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Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Who said, We said, You said, They said, He said, She said, God said, man said, I said, No one said

Who said, We said, You said, They said, He said, She said, God said, man said, I said, No one said

by Samuel Martin

One of the more unfortunate aspects of the whole corporal punishment/smacking/spanking debate is the diversity of opinions surrounding the same basic information found in the Bible.

Yes, the Biblical texts in fact have not changed in 2,000 or more years, but what people have been saying about them - now the changes there are significant and varied.

This is often because of the issue of what someone said about the Biblical texts, hence the title of this post.

Who said, We said, You said, They said, He said, She said, God said, man said, I said, No one said

Most people advocating corporal punishment are lightning quick to quote the book of Proverbs as the general authoritative source (even before the New Testament) and the Biblical authority for corporal punishment/spanking/smacking.

Yet, when it comes to how people interpret those verses, it often becomes a question of what someone else said about the texts themselves that animates the opinions many people hold concerning this issue.


It will come as no surprise to anyone who has studied this issue even superficially that such a wide range of opinions and views exists on this issue that it is in fact quite hard for anyone to come to any unanimity of belief.

Let's start with the most extreme example and one which, in fact, is so widespread and a part of Western culture of the English speaking world since it first appeared in the "raunchy satirical poem" 'Hudibras' by Samuel Butler in the late 17th century. Yes, that ubiquitous phrase:

"Spare the rod, spoil the child"

Anyone who has anything to do with my FB page (www.facebook.com/byblechyld) will note that numerous times people have quoted this as if it comes from the Holy Bible. Some confidently assert the same to their own major shock when they discover the Bible never mentions this phrase. But some people just continue to perpetuate error unknowingly.

This example really helps us understand how much work there is to do because people have just identified cultural ideas which exist in 17th century literature and now these phrases have been put in God's mouth as Holy Writ. How unfortunate, but true.

Pass the story and what do you get?

I think most of us recognize how things can get jumbled as they pass from person to person. I remember growing up in grade school how one time my class got in a circle and the teacher told one person a very specific group of sentences. Then that person is supposed to tell the person next to them and so on. And what comes out the other end? A jumbled hodgepodge of unintelligible mumbo-jumbo that has almost no relevance to the original story at all.

Let us not misunderstand the fact that this is happening not only concerning innocents stories told in grade school, but, in fact, we have things which are traditional teachings passed down from previous generations as if they came directly from Christ Himself!

We are all familiar with some fairy tales which we have inherited from our previous generations. Many of these stories represent in some cases a Bible for the unlearned. Access to Biblical texts for the laity has only in the last five hundred years been more the norm. For the first 1,500 years of the history of the Christian Church, generally speaking, the Bible and its message was left in the hands of religious leaders. The laity had very little access to the Biblical material.

It is for this reason that stories started to develop. I remember my late father writing about fairy tales in a paper called "Fairy Tales and the Biblical Revelation" in 1981. He talked about the example of Jack and the Beanstalk. When we review this story, we notice numerous parallels with the story of another 'Jack' but this time it is someone from the Holy Scriptures. The "Jack" in question here is Jacob.

Instead of Jacob seeing a vision of a ladder going up to heaven, the beanstalk enters the picture due to cultural differences. And God in heaven is replaced with the giant. And what does the giant say? 'Fe Fi Fo Fum.' This is a symbolic phrase that refers to the name of God 'Yahweh' (eiou).

Many of these fairy tales were previously biblical stories which have just been jumbled and mixed up because people did not have access to the Biblical texts as dad talked about.

Could this be at work in some of these texts dealing with corporal punishment/smacking/spanking?

This could very well be the case. Much more research is needed into this material from the Middle Ages and the Early Church in particular, but I have noted in other posts that we have evidence of early Christian texts from the third century which interpret the texts in Proverbs as the words used by a father to control a child rather than referring to a literal rod. See the following for more information in this regard. http://samuelmartin.blogspot.co.il/2011/10/i-was-wrong-and-how-i-intend-to-make-it.html

Finally, there are prevailing beliefs among many English speaking Christians that corporal punishment is a teaching which is just common sense and conventional wisdom which is timeless and goes right back to the time Jesus with no interruption, but those who hold this view often have not studied the matter carefully and hold this view often based on their own erroneous suppositions.


In conclusion, many who hold those views are often so steeped in traditional views and so inflexible when it comes to anything dealing with the Bible, the spirit of learning new things is often something that they are afraid of. These dear people often forget the following texts (quoting here KJV):

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (Il Peter 3:18).

"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Colossians 1:10).

"The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).

This is what I think Prof. William Webb is talking about in his work dealing with corporal punishment and how his approach moves us more towards the redemptive spirit of Scripture: To grow in grace and knowledge, but also to grow in love. (See www.redemptivechristianity.com)

Let us not fear the truth. Because "your Word is truth'. (John 17:17)

Download Samuel Martin's free ebook - Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/

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