Fish Out of Land

More Flapdoodle from the Expert Doodler, Part 3

James Patrick Holding

As of the latest effort (with a 5 month plus hiatus), Skeptic X has now offered parts 9 through 20 of a response on the Land Promise, and he is still not done. For continuity we will proceed as we have before in Part 2 of our response, with any distractions dealt with here as needed.

From the very start of Part 8, Skeptic X hauls out the Baloney Sandwich float. Two issues are repeated throughout parts 9-16. The first is Skeptic X's usual shebang of moving the goalposts, in which he wheels out an argument which we address later in our presentation, and acts as though it was never addressed, as he hypocritically complains about our referral to later in our material -- all the while being 100% capable of going forward and bringing our replies back to the earlier stage, which we assume he would do if he really could address the arguments rather than just pontificate and complain. (He does this with several cites, notably Josh. 21:43-5 and of course, his old obsession, Deut. 9.) As we know, this is merely Skeptic X having upset over the unfortunate (for him) fact that we are not falling for his typical dirty debate tactic of shifting things around to confuse the reader and hide his incompetence. We go into more detail on this in a link back in part 2. The second issue is repeated 758,932,398 times in parts 9-16, and is either a lie at worst or a case of Skeptic X's afflicted memory at best:

Recognizing the problem that this passage posed to his position that the land promise was conditional, [Holding] began to take a new track. He modified his position to make the giving of the land unconditional but the retention of the land conditional. In other words, he began to argue that the giving of the land to the Israelites was an unconditional act of "unmerited grace" (an anachronistic application of a New Testament principle), which enabled the Israelites to ride into the land of Canaan on "Abraham's coattails," but, so [Holding] suddenly began to claim, retaining the land would be conditional to their obedience to the commandments of Yahweh.

Oh, I took a "new track", did I? New with reference to what? The specific phrases "unmerited grace" and "Abraham's coattails" that Skeptic X quotes do appear in our second article, but they and the arguments associated with them first appeared in our very first article on this subject here. We stated from the very beginning that entry into the land by the post-Exodus generation was without conditions, based on the Abrahamic promise, which amounted to a "by grace" entry from the perspective of the Conquest-era Israelites. Now how in the world can we "take a new track" while we are still riding on the first one? No position was "modified" here; we have from the very beginning stated that retention (though we used the word "possession") of the land was conditional. We said clearly that the land was reserved for the Israelites to use even as they were in Exile: "That is what was promised to Abraham: land reserved and given for the use and possession of his descendants -- even in their absence due to punishment." I "began to argue" this from Day 1 of this debate, and Skeptic X is simply lost in the shuffle and not keeping track of who said what and when. The only real question is, "How will Till preserve any shred of dignity he has left after making a concentration gaffe of this magnitude, and then beating it into the ground over and over again?" I'm not saying that people don't make mistakes -- but I am saying that this is just the latest of a series of high-magnitude concentration errors Skeptic X makes (on the lines of the "pay for 90% of the website" routine) that suggest that he is either not "all there" or else is a far, far less competent thinker than we have ever suspected. (It also actually looks a lot like poetic justice -- Skeptic X has been desperately trying to confuse issues by inserting a school of red herrings, metric tonnes of fluff, addressing material out of order, and dirty debate tactics; what has happened instead is that he has confused himself.)

We have already clarified this further with the material from Cross which Skeptic X so helpfully quoted and shot himself in the foot with (but apparently still doesn't [even as of part 16] realize it, as he still thinks Cross favors his position and refers to him repeatedly; then he, who has produced such stunning repartee as, "Oh my G--, if Malina and Rohrbaugh say it, it must be true" complains that I am citing no authorities for my position! -- I actually do have a source for this material, and I'm keeping it back like a good debator should ). Beyond that, Skeptic X's ignorance re "grace" is stunning -- as if "unmerited grace" did not exist prior to the NT? Stuff and nonsense. Grace means receiving that which you could not otherwise receive without favor from another. The OT term "favor" (translated in the KJV as "grace" as in Gen. 6:8, for example) is nothing different. And since Skeptic X has bawled out charges of anachronism, we'll gig him for another from the experts whose shoes he is unworthy to untie. Pilch and Malina in the Handbook of Biblical Social Values note that grace in the ancient world always involved a debt of gratitude -- all gifts had strings attached. This fits right in with what we have saying all along about the offer to Abe never being "with no strings attached". The social context sends Skeptic X spinning yet again.

Following a false accusation of skipping the Deut. 9 issue (which actually, we dealt with in full, but our treatment of which Skeptic X has yet to reach, and keep in mind again he has every ability to move forward and address our answer), and yet another false accusation of a position change, we don't get to any more actual argument beyond repetition until we get to where we discussed yarash. After more conspiracy-theorizing that we offered an explanation of yarash (and then 'olam) to make people think I "knew something about Hebrew" (for answer, see link on diversions in Part 2) Skeptic X cites Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary (is he thereby trying to make us think he is an expert on Hebrew?) on yarash as saying:

Basically yaras means "to inherit." The verb can connote the state of being designated as an heir. Abram said to God: "Behold, to me thou hast given no [offspring]: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir [literally, "is the one who is inheriting me"]" (Gen. 15:3--the first biblical occurrence of the word). Whatever Abram had to be passed on to his legal descendants was destined to be given to his servant. Hence his servant was his legally designated heir.

None of this was unknown at all; the Strong's cite we gave in part 1 said the same thing, that yarash can connote the state of being an heir. We even cited an example (Gen. 15:3) of such usage. Then Skeptic X continues:

This root can also represent the status of having something as one's permanent possession, as a possession which may be passed on to one's legal descendants. God told Abram: "I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it" (Genesis 15:7). Yaras can mean "to take over as a permanent possession": "And his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it..." (Num. 27:11). The verb sometimes means to take something over (in the case of the Promised Land) by conquest as a permanent possession: "The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it" (Deut. 28:21).

All of this still agrees with what we have been saying. The land is, as we said from the very beginning, always the Israelites'; as we said, "The covenant is indeed forever, in spite of any interruptions by human error." And: " is also clear in the blessings portion of the treaty that the land remains as something given to Israel to have as a possession when they return to right behavior." The land is Israel's permanent possession (noun form) but this does not mean that they always have possession (what Skeptic X calls "retention") of the land. Our point -- which Skeptic X continues to fudge over -- is that yarash offered no connotation of unconditional permanence of a given state in association with the property "possessed".

Here is yet more confusion by Skeptic X. It is said that I "cited no contextual evidence in Genesis 17 to show that 'olam was being used to mean only 'in perpetuity' for as 'long as there were Jews to take part in the covenant,' and then proceeded to cite other passages where the word had some secondary meaning. Hence, his argument is that because 'olam didn't mean 'everlasting' in 1 Samuel 1:22 and other passages, it didn't mean 'everlasting' in Genesis 17:8."

This is nothing more than Skeptic X sticking arguments in our mouth because he can't refute the ones actually presented. First of all, Skeptic X is only arguing for a "secondary meaning" of 'olam to save his bacon. We say it means the same thing both in Gen. 17:8 and in 1 Samuel 1:22. Second, it does not take "contextual evidence" to see that a covenant can only be "everlasting" if both sides of the covenant agreement actually continue to exist. If God vanished in a puff of smoke, God's agreements vanish with Him. If the Jews disappear, so does their covenant. The point to be made was not that 'olam did not mean "everlasting" such that there could indeed be a state of covenant relationship forever, but that -- as we plainly said -- "everlasting" does not connote a "forever" state without any conditions. Hence Skeptic X cannot wrest 'olam all by itself into any meaning that the state of the covenant would always be the same, or that the relationship to the land would always be the same, which is what he has been trying to do time and time again by blattering that the covenant was "everlasting" and then asking why the Jews were ever kicked out of the land. We went on to note that the "the covenant is indeed forever, in spite of any interruptions by human error." The land is ALWAYS granted to Israel, even when they are in Exile and not using it. Let's remind the reader of our analogy, simplified for the sake of Skeptic X and his readers:

If momma buys you a widdle firetwuck for you for being a good widdle boy, and then you don't pway nice with the other kiddies, and she takes your firetwuck from you until you behave yourself, is it still your firetwuck at all times or not?

Hence Skeptic X's overkill quoting translations serves no purpose in this context, for it misses what is being argued. I used the extreme example of the Jews ceasing to exist to make the point as clear as possible that any "forever" contract is not guaranteed to last "forever" such that circumstances never change or that conditions cannot be applied affecting the application of the covenant. The removal of the Jews from their land -- even as they retained forever the "right of return" when their behavior improved, or their punishment was completed -- is another example on a lesser scale of a change in circumstance. The Jews are forever assigned the land and it is theirs to have for use when they keep the covenant obligations. This does not mean that their state of relationship with the land is forever the same.

I noted further that Skeptic X merely assumed from a single word in JPS that "the JPS translators were in fundamental disagreement and would not acknowledge what we have written with reference to the meaning of 'olam." To this Skeptic X the Lazy can only admit that there are no footnotes in the JPS commentary about 'olam about "possible alternative meanings." This is not an "alternative" meaning; it is an elucidation on the accepted meaning. It clarifies that "forever" can have contextual limitations and hence often means, more literally, "in perpetuity" and certainly does not indicate a state that is unchanging in its application. We have not argued that the "everlasting possession" part of the promise was only temporary; we have argued that the "everlasting possessing" or retaining of the land was conditional. Skeptic X has still failed to grasp this distinction, and that is perhaps why he is under the illusion that I have "modified" my position or contradicted myself. If Skeptic X wants clarification of our position, he can help himself via the Laubach method.

We have a lot of the games of goalpost shifting and repetition before we get to anything new. We get to where I gigged Skeptic X for arguing that 'olam had a "homographic" nature, and asked then "of what purpose was it to highlight the JPS commentary with the intent of proving that 'olam meant 'everlasting' in a way that our opponent perceives to be favorable to his case?" Skeptic X says the "answer to that is simple" (as all of Skeptic X's arguments are!) and says, "The issue is what 'olam meant in Genesis 17:8 and not what it meant in 1 Samuel 1:22. The fact that 'olam did not mean forever in the sense of 'eternality' in 1 Samuel 1:22 does not mean that it didn't mean that in Genesis 17:8, because the contexts in which homographs are used are what determines their meanings." But this does not extract the bullet from Skeptic X's foot in the least. He hasn't completed the picture -- he needs to cite JPS or another authority explaining why 'olam in 1 Samuel is a "homograph" rather than actually carrying the same meaning as in Gen. 17:8, which we say it does. Just as the 1 Samuel example is of someone who would die and is therefore a servant "in perpetuity," so likewise we say that if (to use the extreme example) the Jews vanished, Gen. 17:8 only means "in perpetuity" -- not "forever" in the sense that there can never be any change in application of condition. Why do we make a point of this? To show how readily Skeptic X grabs texts and announces his opinions about them without any consideration; to show how he still uses that same oblivious, funda-literalist "hermannootic" to get himself out of jams and to make up his case as he goes along. Our project here is long-term destruction of Skeptic X's reputation -- not immediate gratification of the sort Skeptic X gets licking his lollipops.

Nothing new then, and not already answered in our comments here and previously, until we get to this, where we dealt with the issue of Yahweh being actual owner of the land, as clearly stated in Lev. 25:23 and as confirmed by the ancient paradigm of the gods owning the land, and of this in no way meaning that the Israelites could not, on a human level, transact business with the land. Till barks back with a dodge that deserves a laugh track:

As for the statement that the land was "owned" by Yahweh, I wonder if he has been having too many conversations with Hyper the Literalist. The sense in which Yahweh "owned" the land was obviously figurative, because if a person could sell land--as the texts that I cited below clearly show that they could--then that person owned the land. He wasn't just a "rentor", but he was the owner of the land and had the right to sell it. Has [Holding] ever heard of "rentors" who had the right to sell the property they were renting?

Obviously figurative! That's a CoC stretch that deserves its own Hall of Shame. Well, Skeptic X, let's hear you explain that one further so that we can bury you up to your neck. You say Yahweh's ownership was "figurative"? What literal truth(s) did this "figurative" expression stand for, exactly? What in the text of Lev. 25:23 makes it "obvious" that it is meant "figuratively"? Are you saying that this "figurative" ownership precluded any ability of the omnipotent Yahweh to have a say over human transactions of land? Our modern idea of renting usually precludes any selling of the property, but people can and do sell leases and contracts. In fact I recently encountered a situation in which a crediting company sold its account with a lendee to another crediting company. Most renting agencies like apartment complexes won't do that; they prefer to have a new lease signed with a new tenant, but that is because of legal and other modern issues that Yahweh the Landlord, as a deity, would care less about. What it amounts to is that Skeptic X is vaguely trying to abscond the whole semantic barrel of what a renting relationship is today into what it was then. The Israelites were rentors with respect to Yahweh. They were only owners with respect to human transactions. Skeptic X is trying to foist a "figurative" meaning onto Lev. 25:23 with no justification whatsoever and without explaining what literal truth this figurative meaning carried. The text has Yahweh saying, "the land is mine." It calls the Israelites "strangers and sojourners" -- the former word meaning a guest or alien, the latter a lodger or a resident, according to Strong's. In fact Skeptic X even notes the meaning of this last word (but not the first one!) and tries to wrest it over to his position, but all he can do is try to apply modern concepts of property ownership by persons -- not by deities -- and pound a square peg into a round hole. What "figurative" meaning is that offering? Deuteronomy also has God parceling out land to various parties as though it were His right to do so as an owner. What Skeptic X is doing here is playing his old CoC game. He'll say, "you interpret it literally unless there are reasons to do so figuratively" -- and in this case, the reason is, "to get myself out of a jam." Nice try, Skeptic X, but you're gigged again.

Since Skeptic X has obliged us, though, let's have a closer look (WARNING: Expertise in Hebrew now being proclaimed!) at those two words:

Gen. 15:3 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years...

Just the first word.

Gen. 23:4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

Both words.

Num. 35:15 These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.

Lev. 25:23 therefore essentially calls the Israelites strangers in their "own" land. Perhaps Skeptic X will be able to fudge some other "figurative" meaning out of this based on the anachronistic application of modern concepts of human property ownership. But in fact all Skeptic X can do beyond vague arguments about "figurative" meanings is respond to this, by us:

There is nothing in the remaining context that contradicts our point that the land was ultimately owned by Yahweh, as clearly stated in Lev. 25:23, and that the Israelites were tenants in a "conditional" landlord-tenant relationship in which we do not doubt they would be permitted to perform exchanges of property rights on a human level. burping back that he "never argued that ancient societies did not believe that the land they lived on 'belonged' to gods" (oh? what of that "figurative" meaning, then?), and by re-re-re-re-repeating his already-defunct arguments which fail to differentiate between legal possession and active tenancy, and which treat ownership by deity as though it were no different than ownership by humans. Indeed, Skeptic X actually has the abundant nerve to blame ME for his own anachronistic misunderstanding which caused HIM to assume what I was arguing! We're not far from the egotism of Dennis McKinsey in this round.

"What, then," Skeptic X burbles, "is the big difference that made ownership of property in biblical times nothing like 'any modern sense of private ownership'?" The big, BIG difference, Skeptic X, is that we don't believe or act as if we believe Yahweh or any deity is the ultimate owner of the land. Ask yourself this, Skeptic X, if your dignity is still intact: If Yahweh said not to, would Naboth have been able to freely sell his vineyard?

Skeptic X makes some feeble efforts to "figurativize" the word "mine" in Lev. 25:23, but all he comes up with is passages with no parallel to the sojourners/strangers elucidation:

Genesis 48:5 And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.

Skeptic X pontificates, "Jacob was speaking to Joseph here, but Ephraim and Manasseh were not 'his' in any literal sense in the same way that Reuben and Simeon were Jacob's. The latter were Jacob's literal sons, but Ephraim and Manasseh weren't. Reuben and Simeon were Jacob's first- and secondborn sons, and Ephraim and Manasseh were Joseph's first- and secondborn sons. The obvious sense of the word mine here was that Jacob considered Ephraim and Manasseh to be his sons just as much as Reuben and Simeon were, but considering them to be 'mine' did not literally make them 'mine.' The word mine was obviously being used in a secondary sense." Nice try, Skeptic X, but the further context makes it clear that this is a secondary and legal sense: "And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance." (48:6) The "strangers and sojourners" context in Leviticus does the opposite and makes Yahweh the ultimate owner, not a "figurative" one. Moreover, this is a case of a patriarch extending a familial blessing within a set family structure -- the structure in Leviticus that sets the context is that the gods owned the land. This is nothing more than Skeptic X playing his get-out-of-a-jam CoC "hermenootic".

Skeptic X then chooses passages from Rom. 16:13 and Songs 2:16 which speak of persons calling other persons "mine" but that parallel won't hold water, either, since persons have interpersonal relationships that beings do not have with land. Land that is "mine" is not "mine" because I have a personal relationship with it. The last parallel Skeptic X barks up only supports our case:

Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.

Skeptic X spits out the same fallacious argument: "In this psalm, Yahweh was speaking, so the word mine had reference to him. If Yahweh meant that every beast was his and all the cattle on a thousand hills were his in the sense of a strict ownership, this would present problems with various passages that speak of the private, personal ownership of animals." Oh, really? And what problems were these, exactly? "The commandment against coveting, for example, prohibited coveting a neighbor's ox or ass or anything that belonged to a neighbor, but if we interpret literally the verses quoted above one's neighbor couldn't have an ox or an ass, because every beast and all livestock were Yahweh's." Oh! And Yahweh is our neighbor, is he. What blatherskeit from the CoC jam jar. Yahweh owns the cattle, and the land, but He gave it to people for their use and to conduct such transactions as they pleased. Ultimate ownership and discretion is the key here. There is nothing to "covet" when Yahweh owns the cattle and land because Yahweh doesn't need the cattle and land, even as He owns it. Hence he gives it to who He pleases. It's just dumb stupid to imply that one could covet what they had use of -- though getting down to it, I think even Skeptic X would agree that Yahweh would not look kindly on persons who supposed that they could own or control cattle or land independently of His discretion. Coveting what Yahweh owned?!? This is the most desperate stretch yet.

Despite wasting all this time with parallels, though, it's clear Skeptic X knows he's jammed up by Lev. 25:23, for he admits that "the passages quoted above obviously used mine in secondary senses doesn't mean that it was so used in Leviticus 25:23." He says, "I must show a compelling reason to assign figurative or secondary meaning to mine." Darn straight you must, but the only reason he produces is that same anachronistic application of the ability of the Israelites to sell and transact business with the land. In short, Skeptic X just keeps chasing himself in a circle to avoid the patently clear conclusion, that Yahweh's ownership of the land, the cattle, and so on, is ultimate and discretionary -- as it would be for any deity, and as the ancient template shows us -- while the ability to conduct transactions on a human level is only permitted because Yahweh has allowed it. Just like the little firetruck, a parent paid for the firetruck and has ultimate discretion over its use and disposal. It was paid for with their money; they own it, but at their discretion they give it to the child to use and to call their own possession. Parents with cooperative children will even allow them to trade toys among their siblings or friends (though the analogy breaks down at that point with multiple parents involved). Yet the power to do this lies ultimately in their hands. God has given us the right to physically possess and sell property that was HIS creation. But He remains the ultimate owner, with full discretion to manage the human use of the land as He pleases. (Note again that this is in complete contrast to our modern idea of property ownership, which sees ultimate disposition of property as something completely in human hands! Only the pious or falsely pious ever say anything like, "We will take this land if God permits," or, "I do not own my own home; God owns it." That is, and has been, how we have been saying that "give" in the OT did not connote any modern sense of property ownership!) I doubt if Skeptic X is foolish enough to deny this, but we can well imagine he will come up with some imaginative funda-literalist fudge to weasel out of it. Little wonder he resorts to the diversion of saying we are begging the question of Yahweh's existence as an argument, and dodges our question, "When the Israelites were exiled, does our opponent think Yahweh could not kick out anyone who privately owned property, on that basis?", by answering that he doesn't believe Yahweh exists! Quit dodging, Skeptic X! Under the paradigm of those who read and wrote the text, regardless of what YOU believe about it, Do you think Yahweh could not kick out anyone who privately owned property?

In part 16 of his reply Skeptic X now imaginatively supposes that our points about discerning between Yahweh's "ultimate" ownership and human ability to transact business with the land represents some kind of "denial" or "backpedaling" from a previous position. I'll admit I made an error -- I foolishly assumed that Skeptic X would not be idiotic enough to suppose that in saying that Yahweh owned the land, I was thereby denying human ability to transact business with the land. That seemed all too obvious, but I forgot I was dealing with a man who wears a sock on his head. It now becomes clear, from the above desperate refuge in the idea that Yahweh actually owning the land would somehow cause problems with respect to coveting, that Skeptic X really is this dumb, or else is stretching his integrity to the breaking point to keep from conceding the point that sets his entire "land promise" castle tumbling into oblivion. I'm sorry -- but I simply cannot anticipate every plunge into the depths of idiocy that Skeptic X makes, and I apologize for my lack of foresight in that regard. The comment about "you want me to pay for 90% of your website" should probably have clued me in.

In closing for this section: I know Skeptic X has as little respect for scholars as he does for ants, and presumes to slander them ("thinking like an inerrantist") when he has nothing to say in response to them and can't wallow out the usual mud-slinging about their work being "published in Grand Rapids, Michigan or Nashville, Tennessee," but for the sake of those who do have a shred of integrity, here are four major Leviticus commentaries - two conservative, two liberal - on this verse:

Wenham: "the land ultimately belongs to God." [320]

Noth: The land "was Yahweh's property" and the buying and selling of land by Israelites was such that "a purchase or sale might not take place to the exclusion of a claim of ownership." Yahweh "exercised this claim through the law of reversion in the year of Jubilee." [188-9]

Budd: "The ultimate owner of the land is God himself…" [349] Note that this phrase and Wenham's match our own, though we created it independently of these commentators.

Hartley: "…God himself holds title to the land…"

We challenge Skeptic X to find any scholar that assigns "mine" in this verse any sort of "figurative" meaning amenable to his case. Then we'll see who can belly-whop the best.

It's worth commenting briefly on a few parallels drawn by Skeptic X from Numbers 36. He notes that Moses granted "an inheritance that was to remain permanently in Zelophehad's family." That's quite true, but Moses was not a deity, he did not own the land he granted ("mine"), and he did not set any conditions for Z's family to continue to occupy the land. This is a non-parallel. And sorry, Farrell, we don't see the Hebrew word used making any difference, so you just wasted more time assuming arguments upon us. Keep in mind again Cross' words, which you prostituted completely unaware that you were thereby giving away the store:

If a future son sins (rebels), he may be punished or removed, but kingship and land must pass to another heir of Ulmi-Teshup, in theory thereby creating an eternal dynasty. Put another way, it can be said that permanence of dynasty and possession of land rests on the "reservoir of grace" filled by the obedience of Ulmi-Teshup alone, and therefore is not dependent on the fidelity of each succeeding heir--presumably intensifying Ulmi-Teshup's motivation to obedience.

As we reworded it, "If a future set of Israelites sins (rebels), they may be punished or removed, but the land must pass to another set of descendants of the Israelites, in theory thereby creating an eternal possession. Put another way, it can be said that permanence of possession of land rests on the 'reservoir of grace' filled by the obedience of Abraham alone, and therefore is not dependent on the fidelity of each succeeding heir--presumably intensifying Abraham's motivation to obedience..."

By the way, Skeptic X, do you think that when Cross is using the word "grace" he is performing "an anachronistic application of a New Testament principle"?

Some more time is spent harping on nathan. Contrary to Skeptic X I did not argue that "nathan was just so nebulous in its meaning that Hebrews who read this passage just couldn't understand what nathan meant", no more than the broad usage of "give" makes it so nebulous that we can't understand what it means. Context informs the meaning of nathan, as even Skeptic X goes on to say, and the contexts in the examples Skeptic X cites do nothing to support his case. We have Abraham asking the Hittites to "give" him the land for money -- a clear business transaction. The Israelites did not offer Yahweh money for the land, so there is no parallel. This is again nothing more than Skeptic X applying his own spin manipulatively by describing our arguments in his own terms.

Now it's time for more Stupid Skeptic Questions:

1. If obeying Yahweh's commands was a condition to "keeping" the land, why are there biblical examples of breaking Yahweh's commands that didn't result in a loss of the land?

Because, as we've said umpteen times and Skeptic X still hasn't gotten to as of Part 16 because he is too busy defending his alleged right to insert red herrings, the Deuteronomic contract laid out a progression of warnings after offenses which led up to loss of the land . It was not an "instant" punishment and so individuals like David and Bathsheba aren't getting kicked off of land -- nor, for that matter, is there anything showing that every possible offense warrants instant punishment. Skeptic X question is simple-minded and black-and-white in the extreme. Moreover:

2. How many people in a national population as large as the two to three million Israelites would have had to have broken their god's command before the land would be taken from them? One? Two? Ten? A hundred? A thousand? Inquiring minds want to know, so please tell us.

When Skeptic X finds a mind, he can have it inquire. Deuteronomy lays out a series of progressive punishments. How many had to go bad to enact them would hardly be specified; I would expect Skeptic X to realize that there would be no proviso saying, "If 35,987 of you act out, no problem; but that 35,988th breaks the camel's back." Or, "If you commit adultery 4 times, OK; the 5th time, you get whacked." Or, "You get 3 free sins as long as you were just reacting to stimuli." Perhaps Skeptic X the former CoC preacher can envision what a rebellious congregation would do with expressed latitude of THAT extreme.

In a section following Skeptic X labors under the continuing impression that to merely cite a passage means he is "dealing" with it. Saying "these guys cite Deut. 56:93-97" and nothing else is not "dealing with" a passage; it is dodging a passage. Merely discussing in detail one passage is not dealing with all of them. This is undoubtedly how they taught sermon preparation at Bam Bam Bible College -- as if simple proof-texting were all there was to it. Is Skeptic X still a fundamentalist? Yes, Skeptic X still is a fundamentalist.

Skeptic X barks at one point, to my note that the words "no conditions" are not found in any versions of the land promise, "Where has [Holding] found 'conditional' in any of these texts?" We have found "conditional" attached via the Deuteronomic and other codes; we have found it in the general template of land, people, and deity, and now as well layered on the ancient conception that no grant or gift came without a price. This is why Skeptic X has to resort to such dodges as the old omniscience issue.

We now get up to Parts 14 through 16, and it contains a lot of the same errors (prostituting Cross, claiming I "modified" my position, etc.) and arguments (perishing in the land, Deut. 9, etc.) we have seen so far and have already issued answers to. At this point readers may wish to send Skeptic X a sympathy card for consolation upon the death of his integrity. We of course have answers out to these repeated charges, but Skeptic X, paying the price of his absurd EVERYTHING demand which he now, like a spoiled child of 70 years of age, claims never to have made, is still laboring through the swamp trap I laid for him back when I was quoting EVERYTHING. Isn't that just a shame. At any rate some of 14 and 15 can go in the "dirty debate" section; here is what is left otherwise that is new, and it's almost zip.

We've been nailing Skeptic X for pedantic literalism in the preterism debate; now here's more, related to the "perishing" issue:

Notice the verse--which [Holding] didn't emphasize in bold print--that says, "(Y)e shall not prolong your days upon it [the promised land], but shall utterly be destroyed." As the context shows, this was a warning pertaining to longevity of life if the Israelites served other gods. If they did this, they would be "utterly destroyed." Since obviously the Israelites were never "utterly destroyed," [Holding] must say either that the Israelites didn't violate this command or else the Bible is not inerrant.

Since obviously Skeptic X is an afflicted funda-literalist, he has no conception of "utterly destroyed" meaning anything other than "utterly destroyed, literally" -- as we have warned people, don't tell Skeptic X you have ants in your pants, he carries a can of Raid around just in case he hears people say that. Maybe Skeptic X should go back in time and give Pharaoh Ramesses III a proper lesson in speaking so that funda-literalists like him won't be confused and lose their marbles:

I slew the Denyon in their islands, while the Tjekker and Philistines were made ashes. The Sherden and the Washesh of the sea were made non-existent, captured all together and brought on captivity to Egypt like the sands of the shore.

Clearly when Ramsses tells us his enemies were "made non-existent," he was not meaning this literally, since he goes on to indicate that they were captured. If anything, then, "utterly destroyed" fits just fine with the idea of an Exile at the end of the road. Skeptic X just doesn't "get" the ancient world's dramatic orientation. He probably blames them for being stupid.

In part 16 Skeptic X commits another one of those oops-darn blunders in scholarship that causes normal men with integrity to go to their room and sit in the corner. Skeptic X has no shame, of course, so it probably won't bother him in the least. To set it up, I have noted that Yahweh was in a feudal-landlord relationship with the Israelites. Skeptic X responded with a brain-dislodging shake of the head, complaining that this would make the Israelites serfs, which they were not, since they could transact business with the land. I countered that Skeptic X had imposed a concept (serfdom) and one of its attendant features (inability to buy and sell land) upon the text. To this Skeptic X offers the following mug shot. Noting that I was "the one who imposed the concept of a feudal-landlord relationship into this debate" he then bungles:

Webster's New World College Dictionary defines feudalism as an "economic, political, and social system in which land, worked by serfs who were bound to it, was held by vassals in exchange of military and other services given to landlords," so feudalism, an analogous concept that [Holding] himself introduced, was inextricably associated with serfdom. The Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia described feudalism as a "local, agricultural, political economy," which consisted of a manorial system of lord, peasant, villein and serf" (1960, vol. 1, p. 447, emphasis added). The explanation of the system went on to say that "ownership of the land was vested in [a] king" and under him was a hierarchy of nobles, the highest of whom held land granted by the king, and under this noble were those who held land granted by the highest nobles. The lowest in the order was a "seigneur" [lord], who held just one manor. The seigneur or lord of the manor gave "protection and personal use of land in return for personal services and dues."

Poor Skeptic X! Caught in that same trap that slices the hiney off of many Skeptics, quoting dictionaries and encyclopedias as final authorities. Too bad! Skeptic X can stick with his third-grade sources if he wants to, but around here, we use real scholars for our source-work, and the one we have is a professor of history named Joseph Strayer, who wrote a nice little volume titled Feudalism (Anvil Books, 1965). It's published in New York, not in Grand Rapids, but maybe Skeptic X will propose that Strayer was born in Grand Rapids, who knows. Anyway, keep in mind what it is Skeptic X's main beef is, that the Jews would have been serfs, unable to sell the land at all, if Yahweh was a feudal landlord. I'm now going to quote from Strayer in loving detail [11ff]; see if you can find any reference to Papa Serf, Brainy Serf, or the rest of the gang here. I'll be adding some emphasis whose import will be obvious:

Feudalism is a difficult word. It was invented in the seventeenth century, at a time when the social phenomena it purported to describe had either vanished or were decaying rapidly. The men of the Middle Ages, who were deeply involved in what we call feudalism, never used the word, so that we cannot work out a definition from their statements. Modern scholars have long argued about the meaning of the term, without ever reaching agreement. Laymen have used it loosely, often as a way of condemning any political, economic, or social relationships they did not like. No definition will satisfy everyone, and yet we must have a tentative definition in order to know what we are talking about and what kind of behavior we are trying to describe.

Strayer briefly explains how the term feudalism was invented by 17th-century "lawyers and antiquarians" who were trying to understand the survival of feudal customs, which were in important ways contradictory to their present understanding of law and politics. These writers connected the customs to the medieval institution of the fief, and hence we got the word feudalism. Thus the term was derived from the European Middle Ages structure, but as Strayer notes, other societies had characteristics of the same system (he gives Japan 1300-1600 as an example). Strayer then analyses the situation in the Middle Ages and identifies factors which defined Middle Age feudalism:

  1. "First, there is a fragmentation of political power" -- counties, lordships, and within these, "rights of jurisdiction and administration which are held as hereditary possessions by lesser lords." Hmm. Rights of jurisdiction or administration by lesser lords? Like, um, the people of Israel might have been under the Lord with the big L? Like they may have had the right to do things like sell the land -- except to non-Israelites? Hmmm. Maybe part 2 will clue us in:
  2. "Second, this fragmented political power is treated as a private possession. It can be divided among heirs, given as marriage portion, mortgaged, bought and sold." Ouch. Maybe Skeptic X can see his problem here if he gets that sock off his head. The Israelites were not serfs, but "lesser lords" (nobles as in above) who just happened to do their own gruntwork. The essence, as Strayer says, is that "public power is in private hands." But no serfs here yet.
  3. "Third, a key element in the armed forces -- heavy-armed cavalry -- is secured through individual and private agreements. Knights render military service not because they are citizens of a state or subjects to a king, but because they or their ancestors have promised to give this service to a lord in return for certain benefits." Private agreement -- like Deuteronomy, a contract? Israel had no knights, of course, but the people all served Yahweh and obeyed His commands. "They or their ancestors (Abraham?!?) have promised to give this service to a lord in return for certain benefits (living long in the land?!?)." Hmmmmmm!

"To sum up," Strayer says, "the basic characteristics of feudalism in Western Europe are a fragmentation of political authority, public power in private hands, and a military system in which an essential part of the armed forces is secured through private contracts. Feudalism is a method of government, and a way of securing the forces necessary to preserve that method of government." Huh? Where are the serfs? The little blue guys with the hats, you know. They seem to be conspicuously missing from this definition of "feudalism" by a professional historian. Not that they would not crop up, now: Strayer notes that in such a system, the guys in charge would make things suit their needs. He does not name serfs at all in his definition, but they of course could be part of the picture. But he has one more warning for us. "On the other hand," Strayer cautions, "if we try a wider definition, feudalism becomes an amorphous term. The most usual attempt to broaden the definition of feudalism stresses social and economic factors: in its simplest form it would find the essence of feudalism in the exploitation of an agricultural population by a ruling group." Gosh darn it! That's as close to saying "serf" as Strayer gets in his definition section; the problem, he notes, is that such exploitation "occurred in many other societies" -- but in the end, he says, a definition "which can include societies as disparate as those of the Ancient Middle East, the late Roman Empire, medieval Europe, the southern part of the United States in the nineteenth century, and the Soviet Union in the 1930's is not much use in historical analysis." Get it, Skeptic X? Your definition is not much use. Haw haw! Sum it up: Serfs aren't an essential part of the picture. Yahweh could be a "feudal lord" without the Israelites being serfs and with no restrictions of necessity on the human "buying and selling" of the land. Now let's clamp the door shut with some comments from this site which is an academic one with some nice notes on Japanese feudalism. Note these three characteristics offered:

  1. The samurai was not given the land, he was appointed to an office which allowed him an income from the land.
  2. The imperial bureaucracy still retained much authority; the feudal elements were found only in the remote provinces.
  3. Generally speaking, the peasants who worked the land were not serfs, but were free peasants.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Samurai Jack didn't have to have serfs to be a feudal landlord, from the looks of it. Score another embarrassing foray into Scholarship Woods for Skeptic X. He can keep using his child-level reference sources for all we care, but when it comes down to dirty details, he just lost his "serf-board" to the experts in a major wipeout while trying to Hang Ten.

Of course Skeptic X won't be able to swallow this too well, since Strayer's book isn't "published in Grand Rapids" and Strayer isn't any sort of "fundamentalist" but as I say, who knows. Maybe he'll find some bad habit Strayer picked up and make some kind of argument about it. But to throw back Skeptic X's own words: "This is the kind of predicament that one gets himself into when he embarks on a mission to address the substance of ancient documents that have been written in an entirely different social, historical, and literary context." Basically, you attach your ego to what you say, and then when get your anterior regions kicked 100 miles into the air, they go beyond the help of atmospheric pressure and gravity to return because of all the hot air in that ego balloon. No analogy indeed is perfect -- even if Skeptic X WERE right, it would only mean I needed a better word or analogy, not that my presentation or argument by itself was wrong -- but those gung-ho on argumentation need to do a whole bleck of a lot better than glancing through encyclopedias for their information. Live and learn.

In other news, Skeptic X now tries to defend his impaired analogy of "the ancient view of land ownership would be somewhat like referring to United States territory. The territory referred to "belongs" to the United States, but within that territory are parcels owned by Jones, Brown, Williams, Smith, etc., etc.," I noted that the parallel had some virtues, but not enough:

The United States has laws that we must follow to keep our freedoms. If we break the laws, there are penalties, though expulsion from land is seldom used as such a penalty, if at all. The parallel breaks down ultimately because the US does not own the land, and our opponent cannot show any example (other than parklands) where it is said that the land is the USA's land in any possessive sense, or in the same sense, that Yahweh declares that the entire land "is mine" in Leviticus (and in spite of permission thereafter to conduct land transactions of the "personal property" sort), nor can he find a place where it is said that the USA is the Creator of the land of the United States (cf. Gen. 14:19), or of US citizens thinking they need to take dirt from the USA with them to be patriotic in a foreign country and loyal to the US government, or any example of anyone thinking that US troops become powerless when they step on foreign soil. The USA is a nation, with a long history of individualism and Western property rights and a view of God as more remote; it is not a Deity like Yahweh, Chemosh, or the gods of Babylon and Assyria, and the history is one of Eastern collectivism and a view of gods as deeply involved in judgment and the ownership of the land and its occupants. The parklands themselves provide a slightly closer analogy that only proves our point. The parklands have rules that occupants must follow, or they will be expelled from the parklands; though the analogy breaks down because no one in parklands occupies the land: they do sometimes temporarily occupy it (campgrounds) but cannot sell it amongst themselves (though they could conceivably barter "off the record" for the rights to certain plots).

Gigged yet again for egregious analogy impairment, Skeptic X tries to fend off the wolves with the usual plethora of baa-baas:

Skeptic X speaks of me "tap dancing" around problems in the text. We have provided reams of support for the view that ancient writers "could not have perceived of a deity's granting of land without any conditions attached," and he has only desperately tried to excuse away the converging lines of data with anachronistic alternate lines of explanation and with laughable attempts to speak authoritatively outside his field. The matter actually is that we have been tap dancing all over Skeptic X, and he is so disoriented that he thinks he is vertical when he is actually horizontal.

Now after a hiatus of months, excused away with all the normal claims of emergency (even though this kept him not from debating another person on this same subject), we are back to X fudging, flailing, and coughing, hacking, and spitting his way through the Land Promise issue. As before, we return to the procedure of cutting out the reams of crybaby fluff and distractive, repetitive nonsense X pads his articles with to keep the gullible dazed, and get to the points where arguments, such as they are, are actually made.

Part 17 begins with X trying to set my own words against myself, as usual to no effect. On one hand I am quoted:

Again, we have never argued for, and our opponent cannot show that we have ever argued for, any "extremist view" that any deity's ultimate ownership precluded the ability of humans to transact business in terms of personal property; we have rather argued that the deity holds ultimate jurisdiction with respect to occupation and use of the land, including the ability to transact business associated with the land.

As allegedly contradictory to:

Abraham and his descendants are "given" the land, but what does that mean? It does not connote any modern sense of property ownership. What it does mean for Abraham to have been "given" the land is made most clear within the Ancient Near Eastern context of the relationship between a land, its people, and their deity.


There is no contradiction here; X is confused out of his mind, and there is no more that needs be said. X then layers down a plethora of Bible quots that speak of the land being inherited, possessed, etc. which may daze the gullible into thinking X is doing more than exerting his copy-paste finger, but otherwise is off little exeretive effect on anyone's thinking muscle. In the middle X distracts extensively to Josh. 21:43-45, knowing full well that this is addressed later in my material. It's good to be reminded of X's usual debate tactics of distraction and diversion. It reminds us of X's unfortunate inability to alleviate his frustrations at never having gotten the attention he felt he deserved as a genius.

An interesting admission follows by X: "A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since this debate started, so I can’t recall everything that [Holding] has said along the way, but if he has ever replied to my rebuttal above, I don’t recall it." I did. And it's just too bad that X was the one who flushed the toilet of his memory and let it overflow. This complaint comes from someone who has loaded his responses with fluff, repetition, diversion, and nonsense, and now he wants to use this excuse?

Perhaps X is not forgetful at all, but devious.

Comments follow about feudalism. We have already embarrassed X here and on TWeb over his attempt to "de-define" the relationship here as feudal based on the Jews not being serfs; about his misuse of Cross (who actually agrees with us); about his allegation of my change in position; about the difference in possession and occupation; Josh. 21:43-45; Deut. 9; the law being "impossible" to keep, thus setting up the Israelites for failure (hmm, what about those atoning sacrifices to cover for failures?); the circumcision issue; the refusal to deal with that no ancient pact was without obligation, and so on. X continues to embarrass himself by re-presenting arguments refuted months ago, and like the muddled patriarch at the dinner table, his face is covered with food stains and he doesn't even know it, happy as a clam as long as his family is not complaining. We will not waste the readers' time addressing all of this again. Here is a new argument:

Joshua 22:1 Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2 and said to them, "You have observed all that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded you, and have obeyed me in all that I have commanded you; 3 you have not forsaken your kindred these many days, down to this day, but have been careful to keep the charge of Yahweh your God. 4 And now Yahweh your God has given REST to your kindred, as he promised them; therefore turn and go to your tents in the land where your possession lies, which Moses the servant of Yahweh gave you on the other side of the Jordan.

X absurdly tries to link this back to Joshua 21:43-45, reasoning that this "rest" given to just the tribes on the other side of the Jordan who had completed their conquest proves that ALL land promised had been conquered, because "rest" was promised to all the tribes once all the land was conquered. X is patently oblivious to the point that the 2 1/2 tribes were being given rest to help fight with other tribes that had no rest. It perhaps does not occur to him that all 12 tribes were very much unlikely to complete their conquests at precisely 6:42 AM on Monday the 3rd, so that some would qualify for "rest" before others. In any event all of this is irrelevant because we have explained the contextual exegesis of Josh. 21:43-5, and X is still not to addressing our latest response on that.

Update, 4/29/05: And now, X will have more work to do, as we present from Kenneth Kitchen's Reliability of the Old Testament a defense of Josh. 21:43-45 similar to our own. Kitchen, comparing this text to other ANE inscriptions of military victory, regards readings like X's as "careless" and recognizes Josh. 21:43-45 as a "rhetorical summation" of a sort that was "a regular feature of military reports" in Joshua's period -- and he uses my very example of the Mitanni being "annihilated totally" and Mesha of Moab says that Israel "utterly perished for always."

X presents here as well arguments for Deut. as a late document. Our responses:

Some side comments are made about David's dynasty not being "forever as promised" but the general answer is the same as always: No such promise was ever regarded as "without strings"; a patron always expexted something in return from a client, and X's gross decontextualizations will not change this. (Of course, we would also point out that the dynasty remained perpetual through David's seed, Christ, but that's another issue.)

Silly Question #345,867 is then asked, "Is it possible for people to possess property without prospering?" Uh, yeah. X doesn't know any rich people who rent houses and condos? Is this a serious question? Heck, the king owned all land of a feudal estate that rich barons "possessed." Beyond this X yanks some idea out of his corncob pipe that it amounts to some sort of argument to point out that people can fail to prosper even if they possess land. No kidding. What's the point? Yahweh also guaranteed rain and fruitfulness to go with that land if they behaved. Hello?

We now do get to an important point, that of the Josh, 5 circumcision issue. I wrote:

Moreover, why is the lack of circumcision a problem at all? The ritual was done. The Israelites who underwent the ritual obeyed the command to have it done. How could they have it done before they were told to have it done? For this to be a problem, our opponent must show that in the time prior to Josh. 5, the people were told to undergo ritual circumcision and disobeyed the command to do so. As this is not shown, and as the text records no such command and refusal by the addressed generation of Israelites, this is a non-answer in context.

After babbling a bit more, X retorts with a non-answer, merely repeating the same old, "They didn't get it done, so they were disobedient" canard, calling my point that they were not ordered to do so "almost too absurd to merit comment." We have to wonder if X is some sort of sadist who sets rules for behavior in his house, doesn't tell anyone, then punishes the grandkids for not obeying these orders he did not give them. In the end X is compelled to hoist the dodge that, "Well, don't you suppose Moses would have told them?" No -- why? The Israelites were a people in disgrace at that time, as the disobedient generation of the Exodus all died off but two; within an honor-shame setting, it is indeed more likely that Moses and Yahweh would order all the people to NOT be circumcised, so that (literally every time they went to the bathroom, if you will!) they would be reminded of the shame and disgrace of the previous generation's failures. Unfortunately social complexes like these give X headaches so it's likely he will explode if he gets to read this, say in 2015. In the meantime, X's grandkids should probably avoid the house. Other than that, there is a link here to material to the issue of whether "cut off" means "kill" (it doesn't) and we hope X takes up this gauntlet so we can drop a crate of scholarship on his head. We'd like to see if he can make a scholar of Milgrom's caliber (who is not an inerrantist, and is Jewish) "eat his words".

On Bathsheba see here. X seems to think that picking out single sins and asking, "Why didn't Yahweh kick them out after this one, huh?" is some sort of rational question. Deut. 28 clearly lays out stages of punishment that were to be followed for corporate (not individual) expulsion. X naturally is too out of it to make such a distinction and so asks goofy questions like, "Why wasn't David kicked out of the land for this sin?"

X follows with more wandering around about feudalism; perhaps someday he will wake up with Strayer (see above) holding a sword over his head. X also dodges the point I made about Gen. 14:19 calling Yahweh the "creator" by yelping that we "cannot prove" that Yahweh actually is the creator, which is 100% beside the point that whether He was or not, the Israelites believed he was, and this is the paradigm under which they operated. X is out of his mind if he thinks that this is some sort of relevant argument.

And now we close with a special addendum X offered in which he deigned to allegedly answer some isolated part of some essay of mine. It starts with a funny complaint that must have originated with Stevie "Sun Dog" Carr, who spends obsessive hours reading this site looking for any hint of a contradiction in position he can find. That's not hard to do after 8 years and 1200+ articles, and Stevie did find one that's mildly legit, but the funny thing is, his master X reckons it backwards. Get this:

In debating...James Patrick Holding, I have noticed that he will take whatever position is advantageous to his doctrine du jour. What he says today may not be what he will say tomorrow. An example of this, can be found in our debate on preterism when he attempted to rebut an argument of mine, which I had based on the dating of 1 Clement at AD 95, which is the date that most reputable scholars assign to this book. He said in his "reply" that 1 Clement had been written before AD 70.

That's quite correct, and now watch as X spins and runs into his own end zone:

Here he was trying to defend preterism, a doctrine that is inconsistent with statements that Clement made, if his first epistle were written as late as AD 95-96; hence, [Holding] took the position that this epistle could "just as well [be] dated pre-70." However, in another of his hackwork articles, [Holding] was trying to defend the Pauline authorship of the book of Ephesians, at which time he found it advantageous to his position to date 1 Clement at, guess when? That’s right. AD 95.

And I am quoted:

Attributions by patristic writers, by orthodox and heretical alike, are unanimous in favor of Paul... Ephesians is quoted in 1 Clement (95 AD), Ignatius, and Ploycarp, three late first century/early second century writers.

Hmm. Of course this is interesting, but I have to conclude that Stevie Weevie passed X this quote out of context, or else X is mind-numbingly stupid, and both have been proven true in times past. The thing is that this last quote comes froman article on the authorship of Ephesians, loaded March 23, 2002, which may or may not have been before this discussion with X. However, the quote is from a section in which I am arguing that attribution was made by writers of the letter of Ephesians to Paul -- and though X says I "found it advantageous" to date 1 Clement to 95 here, the simple fact is that in the context of this argument, it would actually have been more advantageous for me to date Clement prior to 70! Thus what X claims I did for "advantage" was actually to my own "detriment"!

Which leaves us one question to ask: When is X going to stop embarrassing himself with asinine comments like these?

At any rate, X's main magilla for this appendix that needs to be removed is that he wants to play with one particular cite which comes from, so he says, my "fluff-free" version of the long, EVERYTHING version of this debate that he's still saddle-sore from trotting through. Note that I said, "so he says." Here's the cite he gives from me:

9:3 is cited as contradictory to this verse, 7:22 --

The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.

But the problem is one of translation, for "quickly" is better rendered "easily" -- which makes sense in context, for the point is that the Anakites are a supposedly difficult enemy to overcome. (Wein.Dt111, 375-6, 406 -- See this word also used in Eccl. 4:12.)

Not surprisingly, this is par for the course for X, who seems to be a new version of Dora the Explorer in terms of finding new ways to embarrass himself. Here's how he does it this time:

In any event, since this cite is NOT from any Land Promise source, it's hard to know where to go from here; X himself wonders how and why it helps me to have this read "easily" in terms of the Land Promise, and the duh-huh answer is, I DON'T think it does and never used it as a point in that debate. In terms of the Land Promise issue, I don't care whether Deut. 9:3 says "quickly" or "easily". In fact, one might note that "quickly" in any event is a relative term; and moreover, one may ask, "Quickly, as in, all your battles will be over within 2 years?," or, "Quickly, as in, though it may take 50 years to get to all the battles, any battle you engage in will take less than 5 minutes"? (Which is how I do deal with the issue, at any rate, in parts of my reply where X has yet to reach, but does come to, as a preview, below.) Then there is also that pesky matter of Eccl. 4:12, which Weinfeld cited also as an example, and after blattering on for a bit about nothing, X returns to this passage and blows it off by saying that all his English versions say "quickly" here, too, which is basically the same non-answer. What it amounts to is that X spent hours in front of his computer, straining his already-burdened eyes replying to a point never made in the context he thinks it was, wasted time that would have been solved by less than a minute of checking the source of that quote he picked up from Stevie Weevie or Mojo Jojo or whoever the bleck passed it to him out of context.

Now as noted, X does get to what I say about Deut. 9:3 in the Land Promise issue, and this one, unlike the last quote, IS in our fluff free version. I wrote:

Now we ask our opponent this question. If Llerraf the Gorilla is swinging on a tree in the jungle and has a bunch of bananas, and he says, "I will eat these bananas quickly," what does he mean? Does he mean, he will eat them all at once and do so quickly; i.e., will he inhale them in one session in less than ten seconds flat? Or does he mean, he will eat each one quickly, i.e., as he eats them, over an extended period of time, each banana going down in a few microseconds flat, with the total sum of bananas in the bunch eaten over a period of several days? Give up? We don't know either, and we will not know until we ask for some clarification, or else see him start eating the bananas. Now we tell the reader, look at the Biblical text. Did the Israelites eat their bananas all at once quickly? No. Did they eat each individual banana quickly? Yes, barring failures to obey such as the ones we record above, and items we say (below) reveal such instances implicitly. So unless our opponent can prove that the text of 9:3 was intended to apply to eating the whole bunch of bananas en masse -- and the context offers no help for that, whereas the historical record of Joshua provides contextual evidence that the "one at a time" meaning is in view -- he's just swinging in the cage again and hooting at the customers throwing ten-ton peanuts.

That's my argument, but X is so muddled because of the first misplaced cite that he starts on a spiel about how this works out if I have the gorilla eat the bananas "easily", which doesn't even address the issue at all. X is confused because he thinks I have both of these cites in the same essay, when in fact, the Deut. essay where I quote Weinfeld was written rather before the Land Promise issue. So like the 1 Clement cite, it would be justifiable to say that my position has developed; I can accept Weinfeld's "easily" idea, but I can accept the "gorilla" idea too; they are mutually exclusive options, but I still consider either possible. This is called "learning more," a concept unknown to X who believes that all of his genius blew out of his skull, like Aphrodite from the forehead of Zeus, back when he was 15 years old in 1876.

At any rate, after this X tries to prove that some battles were not "easy" at all, but his examples either involve Israelite sin (as at Ai) which would make things "harder" per Yahweh's guarantee, or battles X in his armchair thinks were "hard" but, not being much of a warrior in the first place, doesn't seem to realize WERE easy by ancient standards. In any event, X's appeal to his 22 readers to pull my foot out of my mouth before I choke, after these two instances of misplaced cites, is remarkably ironic.

So it closes, with X whining that I am "assuming inerrancy to prove inerrancy" (the standard schtick which translates, "I can't answer your argument in actuality!" and "I don't care if secular historians do the same thing to resolve difficulties in secular texts!"). He sits at the table, his face and clothes stained with gravy as he pounded his mug on the table and the rest of the table either snickers or ignores him, the latter because they don't want to be disinherited. With horrendous mistakes like these piling up ("Pay for 90% of your website??"), it's clear that it's past time for X to pass his gravy-stained baton to someone with more competence.