To see other posts in this series, please go to the series’ page.
In 1956, the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers was released in theaters across the United States. Here is a synopsis of the movie from the IMBD website.
Dr. Miles Bennell returns to his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. He is initially skeptical, especially when the alleged doppelgangers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim’s lives, but he is eventually persuaded that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon.
So they look like the original, talk like the original, and even have the memories of the original, but they are not the original.
Invasion of the Bible Snatchers
Something similar has been going on among fundamentalists and evangelicals with regard to biblical exegesis. A couple of examples should suffice to demonstrate it.
In a book aptly titled The Bible Has the Answer, the late Henry Morris – a pioneer of the Young Earth Creationism movement and founder of the Institute for Creation Research – wrote, “The fact is…that true science has always confirmed the Bible!”1 Morris was so convinced by this that he published his own study Bible demonstrating its validity: The Defenders Study Bible. In his note on Job 26:7 – “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing” (KJV) – Morris writes,
Not only was the earth rotating, but it also began orbiting space, suspended from the sun by “nothing” except the mysterious force of gravity, acting at a distance. This verse was written at least 3500 years before Isaac Newton identified and described this force.2
We don’t have time to dissect Morris’ take on Job 26:7 but needless to say it is problematic at best and it is a passage that we will discuss in greater detail in a later post in this series. For now, let’s move on to another example.
In his apologetics handbook, the late Robert Boyd discusses a variety of scientific insights found in the biblical texts. For example, regarding Leviticus 13:45 – “The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean'” (NRSV) – Boyd wrote,
Lip covering is mentioned in Leviticus 13:45. Surgeons today would not dare operate without such a mask. Many times before entering a patient’s room in a hospital, visitors must don a gown and a mask to keep from spreading germs. Moses gave such precautionary advice about 3,500 years ago, long before Pasteur discovered germs.3
Again, we do not have time to dive into the text to dissect it and Boyd’s take on it. What these two examples show is that Christians like Boyd and Morris were willing to take great liberties with biblical texts that invariably ignore the context in which those texts were composed and replaces them with an alien interpretation. And this could be multiplied dozens of times over. So when you read the biblical text through their interpretive framework, it looks like the original text and may even sound like the original text but it is not the original text.
Because of these Bible Snatchers and their eisegetical tendencies, as well as the proliferation in mainstream American Christianity, this series has no end-date. Instead, we will look at such eisegesis both old and new from now deceased Christians like Henry Morris to the very much alive Hugh Ross. My goal is to show how their takes on certain biblical texts do not acknowledge the literary and cultural context from which they arose as well as to offer some semblance of a sound interpretation that does acknowledge those important details.
If any of my readers have particular takes that they would like me to examine and take on, please forward the relevant information to my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I also welcome debate that can be included in the comments section or sent to my email address. I am the Amateur Exegete and so I know full well that I can be (and have been) wrong in my approaches to texts.
1 Henry M. Morris, The Bible Has The Answer, original edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1971), 62.
2 Henry M. Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible: Defending the Faith from a Literal Creationist Viewpoint (Grand Rapids, MI: World Publishing, 1995), 584.
3 Robert T. Boyd, Boyd’s Handbook of Practical Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 74.
2 thoughts on “Invasion of the Bible Snatchers”
The gist of what you’re saying seems sound, but the sentence, “So when you read the biblical text through their interpretive framework, it looks like the original text and may even sound like the original text but it is not the original text.” seems clearly incorrect. You did not show that Morris misquoted the Bible. Instead, he cherry-picked elements and ignored the context.
Regarding, “he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean’”, I would bet that this means that the leper is supposed to cover it with the edge of his hand, using his hand sort of like a megaphone. This is a reasonably common instinctive practice that people use when they’re yelling to someone far away. Sometimes they use two hands, sometimes just one as described.
Ok. Thanks for commenting!