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10.14.2011

Who Wrote the Bible Stories?

I am reading a book called Jesus, Interrupted by Bart Ehrman.

My sense is that fundamentalist Christians don't like him, even though he used to be one.

All he does is critically (scientifically) analyze what we know and don't know about the Bible.

Everything in his book is taught in every Protestant seminary school in the world, because ministers need to be educated in depth on everything Biblical. But most ministers don't take this message to the people, for a simple reason.

Membership.

If the truth were told as it is, a lot of people would get a rude awakening. Religious people would probably continue to be religious, but they would start to see the corruption in the institutions of religion (the very human power holders in the church). Then they would quit going and tithing to the church, and that wouldn't be good for business.

But that doesn't change the facts. One of which is that the Gospels of the New Testament probably were not written by the atrributed authors (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). In addition to being rife with contradictions both within and between Gospels, the apostles themselves were very unlikely to have been literate.

Literacy was about 10% back then and among that 10%, most could only read, not write. The literate class was also generally wealthy and had time to spend. The apostles were clearly not members of this class - they were poor and working class, unschooled. In addition, the geographical descriptions in the Bible, according to Ehrman, indicate the Gospels were written anonymously by people in foreign lands many years later, then attributed back to the apostles by church "fathers," who clearly had a vested interest in the church's marketing image.

One of the giveaways that the Gospels were not actually written by the authors they are attributed to is the simple and obvious fact that they are written in the 3rd person. That is highly unusual for any eye witness writer to do, even in these modern times, when composing an autobiographical work. So it is believed that other people wrote about the apostles based on secondary sources, word of mouth and other writings by eye witnesses.

Now, does this mean we should discount the Gospels? Of course not. I could write a book or a blog post like this one on my INTERPRETATION of another work, such as this book I am reading. It is processed by my considerable intellect and what you read is the distillation through my brain. You may not like what I have to say, or agree, but it's worth reading (I think).

By the same token, we need to be intellectually honest that the real authors of the Gospels were not the atrributed authors and whoever they really were, they had a literary message to convey about the life of Jesus (a point of view). Thus, they are not absolute truths, but inspired works.

Perhaps they were inspired by God. But in as much as these were not apostles, but rather (wealthy and literate, most likely Greek) humans with imperfections and no first hand knowledge, I think we have to accept that they are literature, not fact.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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