Who’s Afraid of a (Mostly) Fictional Bible?

Sep 3, 2014

By Herb Silverman

 

A recent OnFaith piece by an anonymous pastor at a mainstream evangelical church asked, “Who’s Afraid of a (Partly) Fictional Bible?” I understand why the pastor might have wanted anonymity. See, for instance, Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind, where clergy reveal in confidential interviews how their lives of service are overshadowed by hypocrisy as they contemplate taking a leap from the faith of their congregants.

Although religionists often have heated arguments and even wars over holy book interpretations, our secular government does not condone killing for blasphemy. However, Christians may certainly fire sect leaders and shun family members for “incorrect” interpretations of their Bible. Literalists often disagree on what the Bible literally says, while non-literalists frequently disagree on which parts to take literally. Most Christians I know believe something equivalent to: “The Bible is literally true, except for what I say is allegorical.”

I agree with Pastor Anonymous when he criticizes people for reading “our twenty-first century lives into a book composed in an ancient and wholly different world.” However, we part company when he says that even the made-up stories “tell us the truth about God and his purposes.” Really? How can that be when the Bible mainly tells us the views of scientifically ignorant, misogynistic, and homophobic writers who were a product of their times? I regard the Bible at its best as akin to Aesop’s fables, with some positive moral lessons and universal truths (along with talking animals). I’ve written here about the value I find in the Bible.

But if an all-knowing God really inspired the Bible, why are parts of it so ambiguous or obviously wrong as to inspire people to behave so badly? Some passages should be ignored, and not taken literally or even allegorically. For instance, how does “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” tell us the truth about God and his purposes? That passage alone has been used to justify burning countless women at the stake. Christians in this country ended such persecution in the seventeenth century, but it still takes place in other parts of the world.

18 comments on “Who’s Afraid of a (Mostly) Fictional Bible?

  • Most Christians I know believe something equivalent to: “The Bible is literally true, except for what I say is allegorical.”

    …. … Or just copied and repeated what some pastor told them it said, without bothering to read it at all!
    Report abuse

  • What amazes me is how our species can’t see that it was hand made, man made (In the Masculine) to reflect the cultural politics of the day. One tribes “Winning” view of history with god on their side. Stone age morals and behaviour. Chock full of contradictions and inconsistencies. Insulting to a omnipotent, omniscient perfect god who could not possibly have written so many mistakes knowingly. The bible and the koran are obviously just the writings of men, claiming god as their ally in local squabbles.

    And yet, homo sapiens in 2014 still give credence to these books. I find it hard not to laugh and ridicule when a mystics quotes a passage from one of the books, claiming some evidentiary power for that statement. As though it would proof of a conjecture. In 2014, American, Israeli, Aghani Talibans, Hamas, ISIS, Suni, Sh’ia ad infinitum use it as justification to support their view, and to kill people. Irrational.

    Makes extinction look like a viable option.
    Report abuse

  • 6
    Bob Springsteen says:

    In taking the Bible to be infallible truth from God, fundamentalist Christians are led to some unusual notions. In his autobiography, Billy Graham explains that a Christian entering heaven would be able to distinguish God the Father from God the Son by the nail prints in the hands of the Son.
    Report abuse

  • I don’t fear a single book. That would be silly. What I do fear are the fans of the book that are willing to do disturbing and extreme things to defend it. I believe they call those types Christians…
    Report abuse

  • PY Sep 3, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    The Bible, c’mon! You couldn’t MAKE that stuff up… wait a minute…

    Not to mention repeatedly “reinterpreting” it, and mistranslating it!

    They do know that The “bible” is true!….. …. That is:-

    The Hebrew Bible (Tora)

    The Septuagint (Greek translation)

    The New Testament (Paul’s letters)

    Latin Vulgate Translation, (Commissioned by pope)

    Alcuin Bible, (Charlemagne)

    Paris Bible,

    Wycliffe Bible ( First English translation 1382)

    (1408 RC archbishop forbids English translations)

    Gutenburg Bible,

    Dutch scholar Erasmus translation ( Latin and Greek)

    Luther Bible,

    William Tyndale English translation 1526 (which leads to his execution),

    (Henry VIII takes over CofE from RC),

    Coverrdale Bible 1535,

    Matthew Bible 1537,

    Great Bible 1539,

    Geneva Bible 1560 (Published in English in Switzerland),

    Douai-Rheims Bible,

    King James Bible 1611,

    Wicked Bible 1631

    New English Bible.

    These repeatedly translated, mistranslated and contradictory works are all pronounced to be THE UNERRING TROOOFF! Usually by people who have never heard of them and never read them!
    Still that’s fundamentalism!!
    Report abuse

  • Bob Springsteen Sep 3, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    In taking the Bible to be infallible truth from God, fundamentalist Christians are led to some unusual notions. In his autobiography, Billy Graham explains that a Christian entering heaven would be able to distinguish God the Father from God the Son by the nail prints in the hands of the Son.

    What a prime example of faith-thinking! – Even the delusion of delusion is wrong! – As it would appear, is the classical depiction of the crucifix!

    http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/crucifixion/a-tomb-in-jerusalem-reveals-the-history-of-crucifixion-and-roman-crucifixion-methods/

    Despite the long history of crucifixion in antiquity, the discovery of Yehohanan’s remains offered scientists the first opportunity to study the process of crucifixion and Roman crucifixion methods up close. The bones were found in an ossuary, or bone box, inscribed several times with Yehohanan’s name (“Yehohanan son of Hagakol”). This ossuary, along with several others, had been placed in a tomb complex consisting of two chambers and 12 burial niches. During the Roman period (first century B.C.–first century A.D.) Jews who could afford this type of burial would lay out the dead bodies of loved ones on stone benches in rock-cut tombs. A year later, after the flesh had desiccated, the bones were collected into an ossuary and left in the tomb with those of other family members.

    Examination of Yehohanan’s bones showed one of the many Roman crucifixion methods. Both of his feet had been nailed together to the cross with a wooden plaque while his legs were bent to one side. His arm bones revealed scratches where the nails had passed between. Both legs were badly fractured, most likely from a crushing blow meant to end his suffering and bring about a faster death. Yehohanan was probably a political dissident against Roman oppression. In death his bones have helped fill in gaps in the history of crucifixion.

    Report abuse

  • If you go out of your way to live the life of a Jedi… the first time you try to jump from a fifth floor window just like in the movies you’ll be in for a lesson on how Gravity in its infinite wisdom seems to have missed the bit about flying Jedi!

    If we move along to other fiction like the bible and other mythology then same rules apply… try to apply nonsense and you shouldn’t be too surprised when a world of hurt is visited upon you…
    Report abuse

  • Mickelodian

    . If we move along to other fiction like the bible and other mythology then same rules apply… try to apply nonsense and you shouldn’t be too surprised when a world of hurt is visited upon you…

    Maybe just misinterpreting the metaphorical bits. I wouldn’t like to put it to the test, not even waiting for ‘the lord to provide’. ‘Tis not going to happen!
    Report abuse

  • I thought that was fairly common knowledge, the ramming of the nails in the arm in stead of the hands, which would not be able to support the weight.. the crushing of the legs would make is unable to stand/ support the body from beneath and would make sure the weight of the body would really hang on the arms, making it difficult to breath, thus suffocating the victim..
    Report abuse

  • CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision. Ambrose Bierce, The Devils Dictionary
    Report abuse

  • unfortunately we are preaching to the converted here (pardon the pun)…I often wonder how many believers
    (a) have the courage to read these posts and (b) are able to convert the logical and rational stories/comments into their twisted version of reality. The cognitive dissonance that ensues must surely produce one bugger
    of an headache…
    Report abuse

  • When someone refers to the bible (not capitalized on purpose) as the “good book,” remember that there’s a Better Book. The Dictionary.

    The Dictionary is my spritual foundation. I believe every single word in The Dictionary. I live my life by those words. They have never steered me wrong. I highly recommend everyone study and contemplate parts of The Dictionary every day. All it takes is faith in your own vocabulary, and you, too, can be a true Dictionary believer!
    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.