The Bible has inspired leaders, slaves, peasants, kings, crusaders, officials, wars and individuals across the globe. It now consists of sixty six books, two thirds of them (39 out of 66 books) make up the Old Testament, with the remaining 27 forming the slender New Testament.
The Old Testament. It starts with the Torah, the Jewish Bible, which are the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These are also called the Pentateuch (meaning: Five scrolls). Moses himself did not write them. Many passages could not have been written by Moses, such as the account of his death, and others only make sense if written by someone else - for example "the man Moses was very humble, more so than all men who were on the Earth" and the reflection "there has never been another prophet like Moses". Some portions of the Pentateuch were not written for centuries after Moses' life. There are repeated passages that describe the same events in different ways, in different orders and with different, contradictory, details. Some of them are so wildly different that they could not have been by the same person. The original words of Moses are completely lost to us - we only have the remains and re-interpretations that the Hebrews passed on through verbal communication. It was hundreds of years until the combined Torah became established from this large variation of versions and traditions taught by Moses.
"The time points reference for pre-Abraham parts of the bible are skewed. Prior to captivity in Babylon, the teachings of the torah were carried by oral tradition down through the generations. The major writings of the bible, the mosaic law, were stored in the tabernacle which was lost at that time, and few who carried the oral tradition actually ever saw those stones. Obviously, if archaic stories were carried as strictly Judaic they were carried through Abraham, who admittedly comes from a family that worshipped several household gods in the city of Ur, so you can't argue that they were inspired by god to people who worshipped pagan gods. In reading of Abraham, we can be certain that Sumeria and the surrounding areas was in a time of strife, that Abraham and his family were on the move, and concealing their identities in order to protect themselves. Thus the discontinuity between Abraham and his family his residence in Ur and in Hebron create a definite bottleneck in the bible as a carrier of historical events."
Therefore the Old Testament contains many stories that the nomadic Hebrew people believed in plus those which Moses propagated. With no printing press and no photocopiers they were duplicated by word of mouth and later it was copied painstakingly slowly in ink on papyrus leaf. Judaism was the first successful propagator of Monotheism. This concept was the Single-God religion of modern day Christianity, the advent of organized religion.
The time that God flooded the entire Earth, drowning all living things, animals, humans and plants, is one of the most famous stories in the Old Testament, told in the Book of Genesis chapter 6 through 8. The moral of the story is if you regret your relations with a people, you can murder them all, innocent and guilty alike, and start anew (Genesis 6:7,17 - forcing all species to commit incest for many generations, forever damaging their gene pools). The history of the story is false; there has never been a worldwide flood since animal life began. Theologically, it portrays God not as an infallible, all-knowing being, but one that tries things out and regrets making imperfect decisions (Genesis 6:6). This contradicts most people's idea of a monotheistic God. It is clear that the god, and the story, are both more mythological than factual and it has passed from culture to culture over a 5,000 year history, in a gradually changing form. The global deluge as told in Genesis is primarily a cultural story, for entertainment at best. Given the morals it teaches and the shortcomings of God in the story, it could even be a hindrance to spiritual or religious development.
The story became part of the Bible because the myth of a great flood was common in Mesopotamia, and it became a standard part of creation stories. The most convincing historical evidence is when the Black Sea filled with water from the Mediterranean, perhaps drowning and displacing untold numbers of people from that large area - or, if it was a slow event, just displacing them. Either way, it had a large impact on the mythology of all ancient civilisations across the Near East. The first archaeological evidence of a written story of the Flood dates from 3rd millennium BCE
There is plenty of evidence that no such global flood took place. (1) Clear and voluminous historical and archaeological evidence that the flow of life throughout the world has remain undisrupted by such a flood, (2) geological evidence that no such worldwide flood occurred (i.e., no evidence from fossils), (3) there has not been enough time for humankind to re-populate the Earth since the flood, (4) paleontological evidence that was no mass extinction event and (5) tribes settled in the world's continents before the date of the Flood and yet were not wiped out by it. There is also genetic evidence. We can measure the age of genetic lineages and the timescale of how species have branched off from one another. This has given us more evidence against the idea of a global flood: (6) There is no genetic convergence of all genes down to two ancestors of each species (genetics proves the existence of countless interacting families of species with histories thousands of times older than the flood, and continuing through it) and (6) there is no genetic evidence of a period of mass incest.
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How was the New Testament created, and where did the original books come from? By the 2nd century, hundreds of texts had been written about Jesus and about people who knew him, including 30 gospels purportedly by the disciples themselves. One third of the NT is written anonymously1 and the rest is pseudepigraphic, where an author writes in someone else's name, excepting some of the letters of St Paul, which are genuine. The oldest fragments we have are two small pieces from 125CE, one from an unknown gospel and one from the Gospel of John. The earliest complete manuscripts we have are from the 3rd and 4th centuries2. All ancient manuscripts we have found differ from the later ones that came to form the Bible3 and there was a constant stream of editing, masking, forgery and invention in the evolution of those books3. The Church Fathers themselves quoted Jesus from sources that are still unknown4 - from texts that may have been more historical that the ones that finally made it into the Bible. The Christian community itself knew that most texts were fraudulent and "there were long, protracted and often heated debates in the early church over forged documents"5. It was the centralized, Roman-influenced forms of Christianity whose stories were most successful6. The first person to decide upon the list of the 27 books of the New Testament was the Bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, in a letter dated 367CE, stating that these and no others, should be considered canonical7,8. This included only 4 of the gospels for the pagan-sounding reason that there are "four winds", "four points of the compass". Given the diverse sources of these texts and that the original disciples and their followers left no first hand writings, there was never any way for Christians to check the authenticity of any of the Christian texts that formed the New Testament. No-one ever did find any relatives or eye-witnesses of Jesus in order to ask them, so, debates over who had the correct texts was solved by force: the victorious Roman church got to write the history.
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In the early centuries of Christianity, there were over 200 Christian gospels in circulation, all of them containing wildly varied stories and theologies10. As the Church became organized there was much worry that no-one truly knew what Jesus had said or done, so they ratified just four Gospels: They picked the number four because "there were four winds, four points of the compass, four corners of the temple", mirroring the arguments of Irenaeus in the 2nd century - "just as the gospel of Christ has been spread by the four winds of heaven over the four corners of the earth, so there must be four and only four Gospels"11. The four canonical gospels comprise of synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) plus John. None are eye-witness accounts of Jesus' life and they are all written in Greek, not in the native tongues of anyone who met and followed Jesus. Many of the stories in the Gospels are copied from Greek god-man legends, especially those of Dionysus and Osiris. Although we now know them by the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, they are all originally anonymous12.
Mark is the earliest gospel, composed between 60 and 80CE, by a Roman convert who was unfamiliar with Jewish customs and who had not met Jesus. The oldest versions of Mark all ended at Mark 16:8 with the words "according to Mark", and an unknown author at some point added Mark 16:9-20.
Matthew and Luke both used Mark as their source material (92% and 54% copied, respectively), except they corrected many of his blunders about Jewish life and added additional material from a second source document that historians call "Q"13. Matthew was written after 70CE and before 100CE. The first two chapters of Matthew were not present in the first versions and were added later by an unknown author. Luke was written after 93CE and uses Josephus's Jewish Antiquities. It claims to have been written by a travelling partner of Paul but the text contains too many mistakes with regards to Paul, and was written too late, for that to be true. Matthew and Luke copied such a large portion of their texts that it is clear neither were eye-witnesses, or friends-of-eyewitnesses, of Jesus.
John was written last. Our earliest fragment of it dates from 125CE. It has Jesus speak using completely different language, sentence structure and style to the other gospels. It contradicts the others on almost every point of history. Most people assume that John was writing figuratively writer and not attempting to record history, but was instead set out to write interesting and meaningful stories about Jesus, who was by then, famous. John is considered the least trustworthy of all the gospels.
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13 of the books of the Christian New Testament are the epistles (letters) of St. Paul, which form the oldest text in the New Testament14. Seven were probably written by Paul himself and six others have been written in his name by (anonymous) followers, some up to 80 years after his death. By the time the official Bible canon was produced, no-one knew that only some were genuine. The historical Paul probably did write 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon and Romans. Letters forged in the name of Paul are 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Ephesians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians.15,16,17,18. Paul was born in Tarsus as "Saul" and adopted the name of Paul after converting to what is now Christianity. He was an early leader of the growing Christian churches around the Roman Empire, and the writings of St. Paul are the earliest existing Christian writings known to historians. Despite this, Paul never met Jesus and appears to rely mostly on Greek myths and legends, many of which he copied, placing Jesus at the center of them instead of their original heroes.
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“We do not have the original of 1 Thessalonians (i.e., the text that Paul actually wrote) or of any other New Testament book. Nor do we have copies made directly from the originals, nor copies made from the copies of the originals, nor copies made from the copies of the copies. Our earliest "manuscripts" (hand-written copies) of Paul's letters date from around 200 CE, that is, nearly 150 years after he wrote them. The earliest full manuscripts of the Gospels come from about the same time, although we have some fragments of manuscripts that date earlier, including P52, a credit card sized fragment, usually dated to the first part of the second century, of verses from John 18 [...] but even our relatively full manuscripts from around the year 200 are not preserved intact. Pages and entire books were lost. Indeed, it is not until the fourth century, nearly three hundred years after the New Testament was written, that we begin to get complete manuscripts.”
Jesus and St Paul in the early first century CE assert strongly that the end of the world is about to occur. Jesus warns clearly that "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. This world will pass away..." (Matthew 16:28, 24:34-35, Mark 9:1, 13:30 and Luke 9:26-27). In Matthew 10:23 Jesus warns his disciples to preach very rapidly in town after town, fleeing at the first sign of persecution, because they will not have enough time to go through all the towns of Israel before the end of the world occurs. In 1 Corinthians 7:27-31 St Paul says that time is so short, people should no longer bother getting married, mourn or bother with possessions: "Those who have wives should live as if they had none; ... those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away". Matthew 8:22 dismisses niceties of funeral arrangements "let the dead bury their own dead" because followers must join Jesus immediately, before it is too late!
This failure of the most compelling and important declaration in the Bible - that world concerns no longer matter because the world is about to draw to a close - is the biggest single prophetical failure of the New Testament. It was a core, central belief and a driving force behind the growth of early Christianity. Since then, thousands of prophecies of the imminent end have been based on 'signs' that the end is coming. All these prophecies of doom share one thing in common: They have all been wrong.
If God is good in nature and its message is true, and the message of god is important for us, then it holds to reason that a good god would want human beings to know that message20. God in its omnipotence can immediately impart the correct knowledge directly into our consciousness. I am sure it also has the know-how to do it in a non-harmful way given that it designed our brains down to the functioning of millions of neuronal connections and neurotransmitters, etc. Put another way: It must be true that we all already know the most-important things that God wants us to know. Whatever various religions, prophets, seekers, mystics and holy spokespeople say is not exactly what God wants us to know. There is no reason for a good god, which wants the truth to be known, to convey important messages to individual human beings, in specific human languages, and allow us to spread the message using our own imperfect communication methods. As soon as people start translating it, explaining it to each other and writing it down then the message becomes reliant upon cultural understanding. It will dilute, get misunderstood, and it is sure that different communities will come to interpret the message differently, leading to schism and confusion, and as history has shown, to violence and bloodshed. Therefore, God's important messages are universal, imparted directly into all of our hearts and minds, and are therefore not made subject to human communications errors. If goodness comes from god, then given their historical mistakes, their culture-specific language, moral shortcomings and the social strife that results from their existence, holy books cannot possibly be from God. The whole idea of cultivating the True Religion via the orally-transmitted stories of itinerant and illiterate preachers such as Jesus and Mohammad, in (often obscure) human languages, is nonsensical.
The Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Scriptures / Old Testament contains two examples of some very limited communication methods used by God. Both would have serious deleterious consequences if we didn't ignore these verses.
Numbers 12:6 has God say "Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream". But this is a clear-cut path to chaos and anarchy, and would immediately undermine all religion. If we trusted Numbers 12:6, then, it would mean that Christianity isn't true, because too many people have had visions of Krishna and Buddha. Likewise, Hinduism cannot be true because too many people have had visions of a monotheistic God. Instead, it must be the case that most visions are actually wrong - they are delusions and illusions. Fortunately for us, we have learnt much about human neurology and we know many of the physiological and neurological causes of visions (see: Experiences of God are Illusions, Derived from Malfunctioning Psychological Processes). We now know simply to disregard Numbers 12:6.
Numbers 22:21-34 tells a rather odd story where a man, Balaam, is travelling one way, when God wants him to go another. God's method of communication here - out of all the means available to the miracle-worker Creator of the Universe, is to have the donkey do things. At first the donkey merely resists because God sends an invisible angel to stand in their way, that only the donkey can see. The man, of course, has no idea why the donkey is being stubborn and strikes the donkey a few times. I could not think of a poorer method of communication than an unspeaking invisible angel. It is so daft that the Qur'an makes fun of it in Sura 31:19 - "indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys". When the donkey speaks, things get a little clearer - eventually. The moral of the story is somewhat shaky: if an animal resists doing what you want, then do not make it obey you because it might be God trying to communicate with you.
Obadiah 1:1 opens with the statement that they've heard a rumour from God that the Hebrews should start a war with Edom. There are many problems with this. It's immoral to start a war without clear cause; and rumours are not good enough. If it's a "rumour", then it has been passed from person to person. But the prophecy of Obadiah is also hailed as a direct communication from God. So it's not a rumour, but is presented as one. This means that Obadiah himself must be obscuring, inventing or meddling with the message. Or otherwise, if it's actually a true revelation from God and not a rumour, it ought to say so. If God wants the Hebrews to know something, they should be told directly, without rumour and without human messengers getting in the way. If it's not true, or if it is merely a rumour, then it shouldn't be in the Bible. Either way, this single opening from Obadiah is enough to discount that book, but also, to remind us of the dangers of using humans as God's messengers; only confusion and division can be the result.
The parables of Jesus are famous for two reasons. Firstly, because they are often catchy and often repeated by many in the influential Christian world. And secondly, because they are so confusing that consensus on their meanings is very rare, and, often in the New Testament itself it describes Jesus' very own disciples as not understanding them.
“It seems that not only does the Bible describe a God who is a very poor communicator, but that the Bible itself is communicated very poorly.”
It is theologically problematic that Jesus decided not to write anything down. For thousands of years, mistranslations of important Biblical verses have misinformed the masses on even important points, such as whether Jesus' mother was a virgin or not. The Bible has caused endless confusion with the irregularities, inconsistencies and ambiguities of its text. On top of that are the mistranslations, cultural misunderstandings and outright subjectivist attempts at exegesis by those who are genuinely and passionately trying to understand the core text of their religion. It seems that not only does the Bible describe a God who is a very poor communicator, but that the Bible itself is communicated very poorly.
It cannot be the case, therefore, that people need the Bible nor that people have to know the right things, or have the right beliefs, in order to fulfil God's plan. (In-)famous playwright Tim Rice once had this idea, too, and put it to verse...:
You'd have managed Peter better if you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time and such a strange land?
If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication!”
Jesus Christ Superstar (1971)
Written by Tim Rice
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When we combine the knowledge of the blatant contradictions in the Bible with the knowledge of the amount of transcription errors and verbal traditions through which some stories were passed for 40 years, we realize that the actual message of the Bible is not only inconsistent now, but it has never been consistent.
The very fact that pseudepigraphic books were included in the texts tell us that the original writers were merely writing chapters of a myth, a falsehood, and developing it and editing previous texts as they saw fit. A very good example of the way in which this works is to study Matthew's alterations of Mark.
It must not be forgotten that the books of the Bible are written by supporters and believers. The New Testament was authored by people who proclaimed their beliefs about who the Messiah was loudly enough to compete with other Roman god-man-messiah religions such as Mithraism and Roman mystery religions. They wrote enthusiastically to glorify Jesus and spread their beliefs to others.. It is the unfortunate case that the only descriptions of the Christian Jesus come from his followers - there are no independent, non-Christian documents that describe or detail Jesus, although some mention 'Jesus' (not an uncommon name) most are in reference to the beliefs of Christians. Therefore, the only evidence we have is of the most dubious kind. When we want to learn about a new, small religion, there are good sources of information, and bad ones. One of the worst sources of information about a religion's leader is the praise written about him by disciples.
Some translations and editions of the Bible have been given special names because of a typographical error or peculiarity of vocabulary. Although they are entertaining, they also highlight an important point: in translating and producing the Bible, us human beings make errors. This is a problem for the idea that God would choose word-of-mouth and authorship-by-scribes as its chosen methods of propagating world truth! Check these out:
Breeches Bible, Geneva Bible
Bug Bible, Coverdale Bible
Ears to Ear Bible
Rebekah's Camels Bible
Standing Fishes Bible
To Remain Bible
Treacle Bible, Bishops Bible
Wicked Bible, Adulterous Bible
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT (As Rules given to Israelites)
Leviticus 21:9 "If a priest´s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in fire."
Numbers 15:30-31 "Any person who sins deliberately, whether he is a native or a foreigner, is guilty of treating the Lord with contempt, and he shall be be put to death, because he has rejected what teh Lord said and has deliberately broken one of his commands. He is responsible for his own death."
Numbers 15:32-36 "Once, while the Israelites were still in the wilderness, a man was found gathering firewood on the Sabbath. He was taken to Moses, Aaron and the whole community, and was put under guard, because it was not clear what should be done with him. Then the Lord said to Moses, "The man must be put to death; the whole community is to stone him to death outside the camp." So the whole community took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord had commanded."
COPROPHILIA | SCAT, UROLAGNIA | WATERSPORTS
2Kings 18:27 "But Rab-shakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?"
Isaiah 20:2-3 "At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and Ethiopia; So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt."
2Samuel 16:22 "So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel."
FAMILY: Christian and Biblical Family Values from the Old Testament to Jesus
INCEST: Incest in the Bible: Adam and Eve and Their Children, and Noah and His Family: 3. Bible Contradictions: Incest is Banned, But is Part of God's Plan for Adam and Eve's and Noah's Families, and Abraham Was Rewarded For it
Esther 2:17 "And the king loved Esther above all the women (concubines), and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. (his disobedient wife)" -- a perfect time for God's absolute morals to be highlighted (i.e., no sex outside of marriage, and, marriage is one man and one woman). But no morals can be found in the entire book of Esther.
Leviticus 19:29 "Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness."
Solomon's Song 5:4 "My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer."
Ezekiel 23:20 "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of a horse." [New International Version]
SLAVERY - The bible contains a lot of regulation on slaves and no statements that slavery is wrong. Sections from "Religion and Abolition of the Historical Slave Trade" by Vexen Crabtree (2003):
Genesis 16:1-2 "Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai."
Genesis 30:3-4 "And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her."
Leviticus 19:20 "And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free."
Deuteronomy 21:10-14 "When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her [i.e. rape her or engage in consensual sex], and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her."
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 "Suppose a man is caught raping a girl who is not engaged. He is to pay the girl's father the bride price of 50 pieces of silver, and she is to become his wife, because he forced her to have intercourse with him. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."
Esther 2:12-14 "Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweetodors, and with other things for the purifyingof the women;) In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name."
SUICIDE - The Bible does not contain any condemnation of suicide except "Do not murder".
1Samuel 31:4-5 "So Saul took his own sword and threw himself upon it. The young man saw that Saul was dead, so he too threw himself on his sword and died with Saul."
2Samuel 17:23 "When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and went back to his own city. After putting his affairs in order, he hanged himself. He was buried in the family grave."
1Kings 16:18 "When Zimri saw that the city had fallen, he went into the palace's inner fortress, set the palace on fire, and died in the flames."
Matthew 27:5 "So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself."
2Samuel 11:2 "And it came to pass in an evening tide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon."