Who Wrote the Bible?
(Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes)
Who Wrote The Bible? That was the cover story in the US News & World Report December 1990 issue. I was still steeped in Armstrongism and paid little attention to outside world events. For I saw my calling and was patiently awaiting the resurrection when I would become King or Priest. The article begins with these words:
"It is the foundation of Christian faith. On its words rests the very existence of the church and the hope of salvation for believers throughout the ages. Many consider it the only dependable and abiding revelation of God to humanity. Yet the New Testament, in many ways, is a mysterious and enigmatic collection of writings--one that has entranced, enthralled and perplexed scholars and theologians for nearly 2000 years.
It is often called "The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". But Jesus didn't write a word of it. And while some of the writings bear the names of some who walked with Him on the dusty roads of Judea, centuries of scholarship have turned up little convincing evidence that his 12 closest disciples did much writing either.
Who. then, wrote the 27 books that make up the traditional New Testament canon? Could they have been written by contemporaries of Jesus? Are they close to their original form? Or were they revised by early church leaders to reflect changing views of who Jesus was, to address the problems of a growing church or even to advance political agendas?
Biblical scholars, linguists and archaeologists among others have applied their tools in hopes of clarifying the origins of the writings that chronicle Christianity's early days. The writings are a diverse assortment of historical narratives, letters, sermons and apocalyptic visions that together form an intriguing mosaic of the life of Jesus and the evolving identity of the Christian church. They were written over a period of 60 to 80 years, the first letters probably within a decade or so of Jesus' execution. According to tradition, they were composed in a variety of locations ---a fine house in Jerusalem, a dusty village of Asia Minor, or a dank prison cell in Rome. They come from a time of political tension and religious confusion, as the young church sought to protect itself against repression from the Roman state and from heresies within the church itself". --Unquote.
Now skipping over to a section of the article titled "The Four Gospels". it opens with this quote from Luke: "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us...it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully, from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order...so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught."....The Gospel According to Luke
It begins- "They are regarded by many as the most sacred of Christian writings. The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John proclaim through dramatic narrative, recorded sayings and Theological discourse the story of Jesus of Nazareth and the significance of His life, death and resurrection. To most of Christendom, they contain the only authoritative record of Jesus' words kept by disciples who actually sat at the feet of Jesus in the cases of Matthew and John, or were close to someone who had, as in Mark and Luke. In large measure, it was the apostolic credentials of the authors that set the Gospels apart in the early church from a myriad of other first century writings that claimed to be divine revelation of Christian truth. It was that special provenance (source) that led to the prominence of writings in the New Testament.
Now skipping down a little further- "Once written, many experts believe, The Gospels were redacted, or edited, repeatedly as they were copied and circulated among church elders during the late first and early 2nd Centuries. At best, say some scholars, the Gospels are correctly linked with the names of those early Christian teachers who originated the oral traditions. At worst, the names of Christ's disciples were attached much later to texts that were favored by leaders of the early church in order to give those texts more authority than the many competing documents. "The bottom line," says Jerome Neyrey of the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass, "is we really don' know for sure who wrote the Gospels".
Reliable records. Though it is widely questioned now, the tradition of apostolic authorship has a long and impressive history. Justin Martyr, a Christian philosopher, who wrote around A.D.150, referred to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke as "memoirs of the Apostles". That description, says Helmut Koester of Harvard Divinity School, suggests that the writings were viewed as "reliable historical records". Bishop Papias of Hierapolis, writing between AD 100 and 150, described Mark as the Apostle Peter's "Interpreter," adding that he "wrote accurately all that he remembered." Papias also mentioned the Apostle Matthew as having composed "the sayings of the Lord." However, many modern scholars place the composition of Matthew quite late, between AD 80 and 100, making it implausible to some that Matthew the tax collector, one of Jesus' original 12 disciples, was really the writer".
Continuing- "The first independent evidence that the third Gospel was written by Luke--a Greek physician who was close to the Apostle Paul and the only gentile Gospel author---appears in writings of Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, near the end of the second century. Irenaeus stated that "Luke, who was also a follower of Paul, put down in a book the Gospel that was preached by him [Paul]".
The writer of Luke's Gospel is believed also to have written the Acts of the Apostles, a detailed chronicle of the development of the young church as it spread from Jerusalem to Rome. But as I. Howard Marshall, a professor of Aberdeen University in Scotland, reports, a "majority of scholars deny that Luke 'the beloved physician' was the author" of Luke-Acts, because he seems to commit historical errors that a companion of Paul could not have committed.
The tradition attributing the fourth Gospel to the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee, is first noted by Irenaeus in AD 180. It is a tradition based largely on what some view as the writer's reference to himself as "the beloved disciple" and "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Current objections to John's authorship are based largely on modern textual analyses that strongly suggest the fourth Gospel was the work of several hands, probably followers of an elderly teacher in Asia Minor named John who claimed as a young man to have been a disciple of Jesus."
And a few paragraphs down- "Another theory that has tantalized Bible scholars in recent years suggests that a "Secret Gospel of Mark" may have been written before the now familiar version and that the lost edition contained material editors deleted from later texts. The theory rests, in large part, on a letter fragment that was discovered in 1958 in the Mar Saab Monastery, 12 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Allegedly written by an early church leader named Clement of Alexandria between AD 175 and 200, the fragment purports to reproduce portions of a "secret Gospel" that was to be shared only with those "initiated into the great mysteries". Included in the document is a passage, absent from all other Gospels, in which Jesus raises a rich man from the dead.
Mystery man. Some scholars think the resurrected figure is the same mysterious character who abruptly appears in Mark's Gospel after the arrest of Jesus, casting off a "linen cloth"-of the sort, perhaps, that might have clothed a dead body for burial--and running away naked from the Garden of Gethsemane. However, the authenticity of Clement's letter itself is seriously questioned. And if a secret Mark did exist, says Harvard's Helmut Koester, it was probably written after, and as an addition to, the canonical Gospel of Mark".
That particular section on the Four Gospels concludes with these two paragraphs.
"Some scholars say so many revisions occurred in the 100 years following Jesus' death that no one can be absolutely sure of the accuracy or authenticity of the Gospels, especially of the words the authors attributed to Jesus himself. "In over 40 years of oral transmission, the sayings of Jesus often were paraphrased," asserts Lane McGaughy, professor of religion at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Others, however, choose to believe that whatever textual revisions might have occurred, the integrity of the message remained intact. "The Gospels may not have Jesus' words," says Alan Johnson, New Testament professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, "but they accurately report His voice." unquote
Now let's turn to a reference on page 18 and 19 of The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy by Dennis McKinsey (quoting from Schmuel Golding's Biblical Polemics Newsletter):
"The New Testament was not written by any of the disciples of Jesus nor by persons who even lived in that era. ...When the church fathers compiled the N.T. in the yr. 397, they collected all the writings they could find and managed them as they pleased. They decided by vote which of the books out of the collection they had made should be the word of God and which shouldn't. They rejected several, they voted others to be doubtful, and those books that had a majority of votes were voted to be the word of God. Had they voted otherwise, all the people since calling themselves Christians would have believed otherwise. For the belief of one comes from the vote of the other."
Going on- "It is important to note the key concept here is that the Bible was put together by a group of men who met, went through a collection of writings, and chose through voting those that are deemed to be divinely inspired. Many of them wound up on the cutting room floor. Who the people were that did all this, we know little of. They called themselves by the general name of church fathers and this is all the average Christian knows of the matter...Disputes, however ran high among the people calling themselves Christians not only to points of doctrine but as to the authenticity of the books.
Constantine, an unbaptised pagan, convened the council of Nicea in the year 325 in order to settle these disputes. A major issue was the nature of the deity they worshipped. Based upon their decisions Jesus was changed from a man to God in the flesh, the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday, the Passover was changed to Easter. And the N.T. was canonized as a holy book". Unquote.
Golding adds--"In other words, men, rather than a god, composed the Bible. Many Christians, especially Protestants, have great difficulty with any assertion to the effect that men are responsible for the Bible coming into existence. On page 8 Answering Christianity's Most Puzzling Questions, Vol. one, apologist Richard Sisson states (On page 19)--"In fact, after the death of Jesus a whole flood of books that claimed to be inspired appeared. Disputes over which ones were true were so intense that the debate continued for centuries. Finally, in the fourth century a group of church leaders called a council and took a vote. The 66 books that comprised our cherished Bible were declared to be Scripture by a vote of 568 to 563". (Unquote)
I can understand why people accepted that back then. After all, Armstrong had us believing he was God's Apostle. Plus a whole lot of other garbage. Now I'd like to add some excerpts from "The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You To Read." There is a wonderful insert by Austin Miles called "Original Sin" beginning on page 215. The entire article is thought provoking. I'd like to quote the latter half and see if you don't agree:
When I was a Christian
When I was a Christian and deeply involved with the church, I read the Bible, yet I really did not read it. The preachers skillfully guided me over the majority of its passages, which I later found to be horrifying. Cloaked in the beauty of its poetic language, and having temporarily taken leave of my capacity to think or reason, I missed the real blood and guts issue of this classic literature.
One of the first things that I read in the Bible as an adult while in the state of non-thinking, was that God rested from his work on the seventh day. The all-Powerful, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient God got tired? And he had to rest???? This fatigue overtook the Almighty after He had created all living things "after their kind". After what kind? If this was "THE" creation of the world and its creatures, where did God get His models from which to pattern His creatures if nothing had existed before that? Moreover, how did I miss this? Perhaps I was preoccupied with my original sin of being born.
hy I didn't I question how and where Cain found a wife when, according to the Bible we are supposed to believe, there were only four people in existence: his father, mother and brother, along with himself. But then again, it was considered taboo in those days, indeed, in bad taste, to challenge the Bible. Having been indoctrinated from an early age, I just blindly accepted what inquiring minds have found to be absurd.
If God can do anything, if He is the master architect of the universe who can control any and all things, then why did He viciously cause to drown the entire human race, with the exception of Noah and his family because He got irritated at a few? Then Noah, who found such favor with God, went out and got drunk as the waters subsided.
In the meantime, countless innocents, including little babies, lived out their last moments of life in terror as the relentless, mountainous waters swelled around them and without mercy, angrily swallowed them up. This would seem to be a logical heavenly action. God's wrath is especially severe on little babies. They are filled with sin.
God once, according to words attributed to Him), became so outraged over attempted census taking in Israel that he killed seventy thousand men! (1 Chron. 21;2-7-14) Now I personally rebelled over giving information to the 1990 census-takers, but I wouldn't even think of carrying my displeasure to that extreme.
The God that the born again Christians demand that we love, instructed Moses to order three million people to stone to death one man who had upset Him. (Numbers 15:35-36). Talk about overkill! In a strange case of holy retribution, a ranting God struck an entire city of men down with hemorrhoids! (1 Sam. 5:8-9)
With his short-fused temper, why doesn't God justifiably strike down these preachers who use His name to steal, instead of allowing them to continue swindling people? This would make more sense than the repeated wholesale slaughter at the hand of God over something trivial.
To reassure us, the Bible proclaims that "God is not the author of confusion". Yet, we read in that same Bible that God Himself purposely caused the greatest confusion known to man, when He confounded their language at the construction site of the Tower of Babel so that the people He had created could not communicate with one another and complete the project.
These self-contradictions, found throughout the Bible, are so numerous, that not only can they be found on the same pages, but at least in on case, within a few lines of each other. Gal.6-2 instructs us to "Bear ye one another's burden," and then 8 lines down to Gal.6-5 we are informed: "For every man shall bear his own burden". Small wonder the Christians walk around in a daze.
I first became suspicious of the authenticity of the Bible by observing the conduct of those who practice its precepts. When I finally broke free of the church and Christianity, I switched the button of my brain back to "on," and then re-read the Bible. It is an overwhelming experience to actually read that book in its entirety while in a thinking analytical state, and to concentrate on what the words unquestionably say. Anyone who does this could never again say that they want to "live according to the Bible".
The Bible, as we know it, is not the authentic word of God. It cannot stand up under examination. I will now offer you shocking proof that man not only tampered with the Bible in order to control his fellow man through guilt and fear, but also made king size blunders in the process.
One day, while randomly reading my Bible, I made a startling discovery. After reading 2 Kings 19, I flipped a couple of pages and read some more. To my astonishment I found myself reading the same words. Now, class, open your Bibles to 2 Kings 19--and also to Isaiah 37.These books are word for word identical! No bible scholar has been able to give me a satisfactory explanation for this. (Maybe the scholar who double-titled heeded Jesus' warning and didn't take out one tittle----Alex)
Perhaps there is an "original sin," man's innate determination and ability to pervert everything, even the concept of God. To attribute the deeds and thoughts described in the Bible to a Benevolent God would indeed be blasphemy----Austin Miles
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