Can we have both?

By Lee Salisbury

It is understandable why Christians insist on biblical infallibility. The questioning of any bible verse calls into question the Christian’s faith in an omniscient God. Any threat to the bible is a threat to their faith, their commitment to Jesus, and ultimately their self-identity. For believers, the bible must to be true, regardless of contradictory evidence. Some go so far as believing the earth must be flat because the bible states the earth has four corners. In the interest of what we hope is a mutual desire for truth and integrity by all concerned, the following is a sample of questionable bible verses with comments in italics for the inquirer’s consideration:

Jos 15:21 "And the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the coast of Edom southward were Kabzeel, and Eder, and Jagur, And Kinah, and Dimonah, and Adadah, And Kedesh, and Hazor, and Ithnan, Ziph, and Telem, and Bealoth, And Hazor, Hadattah, and Kerioth, and Hezron, which is Hazor, Amam, and Shema, and Moladah, And Hazar-gaddah, and Heshmon, and Beth-palet, And Hazar-shual, and Beer-sheba, and Bizjothjah, Baalah, and Iim, and Azem, And Eltolad, and Chesil, and Hormah, And Ziklag, and Madmannah, and Sansannah, And Lebaoth, and Shilhim, and Ain, and Rimmon:" all the cities are twenty and nine, with their villages: Why does the "inspired Word of God" say 29 when the actual count is 39?


Ez 1:9 "Now this was their number: 30 gold dishes, 1,000 silver dishes, 29 duplicates; 30 gold bowls, 410 silver bowls of a second kind, and 1,000 other articles. All the articles of gold and silver numbered 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought them all up with the exiles who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem." Why 5,400 when simple addition totals 2,499?


Ez 2:3-64 "The whole assembly numbered 42,360" Why 42,360 when the assembly listed totals 29,818?


Mk 9:2 "And six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves."

Lk 9:28 "And some eight days after these sayings, it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray." There are at least twenty bible errors involving numbers which an inept, hurried monk might make, but hardly an omniscient God. If these errors are due to copyists, then what confidence can one have that there might not be other errors or that God who allegedly inspired the bible is Himself not subject to errors and omissions?


Num23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Jas1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.


Ez 14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him

I Kg 22:22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also.

Ex32:14 So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.

ICh 21:14-15 So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel; 70,000 men of Israel fell. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but as he was about to destroy it, the LORD saw and He repented over the calamity, and said to the destroying angel, "It is enough;

God contradicts Moses : God is just like man, God lies, and God changes his mind.


Jn1:3 "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

Col1:16 "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things have been created by Him and for Him."


Is45:7 "The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these."

Amo3:6 "If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?

Lam3:38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? God and Jesus admit

responsibility for darkness, calamity, and ill? "I am the LORD who does all these." Would this include plagues, wars, earthquakes, hurricanes? With such a God, how can Satan be any worse?


Jas1:13 "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone."


Num14:22 "Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test (tempted Me) these ten times not listening to My voice"

Gen22:1 "Now it came about after these things, that God tested (tempted) Abraham"

IISam24:1 "Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited (tempted) David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah."

I Ch 21:1 "Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved (tempted)David to number Israel." God is tempted, God tempts others. God and Satan tempt King David. Here God and Satan are the same!


Dt 24:16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.

Ez18:20 The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.


I Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.

Justice dictates that each individual bears responsibility for their own sin. The epitome of injustice is to make a person responsible for someone else’ sin. According to the apostle Paul, all are guilty because of Adam’s sin. Not only did God’s standard of justice change, but God’s new standard violate the basic definition of justice, making God unjust!

Rom3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"


Gen 6:9 "These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God."

Job 1:1 "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil." Does "all" mean "all" or are there other exceptions?


Mt 2:13-14 "Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him." And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt;"


Lk 2:21-22 "And when eight days were completed before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed (40 days), they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord" Did Joseph and family flee to Egypt or stay in Bethlehem 40 days and then proceed to the temple in Jerusalem? Why do Matthew and Luke contradict? Can Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus have been in two different places at the same time?


Jn8:14 "Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know where I came from, and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from, or where I am going."

Jn5:31 "If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true." Is Jesus confused? True or not true?


Jn1:18 "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him."


Gen32:30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." ? Did Jesus forget or was Jacob lying?


Jn3:13 "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man"


Heb11:5 "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God".

IIKg2:11 "Then as they were going along and talking, that there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven" Did Jesus forget?


Mt5:17-18 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished."


Rom10:4 "For Christ is the end (the abolishment) of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."


Mt19:16-18 "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "you shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness


Rom3:20 "By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. How can Paul contradict Jesus, yet claim to be Jesus’ apostle?

Gal3:10 "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse"


Jas2:24 "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone."


Rom4:6 "God reckons righteousness apart from works"

Eph 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast." ******************************************************************************************

I Jn 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us."


I Jn 3:6 "No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him" What a source of anxiety! All Christians sin, the Christian who says he doesn’t sin is deceived, yet when he sins God says you’re not really born of God. Do Christians lose their salvation every time they sin?

I Jn5:18 "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him"


Mt25:46 "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Mk16:16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.(damned)"

Jn3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."Rev20:15 "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."


Jn12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth(speaking of His crucifixion), will draw all men to Myself."

The Greek word for "draw" means to take forcibly, overcoming resistence.

I Cor 15:28 "And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all. The outcome of one Jesus results in most of humanity being condemned to eternal punishment, God’s wrath, and the lake of fire. The outcome of the other Jesus results in Jesus ultimate victory that God will be "all in all" .

I Jn 4:8 "God is love."

I Cor 13:4-8 "Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." Is God schizophrenic? If Love is not provoked and does not take into account a wrong suffered, how can God’s wrath abide on the unbeliever who is cast into the lake of fire? Or is God’s love selective like man?


Mt 16:28 "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." If the disciples died, then Jesus lied!


Rev 22:7 "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book"

Rev 22:12 "Behold, I am coming quickly,"

Rev 22:20 "He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Can "quickly" really mean 2,000 years later?


I Thes4:17 "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord." Notice Paul’s anticipated rapture is for "we" who are alive, not "those Christians 2,000 years from now". More important, are there no limits to gullibility? No, Tim LaHaye’s "Left Behind" books have sold 27 million copies. If LaHaye makes \\$2 per book, who is really getting "Left Behind"?


Though not openly admitted, Christians do not experience anything remotely close to the bible’s promises and particularly Jesus’ promises. The Christian frequency of answered prayer, at best, might equal the 20% - 30% success rate of medical doctors when giving patients a placebo. The untold frustration of Christians is that statistical studies by firms like Barna Christian Research show Christians are no less subject to sickness, poverty, and divorce then any other religious or non-religious group.

II Cor 1:20 "For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us."

Rom 10:12 "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him"

Pr 19:23 "The fear of the LORD leads to life,

So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil."

Ps 34:9-10 "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;

But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing. O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him, there is no want."

Ps 37:4 "Delight yourself in the LORD;

And He will give you the desires of your heart"

Multitudes of Christians meet all the pre-conditions, but never see the promised result.

Ps 41:1-3 "How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble. The LORD will protect him, and keep him alive, And he shall be called blessed upon the earth; And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies. The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed In his illness, Thou dost restore him to health."

If this were true, Christians would not need medical insurance, doctors or medicine.

Lk 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return" If this were true, no church would ever have to ask for offerings.

Jas 5:14-15 "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him." If this were true, the hospitals would be empty and medical research considered vain.

Mk11:23-24"Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you." If this were true no Christian would have an unanswered prayer.

Mk 9:23 "And Jesus said to him, "If You can!' All things are possible to him who believes"

Mt 17:20 "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you" Opportunity of a lifetime, be like God!!!

Jn 14:13-14 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it" "Whatever"? Call the Mercedes dealer!

Jn 16:23-24 "And in that day you will ask Me no question. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full" Jesus said "ANYTHING"!!!


I Jn 3:22 "Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight"

I Jn 5:14 "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us"

Jas 4:3 "You ask and do not receive, because you ask (amiss) with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.


As in a cafeteria, Christians pick and choose which verses to accept or reject. The quiet acceptance of "Cafeteria Christianity" is essential to Christianity’s survival. It also reveals the mentally disturbing hypocrisy Christians must uncomfortably embrace by claiming to believe the bible, yet at the same time rejecting verses they find intolerable.


Lk12:22-26 "He said to His disciples, For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; and they have no storeroom nor barn. Why are you anxious about other these matters? Jesus likened trusting God to living like ravens which are only concerned with provisions in the day when needed. A sinful lack of trust in God saves in advance (using storeroom or barn)with pension funds and IRAs?

Lk 12:33-34 "Sell your possessions and give to charity" Would this equate to: saved by poverty?

Mt 19:21 "If you wish to be complete(perfect), go and sell your possessions and give to the poor" If the way to recognize a Christian is based on doing what Jesus said, then we have yet to meet a Christian.

Act2:44-45 "And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need."

Based on this example should today’s Christian embrace communalism/socialism or capitalism?


Mt 5:42 "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away him who wants to borrow from you."

Lk 6:35 " lend, expecting nothing in return" Christian bankers: an oxymoron?

Mt 5:40 "And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also" How many Christian lawyers give this kind of advise?


Mt 19:12 "For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it." Castration should be the norm for preachers if they are going to set an example for seeking the kingdom of heaven. Viagra is used for sexual gratification. Shouldn’t preachers expose Viagra as a diversion?


Mt 5:32 " I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Mt 19:9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Lk 16:18 "Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery" What would happen to church revenues if

these verses were the sermon topic?


Mt 23:9 "And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven" The Pope says it’s appropriate to call his priests Father. Jesus must have changed his mind.


I Cor 14:5 "Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying." Do Baptist’s have more current truth? Pentecostal tongue-talking is of the devil.


Jn 14:12 "He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father" Wishful thinking, either Jesus lied or none have ever believed!

Mk 16:17-18 "And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" Now we know how to separate the true believer from the counterfeit believer! Stricnine or cyanide anybody?

Mk 16:20 "And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed" Any children’s hospital would welcome such a Christian!


ICor11:3 "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" At least the Southern Baptists preach this.

ICor11:5 "But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head; Christian husbands should be infuriated. A woman who prays without a doily or scarf on her head disgraces her husband. Bring on the Taliban!

ICor11:9 "for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake" I just don’t

understand why my wife hasn’t gotten this revelation yet.

ICor14:34-35"Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church"How can woman be preachers? Must be feminism! The Pope knows the bible: no women in the priesthood!

ITim2:11-12 "Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet." Spoken like a true apostle!!

ITim2:13-14 "For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression."Aha! It’s the rebellious woman’s fault.

ITim2:15 "But women shall be saved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." What better way for a woman to be saved?

ITim2:9 "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments" Let’s do inventory on those closets.


Infallibility of the 27 books of the Bible’s New Testament might be believable if the translating was based on original manuscripts. Unfortunately there are "no" original manuscripts. According to the Bruce Metzger, Ph.D. interview in "The Case For Christ" the New Testament is based on 5,664 Greek manuscripts, 8,000 to 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts, and another 8,000 Ethiopic, Slavic, and Armenian manuscripts. All in all about 24,000 manuscripts; which are copies of copies of manuscripts, edited and re-edited over a 1,400 year span of time.

The first assimilation of manuscripts resulted from Emperor Constantine’s request of fifty "sacred scriptures"about 330 CE. Scholars assume Bishop Eusebius brought together both Jewish and Christian writings. Later, various bishops agreed on what writings they considered authentic. In 382 CE Jerome produced what is considered the first bible, the Latin Vulgate version which was later accepted by the Roman Catholic Church.

To further compound the infallibility question, about a 1,000 years later, the English translated the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate into the Wycliffe Bible. Over the following 700 years English speaking theologians have required numerous new translations. The succession of translations have resulted in the Coverdale Bible, Geneva Bible, Bishop’s Bible, Douai-Reims Bible, King James Bible, Revised Version, Revised Standard Version, New American Bible, New American Standard Bible, and the New International Version.

Even if the earliest manuscripts reflect the original manuscripts (of which none exist), one can only "hope" the 1,900 year succession of copying, editing, re-editing, and translating is close to accurate. Even today, the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant scholars cannot agree on which books are authentic. In light of the bible’s numerous revisions which in part were done to correct previous errors, how can anyone know if succeeding translations are any more infallible then prior translations? In spite of these questions, bible-believing Christians are determined to portray their respective translation as the accurate, inerrant, infallible Word of God.

So how is one to objectively judge the infallibility of current translations? The scholarly approach is to evaluate the internals of the bible. If the bible is free of errors, inconsistencies and contradictions then just maybe it would justify the claims of infallibility. If there is just one error, one should begin to question whether "all scripture is inspired by God". If there is a multitude of errors, then any fair-minded individual would have to recognize inept man as the bible’s author, since an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God could not be "the author of confusion"(I Cor 14:33) allowing an erroneous document to be published in His name.


Why do bible-believers get so upset when someone points out contradictions in the bible and Christianity? Why do they circumvent the contradictions by either minimizing them or quoting scripture to justify what amounts to name-calling and threats? Reactions like "heretic", "blasphemer", "you’re of the devil", "you’re going to hell", are hardly the reactions of a rational, healthy mind. Maybe these people might take Jesus’ advice to take the log out of their own eye before they take speck out of another person’s eye. This tactic is not reserved for just non-believers. It is often the same tactic used when Christians encounter fellow Christians of differing denominational doctrines. Church history reveals the greatest persecution of Christians comes from fellow Christians: Catholics against Lutherans, Calvinists against Methodists, Baptists against Pentecostals, etc., etc. The virulent reaction of bible-believers reveals a psychological disorder unique to religion.

Though "honesty" is desired as a Christian virtue, reactions to the most obvious contradictions generate amazingly contorted explanations revealing intellectual "dishonesty". The reactions are often so irrational as to suggest an unhealthy mental/emotional state. In the treatment of alcoholism, any alcoholic who refuses to acknowledge his/her addiction is considered to be "in denial". Dr. Albert Ellis in "Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy" uses the term "obsession-compulsion disorder"(OCD) to describe a person who for various emotional anxiety-related reasons, embraces a belief system which disregards clear, objective, contradictory evidence. The above biblical contradictions and inconsistencies are simply too obvious to rationally deny, yet "denial" and "mental gyration" is often the disingenuous Christian response. A person can overcome this unhealthy state only by making truth, rational evidence, and integrity a priority in life.

Society’s problems are deeper then the usual list of sinful acts, i.e. murder, rape, corruption, etc., etc. "Denial" and "obsession-compulsion disorders" condone thought processes which cope with the issues of life by fantasizing about what "we’d like the world to be", rather than realistically searching out the facts and responding accordingly. This same thought process is foundational to biblical infallibility. The key to pleasing God is "faith", a thought process openly rejecting evidence and rational thought. This "faith" thought process is the hidden "enabler" which directly parallels the unhealthy, irrational, even immoral actions so prevalent in society. Biblical infallibility and mental health are in opposition to each other. The biblical concept of repentance is the order of the day, but what is required is a more all-encompassing repentance: a repentance from condoning thought processes which contradict rational thought and critical reasoning in whatever form it comes, whether it be secular or religious.

By Lee Salisbury Copyright 2001 (posted with the express permission of the author)

Lee Salisbury is a former bible school teacher, pentecostal minister, and conference speaker in the US, Europe, and Africa. He resigned the ministry in 1986 and for years agonized over various biblical errors and contradictions. He eventually concluded that "faith is incompatible with integrity, the latter being of greatest import". He is Cable TV Series Host for Freethought Forum.

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