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Post Old Testament: Fact or Fiction?
Created by John Eipper on 04/27/17 8:31 AM

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Old Testament: Fact or Fiction? (Enrique Torner, USA, 04/27/17 8:31 am)

In this my last week of classes, when I'm all stressed out from papers, quizzes, and exams to grade, plus having to write the final exams, Ric Mauricio (26 April) had to "push" all my "buttons": first, bringing out the topic of Bible contradictions; later, asking whether the Old Testament is fact or history, stating categorically that Revelation was not written by John the Apostle, and asking why nobody hasn't found yet the Ark of the Covenant of Noah's ark, among other things.

For crying out loud! You can't do this to me, Ric! I could spend all summer expounding on all the issues you have mentioned, but now?

Coincidentally, I have been studying contemporary novels centered on Christian, Jewish, and Muslim relics for the last two or three years, as I think I already said in a previous post a year or two ago. For this reason, I have had to do research on religious archeological history: that's one of the reasons I said Ric "pushed my buttons." So, what can I say in 10 minutes? That's a hard question!

For one, I believe there were no contradictions in the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, because they were divinely inspired, and that, even with today's main English translations (NASB, NIV, and a few others), there are only apparent contradictions. I think I could make my case with most of the ones Ric mentioned, if not all, if I had the time, but I don't, so it will have to wait till summer break.

Whenever I am left with an apparent contradiction, my response is that I am only human, and unable to figure it out at that time. Regarding Ric's statement that Revelation was not written by John the Apostle, but by some other mystic John who was exiled to the island of Patmos, there are several theories about who wrote the last book of the Bible, and none of them are conclusive: the only thing all scholars agree on is that we don't know for sure who wrote it. There are mentions of another John called the Presbyter (or the Elder), who some scholars claim wrote 2 and 3 John, but there is nothing conclusive about it.

Finally, is the Old Testament fact or fiction? Both! The OT has lots of different genres in it, historical and non-historical; there is also the fun but controversial subject of literal versus metaphorical meaning, some examples of this led to religious wars. We have enough wars right now, so I won't start another one.

I'd better stop here for now, because I am having too much fun, and took too long of a break from school work. Maybe sometime this summer I will tell you where Noah's ark is!

JE comments: Best of luck with the semester wrap-up, Enrique!  My final final exam was yesterday, and now I'm settled in for a long spring of grading.  Our graduation ceremonies are this weekend.

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  • Trenchant Tales from the Taxtime Trenches; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 04/29/17 7:49 AM)

    Ric Mauricio writes:

    I apologize to Enrique Torner (27 April) for "pushing all his buttons." But this is what happens when you lock me in a tax office for 3 months. I come out spewing fire and brimstone.

    Having just completed the first official stage of tax preparation, I can tell you, the stories of inept tax preparation just astound me. Many were promulgated by self-preparation through TurboTax and other online providers, but also through Tax Professionals (CPAs included and companies that provide tax preparation services ... OK, yes, I'm talking about my own H&R Block). Could it be that the IRS secretly created self-preparation software in order for people to overpay their taxes?

    Let's start with the TurboTax story (could be any self-preparation software). A taxpayer works for Uber and gets a 1099K. For those unfamiliar with the 1099K, it is a record of credit card payments processed through a credit card processor. For Uber, there is a gross amount charged through the credit card processor (in other words, their gross earnings). And self-preparers will take that amount and process it as their earnings. Lo and behold, if one looks at the detail, part of the gross amount are reimbursements by Uber. Reimbursements of what? Of expenses incurred. Aha, that means you spent money out of pocket for those expenses. Deduct those expenses. Hey, look, there is an Uber fee over here. Another deductible expense. And mileage. Ah, wear and tear on your vehicle. After calculating the income and expenses, it was clear that the self-preparer was overpaying his taxes. And when I asked the taxpayer how many hours he spent earnings that net amount, I divided the net amount by the number of hours to calculate his hourly wage. Oh my gosh, no way. It's below minimum wage...way below. Like half the so-called living wage.

    But the worst tax return that I looked at for prior years was one prepared by a CPA. The taxpayers thought they were filing as Married Filing Separate (one of the two filing statuses that can be filed by a couple who are legally married). When I pointed out to them that when filing Married Filing Separate in a Community Property state like California, that one has to take half the wife's income and put it on the husband's tax return and vice versa. That's what I was looking for when looking at their prior returns. But I was shocked. Not only did he not do that, but the CPA filed them both as Head of Household. I covered the Head of Household questionnaire when I asked them the question: when were you legally married? Their response was that they had been legally married for awhile. Then I uncovered the question on the questionnaire that the CPA had filed. The question was: Are you legally married? The CPA had marked it "no." There is no interpretation issue here. There is no "maybe." There is either fact or fiction. Yes or no. There is no error here. This is a fraudulent act, and fraud is a criminal act.

    I filed their 2016 correctly as Married Filing Joint (didn't make any sense to file Married Filing Separate; no gain from that) and I am taking steps to correct their prior returns for them.

    And finally, I am looking forward to finding out where the real Noah's ark is (since the Mt. Ararat one in Turkey seems to have been debunked because of iron in its substructure). And I'm pretty sure that the Ark of the Covenant in the Indiana Jones movie was fiction.

    JE comments:  Turkey actually has an ark to visit?  Has anyone in WAISworld been to Ararat?  I'd love to know more about the region's tourism infrastructure--iron, wood, or other.

    Glad you survived Tax Purgatory, Ric.  I have heard many stories about TurboTax frequently erring on the side of overpaying.  To be sure, aren't the "Little People" the ones who are supposed to pay the taxes?

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