Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Question of the Apostle Paul: the Lies and the Truth

It seems that many people are working to discredit the Apostle Paul.  These people appear to be evenly matched against each other on both sides: Christian and Atheist.  One way to paint Paul as a delusional zealot is by pointing out two ostensibly contradicting verses (in the Book of Acts)--that have to do with what actually happened during Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus (at that time when he was still known as Saul).  Acts 9:7 (KJV) says, "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."  Acts 22:9 (KJV) says, "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me." 

I just came upon a website (, which belongs to Freedom from Religion Foundation.  This is where I read an article by Dan Barker--in which he says that it is indisputable that Acts 9:7 contradicts Acts 22:9.  Barker says that "they heard not" ("ouk ekousan" in the Greek) cannot be interpreted as Saul describing his companions' inability to understand the voice that they're hearing (Acts 22:9). 

Barker does not explain that there's one way of understanding: when you hear (clearly perceive) words uttered by somebody, which you may or may not comprehend in terms of the choice of words and/or their ordering.  That is you discern a string of words, but you cannot understand the meaning that the speaker is trying to convey with said words.  And there's another way of understanding: when you hear someone's voice, but the sounds they're making are unintelligible: you cannot discern any meaningful words--from the sounds uttered by the voice.  (Which is the case with Paul's companions when he was converted on the road to Damascus, as is explained in verse 9 of Acts 22.) 

Thus Barker is saying that what Paul recounts--when he says in Acts 22:9 that his companions "heard not the voice of him that" spoke to him--is that his fellow travelers did not hear the voice; this would then not corroborate the account given in chapter 9 (verse 7 specifically).

Barker says that he confronted a certain "Christian apologist," named James White, about this apparent contradiction.  According to Barker, White replied that since the Greek word "phone" (FONAY)--that is translated as "voice" in the King James Version of both Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9--is in two different cases in each verse; then "phone" does not mean "voice" in both verses.  In Acts 9:7 "phone" ("voice" in the KJV) is in the genitive case (which shows possession and can also show a relationship to the verb ("hearing") for which it is the object), then it must be translated as "sound."  Whereas in Acts 22:9 "phone" ("voice" in the KJV) is in the accusative case (which means that the verbal ("heard not") is saying something specific about the voice and should be understood as meaning "voice."  (That is Saul's companions could not discern any kind of comprehensible words from the utterance by the voice.) 

And according to Barker, White is wrong when he says that "phone" in the genitive case should be translated as "sound," and "phone" in the accusative case should be translated as "voice."  In saying that White is wrong, Barker is right (in this).  The Greek "phone" cannot be translated as two different words (in the English) just because they have two different cases: the genitive in Acts 9:7 ("phones") and the accusative in Acts 22:9 ("phonen"). 

As for James White, I've encountered some of his videos on Youtube.  What I've seen about him is that he says a lot of gibberish--a lot of bullshit.  He's a fraud: a wolf in sheep's clothing.  What we have here then--concerning both Dan Barker (and the FFRF) and Christian apologists like James White--is a case of controlled opposition, where both of them are working the opposite sides in a dispute (and where neither of them are being totally upfront).  But both of them serve the same master, that being Mammon.  They are both playing a game (divide and conquer).  The object of this game is to cause confusion for those who are honestly seeking the truth.

Barker says that two modern versions of the Bible (the New International Version and the Living Bible) translate "phones" in Acts 9:7 as "sound."  In doing so the translators for these two versions are attempting to (subtly) discredit Paul (and by extension Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts).  The translators are also attempting to add confusion to this matter, making it more difficult to sift through this thing that is already complicated--because of having to look into the Greek, if you want to go all the way with finding out the truth.  Therefore the modern translators [except for those who worked on the New Revised Standard Version (in this case)] are being disingenuous.  

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