Wednesday 7 January 2009

Fred's Historical Landmark, Part 1

I opened the latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review to discover that I had missed a "historical landmark in Bible publishing."

According to a full page ad in the Jan/Feb issue, this new Bible is extraordinary and unique... "the only complete Bible ever published - with both Old and New Testaments - that accurately follows the original canonical manuscript order..."

The bold type and hyperbole may give you a clue.

"It is a widely unknown fact that the original manuscript order of both the Old and New Testament books was altered by early church fathers."

A widely unknown fact?

"[The Bible's] books were mysteriously repositioned from their original order by fourth-century "editors." '

Oh really?

If you haven't guessed it already, we're talking about the Fred Coulter Bible which Fred is pitching at the BAR readership. Fred is, in case you've just tuned in to the wacky world of COGdom, a schismatic minister of the Worldwide Church of God who left in the late seventies.

The ad - on page 5, if you want to check it out for yourself - raises a whole truckload of issues. There's the ghost of Ernest L. Martin to contend with, a parallel project by James Tabor to produce a "Transparent English" version, and an awful lot of nonsense that needs shoveling onto the nearest compost heap.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

I've got one of these. Received it as a gift a year ago. If you think the order of the books is incredible, the pro-HWA slant in some of the (re)wording is even more so IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Gavin said, "The ad - on page 5, if you want to check it out for yourself - raises a whole truckload of issues. There's the ghost of Ernest L. Martin to contend with,..."

MY COMMENT - That's funny Gavin. You know people of the original WCG faith believe in soul sleep. So, there is no ghost of Ernest L. Martin to contend with - not literally nor figuratively.


Anonymous said...

so why does it matter which order the books are arranged in?

Gavin said...

Richard: Take your point on the literal... but no metaphorical? I tell you I can hear Herb clanking those chains right now!

Anon: Great question, beats me, but Fred seems determined to maintain that it does...


Anonymous said...

"so why does it matter which order the books are arranged in?"

I once read an article on cults that said cults often emphasize obscure facts (sometimes true, sometimes not) in order to establish their credibility and to cast doubt on the knowledge and honesty of the opposition. HWA did this a lot. Recall his gimmick of offering $1,000 to anyone who could show him the words "Christians are going to heaven" in the Bible. Or his claim that Christians are not yet saved based on one verse (ignoring other verses, but that's how this kind of thing works).

Sadly, this "special knowledge" is often what attracts people to cults. I remember reading the PT as a teenager and wondering why the ministers in my community didn't understand the clear teachings that I was learning from the PT (most of which turned out to be wrong, but that's how it goes). After a person picks up several obscure facts from a charismatic preacher, that person is primed on how to respond when that preacher proclaims, "Either all those other churches are right or we are right." At least I was.

So maybe the order of the books of the Bible is important or maybe not; I haven't read Fred's arguments. Regardless, this is Fred's hook to grab one's attention, to establish his credentials as a biblical scholar, and to cast doubt on the knowledge and honesty of the generally accepted scholars. It's what keeps folks like Fred in business.

Anonymous said...

Selling for $89.95 at along with a list of other Fred Coulter books for sale……..

I wonder what happened to.....
“freely ye have received, freely give.”


Anonymous said...

"Why This Bible is Unique Above All Other Bibles"

"Brethren, I have never quite given a sermon like this before."

"The Book of Revelation, Revealed, Unveiled, Unhooded, Uncloaked As Never Before."

"The Never Understood Truth about ...."

"NOW It Can Be Revealed..."

"The Absolute True History of the Absolute True Church."

"Never Before Understood by Science"

"I cannot reveal all that I know at this time but will when the time is right."

I have a feeling Fred Coulter is going to get some scholarly responses to his "never got it right" approach to the order of the texts. They may reveal to him some things that have never before been revealed to, nor understood by himself.

Anonymous said...

I was 14 years old and Fred Coulter was the first minister I ever heard give the first sermon I ever heard in WCG. Intense man.

I think we can go with any true order Mr. C reveals because he has also revealed that all the original water on Mars was blown off the planet by Satan's rebellion and fall from heaven...which must be just beyond Mars as the planet evidently got in the way of Satan's Swoosh to earth.

If you wish, try my own "never before understood" version of Satan's fall from heaven.

Actually getting the order of the NT, to me, is important. Or at least interesting to see how each author cleans up, revises or drops things a previous author said that was either embarassing or needed updating in a rewrite.

A classic example is Matthew's messing up Zechariah 9:9 by saying in Matthew 21:1-7 after sending the disciples out to find two animals,

"They brought the donkey AND the colt and put their coats on THEM, and he sat upon THEM."

Zechariah defines one animal as a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey, and never had two in mind. Matthew has Jesus putting coats on both and Jesus riding both...Kinda like a rodeo star I guess.

This alone proves how Matthew constructed stories of Jesus in his Gospel based on OT scriptures that he actually misunderstood and wrote the NT story wrong.

The author of John in 12:12-15 corrects Matthews mistake in his version of the story and restores the one donkey to correctly match Zechariah's "prophecy".

Oh well..who cares! If the King James was good enough for the Apostles and the Gospel writers, it's good enough for me :)

Anonymous said...

For those of you who don't know Fred Coulter very well, I suggest you send for his taped sermon about the little known city of Sepphoris, and find out that tithing (so teaches Fred) was definitely required in the time of the apostle Paul's priesthood. Fred studied the Greek under Dr. Dorthy and he was the only one that finished the course. So that makes Fred a true scholar.

Now Fred has his own translation of the Bible, the true Christian Passover, and other writings that prove his knowledge.

Fred's stance on tithing in the New Testament can easily be proved in error by any 9th grade student. So how can Fred have any credibility teaching anything?

Maybe to establish credibility Fred had to write his own Bible.

Anonymous said...

I believe he maintains that it matters in order to build a case for his authority to reword as he sees fit. It's a Jedi mind trick. Accept that he has special knowledge in that area, and it becomes more acceptable that he has special insight in others as well.

If you do come across one, pay special attention to the phrase "works of law". Keep an eyeball out for italicized words and asterisks.

His Bible is massively thick, but not because of the New Testament. Copious amounts of commentary abound. That boy is wordy! And, yes, it's typical Armstrongism warmed over.

Anonymous said...

I remember at one time the gurus out in Pasadena were considering doing their own Church-sponsored translation of the Bible - sort of comparable to the Jehovah's Witnesses "New World Translation."

But apparently the project was cancelled, or never really got off the ground in the first place.

I know Coulter did his own translation of the four gospels from koine Greek into English back in the mid '70's with his book "Harmony of the Gospels: The Life of Jesus Christ."

Anonymous said...

"It is a widely unknown fact......"

MY COMMENT - Isn't this oxymoron typical of the hucksters from the WCG origin?


Anonymous said...

Didn't herbie warn the sheeple not to trust religions that make up their own versions of the bible?

I'm sure Fred's bible and his harmony of the gospels says exactly what he wants it to say.

Don't they all.

I will write my own version on the bible right here for all to learn from:

Chapter 1: The universe and world came into existence, exactly how, nobody can say with finality.

Chapter 2: Life came into existence, exactly how, nobody can say with finality.

Chapter 3: Live well, be well, treat others well, and expand your knowledge.

Chapter 4: If any man or woman claims *special* knowledge they must put up or shut up. In order for something to be true or 'truth' it must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

Chapter 5: Something may or may not come next. Nobody can say with finality.

Chapter 6: Amen

There you have it.

Anonymous said...

How is the Fred Coulter Bible different from the Thomas Nelson Chronological Study Bible described in the January – February, 2009 issue of the Bible Advocate published by the Church of God, Seventh Day – you know, the church that once gave Herbert W. Armstrong a by line in its magazine until he decided to go independent and then later characterized the competing COG7 brand as the dead Sardis era church?

Of course, I could ask which Church brand seems more like the dead Sardis Church today – Herbert Armstrong’s WCG or the 125 year old Church of God, Seventh Day – but, I won’t ask.

I wonder if the Fred Coulter Bible will even be mentioned in future “Bible in the News” columns in the Bible Advocate. Here is the excerpt from the current Bible Advocate on the Thomas Nelson Chronological Study Bible:

Bible in the News

By Sherri Langton

This year, the BA hopes to publish brief news items as they become available -- about the Bible, its distribution, and its role in modern society. In this issue, we report on two recently released Bibles. This is not an endorsement of all one may read in these niche publications but simply an attempt to make Bible lovers aware of what's available. Future issues will feature other ways the Bible makes today's news.

Chronological Study Bible
(Thomas Nelson)
Released in November 2008, the Chronological Study Bible presents the text of the New King James Version in chronological order. It is the only Bible on the market to offer such an approach.

This could be a nice diversion for Bible lovers who find themselves in a reading rut. First and 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, for example, are interspersed with psalms that David wrote during his conflicts with Saul and his reign as king of Israel. The excerpts I read deepened my understanding of what happened in Old Testament times and when it happened. I like a Bible that not only communicates God's truth but also enhances my knowledge with notes, articles, and graphics.

I also found the reading plan for the Chronological Study Bible a big plus, available at The site offers promotional and order information as well.

End of Excerpt


Anonymous said...

Does Ernest Martin's organization still advertize in BAR? They'd have a full-page ad, usually informing the reader of three or four publications, including Ernest Martin's booklet about the Star of Bethlehem and another speculating about the actual position of Solomon's Temple on the Temple Mount. There'd be stuff written by other people too.

I remember one ad back in the 80's trying to inform us that Moses' stone tablets were small enough to hold in one hand, with accompanying illustration.


(Poor guy -- probably would've done anything not to have died on the anniversary of HWA's passing... on January 16th, 16 years later!)

Anonymous said...

Instead of writing books,these ex diciples of the great Perbert would be better off doing some READING!

Corky said...

Sometimes, when I read that kind of drivel, I think that they are kidding, pulling my leg, yanking my chain or something like that. Then it dawns on me that they really do believe that crap and I lose faith in humanity's survival.

Anonymous said...

Corky, you mean like "smart men bluffing or imbeciles who mean it" and you believe the latter.

There are at least two points about the Fred Bible - order of books and translation.

Apparently Ben Franklin once printed a page of a Bible with the words changed so he could win an argument. My Moffat is full of "corrections" I made during semons and reading WCG literature. Has there ever been a case where different translations of the same verse were used to prove unrelated doctrines by the same COG?

And order -- I remember when a Jewish friend rearranged my bookshelf, because she insisted the right way to order the books was based on size. As for biblical book order, I prefer Henry Gibson's idea from a spot as a preacher on Laugh In: a loose-leaf Bible. If the Bible came in a ring binder, you could order or omit pages however you like.

Anonymous said...

In a sense, it does matter what order the bible is in (or at least knowing what was written/revealed after what). But any basic bible student will know that books of the bible that outlined old covenant laws are superseded by new covenant writings.

The teachings after Jesus died have precedence over laws he kept while he was alive.

Bob said...

In re: the chronological Bible. This "new" Bible is not the only one done in this manner. I have two done before the one mentioned in BA, plus there is a daily reading Bible also in chronological order.

As to "soul sleep", that is not a belief of the RCG nor the WCG. The dead are dead, not asleep, was the teaching.