We did not start out thinking there were problems with Bible. Now we do. This article explains our journey and why we think the Bible has trouble.
In early 1998 Phil had worked out the timeline of the Bible, especially how the modern calendar can be linked day-accurately to the Calendar used to write the Bible. It that work it was possible to show the Bible was making accurate predictions for many modern headlines. The theoretical work is online at bibletime.com.
By the summer of 1998 Phil had quit his job and went to live in a cabin in the woods of Oregon. There was much more technical work to do, but the predicted headlines should be seen in real time starting that fall.
Ryan was going to college at the time. He transferred to Oregon that fall. He was working on school, but was around on weekends and watched everything as it unfolded. He would start work on Book Order Bibles full time in 2006.
Though the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was a serious miss, headlines did indeed start passing in real time when then US president Clinton visited Jerusalem, and especially temple mount. That mount was known in Abraham's day as Mount Moriah.
That headline was following a replay of Abraham taking Isaac to Mount Moriah, a visit to the same place. Clinton had taken a 747 load of servants with him, though he left them behind at the hotel, a match to Abraham. Clinton went mostly alone by helicopter to Temple Mount. All that was needed to clinch the headline was sacrificing of a ram.
When Clinton arrived back in Washington DC, he announced that he would bomb Baghdad. At the time there was much speculation that this was a 'wag the dog' scenario. The term comes from a movie where a US president creates an international incident to keep himself in office. The prophetic story agreed, sacrificing a ram caught in a thicket preserved Isaac.
With this nice fulfillment, work continued on the Bible Time.
Samson Kills 3000
Most of the headlines were passing by uneventfully, which was fine. This was an era when the problem was one of matching stories in the Bible to headlines. How this might work generally had to be learned by example.
By September of 2001, there was a small cluster of Bible stories that fulfilled together at the bombing of the World Trade Center buildings at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in NYC.
You probably know the obvious story, Samson pushed over 2 columns killing 3000 people on the roof. This fulfilled when the 2 columns of the twin tower trade center collapsed on 2001-09-11.
The official death toll was worked out as 2997 people. I would dare say they probably did not count 3 pregnancies, because killing babies is not illegal in the USA. This headline was probably an exact match to the expected prophetic number of 3000.
This was a blatant match to the Bible's story. It did not require a timeline to fit the headline to the text.
But, nobody of note in American Christianity dared voice the connection because it meant that residents of New York City were Philistines. In other words, enemies of the people of faith.
The text was starting to provide commentary that would not play at all well with normal Christian nor American audiences. It is the sort of news that these days gets the messenger utterly banned from social media.
By 2004 the original headline series was over. By 2006 another headline series began. This series was based on a 3500 year anniversary replay of the plagues on ancient Egypt. The timeline of those plagues was monthly, not daily as normally understood in English Bibles.
Different prophetic date series have different tolerances on fulfillment. Previous series had been accurate to the day, some individual stories are even less accurate.
The dates in the plagues series were usually timed accurately to the hour. Usually they hit around sunset, really day break, in modern Israel. So in the USA, this meant that if the headline was exactly on time it would strike at around 11:00 AM Eastern Time. (This is why the towers fell in NYC at around 11:00 AM.)
You know the headlines for this series as the 2008 financial crisis. Each plague type matched headlines were related to failures of different types of financial institutions, usually in the western world.
One of the headlines was very different. Understanding that headline would change the nature of our work.
My Muslim Faith
The day in question was a Sunday, and it was an otherwise slow news weekend. Then candidate for US President Barack Obama was being interviewed on the ABC network's Sunday Morning show.
In the interview he was talking about his faith, and called it his 'Muslim faith.' The interviewer corrected him, and said, Don't you mean your Christian faith? Obama then corrected himself and said yes his Christian faith.
This headline created quite a stir. It spread on social media like wildfire. A Muslim was about to become president of the USA. It was clear to anyone watching that his Christian faith was simply an act.
The timing for this was exquisite. The broadcast was around 11:00 AM. But, how did this match the expected text for this headline. Here is the quote from the NIV. This was the version we were using at the time and is what we were expecting that day.
We know this of course as the 'plague of flies.'
Now the overall series of dates was quite strong. It had started with the 2006 war in Israel across the northern border with Lebanon. This had been the killing of the Hebrew Babies.
Most of the other headlines were related to some type of financial institution that had failed on or very near the expected date.
Even a few days after this headline with Obama there had been no financial headlines of any note. This strange quip had to be the fulfillment. But how?
In order to debug this headline, the citation itself needed to be checked against original language text. This would be the first ever such headline related check.
The charts themselves held over 2500 other cites, and if this turned out to be serious, then another 2500+ citations would need to be checked later.
Was this NIV English hiding something?
When we dug into this verse we found that indeed, there was a very high value original language word that was absent from the NIV English. This was NOT just an NIV problem, all the other widely available English language Bibles were also missing the word.
Here is the same quote in the BRB, where we now correct all these sorts translation errors as we find them.
Note that the underlying original language text for this verse includes the word normally translated as 'Arab'.
Was Obama referencing his Arab faith? Of course. He was self identifying as the Arab that this passage says would eventually ruin prophetic Egypt.
In other words, by the time Obama is gone, the USA will be in ruins.
To be clear, Obama was not gone at the end of this series of plague dates. Obama's vice president Biden is now the president. So the date seems to have hit, but a complete fulfillment never happened.
Though usually ascribed to dementia, current US President Biden has repeatedly stated that he still works for Obama, and that Obama is still in control of presidential policy. It is often mockingly called the O'Biden administration for good reason.
The national ruin called for in Obama's prophetic headline is still future. We expect Muslim Obama to bring the historically Christian USA to ruin by intentionally steering the western world into nuclear war with Russia. Obama will have taken out all the nations where Christianity was the historical faith.
The reason for this victory lies in same riddle that caused the NIV and all other English Bibles to not accurately translate the term Arab. There are many other such textual problems. Taken together they fatally impact public expressions of what is know as historical Christianity.
Plans For An Audit
After 2008 we began to plan for how we might generate a complete interlinear of the Bible where software would manage the English language words that are displayed along side each original term.
Ultimately, this is still our goal, but the path to that goal is not simple. In the interim, Ryan has been the manual keeper of the BRB English. Even after 15 years he is still regularly auditing BRB English terms against the original language texts.
Doing this by hand has given us considerable insight into the history and troubles that lead to the mistakes we first found in the NIV with that headline.
There was much more insight to come, only now are ready to start this work. There was still much more history to come.
By 2009 we had taken an introductory Hebrew language class. In that class the instructor spent the first semester dealing with the history of the alphabet and the history of Hebrew word spellings. The instructor then introduced each letter, at a pace of about 2 letters per class session. It was an overwhelming load of new information.
This was NOT a class like you might find in any college. It was built on a workbook by Seekins, with much practical advice thrown in.
What you need to know are the following points:
The Hebrew letter forms known today are only ~2500 years old. Note that Moses is ~1000 years earlier still.
The previous form, known as Paleo Hebrew in religious circles, but Phoenician to everyone else, was used for at least 1000 years earlier, probably much more.
Students were expected to know, from memory, each Paleo Hebrew letter form. Students were expected to mentally translate each Hebrew letter into that form.
The exact spelling of each word in that Paleo Hebrew alphabet gives the dictionary definition of each word. No printed dictionary is ever needed, nor have any ancient dictionaries ever been found.
The spellings of all words in the Bible changed over time. Students were expected to know exactly how to undo those spelling changes, including dropping of all vowel points and ignoring added vowels. This must be done to find the spelling that defines each word.
Lessons from this class informed our starting point on the audit. We needed an app that would display an interlinear text where there was an English word above or below each original language word. No problem.
But all the steps we had been taught in class could simply do on screen. We could drop vowel points, we could mark added vowels, we could reformat the font into the Paleo Hebrew forms.
This is not conceptually hard. The estimated effort was not much more work than the BRB app itself.
The first step in that process was to build the font. It would turn out to be a prophetic journey that still continues.
Finding The Paleo Font
In the fall of 2009 we visited friends in Montana. One of our friends in Montana had an intense prophetic dream the morning when we were leaving.
In the dream he saw Phil pulling objects out of a tool box. The box was functioning like the famous bag in a scene in the original Mary Poppins movie. Mary pulls much more stuff from her bag than could naturally fit.
In that prophetic dream, Phil is pulling various 3d object out from a tool box with a similar bottomless quality.
On the trip back to Seattle we began to think about the problem of building the font. We need to learn the Fontforge tool and we needed to settle on the shapes.
Starting almost immediately after returning to Seattle, Phil starting having intense waking prophetic dreams. These went on for about 3 weeks. Some days they were audible prophetic words in the shower.
The first dream was important enough to recount here.
In a dream I was having a conversation with someone. A deep imperative male voice.
I was asked, "How many dimensions are there?"
I answered, "Eleven."
I was then asked, "Then why are there 22 letters?"
I answered, "Because there are 2 aspects to each dimension."
I then saw the 22 letters of Phoenician folding on themselves. My view was in the middle, what we now know of as the Ku and Lu were folding together and coming towards me. Each additional letter pair followed behind, in a string that stretched away from me.
When I woke from the dream I knew the riddle that had to be solved.
Each correctly drawn letter was a 2 dimensional projection of a 3 dimensional object. There was 1 such object for each letter pair.
Find the object and the correct 2d drawn form will be known.
This was not an easy riddle.
While on a business trip to Israel in 1997 I had visited the gift shop in the tower of David in the wall of the old city of Jerusalem. While there I was compelled to purchase a poster that had a list of ancient drawn letter forms for each modern Hebrew letter.
I had that poster still framed on my wall, and so I had a good place to start to solve the riddle.
It took about 3 weeks of messing around with copper wire and the example letters. Because the wire was hard to manipulate it hurt my fingers so I switched to pipe cleaners.
Each day for the next 3 weeks was another dream and more hints and directions as to how to solve this riddle. Some letters could not be solved given the witness from the poster from Jerusalem. The Unicode standard and Wikipedia filled in. Eventually they were worked out.
These models are now known as the 'bones' series over on bom.paleo.in if you want to see them, or download and 3d print them.
Near the end of the 3 weeks I was told again in a waking dream to assemble them. I had no idea that they could do such a think. The model required some model copies. A few were duplicates and mirror images. The theoretical basis for why these existed would come in late 2022.
There are 2 such assemblies, a sower and reaper. These are also visible and available on that website. These are the bones from the story of Ezekiel's bones in the Book of Ezekiel.
Our current Paleo fonts are all based on that late 2009 work.
Anyone who actually used Paleo Hebrew (or better called Phoenician) in ancient times would readily recognize each letter in this font. If you don't believe me, look up Phoenician on Wikipedia and compare.
Why So Important?
Intense prophetic seasons like those 3 weeks are extremely rare. They happen because they are very important. They happened in order to get the font exactly right. This is very important for a bunch of reasons.
The 3d models behind the 2d letter shapes in the drawn alphabet are providing a system that can detect and correct the drawn forms of each letter in inspired text. Even after 2000 years of devolution, the recovery was reasonably easy to pull off.
When knowledge of those objects was lost, the Phoenician alphabet then deformed. It devolved into all the other known phonetic alphabets. This includes Latin and Greek letters, Aramaic and Hebrew letters, and some strongly argue all other phonetic letters, including far away ancient Japanese.
As I will explore below, we believe the entire canon of inspired scripture was built on a similar system which could not only detect but also correct any errors introduced into the text over time.
The alphabet was just our first introduction to the principle of an error detection and correction systems used with inspired text.
More Sets Of 3d Shapes
There were 3 more sets of 3d models that would come over the following years. The last set came about 2016. Those model sets are also available on the bom.paleo.in website.
The 'tools' set is formed by folding 3d letters against themselves. This creates 25 3d models that are the objects that define the meaning of the letters.
The letter definitions given in the workbook in the Hebrew class that we had taken were only correct in 11 out of 22 times.
So the possible word definitions that could be constructed by students in that class were only going to be correct about 1/2 of the time.
There are yet 2 other 3d model sets that link the alphabet to 2 different infinitely repeating objects. One of those is an initial star. The terminal shapes are biological. This means the entire set of 2d shapes and 3d models is closed.
Those other model sets also assemble. One set assembles into either a silo or well. The other assemblies into models that tell the life cycle of plants.
These 3d models give us a sense of the mind that was behind the creation of inspired scripture. It also strongly suggests similar design elegance will be visible once manuscript recovery is complete.
Everything explained here so far has only been dealing with the Hebrew language of the Old Testament.
We had many lessons to learn along the way involving original language texts and their histories.
The first step in that discover process involved the New Testament.
The Bible Time project had been named as an echo of the 'Bible Codes' work done by others. For those unfamiliar, the Bible Codes work arranges strings of Hebrew letters taken from the OT into variously sized grids. The line length is called a skip distance and the grid created is like a crossword puzzle. If the Hebrew text is run across, for example, then the intersecting strings of vertical letters sometimes spell out of other things.
This process is known to not work in Greek and is used by Hebrew fans of the OT as an argument as to why the NT is not inspired.
I chanced upon an article by someone who had used the Aramaic text of the NT and run it through the same software tools as used in the Bible Code work.
The article explained how there might be similar codes in the Aramaic NT.
Given what we were taught about the history of Hebrew, the Bible Codes work would probably stand a better chance if they cleaned up the texts themselves before using such tools. In general what this work is really doing is hinting at more volumes, a subject I must explore later.
In any case, that article introduced me to the existence of the 'Church of the East' who kept the Aramaic texts of the New Testament.
By this name they do NOT mean east as in eastern Rome, and the Orthodox branches of Christianity. This group grew up independently of Rome. It was highly active at some periods in history. It first brought Christianity to China in the 800s. Here are the points you should know:
This group was indigenous to what is now northern Iraq.
The first Persian Gulf War which caused them to be caught in the cross fire of civil war in Iraq. Many fled to the west.
They believed they carried the inspired NT writings.
Until around 1800 they kept those writings with the same scribal care as the Jews did with the Hebrew OT.
There were 2 competing scribal communities within their midst.
Modern literary analysis agrees with their contention.
The keepers of the Aramaic NT tradition claim they carry the inspired text of the NT. This is a claim to truth.
There is also the claim by western Christianity that the NT was written in Greek. This is a competing claim to truth. As outsiders, how are we to pick? Only 1, or perhaps neither, of these claims can be true. One of the texts must most likely be translated from the other
The process of translation usually leaves behind artifacts where the translators made mistakes. By studying differences between the Greek and Aramaic we can find places where an ancient translator likely made a mistake.
These mistakes can be from various sources, say misreading the letters on an ancient scroll. It can also be from not knowing the nuances of the source language. Translators usually need to be better in the target language.
There are 100s of detailed examples and then a few common examples used in the discussion over Aramaic Primary. Let me share 2 of many examples.
Eye of a Needle
The following is passage from the NIV. This is a careful modern translation into English from Greek.
Here is the same verse from the BRB, itself now audited against the Aramaic for the same verse:
Spot the difference?
The Greek asks if a camel can go through the eye of a needle. The Aramaic asks if a rope can go through the eye of a needle.
The first pass at choosing which is likely to be correct is look at these choices by 'affordance.' Needles are usually threaded. Rope is an extreme example of thread. Rope has affordance to thread and so fits the story better than camel
Camels do not have anything to do with needles, so it has no affordance to the story.
When we dig deeper, the Aramaic is using a word that transliterates to Camel. It means camel. It is the name for a type of animal. The Aramaic to Greek translators knew this.
BUT, the word also means the rope made from camel's hair. Today this is called 'ships rope.' The same heavy rope used to tie up ships.
Curiously, I met a man who had retired from a career in the US Navy. He commented that the name 'camel' is still used to describe the woven ship's rope buffers used on navy ships. He commented to me that this must be the origin of that modern English term.
For another example, consider the leper's house. Here is the quote from Mark 14. First in the NIV, a careful translation from Greek.
Then again from the BRB, carefully audited from the Aramaic.
Note that the Aramaic uses the term 'potter' instead of leper.
Again, using the tools of affordance, what problems do these 2 words present to the reader?
If this is taking place in the house of a leper, shouldn't the main story be the healing of that leper?
Instead the story focuses on a pot of oil that is poured out. Both Greek and Aramaic agree on this point.
But if this is a house of a potter, perhaps this means a house of pots filled with interesting stuff?
Is this one of the potter's pots that is poured out?
Probably so, the Aramaic is likely the inspired text, the Greek is likely the addition.
There is something like 100 similar examples, all of which point to the idea that Greek is a translation from an Aramaic. It is wrong to think that Greek is the inspired language of the NT. Anyone seeking truth needs to focus on the Aramaic and not the Greek.
So for many years we have used the Aramaic NT as the base for auditing English as we have worked on the BRB.
Aramaic is a Semitic family language. The computer standard known as Unicode explains exactly the 1-to-1 relationship between Aramaic and Hebrew letters. So in our journey to an audited interlinear we can easily use the Aramaic NT as the base for that audit.
Conceptually, at this point in our history, all we need to do is use the same font on both testaments. Things will shift later.
That Hebrew class where we had learned so much about text assumed that the text was inspired letter perfect and in full. The instructor then said that scribes had tried to keep up with pronunciation changes across history, diverging from the inspired forms.
There is (or was) considerable evidence on Wikipedia about the language shift of the Roman world in the latter half of the first century. The Pentecost event recorded early in Acts appears to have impacted the whole Roman world.
Like some sort of replay of the Tower of Babel, the language systems of the Roman world diverged, and quickly.
The upper classes of the Roman world were educated in Latin and had much written materials in that language, especially law and contracts. Their language system did not diverge that much because their written texts kept the speakers of Latin under control. Latin was stable enough that Catholic church used Latin until the 1960s.
But the lower classes, Roman speakers, were not as well educated. They did not have a large base of important written documents that they needed to read.
Around the year 100 AD those lower class speakers where changing how they spoke. In some locations grandparents were unintelligible to their grand children. In other areas simple barriers of geography, like mountains, divided Roman speakers. The Romans of late first century diverged widely in what was once a shared system pronunciation.
This divergence of language is what gives rise to the various languages across Europe today. This was not an insignificant event.
The Hebrew class that we took explained that the addition of vowels, and by 500 AD, vowel points, was done by scribes to keep up with pronunciation changes.
Like upper class Romans who needed to know Latin, the Hebrew scribes were kept mostly stable because of the need to carry the text unchanged. But, they added vowels to mark changes in vocalization.
We have done enough work to know that adding vowels was done in some sort of ad-hoc manner, and some words are seen with both spellings. This fully agrees with what we were taught, that these changes came when the pronounced sound systems of human speakers were change.
This was not seen by our teacher as a malicious action, and indeed it looks added later. But, we eventually found that there was malicious intent behind some of these changes.
Kings Or Angels?
The rules of the class were simple. Drop added vowels, use the remaining letters as the spelling to work out word meaning. This worked often, and well. In the cases were dropping added vowels hits another known word we would not expect any difference.
But we found a very serious exception that still defines our journey. Let me show it by a simple example.
This quote from the NIV is one of many in the NT that at the bottom is tied to the Aramaic 4 letter spelling of the word for 'angel.' The same 4 letters drawn in Aramaic script are used in Hebrew for Angel. So there is no divergence between Hebrew and Aramaic here.
The problem is that in the 3 letter, no-vowel, version of the same word, the resulting word is not angel, but king.
Were these originally the same word?
Or did some malicious scribe intentionally diverge these 2 words?
By this I mean did someone take deliberate malicious action to use an innocent technique for keeping up with pronunciation changes to change the meaning at the same time?
Here is the same verse in the BRB which always audits the 3 and 4 letter spellings of these words to the English word king in its various tenses.
So we use the entire quote to ask author's intent. Was this passage originally about angelic beings? Or was the intent to tell women to dress with head coverings because of earthly kings.
So was the author's intent to warn women for their own protection from the evil intent of earthly kings? Just as earthly kings draft young men into war, they take young women into their harems. (Think Epstein Island for a modern example.)
There is significant weight on the idea that this second interpretation was the author's intent.
Later, we learned to ask about the editor's intent.
Did an editor have a reason to make this change? Editors are either kings, priests or their agents. Would an editor have reason to shift from the word king to angel? Either here or perhaps everywhere across the text?
To see this for yourself, take a Greek based copy of the NT and read through all occurrences of the word 'angel' and ask if this might have always been the simple word 'king.'
If you do this, you will especially see this editor's intent evident in the Book of Revelation. The destruction of earth described in that book would thus be ascribed by original authors to earthly kings, not someone from off planet.
Editor's intent in that case would be to change author's intent from placing blame on the editors to others.
By undoing this likely editor's change, we would read Revelation to mean that kings of earth will be the ones who will destroy earth.
People like Obama and his friends become examples of the men who the text would be discussing.
So are there angels at all?
They are called kings because they occupy seats in the heavenly throne room described in Revelation 4. They come and go from earth at will. They actually do rule earth. They have authority over all earthly kings, should they choose to use that authority, which the often do not use. Figuring who they are and where they come is completely possible but it forms an advanced study.
This sort of vocabulary change was starting to change what the text actually meant. We were diverging from the stock Greek Bibles that we grew up with. Things were about to diverge much more severely.
Doctrine of Inspiration
In 2011 we traveled the Oregon coast to California. Driving for days in the car has often been a key time of insight as we generally stop work on the computers and sit and talk.
In that trip it dawned on us that there might be manuscript tampering that was larger than just changes in spelling.
It had taken years to get to this point because our Protestant upbringing takes the doctrine of inspiration as fundamental. Here is the important quote.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV)
Martin Luther used this quote to argue that the Bible has fundamental authority over affairs of the church. Church leaders were not to be considered the supreme voice, such as the Pope at Rome.
This was profound in many ways, and it triggered what is now called the Protestant Reformation. Everyone had reason to study the text to find out for themselves if they had basis for rejecting tyrant leaders. There was suddenly compelling reasons to teach children how to read. That way they could read the text for themselves. Literacy went up, and the entire world of ideas became open to intellectual exploration.
But, there is a logical mistake in this doctrine that springs from that verse. Everyone who quotes it, should know the problem.
Luther and his spiritual heirs think that the Bible that we hold today is the same book as called out in the passage quoted here.
Consider, Mormon's easily use that verse to claim the Book of Mormon has authority too. Other religions are doing the same. Protestants are not superior in using this as the basis for their claims about the Bible.
We need some concrete evidence to prove that the Bible we now hold is the scripture referenced in that passage.
Routes To Proving Inspiration
At the time we already knew about how the 3d system behind letter forms provided a system to detect and correct errors in letter shapes. That system is either inspired or comes from some ancient high-tech world, maybe both. It was not designed by ancient shepherds.
There must be a similar error detection and correction system that applies to strings of letters as written by inspired authors. As it seemed related to the 3d system, it became Phil's mission to try and find that system.
Once that drive along the Oregon coast was finished, Ryan took the challenge to see if he could spot additions based on context and content. Phil added the tools needed so the BRB text could mark Ryan's hunches on large additions.
Let me share 2 early examples.
Before that drive was even over, we both recognized that Numbers 7 stood the best chance of being an addition.
The chapter itself is out of place and interrupts the narrative running in Numbers 6 and continuing in Numbers 8.
Numbers 7 explains 12 days of offerings that are identical and brought each day across 12 days. This is not matched in the text to the time when these offerings supposedly happend.
Numbers 7 does not explain what happened on the either the 1 or 2 Sabbaths that should have happened on those 12 days. Did they stop Sabbath? If not, was it right to work on the Sabbath?
First Corinthians 13
Some readers here might think that even of the OT is tampered, that the NT must not be. The easiest example to see is First Corinthians 13.
The previous chapter 12 and the next chapter 14 are on the topic of spiritual gifts. Chapter 13 was inserted later, just like Numbers 7, and is not related.
Once we were on the hunt for additions, we found places where some scribe appears to have bracketed additions with comments.
Consider that the king might not know how to read and write. In any case hand written scrolls require skills that kings will not normally want to perform. They will dictate their additions and then have some scribe insert the edit.
The best example of this is found in 3 places, which I quote here in the NIV.
You will not cook the meat of a kid in its mother's milk. (Exodus 23:19 BRB)
"Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. (Exodus 23:19 NIV)
(Exodus 23:19 KJV)
You will not cook a kid in its mother's milk. (Exodus 34:26 BRB)
"Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk." (Exodus 34:26 NIV)
You will not cook a kid in its mother's milk. (Deuteronomy 14:21 BRB)
Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. (Deuteronomy 14:21 NIV)
(Deuteronomy 14:21 KJV)
Note the common phrase, Do not cook a kid in its mother's milk.
These are NOT passages dealing with food laws.
What is the mother's milk? Inspired text.
Who is the kid? The reader.
Who is cooking the kid? Whomever ordered a scribe to insert text into inspired text.
This footnote was their way to warn future readers about the tamper they were compelled in some way to insert.
Modern Jews simply take this as a food law. It prevents cheese and meat on the same pizza, for example. It has a much more important textual meaning.
Law Of Babel
Once we accepted that there might be tampering, we struggled with another problem. Is there any reason to believe the inspired text even survives to our era?
Is it completely fabricated? Has it lost any fundamental parts?
Error detection and correction systems, no matter how they might work, depend on some amount of the original message getting through to the intended receiver.
Has a recoverable part of inspired text made it into our modern era? The path for finding inspired text that we were starting to walk requires that there is something to find.
There is a principle, given in Daniel's day and then again in Mordecai's day that once a law is issued that it cannot be repealed. This is what traps Daniel, see Daniel 6:8 for an example. This is also what causes the civil war in Esther is based on the same problem. See Esther 8:8 for an example. Instead of repealing a law, all that kings can do is add more laws.
These civil examples provide the basis for why most tampering with the text can be expected to always be additions. Simple respelling and word substitutions appear to be recoverable provided there has been no loss of the general documents.
As we are working on the text, we are also limited to this. Only once we and prove the exact letter perfect text can we then confidently drop the rest. This is why our systems are built around markup against the BRB.
Acts 15, Pass 1
We generally want to find the text speaking about whatever problem we are studying. So once we were on the topic of additions, we looked for places that might be speaking of this problem.
The first place where we found the text speaking about itself is Acts 15. The context is given at the top of the chapter. The disciples had been in Antioch when someone came down from Jerusalem and demanded that early believers be circumcised.
This caused a stir, and they had to get together and hold a council on this point. Various arguments are presented and then the council writes a letter back to Antioch.
Here is the essential quote of the letter set back to Antioch.
Note how they went to great trouble to assemble together to address the issue of circumcision. But, their answer back does not even mention the practice. Instead there are 4 other points listed instead.
The 4 key words are given in verse 29:
In a flash of insight, we realized the fundamental reason they gathered is because the 'men from Jerusalem' who had come down were basing their circumcision argument on additions.
This would indicate that Exodus 12:44 and Exodus 12:48 are additions, along with many other circumcision related passages, including Abraham, Gilgal, and so on.
It would also indicate that the purpose of the letter was to provide broad and general topics that mark the hand of an editor.
We had hit pay-dirt. Ryan set out to find passages that were on these topics and mark them as likely additions.
Acts 15, Pass 2
In 2016 we hosted a week long set of online meetings. As we tried to do once a year we gave project status to friends and supports spread around the world.
The plan was to review the project, much as this article is doing here.
One of the important chapters to this work is in Acts 15. I was the chief speaker for those live streams and was late in preparing ahead, so I was racing through the material ahead of each meeting in order to prepare slide.
When I was preparing notes on Acts 15, I realized there was much more in this chapter than we had previously understood. Without time to discussion the talk with Ryan, I got up and gave my reasoning to the larger group who had assembled. My reasoning went roughly like this.
Their real problem was that Moses is read on the Sabbath.
The reason they are writing is because they see a problem with Moses being read on the Sabbath. There is a problem in the popular text that is out in the world.
The are going to instruct readers how to filter out uninspired stories using rules.
But instead of just listing rules, they write a letter back to Antioch because each point they raise marks an editor whom are also each identified by letters.
Solomon writes a letter to Hiram for logs. Solomon built the temple and introduces into the public texts the topic sacrifice. Most anything to do with sacrifice is there by Solomon's hand. The temple itself a house of idols. Solomon is editor #1.
Jezebel (in Ahab's hand) writes a letter to get Naboth killed. Jezebel introduces blood, and justification for killing. The commandment is absolute, do not kill. But there are a bunch of exceptions. She is the editor for those. Ahab/Jezebel is editor #2.
Nebuchadnezzar wrote several letters, especially about the cut down tree and the statue. The tree is like a neck on a person. He introduced the Hebrew language and texts. They were in a different language from the inspired text. Daniel was chosen for his job so he could learn the Babylonian language and literature. Together they choked off the inspired tongue. Nebuchadnezzar is editor #3.
Mordecai's wrote letters to the Jews that triggered the civil war in his day. His entire life story is about pimping Esther to be accepted in the king's harem in order to get power for himself. This is the sexual immorality mentioned in the letter. Mordecai is editor #4.
Ezra did not write a letter, but was given a letter. It gave him authority under the power of the king to establish what becomes the state religion. He is the canonizer. The men who first came from Jerusalem and started the story are doing so under his edits. Ezra is editor #5.
The letter is acts is identifying the NT editor. This will turn out to be Ananias who is editor #6.
With the editors identified to specific people it became much easier to establish editor's intent and to catalog editors. The BRB app has a set of filter tags which can be enabled to show who we identify as the likely source for uninspired passages.
Dropping Hebrew OT
Once we got our heads around Nebuchadnezzar as the sponsor of the development of the Hebrew language, we were faced with the problems of the Hebrew OT.
There is an Aramaic version of the OT that competes with the Hebrew OT. At the same time there is NO Hebrew version of the NT.
If Aramaic was the inspired text of the NT, then might Aramaic be the inspired remaining text of the OT too? If the entire Bible was written in 1 language, then Aramaic is the only serious choice.
Remember, of course, that the original language text was not either Aramaic nor Hebrew, it was in the Paleo alphabet in its own language that devolved from that used on the stone carved commandments. That alphabet had escaped to Phoenicia when Solomon wrote Hiram a letter requesting logs for Solomon's temple. This is why it is known as Phoenician, and why it spread around the world.
For maybe 1000 years after Moses, the scribes still used pure Paleo letter forms, but eventually the text was transposed from that alphabet out to other languages. The Hebrew conversion happened at Daniel's hand in Nebuchadnezzar's day.
The Paleo to Aramaic conversion likely happened a couple centuries earlier than Daniel. That earlier conversion was triggered by Jezebel's assassination of Naboth.
Naboth appears to have run a community of prophets. Naboth's vineyard was used to produce the fuser needed for ink. The time needed to regrow an orchard was most likely contributing to why he was not eager to sell out. That vineyard likely had history to Joshua son of Nun's day, thus his claim to heritage.
After the death of Naboth, and the disbursing of that prophetic community, Elijah and maybe Elisha were refugees who fled Jezebel. They eventually headed for Damascus, across the Jordan where they would be safer.
Damascus was a city in Aram, now Syria. This is the name from which the Aramaic/Syriac texts which we have been discussing get their names.
Those prophets, scribes really, are the likely first group to have done a conversion to the local Aramaic alphabet. This group has has a superior claim on being the first group to do a translation from Paleo into another drawn form of the alphabet.
Note that there are serious differences between word spellings in the Hebrew and Aramaic, so this shift to Aramaic is serious. Our first audits done in 2023 worked only against Aramaic. This choice was justified.
NT Divine Name
The Aramaic New Testament spells Jesus' name the exact same way as the OT name Joshua as in Joshua son of Nun. This man was Moses' aide and then lead the heirs of Jacob across the Jordan and into the promised land.
Because we are trying to audit the text we want that spelling to come out the same in all places. We have 2 different choices here. Either we make Moses' aid into Jesus, or we make Jesus into Joshua.
Because Joshua is a conventional transliteration of a name into English, and because Jesus only transliterates Greek, the BRB text and the rest of work always uses the name Joshua.
This is also a helpful change because we understand Joshua as god in the flesh, while Jesus is son of god in the flesh. This is a theological difference that we arrive at given our work in the text.
Joshua is the name we use when we pray. This is the name center to our faith. This is the man who was crucified and raised from the dead. He is the center of the action in the NT.
OT Divine Name
There is a long history and theory about how names are translated between languages. Normally, a name is left alone when it is translated between languages. This fact has been used as the key to recovering languages that have been completely lost to history.
The 1901 ASV English translation attempted to introduce Jehovah as the OT divine name. This English does carefully follow standard transliteration rules and is not a bad choice.
The ASV version was never commercially successful and English language Bibles have generally remained with the use of LORD, Lord and lord instead. This lets them remain competitive for the Bible buying public.
The terms, LORD, Lord and lord, notice the difference in capitalization, are used to hide a confusing number of Hebrew terms that are generally thought of as the OT Divine Name.
When we compare the divine name terms in Hebrew and in Aramaic we find something very strange. Hebrew has what appears to be a standard name, Jehovah, using standard English name conversion rules, or Yahweh, which uses Yiddish conversion rules.
Aramaic does not have a name at all, but a title. That title is also used of ordinary people. It is usually translated from Aramaic as master. That word also transliterates into the English word mister, which is also quite strange suggesting our English word mister comes from that Aramaic root.
This divergence between Aramaic and Hebrew is not normally seen. For most of the common names in the text the Hebrew and Aramaic versions are spelled exactly the same and differ only by the difference in the written forms of the letters themselves.
This point was an issue of dispute and recorded for us in the NT. Here is verse that calls out the dispute:
(Acts 4:12 KJV)
Pay attention to the local problem this verse poses. Abraham is the father of all the faithful. We are adopted into his family when we come to faith.
What name did Abraham use as his divine name? In other words, what real name did Abraham use when Abraham entertained is 3 special guests?
Since there is only 1 name, this verse is calling out the dispute found in the extant texts. They disagreed, and the NT writers knew this.
In addition, the dispute is fundamental. If you don't know this name, you are not able to become a member of the faith community.
Because the BRB text is trying to reflect audited terms in the English you will always see Master as the OT divine name. This is really a title. When we strip the BRB out for use in our estimations of inspired text we intentionally substitute Joshua for Master, in any passage coming from the OT.
Our hunch that Joshua was the inspired divine name was borne out by our early OT audit work. Work still remains to fully prove this point, but our hunch is growing confident.
The Testimony App
In the 6 months after that early 2016 live stream we now had enough intellectual tools to intelligently mark out passages in the BRB which were not inspired.
At some point that spring it was evident we were going to be marking out more than 1/2 of the Bible. It became important to try and understand what was left over. We also had to work out what the correct name was for that work.
We currently expect the formal name for inspired text to be called, "The Testimony of Joshua." We typically call it the 'TT' for short.
By Tabernacles in August of 2016 what is now the TT App went online.
This app strips out all text in the BRB currently thought to be added by editors. It arranges that material in an organization that we currently think to be inspired.
Conventional Bibles are a collection of different books. They are arranged in a conventional order based on various traditions.
As we experimented with the TT app over the years we spent considerable time trying to estimate what the high level design of that text might be. The TT and its other related Testimony Apps reflect our current understanding on this point.
Instead of the 1189 chapters of the Protestant Bible, there are 400 stories. These break down into 16 sets of 25 stories. There is a considerable amount of Alphabet related structure woven into these stories. It seems to be designed for annual reading at the holiday of Tabernacles, especially the 8 day version that land son Sabbath and Jubilee years.
The text inside the TT app and its cousin apps is still usually updated every Friday afternoon. This to reflect the latest for anyone using the app for Sabbath the next day.
Our technical focus is now on the problems of recovering the letter perfect text. We have made several false attempts at this and now have a theory about how this will be done.
This is explained more in the Theory article.