It continues to amaze me how many times this question and associated questions (such as the historicity of Jesus) are asked. Among Atheists I would have thought they were put to bed a long time ago. Ah well. Here are four references (each of them is written by a different type of individual whose interests differ, and whose sources differ, and who wrote their books at different times.)
It would be great if people who tried to answer these questions did their homework first instead of saying things like “I heard that…....”. A question for you: most of you profess to be secularists of one form or another - doesn’t that assume that you know something (perhaps a fair amount) about the religious books that describe gods where you say there are none (or there may be none) and you are therefore able to discount them?
Here is some information about the Bible.
A. Earl Doherty (1999): “The Jesus Puzzle,” Canadian Humanist Publications, Ottawa.
Page VII: “This list is a summary overview…........
1. Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospel story cannot be found in Christian writings earlier than the Gospels, the first of which (Mark) was composed only in the late first century [my statement: no comments by eyewitnesses].
2. There is no non-Christian record of Jesus before the second century. References in Flavius Josephus (end of first century) can be dismissed as later Christian inserts.
8. All Gospels derive their basic story of Jesus of Nazareth from one source: whoever wrote the Gospel of Mark. The Acts of the Apostles, as an account of the beginnings of the Christian apostolic movement, is a second century piece of myth-making.
9. The Gospels are not historical accounts, but constructed through a process of “midrash”, a Jewish method of reworking old historical passages and tales to reflect new beliefs. The story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion is a pastiche of verses and scriptures.
10. Well into the second century, many Christian documents lack or reject the notion of human man as an element of their faith. Only gradually did the Jesus or Nathareth portrayed in the Gospels come to be accepted as historical.
The full text of this book is worth reading and it is easy reading.
[My comment: about the timeline - bible compiled as we know it today between approximately 325AD and 375AD]
B. Michael Martin (1991): “The Case Against Christianity,” Temple University Press, Philadelphia. [My comment: Michael Martin is an academic who was a professor of Philosophy at Boston University. He also wrote a much more complex volume for those who find academic philosophical analyses edifying: “Atheism: A Philosophical Justification”.]
Chapter 2: “The Historicity of Jesus,” is particularly helpful. Martin deals with all the extant writings that are supposed to mention Jesus and are supposed to reinforce the authenticity of the Bible.
C. Dan Barker (1992): “Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist,” FFRF, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin. [My comment: Dan Barker’s book is for the average reader, but it deals with the Bible as myth in detail.]
Part 3: “Re-Examining The ‘Good Book’.”
Part 8: “History or Myth?”
D. Joseph Wheless (?): “Forgery in Christianity,” Kessinger Publishing Co, Montana.
The bottom line is that the New Testament is a series of myths written long after the events described and filled with contradictions (even with one part contradicting another, as in the Gospels). None of the myths’ veracity is reinforced by external sources - written or archaeological. The Old Testament? Who cares; make up your own mind. Probably a mixture of myths and real stories - I mean I’m sure Adam and Eve existed and the sea opened up for Moses to walk through! Right?