • Ishmael being placed on Hagar’s shoulders at age 15 (Genesis 21:14). Here is a litmus-test, by the way, of whether one’s Bible-translation is liberal or conservative:
    Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar some food and a leather bag full of water. He put the child on her back and sent her away. She left and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba. —Good News Bible (liberal)
    So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. —English Standard Version (neutral in this instance)
    Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. —New International Version (conservative)
  • Mixed etymology of Beersheba:
    Genesis 21:31: Therefore that place was called Beersheba, because there both of them [Abimelech and Abraham] swore an oath.
    Genesis 26:33: [Isaac] called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.]
Who wrote “Moses”?
In all fairness:
Because of belief in Jesus Christ and placing credit on His words:

• Do Jesus’ words necessarily imply MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP? (1)
• What are the implications of believing the
 assertions about non-Mosaic authorship? (2)
• Why have the assertors of non-Mosaic
 authorship done so? (3)

  ↗ ↘
(1)    Can this be made NO by “explaining
  ↘   away” yet be true to Jesus Christ?

   to the people who make them?
   to me. Can I hold such beliefs and
   be true to Jesus Christ?

   { don’t like certain things revealed by God?
   { don’t like miracles?
   other things take away its credibility
   as historical truth — which Moses would
   have known to be untrue.

“Each piece of evidence isn’t much in
itself but taken as a whole…”
— used by Christians in respect of e.g.
the Resurrection and credibility of gospel
Using the same argument over authorship
and inspiration (⇒ ? )

“The Bible contains no proven errors…”
— yes, but doesn’t its credibility wear thin
in places?

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