Misconceptions About the Bible

There are a lot of misconceptions about the bible because of pop culture theology and church traditions. We all need to go back to reading what the text actually says. Here are a few examples that are only a taste of what there is to uncover.

For example, I don’t know where the bible exactly says people go to heaven when they die, in fact, the bible doesn’t really focus on the “afterlife”, it focuses more on the resurrections. Eternal life begins when we are raised back to life while we are dead because when you are dead you are not alive. Someone first brought this issue to my attention a few years ago and they point out how it didn’t make sense to go to heaven and then get sent back to earth to be resurrected. When I started studying the resurrection that is when I realized they were right. Even most Jews don’t believe in an afterlife but are waiting for the resurrection unless they follow the Sadducee school of thought.

Many people believe that biblical angels have wings but they are never described this way, only cherubs and seraphs have wings. Think about Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, the two angels lead Lot in his family out, but they didn’t pick them up and fly them away like superheroes, they ran with their feet. Angels in pre-4th Century artwork are not depicted without wings. In the 4th Century wings were added to depictions of angels and cherubs were made to look like cupid babies. This and many other changes came about with the European romanization of Christianity, which reinterpreted Jewish aspects of Christianity. 

Another one is that the Israelites were enslaved for 400/430 years. They were only in Egypt for 215 and enslaved for no more than 144 years. Moses’ grandfather Kohath came with the Israelites to Egypt from Canaan in Gen 46. If Kohath (who died at age 133) was born the year the Israelites came to Egypt, and his son Amram (died at 137) and grandson Moses (80 years old at the time of the Exodus) were each born when their father’s died, then 133+137+80 is a maximum of 350 years. So the Israelites COULDN’T have been in Egypt for more than 350 years.

Even the Christmas story has misconceptions, like the idea that Jesus was visited by the Magi when he was born. The Magi showed up between 41 days and 2 years afterward and visited him in a house, not the Manger. They did not come on the day he was born, those were shepherds that visited him in the manger in Luke 2:8-20. The Magi could have come as late as 2 years after Jesus was born since the star was in the sky for 2 years (Matt 2:7 & 16). If the star appeared 2 years before Jesus was born then the Magi came that year he was born, but if he appeared the night he was born then the magi appeared 2 years later. If they came the year Jesus was born they couldn’t have come until at least 41 days later after Jesus was born because, in Luke 2:21-38, Mary and Joseph did the purification offering at the temple in Jerusalem, which according to Leviticus 12:1-5 is done on the 40 days after a boy was born. In Matt 2:21-23, Mary and Joseph detoured from their trip back to Judah after they left Egypt in order to avoid Herod’s son Archelaus. Instead, they went straight back to Galilee, which means there was no way they could do the purification offering after they left Egypt.