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Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible
Posted: 04 April 2006 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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From Booklist
The popular perception of the Bible as a divinely perfect book receives scant support from Ehrman, who sees in Holy Writ ample evidence of human fallibility and ecclesiastical politics. Though himself schooled in evangelical literalism, Ehrman has come to regard his earlier faith in the inerrant inspiration of the Bible as misguided, given that the original texts have disappeared and that the extant texts available do not agree with one another. Most of the textual discrepancies, Ehrman acknowledges, matter little, but some do profoundly affect religious doctrine. To assess how ignorant or theologically manipulative scribes may have changed the biblical text, modern scholars have developed procedures for comparing diverging texts. And in language accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman explains these procedures and their results. He further explains why textual criticism has frequently sparked intense controversy, especially among scripture-alone Protestants. In discounting not only the authenticity of existing manuscripts but also the inspiration of the original writers, Ehrman will deeply divide his readers. Although he addresses a popular audience, he undercuts the very religious attitudes that have made the Bible a popular book. Still, this is a useful overview for biblical history collections. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Charleston Post & Courier
"Offers a fascinating look into the field of textual criticism and evidence that Scriptures have been altered."

Dallas Morning News
"Whichever side you sit on regarding Biblical inerrancy, this is a rewarding read."

Washington Post
"One of the unlikeliest bestsellers of the year."

Book Description

When world-class biblical scholar Bart Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows the great impact they had upon the Bible we use today. He frames his account with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultraconservative views of the Bible.

Since the advent of the printing press and the accurate reproduction of texts, most people have assumed that when they read the New Testament they are reading an exact copy of Jesus's words or Saint Paul's writings. And yet, for almost fifteen hundred years these manuscripts were hand copied by scribes who were deeply influenced by the cultural, theological, and political disputes of their day. Both mistakes and intentional changes abound in the surviving manuscripts, making the original words difficult to reconstruct. For the first time, Ehrman reveals where and why these changes were made and how scholars go about reconstructing the original words of the New Testament as closely as possible.

Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our cherished biblical stories and widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself stem from both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes—alterations that dramatically affected all subsequent versions of the Bible.

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Posted: 04 April 2006 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Big hoopla for the one scholar who “abandoned” his religion. Never any hoopla for the multitudes who did not or accepted Christianity after careful attention to the translations.

Do I…..why yes I do….smell it???? AGENDA.

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:28-29

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Posted: 05 April 2006 04:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Its alot shorter than all those “Left Behind” books you fundies waste your time reading. 
And what agenda?  You’re being paranoid.  There are many publishing houses in the USA, many owned by Christians (Zondervan) , who’s books regularly make the New York Times best sellers list. So people like you aren’t being censored by the publishing industry!
Its a free country and anyone can publish what they want.
There are many fundies who worship a paper god call the “King James Verison” and “The Schofield Reference Bible”.
Even if people under god’s direction wrote the bible thousands of years ago, the idea no one since then never added or subtracted from the ancient text to advance their own political agenda is foolish and naive.  The King James Verison was publish to legitimize the Anglician Church, which was founded so King Henry VIII could get a divorce.

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Posted: 05 April 2006 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Actually, I thought ‘agenda’ and ‘Bible’ were synonymous wink.

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Posted: 05 April 2006 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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If God inspired the bible, why did He inspire such poor writing?  Why are the 66 books obviously not connected in an order that makes sense to the intended reader (the sinner, I think).  Except for starting with creation and ending with armageddon, somebody really put a squirly story together. 

He can create the eye, the sub-atomic particle, and the universe, but He’s a bad writer.  He set out to confuse and contradict His favorite creation.  Hmmm, let me see.  Nope - that’s not working for me anymore.  Next theory, please.

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Posted: 05 April 2006 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Klangdon
Are you serious? The bible is not a book it is a library. It is a collection of many different books determined by the church to be inspired. With the ignorance displayed on this forum it is no wonder you’re all atheists. You are not anti-God you are clueless.

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Posted: 05 April 2006 02:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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On another thread a listed all the books by Erhman. This guy is a serious researcher/academic. I am certain TC/TB do not read their flavor of the Libel (err bible) in its original languages. Erhman does!
Besides all his books he has a large number of scholarly articles in mainstream theological journals. He has a web site associated with his university department. I urge those of you serious, logical, and able to think abstractly to look at some of his work.

Anthro

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Posted: 05 April 2006 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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One of the most baffling accusations that can be flung at a person like this, is that even after 30 years of hard scrutiny he can be accused of having any other agenda besides seeking truth. The fact that one scholar is strengthened in faith through this search, while another scholar finds it has evaporated, is to point out the glaring reality - that God chooses not to bring peace to the minds of these well-meaning and hard-studying scholars. What a cruel payoff for their merely using the minds they were born with.

If he’d wanted to convey a universal message, he wouldn’t need a “library” of intelligence-offending stories to muddy things up. When my parents wanted me to listen and comprehend one of their rules without any doubt, they looked me straight in the eye and fed it to me straight and clear, even if they had to hold my face in place to do it. Plus, they were in fact real beings, not murky characters from a story, which always helped reinforce things a great deal :?.


***

The Book of Bart

In the Bestseller ‘Misquoting Jesus,’ Agnostic Author Bart Ehrman Picks Apart the Gospels That Made a Disbeliever Out of Him

By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 5, 2006; Page D01

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. Where does faith reside? In the soul? The mind, the marrow of the bones?

In the long hours of the night, the voices of the evangelical preachers on the AM dial seem to know. Believe, they say. Then daylight comes and the listeners’ questions fade.

Bart Ehrman is a sermon, a parable, but of what? He’s a best-selling author, a New Testament expert and perhaps a cautionary tale: the fundamentalist scholar who peered so hard into the origins of Christianity that he lost his faith altogether.

Once he was a seminarian and graduate of the Moody Bible Institute, a pillar of conservative Christianity. Its doctrine states that the Bible “is a divine revelation, the original autographs of which were verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit.”

But after three decades of research into that divine revelation, Ehrman became an agnostic. What he found in the ancient papyri of the scriptorium was not the greatest story ever told, but the crumbling dust of his own faith.

“Sometimes Christian apologists say there are only three options to who Jesus was: a liar, a lunatic or the Lord,” he tells a packed auditorium here at the University of North Carolina, where he chairs the department of religious studies. “But there could be a fourth option—legend.”

Ehrman’s latest book, “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why,” has become one of the unlikeliest bestsellers of the year. A slender book of textual criticism, currently at No. 16 on the New York Times bestseller list, it casts doubt on any number of New Testament episodes that most Christians take as, well, gospel.

Example: A crowd readies itself to stone an adulterous woman to death. Jesus leans down, doodles in the dust. Says, let the one without sin cast the first stone. The crowd melts away. It’s one of the most famous stories in the Bible.

And it’s most likely fiction, says Ehrman, seconding other scholars who say scribes added the episode to the biblical canon centuries after the life of Christ.

There are dozens of other examples in “Misquoting Jesus,” things that go to the heart of the faith, things that have puzzled scholars for centuries. What actually happened to Jesus of Nazareth, there on the sands of Judea? Was he a small-time Jewish revolutionary or the Son of God? Both? Neither?

These ancient questions have been the guideposts to Ehrman’s life. His take on them—first as devout believer in biblical inerrancy, then as a skeptic who rejects it all—suggests a demand for black and white in an arena where others see faith, mystery and the far traces of the unknowable.

“I think Bart is writing about his personal journey, about legitimate things that bother him,” says Darrell Bock, research professor of New Testament studies at the Dallas Theological Seminary. Like many Christian scholars who have studied the ancient scrolls, Bock says his faith was strengthened by the same process that destroyed Ehrman’s.

“Even if I don’t have a high-definition photograph of the empty tomb to prove Christ’s resurrection, there’s the reaction to something after Christ died that is very hard to explain away,” Bock says. “There was no resurrection tradition in Jewish theology. Where did it come from? How did these illiterate, impoverished fishermen create such a powerful religion?

“I can appreciate people feel differently. But sometimes I wonder if we are not all guilty of asking the Bible to do too much.”

Void in His Heart


On a recent afternoon, Ehrman, 50, pulls off his fedora at the front of an auditorium. Some 350 students are filing in for Religion 22, one of the most popular classes on campus.

His text for today is the Gospel of John.

Thought to be the last written of the four Gospels that form the narrative of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, it forms a cornerstone of the Christian faith. The problem is that it is distinctly different from the other three Gospels.

Ehrman looks the professorial part—a not-too-tall man with a receding hairline, dressed in casual slacks and sport coat over a sweater. His shoes are scuffed. He is energetic and possessed of a gregarious personality that endears him to the student body. (He holds informal office hours on Wednesday nights in a local bar/restaurant.)

But as he paces back and forth across the stage, Ehrman ruthlessly pounces on the anomalies—in this Gospel, Jesus isn’t born in Bethlehem, he doesn’t tell any parables, he never casts out a demon, there’s no last supper. “None of that is found in John!” The crucifixion stories are different—in Mark, Jesus is terrified on the cross; in John, he’s perfectly composed. Key dates are different. The resurrection stories are different. Ehrman reels them off, rapid-fire, shell bursts against the bulwark of tradition.

“In Matthew, Mark and Luke, you find no trace of Jesus being divine,” he says, his voice urgent. “In John, you do.” He points out that in the other three books, it takes the disciples nearly half of Christ’s ministry to learn who he is. John says no, no, everyone knew it from the beginning. “You shouldn’t think something just because you believe it. You need reasons. That applies to religion. That applies to politics . . . just because your parents believe something isn’t good enough.”

The class files out a few minutes later.

“Most of the students have never heard anything like this in their lives,” says Ben White, a graduate student. “For a lot of them, it’s very threatening.”

Ehrman doesn’t mind this. He’s often on CNN, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, a scholar amused by “taking something really complicated and getting a sound bite out of it.”

“Misquoting Jesus” is just that to some extent, a book of pop history about biblical misconceptions. The first of his 19 books to be a bestseller, it reads like one of his lectures—an exploration into how the 27 books of the New Testament came to be cobbled together, a history rich with ecclesiastical politics, incompetent scribes and the difficulties of rendering oral traditions into a written text.

To get an idea of how complicated this can be, consider: Greek, the lingua franca of the day, was written without capitalization or punctuation.

Here, you play biblical translator. Look at this, an example in English, from Ehrman’s book:

godisnowhere

Does it say: God is now here.

Or: God is nowhere.

Sorting out these mysteries is the life Ehrman saw for himself since he was an uncertain teenager in Lawrence, Kan. He attended Trinity Episcopal on Vermont Street in Lawrence, but he and his family were casual in their faith. Lost in the middle of the pack in school, Ehrman felt an emptiness settle over him, something that lingered at nights after the lights were out, when the house was quiet.

One afternoon he went to a party at the house of a popular kid. It turned out to be a meeting of a Christian outreach youth group from a nearby college. In private talks, the charismatic young leader of the group told the 15-year-old Ehrman that the emptiness he felt inside was nothing less than his soul crying out for God. He quoted Scripture to prove it.

“Given my reverence for, but ignorance of, the Bible, it all sounded completely convincing,” Ehrman writes.

One Saturday morning after having breakfast with the man, Ehrman went home, walked into his room and closed the door. He knelt by his bed and asked the Lord to come into his life.

He rose, and felt better, stronger. “It was your bona fide born-again experience.”

The void in his heart was filled. The more he read the Bible, he says, the closer he felt to God.

His devotion soon engulfed him. “I told my friends, family, everyone about Christ,” he remembers now. “The study of the Bible was a religious experience. The more you studied the Bible, the more spiritual you were. I memorized large parts of it. It was a spiritual exercise, like meditation.”

He soon became a gung-ho Christian, a fundamentalist who believed the Bible contained no mistakes. He converted his family to his new faith. Schoolmates went off to the University of Kansas, but he enrolled in the Moody Bible Institute, an austere interdenominational institution in Chicago that forbade students to go to movies, play cards, dance, or have physical contact with the opposite sex.

It was spiritually thrilling.

For the next 12 years, he studied at Moody, at Wheaton College (another Christian institution in Illinois) and finally at Princeton Theological Seminary. He found he had a gift for languages. His specialty was the ancient texts that tried to explain what actually happened to Jesus Christ, and how the world’s largest religion grew into being after his execution.

What he found there began to frighten him.

The Bible simply wasn’t error-free. The mistakes grew exponentially as he traced translations through the centuries. There are some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts that are the basis of the modern versions of the New Testament, and scholars have uncovered more than 200,000 differences in those texts.

“Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament,” Ehrman summarizes.

Most of these are inconsequential errors in grammar or metaphor. But others are profound. The last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark appear to have been added to the text years later—and these are the only verses in that book that show Christ reappearing after his death.

Another critical passage is in 1 John, which explicitly sets out the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). It is a cornerstone of Christian theology, and this is the only place where it is spelled out in the entire Bible—but it appears to have been added to the text centuries later, by an unknown scribe.

For a man who believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God, Ehrman sought the true originals to shore up his faith. The problem: There are no original manuscripts of the Gospels, of any of the New Testament.

He wrote a tortured paper at Princeton that sought to explain how an episode in Mark might be true, despite clear evidence to the contrary. A professor wrote in the margin:

“Maybe Mark just made a mistake.”

As simple as it was, it struck him to the core.

“The evidence for the belief is that if you look closely at the Bible, at the resurrection, you’ll find the evidence for it,” he says. “For me, that was the seed of its own destruction. It wasn’t there. It isn’t there.”

Doubt about the events in the life of Christ are hardly new. There was never clear agreement in the most ancient texts as to the meaning of Christ’s death. But for many Christians, the virgin birth, the passion of Christ, the resurrection on the third day—these simply have  to be facts, or there is no basis for the religion.

“The fundamental truth claims of the biblical record were historical things that were believed to have happened, not ‘once upon a time’ in a fairy tale or somewhere outside of time and space, but at specific times and places that belonged to the total history of the human race and that could be located on a map,” writes Jaroslav Pelikan, one of the field’s most respected scholars. “If the history of the resurrection of Christ had not really happened, the message . . . according to the authority of the apostle Paul, had to be ‘null and void.’ “

Ehrman slowly came to a horrifying realization: There was no real historical record. It was, he felt, all incense and myth, told by illiterate men and not set down in writing for decades.

Dark Bubbles

 

It is a difficult thing to chart the loss of faith.

Where does it go, this belief in things not seen?

Let’s look at “In the Beauty of the Lilies.” This is John Updike’s novel of the fictional Rev. Clarence Arthur Wilmot, a Presbyterian minister, and his loss of faith. Wilmot, beset by doubt one afternoon in the rectory, “felt the last particles of his faith leave him. The sensation was distinct—a visceral surrender, a set of dark sparkling bubbles escaping upward . . . there was no God, nor should there be.”

For Ehrman, the dark sparkling bubbles cascaded out of him while teaching a class at Rutgers University on “The Problem of Suffering in Biblical Traditions.” It was the mid-1980s, the Ethiopian famine was in full swing. Starving infants, mass death. Ehrman came to believe that not only was there no evidence of Jesus being divine, but neither was there a God paying attention.

“I just began to lose it,” Ehrman says now, in a conversation that stretches from late afternoon into the evening. “It wasn’t for lack of trying. But I just couldn’t believe there was a God in charge of this mess . . . It was so emotionally charged. This whole business of ‘the Bible is your life, and anyone who doesn’t believe it is going to roast in hell.’ “

He kept teaching, moving to Chapel Hill, kept hanging on to the shreds of belief, but the dark bubbles fled upward. He was a successful author, voted one of the most popular professors on campus, but he awoke one morning seven years ago and found the remnants of faith gone. No bubbles at all. He was soon to marry for the second time and his kids were grown. He stopped going to church.

“I would love for him to be there with me, and sometimes wish it was something we share,” says Ehrman’s wife, Sarah Beckwith, a professor of medieval literature at Duke University, and an Episcopalian. “But I respect the integrity of decisions he’s made, even if I reject the logic by which he reached them.”

“Bart was, like a lot of people who were converted to fundamental evangelicalism, converted to the certainty of it all, of having all the answers,” says Dale Martin, Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, and a friend of three decades. “When he found out they were lying to him, he just didn’t want anything to do with it.

“His wife and I go to Mass sometimes. He never comes with us anymore.”

Life after the loss of faith, even for the deeply religious, is not necessarily a terrible thing.

Ehrman tools home from campus on a recent morning in his BMW convertible. He has a lovely house in the countryside, a wife who loves him and an ever-growing career. He is, he says, a “happy agnostic.” That emptiness he felt as a teenager is still there, but he fills it with family, friends, work and the finer things in life.

He thinks that when you die, there are no Pearly Gates.

“I think you just cease to exist, like the mosquito you swatted yesterday.”

On this particular morning, he turns his attention to his new book, the story of Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Christ. Judas resides, according to Dante, in the ninth circle of hell.

Ehrman’s desk is filled with open books. His study is sun-filled, with a glass door giving onto a patio and the gentle pines of the Carolina forests.

Where does faith reside? Does it leave a residue when it is gone?

Bart Ehrman begins writing, the day unfolding, shafts of light falling through the window, the mysteries of the Gospels open before him.


***

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Posted: 05 April 2006 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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An interesting quote from another review posted on bible.org:


( source )

Finally, regarding 1 John 5:7-8, virtually no modern translation of the Bible includes the “Trinitarian formula,” since scholars for centuries have recognized it as added later. Only a few very late manuscripts have the verses. One wonders why this passage is even discussed in Ehrman’s book. The only reason seems to be to fuel doubts. The passage made its way into our Bibles through political pressure, appearing for the first time in 1522, even though scholars then and now knew that it is not authentic. The early church did not know of this text, yet the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 affirmed explicitly the Trinity! How could they do this without the benefit of a text that didn’t get into the Greek NT for another millennium? Chalcedon’s statement was not written in a vacuum: the early church put into a theological formulation what they saw in the NT.

Someone clarify this, please…  Is this reviewer saying the Trinity concept has long been known to be bogus, yet is somehow still respected, simply because this council of men in AD 451 decided it seemed a good interpretation of murky passages?


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Posted: 05 April 2006 04:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“Anthro”]On another thread a listed all the books by Erhman. This guy is a serious researcher/academic. I am certain TC/TB do not read their flavor of the Libel (err bible) in its original languages. Erhman does!
Besides all his books he has a large number of scholarly articles in mainstream theological journals. He has a web site associated with his university department. I urge those of you serious, logical, and able to think abstractly to look at some of his work.

Anthro

Its a well worn idea that ex christians hold….appologist are seriously lacking
Mia last post is great…

read this - its right to the nitty gritty
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

Many theists are so afraid (if only subconsciously) of being wrong about their beliefs that they purposefully try not to critically analyze them for fear of where self-interrogation may lead.  (Remember that the next time someone tells you that were not supposed to question god’s reasons for doing something or for allowing something to happen.)  It was out of this fear of looking foolish or intellectually challenged that “apologetics” was borne.  While it flies in the face of true faith, sometimes believing isn’t good enough.  Some people need to prove what they want so desperately to be true.

Apologetics is that field of religious study that seeks to answer the challenges of cults, evolution, philosophy, false doctrines, and whatever else threatens what is perceived to be biblical truth.  Note that apologetics is not specific to any particular religion, but I will focus on the Christian aspect for this discussion.

Apologists are clever, persuasive, and well-educated “rationalizers” who pretend to embrace science and skepticism, but force the results of their research to arrive at the only conclusion that allows them to maintain their faith and their intellect.  Some are outright intentionally deceptive and rationalize their lies to win souls over for Christ, and some are just self-deceiving where the results of their research are driven by the subconscious fear of standing alone in their faith or some other psychological need.

Christians love to ask “How is possible that…” while pointing to certain complexities of nature that cannot be easily or concretely explained and attribute their ultimate cause, by default, to their god.  Oh, I see.  I can’t explain it, therefore their god must exist, he must be the one true god, and therefore must be the ultimate cause of that thing I couldn’t explain.  How brilliant!  And even if I were able to explain it, I would never be able to do so to their ultimate satisfaction.  Gee, I wonder why?

Please, let’s at least try to be innovative.  The loaded questions that Christian apologists ask have been answered time and time again—despite the same tired old logic they offer up for their counter-arguments.  And I won’t waste my time addressing any of them.  Why?  Because I can’t.  You see, I’m not a scientist.  Asking me, personally, to answer complex scientific questions is like asking a tax accountant to diagram the chemical composition of propylene glycol, or asking a geologist to explain the tax penalty provisions for Internal Revenue Codes §§ 6694 and 6695.  I’ll leave those tasks to chemists and tax accountants, respectively.  My expertise ends beyond dissecting the deluded brain and revealing the cowardice, weakness, and fear-filled motives for believing pure bunk.  My science and technology experts will handle all the scientific stuff to which I’ve always maintained to comprehend less than women.  <grin>

Follow the silly and faulty fundamental logic pattern of every single Christian apologetic argument:

I claim to have created the Grand Canyon.

Mr. Apologist demonstrates, in a wholly accurate scientific manner, all of the physical, logistical, monetary, and time elements required to complete such a task.

Being the consummate “skeptic” [long pause for comic effect], Mr. Apologist asks me specific scientifically based questions to explain how I could have accomplished this seemingly impossible feat.

Due to my inability to answer any of his questions to that end, Mr. Apologist will have proven the absolute impossibility that I created the Grand Canyon.  And he’d be right.

Mr. Apologist points to a piece of paper that states that his god created the universe and everything in it—one of which, quite obviously, is the Grand Canyon.

Mr. Apologist declares, therefore, that his god exists, he is the one true god, and that he must have created the Grand Canyon.


First, the bible is NOT proof in any way, shape or form that god exists or that he created anything.  The bible is nothing more than words on a page, written by mortal men like you and me, and it proves just about as much as these words:
The Godless Bastard is 6’2, stunningly handsome, eternally youthful, has wavy blonde hair, and his IQ is 130.  All women desire him, and all men envy him.

How I wish the statement above was true, but like a wise man once said, “Religion is to rationality as bullshit is to horsepower.”




Tilting At Windmills

Some people believe that the great pyramids in Egypt were built by extraterrestrials visiting our planet thousands of years ago.  Personally, I think it’s all a bunch of nonsense.  So why don’t I attempt to debunk that theory?  Well, aside from the fact that I have no expertise in any of the disciplines one would need to take on such a task, I have no desire to debunk the theory to begin with.  More to the point, I couldn’t care less who built the pyramids.  Not that it wouldn’t be nice to know just as a curiosity, but I have no vested interest one way or another.  Even more importantly, I’m not threatened by the possible truth of this theory.  If I’m wrong, big deal.  My intellect isn’t compromised and my life hasn’t changed for the worse.

People attack that which they fear.  We attack cancer because we fear disease and death.  We attack crime because we fear mayhem.  We attack fire because we fear destruction.  Generally, we attack things that threaten us.

If you’re a Christian, you might be thinking, “Well, you’re attacking Christianity right now, aren’t you?  You’re attempting to debunk many Christian beliefs right on this website.  Are you afraid of the truth?”  First, I’m not attacking Christianity.  I’m attacking all religious beliefs.  Get it right.  Admittedly, I focus on Christianity because I believe its followers are by far the worst offenders of proselytization, but I think all religions are based on pure bunk.  Secondly, yes, I absolutely do attempt to debunk specific beliefs that I see as bordering on sheer lunacy.  However, my goal is NOT to convert anyone.  Believe me, if you believe in (and fear) a god, I want you exactly as you are.  Although do I wish your reading comprehension was a little better.  Go back and re-read about why this website exists.  Its reason for being has absolutely nothing to do with fear.  But if you want to accuse me of anything, accuse me of selfishness.  This website is all about parity, perspective, and giving Christians a taste of their own bitter medicine.  And I’m selfish in this respect because I don’t want them to change.

Hey, wait.  [waving you back]  Actually, let me correct myself.  You know what?  Perhaps I am a bit fearful.  I’m fearful that someday you might actually figure it all out, abandon your religion, and lose your fear of god and that of eternal damnation.  And if you don’t fear god and an eternity in hell, please visit these guys (or any of their like-minded friends) and get some of that fear.  Get a whole lot of it.

Now where was I?  Oh, yes.  Christians attack any generally accepted fact or theory if its potential truth threatens what they believe and therefore their intellect.  Even if only on a subconscious level, Evangelical Christians are scared senseless of the mere possibility that evolution, for example, might irrefutably explain how we came to be.  The truth of evolution would be devastating to creationists on so many levels.

Let’s pretend that I formulated a viable theory proving that Mickey Mouse single-handedly built the Great Wall of China.  Would you waste even a minute of your time trying to disprove it?  Of course not.  Now ask yourself why.

Evangelical Christians will amass a myriad of “reasons” why they must disprove evolution, but know this: it’s only out of fear.  Their motivation has absolutely nothing to do with winning souls over for Christ or any other smoke-and-mirrors rationalization.  If Christians had an ounce of pure faith in what they claim to believe, they’d ignore evolution as a theory just as they’d ignore my theory about Mickey Mouse and The Great Wall.  If they’re right about evolution, then the two theories are on a par, carry the same weight, and are equally harmless.  Ask any Evangelical Christian what they think about the theory of evolution and they’ll tell you that it’s pure nonsense…just like Mickey and The Wall, yet they don’t respond accordingly.  Interesting, isn’t it?


In The Event of a Tie, My God Wins

Disclaimer: In the spirit of fairness, you’ll find that I use the phrase “scientific theory” instead of “scientific fact” in the following section.  The Godless Bastard knows very little about science.  He accepts evolution as fact, but takes it completely on faith.  If nothing else, The Godless Bastard is fair!

One cannot prove the existence of any god by disproving (or even discrediting) scientific theories that explain any part of the world around us.  Christian apologists seem to be blind to this rather obvious truth.  And even if one could absolutely, irrefutably disprove a scientific theory, it does not provide a foundation, by default, for any divine explanation.  That is to say, one has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

Just for clarification, when I use the phrase “by default” in this context, I mean “to claim proof of the existence of any god by disproving or discrediting other explanations.”  It’s as silly an argument (and holds about as much water) as saying, “It is proven concretely that Mr. X must have killed Mr. Y because there’s no concrete proof that anyone else committed this crime.”  In other words, even if Christian apologists could absolutely and irrefutably disprove evolution, it would give absolutely no weight to the theory that we were created by a supreme being.  Even if every other possible purely scientific, non-divine explanation could be disproved, it still would not give credence to a god-caused “catch-all” explanation by default.  In this case, all it would mean is that we just haven’t found the correct explanation yet.

And there’s another metaphysical problem that apologists face in their attempt to disprove evolution.  If we were to accept the lack of scientific evidence (as they claim) as proof of a god’s existence, then we must certainly regard each and every subsequent relevant scientific discovery as an argument against the existence of god, such as each new Precambrian fossil that we find.

But let’s face it.  For theists and atheists alike with an expert knowledge of science, debating evolution versus creationism is like a game of Tic-Tac-Toe; anyone with half a brain can’t lose the game…or win it either.  In all fairness, each argument (on either side) has a technically plausible foundation if you’re willing to accept the necessary premise.  Of course, this applies to many things in life.  For example, E.T. is a wonderful movie and is not viewed as silly or ridiculous if you accept its premise.  Technically, anything is possible.  Technically, there could be a god who created the universe in a mere six days.  And, technically, pigs might be able to fly.  Maybe they only do it when we’re not watching, or maybe they just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.  Anyway, the questions apologists ask (and the answers they provide) to disprove anything that threatens the existence of their god are of little interest to me.  What I’m far more amused by is their motivation.  Clearly, it’s insecurity and lack of true faith.

 

Out of Concrete: Build Your God With Straw

I can’t believe Christian apologists are still using that tired old “design/designer” argument.  Did that replace the worn out “first cause” argument?  My response is the same:  If everything with a design requires a designer, then who or what designed the designer?  If everything must have a cause, then there can be no uncaused thing.  So, who or what caused god?  And if you argue that god always existed, then I’ll argue that the universe has always existed (in one transient form or another).  The first cause and design/designer arguments simply don’t hold up to their own scrutiny.  They both require one and only one exception to explain how god is above the logic of the argument.  How convenient.

But for the sake of the argument, let’s go along with it for awhile.

There are many different brands of acoustic guitars as well as many different makers of acoustic guitars.  The two numbers are not equal because some makers manufacture more than one brand.  Many of these makers are well-known, and others aren’t.  (There are plenty of private “mom and pop” type guitar shops around the world that even the most savvy guitar enthusiast has never heard of.)  Regardless, there are many different acoustic guitar makers.  Therefore, if you see an acoustic guitar, somewhere out there is (or was) its maker.  Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe you haven’t.

Let’s say you come across and unmarked acoustic guitar made from lignum vitae, a rare tropical hardwood.  The guitar has no label or other identifying brand marker.  Just because you can prove positively that Gibson has never made an acoustic guitar out of lignum vitae (they haven’t) doesn’t mean that the guitar must have been built by Ovation, for example, just because someone told you (or you read) that Ovation does (or did) make guitars out of lignum vitae.  Disproving one doesn’t prove another, just by default.  And even if you verified that every known guitar maker on the planet has never manufactured an acoustic guitar out of lignum vitae, you could neither logically nor fairly conclude that god created this unmarked guitar.  The only fair and reasonable conclusion is that you just haven’t found its maker yet.

Similarly, even if Christians could successfully disprove evolution, creationism would not stand as the true and correct explanation for how we got here just because it “makes sense” to some and certainly not because it “says so” in the bible.  Furthermore, if you buy into the notion of an omniscient and omnipotent being (through which anything and everything is possible), the Hindu creation story makes sense, too.  Technically, any creation story “makes sense” if you accept the premise of the bible that proclaims it.

But here’s the thing, and there’s no getting around it.  Neither you nor I (like the unknown guitar in the previous example) have any label or marker that absolutely, positively identifies who the maker is.  Cars have Vehicle Identification Numbers; we don’t.  You and I are just like a guitar made by some guy in his basement in Dearborn, Michigan who never branded his creations with a label.  And any silly rationalization that one might conjure up to prove that we are in fact “labeled” could easily be applied to any god, like the Hindu creator god, Brahma.  Hey, perhaps we were all created in his image.

The Gita (Hindu bible) has a creation story, just like that of the Judeo-Christian god.  If we were indeed created by a god, either creation story could be the correct one.  Maybe they’re both false accounts and perhaps the Buddhist creation story is the correct one.  There are many religions with many gods, and each has its own creation story.  Disproving one or more of them DOES NOT prove another just by default.

If you truly believe that we were created by a supreme being (rather than evolved through and by a process), in the absence of absolute, irrefutable, concrete proof as to how we got here, the only fair and reasonable conclusion is that you just haven’t found our “maker” yet.

Fact: Christians have not one shred of concrete proof of the existence of their god.

All Christians have is the intangible word of their bible, and while it claims to explain how we got here, guess what?  Other bibles of other gods have their own explanations too!  Well, if the Gita isn’t proof of the existence of the Hindu gods, for example, then the Old Testament isn’t proof of the Judeo-Christian god’s existence either.

But despite this obvious fact, Christians love to proclaim their god’s existence by default.  See this mentality for exactly what it is.  It is borne out of insecurity, lack of true faith, and pure cowardice, and is the fundamental reason why the field of Christian Apologetics exists.  These faithless people fear anything that threatens their intellect and all that they perceive as biblical truth, so they live and fight to prove that which can’t be proven.

Got faith anyone?  Apparently not.


Manufacturing Allies

Christian apologists are so profoundly insecure when it comes to their earthy intellect (i.e., that is doesn’t jive with what their religion requires them to accept) that they resort to intentionally deceptive misquoting tactics to create the illusion that universally-acknowledged brilliant people share their beliefs.
When we think of universally-acknowledged brilliant people we think of Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawkins, just to name a few.  It’s well documented that Einstein and Sagan were atheists, and that Hawking is an agnostic.

Einstein once commented that “God does not play dice [with the universe].”  Christians abuse this quote to create the illusion that Albert (who was a Jew by birth) believed in their god.  However, (mis)used in this manner it’s WAY out of context.  It refers to Einstein’s refusal to accept the uncertainties indicated by quantum theory.  It gives no more credence to Einstein’s belief in a personal god than it does to my belief in the divinity of feces when I say “holy shit.”  It’s an expression, jackass.

The compelling factor, however, is that Christians cling to the quote—regardless of Einstein’s beliefs.  Faith in what they believe to be a universal truth does NOT need Einstein for validation—yet they manufacture that validation anyway.  That, my friends, is NOT faith; it’s insecurity.  They resort to this lame tactic because of their latent/subconscious fear of looking stupid (by believing in such nonsense).  Obviously, having numbers on your side helps to quell those fears, but having ol’ Ein-y on your side makes for a warm, cozy blanket under which to sleep.

Anyway, here (below) is your proof that Einstein did not believe in a personal god.  Even though he’s long dead, panicky Christians abused his words during his lifetime.  He addressed the issue back then.


From “Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A Symposium” published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941.  Einstein said:

The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted [emphasis his], in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot.

But I am convinced that such behavior on the part of representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task…

The following is from a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954.  It is included in “Albert Einstein: The Human Side”, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, and published by Princeton University Press:

I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.

And here’s the clincher, from the same book:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Conversation closed.

 

A universal truth (and the faith that one has in that truth) doesn’t need numbers, or Einstein, for validation.  I have faith that my parents love me, and I couldn’t care less who does or doesn’t believe me…even if those who didn’t had Einstein’s IQ.  The thing is, if I’m wrong and my parent never really loved me, my intellect is still secure.  That is to say, my (mis)belief of my parent’s love doesn’t make me intellectually inferior or a fool.  My parent’s never loved me?  Big deal.  When’s dinner?  However, if I spent my entire life praising a god that never really existed, forking over 10% of my income, building houses of worship and wasting hours every day to sing the praises of and pray to, kill in the name of, etc., then I’d appropriately labeled a fool of epic proportions.

 


One Last Thing To Ponder

How often do you see or hear Hindus trying to prove that their creation story is true?  And when was the last time you heard or saw a Hindu proselytize?  To both of these questions, the answer is probably never.  It’s clear to me that Hindus, by and large, are far more secure in their beliefs and unabashedly more faithful than Christians.

Please take some time to visit my favorite apologetics website:

The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM)

If you’re a Christian, enjoy.  If you’re an atheist, non-theist, or agnostic, also enjoy.  There’s something in it for everyone.  Over the years I’ve enjoyed countless hours of entertainment (and hysterical laughter) at their expense, so I’ll happily plug their website and direct a few sinners to their internet doorstep.

“What I got in Sunday school … was simply a firm conviction that the Christian faith was full of palpable absurdities, and the Christian God preposterous … The act of worship, as carried on by Christians, seems to me to be debasing rather than ennobling. It involves groveling before a being who, if he really exists, deserves to be denounced rather than respected.” - H. L. Mencken


fairly used….

 

 

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Posted: 05 April 2006 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”]-

An interesting quote from another review posted on bible.org:


( source )

Finally, regarding 1 John 5:7-8, virtually no modern translation of the Bible includes the “Trinitarian formula,” since scholars for centuries have recognized it as added later. Only a few very late manuscripts have the verses. One wonders why this passage is even discussed in Ehrman’s book. The only reason seems to be to fuel doubts. The passage made its way into our Bibles through political pressure, appearing for the first time in 1522, even though scholars then and now knew that it is not authentic. The early church did not know of this text, yet the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 affirmed explicitly the Trinity! How could they do this without the benefit of a text that didn’t get into the Greek NT for another millennium? Chalcedon’s statement was not written in a vacuum: the early church put into a theological formulation what they saw in the NT.

Someone clarify this, please…  Is this reviewer saying the Trinity concept has long been known to be bogus, yet is somehow still respected, simply because this council of men in AD 451 decided it seemed a good interpretation of murky passages?


_

I think its pretty much impossible to get an answer to that one..(or anything like it)....it very much depends on who you ask!
:?

That’s the ‘beauty’ of ‘appologetics! - crapola!

anyway…here’s a thread on another site you might like to look at…

 

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Posted: 05 April 2006 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I will clarify. The Bible was written by the faithful about the faith. It is believed by the faithful to be inspired by God. The classic understanding of the development of the Gospels. 1. The historical event 2. oral tradition 3. writing of the Gospels 4. selection of the Canon. 

The Trinity is not explicity mentioned in the Bible but has been held by the Church from the beginning. The Church precedes the Bible. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not the basis for Christianity, Christ is the basis for Christianity. Christ words and actions and the words and actions of his followers were recorded. The Church considers these writings inspired by God. One can not interpret these writings anyway they want (as many do on this web site), but must interpret in light of the tradition and teaching of the Church. The Church hold to sacred Scripture and sacred tradition.

Ehrman comes from a tradition that holds that the Bible is the basis of faith. All faith is scriptural. He seems to think that if he shows something that cannot be traced explicitly to the Bible or if he sees a contradiction in the Bible then the faith is wrong. If you are looking to read a document on traditional teaching regarding Scripture it would be Dei Verbum

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Posted: 05 April 2006 05:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“frankr”]
One can not interpret these writings anyway they want (as many do on this web site), but must interpret in light of the tradition and teaching of the Church. The Church hold to sacred Scripture and sacred tradition.

Frankr, does this mean that you and treblinka believe exactly the same thing? If not, how do you explain this difference in personal interpretation?


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Posted: 05 April 2006 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“frankr”]I will clarify. The Bible was written by the faithful about the faith. It is believed by the faithful to be inspired by God. The classic understanding of the development of the Gospels. 1. The historical event 2. oral tradition 3. writing of the Gospels 4. selection of the Canon. 

Was any portion of the Bible, in your (or the Church’s) opinion, a metaphor? Or do you believe that every word is based on literal events? You have scoffed at our literal take on things, so I’m curious.

The Trinity is not explicity mentioned in the Bible but has been held by the Church from the beginning.

Based on what event or revelation? When did God impress the truth of the Trinity upon man?

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Posted: 05 April 2006 06:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Biblically you can interpret the trinity from the words of Christ. he Prays to the father. He says He will send the Paraclete. He talks about the sin against the Holy Spirit. He says to Baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. So the trinity can be implicitly interpreted from the Scriptures but the Scriptures does not use the term trinity nor does it say God is one God and three Persons. This is the doctrine of the Church which is Biblical but traditioinal as well.

Treblinka and I are both Roman Catholics (I am pretty sure he is a Roman Catholic but he might be in a tradtional offshoot like Pius X). We do share the same faith I think. He comes us across as harsh to me. I think he does the Church a disservice with fire and brimstone scare tactics. There is also a holocaust/ jewish conspiracy theory that has nothing to do with Catholicism and which I find strange and offensive. So I would say we fall under the same big tent. We worship the same God, share the same sacraments and believe the same doctrine but we have different understanding of how to explain and share that faith.

The Churchs opinion on metaphor in the Bible is that there are four senses of Scripture.; literal, allegorical, spiritual, allegorical and that the scriptures must be read in the light of those senses. So one is not to read the Song of Song in the same way as one is to read the gospel of Mark. They have to be read in the context in which they were written. Here is what the Church says. This is taken right from the document Dei Verbum:

“Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.

To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to “literary forms.” For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (8)”

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Posted: 05 April 2006 06:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Biblically you can interpret the trinity from the words of Christ. he Prays to the father. He says He will send the Paraclete. He talks about the sin against the Holy Spirit. He says to Baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. So the trinity can be implicitly interpreted from the Scriptures but the Scriptures does not use the term trinity nor does it say God is one God and three Persons. This is the doctrine of the Church which is Biblical but traditioinal as well.

Treblinka and I are both Roman Catholics (I am pretty sure he is a Roman Catholic but he might be in a tradtional offshoot like Pius X). We do share the same faith I think. He comes us across as harsh to me. I think he does the Church a disservice with fire and brimstone scare tactics. There is also a holocaust/ jewish conspiracy theory that has nothing to do with Catholicism and which I find strange and offensive. So I would say we fall under the same big tent. We worship the same God, share the same sacraments and believe the same doctrine but we have different understanding of how to explain and share that faith.

The Churchs opinion on metaphor in the Bible is that there are four senses of Scripture.; literal, allegorical, spiritual, allegorical and that the scriptures must be read in the light of those senses. So one is not to read the Song of Song in the same way as one is to read the gospel of Mark. They have to be read in the context in which they were written. Here is what the Church says. This is taken right from the document Dei Verbum:

“Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.

To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to “literary forms.” For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. “

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