Beliefs Culture

The many sins of Newsweek’s expose on the Bible (COMMENTARY)

RNS photo by Jeff Adkins/USA Today

(RNS) It is a tradition in American journalism as predictable as Easter and Christmas itself: a cover story purporting to reveal the true story behind the Bible we thought we knew. Newsweek — now in its digital-only form — offers the latest entry in this genre with “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” written by Vanity Fair contributing editor Kurt Eichenwald.

The first edition of the King James Bible, a work commissioned in 1604 upon the ascension of James, to replace the influential but divisive Geneva Bible. This extremely rare octavo edition of the New Testament was clearly intended for popular use, perhaps indicating why very few have survived.

The first edition of the King James Bible, a work commissioned in 1604 upon the ascension of James, to replace the influential but divisive Geneva Bible. This extremely rare octavo edition of the New Testament was clearly intended for popular use, perhaps indicating why very few have survived. RNS photo courtesy of The Green Collection

Eichenwald seeks to demonstrate that the Bible is “loaded with contradictions and translation errors and wasn’t written by witnesses and includes words added by unknown scribes to inject Church orthodoxy.” Eichenwald insists his article is not an attack on the Bible or Christianity. Rather, Eichenwald wants to rescue the message of Jesus from “God’s frauds,” those manipulative fundamentalists who don’t read or understand their Bibles but abusively twist it in order to create misery for others.

Even with a generous 8,487 words, Eichenwald reveals he is out of his depth for this subject matter. Though he doggedly advances his predetermined thesis from a mishmash of angles, experts quickly showed online that Eichenwald has not really done his historical homework or read his Bible carefully.

Daniel Wallace, founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, demonstrated Eichenwald’s “numerous factual errors and misleading statements, his lack of concern for any semblance of objectivity, his apparent disdain for and lack of interaction with genuine evangelical scholarship, and his uber-confidence about more than a few suspect viewpoints.”

Michael Kruger, an expert in early Christianity and co-editor of “The Early Text of the New Testament,” lamented Eichenwald’s “jaw-dropping ignorance of the facts about the Bible.” Kruger showed that Eichenwald’s article “is short on the facts, it has little understanding of interpretive principles, it assumes that it knows more about theology than it really does, and it pours out scorn and contempt on the average believer.”

Despite this cool reception, Eichenwald might be surprised to learn that academically informed evangelicals agree with him on a number of issues. Yes, the Bible needs to be read more and to be read better, even among the faithful, and yes, the Bible can be abused and misused. Yes, people in the pew should learn the basics of historical background, interpretive principles, manuscript transmission, the formation of the canon and translation theory. They would also give a hearty “amen” to Eichenwald’s statement that “the history, complexities and actual words of the Bible can’t be ignored just to line it up with what people want to believe, based simply on what friends and family and ministers tell them.”

The problem, they would humbly suggest, is that Eichenwald has not truly taken his own advice to heart. His piece reads like someone trying to describe the landscape of North America after a first-time visit to just one city. The world of biblical scholarship and the people of evangelicalism are far more interesting than the narrow splice of popular liberal scholarship that Eichenwald has reviewed or the Republican politicians he has seen praying on TV.

I had to learn the same lesson myself, though my own spiritual and intellectual journey went in a different direction than the one Eichenwald endorses. I was reared in a mainline Protestant denomination but had little reason to doubt the historicity and veracity of the Bible until I became a religion major at a state university in the Midwest. There, while studying the Bible, comparative religion and philosophy from professors trained at Harvard and the University of Chicago, the cognitive (not to mention spiritual) dissonance between the faith of my youth and the assured results of biblical scholarship became almost unbearable.

But, over time, several things changed. I was involved in a community of people who had been changed by the gospel and were humbled by grace. They loved me, weren’t afraid of my questions and gently challenged my assumptions. And then I discovered something that Eichenwald has apparently not yet learned: There is a robust and thriving world of biblical, theological and historical scholars who have studied and taught at the world’s leading universities and have become even more convinced, not less, about the historical reliability and integrity of the Bible and its faithful transmission to today.

Justin Taylor is a doctoral candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is publisher for books at Crossway. He runs the blog Between Two Worlds, hosted by the Gospel Coalition. With Andreas Kostenberger, he is co-author of "The Final Days of Jesus." You can find him on Twitter at @BetweenTwoWorlds. Photo by Josh Dennis

Justin Taylor is a doctoral candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is publisher for books at Crossway. He runs the blog Between Two Worlds, hosted by the Gospel Coalition. With Andreas Kostenberger, he is co-author of “The Final Days of Jesus.” You can find him on Twitter at @BetweenTwoWorlds. Photo by Josh Dennis

Good reporting on religion does not require one to be religious, nor even to be an expert on the religion. But it does take a healthy dose of humility to admit one’s own ignorance and prejudices, to get outside the walls of one’s own narrow community and to pursue truth wherever it leads.

Newsweek’s piece affords the church the opportunity to clarify what it believes and to learn what it does not yet know. At the same time, the response to this cover story also offers Eichenwald the chance to slow down, step back and discover a world he never knew existed.

If Eichenwald wants to engage his subject matter with the true intellectual curiosity it deserves, he may discover that he has a far more interesting story to report next Christmas.

(Justin Taylor is a doctoral candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is publisher for books at Crossway. He runs the blog Between Two Worlds, hosted by the Gospel Coalition. With Andreas Kostenberger, he is co-author of “The Final Days of Jesus.” You can find him on Twitter at @BetweenTwoWorlds.)

KRE/MG END TAYLOR

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Justin Taylor

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  • Re: “Eichenwald seeks to demonstrate that the Bible is ‘loaded with contradictions and translation errors and wasn’t written by witnesses and includes words added by unknown scribes to inject Church orthodoxy.'”

    I’m trying to figure out how and why the insolent Eichenwald was wrong about any of these points. The Bible IS, in fact, “loaded with contradictions” (see e.g. http://bibviz.com/). There ARE some problems with translations, e.g. in how αρσενοκοίτης is translated (see http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Arsenokoites). Nearly everyone who’s studied the matter agrees the canonical gospels were written no earlier than the early 70s CE (i.e. Mark) making it impossible for them to have been written by anyone who actually knew Jesus (see e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Who-Wrote-New-Testament-Christian/dp/0060655186).

    There also HAVE BEEN alterations of the Bible texts, particularly insertions or interpolations, e.g. the Pericope Adulterae (see e.g. http://www.answers.com/topic/jesus-and-the-woman-taken-in-adultery), and 1 Jn 5:7 & 1 Tim 3:16 (see e.g. http://www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/view/texts/normalized/THEM00262).

    So … precisely what has Eichenwald done here, other than to state the facts, or at the very least, the scholarly consensus? Why the sanctimonious outrage over his article? Has Eichenwald said anything so horrible that Mr Taylor finds it necessary to insult Eichenwald (e.g. by calling him “ignorant”)?

    Sorry but I don’t see anything wrong with this. At all. So Mr Taylor is upset that Eichenwald penned his piece, and Newsweek published it? So what!? Too bad so sad for him. Much better, and more mature of him, to find some way to live with it, rather than lash out against it and call its author names.

    Re: “But it does take a healthy dose of humility to admit one’s own ignorance and prejudices, to get outside the walls of one’s own narrow community and to pursue truth wherever it leads.”

    … says the guy who’s a doctoral student at SBTS and, therefore, has a VERY profound, fundamentalist Christian agenda of his own … yet who doesn’t, in the course of his diatribe, openly disclose his own personal and denominational biases. Oh no. He just rails and fumes about someone else’s, without actually having the first clue what they are. Mr Taylor may be interested to know this is precisely the sort of hypocrisy his own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously forbid in his followers (see http://www.earlychristianhistory.net/extras/hypocrisy.html for an explanation).

    Look, I get that fundamentalist Christians don’t like it when they perceive people to be “dissing” their precious Bible. But that doesn’t mean those whom they consider “Bible haters” have no reason for their critiques. The things Eichenwald wrote about are NOT hallucinations, fabrications, or illusions. They ARE very real problems which cannot be waved away, as Biblical literalists especially love to do.

    The solution to dealing with problems in Christian scripture … which DO exist regardless of whether or not anyone would like them to … is not to caterwaul and fume every time someone mentions them publicly. Rather, the solution is to buckle down, look at the critiques genuinely and seriously (rather than angrily waving them off), accept that there is reality to them, and move on from there.

  • Bible says man shall perish because of their lack of knowledge so it’s true
    the Bible needs to be read so people don’t get fooled/deceived! The Grace
    allows us to Repent not continue in sin. Big difference! We must Repent!
    Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:10 all drunkards go to hell and yet people get
    drunk because they don’t know that it’s wrong cause so many only want to
    talk about gay marriage or abortion so they don’t have to face their own sin.
    Gambling,being mean/sharp tongues,coveting/greed,gossip,jealousy,pride,
    takin the Lords name in vain,premarital sex/sleepin around need confronted!
    1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole chapters both need to be preached/taught!
    All sin is wrong and all of the sins need to be talked about not just abortion
    or gay marriage. Luke 13 says we all must Repent/bear good fruit which is
    the fruit of Repentance not good works cause non-believers do good works.

    People have premarital sex then get married thinking that they covered it up
    but they never Repent/agree that sleepin around/premarital sex is wrong!

    Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk with wine for it’s debauchery so all of
    the people who get drunk with wine are also wrong and plus the Bible says
    don’t get drunk with strong wine also the wine that Jesus made was diluted
    and was made for the symbolic reasons not so people could still get drunk.
    John 2:10 says the cheaper wine was brought out last so the best for last
    refers to the watered down/poorer/diluted wine. All the drunkards go to hell.
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved! We must Repent!

  • Psicop, I agree with your assessment. However if Christians did actually look at the critiques genuinely they would, if they were honest to thnselves, realize that the Bible is not the truth they hold it to be. This would completely shatter the delusion of Christianity and they would be forced to admit that all they believed is a lie. Not many Christians want to see the man behind the curtain, they are more comfortable with living the lie in which they are immersed. not many want to admit that they can live a good life and be a good person without believing in a god.

  • Earold D.Gunter-There are none good..not even one!Read Romans 1:18-32.
    God/Jesus are real. Look at all of creation/the design. That’s not just random!
    Bible is true. Read Psalm 14:1 as well. God/Jesus are very real! God bless.

  • I’ve heard that people who write run-on sentences and wilfully refuse to use punctuation of any sort go to hell, too, but maybe that’s actually in the Apocrypha.

  • “the scholarly consensus”
    “nearly everyone who’s studied the matter agrees”

    The point of this article–and the two (among many) articles rebutting the piece in question–is that those statements are false. It’s not that some people have the opinion that they are right, and others that they are wrong, and who can say; it’s that what you are repeating here is falsehood / propaganda–and you are so far down the rabbit whole of your own convinced agenda that you probably didn’t even take the time to consider Wallace’s or Kruger’s detailed rebuttals (again, those are different from what’s offered here).

    It’s not the author of this piece’s fault if you reply to it as if nobody has “look[ed] at the critiques genuinely and seriously.” It’s literally fantastic and either ignorant or deceptive that you could make a statement like that as if such writing doesn’t exist. This reply reveals more about your own lack of reading than the issue actually at hand here.

  • It probably seems that way to one who is evidently unacquainted with the meaning of words like evangelical, scholarship, and oxymoron.

  • The real question is how fact-free people like the author in question continue being employed as journalists. It would seem that one’s reputation as a journalist rises or falls with getting basic facts in a story correct.

    I guess political correctness trumps professional competence when it comes to journalism.

  • PsiCop, I actually laughed while reading your comment. That has to be the most shrill, hyperbolic, overstated screed I think I’ve ever read! Man! You may need to go take a walk or somesuch. Ha!!

    But let me just point out one little thing: at the end, the article notes that Justin Taylor is a student at Southern Seminary. I’m confused how you think he is trying to hide that fact when it is posted in the description of who he is. If you were writing a piece and knew that your biography would be attached, would you feel the need to be repetitive and put it in the article itself? Just one of many examples of your overboard approach. Your arguments would probably be strengthened by your not completely losing it in the course of trying to state them!

  • Of course you can be a “good” person without believing in a god. I have no doubts that there are many atheists who are in many ways more moral than many Christians.

    But if you really want to turn the magnifying glass on your own beliefs, the way you say many Christians fail to turn it on their own paradigm, then you really need to think about why being a good or moral person is important or has any meaning at all?

    After all, if naturalism is the proper way of looking at the universe, and all we are (according to famous atheist Bertrand Russell) are co-locations of atoms, then what is the point of being good? Pragmatism? To get what you want from people? But that isn’t really being good for the sake of being good, that is selfish and convenient good. Not to mention that any definition of “good” is purely subjective in such a worldview, so that your idea of “good” will always be at odds with someone else’s definition, and neither of you will be convinced that the other’s idea of “good” is truly good.

    So, yes…you can be “good”…whatever that means to you at this moment in time. Believing in a god doesn’t make you good. Christianity is not about behavior modification. It’s about grace, forgiveness, redemption and transformation. And that, my friend, is Good news.

  • “Your arguments would probably be strengthened by your not completely losing it in the course of trying to state them!”

    I think PsiCops argument could have been better presented had he/she not linked to such scholarly websites as ‘wiki’ and ‘answers.com’. Answers.com. Honest to God.

  • Psicop, your statement that “nearly everyone who’s studied the matter agrees the canonical gospels were written no earlier than the early 70s CE (i.e. Mark)” is flatly wrong.

    Scholars have been debating and often revising their views on the subject for the better part of a century. In fact, the trend over time has been toward earlier and earlier dating of the Gospels. Plenty of scholars date at least three of the four gospels before 70. It is even possible that John’s Gospel was written before 70, since the writer includes phenomenally accurate and detailed depictions of the cities and towns of pre-70 (and pre-66) Judea and Galilee, including pools, porticos, and other structures that were devastated following the extensive Roman destruction of both provinces.

    The post-70 dating is partly due to an anti-supernaturalist bias on the part of some scholars: Since Jesus appears to predict the destruction of the Second Temple, which occurred in 70, they conclude that the gospels in question must have been written after that year. To smuggle in one’s private beliefs about whether foretelling the future is or isn’t possible is exactly what objective scholars should not be doing.

    An example of a more objective way of dating the texts is as follows:

    (1) Reading their respective prefaces — ie cover letters to an official named Theophilus — it is clear that the Book of Acts and Luke were written by the same person and that the Book of Acts was written after Luke.

    (2) The overwhelmingly dominant figure in the Book of Acts is Paul.

    (3) Paul was beheaded during Nero’s persecutions of the mid-60s.

    (4) Paul is very much alive and well at the close of the Book of Acts. He is just getting started.

    (5) Thus, it is probable that the Book of Acts was written prior to Paul’s death.

    (6) If so, the Book of Acts was written prior to the mid-60s.

    (7) Since Luke was written before Acts, it follows that Luke was also written prior to the mid-60s.

    (8) Since Mark, being the oldest canonical gospel, was written before Luke, it follows that it, too, was written prior to the mid-60s.

    No formulation is perfect, but this a far better one than forcing Luke into a post-70 position because one has a bias against a single prophetic sentence.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if Eichenwald responded by wearing legitimate criticisms as a “badge of honor” and preening before the camera as a daring fellow rather than a careless writer allergic to basic accuracy.

    The next step would be the Huffington Post’s lionizing him as a paragon of bravery, a courageous fellow who dared to touch the third rail of American religion.

    But the step we won’t likely ever see is a mainstream publication calling him out simply for getting his facts wrong and making journalism look bad yet again.

  • That’s clever, no really it is. You realize, of course, that it takes all of one Google search for us to find representative Atheological scholars, both popular and academic that freely admit to atheological morality ethics to run straight to moral illusionism, relativism, or nihilism. Rosenberg is a moral nihilist. As I recall, Sinnot -Armstrong admits to having no non arbitrary epistemological warrant for his morality, so he runs directly into radical moral skepticism. I’d peg him as an illusionist. Dawkins and Avalos both admit to moral relativism. With systems like that in play, you may want to ask yourself on what basis you can consider our Christian delusion objectionable at all. One man’s delusion is no matter than another. All you have is your persona preference. With ethics like that, then you have no basis to castigate anybody else.

  • Really? You know, I’m in the PCA at present. The lead teaching elder at my church holds his graduate degree from Princeton Seminary. Now, either he, as an Evangelical is a flunky (with a BA in Physics from Wake Forest University too), or he holds a scholarly degree.

    By the way, you’ll not find much greater a theological mind than men like Jonathan Edwards, BB Warfield, and Geerhardus Vos. If you don’t think Evangelicals can be scholars, you’ve not bothered to read these men.

    Then we have the students in New Testament Intro at SEBTS in the M.Div program who, under Maurice Robinson, if he’s not changed his class much since my own days there, turn in weekly summaries from the readings for the week drawn from a careful examination of the footnotes in Guthrie’s tome. We had to submit ten summaries of those footnotes a week by going to the library and researching them ourselves.

    Let us also not forget that Liberal Scholarship has the shelf-life of a mayfly. Reading liberal theology books (which we were doing at Wingate University of all places in *undergrad* in Theology and Theologians was like taking a tour of a museum of Women’s Fashion. It rises and falls in style like the seasons and decades.

    While I’m there, let’s also note that all you have to do is thumb through a liberal commentary to learn that Liberal scholars tend to interact with each other but not their Evangelical counterparts. The result is a stunning inability to say anything that hasn’t been thoroughly addressed by the other side. Evangelicals, by way of contrast, interact with each other and Liberals alike. Evangelicals tend to be *better* scholars in the arenas of of theology and biblical criticism than Liberals more often than not.

  • Apparently Eichenwald is to biblical analysis and criticism what a baboon hurling a paint bucket into the air is to an artist producing a work of beauty and elegance.

  • Speaking of PCA, I’ll bet “tully monster” has never heard of Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan.

  • That is an outright lie. But fairly common religious folks criticizing atheists to make stuff up, make phony appeals to authority and use fallacious arguments in order to discredit a perceived opponent.

    Atheism is simply the lack of belief in God(s). I think you mistake atheism for a religious sect with set notions of beliefs and theology. The closest thing to one is the notion of Humanism. Something that is the very opposite of nihlism, moral relativism or moral illusion. Although those labels frequently describe religious (especially Christian) notions of morality. Pretty much any act no matter how atrocious can be excused if one is doing it on the Lord’s behalf.

  • Hmm, that’s funny, Earold, but there are literally millions of college-educated people in this country who investigated the actual evidence for the Bible and Christianity and found it compelling enough to make a commitment to Christ.

    Skeptics talk a good game, but once we strip the layers of rhetoric away, all that’s left are demands that we arbitrarily change the normal rules of evidence for textual veracity when it comes to the Bible. If we go by the rules and the rules point to the Bible being true, we’re essentially told to change the rules and raise the bar.

  • So why can’t god just produce a modern text?

    Seriously. And no, the old one clearly ain’t doin the job well now.

  • Why insult the guy? Says a lot about you. If you can’t politely rebut what he says, just don’t say anything.

  • Karla, sweetie, I love your passion and enthusiasm for the Scriptures, but really, you sound a little “one-note”, and frankly, you’re not helping the evangelistic narrative. Try to focus your thoughts a little more, O.K?

  • Actually no.

    There are millions of college educated people who investigate rehashed, assumed evidence and don’t bother to go much further. Religious belief does not demand intellectual support, so they seek the slimmest possible pretense. They tend to make weak arguments, use spurious arguments and rhetorical chicanery to support their religious belief. Pretending that their Christian belief has some rational basis, when in reality it is just a gloss for blind faith and unquestioned authority.

    Actual people who investigate the evidence are few and far between. They tend to draw the ire of those who want their Christian belief and scripture simple, unambiguous, and just like what they were taught in for ages.

    “If we go by the rules and the rules point to the Bible being true, we’re essentially told to change the rules and raise the bar.”

    The “rules” written by people who want to support being ruled by the Bible. So if one expects others to play by such a fixed game, get used to telling you to change them and raise the bar.

  • Natural selection is not random. Nature can be defined as all that exists and all that occurs naturally. It doesn’t need a human-like persona to design and build it. We experience how nature produces and reproduces itself, yet theists pretend that nature is smaller and less capable than it is in order to make room for a god.

  • Alan-Explain how we got here. Read Romans 1:18-32 and also you
    should read Psalm 14:1. God/Jesus are very,very real. God bless.

  • Chris
    Bertrand Russell had strong moral views, and went to prison for them. How can you give him as an example of a non-moral person? It is true that he made errors when writing about religion, but that is mistakes, not wickedness.
    What has happened to Christianity? When I was young one thing the Catholics and Protestants agreed on it is that the Church should be an advocate for the poor. Now they are advocates for Wall Street.

  • @Perry

    “Wake Forest University is a friggin joke. And a BA from it, not a real science degree? Get serious.”

    How is Wake Forest a joke? Local/regional reputation is it’s one of the best universities in North Carolina. Not too far behind UNC and Duke. In some departments on equal footing if not superior.

    Wake Forest allows an undergraduate to choose between a BA and BS in physics. They’re not entirely different. Certainly not the foundational coursework. Just see here.

    Your comment comes off ignorant as well as potentially elitist.

  • A BA in an unrelated field is hardly an expert opinion on a given subject. Not unlike engineers who feel the compulsive need to pretend they are experts in biology which is so common in fundamentalist circles.

    A doctoral student at a Christian evangelical seminary is hardly going to be an objective voice in criticism and analysis of the Bible. Religious belief and a school designed for reinforcing a particularly narrow sectarian one are going to be biased by nature. A seminary is not a school for objective historical research on the Bible. It is a training ground for clergy of a given sect.

  • Larry wrote, “Not unlike engineers who feel the compulsive need to pretend they are experts in biology which is so common in fundamentalist circles.”

    Would that also include evolutionist Bill Nye, Larry? You know, the big-name evolutionist whose degree (a bachelor’s degree) is in **mechanical engineering** and NOT in biology?

    Did you have Nye in mind when you wrote that sentence?

  • Chris-Grace allows us to Repent so we need to be a bit more clear
    on that part because many people claim to be a Christian and yet
    their life/lifestyle hasn’t changed one bit. Bible says that drunkards
    go to hell so if someone claims to be a Christian then is still getting
    drunk they need to Repent/stop getting drunk. Bible says there are
    none good…not even one! That’s why we must Repent/accept Jesus
    cause only God/Jesus are good so we need Repent/accept Him so
    we can be set free. Only one guy next to Jesus on the Cross went
    to heaven because only one guy Repented. We all must Repent!
    Jesus said you are one of Mine only if you continue in My teachings
    and follow Me! If people say they love Jesus and then they don’t
    follow the Bible/religion no Truth is in them! We must do our part
    cause the Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved!
    Luke 13 says we must bear good fruit/Repent! 1 Corinthians 5 and 6
    the whole chapters need to be taught/preached! We all must Repent!
    Luke 13 says Repent or perish so we need to preach all of the Bible!

  • The problem is not “hallucinations, fabrications, or illusions”, Psi. Nope.

    The problem is that Eichenwald appears unaware, as in TOTALLY unaware, TOTALLY uninformed, TOTALLY never-visited-the-local-library, of the fact that Christian scholars have already responded, repeatedly, to the issues he has brought up.

    Justin Taylor is correct: “…experts quickly showed online that Eichenwald has not really done his historical homework or read his Bible carefully.” The hapless (and lazy) Eichenwald has been sliced and diced like those old potatoes in those old Veg-O-Matic commercials.

    Sorry folks, but Eichenwald’s article is a federal disaster area. On steroids.

    “Kurt Eichenwald probably has little to lose among his friends at Vanity Fair, but this article is nothing less than an embarrassment.” – Albertmohler.com

    Oh well. Next contestant please!

  • Unfortunately Jenny, Jack’s analogy is accurate, even if you find it insulting.

    (Umm, the analogy isn’t calling Eichenwald a “baboon”, it’s about comparing what sort of artwork you’ll get from two respective sources, a wild animal throwing paint buckets around versus a polished master like Da Vinci or Michaelangelo.)

    There are professional, published, PhD-level scholars out there who are skeptics, but who at least know what the heck they’re doing and how to do it. Drs. Crossan, Borg, etc.

    But on the opposite end, there’s Kurt Eichenwald and his 8,487-word Train-Wreck. Completely laughable.

    In fact, Newsweek should have dumped Eichenwald immediately and let the hypothetical baboon write the article instead !!

  • JESUS – I CAME TO BURN UP THE WORLD AND DESTROY IT

    “I have come to bring FIRE…WHAT CONSTRAINTS I suffer!
    I am impatient to bring NOT PEACE BUT DIVISION.” – JESUS
    (Luke 12:49-51)

    That is one of the few true statements this Jesus Jerk ever said.

    There is no need to take the Bible seriously. No price to pay for tossing it in the trash.
    The whole thing is hogwash.

  • No way can you seriously put Lost in the Forest U on par with UNC, or Duke for that matter. There was a USnews thin study that they keep citing but it wasn’t serious or critical and admission bar is not even a bump. They don’t get even into the top 500 in more serious looks. Just check them out at http://www.4icu.org

  • Justin spends a whole blog post saying he doesn’t like the article, yet doesn’t even try to refute any of the Newsweek article’s points.

    Thanks PsiCop, for bringing some evidence to the discussion, and setting Justin straight.

    It seems that Justin’s only accurate complaint about the Newsweek article is that he personally doesn’t want to hear it. That’s OK Justin, just don’t read it. You can also avoid facing other aspects of reality too, such as global warming and evolution, just like so many other evangelicals who don’t want to face the facts of the Newsweek article.

    It looks like Justin’s blog post is simply another example of evangelical Christianity causing people to deny reality to the detriment of us all.

  • Jesus told the woman that was caught in adultery to go and sin no more!
    He told her to change the/her behavior so we must Repent/change and
    bear good fruit. Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one
    guy went to heaven because only one guy Repented. We must Repent!

  • Actually, Larry, millions have gone all the way on evidence, which partly explains why, on these boards and others like them, reasonable informed Christians do exceptionally well against skeptics of every kind.

    It’s not that we’ve all gone to Ivy schools or have some unique or native intellectual advantage. I’ve seen Christians from every walk of life do well in discussions about the veracity of the Good News. The problem, Larry, is that no rhetorical dances, clever obfuscations, or attempts at pretending to know what you don’t know will work. Anyone who has truly done their homework on this topic (ie by reading all sides) can see right through the pretense of those who haven’t. And again, mountains of rhetoric can’t cover for intellectual sloth and resultant ignorance.

    Put another way, the arrogant overconfidence of many skeptics produces intellectual laziness, leading to lack of preparedness, resultant ignorance, and getting one’s head handed to them in debate and discussion.

    Happy New Year, Larry.

  • Jesus told the woman that was caught in adultery to go an sin no more!
    He told her to change the/her behavior so we must Repent/change and
    bear good fruit like Luke 13 says. 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 are very clear
    that people who still pracitce sin will not inherit the kingdom of heaven!
    1 Corinthians 6:9-12 lists specific sins so we all must/need to Repent!
    Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy went to
    heaven because only one of the guys Repented. We all must Repent!

  • As to rules of evidence, nice bluff, Larry, but any historian or judge knows that these rules were not “written” specifically for the Bible. Rather, the rules exist for application to any document or witness. All we are doing here is applying those rules to the Bible, and rejecting the view that we’re supposed to change the rules when it comes to the Bible. Changing rules when you’re losing an argument will not do, but this is essentially what skeptics are demanding that scholars do.

  • The Bible is made up of accounts, eyewitness and other-wise, of people who have had encounters with God. I have encountered God and He is ultimate reality. Those of us who know Him use the Bible to encourage us, make us more like Him, and help us to please Him, which things we do, by the way, out of an undying love for Him. He alone is the center, the destination if you will. The Bible points us in His direction.

  • To those who are calling Justin to task for not bothering with a point-by-point refutation of Eichenwald’s arguments: Justin linked to two excellent articles, by Messrs. Kruger and Wallace, that point out Eichenwald’s many and serious errors. Maybe you could read those.

    Kruger:
    http://michaeljkruger.com/a-christmas-present-from-the-mainstream-media-newsweek-takes-a-desperate-swipe-at-the-integrity-of-the-bible-part-1/
    http://michaeljkruger.com/a-christmas-gift-from-the-mainstream-media-newsweek-takes-a-desperate-swipe-at-the-integrity-of-the-bible-part-2/

    Wallace:
    http://danielbwallace.com/2014/12/28/predictable-christmas-fare-newsweeks-tirade-against-the-bible/

    And an old (2003), but still reliable, article that accurately describes the prejudices from which article’s like Eichenwald’s come:
    http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-03-023-f

    Happy reading. Cheers.

  • Doc, if you want a good laugh, read some of the comments on the Newsweek site following the Eichenwald disaster, especially from academically credentialed posters.

    Eichenwald is a case study of how arrogance produces ignorance, leading to national embarrassment.

    Every apologetics class in the nation should make the Eichenwald piece mandatory reading for dissection.

  • LOL….How many names does one poster need?

    Currently, the poster has a fondness for female names, but that may change after this post.

  • Jesus did no such thing. We’ve known for a long time that the story of the adulterous woman was added to bibles in nearly 500 years after Jesus lived. But, as is usually the case, stuff like that is kept from the sheeple in the congregations, even when it is well known to the ministers.

    You’ve been misled. We don’t know what the original texts said, and we know the bibles have been changed over time. Changes in the first 100 to 200 years could mean that the original texts were quite different – and we don’t even have any copies of much of most bibles until after that time. Don’t take my word for it – look into it yourself.

  • Jon-You are the one that is misled. I have done my research. Many today
    are trying to get people to doubt God just like the devil did with Eve in the
    Garden of Eden. God/Jesus are real! The Bible is Truth/the Word of God!

  • Jack,

    Circus?

    “Said the Lord, ‘I will bring evil…I will take your wives and give them to your neighbor who shall rape your wives in broad daylight….with the sun looking down.’ ” (2 Samuel 12:11)

    You call this a circus?

    How any woman can believe in (or love) this nightmarish rapist god is beyond all rational conversation.

    The topic is ‘Exposing The Bible’ – not circuses!

  • “I will take your wives…and give them to your NEIGHBOR who shall RAPE them in broad daylight.” – YAHWEH (2 Samuel 12:11)

    “Love thy neighbor” (Mark 12:30) BUT NOT IF they are “my enemies” for they “must be executed”– Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    Love thy neighbor? For what? For following God’s Rape commands?
    We need to respect ourselves more than this.

    The Bible is a woman-hating, gay-hating, inhuman, barbaric book of nonsense.

    Shame on those who teach this to children.

  • Obviously doing a little scholarly research to discover the truth is a waste of time. It is might better to remain in the dark and hide from the light. When someone has a scholarly opinion is it best to called him a name and dismiss him.

  • The “story of the adulterous woman wasn’t added 500 years after the fact. It have been discovered in early manuscripts. It’s veracity has been debated by scholars with no consensus. Whether it is or not suppose to be in the Bible is irrelevant. It doesn’t change the message or show scribes rewrote the Bible. This is a fallacious argument.

  • ^ Explain how we got here?
    How incredibly delusional.
    NEWSFLASH: NOBODY CAN EXPLAIN HOW WE GOT HERE
    The bible is not a history book. Get over yourself.

  • Chris-Yes we can explain how we got here. Read Romans 1:18-32.
    Evolution is impossible. People know that God is real and that’s why
    they fight Him so hard. Many today harden their heart and get full of
    pride. Lucifer/the devil got full of pride then got kicked out of heaven.
    Read Psalm 14:1. God/Jesus are real/the Bible is the Word of God.

  • Jack,

    You put the spotlight on me while I try to focus it on the horrible words of the Bible.

    What a horror and a nightmare is Jesus.

    “Hate your life” – JESUS
    “I shall make your neighbor RAPE your wives – to punish you” – Yahweh

    How much longer must Christians mindlessly promote this pain and suffering and death? What is it gonna take to wake up the people who really wonder about the truth of this nonsense ?

  • Re: “It’s literally fantastic and either ignorant or deceptive that you could make a statement like that as if such writing doesn’t exist.”

    So, you feel it necessary to call me names too, then, eh? You just demonstrated that you cannot and will not refute anything yourself … just call other people names. How mature of you! Well done!

  • Re: “PsiCop, I actually laughed while reading your comment. That has to be the most shrill, hyperbolic, overstated screed I think I’ve ever read! Man! You may need to go take a walk or somesuch. Ha!!”

    It’s just so horrible having to put up with insolent non-believer types, isn’t it? Oh you poor little thing. Oh how wonderful it must be to be so immensely superior!

    Re: “But let me just point out one little thing: at the end, the article notes that Justin Taylor is a student at Southern Seminary. I’m confused how you think he is trying to hide that fact when it is posted in the description of who he is.”

    Yes, this was noted at the end of the article, but Taylor himself did not bring it up and did not concede he had an agenda of his own. He hypocritically complained that some insolent Bible critic had an agenda. He did not, HIMSELF, own up to his own agenda. He left it up to the reader to figure out he had one.

    Re: “Your arguments would probably be strengthened by your not completely losing it in the course of trying to state them!”

    I love it when you Bible-thumping types are so full of yourselves that you can’t recognize amused hyperbole when you read it. Instead you accuse me of having “lost it,” as though I’m insane or something. Well, I’m not insane, and I’m not even angry or upset. I just know you all for what you are, and am willing to say so.

    As for my knowledge of the Bible, I can read the New Testament in its original Greek and can even quote parts of it from memory in that language. So if you want to accuse me of ignorance, you’ll have to go find someone else to whine about.

  • Re: “I think PsiCops argument could have been better presented had he/she not linked to such scholarly websites as ‘wiki’ and ‘answers.com’. Answers.com. Honest to God.”

    Not to mention the books by people like Burton Mack too (you know, an ordained minister and now retired professor of the New Testament). Not that you would concede that either … but I’m going to point it out to you nonetheless.

  • Re: “The post-70 dating is partly due to an anti-supernaturalist bias on the part of some scholars: Since Jesus appears to predict the destruction of the Second Temple, which occurred in 70, they conclude that the gospels in question must have been written after that year.”

    If that were the sole reason for dating Mark that way, you might have a point. But it’s not. There are other reasons as well.

    Re: “Reading their respective prefaces — ie cover letters to an official named Theophilus — it is clear that the Book of Acts and Luke were written by the same person and that the Book of Acts was written after Luke.”

    There’s linguistic style evidence which also suggests Luke and Acts had the same author, but that in itself doesn’t date them. Oh, and I’ve never been impressed by writers (whether ancient, medieval, or modern) using the technique of name-dropping.

    Re: “Paul was beheaded during Nero’s persecutions of the mid-60s.”

    Which is confirmed where else, precisely?

    Re: “Paul is very much alive and well at the close of the Book of Acts. He is just getting started.”

    So you’re dating the book based solely on where its author ended the narrative? As though it’s not possible he might have been writing decades later and ended the story prior to his hero’s death?

    Re: “Since Luke was written before Acts, it follows that Luke was also written prior to the mid-60s.”

    This is a leap to conclusions based upon some rather unfounded assumptions you’ve made, some of which I addressed here. Sorry but I don’t find this “logic” compelling at all. You’ll have to do a lot better than this.

    Re: “No formulation is perfect, but this a far better one than forcing Luke into a post-70 position because one has a bias against a single prophetic sentence.”

    As I said, you’re leaping to conclusions based on assumptions you cannot support externally. You might want to investigate some of the scholarship on Mark before deciding that only one sentence is the reason scholars have dated it as they do. Try, for instance, A Myth of Innocence by Burton Mack (http://www.amazon.com/MYTH-INNOCENCE-Foundations-Facets-Series/dp/0800625498) as well as some others.

  • Re: “The problem is that Eichenwald appears unaware, as in TOTALLY unaware, TOTALLY uninformed, TOTALLY never-visited-the-local-library, of the fact that Christian scholars have already responded, repeatedly, to the issues he has brought up.”

    Most of their “responses” is of the same variety as I’ve already contended with above (https://religionnews.com/2014/12/31/many-sins-newsweeks-expose-bible-commentary/#comment-3395233). Paul didn’t die until the 60s CE; Paul was still alive at the end of Acts; Acts was written after Luke; Mark was also a predecessor of Luke; therefore Mark and Luke both must have been written before the 60s.

    Sorry but it just doesn’t wash. Yeah, it sounds all logical and junk, but if you pluck apart the assumptions, they just don’t stack up. How do we know when Paul died? In fact, we have no idea! How do we know the author of Acts couldn’t have written about Paul long after he died but simply chose to end his narrative before Paul’s death? In fact, this turns out to be quite possible!

    Oh well. Next contestant, please! (Yeah, I can be snide and dismissive too.)

  • A. Max writes —

    “How any woman can believe in (or love) this nightmarish rapist god is beyond all rational conversation.”

    That’s reasonably true.

    But the NT has far better ‘inspiration’ with greater meanings. Why the OT has so much of this ‘junk commentary’ I don’t know.

    Just ignore the junk and look for something that makes sense.

  • Actually, I’m “assuming” that doing what Taylor did … which was to rail and fume about some insolent Bible critic getting space in Newsweek, and how dare anyone say anything not-nice about my precious Bible … is not the way to respond to it. Calling such people names also isn’t the way to do it.

  • @Billysees, Happy New Year!

    “ignore the junk and look for something that makes sense.”

    Too bad Jesus won’t let us do that. He likes the stoning laws:

    “not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law” – JESUS (Matthew 5:18-19)

    If Jesus is true, then so is his comment ensures we must keep all 602 stoning laws – where people are commanded to be put to death:

    “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commands and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – JESUS (Matthew 5:18-19)

    I am terrified for all the innocent people who died because of these words.
    And terrified for all the innocent people who will die in the future because of these words.

    We can agree to be nice to each other without this stuff.

    The Bible has a few nice things in it. But it is just an old, man-made philosophy.

    A lovely woman with a few kind words is not a good date if she intends to kill you with an AK47 later in the evening.

  • The Christian haters couldn’t wait to start spouting the usual rhetoric about the Bible is full of contradictions, atheism is a “nonbelief” or “lack of a belief” in God, Christians are more comfortable with living the lie, blah, blah, blah. Nothing of substance.

    If I have a non-belief in a topic I’m not going to go to a website saying the other side is wrong, deluded, living a lie, etc. for the sole reason I have a lack of belief on the subject matter. Their actions clearly show it’s more then a mere “lack of belief”. It’s a semantic, smoke and mirrors trick. I have a lack of belief in aliens and UFOs and don’t got to alien/UFO websites getting into debates and saying those who believe in such things are deluded, living a lie, etc.. You only say such things if you have a belief and believe the other side is wrong for believing as they do. In this case believing in the Christian God and the Bible.

    Dr. James White did a fair line by line 3 hour review/rebuttal of the points made in the article. If the atheists and skeptics here really are interested in seeking truth they can call into his radio program and discuss this further with him. I’m sure He would gladly like to do it. He invited Mr. Eichenwald to discuss it further as well.

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2014/12/23/newsweek-does-its-christmas-attack-upon-christianity-refutation-of-kurt-eichenwalds-article/

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2014/12/30/eichenwald-and-newsweek-refuted-part-2/

  • Karla-

    Sounds like a case of moving the goalposts. I had responded to your claim that Jesus “said to the woman caught in adultery….”

    We now see that your claim is false, and that the adultery story (the “pericope adulterae) is very likely a forgery.

    Right? Do you agree? Or not? If you disagree, then on what basis, since the evidence shows it is a forgery?

    Thanks for staying on topic- Jon

  • It doesn’t appear in the earliest copies we have. It doesn’t appear at all until around 500 years later, and even then it routinely is missing, placed in different places, incomplete, etc.

    “Scholars” pretending their book is inerrant do claim it’s original – with no real support beyond their own insecurity in facing the truth.

    This fact is obviously not a fallacious argument when it shows that people have changed their bible at will – not that any real scholar disputes that. Even the fantasy inerrantists agree – they move the goalposts back to say that their “essential doctrines are not affected”. Oh, well how do they decided what is “essential doctrine” – it’s only the doctrines they don’t see being changed! Funny dat.

    So, are you claiming that the pericope adulterae is authentice, against all evidence? Or do you instead admit that changes have been made to the various bibles by forgers?

  • Typical attack the messenger. Sorry, but pointing out that the various different bibles (the various Christians themselves can’t even agree on what the bible is or isn’t), doesn’t mean we hate you. It only means that we don’t like to see the truth obscured by lies.

    It’s an objective, historical fact that the various bibles have been subject to forgeries over time (in fact, it looks like at least several books in the new testament are forgeries), and that there is not now, and never has been, agreement on what’s in and what’s not in the bible.

    That’s not hate, it’s simply pointing out reality.

  • @Gerald,

    “I have a lack of belief in aliens and UFOs and don’t got to alien/UFO websites getting into debates….”

    Of course you don’t!

    Because people who believe in UFO’s are not trying TO CHANGE OUR LAWS to FORCE their UFO beliefs into our daily lives!

    Christian Creationist nonsense is infiltrating public education!
    Islamic groups are beheading innocent people!
    Faith-Based programs are trying to wipe out Gay people!

    “The only cure for the homosexual is to put them to death”
    Pastor Robbie Gallaty
    Tennessee Megachurch
    Sept 4, 2014

    Suppose Homosexuals published a book which said, “Stone all Christians to death” – how long do you think it would take for someone to call it hate speech?

    UFO’s are harmless.
    But Religion should be abandoned.

    _____
    AM
    For Peace, Culture and the Separation of Church and State

  • Jon-What are yoo talking about? The point I was trying to make was
    that of course people try to discredit the Bible just like from the start
    when the devil got Eve to doubt what God said. Many people want to
    discredit the Bible because they don’t want the Bible to be true and
    it’s because they don’t want to be told how to live. Many also try to
    say that the Garden of Eden wasn’t real. For you to look out at the whole universe and say that it just formed from nothing and then
    became everything is being blind to the Truth and it takes more
    faith to believe that the world just formed from nothing. If you see
    a building you know there was a builder. It’s the same wtih creation.
    Evolution is impossible. Read Romans 1:18-32 and Psalm 14:1.

  • ATHEIST MAX:
    I love your posts and agree with you almost all the time.
    Religious people need someone like you who is not afraid of hell to rock their minds and force them to think.
    Keep it up. Happy New year!

  • You won’t ever find objective or rational study of the Bible coming from a seminary. Its not their purpose. The people you are referring to are those who look for an education to reinforce their religious faith and to train as agents of their specific sectarian version of it. That is what a “Bible college” and seminary are there to do. None of that has to do with rational examination of the Bible or evidence of its historicity.

    Religious belief removes any objectivity to such study. It make people fall back on assumption and avoid observation and research which runs counter to their faith. Believers don’t study the Bible and historical evidence to learn if it is true. They assume so and work backwards from there to try to “prove” it to people who lack their faith.

    The only lazy people are the ones making assumptions on a subject because their religious belief keeps them from asking questions. People like yourself who have no use for rational discussion if they can’t get to the answers they have predetermined to be “true”.

    I have seen plenty of Christians advocate and act towards very bad things and those who make very lazy arguments in their support of “The Good News”. Religion does not make people good or even give the decent guidelines for doing so. It is great however for finding excuses for what one is already willing to do.

    You have spent most of your time declaring yourself a winner of an argument without ever posting anything remotely sensible or credible.

  • Jack: I notice that you don’t reply to AMAX with a clear rebuttal to his points but you prefer some non sequiters or ad hominems. But his points are spot on and very sharp. Could it be that most people like yourself think christianity is a rather benign set of beliefs which are on balance harmless? Because a close look at these beliefs does not leave a person with a very good feeling.

    The question isn’t whether God exists but whether we can know what he wants. how would anyone really know what God’s desires would be? If you commit to Jesus there is a plateful of contradictory directions and it is hard to know where to start. As an agnostic about all this I find it interesting when people have no arguments to defend the awful statements Jesus makes yet then they can’t accept that they are nonbelievers, either.

  • “Would that also include evolutionist Bill Nye, Larry?”

    So what biology papers has Bill Nye published or put his name to?

    So what part of the knowledge and research accepted in biology by experts in the field is he challenging?

    NONE

    Nye doesn’t actually claim to be an expert in evolution. He doesn’t claim to provide research and studies in the field. He admits to taking what is known and accepted knowledge by the scientific community.

    Nye is a science educator and a TV personality. He is an expert in explaining scientific ideas which are accepted in the field to a lay audience. Even he would tell you to find more expert sources on the subject of evolution if you showed an interest in the subject. Because that is what people with an honest approach to science do in such circumstance.

  • Why is it that those who rail most against ad hominem attacks are often equally guilty of them, typically with coarser language? Further, trolling is both morally and intellectually dishonest regardless of a personal perspective on religion. And the “Your authorities/sources lack credibility, while my authorities/sources are wholly objective, rational, and infinitely well researched” theme is wearing thin. None of us are completely unaffected by personal predilection, but to the degree I’ve examined the evidence and arguments from either side, I’m perfectly comfortable affirming Pascal’s wager. But my basic point is that these threads much like college football threads are populated by people who are not experts, often guilty of deep bias, and convinced of their intellectual superiority often without an analysis provided by a disinterested third party. In simple terms these exchanges are an exercise in futility because no one here is seeking, each is already convinced. To the skeptics I offer no counsel, to the conservative, orthodox christian, I humbly suggest you find more fertile fields and flee this wasteland of rhetorical warfare.

  • Diogenes, you make some good points. I don’t normally post on these comment fields because it’s a waste of time in my opinion. My main point was the use of the terms “nonbelief” and “lack of belief” by atheists in discussions who then strongly espouse their BELIEF that people are deluded and stupid for believing in God, etc. (because imho they really do believe God doesn’t exist). Just be upfront and honest about it. Granted there may be a small number who actually may be defined by that definition. The following link is from a decidedly non-Christian website that discusses this:

    http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_1.htm

    I never claimed to be an expert and that’s why I posted the link to Dr. James White for those who would like to discuss this further with someone who has done research in this field. I personally don’t think most or most likely no one will do that because they already BELIEVE they are right (not lack a belief). This same conviction of intellectual superiority and bias goes both ways. No argument there.

  • Gerald,

    I call myself an Atheist because I do NOT believe in a God.
    I call myself Agnostic because i do not KNOW whether God exists.

    I cannot say “I believe God does NOT exist” because I don’t know how to actively assert something I have no evidence for.

    It may be that my ‘lack of belief’ bothers other Atheists at EVILBIBLE.COM but …too bad.

    I am not ready to say “I believe God does not exist.”
    I can only say “I completely lack belief in any of the gods which I have heard about”

  • “But, as is usually the case, stuff like that is kept from the sheeple in the congregations, even when it is well known to the ministers.”

    It would be pretty hard to keep that a secret since just about every Bible I have ever owned has featured a footnote indicating that the story is not in the earliest manuscripts of John.

  • I know this is an emotional topic, but you made some generalizations that I would say aren’t correct.

    Everyone who votes and is involved in the political process tries to force their beliefs into our daily lives through legislation. (Atheists, Christians, Feminists, etc.).

    It’s the young earth creationists that were trying to get “creationism” into the public schools. Not all Christians are young earth creationists and support this.

    Beheading of innocent people by anyone is abhorrent.

    Only a minuscule number of faith based groups would hold to your statement of trying to wipe out gay people. I don’t hold to that and every other Christian I know and have known never espoused that. I’m making an assumption, but I would think it’s probable that there have been atheists who have stated they would like to get rid of Christians or wish they didn’t exist.

    Of course I would object if homosexuals published a book which said “Stone all Christians to death”. I would also object if Christians wrote a book that said “Stone all Homosexuals to death”. I have several homosexual friends I’ve known for years, gone on trips with and have invited them over to my house numerous times.

    There’s a lot of rhetoric out there these days. Society has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe. Both are nonsense.

  • Justin was quite generous. I was done with Eichenwald as soon as I saw that he believes Constantine decided what books would go into the Bible. That by itself is an earmark of ignorance which makes further refutation redundant.

  • Gerald,

    “I would also object if Christians wrote a book that said “Stone all Homosexuals to death”.”

    You’ve Never heard of the Bible?

    “Kill Homosexuals” – GOD (Lev. 20:13)

    Yawheh – GAY LOVE IS NOT REAL LOVE
    You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

    ST. PAUL – GAYS ARE JUST GREEDY THEIVES
    Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

    St Paul – GAYS ARE THE SORT WHICH MUST DIE
    “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26-28)

    EXECUTE THE GAYS
    “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

    GAYS ARE LIKE LIARS AND MURDERERS
    “The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality…liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine..” (1 Timothy 1:10)

    GAYS ARE STUBBORN, KILL THEM ALL
    “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32)

    JESUS: FOLLOW THE EXECUTION LAWS. HE ENDORSES ALL OF IT. NO HEAVEN FOR THOSE WHO FAIL.
    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

    The problem with Religion is it commands things eternally.
    Unlike books about real love, Poetry and Beauty – this clunky book of garbage and hate refuses to go out of print!
    And Christians refuse to learn what it is all about.

  • Not relevant, since most Christians don’t read their bibles, much less the footnotes. Plenty of studies have shown that those who actually read their bibles are more likely to become atheists.

    You can also see the Christian ignorance about the pericope adulterae on this thread itself, where several Christians are denying that it’s a forgery.

  • Gerald – I appreciate the calm tone of your post.

    You wrote
    ***Everyone who votes and is involved in the political process tries to force their beliefs into our daily lives through legislation. (Atheists, Christians, Feminists, etc.).****

    No. Keeping abortion safe and legal is not “forcing beliefs into your daily lives”. If you are against abortion, don’t have one. The same goes for marrying who you love, and other similar issues. There is a difference between forcing beliefs and allowing freedom to choose.

    You wrote:
    *****It’s the young earth creationists that were trying to get “creationism” into the public schools. Not all Christians are young earth creationists and support this.*****

    No, but practically all YECs in the US are Christian. It’s the Christians who have hobbled our science education across the nation with their opposition to the reality of evolution.

    ***Beheading of innocent people by anyone is abhorrent.***

    Oh, so the beheading of non-innocent people is OK? The fact is that the bibles glorify beheading in places like 2 sam 20 and 1 sam 17.

  • PsiCop Goodness, you completely missed the point. First of all, the only rallying and fuming came from Eichenwald. The “name calling” was a quote cited by Kruger, not by Taylor in which he references Eichenwald’s jaw dropping ignorance of Biblical fact. The critiques you mention have been genuinly and thoughtfully explored by scholars. Taylor did not dismiss them, as he cites Wallace and Kruger as only two of the highly qualifed experts who have responded to Eichenwald’s highly opinionated yet factually baseless piece. If you were genuinly interested in facts, and not driven by disdain that matches Eichenwald’s, you would clearly see that Taylor’s response is one of the few humble pieces of commentary written in response to this article in Newsweek. You might even, for the sake of presenting a more factual argument than wiki can provide, explore the work of the two experts mentioned in this article. After doing so, your “how and why he was wrong” question regarding Eichenwald will no longer be necessary. Assuming of course you were interested in finding answers to the questions you asked, and not merely joining Eichenwald in his display of fuming and caterwauling as you claim that Christians are doing.

  • There is a difference between calling it a “forgery” (which implies intention to deceive) and simply acknowledging an uncertainty about its origins. It did not simply come out of thin air 500 years later, as you claim. It was referred to by the Didascalia and the Apostolic Constitutions (early 3rd century) and also by Eusebius quoting Papias, a very early Christian commentator and disciple of John. And while the Codex Vaticanus (ca. AD 350) does not include it, it also notes the existence of a known alternate text at this particular point by a diacritical mark.

    In any case, it smacks a bit of “conspiracy-theoryism” to claim that you are revealing some kind of bombshell that ministers keep a big secret. Of course Catholics have never been big bible readers and neither are the more watered-down and liberal mainline denominations these days, but for anyone who cares to open a bible it is right there in plain sight.

  • Athiest Max But who is trying to change the laws, and force their beliefs on all of society? Not Christians. Marriage is traditionally defined as between a man and woman. The pursuit of changing the current laws to redefine the meaning of marriage, or expand it to include men and men or woman to woman is not being led by Christians. In addition though, we are not being asked to merely accept the new laws, but embrace them as our own personal beliefs or get drug into court for refusing to change the definitions in our own lives. What could have been a cause for celebration, by finally being recognized as having the right to a legal union/marriage under the law, instead looks like a case of the oppressed becoming the oppressor. Gaining deserved rights by denying the rights of others is not progress, just a shift in power. The celebration quickly turned into an opportunity for vengeance focused on those who they held responsible for the original laws. Not vengeance against the government, but against the Christian. Still no equality. Equal rights should be just that, equal. If we are expected to expand human/civil rights to include lifestyle choices, shouldn’t that right extend also to religious preference? People seem to incorrectly apply freedom “from” religion to mean they have a right to not encounter anyone with religious preference. But it was actually written as freedom “of” religion, a guaranteed right to worship as we choose without government interference. Can you imagine the retaliation if this article was directed at any other faith, say Muslim or even Agnositic? Or if this article was directed at any other member of the community besides those who hold the Bible as a holy book. Christian’s are being persecuted. If directed at any other group, this article in Newsweek would be labeled hate speech. It’s a new age of embracing all people of all backgrounds and faiths, unless they are Christian. An attack on the words of the prophet Mohammed, or the God of Abraham in the Torah, or Krishna, or Sidhartha or blacks or gays or Jews or Muslims would be politically incorrect and forbidden because they are afforded certain protections, but somehow Jesus and the Bible and Christians are not only exempt from the same protections, but are under attack for the core of their belief system, as made evident by the article in Newsweek. We are not suprised nor shaken by this shift or by this persecution however. Our “imaginary” and “invisible” savior warned us that times such as these were coming, all of this and so much more was already written in our clunky book of garbage and hate. It’s funny that people like Nostradamus get wiser everytime any of his predictions come to fruition, but the Bible with all of it’s predictions accurate and true is more and more perceived and accepted as fictional writing. Not all of those who claim to know God actually do, many will say they come in His name, but they don’t. We are told we will know them by fruit they produce. Those that spread hate and lies in His name do not know Him. God is love. It’s all about perspective I guess. But Cathy Wynn is wrong about something. “Religious people” (oh how I dislike that word and all that goes with it) may consider their mind rocked or be forced to think. But for those who truly believe, this is exactly the type of criticism that only reinforces and validates the truths we find in the Bible. It is confirmation to our minds and our hearts that our King will return to us soon, and our hearts leap with overwhelming joy at the thought of that day! But unlike those “Christians” you keep referring to, I don’t wish hate or death to any part of God’s creation. Not to gays, not to athiests, not to anyone. Like our Father, I am not willing that any should perish. Our hope and our prayer is that each and every person will acknowledge that we have all sinned and fall short. None of us is deserving of the forgiveness or grace or mercy given freely to us. That’s the beauty of grace! Whether you embrace the creator or not, you will be in my prayers tonight Max. 😉

  • @Kim,

    “But who is trying to change the laws, and force their beliefs on all of society? Not Christians!….”

    Wrong.
    Christians are denying rights to OTHER people EVERYWHERE!

    Christians are trying to prevent OTHER people from being ATHEISTS.
    Christians are trying to prevent OTHER people from being GAY.
    Christians are trying to prevent OTHER people from MARRYING WHO THEY WANT!
    Christians art trying to prevent OTHER people from USING CONTRACEPTION!
    Christians are trying to prevent OTHER people from LEARNING SCIENCE.
    Christians are trying to prevent OTHER people from HAVING SEX!
    Christians are trying to prevent OTHER people from THINKING FOR THEMSELVES.

    How maddening?

    So Kim, go to church, pray all you want!
    NOBODY IS STOPPING YOU! NOBODY IS EVEN TRYING!

    But who do you think you are to tell other people they cannot do things which are completely none of your business?

    “To be Selfish is not to live your life as you wish.
    It is to force other people to live as you wish.” – Oscar Wilde

    Just go to church and leave the rest of us to ourselves. Okay?

    _____
    AM
    For Peace, Love and The Separation of Church and State

  • Inerrantist dogma is not scholarship. I’d be happy to add to the already voluminous scholarship I’ve read, but you offered inerrantist dogma, not scholarship. Scholarship works only when a mind is open do following where the evidence leads, and that’s the polar opposite of the inerrantist blinders.

  • Oh, like people try to discredit the Mormon gold plates, based on evidence? Do you accept the gold plates? Why not? If it is out of dogma, then that shows you have no argument beyond obstinancy. If you reject the gold plates based on the evidence (which shows they too are frauds), then you have no ground to avoid rejecting the pericope based on the evidence.

    So – your evidence? do you have any? Or not?

  • Oh, OK – so do we agree that some form of it was likely made up in the 3rd century, then added to some of the various bibles in the 4th-6th centuries?

    So then do you further agree that Karla (who insists that things were never added to her bible) is likely wrong?

    I don’t know why you are accusing me of invoking a conspiracy theory. I haven’t done so.

    If you consider the reality that the various different bibles have been added to and changed over time to be a “bombshell”, then that’s your choice, not mine. Do you similarly consider the reality of our evolution over time, the facts that the flood and the exodus never happened, to be “bombshells”? Again, please don’t blame me for how you react to the real world.

  • As if you have any idea what the Bible really says. As if you’ve studied the Bible and its history. Copying and pasting links and comments instead of intelligently arguing the case yourself in an unbias manner is tragic.

    It’s funny you seem to make a life out of trying to prove Christianity is false. A life’s amount of work for something that doesn’t exist? I think you do know it is real and that is what drives you crazy.

    An opinion is just another human lie.

  • The Last Don,

    “you seem to make a life out of trying to prove Christianity is false.”

    Right.

    Like ex-Muslims who are trying to teach killers following ISIS and Al Queda that Allah is a lie.
    We are trying to save people from religion and its consequences.

    We are not concerned about God.
    We are concerned about believers and the bad things they are doing to themselves and others.

    Most of all, keep your religion out of our laws. Keep it to yourself.

    _____
    AM
    For Peace, Decency and the Separation of Church and State

  • You misunderstand me. I stated that you are presenting the Pericope Adulterae’s absence from the earliest manuscripts of John as if it is a bombshell. It is not — it is a plainly and matter-of-factly indicated in almost every bible.

    “So do we agree that some form of it was likely made up in the 3rd century, then added to some of the various bibles in the 4th-6th centuries?”

    I do not agree that it was likely made up in the 3rd century at the same time we begin to see it referenced–that would be a bit far-fetched. Early church fathers did not regard materials as authoritative, or quote them as such, unless they bore a connection to an apostle, and obviously the 3rd century would have been too late for that. I think one of two possibilities is more probable. It may have been part of John’s original and was lost, and an approximation of what it was known to have said may have been added in later (much as what likely happened with the original ending of Mark). Or it might have been an old and well-known oral tradition, perhaps handed down from John himself, that was added in with his other writings.

    “So then do you further agree that Karla (who insists that things were never added to her bible) is likely wrong?”

    Karla did not “insist” that. What she is pointing out is the frantic (in some cases desperate) determination of a certain kind of atheist to discredit the bible, even if it means throwing out the usual standards of historical textual evaluation and interpretation — or even outright lying. And while I think many of her comments are ill-timed and ill-advised, I think she is correct about the root cause of that determination.

    Why is it more frightening and unthinkable that Jesus existed (scholarly consensus nearly unanimous) than that Socrates did? Why would it be more frightening that the gospels were attributed to the right people (never proven otherwise) than that the Annals were? Why is it frightening to think that the NT has come down to us substantially the same as it was written (as the dead sea scrolls indicate that the OT was)? Why the special drive to attack the NT?

  • Larry, you appear to be in very deep denial of the undeniable……The reason millions of people who grew up in non-Christian backgrounds or secular backgrounds are now Christians is precisely because they spent years of their lives doing exactly what you insist they didn’t do. They were challenged to investigate the evidence for Christianity, did so, and came out the other end believing the Gospel. The result was that a large portion of an entire generation — the boomers — which once was deemed the “God-is-Dead” generation, practically became the “Jesus Generation.”

    I grew up a bit later and with some knowledge of the Bible, but I have always been impressed by the sheer numbers of people, especially the boomers, who started out with zero knowledge or interest and ended up as Christians as a result of intense and thorough study and research. I did my share of the same, but I started out with some foundation.

    You appear to have led an insular life with virtually no meaningful dialogue with people who believe things you oppose. That would account for many of your ill-informed statements about Christians and your circular arguments against them.

    It’s the intellectual equivalent of people in old New York City who never left their borough of birth.

  • The same poster who creates new names for himself daily has now stolen Doc Anthony’s name, as he did with Shawnie’s name.

    It must be nice to have so much free time.

  • Shawnie-

    As pointed out earlier, the footnote in many bibles is not relevant. I’m not sure what you mean by “bombshell”. I haven’t claimed that, only that the adultery story (PA) is yet one of many examples showing that we don’t know what the original texts said. That conclusion, based on many lines of evidence may be a “bombshell”, I guess, if one thinks there is one bible that is a reliable message from a supernatural being, but not to people – including many Christians – who realize the many bibles are works of humans with many different messages in them.

    ****I do not agree that it was likely made up in the 3rd century at the same time we begin to see it referenced–that would be a bit far-fetched.****

    The “references” are vague at best, and could refer to other rumors. Even if they reference the PA, a century is a long time, and when it was made up it could easily be referenced decades later and still fit the 3rd century. Another likely scenario is the other way around – a person may have read a 3rd century “reference” to some rumor, and in response made up the PA and put it in thinking that “something like that should be in there”. who knows?

    ******Early church fathers did not regard materials as authoritative, or quote them as such, unless they bore a connection to an apostle, ********
    They wanted some connection to an apostle, but as we’ve seen, that “connection” could be as simple as tacking an apostle’s name onto something that could have been just forged or “found”. For instance, scholars agree that books like 2 Pt and Heb were not written by apostles, but were included because of a rumor or claim as described above.

    ****and obviously the 3rd century would have been too late for that.****

    Simply false. First of all, the “connection” was needed for a book. If the book (like the G of John) was already accepted, then a small addition like that didn’t need a separate source – instead it raised the question of whether it was original or not. Secondly, even with that, an attribution could be made any time, as we saw with 2Pt and Heb.

    **** atheist to discredit the bible, even if it means throwing out the usual standards of historical textual evaluation and interpretation — or even outright lying. ****

    “discredit”? No, the reliability some claim for their chosen bible is far beyond the “maybe it likely said something like this” seen for some historical documents. The point is that fundamentalists are making an unprecedented claim for knowing what their version of the bible said (and even claiming the other versions to be wrong) – and historians & scholars (most of whom are Christian, not atheist) are the ones pointing out how preposterous this is.

    The statement on reliability that I hope we can all agree upon is this: “We have a pretty good idea of most of the text in the scriptures used by proto-orthodox churches in the middle of the 3rd century.”

    *****Why is it more frightening and unthinkable that Jesus existed (scholarly consensus nearly unanimous) than that Socrates did?****

    Frightening? no. However, there is a huge difference from the idea of some regular person named Jesus living and being executed than the claims about Jesus made by fundamentalists. Compare with other “great” or “god” men of the time, like Pythagoras. I hope we all agree that Pythagoras likely lived. I hope we all agree that he probably didn’t walk on water (and on air) as the ancient texts say he could. I’ve too often heard the fundamentalist bait and switch:

    “don’t you agree with most historians that a historical Jesus probably existed?”

    “Oh, well, sure.”

    “Yay! You believe that the floating God Jesus saves us all if we just telepathically tell him he’s our master and ritually eat him! You are saved!”

    “No, wait, Um……”

    *** Why would it be more frightening that the gospels were attributed to the right people (never proven otherwise) than that the Annals were?******

    Frightening? no. Unlikely? Yes – since there are internal data suggesting otherwise, and no real evidence suggesting they are. It’s not so much a big deal who they are attributed to so much as is the abrogation of reason and evidence the fundamentalist asks for to do so.

    ******* Why is it frightening to think that the NT has come down to us substantially the same as it was written (as the dead sea scrolls indicate that the OT was)? ******

    Because the evidence suggests otherwise – as seen by the many different versions of every single book examined. Even the dead sea scrolls had additions, deletions and changes – hundreds of them, with some stretching for many sentences (when the change of a single word already nullifies any claim of divine reliability). You show that yourself by putting in the weasle word “substantially”.

    *****Why the special drive to attack the NT?*****

    Your false Christian persecution complex is showing. There is no “drive to attack”. Instead, we are simply pointing out that the claim that the NT is a different kind of text than any other human book, the word of a supernatural spirit isn’t supported by the evidence. The evidence shows that the NT is just like any other human book, this one with uncertain authors and known (and unknown) changes, as well as contradictory messages and harmful instructions.

    Disagreement is not an attack.

  • “But who is trying to change the laws, and force their beliefs on all of society? Not Christians.” Really? Every anti-gay initiative in the last 37 years has been at the behest of Christians, funded by Christians, manned by Christians. Let us not forget Hobby lobby, creationism in the schools, the anti-abortion movement, and on and on and on.

    ” Marriage is traditionally defined as between a man and woman.” and women were traditionally defined as the non-voting, non equal chattel of men. That’s changed. Same for black people and Jews. Nothing is preventing men and women from getting married, no one is interested in forcing antigay churches to perform ceremonies.

    “The pursuit of changing the current laws to redefine the meaning of marriage, or expand it to include men and men or woman to woman is not being led by Christians.” But the forces of intolerance are. And you’re dead wrong. You might use the power of the google to show you how many Christian people, ministers, and whole denominations support marriage equality. What you mean is that it’s not being supported by the kind of Christians who want to control everyone else.

    “In addition though, we are not being asked to merely accept the new laws, but embrace them as our own personal beliefs or get drug into court for refusing to change the definitions in our own lives.” The word is DRAGGED. No one is asking you to do anything of the sort, merely to abide by the law. Believe me, I don’t want anything from you but to stay the hell out of my life. I don’t care what you think. I care how my government treats MY life. Believe it or not, it’s every bit as valid and valuable as yours.

    “What could have been a cause for celebration, by finally being recognized as having the right to a legal union/marriage under the law, instead looks like a case of the oppressed becoming the oppressor.” No one is interested in oppressing you. You’re not being oppressed. It just thrills and comforts you to think so. No one is denying you marriage or the right to live your life and believe your faith. Your idea of being oppressed is that you are losing your dominion over our lives. Projection, dear. It’s not just found in movie theatres.

    “Gaining deserved rights by denying the rights of others is not progress, just a shift in power.” you’ve finally ALMOST told the truth. You really resent not having the power over our lives, don’t you?

    “Not vengeance against the government, but against the Christian. ” Since a great many gay people are Christians, this is nonsense. If you would stop trying to intrude on our lives, you would find your imaginary vengeance disappearing. YOU ARE NOT THE VICTIM HERE.

    “If we are expected to expand human/civil rights to include lifestyle choices, shouldn’t that right extend also to religious preference?” you have the right to believe are worship as you choose. You do not have the right to choose for me, or insist that the government suspend religious anti-discrimination laws if your delicate sensibilities are offended. What about our rights to follow our faiths? But thanks for admitting the religion is just another lifestyle choice. So why is it that your “lifestyle choice” deserves the protection of the law, but mine doesn’t?

    “Christian’s are being persecuted.” Not in this country, now anywhere in the civilized world. but it thrills and comforts you to think that you are. Persecution is not the same thing as disagreement with your desire to have dominion over my life.

    “Those that spread hate and lies in His name do not know Him.” So you’ll soon be condemning all of the so-called Christians who call us a threat to everything good and holy, faith, family, marriage, and western civilization. Brian Brown, Benedict, Falwell, Robertson, Perkins, Huckabee, Pat Robertson, Phil Robertson, Anita Bryant, Steve Anderson, john Hagee, Doc Anthony, the duggars, James Dobson, and on and on and on and on and on. And let us leave out YOU, who claim we are exacting vengeance on you, oppressing you, depriving YOU of your religious freedom.

    “I don’t wish hate or death to any part of God’s creation.” Yet you are against my marriage, which has absolutely no effect on you except to offend you. Do you support sodomy laws? Do you believe that my children are not entitled to the same LEGAL protections as yours? Is not my faith– if I had one– as valid and valuable as yours?

    Here is a solution to every one of your problems listed. STAY THE HELL OUT OF OUR LIVES. Believe what you like, spew it in your loving church to your heart’s content. Focus on your own family, and stay out of mine. Stop claiming that you are innocent of wrongdoing when you insist that your purely theological concerns should be legislated in to law. If you don’t believe in gay marriage, don’t have one, don’t attend my wedding, and don’t send me a gift. If you are just too holy to bake a cake or photograph my wedding, if somehow you get spiritual cooties from being there, just say you are booked, or tell me you will donate all proceeds to NOM. But stop pretending that you are being oppressed and claim an exemption from non-discrimination laws, whether for religion or sexual orientation. But don’t presume to deny me participation in society or the legal protections of marriage, and then claim you are being oppressed if I object to that.

    You’d be amazed at what peace and happiness minding your own business will produce in your life.

  • Actually, many people think He has produced a number of more modern texts, some still awaiting translation into English.

  • Odgie,

    Glad my bold & CAPS were not ignored.
    I’ll be glad to tone it down when Christians stop whining and lecturing everyone about how victimized they are.

    I guess my bold CAPS are just another thing to whine about.

  • @Ben,

    You are exactly correct.

    It is time for Christians and Muslims to back off and stop insisting that everyone else believe their stories.

    If they don’t want to be Atheists, fine.
    But it is none of their business whether we are complying with their arbitrary ideas of God.

  • I’m not a fundamentalist Christian and I feel this RNS article is being a little too #notallevangelicals here and I generally agree with the overall outline of the Newsweek article, but it is guilty of making the mistake most of online articles on religion do in oversimplifying the history of religion and overstating the author’s case. An example is how the Newsweek author points to the way later translators mistranslated passages of the bible to add in more passages in support of the Trinity to prove the Trinity exists nowhere in the bible. While it’s true the bible translators did mistranslate those passages, the Newsweek author is being dishonest by compelty ignoring the passages in the Gospel of John like in the very first chapter where the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly being taught. One can debate just how historically reliable the Gospel of John is but the author is clearly overstating his case by claiming the Trinity is absolutely nowhere in the bible. Even most secular scholars will concede the passages in John. I also find it ironic that the author cites Bart Ehrman to support his argument when Ehrman has most recently in his newest book on the Trinity revised his own opinion and now admits that the doctrine of the Trinity most likely did date back to the apostles themselves though maybe not as early as the fundamentalist Christians want it to be. I also think the author is overstating the role Constantine played in the formation of the Trinity. By the time Constantine became emperor, most Christians believed Jesus was God in some way. The question at Nicaea was not whether or not Jesus was God but HOW Jesus was God in the flesh which is a pretty big difference. If you want a more accurate account of the history of Christianity, just read a Bart Ehrman book instead of getting it from online news articles by journalists that aren’t biblical scholars.

  • “They wanted some connection to an apostle, but as we’ve seen, that “connection” could be as simple as tacking an apostle’s name onto something that could have been just forged or “found”.”

    Um, no. There are many later writings that bore the names of apostles (Thomas, Philip, Peter, James, etc.) but were of course not accepted as scriptural because they were known to have come after the apostles’ time. Other works were very popular with the early Christians (The Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache, for example) and could have had apostles’ names attached to them if that were as easy as what you’re implying. As for the Petrine epistles and Hebrews, it is not known for sure whether they were misattributed or not. We only know that there was uncertainty about it, and the delay with which they were accepted into canon only shows how discriminating the earliest church fathers were about this. They were far more intelligent and aware than you give them credit for.

    “However, there is a huge difference from the idea of some regular person named Jesus living and being executed than the claims about Jesus made by fundamentalists.”

    Yet that idea of a person named Jesus living and being executed is precisely what the more rabid atheists are attacking. I have no problem with anyone not finding the claims of Jesus credible. But one must make that call with courage and integrity in the face of all the existing evidence instead of casting about for some way to make the evidence go away.

    “Frightening? no. Unlikely? Yes – since there are internal data suggesting otherwise, and no real evidence suggesting they are. It’s not so much a big deal who they are attributed to so much as is the abrogation of reason and evidence the fundamentalist asks for to do so.”

    Internal data such as what? And as for “no real evidence” that they are properly attributed, what kind of “evidence” do you expect? The traditional gospel attributions are unanimous (not even their most vocal ancient detractors ever questioned them) and entirely plausible, therefore it is the responsibility of the naysayers to produce the evidence that they the attributions are erroneous and currently there is virtually nothing that comes close to accomplishing that. It’s really a bit ridiculous to think that we can know more about the origins of these documents 2000 years after the fact those who were near in place and time and in a much better position to know. What is puzzling is the need to think this.

    “…the word of a supernatural spirit isn’t supported by the evidence.”

    That isn’t the nature of the debate.

  • We “know” when Paul died the same way we “know” when any other ancient died. (Hint: We usually don’t know forensically, since death certificates weren’t the norm.) We “know” through other writings. And, again, based on normal, common-sense rules of evidence, we accept such writings on that topic unless we’re presented with a compellingly good reason not to. All writings dealing with the subject of Paul’s death, ie from the early church, as early as 100 AD, say he was killed during Nero’s persecutions in the mid-60s AD. There is no particular reason in the world to doubt their testimony on the subject — unless one simply wants to be a royal pain in the behind.

    But again, that means we have to be a similar pain across the board when it comes to history, not just when it comes to historical figures we don’t especially like.

    And the sad but predictable result of such hyper-skepticism would be the same as building a big bonfire and burning half of what’s in any history book. We would be wiping away much of what we reasonably know about the past — exchanging a reasonable presumption of knowledge for a certain embrace of ignorance. It would be a severe setback in the quest for knowledge about the past. And that’s why most historians would strongly resist such a move or change in how they perform their job.

  • The problem, PsiCop, is not with Bible critics…..even in seminaries, no reputable seminary in the world fails to incorporate Bible criticism into its curriculum. No one can properly be a true Bible scholar without having interacted extensively with Biblical criticism.

    The problem is that Eichenwald takes his limited understanding of Bible criticism and weaponizes it on a polemical and even partisan fashion, producing so many errors and mistakes that reviewers are forced to reference entire books or other articles in order to get the reader to deal with the full magnitude of Eichenwald’s embarrassment of an article. One gets the sense that it would take an article of far greater length than Eichenwald’s to engage in a full-blown refutation. Since the article was over 8,000 words, we’re talking about a length potentially as long as multiple chapters of a book. And given this, reviewers have deemed it best simply to refer to other people’s works as the most efficient means of refutation. Why reinvent wheels? Why indeed.

  • As Ehrman’s old friend Craig Blomberg pointed out a number of years ago, Ehrman’s own hyper-skepticism on some matters results in his committing his own share of mistakes. But unlike Eichenwald, Ehrman is a genuine scholar, not a hack. Ehrman tries to be fair within his own ideological framework, and that’s all we can reasonably ask of scholars and scholarship.

  • No Max, you’ve done it to yourself….and you wouldn’t have it any other way. You like the attention. It’s obvious.

  • Atheist Max wrote:

    “…guess my bold CAPS are just another thing to whine about.”

    or just to laugh at. Or, in terms you will understand:

    “OR JUST TO LAUGH AT!!!”

  • Shawnie, you wrote:
    *** There are many later writings that bore the names of apostles (Thomas, Philip, Peter, James, etc.) but were of course not accepted as scriptural because they were known to have come after
    the apostles’ time. *****

    No, they were of course not accepted (in most cases) because they contained elements of other Christian churches. Citing examples that didn’t have apostles names on them shows nothing, since of course some may have had names added and others not. That’s like disputing a claim that person could be killed by a gunshot by showing people that survived gunshot wounds, and claiming that doing so proves that guns can’t kill.

    ***As for the Petrine epistles and Hebrews, it is not known for sure whether they were misattributed or not. **

    Yes, we do. Practically all evidence-based scholars agree that Peter didn’t write 2Pt (and likely didn’t write 1 Pt), and that Paul didn’t write Hebrews.

    **Yet that idea of a person named Jesus living and being executed is precisely what the more rabid atheists are attacking.**

    I’m not disputing the possibility of a historical Jesus. This article is not disputing the possibility of a historical Jesus. If you want to argue with someone who is claiming that Jesus didn’t exist, then feel free to find someone like that and argue with them.

    ***Internal data such as what? ****

    Some of the internal data suggesting that that attributed author is incorrect includes the below, but of course there is much more than I have room for here.

    Mk: Mk may be someone named “mark”, but he does’t appear to have gotten his information from Peter, since the stories show incorrect geography of palestine and ignorance of Jewish customs, the attribution of “Mark, as directed or told to by Peter” appears wrong.

    Mt: Matthew, as a lower class Jew in Galilee, is unlikely to have been as fluent in greek as would have been needed to write G of Mt (originally written in fluent greek). Also, Mt was written around 80-90, which makes Mt authorship difficult to imagine at a time when the average life expectancy was in the 30s. Most tellingly, the GoM copies nearly all of GoMk – which means that suggesting Mt actually wrote it means that an actualy eyewitness would copy descriptions from someone who was not an eyewitness.

    Lk: Luke/acts includes many descriptions of events with Paul, but these often contradict Paul’s own descriptions of the same events. Luke may also use Josephus, which was written in 93. Both the name (luke) and the idea that he knew Paul are ideas that don’t appear until the late 2nd century, too long to be reliable. Changes between the Western and Alex. texts show that changes were being made in the 2nd century, and the likely composition date of around 80-100 again makes a “traveling companion” in the 30’s unlikely.

    Jn: The claim to be an eyewitness as well as the “beloved disciple” are both in the last chapter,which was added much later (you can see this yourself by reading the two different endings, in addition to the other evidence). The events portrayed are almost completely different from the other three gospels, as is the Jesus portrayed – no casting out demons, no secrecy, etc. – again showing that this wasn’t an eyewitness, in addition to the late date of writing (~90 to 105 CE).

    All that (and more) shows that the traditional attributions are unlikely at best. All we have in favor of the attributions are hearsay from 50 years or more after the fact. That’s like going by hearsay today to decide what happened in WWII, in an age with no recording devices.

    You may want to look up research on this – it can be googled without much trouble. www early christian writings is one of many places to look. It also sounds like you might look into the many changes found in the dead sea scrolls. As for me, I have a translation of the DSS at home- while most areas are very similar/the same, the changes found often make significant and interesting changes to the meaning of the Old Testament books.

  • Cathy, you’re the person who suddenly walks into a conversation or dispute that people have been having for eons, and comments on what she hears without the benefit of historical context….ie what was said before she walked in and started listening.

    Many people have tried to have a normal and fair-minded dialogue with Max on the content of his posts, but each time it’s tried, he runs and hides behind his spam-like postings. I noticed that repeatedly before I posted a single response.

    Part of the answer is to exercise simple common sense: If things were as simple as Max makes them out to be, why would any even remotely humane and intelligent person believe a single word of the Bible? And yet, we find countless examples, in our time and across time, of people who are both humane and intelligent, who not only believe it, but live lives that are models of humanity and intelligence. And when they are asked about their “secret,” they will invariably cite the Bible as the source for all of their humane behavior and their wisdom.

    Citing cases of people who act as barbarously as Max’s caricature of Scripture obviously does nothing to refute this point. Based on Max’s logic, such that it is, none of us should be constantly running into Bible-believing individuals who are decent and wise people. And yet any honest, well-traveled person will acknowledge that plenty of such people exist.

    The long and short of it is that anyone who has read the whole Bible honestly and straightforwardly comes away with a portrait of a God who is overwhelmingly just and compassionate, but side by side with a number of puzzling passages that seem to indicate the opposite. A wise and fair-minded person, rather than yelling, “a ha, gotcha!”, will dig deeper, ask more questions, and try to get to the bottom of it. Serious Biblical scholars have been doing that for millennia. Jewish literature on the subject can fill entire libraries. Rather than being instantly dismissive and thus disrespectful and even libelous to an entire people and culture, would it not be best to read some of it?

  • Jon, based on your logic, nobody should read anything about anything. It’s amazing how you can’t see that for yourself.

  • Inerrancy is certainly a doctrine, but does it follow that believing in inerrancy disqualifies one from being a reputable scholar? Of course not.

    In fact, one can make the opposite argument:

    People who believe that the Bible, in its original autographs, is inerrant, will be motivated by that doctrine to do what every responsible scholar should be doing when approaching a possible contradiction or error in any text, biblical or otherwise. Whenever they find an apparent contradiction or error, they will go the second mile and beyond to resolve the apparent contradiction or error before prematurely declaring it irreconcilable or unresolvable.

    Since the authors of ancient texts like the Bible are deceased and hence unable to provide an explanation themselves for an apparent contradiction or error, responsible scholars acknowledge this duty to go that second mile…….and there is no scholar more motivated to leave no stone unturned in this effort than one who believes in inerrancy.

    So by all means, when pondering possible contradictions or errors in the text, we should want inerrancy people in, not out, of the picture. Obviously we can decide for ourselves whether they have reconciled or resolved the apparent contradiction or problem. But at least we can walk away satisfied that if there is an actual resolution, reconciliation, or ultimate explanation, these folks are the mostly likely of scholars to come up with it….due, again, to sheer motivation to do so due to their doctrinal premise.

  • Jon, here’s what we know about the story of the woman caught in adultery, found in the 7th chapter of John’s gospel.

    (1) It was not in the oldest manuscripts we have of John’s Gospel.

    (2) It was not in the oldest manuscripts we have of the other three canonical gospels — Mark, Matthew, and Luke.

    But that’s not enough to conclude that Jesus never uttered those words. He well could have uttered them and then an editor later inserted them into John’s Gospel.

    There are odd little aspects of the story consistent with the view that an eyewitness saw and heard it and related it to someone. One example is the reference to Jesus writing on the ground with His finger. The text doesn’t tell us what He wrote. It just has Him writing. If someone made up the story, why insert that? It adds nothing to the story. One obvious explanation for it being in the story is that the story is true, and the writer is recording something Jesus actually did in the middle of it.

    The other obvious point is that there’s nothing in the story that is uncharacteristic of the teachings of Jesus as found in any of the gospels. It’s what one would expect Him to say in such a situation. Not only that; the tone, tenor, and style is that of the Jesus seen elsewhere in the four gospels.

    In short, while the story is not found in the earliest manuscripts of the four gospels, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It could well have happened. There’s nothing in the story itself that would make us think it didn’t happen….and in fact there are a few elements consistent with the belief that it did happen.

  • Lots of problems with Jon’s long post…..but a seemingly minor point sticks out because it’s ultimately not minor at all:

    To say the “average life expectancy” in the first century was 30 years may be technically correct but is quite misleading. Taken on its face, it leads one to think that adults rarely made it past 30.

    In fact, the vast majority of them made it well past that age…..

    Why? Because the “average” in “average life expectancy” includes the many individuals who died in infancy….as pre-modern infant mortality rates were very high.

    In other words, once you made it past infancy, you were overwhelmingly likely to live well past 30.

    Why is that important to the discussion here? Because it makes it quite clear that 30 or 40 years after Jesus’ death, plenty of the people who saw Him before His death would still have been alive. Some would have been alive 50 or 60 years later as well.

    A second thought regarding Jon’s post is how, regarding John’s Gospel, people have spent far too little time reflecting on the richness of detail, geographic, cultural, and otherwise, revealed in the text about pre-70 AD Galilee and Judea…..as well as some interesting insider evidence of the rivalry between Peter and John, with the writer of John’s Gospel clearly speaking from John’s perspective.

    At the very least, whoever wrote John’s Gospel knew what first-century Israel was about in all of its aspects….and specifically first-century Israel as it existed before the Roman destruction of 70, and was also privy to the interesting relationship between Peter and John.

  • Shawnie, that’s a good indicator of the ignorance of a writer…..The idea that Constantine decided the canon is the myth that won’t die. It remains widely held, but there’s no excuse for those holding to it since the facts are indisputable and easily discovered.

  • Nice try, Max, but based on what is written in the Talmud, the idea of there being mass stonings or other judicial executions in Old Testament times is hogwash. The Talmud claims that applying the death penalty was the exception rather than the rule.

    This ironically fits with what’s being discussed on this board in a different context — the story of the woman caught in adultery. The whole story presumes the same thing as what’s stated in the Talmud….that stoning was not close to being the norm.

    What Jesus was saying was that all the people who were ready to stone the woman for adultery had themselves committed sins (such as mistreatment of parents) for which stoning was the penalty.

    He was saying that if the woman should be stoned, so should the entire crowd…..for who among them had never committed a sin for which stoning was the OT penalty?

    And that highlights the obvious: If the OT penalties were applied to everyone who was guilty of the requisite crimes, the amount of executions would be such that most of the people would have been killed….and the Jewish people (or any other people with such laws) would eventually have gone out of existence.

    Obviously, something else was at play….and that something else was that in the same Torah you so obviously hate with every fiber of your being, there was a wide avenue for compassion and mercy…..there was an annual Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), for national repentance and forgiveness of sin, and a sacrificial system, some of which dealt with the atoning element in the process.

    In other words, the same God you traduce as being evil and bloodthirsty provided a way of forgiveness…..It follows that that obvious goal of the laws and the penalties was not to kill sinners, but to get them to repent, be atoned for, and be forgiven.

    To ignore that part of the Torah….the mercy element….is to paint a heinously false portrait not only of the God of the Bible, but of the Jewish people, their history, and their actual practices.

  • Jack, you wrote:

    ***In short, while the story is not found in the earliest manuscripts of the four gospels, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It could well have happened. **

    Sure, and the same reasoning you use here could be applied just as well to other stuff appearing later, like the Gospels of Mary Magdalene, Thomas, Philip Truth, and so on. By your criteria, Jesus said and did all kinds of other things, like making live birds out of clay and killing additional children. I expect you’ll reject all of those, and it looks like you’ll have no justification other than your own personal preference.

    ****Not only that; the tone, tenor, and style (in the adultery story) is that of the Jesus seen elsewhere in the four gospels.****

    Simply false. Anyone bothering to sit down and read the four canonical gospels can see immediately that the Jesus described by “John’s” gospel is completely unlike the Jesus described in the other three (the synoptic gospels). In John, Jesus never casts out a single demon, talks incessantly about himself, never does anything special with the bread and wine at supper, does showy miracles explicitly to convince people that he’s the messiah, is never baptized, transfigured, or tempted, says nothing about the poor and oppressed, never says the Lord’s prayer, and never even tells a freakin’ parable! The opposite is seen in the other gospels. There is no single “Jesus in the four gospels”. Instead, there is one Jesus in the first three gospels, and a very different Jesus in the 4th gospel. The fact that this story was put in the only gospel in which it fits is hardly a surprise.

    Just to see how clear this is, notice how the adultery story doesn’t fit with the Jesus in Mark, Matthew, or Luke. In those, Jesus routinely gets angry and is simply a jerk. In Mk, he’s constantly getting mad at the disciples, gets mad at a leper simply asking to be healed in Mk 1:40-44, gets made at a fig tree (really weird) in Mk 11 (Mt and Lk have many of those same stories). In Lk, Jesus even talks about himself, as king, ordering his followers to kill those who aren’t Christian (Lk 19). Sorry, that’s not at all like the adultery story.

  • Jack, while it is certainly true that people did often live into their 40’s and 50’s (and rarely even later), the dates of composition of Mt, Lk and Jn were around 80-105, making someone born around the time Jesus was (as his disciples would have been) around 75-110 when these stories were written. While possible, it obviously ain’t likely then.

  • I think the widespread confusion is mostly the result of gullible people reading The Da Vinci Code and thinking it was fact-based.

    So much for the “Information Age.” The internet has increased our access to garbage even more than our access to facts.

  • John’s gospel was written to supplement the synoptics, not to rehash what they had already covered. Of course it speaks of different episodes.

    And on the contrary, the story of Jesus and the adulteress fits PERFECTLY with the character He displays in the synoptics. His aim in virtually every personal encounter recorded is to redirect the natural human tendency to condemn and minimize the other and instead shine the light of exposure onto the sin dwelling in EVERY human heart This is what the entire sermon on the mount is about. This is point of the stories of the rich young ruler, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, the Pharisee and the tax collector, and many others. This is the point of His statement that He came to call not the righteous (of whom there were none) but sinners (which includes everyone) to repentance. He’s doing and saying all the same things, only in different settings. How on earth can you read the gospels and not see this?

  • “No, they were of course not accepted (in most cases) because they contained elements of other Christian churches.”

    Says who? The earliest source we have on the subject, the Muratonian Fragment, tells us quite matter-of-factly why other works were not accepted as on par with scripture — they came after the apostles’ time. What evidence do you have to rebut that?

    “Practically all evidence-based scholars agree that Peter didn’t write 2Pt (and likely didn’t write 1 Pt), and that Paul didn’t write Hebrews.”

    Based on what?

    “…since the stories show incorrect geography of palestine and ignorance of Jewish customs”

    Such as?

    “Matthew, as a lower class Jew in Galilee, is unlikely to have been as fluent in greek as would have been needed to write G of Mt (originally written in fluent greek).”

    How do you know he was “lover class?” And since tax collectors were responsible for turning in reports to Rome, it is to be expected that they would have known how to write in Greek.

    “Also, Mt was written around 80-90, which makes Mt authorship difficult to imagine at a time when the average life expectancy was in the 30s.”

    Assumption. What evidence do you have that the 80-90 date is correct?

    “Most tellingly, the GoM copies nearly all of GoMk – which means that suggesting Mt actually wrote it means that an actualy eyewitness would copy descriptions from someone who was not an eyewitness.”

    Assuming that Mark came first, which has never been proven. Also assuming that there were no earlier non-Greek sources to draw upon (which, incidentally, were mentioned by the early church fathers).

    “Both the name (luke) and the idea that he knew Paul are ideas that don’t appear until the late 2nd century, too long to be reliable.”

    Jon, please be serious. The epistles of Paul pre-date the gospels themselves, and Paul makes reference to Luke sending his greetings to the Christians of Colossae.

    “Luke may also use Josephus, which was written in 93.”

    Or they both may have used (actually, almost certainly used) other sources now lost to us.

    “…and the likely composition date of around 80-100 again makes a “traveling companion” in the 30’s unlikely.”

    Again, what specific evidence demonstrates that the 80-100 date is correct?

    “That’s like going by hearsay today to decide what happened in WWII, in an age with no recording devices.”

    Don’t wade off into hearsay — it doesn’t mean what most people think it does.

    Seems to me you’re relying on a lot of unproven assumptions and appeals to authority. To rebut 1st century accounts and attributions of those accounts you need to produce something a bit meatier than speculations 2000 years removed from the events.

  • Jon, I’m simply responding to your failure to distinguish between a story being probably (though not definitively) absent from the original four gospels and the question of whether the story is true or untrue.

    You conflated the two; I am simply saying that the former does not necessitate the latter.

    To conflate the two is to compel us to believe the impossible –that every word that Jesus ever uttered was stored up in some book or books, be it the four canonical gospels or anything else. Such a claim about anyone is self-evidently absurd.

    And that is why the story is deliberately bracketed in mainstream Bible translations. It is in no way a commentary on whether the story was true or untrue. That, again, is a separate question.

    As to your comparisons between it and the stories in the so-called gnostic writings which never made it into the canon, I thought I dealt with that issue by saying that the John 7 story fits well with Christ’s character as expressed in the other gospels, and does not require us to believe anything other than the reality of the conversation taking place. The examples you’ve just cited from the so-called gnostic gospels are a profound departure from anything remotely connected to the canonical gospels.

    And not only that….while virtually every scholar conversant with first-century Israel says that the four gospels reflect a Jewish milieu plus a world view consistent with the Jewish belief in the reality and goodness of creation and matter, Gnosticism is a flat-out rejection of this. Gnostics believed that matter was either illusory, or, if real, then evil and the handiwork of an evil demigod. It had as much to do with Jewishness and Judaism as belief in wood nymphs or monkey gods.

    As for your comparison of John’s Gospel with the Synoptics, the writing style is different, yes, as is the greater abundance of theological content, but the character of Jesus is identical, both in the claims about who He is and in the character and personality He displays. It is unmistakably the same Jesus.

    The one fascinating difference, though, is that John’s Gospel reads far more like an insider’s account…..there is more richness of detail across the board. Scholars tend to focus on the richness when it comes to Jesus’ teachings, which are far more extensive in John than in the other three gospels. But the richness doesn’t end there. We have detailed insider accounts of the relationship and occasional rivalry between Peter and John — and in each instance, the writer appears to be speaking from John’s end of things. We have similar accounts of seemingly mundane and tactical decisions on whether Jesus and his disciples should stay in Galilee at a given moment or cross over into Judea. We have intimations of the tension between Galileans and Judeans, written from a Galilean perspective. And we have a tremendous wealth of detail about every nook and cranny of those two separately administered provinces, including intricate details about cities and towns, pools and porticos — places and things as they existed before the destruction of both provinces in 70-73 AD by Rome.

    When it comes to John’s Gospel, you’ve fallen into the fallacy that just because it contains material not found in the other three gospels, that makes it of questionable veracity. That’s a common mistake to make. It’s the wrong test for veracity, one that professional historians try their best to avoid…its logic would lead to the surreal conclusion that we cannot ever add to what we know.

    The right test is not whether a book parrots the other books — it’s whether it flatly contradicts or doesn’t contradict them. Addition does not equal contradiction.

  • Max, even you don’t believe half of the juvenile rant you just posted.

    Reading it, I find it hard to believe there’s a grown middle-aged man behind it.

    Maybe a middle-aged man in the throes of a mid-life crisis, perhaps….

  • @Jack,

    “If things were as simple as Max makes them out to be, why would any even remotely humane and intelligent person believe a single word of the Bible?”

    Change the last word to “Q’uran” and suddenly you agree with me ENTIRELY that we are talking bout a ridiculous holy book.
    Yet this insight seems to teach you nothing.

    “Based on Max’s logic…none of us should be constantly running into Bible-believing individuals who are decent and wise people.”

    WRONG.
    Decent and wise people ignore Jesus’ commands:
    “Hate your children…or you are unworthy of me” – JESUS (
    Is exactly what I am talking about. The parents of that Transgender child Leelah are not an example of ‘decent’ or wise!
    Most Christians are decent because they reject almost everything instructed by Jesus. The rise of acceptance for Gay weddings is a perfect example – they have no interest in Jesus nor Yahweh and it shows – they are decent!

    “A wise and fair-minded person, rather than yelling, “a ha, gotcha!”, will dig deeper, ask more questions, and try to get to the bottom of it…”

    Which is exactly how we have determined that God is a failed hypothesis.
    We owe nothing to these discrepant, horrible, ignorant preachings. They are not ‘scripture’ written by a god but ancient prejudices written by illiterates who didn’t know where the sun went at night.

  • @Jack,

    “Max, even you don’t believe half of the juvenile rant you just posted.”

    I never post things I don’t believe.

    There is evidence for every one of those charges. The Christian Right’s support of and success with the Hobby Lobby case alone proves six of them!

    Women’s Rights,
    Women’s reproductive rights,
    Anti-contraceptive Rights,
    Dominance of one religion over non-believers,
    Unconstitutionally gifting a corporation with the right to have a religion for purposes of manipulating its employees spending of their own money – and denying rights to others.

    I cared about humanity when I was young
    and I care about humanity as an old man.

    Even when I was a Christian I was a better Christian than the sort that would rip down the Separation of Church and State!

  • odgie,

    I guess last month’s death of Leelah, the transgendered child, is just a laughing matter to people such as yourself?

    “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” – JESUS (Matthew 10:35)

    Well, to hell with you, then Jesus!

    Some religion you have there. And a lot of good it has done.

    I would kick such a foul, despicable person out of my home and call the police!

  • All this rant amounts to is the old radical-left confrontational (“up-against-the-wall-mo-fo”) style applied to gay issues. It’s based on the cynical view that the way to win politically and culturally on any issue is to bully, intimidate, and marginalize the other side, whichever side that may be, and to turn the heat up, not down, when the side that’s losing acts reasonably and appears to be suing for peace.

    And the dirty little secret is that the real enemy that’s being fought is not conservatism or traditional religion, but something far more basic, something that holds our society together — old-fashioned liberalism, the belief that says, “I disagree with what you’re saying, but I will defend your right to say it.”

    This is totalitarianism, plain and simple. Its aims are unlimited — the total and complete destruction of the other side. It’s not about one or two or three issues. Its about a full gamut of issues.

    And no matter what the issue is, the list of grievances is always limitless and forever….because the real aim is not satisfaction of grievances, but destruction of all obstacles to power.

    Some people who deploy these tactics know exactly what they’re doing and why, but lots are just tools for others who do.

  • @Jack,

    “the same God you traduce as being evil and bloodthirsty provided a way of forgiveness…..It follows that that obvious goal of the laws and the penalties was not to kill sinners, but to get them to repent, be atoned for, and be forgiven.”

    More nonsense from you.

    “Make slaves of those around you.” – Yahweh
    “Rape them in daylight” – Yahweh
    “I shall kill all of the babies.” – Yahweh
    “Save the pretty slaves for rape” – Yahweh

    “Love the Lord who commands all that evil or I’ll send you to Hell” – Jesus

    The ‘method of atonement’ was to agree with God.
    The way of forgiveness was to agree with God and thank him for those sickening laws!

    You defend the indefensible.
    Hilarious if it weren’t so disgusting.

    “Let he is without sin cast the first stone” is incoherent and out of character for Jesus who supported the Mosaic Stoning Laws.(Matthew 5:18-19) – it was clearly forged between 400-500 C.E. – it is a scrap of nonsense.

    Jesus is attractive only on a superficial level.
    It is YOU who fails to go deeper and see the truth.

    Jesus is a crutch handed to you by your grandparents and you are too emotionally invested to shake free and think for yourself.

  • @Jack,

    “This is totalitarianism, plain and simple. Its aims are unlimited — the total and complete destruction of the other side.”

    You are defending theocracy! the very thing you claim to be against!

    “A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened.”
    George Orwell, Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 2 My Country Right or Left 1940 – 1943

    Religion is Totalitarianism
    And
    Totalitarianism is Religion

    Freedom is impossible wherever religion is strong!
    Which is why I advocate both: freedom of religion – as well as freedom FROM religion.

    Get religion out of our laws!

    ______
    AM
    For Peace, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • But of course, based on Max’s logic, after kicking out Jesus, who never even attempted to kill a single soul, Max would prefer comrades Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Che, Fidel, Ho, Pol Pot — those who participated in the greatest atheist political experiment in history, slaughtering and starving up to 150 million fellow human beings, while dooming countless more to gulags, “re-education” camps, and other garden spots.

    150 million dead, Max….every one of them at the hands of officially atheist regimes which turned half the world into a mortuary and nearly wiped the world clear of freedom and dignity.

    Now go buy yourself a Che shirt.

  • Max, by your own admission, you were in your own little world before becoming an atheist….as you are today as an atheist.

    Based on your own admission, you did not care about “humanity” then…..how could you if by your own admission, you were in a fantasy cocoon, never asking any hard questions about human suffering?

  • Somehow I doubt that Max has read (or heard of) Alexis de Tocqueville and his “Democracy in America” book.

    It would disturb his little cocoon….

  • Alan, you’re assuming that the universe or matter was always here. That’s at best a shaky assumption scientifically.

  • Unresponsive, Max….. when countered, you run and hide….as usual.

    Meanwhile, the most powerful atheist leaders promoting explicitly atheist ideology and running officially atheist regimes were history’s worst mass murderers.

    Picture tens of thousands of Crusades, jihads, and Spanish Inquisitions rolled into one.

    150 million dead, Max.

    Welcome to a world without God.

  • But if you ask decent and wise Christians or Jews what accounts for their behavior you laud, they will point to the countless scriptures you conveniently ignore….entire blocks of the Bible that not even you are capable of spinning into something negative.

    That’s the problem with your position…..You are forced to pretend that they don’t exist. You’re forced to hope that nobody has the presence of mind to refer to them.

    And that’s hardly an enviable position to be in, Max.

  • Jon, we just disagree on the when the four gospels were written and published. I believe there’s strong evidence — and that it’s been there for many decades — that at least three of the four gospels were completed well before 70 CE/AD. As for the fourth, the Gospel of John, I lean toward a post-70 date for it, but I am far from convinced that it wasn’t written before 70. At the very least, the writer displays a remarkable knowledge of first-century Israel as it was before 70. At the very least, he was literally there, in its towns and cities, on its roads, with its people. The richness and depth of knowledge he shows is that of a resident well before the Roman destruction. And he seems preoccupied with quintessential early-mid-first-century concerns, such as the tension between Galileans and Judeans.

  • @Jack,

    “150 million dead, Max…at the hands of officially atheist regimes “

    Jack in the Box – you always pop out
    with the usual Fascist Religious Cults to slander Atheism, which is the lack of belief in any Gods.

    Atheism is not a religion. It is the lack of belief in ANY divinity.

    Atheism is not the cause of these Fascist Religous Cults. It is the remedy for them!

    Stalin – Agrarian Religious Cult with a God (Czar) and Miracles. Failure to follow the Religion condemns one to Death.

    This is not Atheism.

    Pol Pot – Agrarian Religious Cult with a Theraveda Buddhist God. Failure the follow the God condemns one to Death.

    This is not Atheism.

    Hitler – A Catholic Aryan Religious Cult with a God (Fuhrer), Waffen SS Disciples, a special deal with the Vatican, Gott Mit Uns, and the Miraclous Power of the Aryan Race. Failure to follow the Religion condemns one to death.

    This is not Atheism.

    Hirohito – A Sun God Religious Cult on Earth, Kamikazee Sacrifice for Miraculous Eternal Peace. Failure to follow the religion condemns one to death.

    This is not Atheism.

    The remedy for Fascist Religious Cults (like Christian Theocracy or Muslim Caliphates) is ATHEISM.

    AMERICA IS RUNS ON ATHEISTIC LAW
    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion”
    The Separation of Church and State
    is exactly what you are (unwittingly) arguing for!

    The solution to Hitler, Stalin
    and other RELIGIOUS CULTS is
    NOT MORE JESUS!!

    It is The Separation of Church and State

    _____
    AM
    For Peace, Democracy and The Separation of Church and State

  • @Jack,

    “Alan, you’re assuming that the universe or matter was always here. That’s at best a shaky assumption scientifically.”

    Good grief! Why do you care about science all of a sudden?

    Further, if it is wrong to say “the universe was always here”
    Who are you to claim a God was always here? Even a religious grandmother from the old country would spot the dead end nonsense in that claim.

  • @Jack,

    “how could you if by your own admission, you were in a fantasy cocoon, never asking any hard questions about human suffering?”

    You are delusional and caught in the fantasy – YOU THINK you care about human suffering. You are in that cocoon right now.
    That is the delusion of Christianity and Islam.

    The illusion of an afterlife is how it works. God will bring the good people to heaven. That is the lie you tell yourself. But it isn’t true. They are all dead.

    How do I know my caring was misplaced when I was a Christian?
    Because now that I know the dead do not rise up – the urgent call is one of peace and caring for people in this life now.

    You are in a cocoon of fantasy – you shrug off people’s agonies as if ‘it is in god’s hands’ but it isn’t – it is in YOUR HANDS.

    I know this now.
    As a Christian I sent out fake lifeboats to people who were drowning. I thought the lifeboats were real. But it was a lie.

    Now I send out real lifeboats and that is what makes the difference between someone who cares and someone who does not.

    You have not examined the lifeboats you are sending to others. They are all BS.

  • @Jack,

    “Picture tens of thousands of Crusades, jihads, and Spanish Inquisitions rolled into one.”

    Okay. But we don’t need to multiply anything.
    The 900 MILLION dead
    are hard numbers.

    Every war has GOD on its side.
    Don’t claim these wars to be mistakes – each was commanded by a God in the name of a Religion and a God has been proclaimed the winner in each instance:

    WARS AND MASS DEATHS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE
    CAUSED AT THE DIRECTION OF GODS OR RELIGION:

    Aids – 20 Million innocent people dead, Catholics actively obstructed and denied the distribution of condoms over a 19-year period through Catholic clinics even as millions of women begged to be saved from their husbands (“Aids is bad but condoms are worse” – Popes John Paul and Ratzinger – VATICAN)


    Spanish Inquisition – 200,000 innocents dead – Catholic
 Fascists

    The Crusades – 1095-1291 c.e. – 2,000,000 innocents dead – (Catholic Fascists)

    Anti-Semitic Pograms of Europe and the Middle East – 5 millions dead over 2000 years excluding the Holocaust
 – Christian fascists

    Witch Hunts – 500,000 COMPLETELY INNOCENT PEOPLE BURNED TO DEATH (Christian Fascists)

    Ireland – 600,000 dead (Catholic Fascists vs. Protestant Fascists)


    Rwanda 1994 (Catholic Fascists killed 900,000 with machetes – many were priests and nuns such as Father Anatole Serromba who slaughtered 2000 innocent people by himself)


    Taipeng Rebellion in China (1850 – 1864) 45 million INNOCENT PEOPLE dead (Christian Fascists)

    Boznia-Herzegovina – 200,000 innocents dead – (Catholic Fascists)

    The Ivory Coast civil wars 150,000 innocents dead (Catholic Fascists)


    Franco, the Spanish Civil War (Catholic Fascists)

    Cypriat War (Catholics)

    East Timor civil war

    Sri Lankan civil war

    Syria vs. Israel

    Kashmir civil war (Muslim fascists)
    Chechnya civil war

    Sudan

    Thirty Years War (Protestants VS. Catholics)

    WW1 – War of Christendom (37 Million dead)

    WW2 Nazi Anti-Semitism, “Gott Mit Uns” Axis powers – 50 Million dead
 INCLUDING 6 MILLION COMPLETELY INNOCENT JEWS
    (CHRISTIAN FASCISTS)

    Albigensian Crusade, 1208-49
    Algeria, 1992-
    Baha’is, 1848-54
    Bosnia, 1992-95
    Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901

    Constantinian Empire & Christian Romans, 30-313 CE
    Croatia, 1991-92
    English Civil War, 1642-46
    Huguenot Wars, 1562-1598
    India, 1992-2002
    India: Suttee & Thugs
    Indo-Pakistani Partition, 1947

    Iran, Islamic Republic, 1979-

    Iraq, Shiites, 1991-92

    Jews, 1348

    Jonestown, 1978

    Lebanon 1860 / 1975-92
    Molucca Is., 1999-
    Mongolia, 1937-39

    Northern Ireland, 1974-98

    Russian pogroms 1905-06 / 1917-22

    St. Bartholemew Massacre, 1572

    Shang China, ca. 1300-1050 BCE

    Shimabara Revolt, Japan 1637-38

    Sikh uprising, India, 1984-91

    Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1834
    Tudor England

    Vietnam, 1800s

    Xhosa, 1857

    Arab Outbreak, 7th Century CE

    Arab-Israeli Wars, 1948-

    Al Qaeda, 1993-

    Dutch Revolt, 1566-1609

    Nigeria, 1990s, 2000s

    800,000,000 people dead because of religion.


    THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR:
    The Southern Christian Baptist Church nurtured war on the Union.

    FUNDED BY and founded by Southern Plantation Owners in 1837 argued for the HOLY SANCTITY OF SLAVERY based solely on the Bible. The Southern Baptist Church in its religious argument in favor of Slavery turned the argument for Secession into a religious matter.

    Once GOD is on your side, you will do any amount of evil.
    Yet God doesn’t appear to take a side in these battles.
    
____

    Now, please show me where Atheists
    like Jonas Salk, Voltaire, Carl Sagan, Mark Twain, Gene Roddenberry or Isaac Asimov ever burned a witch!

    ALMOST A BILLION INNOCENTS DEAD BECAUSE OF GOD.

    For shame.
    How dare you invoke Atheism as a problem?

  • @Jack,

    Of Course the Bible has some good things in it!

    “Whatever is lovely, whatever is beautiful…Think on these things..” – Paul (Phillipians 4:8 )
    “Love is gentle, love is kind” – (Corinthians 14:4)
    “Do as the Good Samaritan” – (Luke 10:37)
    “Forgive them..they know not what they do” – (Luke 24:34)

    It would be a true miracle
    if nothing good were in the bible!

    But just because these lines are beautiful
    it does not follow that the entirety of the Bible is TRUE! It does not even follow that ANY of the Bible is factually correct.

    NO one has permission to conflate
    the few nice lines of the Bible into an understanding that the Bible is true or that the reams of despicable nonsense are validated.

    Yet that is what you are doing!

    Maybe Mien Kampf has some good things in it! You would probably agree with its religious commentary which is entirely in accord with Christian theology:

    “The act which brings about such a development is a sin against the will of the Eternal Creator. And as a sin this act will be avenged. Man’s effort to build up something that contradicts the iron logic of Nature brings him into conflict with those principles to which he himself exclusively owes his own existence. By acting against the laws of Nature he prepares the way that leads to his ruin.”
    Mein Kampf (p.162)

    Does this mean Mein Kampf is a good book?
    Does it mean the rest of the book is true?
    OF COURSE NOT!
    Under no circumstances!

    The Bible, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Mein Kampf, The Q’uran – they are just books and manifestos from people who claimed ‘knowledge’ of gods.

    None of them are the word of any god. That is where you keep flunking this argument.

    A few beautiful things said by a fictional Robin Hood
    doesn’t mean Robin Hood is real!

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • Shawnie wrote:

    ****Says who? The earliest source we have on the subject, the Muratonian Fragment, t… What evidence do you have to rebut that?”**************

    Of the many sources of evidence that scriptures were often rejected simply for having a different type of Christianity just one is the action of Serapion, who forbade the use of the Gospel of Peter around the 200 CE because it contained docetic Christianity. Even the Muratorian (not “Muratonian”) fragment you cite is clear that heresy is a reason for rejection (“gall cannot be mixed with honey”).

    So you have yourself given evidence of my point, in addition to Serapion, etc. “Heresy” meaning “a type of Christianity different from mine”, is deal-killer for inclusion, and the only reason given by the Muratorian canon for thinking that the letter to the Laodiceans is a forgery.

    ****“Practically all evidence-based scholars agree that Peter didn’t write 2Pt (and likely didn’t write 1 Pt), and that Paul didn’t write Hebrews.”

    Based on what?****

    And this brings up an answer to nearly all of your questions.

    In the case of 2Pt and Hb, the evidence includes the writing style, the words used (often words that weren’t used before 80 CE – like finding a letter “from Lincoln” that includes “LOL”), the theology put forth, and so on. Listing (and explaining all of it) would take, literally, a book – and I’m not an expert who knows all of it – though I have checked quite a bit of it. You can look it all up yourself without much effort, or better yet, take a course on the New Testament at any reputable school or seminary.

    This applies to nearly all of the statements you questioned, such as the many dates of composition, denying Markan priority, and so on.

    The basic problem here is that you are showing ignorance/doubt of things that anyone familiar with scholarly study of the NT would know, and asking for pieces of evidence as if this were a simple issue.

    Let me give you an example. Say that I denied that germs cause disease, and challenged you to prove that germs do cause disease.

    You could certainly not give the huge amount of specialized evidence in a form any of us could understand. Heck, you probably aren’t familiar with more than 1% of it, nor am I.

    So then do we conclude that germs might not cause disease, even thought the experts in the field state that they do?

    No. We agree with the experts unless we are experts ourselves. That’s not a fallacious “appeal to authority”, that’s simply being a rational person.

    You and I are not NT scholars. I am not fluent in both Hebrew and Greek, nor have I obtained a Ph.D. in the NT, and I’d guess you are in a similar situation. As such, neither of us has a leg to stand on in disagreeing with the scholars. Everything I’ve written is supported by the majority of scholars, while you disagree with them. So I don’t have to provide any evidence at all, and the many pieces I did supply are simply being charitable to help you.

    That goes for any rational discussion of any other topic too. Want to disagree that Alexander the Great to to modern day iran? Become an expert first, or forget it. and so on. You are not entitled to make up your own facts, deny evidence, or ignore the conclusions of those who are experts from a position of ignorance.

    If you do, you not only are being irrational, but you also look silly by making howler statements like this one:

    **** Jon wrote: “Both the name (luke) and the idea that he knew Paul are ideas that don’t appear until the late 2nd century, too long to be reliable.”

    Shawnie replied: Jon, please be serious. The epistles of Paul pre-date the gospels themselves, and Paul makes reference to Luke sending his greetings to the Christians of Colossae.****

    Well duh. I’m pointing out that there is no reason to think that the Luke mentioned by Paul wrote the 3rd gospel, not that some person named Luke existed. Irenaeus, in the late 2nd century, is the first person to suggest that Pauls “Luke” wrote the 3rd gospel.

    You know what the most ironic thing about your most recent post is? It’s the fact that this sub discussion started out by you objecting to my statement that most Christians are ignorant of current scholarship, and your last post proves my point over and over.

    I’ve already listed a website – there are plenty of others to look at, as well as classes at seminaries and colleges, and even audio classes at the teaching company. It’s your job,not mine, to become educated on the topic, and at least find out what the experts say, if you refuse to become an expert yourself.

    But in any case, disagreeing with the experts from a position of ignorance reflects poorly on you.

  • Jack, please read my post above about disagreeing with the experts – it applies just as well to your post about what you “believe” about the dates of composition.

    To simply list (much less explain) the many reasons why scholars today conclude on the dates given in my earlier post for the composition of the gospels would be a long post, and meaningless without a book of explanation and knowledge of NT studies.

    I’m sorry, but it simply doesn’t matter what you “believe”, just like it doesn’t matter if you “believe” that germs can’t cause disease or if you “believe” that Marco Polo went to North America. You are making statements in disagreement with the experts from a position of ignorance.

    You are of course free to disagree with the experts – if you first become an expert by taking the appropriate classes, proving yourself by earning the appropriate degree, and so on. If you are too lazy to do that, then simply don’t disagree with the experts.

    I don’t understand why some people fail to understand this simple concept. From a position of ignorance they disagree with experts on topics they don’t understand, thus claiming that their ignorance is as good as the expert’s knowledge.

  • Again, please read my post about disagreeing with the experts. It’s obvious to anyone – including the experts looking at the NT, that John’s Jesus is very different from those in the other three. The idea that gospels can’t repeat stories is obviously wrong when practically all of Mark is repeated in Mt and Lk.

    Shawnie asked

    ******How on earth can you read the gospels and not see this?**

    Well, how on earth did the experts read the gospels and not see it?

  • “The idea that gospels can’t repeat stories is obviously wrong when practically all of Mark is repeated in Mt and Lk.”

    Is that what I claimed? No, I said that the aim of John’s gospel was to supplement what had already been recorded.

    “I’m pointing out that there is no reason to think that the Luke mentioned by Paul wrote the 3rd gospel, not that some person named Luke existed. Irenaeus, in the late 2nd century, is the first person to suggest that Pauls “Luke” wrote the 3rd gospel.”

    And again, what is your basis for rebutting that attribution? Do you have evidence of someone who suggested a different author?

    “In the case of 2Pt and Hb, the evidence includes the writing style, the words used (often words that weren’t used before 80 CE – like finding a letter “from Lincoln” that includes “LOL”), the theology put forth, and so on.”

    Stylographic analysis can provide some evidence that two texts were written by the same author; what it cannot effectively do is prove that two texts are by different authors, because one author can use dramatically different styles at different times. And of course if he is dictating the letter to another who will of course have their own writing style then the whole thing falls apart — and Paul plainly admits to this practice. In the case of Peter, we don’t even have other verified compositions from him to compare with so there is no way to rule out his authorship. As for words not used before AD 80, hogwash. One instance of its use uncovered in an inscription or papyrus blows that away in no time–which has certainly happened before.

    As for the rest of your lengthy post above, nice job of wordily explaining why you don’t have any substantive answers other than appeal to authority.

    Experts can do many things, Jon. What they can not really do with anything approaching accuracy is decide whether 2000 year old attributions are incorrect or not, or whether someone 2000 years old did or didn’t say what was He was recorded as saying. And sometimes, they’ll even admit to this game-playing, as did Dr. Charles Harold Dodd of Cambridge: “Much of the late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton; the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that, if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church, he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud.”

    I hope, though, that you’ll come back the next time a “Jesus-myth” story comes along and tell everyone why we need to believe everything the experts say about that. 🙂

  • Really? I graduated from Cambridge University a few years ago and still live there, and my experience is many very very intelligent people (ie many many hundreds that I’ve known personally) including a large number of science PhDs who go through the evidence and commit to Christ. Do these folk, who are now becoming business, government and academia world leaders, count as your “college educated people”?

  • @ Hi Max, and a Happy New Year to you also!

    Max writes — “I am not ready to say “I believe God does not exist.” I can only say “I completely lack belief in any of the gods which I have heard about”

    That’s a good and respectable way of describing your beliefs or atheism.

    I’m not able to declare the same simply because I see the ‘silver lining’ (wheat) in so many things about Christianity that I can’t ignore what I think is their immense value. That is how I encourage myself to believe in the best that Jesus and his religion has to offer.

    I would like to ask you a few questions I’ve been wanting to ask. Some time ago you wrote about your life with family and friends in favorable terms, which I know your thankful for, as many things happen to you in good terms.

    Questions —
    1. Do you think that your previous Christian beliefs are in any way responsible for the good you experience today?

    2. Could that be possible?

    3. Do you think you owe your former beliefs a word of thanks for helping make you the happy camper you are today?

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