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Is Anything in the Bible True?
Posted: 27 August 2007 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Doug asked me this question in reply to my introductory post.

Here’s a quick thought:  Of course, some of the NT is as true as much other historical documentation from the first century CE.  There are references to known Roman magistrates (the brother of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, for one), not to mention Caesar Augustus.  In the OT, there are references to places I accept as having existed (like Egypt) and peoples that are attested by archeology and other traditions (e.g., Hittites).  That said, the part the Christians want to believe about God creating the world and sending his son to save all people is, well, unproven.  It’s obviously a powerfully appealing story for many people, but I don’t happen to believe it’s any more true than the myths about Zeus or Odin or Vishnu.

The sense in which I have come to think of the Bible as “true” is different still.  I take it as persuasive evidence of the state of certain past human cultures.  What were things like in ancient Judaea?  Well, it was a place where people must have expected that a victorious army would naturally kill every inhabitant of a conquered city (think of Joshua and Jericho).  It was a place where people took their religion seriously enough to kill for minor infractions (like picking up sticks on the Sabbath).  Not “true” in the way my Christian friends and relations want to believe it, but truly fascinating evidence.

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Posted: 27 August 2007 08:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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OK here is my short answer:  I view the Bible as a myth and Jesus is a mythical character.  I really believe it is nothing more than fiction, just as Star Trek books are and probably started out a lot like that too.  LOL

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 27 August 2007 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’d agree with you, AT. There is some real history there, and also some mythologizing. The Bible is a fascinating book if it’s looked at as a fallible, human-created text and not the word of God ...

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Posted: 27 August 2007 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Mriana - 27 August 2007 08:55 PM

OK here is my short answer:  I view the Bible as a myth and Jesus is a mythical character.  I really believe it is nothing more than fiction, just as Star Trek books are and probably started out a lot like that too.  LOL

Even fiction is influenced by truth. But overall, I think it’s quite an exaggerated tale.

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Posted: 27 August 2007 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It’s definitely written by man.  Definitely very exaggerated, but there is no evidence that Jesus really existed.  Nor is there any evidence of Moses.  The whole myth started with Adam and Eve, then went to a mythical flood.  Now there were many local floods and alike, but there was no world flood, which makes even Noah a myth too.

Here’s a question for you all that feel there is something historical about the Bible… Do you believe there is anything historical about the stories of Zeus, Krishna, Horus, Mithra, and alike?

[ Edited: 27 August 2007 11:01 PM by Mriana ]
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Posted: 28 August 2007 01:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I see the bible as a conglomeration of history, myths and midrash (a Hebrew term that means, approximately, morality tales).  Much of it was fictional stories with a moral told to act as guidance or control of the populous.  Unfortunately, while some of the morality tales serve a positive purpose, many of them are based on the warped ideas of the authors.

Occam

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Posted: 28 August 2007 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The Bible is a window into the human mind and into a past culture. It also contains some history and a lot of myth. Let’s not exaggerate by saying none of it is historically true. There’s no reason to make that claim, it’s probably not so, and it only makes us look strident.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Actually, at the time setting JC was written Galilee was a just a hole in the wall and not even on the map.  JC was a Galilean as in the priesthood.  Galileans were at the time priests like the Sadusees, Essences, and alike.  It was not until 4th century CE that it was put on the map when people started making pilgramages there.  (And my brain has not woken up to spell right.)  On top of it all, both geneologies (Matthew and Luke) are through Joseph, traditional Jewish way, BUT they are both different (read closely and you will see both are Joe’s).  This must mean many people either believe Joe was his father, Mary was raped but Joe took the credit for premarital sex, which is taboo in Jewish tradition, or they believe JC had an immaculate conception.  That is if you really believe it is historical.  Plus, there are so many stories before the JC story that they are virtually templates for the Christ story, in my opinion.  All the dying and rising god stories really aren’t that much different.  I can continue, but I won’t.  Yes, Doug, but I see that reasoning, that you mentioned before, as being ALMOST like the Christian view, only without the devil did it to fool everyone BS.  Even as a child I saw the resemblences in the various stories and I have never stood down from that idea.  Mithra and Horus’s (and others) stories are not much different from the JC story.  It does not have to be exactly the same to have similarities, although Horus is very close.

The only thing I can see as being historical is the metephoric part of it, meaning the Gnostic view: We are all Christ Cruxified.  The anoited Redeem Redeemers.  In other words, gods of our own lives/destinies, yet have to deal with the cruelties of this world too.  Which means it is a figurative story and again not literal.  A docetic view of the story.

All pagan stories had virgin births and some had human sacrifices too.  There are also a few problems with dates besides geography-  The first census was not in 4 BC, but 4 AD and Herod was not around at the time of this story, IF taken literally as history and from what I understand.  Who would be silly enough to take a woman, much less a pregnant woman, on such a journey with heat, robbers, and rough terrain.  No, the people did just as we do and registared where they lived and only the man registared for the censes, not the women.  The story is all screwed up for it to be anymore than pure fiction.  It becomes more obvious, to me, that they are fiction, when you see the various dates of when they were written attributed to them by various scholars.  BTW, The books attributed to Paul were written first, then Mark, then Matthew, Luke and John.  They are not placed in the Bible in the order they were actually written.  So the authore of Mark looked over Paul’s letters- Epistles are a form of literature of course written in letter form, and used them to write his version of the story.  The author Matthew was like, hey wait a minute, you gotta have a virgin birth, if only to appease your audience.  Luke embellished on the virgin birth bit and so and so and so.

On top of it all NONE of them were eyewitness accounts.  Even Paul admits to never meeting JC AND the books of the gospel were not written by the people we attribute them to either.  Not to mention, there are places where JC’s story, in “Paul’s” (not the actual author again) take on a Gnostic view of JC.  I could continue, but I won’t for now.  Need to finish up here, get some more coffee, and get ready for my day.

[ Edited: 28 August 2007 07:41 AM by Mriana ]
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Posted: 28 August 2007 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The Bible is as credible as any other ancient text, which is to say that its stories should be taken with large grains of salt. That isn’t to say that they are all false, as PLaClair says. For example, it is quite possible to come up with a consistent, historically credible account of the life of Jesus as a minor Jewish figure. Several scholars have done this sort of plausible reconstruction. (Those who are interested should take a look at The Historical Figure of Jesus by EP Sanders for a good example).

The claim that the Bible is literally all false is just as extreme a claim as that it is literally all true. The historical and anthropological evidence cuts both ways.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Well, you could say he was a minor Jewish figure in that there were a lot of men named Jesus and a man named Jesus wrote the Gnostic Gospel of Jesus and was translated by his grandson, also named Jesus, but this was not the same supposed Jesus who was cruxified.  However, as far as I know, the Jews have no historical record of the mythological Jesus.

I just thought of another thing.  If there was an historic JC, then he was a criminal cruxified for his crime, whatever that was.  IF that would be the case, then he became a martyr, and his life was set to former mythical templates.  Which would mean, not only is Christianity based on a murder, but also a criminal, who was set to fiction.  Which might explain some things about Christians, but we won’t go there.  Regardless, IF there was a historical JC then he is way too buried in myth that we will never find him and I submit that if that is the case, then he was potentially a convicted criminal who was martyred and early Christians made a big deal out of him as they heroized him via traditional dying and rising god motifs.

Doug, I’d like to ask a few questions of you, if you believe JC may have lived, yet you reject 2/3 of the trinity and accept 1/3, then how do you reconcile various verses like, “No one comes to me, except by way of the father”, “I am the way, the truth, and the light”, “He who believes in me, shall not parish, but have everlasting life” and like?  It makes no sense to me to accept that he may have lived, but reject the rest, unless you chalk him up to being a martyrized lunatic.  Yes, I’m proposing C.S. Lewis’s “Liar, Lord, Lunatic” deal here.  At what point do you say, “OK it’s just fiction and no man is the son of god because I reject any man made concept of a deity”?  It seems to me that if you accept 1/3 of it then you maybe accepting part of a trinity, but not the rest.  How does this work if one is an atheist?  It seems like one would be trying to save their bacon if they are wrong about no gods, given John 3:16.  Seems to me, just believing the man lived would fulfil that verse and one is trying to save their hinny, based on a meme, in case they are wrong.

Not trying to be cause an argument, just trying to understand you better.

[ Edited: 28 August 2007 08:53 AM by Mriana ]
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Posted: 28 August 2007 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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For the “Bible” to be true, it would have to be a document that has actually been proven to be “true” and factual. Now there is also the question of “American History” texts. French and Egyptian, Lucy and T-Rex (The Band), and on and on. Hey! How’s your fossil?
Prove it, and you win a lollipop. Good luck with that. Have a turkey leg instead. It’s not sweet, and it needs a bit of salt to become tasty enough to swallow it.
Is the Bible a true, and accurate account of real historical events, undisputed, and proven beyond any shadow of doubt? Of course it is not. Need salt? 
Neither are the documented accounts of the Spanish/American war. Nor the British Invasion of the Beatles, the inquisitions or The “Viet Nam Chronicals”. On and on. These documents are not really “documents” and they never will be. They are an enhanced account manufactured by the favored writers and the various media of the times in manners that are “acceptable” for the majority, and thereby denounced by the minority whom nobody cares about anyway.
Via statistics, we go for the ratings. Then we write the books that all our swains must study and learn within our great universities, and kindergartens alike.
Can we admit our rediculous and murderous methods of procuring land rites? Certainly a child would question the truths. We as politicians can not have that at all. To question is to become a witch, and witches shall be burned, and this philosophy and practice is as fresh today as the day it was born.
Washing a mind is simple. It works for us, and it will work for all. Become a traitor by questioning the teachings, and you shall parish either by imprisonment, abolishment, even death.
Is the Bible True? Is Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue giving you real boobs? Good Luck with that one as well. Prove those things aren’t hard as a stone for the sake of all of us, and you may become a candidate for sainthood. God Bless!

Bee-Sting

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Posted: 28 August 2007 09:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Oh Beesting, I love you already!  :D Great points and that is precisely the underpendings of the questions I’m asking Doug, which weren’t here at the time you posted because I was adding them.  The POV of the early Christians could have been their martyrdom story OR it could be like the Gnostic POV in which it is metaphor for each and everyone of us or it could be a pure Docetic POV in which JC never really lived historically.  Or we could take the historical POV.  It’s no wonder there were so many battles and one POV won out over all of them.

However, I think the whole thing was extrapolated.  If most scholars agree that Flavius Josephus’s “Testimonium Flavianum” was a forgery, what else was forged just so a group could impose their POV on everyone else?

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 28 August 2007 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Mriana - 28 August 2007 08:17 AM

Doug, I’d like to ask a few questions of you, if you believe JC may have lived, yet you reject 2/3 of the trinity and accept 1/3, then how do you reconcile various verses like, “No one comes to me, except by way of the father”, “I am the way, the truth, and the light”, “He who believes in me, shall not parish, but have everlasting life” and like?  It makes no sense to me to accept that he may have lived, but reject the rest, unless you chalk him up to being a martyrized lunatic.  Yes, I’m proposing C.S. Lewis’s “Liar, Lord, Lunatic” deal here.  At what point do you say, “OK it’s just fiction and no man is the son of god because I reject any man made concept of a deity”?  It seems to me that if you accept 1/3 of it then you maybe accepting part of a trinity, but not the rest.  How does this work if one is an atheist?  It seems like one would be trying to save their bacon if they are wrong about no gods, given John 3:16.  Seems to me, just believing the man lived would fulfil that verse and one is trying to save their hinny, based on a meme, in case they are wrong.

Not trying to be cause an argument, just trying to understand you better.

I have no idea where you are coming from here, Mriana, honestly. I don’t “accept” any of the trinity. I’m not a Christian, I don’t believe that Christ died for our sins, was born of a virgin, etc. He was during his lifetime a very minor figure who started a small, moderately extreme cult from within the Jewish religion. He believed that the world would end within the lifetime of his followers, and so wanted to purify the Jewish temple. He was a bit of a rabble-rouser, got into trouble with the Jewish authorities and was eventually captured by the local authorities and crucified. End of story. If you are really interested in how this sort of reconstruction might go, I suggest you read the volume I suggested previously.

Honestly, the knee-jerk reaction against there being a historical Jesus has virtually no support within the academy. I won’t get into the other sorts of historical revisionism in this thread, as they take us too far afield. But a lot of this is beginning to sound to me like conspiracy mongering of a very low sort.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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What I’m getting at is that if you accept he is historical, then it would seem you would accept the various verses too.

But are you sure that even the idea he started a cult was even true?  Was he really a rabble-rouser or was it just a play to stir and entertain the masses?  I like Price’s thoughts on it being a play in his book, “Deconstructing Jesus”.  It makes the most sense out of any theory I’ve heard.

I’ll look into the volume you mentioned, but I fail to see how there is anything historical about the JC myth.  Sanders?  yeah, the title alone sounds like something one of my relatives would write, just to prove that JC existed.  rolleyes  More than likely, what s/he has to say won’t make much sense to me.  Such books never do esp if they are written by apologists.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 28 August 2007 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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It is sort of an axiom of any competent historiography that one does not have to accept every sentence in an account as true. That is, that some parts of an account may hang together, and be reconstructed into a consistent and believable narrative, while other parts must be discarded as clearly false, historically implausible or inconsistent. The job of any professional historian is to do just this work.

I do take issue with the reaction among many in the atheist community that anyone who believes that the Jesus account was based on a real person is ipso facto an “apologist”. Once again, the vast majority of professional historians who deal with this time period believe that the New Testament is based on a real person. The vast majority of these historians also discount all the clearly mythological aspects of the account as later interpolations or exaggerations.

And the point of Sanders’s book is not to “prove” Jesus existed. One can’t “prove” anything historically. What he is doing is attempting to do the most plausible reconstruction of what Jesus’s life might have actually been like. And no, this does not include the miracles.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Ricky Bobby: “Dear lord baby Jesus or as our brothers to the south call you, Jesus, we thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of Domino’s, KFC and the always delicious Taco Bell. I just want to take time to say thank you for my family: my two beautiful, beautiful handsome, striking sons Walker and Texas Ranger or T.R. as we call him and of course my red-hot smoking wife, Carley who is a stone-cold fox. Who if you were to rate her ass on 100, it would easilly be a 94. Also wanna thank you for my best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton Jr who’s got my back no batter what.”

Cal: “Shake and Bake.”

Ricky: “Dear Lord baby Jesus, we also thank you for my wife’s father, Chip. We hope that you can use your baby Jesus powers to heal him and his horrible leg. And it smells terrible and the dogs are always bothering with it. Dear, tiny infant Jesus, we—”

Carley: “Hey, um, you know, sweetie, Jesus did grow up. You don’t always have to call him, ‘baby.’ It’s a bit odd and off-putting to pray to a baby.”

Ricky: “Well, I like the Christmas Jesus best and I’m saying grace. When you say grace, you can say it to grownup Jesus or teenage Jesus or bearded Jesus, or whoever you want.”

Carley: “You know what I want? I want you to do this grace good, so that God will let us win tomorrow.”

Ricky: “Dear tiny Jesus in your golden-fleece diapers, with your tiny, little, fat, balled-up fists pawing at the air…”

Chip (Ted Manson): “He was a man. He had a beard.”

Ricky: “Look, I like the baby version the best, do you hear me? I win the races and I get the money.”

Carley: “Ricky, finish the damn grace.”

Cal: “I like to picture Jesus in a Tuxedo T-shirt because it says, like, ‘I wanna be formal…’”

Ricky: “Right.”

Cal: “‘...but I’m here to party too.’ ‘Cause I like to party, so I like my Jesus to party.”

Walker (Houston Tumlin): “I like to picture Jesus as a ninja fighting off evil samurai.”

Cal: “I like to think of Jesus, like, with giant eagle’s wings.”

Ricky: “Yeah.”

Cal: “And singing lead vocal for Lynyrd Skynyrd with, like, an angel band. And I’m in the front row and I’m hammered drunk.”

Carley: “Hey, Cal? Why don’t you just shut up?”

Cal: “Yes, ma’am.”

Ricky: “Okay. Dear, 8-pound, 6-ounce, newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly, but still omnipotent, we just thank you for all the races I’ve won and the 21.2 millios dollars—Whoo!”

Cal: “Whoo!”

Carley: “Whoo!”

The Kids: “Ow!”

Ricky: “Love that money!—that I have accrued over this past season. Also due to a binding endorsement contract that stipulates I mention Powerade at each grace I just wanna say that Powerade is delicious and it cools you off on a hot summer day. And we look forward to Powerade’s release of Mystic Mountain Blueberry. Thank you for all your power and your grace, dear baby God. Amen.”

Carley: “Amen.”

Cal: “Amen!”

Ricky: “Let’s dig in!”

Cal: “That was a hell of a grace, man. You nailed that like a split hog!”

Ricky: “I appreciate that. I’m not gonna lie to you, it felt good.”

[ Edited: 28 August 2007 10:02 AM by truthaddict ]
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