Who changed the Bible and why? Bart Ehrman’s startling answers

| October 22, 2006 | 660 Replies

How often do we hear people “explaining” religious beliefs by stating “The Bible says so,” as if the Bible fell out of the sky, pre-translated to English by God Himself?  It’s not that simple, according to an impressive and clearly-written book that should be required reading for anyone who claims to know “what the Bible says.”

The 2005 bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, was not written by a raving atheist.  Rather, it was written by a fellow who had a born-again experience in high school, then went on to attend the ultraconservative Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  Bart Ehrman didn’t stop there, however.  He wanted to become an evangelical voice with credentials that would enable him to teach in secular settings.  It was for this reason that he continued his education at Wheaton and, eventually, Princeton, picking up the ability to read the New Testament in its original Greek in the process.

As a result of his disciplined study, Ehrman increasingly questioned the fundamentalist approach that the “Bible is the inerrant Word of God.  It contains no mistakes.”  Through his studies, Ehrman determined that the Bible was not free of mistakes:

We have only error ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them, evidently, in thousands of ways.

(Page 7).  At Princeton, Ehrman learned that mistakes had been made in the copying of the New Testament over the centuries.  Upon realizing this, “the floodgates opened.”  In Mark 4, for example, Jesus allegedly stated that the mustard seed is “the smallest of all seeds on the earth.”  Ehrman knew that this simply was not true.  The more he studied the early manuscripts, the more he realized that the Bible was full of contradictions.  For instance, Mark writes that Jesus was crucified the day after the Passover meal (Mark 14:12; 15:25) while John says Jesus died the day before the Passover meal (John 19:14).

Ehrman often heard that the words of the Bible were inspired.  Obviously, the Bible was not originally written in English.  Perhaps, suggests Ehrman, the full meaning and nuance of the New Testament could only be grasped when it was read in its original Greek (and the Old Testament could be fully appreciated only when studied in its original Hebrew) (page 6).

misquoting-jesus-bart-ehrman

Because of these language barriers and the undeniable mistakes and contradictions, Ehrman realized that the Bible could not be the “fully inspired, inerrant Word of God.”  Instead, it appeared to him to be a “very human book.”  Human authors had originally written the text at different times and in different places to address different needs.  Certainly, the Bible does not provide an an “errant guide as to how we should live. This is the shift in my own thinking that I ended up making, and to which I am now fully committed.”

How pervasive is the belief that the Bible is inerrant, that every word of the Bible is precise and true?

Occasionally I see a bumper sticker that reads: “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”  My response is always, what if God didn’t say it?  What if the book you take as giving you God’s words instead contains human words.  What if the Bible doesn’t give a foolproof answer to the questions of the modern age-abortion, women’s rights, gay rights, religious and supremacy, western style democracy and the like?  What if we have to figure out how to live and what to believe on our own, without setting up the Bible as a false idol–or an oracle that gives us a direct line of communication with the Almighty.

(Page 14).  Ehrman continues to appreciate the Bible as an important collection of writings, but urges that it needs to be read and understood in the context of textual criticism, “a compelling and intriguing field of study of real importance not just to scholars but to everyone with an interest in the Bible.”  Ehrman finds it striking that most readers of the Bible know almost nothing about textual criticism.  He comments that this is not surprising, in that very few books have been written about textual criticism for a lay audience (namely, “those who know nothing about it, who don’t have the Greek and other languages necessary for the in-depth study of it who do not realize there is even any “problem” with the text).

Misquoting Jesus provides much background into how the Bible became the Bible.  It happened through numerous human decisions over the centuries.  For instance, the first time any Christian of record listed the 27 books of the New Testament as the books of the New Testament was 300 years after the books have been written (page 36).  And those works have been radically altered over the years at the hands of the scribes “who were not only conserving scripture but also changing it.”  Ehrman points out that most of the hundreds of thousands of textual changes found among the manuscripts were “completely insignificant, immaterial, of no real importance.”  In short, they were innocent mistakes involving misspelling or inadvertence.

On the other hand, the very meaning of the text changed in some instances.  Some Bible scholars have even concluded that it makes no sense to talk about the “original” text of the Bible.  (Page 210).  As a result of studying surviving Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, Ehrman concluded that we simply don’t have the original words constituting the New Testament.

Not only do we not have the originals, we don’t have the first copies of the originals.  We don’t even have copies of the copies of the originals, or copies of the copies of the copies of the originals.  What we have are copies made later-much later.  In most instances, they are copies made many centuries later.  And these copies all differ from one another, and many thousands of places . . . Possibly it is easiest to put it in comparative terms: there are more differences among our manuscripts and there are words in the New Testament.

In Misquoting Jesus Bart Ehrman spells out the ways in which several critical passages of the New Testament were changed or concocted.  They are startling examples:

A.) Everyone knows the story about Jesus and the woman about to be stoned by the mob.  This account is only found in John 7:53-8:12.  The mob asked Jesus whether they should stone the woman (the punishment required by the Old Testament) or show her mercy. Jesus doesn’t fall for this trap.  Jesus allegedly states “Let the one who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.”  The crowd dissipates out of shame.  Ehrman states that this brilliant story was not originally in the Gospel of John or in any of the Gospels.  “It was added by later scribes.”  The story is not found in “our oldest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of John.  Nor does its writing style comport with the rest of John.  Most serious textual critics state that this story should not be considered part of the Bible (page 65).

B) after Jesus died, Mary Magdalene and two other women came back to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, according to Mark 16:1-2).  They were met by a man in a white robe who told them that Jesus had been raised and was no longer there.  The women fled and said nothing more to anyone out of fear (16:4-8).  Everyone knows the rest of Mark’s Gospel, of course.  The problem with the remainder of the story is that none of it was originally in the Gospel of Mark.  It was added by a later scribe.  Those additions include all of the following:

Jesus himself appeared to Mary Magdalene.  She told the eleven apostles (minus Judas) about this vision, but they did not believe her.  Jesus then appeared to the apostles, chastising them for failing to believe.  He tells them that those who believe will be saved and those who don’t will be condemned.  Then follows a critically important passage of the Bible.

And these are the signs that will accompany those who believe: they will cast out demons in my name; they will speak in new tongues; and they will take up snakes in their hands; and if they drink any poison, it will not harm them; they will place their hands upon the sick and heal them.

Jesus is then allegedly taken up into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, while the disciples go forth into the world to proclaim the Gospel in miraculous fashion.

Without the above passages (which, again, were not written by Mark) the Pentecostals lose their justification for speaking in “tongues.”  And the Appalachian snake handlers have no basis for their dangerous practices.

C) John 5:7-8 is the only passage in the entire Bible “that explicitly delineates the doctrine of the Trinity (that there are three persons and God but that all three constitute a single God):

There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Spirit and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness on earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three are one.

Ehrman cites strong evidence that this Trinity passage was entirely concocted and foisted upon Erasmus by outraged theologians who needed support for their prized theological doctrine (page 81).

Ehrman reveals numerous other difficulties with the popular assumption that the Bible was perfectly handed down from its original written expression.

Many believers rely fervently on the King James version of the Bible, for instance.  They sometimes even say “If the King James was good enough for St. Paul, it’s good enough for me.”  Ehrman points out many problems with the King James version, warning that “we need to face up to the facts.”

The King James was not given by God but was a translation by a group of scholars in the early 17th century who based their rendition on a faulty Greek text.

(Page 209).

So what should we make of the Bible?  Ehrman argues that the attacks of the New Testament are not simply collections of obvious, self-interpreting words.  It’s the same problem we have with other important documents, such as the United States Constitution:

Texts do not simply reveal their own meanings to honest inquirers.  Texts are interpreted and they are interpreted (just as they were written) by living, breathing human beings, who can make sense of texts only by explaining them in light of other other knowledge, explicating their meaning, putting the words of the text “in other words.”

(Page 217) The scribes changed the original words of the New Testament by putting them in other words.

In my experience, many people who cherry pick excerpts from the Bible as the proper way to determine what is moral are in utter denial that we don’t have accurate copies of the original writings.   Most of them refuse to acknowledge that current popular versions of the Bible contain numerous discrepancies, even compared to the earliest manuscripts we do have.  This is on top of the fact that their are hundreds of patent contradictions in the English version of the Bible.  To most believers, none of this matters.  Stay the course!  In fact, in my experience most believers rarely read what the consider to be God’s own inspired word.

Ehrman’s book points out numerous troublesome issues that demand attention even assuming that the original writers of the Bible accurately reported the events described in their original writings (whatever those writings were).   The elephant in the room, however, is that none of the authors of the Gospels ever claimed to witness any of the events they were reporting.  Further, the extraodinary nature of Biblical claims demands extraordinary proof that ancient self-contradictory writings are simply incapable of providing, except to those of us who believe that the Bible is completely true “because it says so in the Bible.”

For all of those people who continue to go around clentching and thumping those Bibles they bought at Wal-Mart, and for all the rest of us who want to get the story straight, Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus should be required reading.

[Administrator’s Note: More than 540 comments were quickly contributed to this post, making this page too long to download and display. Therefore, on March 23, 2007, I closed off new comments. Last night (February 4, 2009), I discovered a WordPress plugin that allows me to paginate comments, thereby protecting the site from the sudden and repeated load of 540 comments.   Here's the good news, then.   Anyone who has not yet had his or her say on Bart Ehrman's book may now jump in at the original post and post a comment.   That's right!  If none of the 540 comments that have come before you didn't address an important aspect of Bart Ehrman's book, you may now remedy that omission, right here in the comments to this original post.  Godspeed. ]

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Category: American Culture, Education, History, Reading - Books and Magazines, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. energyboost says:

    The whole point another prophet was sent down to earth is because the REAL message of Jesus was completely altered and changed. You should read the quran :) it's completely flawless, and has never ever been tampered with (century old qurans can be found in museums and they are exactly the same word for word). The quran is full of miracles!!

    A great website is : http://www.miraclesofthequran.com/index.php
    I wish more people would look beyond the negative (and absolutely untrue) preconception of Islam, and study it's real teachings properly!

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Energyboost. This is how wars begin, I'm afraid. It always starts with a smiley challenge.

      You know, I've never heard of a war started by an agnostic or a philosopher or a poet. Bold religious claims like yours (or those similar claims by the Christians you've challenged) are the best way I know to get a bunch of people furious for no good reason.

      The Quran is utterly perfect and without contradiction? Chew on these: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/contr

  2. Muhammad-the greates says:

    This book seems very interesting. I hope it contains major contradictions and not just minor ones like a debate on years or how many angels spoke to whom etc.

    Energyboost that is a great website.

    Erich people don't get furious when you've given them facts not just claims. It actually gets them thinking and enforces discussion which is healthy. It's better to be open minded than ignorant. The website about contradictions in the Quran is very weak. I just went through the majority of them and I can easily refute them all without rereading passages of the Quran.

    And actually YES. The Quran is absolutely flawless unlike the other religious books. Muslims must believe in all 3 books that were sent down to mankind, but unfortunately the Torah and Bible have been corrupted. That is why the last messenger Muhammad was sent to the whole universe and the Quran was revealed confirming everything that God had revealed in the past. It is the final word of God. The messages were corrupted in the Torah and Bible and so thats why the Quran was revealed in the purest, unaltered form. Not a single letter has been changed since about 1400 years ago. This is because God himself made a promise that it will NEVER be changed.

    Why do you see so many Christians and atheists converting to Islam lately? Look on youtube. There are christian ministers converting. It is the fastest growing religion. Obviously, there is something attractive about it.

  3. GodisOne says:

    Please don't let Shaytan(Devil) win in this world. He has promised God that he will take as many human souls as he can with him to the Hellfire. For this world is merely a glimpse compared to the afterlife. Don't commit shirk (Associate partners with God) as this is the gravest of all sins. I urge each and everyone of you to do as much research as you need to remove your doubts about Islam and may Allah guide all of us to the straight path.

    • LaM Jack says:

      Why should I believe that the Koran is God’s word? Just because it says so itself? If I say that I am a lawyer, does that make it true? Who are God’s witnesses that he, in fact, is God, and the Koran is his word?

    • Rami says:

      @LaM Jack:

      It’s simple, read both books and decide which makes more sense. Is Jesus the son of god and should you play to saints like catholics do? Which makes more sense, Jesus is a human or that god decided to have a child with a human woman?

  4. Visitor says:

    These facts has Islam come with long time back but no one is listening or want to listen. With all my respect to all beleivers and religions.

    Our prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him and his family) told people that these books has be changed and are not the words of the All Mighty God.

    I dont want to say to people to become muslims or to say wow Islam is the best but why when someone gives us an advise we dont want to listen to this advise and do what ever we want.

    1400 years has gone now and Islam is saying that the Torah and the Bible are two books that have been written by humans to serve their own purposes.

    But God is great he is showing all mankind the truth that the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him and his family) not through muslims no because muslims forgot about Islam now and became something else. But because of none muslims. So no one will say that there has not been any real reseach.

    Thank you for giving me the chance to publish what I wrote and sorry if I offended any one.

  5. Mike M. says:

    Niklaus Pfirsig says:
    August 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm
    (see above)

    And I say: Bravo Niklaus.
    Great post on this thread. Wisdom worth a re-read.

  6. Mark says:

    “I’ve never heard of a war started by an agnostic or a philosopher or a poet”

    Of course you have heard of the famous philosopher, Karl Marx. His philosophies have resulted in wars and holocausts that have killed more people than any other person or belief system in human history (in a bit more than a century). For example, how about the millions of Russians that were killed by their countryman, Joseph Stalin? If your reply is that Marx did not cause Stalin’s attrocities, I can say the same thing about almost every religious founder that ever lived (Mohammed is an exception because he led military campaigns).

    Erich, I am a lawyer too, and it is easy to be a skeptic like Ehrman or you (or me). The historical truth is that the practices and beliefs of the followers of Jesus Christ have (by their own blood quite often) spread education of the masses, medical care for the masses, the abolition of slavery, the equality of women, charitable efforts, and … (the list goes on and on) more than all other peoples in human history combined. Philosophers and poets did none of that. You and I would probably be shoveling earth every day for some rich landlord but for Christianity. While questioning the doctrinal beliefs of Christians is fair game, we all should be careful about the “log” in our own eye, as Jesus (ostensibly) put it.

    I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I have a lot of the same questions that you have, but I have even more fundamental questions about agnosticism. For example, I think it takes far more faith to believe there is no god (of course, atheism, not agnosticism) than that there is a god if for no other reason than that is far more difficult to prove a negative. The theory of evolution (i.e., human beings from mindless, random forces acting on matter and energy), to me, is a far-fetched fairy tale of modern humanity that is religious-like in its orthodoxy (another subject). Agnostics typically refuse to take a position either way, thinking that is wise. But I think that is foolish because, if there is a God, he created human beings the way we are. He clearly had some purpose in mind in doing that given the way he created us to think. The questions then become, who is he and what does he want from us, if anything?

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mark: Since you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are not a skeptic like me. I look around at many religions out there, all of them with claims that I see to be concocted and human. I can see that because I’m not socially embedded in those organizations–there is no social pressure for me to say I believe those sorts of things, coupled with the total lack of evidence (repetition and confidence are not evidence). Christianity has similarly fantastic and unbelievable claims–actually oxymoronic claims too (e.g., virgin birth). Since you’re a lawyer, you are familiar with burden of proof. As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

  7. Karl says:

    But neither should we ignore the historical evidence of actions this is not using the common rules of evidence either.

    When a religious founder or even a political leader states that the goal is domination by forced subjugation, their actions should speak volumes to you. This is an offensive state of affairs enforced by the loss of personal liberty which can only corrupt itself more by an increase in power to its leadership.

    When “non-zealous” or so called non-jihad Muslims are criticized as not being devout by political leaders that run their society this should speak directly to your sense of empathy for both moderate non-Muslims and non-Muslims as well.

    When a religious founder states that one should err on the side of forgiveness over and over again this should speak volumes to you as well.

    When “anything goes political leaders” criticize other Christians as not being forgiving enough and appeal to the Christian ideal of forgiveness this should speak directly to your sense of empathy for the plight of the individual that does not wish to see more power given to leaders that as has been determined from history, that increased human power left unchecked corrupts absolutely.

  8. Erich: The latest believer debate tactic is to claim that they are skeptics but that their skepticism has led them to Jesus. I ain’t buying’ it.

  9. Xtech says:

    So, Mark. You say you are a lawyer? Where did you study, if I may ask?

  10. Erich: That’s because they are not using the word properly. Much like when they use the word “know” about supernatural claims which no intelligent person should ever say they know for sure, as in, “I know the truth of the existence of the Holy Spirit.”

    Their argument goes like this….”I was just as skeptical as you, Erich. But I did my homework and looked at the research. The truth of the bible is proven by the historical evidence and the prophecies which have come true, and are still coming true. I could no longer deny the truth of Christ. This is one skeptic who simply HAD to accept that Jesus is my savior based on the evidence.”

    It’s a transparent attempt to circumvent your argument by the mis-use of language.

    To attempt to further discuss this so-called “skepticism” leads us into the morass of historical verification of Jesus’ existence and the events surrounding His life and death, as well as proofs and disproofs of the prophecies which, as I’m sure you are aware is all highly contested.

    The trump card that is eventually invoked is the “philosopher’s gambit”, I think it’s called. I can’t recall the name of it but it’s when they shut down all conversation by insisting that you haven’t done enough research to be able to talk about this subject.

  11. Xtech says:

    Mark

    You are partially correct that Christians “spread education of the masses, medical care for the masses, the abolition of slavery, the equality of women, charitable efforts, and …” – but many of these accomplishments happened *in spite of* Christian doctrine, and *in spite of* the intellectual castration required to believe in fantasies of miracles and supernatural claims. It is not hard to claim and prove many examples of the opposite – that Christians have also stood steadfastly in the way of education, the abolition of slavery, the equality of women, and created terrible poverty by the taking of income from the masses, terrified by threats of eternal damnation, and built palaces on their backs.

    Biology is a fascinating subject to study, as are all of the natural sciences. My guess it was not your best subject in school. :-) The scientific method is an excellent way of venturing a hypothesis, testing it, and subjecting it to re-testing and further examination by others. In this way, ‘orthodoxies’ may be challenged, and revised. Not like the creation myths of the Bible, or of the Koran, or of the Vedas, etc etc etc, which truly are unalterable. And all of which have believers just as fervent as you, and all of which have just as much evidence (zero) for their veracity – only reason to believe them is because we want to.

    I suspect one is attracted to the stories of creation because we love the narrative form. We love tales of moral victories, we are inspired and guided by them. We are also fed by the assumption that we are connected intimately to something greater than we are, even going so far as to be grandiose in assuming that we are each special to whatever it was that created the universe and our world around us. Never mind the implausibility of this, it is intuitively attractive and preferable. The reasons why we may want to ‘hear the voice of God’ may have something to do with a human tendency to confer actions that happen in the world to some being, with some intention, ie; water is there so we can drink it! rocks are there so we can build with them! famine occurs because people were bad and deserve it! So if this being is pulling the strings and making things happen all around us, it must be commanding me, too, somehow.

    In a way, you are correct that is takes more … belief … to not believe in a God. There are many experiments that demonstrate that humans naturally and from a young age assume a kind of external agency (you might call it God – Chinese may call it ancestor spirits – someone in India may call it Vishnu), as I have written above. Belief in God may be natural and intuitive, in the exact same way that we perceive the sun rising and setting every day, while in fact it is us, on the earth, that is in fact moving and causing that illusion. What is nonbelief takes is belief in the evidence, in the measurable and predictable and that the evidence combined with reason, thoroughly questioned by examining alternative theories, will lead us closer to reality, to the truth, than what our perceptions, intuition and desires might.

  12. Mahamad says:

    about the Historical Jesus will have to be revisited after one reads Insights. It’s one thing to tiicicrze the canonical claims of a historical Jesus, let’s see what Bart Ehrman can do against a better Jesus narrative.Whatever Bart Ehrman writes and whatever you think after reading Insights on the Exodus, King David, and Jesus will be a significant improvement over the conclusions of Jesus, Interrupted.I also think it a bit odd that Prof. Ehrman believes removing the historical coherency from the devotional Jesus does not result in a loss of faith. For him, suffering made him an agnostic. One would think after Paine and Ehrman, one would lose faith in sacred scripture to some degree; and, without a weekend base at scripture, faith in God which rests on this scriptural basis, would be lessened also.

  13. Mary says:

    The bible was changed before the Quran was revealed. God even mentions in the quran and of course I’m just paraphrasing, that those who followed the footsteps of Moses and Jesus are clearly on the right track of course that is if you believe in the orginal bible and same goes for the jews, yet it is mentioned that jesus was not the son of God or God himself, and for the fact christians ask forgivness from their priests and not God himself which proves the bible was changed. He warns Christians and jews(if they actually took the time to read the holy Quraan instead of judging muslims from their ignorant behaviors that shatters the image of islam) that their religion has been changed,the interpurtation of jesus with the holy spirit not God himself and mentioning he does not need a family or children because he is God and he does what he does best.

    • Kristy Nelson says:

      What Bible says to ask forgiveness from humans?

    • Sophia says:

      @grumpypilgrim. The Quran is not fiction! Ppl all over the world have memorized it thus no one can ever change it or corrupt it. It’s pure revelation from god. Funny the ppl who want to criticise the quran have never read it! Read a translation by http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quran-Oxford-Worlds-Classics/dp/0199535957 . One of the best translations ever!

      Why can’t charistians get over that u are all accountable for ur own sins ? Why are new born babies born with sin, if they are not baptized are they going to hell? Jesus him prayed at the garden of gethsemane where he put his head down on the floor just like Muslims pray! He prayed to god! If he was god why would he need to pray to god? So for a short period he stopped being god? U cannot be both human and divine. Jesus was human and prayed to god like we do and called others to pray to god.

  14. Erik says:

    Are you kidding me? In love don’t you recall Jesus Christ Himself quoting scripture all the time?… During temptation, prayers, correcting ect. Children of God, you need to know His word is Truth, let it abide in your heart. The words of the bible point to a reality, the truth and grace of God realized in Christ Jesus. All translations of the Bible that I have read point to this. God loves you. Do not let your faith be upset! John 7:37 If anyone is thirsty come to me and drink and out of Him will flow rivers of living water. He has provided salvation to everyone who believes in Him. Nothing can separate us from His love, but it seems like we can hide from it. yo

    • Sara says:

      Christians do not ask forgiveness from priests. That is what catholics do. Christians ask forgiveness from God and are forgiven through their faith in Jesus Christ and are saved by grace through Jesus’ sacrifice and resserrection. Catholics are the ones who pray to the saints and pray to and worship Mary. Christians pray in Jesus’ name and Christians (who believe in Jesus) are considered the saints. For Catholics the pope is considered to have the same authority as Christ. Christians are against this and many other catholic beliefs. We don’t share any similarities with the catholic religion. One would know this if they really compared the two faiths. Also, many atheists and many Muslims, who compare their practices and/or beliefs to Christianity, confuse the catholic religion with the Christian faith assuming they are one in the same. Clearly, they are not and one would see this if they truly researched these two faiths. It’s funny when Islamists use catholic practice and beliefs to refute Christianity for the sake of proving that their religion is the true religion when christianity is in opposition to Catholicism. It makes them sound ignorant and it makes a lot of you commentators look stupid as well. Good luck with all that!

  15. Jim Razinha says:

    I think I’ve shared the story here already, but Sara puts the exclamation point on it: sometime around 1996, a friend in California was looking for a Catholic bible for her daughter’s first communion. She was in a Christian book store, but couldn’t find any. The response from the clerk was priceless: “This is a Christian book store!” The friend managed to recover from her incredulity to say, “Excuse me! I am a Christian.”

    Of course she was. I love how American protestants conveniently forget their religious heritage. “catholic [sic] religion” vs. “Christian faith”? Please.

    Welcome to America, where you are free to practice whichever brand of Christianity you want. (Amended to include: …but only as long as it meets my definition of “christianity”…)

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jim: That reminds me of the 3/4th of nominal Catholics don’t believe in the transubstantiation. http://dangerousintersection.org/2012/06/17/most-catholics-dont-believe-in-transubstantiation/

      And there are hordes of Christians who merely think Jesus was a man with some good ideas. I’ve met more than a few of those.

    • Jim Razinha says:

      American Protestant dogma decries Catholic dogma and the protestants snipe amongst themselves (sects break off all the time over ideological differences.) Beliefs vary – real Christians don’t wear jewelry or dance….real Christians baptize by immersion…and so on.

      Even if people actually read a bible to get their Christian perspective, translation can be a problem. For example two takes on Luke 17:34 (Jesus is speaking):

      I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.  
      – King James Version

      I tell you, in that night there shall be two  people in one bed; one will be taken, and the other left.
      – New English Translation

      Now, what do you suppose the NET translators didn’t like about the KJV translation? I’m sure the Koine Greek word clearly meant “men”, but that might be taken the wrong way. And say you know Greek…just where do you lay your hands on a primary source?

    • Erich Vieth says:

      And “young woman” means virgin, just to give theologians something to do for 2,000 years. BTW, Ronaldo de Souza defined theology as “intellectual tennis without a net.”

  16. malik says:

    I’m not even suprised

    We muslims have been saying the bible has been changed for 1400 years.

    So many different versions of the bible, not to worry the original bible will be revealed in the future, and everyone will see how similar it is to the quran.

  17. Sitaraman says:

    The idea that the Quran was not altered is laughable. Most Muslims do not know their own history. There is historical evidcence that the 3rd Caliph, Uthman/Usman did the following:
    1. A canonical version of the Quran was created during Uthman’s rule with much of the Prophet Muhammed’s (peace be unto him) violent attacks on the Umayyads expunged.
    2. He gave orders that all copies of the Quran in the provincial libraries be publicly burned.
    3. He took possession of the copies belonging to the Prophet’s (PBUH) family and destroyed them.

    So, the only surviving version is the one that he commissioned and approved.

    Abdallah ibn-Masud, the Prophet’s (PBUH) secretary announced publicly that the revised version is a monstrous falsification.

    We do not know how many more “corrections” have occurred.

  18. Honey says:

    @sitaraman. Stop making rubbish up, if u haven’t studied Islam or know the origins of Islamic history u would know the holy Quran has never been chaned ever, funny the actual Quran was revealed in Arabic no one has ever said there a millions of chained copies of the Quran, even Christian scholars say the Quran is in it original form the true word of god. Christians really believe the bible was given in English yeah really? No wonder Christians have no idea about there religion. Islam is simple concise crystal clear, the christinity even at a basic level would confuse anyone. That we were born with sin, and Jesus had to die willingly for us, because he’s the son of god, so our sins are taken away. That everyone is a sinner so even newborn babies sin?? They need a relationship with jesus so they can be saved from going to hell? God is forever never dies, but jesus is human and god too but he died but the holy spirit was always there. Seriously? Christians are blinded they need to look at the bible properly and see it doesn’t make sense. Christininty we have today is a cop out religion Christians can do anything they like because jesus died for them. Is that fair?

  19. DoesntReallyMatter says:

    It is truly amazing, and sad, that there is so much inconsistency
    about something as important as the question of whether or not
    there is God, and who that Being is. The very fact that there are
    so many approaches to Him, tells me that NONE of them are accurate.
    There is probably NO WAY for man to learn what his soul yearns to
    possess, in terms of this issue. What we should do, perhaps, is to
    live as moral a life as we can and treat people as we would wish to
    be treated by them. How many wars have been waged, lives ruined or
    lost, atrocities condoned and performed, in the name of something
    that we are inherently incapable of capturing: the essence of the
    Higher Power that we all know MUST have created the universe. This
    is, in my humble view, all we will ever know with any reliable
    degree of certainty: there absolutely IS God, but we do not, never
    have, never will, know Who/What/Where/Why/How God is.

    • Sophia says:

      @ doesntreallymatter it’s interesting what u say all ur answers can be found in the Quran read a English translation and see and keep an open mind

    • Davilyn Eversz says:

      If you really want to know who you are, who God is, why you are here, then you need to visit either http://www.tsl.org or http://www.templeofthepresence.org. Set aside your disbelief, if there is any, and give it six months. You truly are Sons and Daughters of God. When you read the Bible from this perspective, the Bible begins to make sense. Yes, it has been butchered over the centuries. For instance, all references to reincarnation were removed from the Bible because the belief was held by the church that if people knew they had more than one life the church would have no power. Religion is not God. God is God. Jesus came here to tell this story and it has become so perverted that people now worship him instead of doing the work so they too could make the ascension. For some, visiting these websites will be like coming home for in their heart they know these truths are indeed Truth. Did he not say that we could do what he did, and more? It means just that. Welcome home.

    • Kristy Nelson says:

      @ sophia
      they can also be found in the Holy Bible.

  20. It’s true that the Qu’ran has a record of consistency. Jewish tradition once held that old and tattered copies of the Torah were to be destroyed and of course the Jews have been through many dislocations and pogroms, so there are breaks in the chain of texts. The Qu’ran is different and has suffered very little of the kind of epistemic shift that both the Torah and the various Gospels have.

    However, that doesn’t make the original any more factual or any less a fabrication in the first place. A supposedly illiterate man suffers a fit in a cave and comes back with a new holy book? We’ve seen this sort of thing often enough. Minus the fit, Joseph Smith established Mormonism with exactly the same validity.

    Successful cults—usually by virtue of their willingness to engage detractors with a sword—grow to become “faiths” and initially kill anyone standing against them. Even Christianity, once it became the dominate state religion of Rome, indulged purges, executions, mob slaughters, and eventually wars of conversion, as did the Arab world. Doesn’t make the primary text any truer.

    This stuff is questionable at its base. but I suppose everyone needs a hobby.

    • Fact Finder says:

      What is the purpose of creation. ALMIGHTY GOD has supremacy.
      HE wanted to create a nation with intellect to know HIS glory, HIS ability ,HIS Supremacy thats why HE created Prophet Adam who had defeated all Angels in intellect. Human purpose therefore is gloryfying the CREATOR,submit to HIM & bowdown to HIM as a slave & besheech HIS help for our life & living.
      ALMIGHTY GOD sent 124000 Holy Prophets from Holy Adam to HOLY Mohammed (Peace be upon all of them) They all came with the same message to know & glorify ALMIGHTY GOD.
      The main sources of latest message contained in original Holy Psalm, Holy Tora &Holy Bible & Holy Quran. All except Holy quran
      changed the facts & made Holy Jesus as equal to ALMIGHTY GOD
      which Holy Jesus never had declared. ST Barnabas was the most truthful & educated disciple of HOLY Jesus . ST Barnabas had told the truth until 6th century. Because of truthfulness the hotty priests got him killed. But how wonderful his Gospel was consficated in turkey in year 2000 from Smugllers. The Gospel written on sheep Skin Armamic wordings,,in gold .The scientists examined & stated that it is about 1500 years old , Pre Islamic &
      valued at USD over 4 million & Pope is anxious to read the gospel.
      The Gospel clearly states that Holy Jesus was never crucified but it was his enemy Juda Isacret who miraculously turned in to feature of Jesus & Juda was crucified & Holy Jesus was taken away through Angel Gabriel to fourth heaven.The Gospel also affirm that Holy Jesus clearly declared about the fourthcoming of Holy Prophet Mohammed.
      No Doubt that Holy Quran is from ALMIGHTY GOD which contains
      many numerical social & scientific information. Holy Quran no where contradict with Science & many scientists are accepting Islam.
      See the numerical miracles below:
      Holy Quran has many numerical information Bible does not.
      Holy Quran refers moth 12 times. day 365 times. & many others.
      The following number is amazing:
      Sea Mentioned 32 Times, Land Mentioned 13 times
      Muslims scientists worked out the amazing result of land & sea.
      Sea 32+ :and 13= 45
      32/45 (x100%) =71.11111111
      13/45(100%) =28.88888880
      Science has now declared that the figures are the exact proportions of land & sea,
      Holy Quran contain the spoken words of ALMIGHTY GOD & is a treasure for the mankind.

  21. It seems the lesson here is what Qur’an even suggests throughout its text…Don’t take Scripture at face value….Pray, Ponder, and research for yourself.(In that order). We can ALWAYS find ways to discredit ancient texts…this is easy to do, so don’t pride yourself on thinking you’ve achieved this…Islam simply says there is ONE CREATOR in which created ALL things including us, We ALL exist of this Creator, and ALL will return to our Creator, This Creator is resemblant of ALL it’s “creation” but by definition could not embodied within just ONE THING (I.e., Jesus) but ALL, and Always….If this is your basis of faith, then the rest will be clear. And being a “Good person” in this life comes naturally (if you understand).

    • Karim says:

      Michael MacDonald talks a lot of sense. However, one thing that I do take seriously from Scripture, is the absolute Oneness of God.

      The Qur’an itself warns it’s readers – Al-Imran – 7

      “He it is Who has revealed the Book to you; some of its verses are decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are allegorical; then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. but none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord; and none do mind except those having understanding. ”

      I believe in the integrity of the Qur’an. I believe in the Qur’an itself. But I don’t accept some people’s teachings from what they read in the Qu’ran. There are muslims, christians and jews alike, who believe that those who don’t follow their path will go to hell.

      I find this almost impossible to accept, that our merciful and forgiving God, will judge someone who lives in an isolated Amazonian tribe, who has never encountered any of these religions, by whether or not they believed in Jesus or the Qu’ran.

      I do however believe that certain corruptions over time in the Bible have led to the modern day churches teachings and understandings of the trinity. I above all, believe in the Oneness of God – and it’s this aspect of Christianity (although some Christians also believe that Jesus was just a prophet), which I think is worth looking at. From reading about the council of Nicea, Arianism, and this blog. . . it seems there must have been certain corruptions which lead to the Trinity beliefs.

  22. Albostan says:

    Actually as a muslim,i just came to this web site by coincidence and i saw that how people become strictly close minded when the matter is religion and beliefs.I really congratulate the writer about his courage.I can’t figure out the exact point if we are(muslims) wrong or just the opposite.The true religion bases of humanity and love of god.In our society (Turkey) there is a phrease “I love the created because of creator”,so why we dont let everybody to live their faith in security?As all we have talent to distinguish good from evil with our hearts,water will flow and finds its path.No need to debate agressively.

    • Sophia says:

      @albostan yeah all well and good but Islam is the true religion, if we really care about ppl wouldn’t we want them to get to know Islam and come back to it ! Stop being so pc and apologetic about religion , u won’t care one bit about ppl in the afterlife all youlll think about is your self and what deeds u did, and did u please Allah ?

      I have nothing against Christians they are just confused once they educate themselves and see the bible, makes no sense then they’ll will know what they were doing is believing blindly. No one can be born with sin, Jesus did not die for ur sins, why does someone have to take ur sins for u? U should accountable for all ur own sins ! If a baby is not baptized it will go to hell and yes that is what Christians say! In Christian belief no one will be married in heaven like what when u really look into Christianity no one would want to come to this religion !

    • Kristy Nelson says:

      No that is not at all what Christians say. He said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14)” There is not one passage in the bible that says children go to hell. However, there is countless statments on who will and children are instructed to live Christian life’s so as they grow older they do not depart. It is suggested in the Bible that children know God in their heart and only the world and other worldly teachings make them depart from him.
      “I am writing to you, dear children,
      because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.” 1 John 2:12

  23. Sophia says:

    The Quran is the word of god try scrutinizing the Quran and you’ll see it’s never ever been changed just try no one will ever be able to fault it

  24. grumpypilgrim says:

    Sophia wrote, “…try scrutinizing the Quran and you’ll see it’s never ever been changed just try no one will ever be able to fault it.”

    Go to the fiction section of any library and you will find scores of books that have never been changed, nor has anyone found substantial inconsistencies in them. Works of fiction are often like that. But they are still fiction.

  25. Revelation did not end with the Bible. Jesus is speaking mostly as Jeshua Ben Joseph to many channelers today, including myself. He repeatedly says our onw source of misery on the planet is our ‘belief in seoaration’.We mistakenly believe God is a male being separate from us rather than spirit or energy, our life force if you will. The Agnostic, Hindu, Athiest, Muslim has the same life force as I do. It is the Voice for love in the spiritual heart. Clear the emotional heart through forgiving everything that has occurred and then we can experience and hear the Voice for Love in our spiritual heart. We are Love, God is Love. This was Jesus real message. Let him be the human he was with 2 wives and several children and also God as we are! Petra Sundheim

    • Davilyn Eversz says:

      When will people begin to remember that books are written by humans who do not always have the attainment necessary to understand the truth of God? We are not separate from God; God is within. We are here on earth to learn to master the energy of our Father/Mother God – just as Jesus did, which culminates in the ascension – the freeing from physical form into pure bodies of Light. We are not “made” or “created” by God – we are part of God. God is consciousness. He wanted us to want to be with him in that consciousness willingly – so he took part of himself and created physical forms and sent us into embodiment. When, through the rounds of embodiment, we master all that our own Christ Presence deems is necessary – we ascend. Channelers, by the way, are those who are only able to tap into the psychic and astral realms. These realms contain all the misqualified, horrific, thoughts, feelings and actions that mankind has ever created since the Fall of man. Those embarking on the same path that Jesus was here to show us; stand in the consciousness of God, the Elohim, the archangels – we endeavor through the use of these four bodies, to make them subservient to God’s will. In other words, feelings, thoughts and actions should always come from God consciousness, thus pure, perfect and holy. If you are truly desirous of knowing God, talking with him face to face and know not where to start then start at http://www.tsl.org or http://www.templeofthepresence.org. Becoming one with God is your only reason for being. Although an aid; God will not be found in a book.

    • Davilyn Eversz says:

      Petra – do not use the word channeling for what we do. Channelers are those who are only able to tap into the astral and psychic realms. I have posted today more referencing this subject. Using this word is confusing to those seeking Truth. They will be drawn to those people who say they are channelers – which will be espousing more untruth.

    • LJ says:

      You really believe that Jesus had 2 wives and children?

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