The Bible: The most unread cherished book in the world.

December 26, 2014 | By | 8 Replies More

If one really studies the Bible, one won’t find much, if anything, about homosexuality. One will find plenty of verses telling women to shut up, telling people not to engage in public displays of prayer and telling people to not criticize their politicians. In this lengthy Newsweek article, “The Bible: So Misunderstood, it’s a Sin,” Kurt Eichenwald expands on many of the observations of Bart Ehrman, imploring believers to actually read the book they proclaim to be the most important book ever written. They will be shocked at what is actually written in this book that they purportedly cherish.

Eichenwald presents several major bible stories that are demonstrably not authentic–they were added by scribes hundreds of 4947868946_2d58f6d7ae_zyears after the earliest manuscripts (e.g., the “Let he who without sin” passage regarding the stoning of a prostitute). He also exposes the story of the alleged trinity, concocted hundreds of years after original writings and actually contradicted by the original writings. Critical passages regarding the consecration are also not authentic. Huge translation issues permeate the bible, including the translators’ unwarranted decision to inject the word “worship” throughout the translations.

Many of Eichenwald’s criticisms of Christian modern articles of faith are based on the actual language of the original manuscripts. If only it were really read by those who thump their bibles. In a nod to the Christmas season, Eichenwald points out that words found in the actual Gospels show that Jesus was born in a house, not a manger, and there there was no visit from three wise men bearing gifts. No brilliant star. But this is not the version one hears from the pulpit, even though Seminarians all have the background, if not the incentive to study the book they preach about. Ehrman has focused laser-like on this point in his writings. There is absolutely no doubt that most Christian preachers are engaged in the theological version of malpractice. Philosopher Daniel Dennett has put it more simply, accusing modern preachers of all stripes of engaging in “tennis without a net.”

Eichenwald urges believers to actually read the book, something he argues that no one actually does, certainly not the politicians who bandy about the book for their own manipulative and divisive purposes.

See these related posts regarding the work of Bart Ehrman:

http://dangerousintersection.org/2006/10/22/who-changed-the-bible-and-why-bart-ehrmans-startling-answers/

http://dangerousintersection.org/2011/01/16/why-it-matters-that-the-bible-is-not-inerrant/

http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/08/22/if-bibl-is-really-the-word-of-god-why-arent-people-actually-reading-it/

 

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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.

Comments (8)

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    I’ve been curious about Ehrman’s book (Misquoting Jesus), so I picked up a copy at the public library. It’s a very worthwhile read. Ehrman’s prose is clear and compelling — and the fact that he comes at it from a deeply theological background adds tremendously to the book’s credibility. For years, I have wondered where the Bible came from, why it contains so many ambiguities and contradictions, and why it (nevertheless) enabled Christianity to become such a dominant world religion among all the competing religions of the time — Ehrman’s book answers those questions. It should be especially worthwhile reading for Christians.

  2. Mike M. says:

    It’s tough when you base a religion and your life on a book that belongs in the mythology section of the library, if not in the Horror aisle alongside the Stephen king and H.P. Lovecraft novels. I see the bible as a work of pure fiction, using dim sprinklings of some actual historical events to give it some faux authenticity. I think it’s written with creative flair in some sections, esp Revelations, and does contain a few nuggets of inspired wisdom swirling around in a dense story-stew of BS. Such an interesting artifact, but well past it’s “Best if used by” date.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Mike’s comment reminds me of a joke I heard a while back about the god-of-the-Bible being the most unpleasant character in all of fiction. The Horror aisle, indeed!

    Interestingly, one of the chapters in Bart Ehrman’s book (Misquoting Jesus) discusses the fact that some early (e.g., 1st & 2nd century) Christians believed that the god-of-the-Old Testament and god-of-the-New Testament were two different gods, since their personalities and doctrinal demands are so radically different from each other. Naturally, this belief undermined the essential requirement (to Christianity) that there be only one god, so the Bible was written to discount the discrepancy.

    As regards the idea that the Bible is pure fiction, sprinkled with a few historical events to give it faux authenticity, there is considerable evidence to support this view. Many of the “miracles” in the Bible, many of the important events in the life of Jesus (e.g., persecution, crucifixion, resurrection, etc.), many of the acts of his followers, and many traditionally “Christian” festivals, can be found in Middle Eastern religions long before Jesus came along. Religions such as Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, and even ancient pharaonic monotheistic beliefs all have some similarities to the much later religion that became Christianity. Things like virgin birth, miraculous healing, raising the dead, and the gift of prophecy (to name just a few) are all traits of “gods” who were worshiped long before anyone heard of Jesus.

    So, why did Jesus get the credit? I believe there are many reasons, not one of them miraculous. For one, the Roman Empire covered a huge geographical region, so that when Christianity became the official state religion, it could easily reach a wide audience. Two, Christianity was the first official state religion that was written down in great detail, so it had a tangible authority that oral traditions didn’t have. Three, it claimed to be a continuation of the Jewish religion, which had very ancient roots and which, as a result, enjoyed its own level of authority. Four, its leaders seemed to have no objection to co-opting existing religions, so it could conform itself to existing beliefs. Five, it eliminated the requirements of sacrifice that most other religions of the time demanded — e.g., fasting, donating valuable animals to be killed (and eaten) by priests, being circumcised, etc. — and only demanded that followers “believed” its tenets, so the barriers to entry were vanishingly small. These, and many other factors, enabled Christianity to suppress rival religions and start on the path to becoming the dominant religion we see today.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    What is also amazing is how bad some of the New Testament translations are. One weird example involves John the Baptist who lived in the desert subsisting of “honey and grasshoppers/locusts”! In reality ακρίδες in the original Greek were the tender shoots of trees. Seriously.

  5. grumpypilgrim says:

    PBS ran a show last month called The Bible’s Buried Secrets. (Watch it here — http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/bibles-buried-secrets.html/.) The show discusses archeological evidence for the events mentioned in the Old Testament. One thing I took from the show is that there is no hard evidence (either archeological or from contemporaneous writings) to support any of the stories in Genesis. No evidence for Eden, no evidence for Adam and Eve, no evidence for a Tree of Knowledge, no evidence for a global flood, etc. With no evidence for the Bible’s creation story, there is no evidence to support the notion that all humans are “fallen” or that we need a savior to atone for our alleged sins. Yet, curiously, Christian preachers (in my experience) seem to never mention this detail.

    Another detail I picked up from the show concerns the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer, so he made sacrifices with produce (plants). Abel was a shepherd, so he made sacrifices with meat (animals). God liked the meat sacrifices, but didn’t like the plant sacrifices. Since an eternal god presumably doesn’t need earthly food, we might reasonably wonder to what extent this preference had more to do with the desires of the temple priests than with the god for whom they were intended.

    Bottom line: more Christians should read their holy book.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, there is indeed no archaeological proof that anything the Bible says ever happened. They are not even sure King David ever existed. A while ago some idiots even claimed the long-lost tomb of Jesus and his family had been discovered, and of course, their arguments were not at all based on historiographical and archaeological research. Archaeologists don’t buy it either.

    Now the Greek Orthodox Church has solved all those problems as follows: obviously the Garden of Eden (a.k.a. Paradise, a totally ancient Persian notion) existed, but it is in Heaven, so no Greek Orthodox will ever look for it in Israel. And they solved the creationism vs. science problem by claiming that science is right, but that the concept of God’s day is not the same as ours, and one of his days may be worth one billion years of our time. I am surprised fanatic religious wackos cannot think in those terms.

    The story about God loving meat and not being a vegetarian is similar to the Greek myth of Prometheus who tricked Zeus regarding animal sacrifices by humans.

    Last, but not least, the Greek Orthodox are not that great either. The amount of fasting going on is ridiculous: 40 meatless (and fishless) days of Lent, followed by more fasting before Ascension, followed by 40 fasting days before the Ascension of Virgin Mary, more fasting before Christmas, after Christmas before St. John’s, plus all Wednesdays and Fridays are virtually proteinless. I have a devout high school friend who suffers from an eating disorder that she makes worse by fasting. She is known to have fainted a couple of times before Communion because in the Greek Orthodox tradition you are not supposed to eat for the last 12 hours or so before Communion, or you will go to Hell (do not pass Go, do not collect $200)!

    And obviously normal-thinking, sane people don’t believe in talking snakes in a Persian garden and in people being sinful, etc.

  7. The fasting component of many religions is not arbitrary. Sufficient fasting leads to altered states of mind. One of my favorite quotes in fiction (Samuel R. Delany) goes to this—“The gods are nothing but low blood sugar.”

  8. Elizabeth says:

    It also worsens the symptoms of eating disorders, plus nutritionists say it’s not healthy eating. My friend suffers because of her stupidity, and it pains me to see her like this. On the other hand, I always listen to what science has to say, no exceptions. And I totally support what Hypatia said about superstitions.

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