I originally submitted this article on JustOneOpinion. com on May 30, 2009.
I’m republishing it here for the benefit of the readers of my blog.
When l was growing up, I was taught that the Bible was the inspired Word of God; that God put His thoughts into the minds of writers like the faithful prophets and apostles to make it historically inerrant. I was told that it’s God’s book with no mistakes and no contradictions – and that’s what most American Christians still believe today
As it turns out, that’s not what’s taught in mainstream Christian seminaries. Scholars have made significant progress in understanding the Bible over the last 200 years and the results of their studies are regularly and routinely taught to university graduate students and prospective pastors.
In Bart D. Ehrman’s book, Jesus, Interrupted – Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them), the author reports that not only are most Americans ignorant about the contents of the Bible, they are completely in the dark about what scholars have been saying about it for the past two centuries. This is what motivated Ehrman to write this book.
With this bold claim driving me, I decided to check it out. Ehrman’s excellent writing skills make his book easy to read and it’s definitely an eye opener. But still, it gnawed at me as to why this information is not more widely known; it gives credence to Will Rogers’ quote, “It’s not what we don’t know that gives us trouble; it’s what we know that ain’t so.”
So I’ve decided to share with our readers some of what I’ve learned from Ehrman’s book in this and future articles.
The first thing you need to know is that I personally don’t believe this information is a threat to anyone espousing true Christianity; I think it should actually enhance their faith. The Bible makes better sense if readers acknowledge its inconsistencies, instead of staunchly insisting that there absolutely are none within its pages.
All of the books in the Bible are distinct and shouldn’t be read as if they’re all saying the same thing—even when they’re talking about the same subject.
So what are some of the things we think we know about the Bible that ain’t so?
- We don’t know for sure who wrote the four Gospels: Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. These books were originally written anonymously and not by any of the apostles because they were all illiterate and couldn’t read or write.
- The authors of the New Testament actually have differing views about Jesus and how salvation works.
- The New Testament contains books that were forged in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later.
- Established Christian doctrines—such as “the suffering messiah,” “the divinity of Jesus,” and “the Trinity”—were actually the inventions of still later theologians.
- There are other books that did not make it into the Bible that at one time or another were considered canonical— including other Gospels allegedly written by Jesus’ followers, Peter, Thomas, and Mary.
- The account of Creation in Genesis 1 is very different from the account in Genesis 2. Not only is the wording and writing style different (particularly when read in Hebrew), the two chapters actually use different names for God, and the content of the chapters differs greatly.
This is just a small sample of the many interesting, well-researched new facts that I’ve learned about the Bible from reading Ehrman’s book, Jesus, Interrupted. I’ll be sharing more with our readers in the near future.
[Photo credits: Dave Hiebert (feature graphic, Bible verse closeup); Piotr Bizior (Man with book)]