Guest Post: Bible Quiz

Guest Post: Bible Quiz August 1, 2018

This Bible quiz (with a theme) is the second guest post from long-time commenter avalon. I learned more than I expected—see if you do, too.

Bible illiteracy is a major problem in America. Whether you’re a Christian who believes in the Bible or a skeptic who doubts the Bible, knowledge about what’s in the Bible should be a prerequisite for any discussion or debate. The following quiz is an attempt to spark your interest in learning more about the Bible. This quiz focuses on the word “spirit.”

Questions

1) What are the four types of baptism referred to in the New Testament?

2) In Hebrew, Greek, and Latin the word for spirit can have two other meanings (besides literally “spirit”). What are they?

3) Why didn’t Abram cut up the birds when preparing for the meeting with God? This is from Genesis 15:9–10: “So the Lord said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.’ Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.” (Hint: remember the theme.)

4) What descended on Jesus when he was baptized?

5) What was the first sign that the apostles were being visited by the Holy Spirit when they gathered at a house for Pentecost?

Continue for the answers:

 

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  • otrame

    For the old Hebrews, life began at birth, when the baby took its first breath, i. e., when the spirit entered the body.

    Even so, they didn’t consider the kid really there until some time had passed. I don’t remember how long for them, specifically, but it was not uncommon in cultures where the infant mortality was so high. I think it helped them deal with the grief. Some cultures didn’t name a kid until months or even years after they were born.

    • TheBookOfDavid

      For reference, during the Exodus, infants less than one month of age were not counted as persons in a census (Numbers 3:15) and held no value (Leviticus 27:6).

      • Kevin K

        They were takers!

        • TheBookOfDavid

          One month was the minimum age that they could be required to git a jerb. Until then, it was legal for them to mooch off some hard working family.

        • Otto

          The less that you give, you’re a taker

      • No, it says that they were worth five shekels of silver for boys and three for girls. Good, huh?

  • Tawreos

    1. Literal, spiritual, fire and foam
    2. Wine and whiskey
    3. because god didn’t say Simon Says
    4. The holy towel of Jerusalem carried by a dove.
    5. The keg was already tapped.

    Sorry, my google-fu is really really weak today, or maybe I just feel like a drink. =)

    • Kevin K

      “The holy towel of Jerusalem carried by a dove.”

      Oh my no-God. This is the very first time I’ve grokked what that imagery is about. I had no clue. Learn something new every day, I guess.

  • AG

    #1- I got 3 out of 4. The earth baptism and connection to the Greek elements is quite a stretch.
    #2-check.
    #3- huh? How did you come by that? I can’t see it, unless I turn my head and squint. Seriously, this sounds like the kind of stuff I heard when I was a Christian. It doesn’t have much to back it up. God gave the Israelites a belly ache because they were belly aching already, not because quail were sacred. However, A “wind from god” is what drove the quail into their vicinity. I don’t recall a single passage about birds being sacred because of being able to fly, and I’ve been over the old law with a fine tooth comb, as an atheist. The Israelites were never prohibited from eating non-predatory birds.
    #4- check.
    #5- I forgot about the rushing wind and went for “tongues of fire.”

    I think its a mistake to read any more into the scriptures than what is expilicitly stated or obviously inferred. Christians do that all the time to justify all kinds of teachingings. I prefer simplicity in interpretation. Trying to tie together disparate passages is often unconvincing. The more vague and complex an explanation, the more likely it is to be even more imaginary than the scriptures already are.

    • RichardSRussell

      Boy, I bet a “wind from God” would really stink up an elevator, huh?

      • Michael Neville

        Thank you for appealing to my inner 12 year old. :^þ

      • He’s the best at everything.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Consider the greatest possible fart…

        • Damian Byrne

          Is it even possible to imagine the greatest possible fart? Who’s to say that the fart you imagine is greater or not greater than the fart I imagine…plus is it better for a fart to exist versus it not existing?

          Ooh, I’m getting flashbacks of my debates about the modal ontological argument here!

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Do you mean Gödel’s or Plantinga’s modal ontological argument? The former is a cool example of a meaningless but nontrivial proof from weird and implausible, yet formally consistent assumptions. The latter is just a silly conjuring trick, whose whole purpose is to keep the reader from noticing its absolute lack of substance.

        • I just came across Plantinga’s argument again. I remember reading someone’s analysis (which I can’t put my hands on). Perhaps you can remind me: what is the issue with the argument? As I recall, it was switching definitions of a word (was it “possible”?) halfway through the argument.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          There are two words whose definitions you can switch mid-argument: “possible” (together with its dual, “necessary”) and “God”. At one point, you explicitly use the S5 axiom system for modal logic, so you need to assume a notion of possibility that satisfies S5 there. But then saying that God (in Plantinga’s redefined sense) possibly exists is the same as (that is, provably equivalent to) saying that God necessarily exists, so the rest of the argument is essentially just begging the question. You can distract a doubter by forgetting what you just assumed about the definition of possibility and switching to another one, for which the burden of proof is on whoever claims that something is impossible. Another way to achieve the same result is to forget that you redefined God at the beginning of the argument, pretending that the argument applies to God in the classical, non-modal sense.

          The wording of the version I read was vague enough to allow for either of the above possibilities. Anyway, you can pick one word whose definition you play with, and make a lot of noise about being careful to keep the definition of the other one the same throughout the argument.

        • One wonders how they can make these arguments, knowing the games that are being played.

          How does “God” change in a modal context? I thought modal logic was simply regular logic with the introduction of probabilities (more than just something is/isn’t the case with the addition of “something might be the case” or “probably is” or “probably isn’t” etc.). Is that right?

          I see that now we can now work with new propositions (“God might exist” etc.), but how does the definition change?

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Modal logic isn’t about how likely or unlikely something is, but about whether or not something is possible at all. In Plantinga’s argument, God is defined to be not just actually super-duper-extra-godlike-whatever, but necessarily so. I was saying that you could formulate the argument like this:

          1. Define God as a necessarily s-d-x-g-w being.
          2. Prove in excruciating detail that the mere possibility of God’s existence implies its actual existence.
          3. Define possibility in a suitable way.
          4. Prove in excruciating detail that the above definition satisfies S5.
          5. Argue that it’s very plausible that a s-d-x-g-w being possibly exists, in the sense of step 3.
          6. Claim that you just showed it’s very plausible that God possibly exists.
          7. Using step 2, conclude that it’s very plausible that God actually exists.

          Note that in step 6, you conveniently forgot about the “necessary” part of the definition given in step 1.

        • Grimlock

          As I see it, God is defined to be necessary, e.g. to exist in every possible world, due to this being a great-making property or whatnot. But I find this curious for two reasons. Both of which I suspect might be excessively pedantic, so I was wondering what you think about it.

          1) This seems to imply that God is a being in a possible world, or a state of affairs. But theists will usually argue that God is outside everything else. I’m sure there’s some wiggle room, but this strikes me as at least a bit of a tension.
          2) Suppose that I exist in two possible worlds. One of which is this, and another is a slightly different world, where I won the lottery the one time that I tried playing. Let’s grant that I have the same essential properties in these worlds, but different accidental properties. It still seems like we’re not precisely the same being. It’s not like I’m a “better” being simply because I’m instantiated in two worlds instead of one. Seems to me the same would be true of God. Indeed, if God only existed in one world, then he’d be unique instead of, well, rather commonplace. Surely that’s greater?

        • Grimlock

          I actually recommend the article on modal logic on Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_logic ). Also, Counter-Apologist has a nice breakdown of Plantinga’s argument ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbRSGYRQqic ), based at least in part on an article by the Uncredible Hallq.

          I’ll use the chance to try to get this out of my own head. So here’s how I tend to think of it:

          1) Select a set of state of affairs that can happen. Each of these states of affairs is a “possible world”.
          2) Define a relation between the different states of affairs. This relation is called an accessibility relation, and says whether world A is accessible from world B.
          3) Then you can have different basic rules, or axioms, for the set defined in (1). For instance, you could say that every world is accessible from every other world. Or they could not be. Different axioms gives different rules. The axioms of Plantinga’s argument relies on the S5 axioms, which basically says that every possible world is accessible from every other possible world.
          4) If some phenomena x is possible in world A, that means that x is the case in at least one world that is accessible to A.
          5) If some phenomena y is necessary in world A, that means that y is the case in every world that is accessible to A (including A).

          Now, notice this: The Anselmian definition of God as the greatest conceivable being, and one supposed implication of this is that a being is greater if it exists in every possible world. Which means that God is defined as existing in every possible world, i.e. as being necessary. Aight?

          Now, let’s say the first premise is something like this: Possibly, God exists.

          Translate this into modal logic jargon: There is a possible world that is accessible from every other possible world, where there exists a being (God) that exists in every accessible world.

          Or, in other words: God exists.

          Folks such as Plantinga will use relatively little wrapping for this. Folks such as WLC will use multiple steps and make the argument appear fancy, but it’s all an elaboration on a premise like this: It is possible that God exists. But this sounds convincing because what most people see is this: For all we know, God might exist. [ETA: This last here is what I find to be a bit of an equivocation on the word “possibly”. The term has a very specific meaning in modal logic, while the other interpretation I mentioned relies on epistemological possibility, which is somewhat different.]

          Does this make sense? I admit I wrote this just to get it out of my head to see if I could make sense of it for myself.

        • Helpful, thanks.

  • Ctharrot

    DEMONS POSSESSING MAN: “Don’t torment us! Send us into that herd of two hundred pigs.”
    JESUS: “Okeedoke. Off you go.”
    SWINEHERD: “. . . . Hey, man, what the actual fuck?”

    • Michael Neville

      So now we know the origin of deviled ham.

  • Greg G.

    According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, prior to 1300 CE “spirit” was related to “to breathe” and “to blow.”

    It kind of still is with the word “respiration”.

  • RichardSRussell

    There is a name for quizzes like this in non-devotional life. They’re called “trivia”.

  • LeekSoup

    I thought one of the options in question 1 would be “baptism for the dead”. No one really knows what that meant.

  • Michael Neville

    I got half of question 1 right and booted on all the rest.

  • Zeropoint

    Yeah, the conflation of “life” with “breath” by the writers of the Bible (and their surrounding culture) means that the forced-birthers’ insistence that “abortion is murder” is clearly un-Biblical.
    Trying to point that out to them just causes their anti-process shields to engage, though.

    • Grimlock

      So, trying to follow your reasoning.

      Because a body requires (?) breath to have a spirit, a being that doesn’t breathe does not have a spirit (soul?). Thus, no breathing in womb, and abortion shouldn’t be an issue? Something like that?

      • Otto

        Here in the US the Evangelicals and some other Christians were not real concerned with abortion because that was how they interpreted the soul entering the body (unlike the Catholics who have decided it happens at conception). It wasn’t until later that it was decided that abortion could be used politically as a rallying point that they took up the issue.

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie?s=abortion

        • Grimlock

          Oh, that is very interesting indeed. Thanks for sharing the link.

      • Greg G.

        That is the Biblical interpretation.

        From the Creation story:

        Genesis 2:7
        Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

        About the Flood:

        Genesis 7:22
        Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.

      • Zeropoint

        Because things that don’t breathe aren’t alive under that view. That includes things like insects and plants, as I understand it.

        There’s also the fact that in Numbers, Yaweh instructs his people on how to brew an abortion-inducing potion and when to administer it. He has also ordered genocide including the murder of pregnant women at least once. You just can’t justify an anti-abortion stance from the Bible, but the religious right doesn’t care. They’ve accepted their marching orders and little things like the very Word of God won’t sway them.

        • Greg G.

          Numbers 5:11-31 (NRSV)11 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 12 Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If any man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him, 13 if a man has had intercourse with her but it is hidden from her husband, so that she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her since she was not caught in the act; 14 if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself; or if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself; 15 then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. And he shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.16 Then the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the Lord; 17 the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. 18 The priest shall set the woman before the Lord, dishevel the woman’s hair, and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. In his own hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. 19 Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, “If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. 20 But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has had intercourse with you,” 21 —let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman—“the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; 22 now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen.”23 Then the priest shall put these curses in writing, and wash them off into the water of bitterness. 24 He shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter her and cause bitter pain. 25 The priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman’s hand, and shall elevate the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar; 26 and the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and turn it into smoke on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water. 27 When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people. 28 But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be immune and be able to conceive children.29 This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, while under her husband’s authority, goes astray and defiles herself, 30 or when a spirit of jealousy comes on a man and he is jealous of his wife; then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall apply this entire law to her. 31 The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity.

        • Grimlock

          I see. Thanks for the explanation.

  • Kevin K

    Interesting. So, the “gospel” writers (Mark mainly) were aware of the Aristotlean conception of physics? Does that conform with the Jewish notions?

    • AG

      Multiple books in the old testament, like Psalms and Job, have passages that include references to water, wind, fire and earth, in a variety of poetic forms, but not necessarily using those specific words. I did a quick search and could not find a reference that the Jews were aware of Aristotle’s teachings. My guess would be that these are just things common to the human experience, as is mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Aristotlean Physics. That does seem to be the simplest explanation.

      • Aristotle lived in the 300s BCE, so he lived after almost every OT book.

        • epeeist

          As far as I am aware Empedocles (ca 490 – ca 430 BCE) was the first of the Greeks to propose the four classical elements. However he was building on ideas of other pre-Socratics such as Heraclitus, Thales and Anaximenes.

        • AG

          🙂 I should have considered the time periods. Still, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive connection between his teachings and the pre-christian Jews.

        • Greg G.

          Paul probably studied Aristotle when he was a pre-Christian Jew.

          Romans 2:14 (NRSV)
          When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves.

          Galatians 5:23 (NRSV)
          gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

          Aristotle, Politics, Book 3, Part 13 [Benjamin Jowett translation]
          Hence we see that legislation is necessarily concerned only with those who are equal in birth and in capacity; and that for men of pre-eminent virtue there is no law– they are themselves a law.

          I have seen 16 possible Plato references in the authentic Pauline epistles, plus one in Ephesians and one in 2 Timothy. The 2 Timothy one might be an imitation of one in Philippians.

        • AG

          I personally don’t consider similar phrases definitive. Human culture being what it is, particular ideas don’t always arise from one source at one time. It could be Paul was familiar with Aristotle. It could be that he had absorbed the idea from the culture he lived in. Not only that, we are looking at English translations. If I was incline to pursue this line of thought, I would want to compare the wording of the originals. But it doesn’t really matter to me.

        • Greg G.

          It could be Paul was familiar with Aristotle. It could be that he had absorbed the idea from the culture he lived in.

          But if the culture he lived in is based on Aristotle, then he got it from Aristotle indirectly. If Aristotle got it from the culture, then he only articulated it.

          See Philo of Alexandria. https://www.iep.utm.edu/philo/ His thesis was that the Greek philosophers learned from Moses. He appropriated the concept of Logos from Plato and then John (1:1-18) seems to have appropriated it from him.

        • Greg G.

          Here is Josephus’ description of the Temple Veil:

          Jewish Wars 5.5.4, on the veil
          but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures.

          EDIT to add bolding to “image of the universe”

        • AG

          Here Josephus is not talking about an actual “image of the universe”, but a symbolism for the universe in the colors of a tapestry. Of course the Jews had their own cosmology, didn’t most ancient cultures? There are four specific elements listed. They could have been influenced by Aristotle, but they are still all part of common human experience, which was what Aristotle drew his ideas from. They are highly suggestive of Aristotle’s influence, but I personally still wouldn’t call them definitive.

        • Greg G.

          They didn’t have cameras so any image of the universe is going to have symbolism. That’s art.

          Genesis 1 is an example of early Jewish cosmology. Genesis 1:2 has the wind of God moving across the water. The earth comes about on the third day in Genesis 1:9-10. The sun, moon, and stars are created the next day, but none of those would be represented as red, which means their early cosmology didn’t include fire as an element. But it was a part of their cosmology in the first century. The most likely source would be the Hellenization process.

          I have seen parallels drawn between the elements in Genesis 1:2 with the Ancient Egyptian Ogdoad. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogdoad_(Egyptian)

          For example, in the context of the New Kingdom, Karenga (2004) uses “fluidity” (for “flood, waters”), “darkness”, “unboundedness” and “invisibility” (for “repose, inactivity”).

          Genesis 1:2 (NRSV)2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

          fluidity = the deep
          darkness = darkness
          unboundedness = formless void
          invisibility = a wind

          There is no fire element there then.

        • Tangent: the other ANE creation stories had the god create our world out of something else (like the slain carcass of his enemy). Christians say that Genesis is unique in that God created out of nothing.

          I’m not sure that it does. In the first place, it doesn’t explicitly say this; in the second, it says God created the heavens and the earth but then mentions water, as if the water were the chaos that God used to create heavens/earth.

          Thoughts?

        • Greg G.

          Genesis 1:1 doesn’t seem to be referring to just Day 1, it seems to be to the whole account. It could be read that the earth was created from a formless void. What was the wind of God made of?

          But let’s dispute the claim that creating out of nothing is unique. The Wikipedia article on ex nihilo quotes the Reg Vida https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_nihilo#Hindu

          The RigVeda quotes “If in the beginning there was neither Being nor Non-Being, neither air nor sky, what was there? Who or what oversaw it? What was it when there was no darkness, light, life, or death? We can only say that there was the One, that which breathed of itself deep in the void, that which was heat and became desire and the germ of spirit,” which is suggestive of the fact that Ex nihilo creator was always there and he is not controlled by time or by any previous creation.

        • News to me. Thanks.

        • Greg G.

          The One seems to have created itself first. That is unique.

    • Ctharrot

      Not sure about the consistency regarding that specific topic, but I think we have good reason to believe that Paul and the other NT authors generally knew about Greek learning to varying degrees. Even if they were Jewish by birth, they were products of a Hellenized, post-Seleucid, Roman-occupied cultural context. The process of becoming literate in Greek by itself would’ve likely exposed them to ideas from major figures such as Plato and Aristotle. Paul even seems to crib a few specific lines from pagan authors.

      The NT isn’t just Judaism 2.0, although we may often think of it in roughly those terms. My sense is that it’s more a fusion of Hebrew religion and Greco-Roman metaphysics, reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of the society that produced it.

      • Greg G.

        The process of becoming literate in Greek by itself would’ve likely exposed them to ideas from major figures such as Plato and Aristotle.

        There are many references that seem to come from Plato in Paul’s letters. I think the name “Bartimaeus” which Mark explains to mean “son of Timaeus” is a reference to Plato to imply that followers of Plato were becoming Christians.

      • Grimlock

        Unless I’m entirely mistaken, the Gospel of John might be influenced by the Stoics, what with Logos and all that. And I think the Lukan crucification narrative relies heavily on the idea of the Greek idea of an honourable death for philosophers (e.g. Socrates).

  • Taneli Huuskonen

    The Finnish word “henki” is commonly translated “breath”, “spirit”, “life”, or “person”, depending on the context.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    This was tougher than the usual. I expected stuff like “Who is buried in Jesus’ tomb?”

    • But that one is a trick question.

    • gusbovona

      Ulysses S. Grant?

      • Michael Neville

        That’s the answer to “who is buried in Mrs. Grant’s tomb?”

  • carbonUnit

    Heh, I thought this post might be about this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB3g6mXLEKk

    • Greg G.

      Q: Was Jesus arrested, tried and executed on Thursday before the Passover meal or on Friday after the Passover meal?

      A: Both. (Gospel of John vs the Synoptic Gospels)

  • Tommy

    Yesterday they said life begins at birth. Today they say life begins at conception. Tomorrow they’ll say life begins at dinner and a movie.

  • Grimlock

    2) The word for “spirit” can also mean “wind” or “breath.”

    One of the Norwegian words for breathing is “ånde”. A Norwegian word for spirit/ghost/soul is “ånd”. Apparently it (surprise!) shares the same etymological roots.

    Incidentally, after googling to confirm this etymology, I’m pretty sure Google now thinks that I have bad breath. Oh well.

  • tjallen54

    Surely this is why some Greeks regarded beans as holy; they produce air or wind.