Correspondence: Missing Millennium: Textual
February 17, 2007
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
I like this argument with the missing one-thousand years.
My problem is that I believe if you accept the Bible as full truth, you accept it's authorship of God through a man's point of view. What do you say to people like me who say that a mistake, even as small as this could be, goes against God's authorship in the Bible because we believe He has preserved His word?
The short answer to your question is that conservative Christianity holds to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy in the autographs, not to divine preservation of the copying process by which the Bible was transmitted from generation to generation through the centuries. There are sound reasons for this. First, there is no promise in Scripture that those who undertake to copy Scripture will be divinely kept from making any copy mistakes. Second, comparison of extant Old Testament manuscripts reveals that they all contain copy errors. For example, all scholars agree that two important numbers have been accidentally dropped from the text of 1 Samuel 13:1, evidently very early on in the transmission process, so that these numbers are found in no extant Old Testament manuscript today. In other words, the extra-biblical idea of supernatural preservation of the process of copying the biblical text to keep it free from all copy errors is proven false by the extant manuscripts we actually possess.
These textual matters can be confusing and upsetting to the lay Christian. This is partly because the text of Scripture is so well preserved that textual matters are seldom an issue of any practical importance to the lay Christian. He/she can get on just fine for normal devotional Bible study with the assumption that the text they hold in their hands is 100% faithful to the autographs. Because of this it is easy to elevate this assumption to a false plain of doctrinal truth, where it does not belong---and then something like the missing millennium comes along and one has to rethink all this. For this reason I have taken pains to treat these textual matters openly and accurately in my book which introduces the missing millennium, "A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel". See, for example, section 4.1, "Textual Matters". (You can use the "Resources", "book" link in the navigation bar at left to view the Table of Contents of the book.)
The important bottom line is that the claim that one thousand years is missing from the extant text of 1 Kings 6:1 violates none of the principles of normal conservative Christian scholarship, and does not attack God's authorship of the Bible through divine inspiration in any way.
I trust this helps.