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My Take: There’s no such thing as the Bible and never has been
February 22nd, 2011
06:00 AM ET

My Take: There’s no such thing as the Bible and never has been

Editors note: Timothy Beal is the author of "The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book." He is a Florence Harkness Professor of Religion at Case Western Reserve University.

By Timothy Beal, Special to CNN

When things get messy, when the ground drops out from under us, we conjure myths of pristine and happy origins.

Unemployed, we might find ourselves longing for that former job as though it had been ideal, a time of complete self-fulfillment, forgetting how we dragged ourselves there some mornings, hoping for something better to come up.

In the middle of an ugly divorce, we might find ourselves longing for the early years of the relationship as though that had been our time in Eden, forgetting the stresses of money, unreliable used cars, in-laws and learning to live together.

These Edenic myths are illusions whose power lies not in their real presence but in their expression of what we really, really wish were true. But they also have the power to remove us from full, mindful living in the present, which is messy, unstable and insecure.

And that’s the stuff that opens us up to others, making us vulnerable to the real-life risks of relationship.

So too with the life of faith. We may long for an original, solid rock, a foundation that will not falter in the storm. For many, that rock is the Bible. But that, too, is an illusion.

Ronald Reagan once said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island and could have only one book to read for the rest of his life, it would be the Bible.

I wish someone would’ve asked, which one? Which version? Protestant? Jewish? Catholic? Orthodox? Syriac? Each has a different table of contents.

The Jewish one obviously doesn’t include the New Testament, but it also has a different order, beginning with the Torah, considered the core of scriptures, then the Nevi’im, or “prophets,” then the Ketuvim, or “writings.”

The Catholic Bible includes all of the Protestant Bible plus seven additional books, known as the Apocrypha, as well as significantly different versions of and additions to the books of Esther and Daniel.

Different Orthodox Bibles (Greek, Ethiopian, Slavonic, etc.) include those plus other apocryphal books as well as a collection of poems known as the Book of Odes. So does the traditional Syriac Bible, but it does not include Revelation and four other New Testament books found in other canons.

And which translation would he bring? There are dozens available, and they vary widely in both style and theology. Many of the most popular ones today are highly interpretive “meaning-driven” versions in which translators don’t translate word-for-word but instead write what they believe conveys the equivalent meaning of larger blocks of text.

So “my cup runneth over” might become “you blow me away.” Or a passage buried in Leviticus that prohibits a man from lying with another man as though with a woman (other no-no’s in this list include adultery, sex with a woman on her period, and marrying a divorcee or a brother’s widow) becomes a universal ban on homosexuality. Put two translations side-by-side, and you may find yourself hard pressed to know if they’re even translating the same passage.

And which edition would he bring? A good old-fashioned floppy black leather one? Or a niche-market edition like "The Golfer’s Bible," loaded with full-color pictures and “inspirational messages teed up to reach the golfer’s heart.”

Then again, depending on the terrain and climate of his island, "The Waterproof Bible: Sportsman’s Edition" might be a more practical choice. How about one of the many Manga Bibles on the market? Or a Biblezine, a Bible in magazine form filled with jump-off-the-page callouts and graphic features on balancing work and play, shopping, healthy eating, and finding love? Or one of the thousands of study Bibles loaded with notes and commentaries telling you what it means according this or that (usually conservative) viewpoint?

These various Bibles are not only different in physical form, but their value-adding content is also values-adding, steering readers toward theological, moral, and political views.

You get the point.

There is no “the Bible,” no book that is the one and only Bible. There are lots and lots of Bibles. They come in many different physical and digital forms with a great variety of content – different canons, translations, notes, commentaries, pictures, and so on.

Don’t believe me? Next time you’re in a big box bookstore, check out its huge Bible section, or just type “Bible” in the search box of an online store, and prepare to be overwhelmed. The Bible business sells more than 6,000 different products for over $800 million a year – all sold as “the Bible.” It’s a flood of biblical proportions.

“Hold up!” some will say. “Stop the madness! We’ve got to save the Bible! We’ve got to get back its original, pure, unadulterated Word, before there’s no turning back the tide.” An understandable response to this alarming scene of biblical liquidation.

In my new book, "The Rise and Fall of the Bible," I say, OK, let’s try that. What we discover is even more surprising than all the diversity of Bibles on the market today. Here’s the thing: Not only is there no such thing as the Bible now; there never has been.

There is no pure original, no Adam from which all Bibles have descended. During the time of Jesus, there were many different versions of Scriptures in circulation, and no central publishing house or religious authority to standardize the process.

Same with the early Christian movement. Indeed, it wasn’t until the 4th century that there was even an official canon of Christian Scriptures. Even then, moreover, there were lots of unofficial varieties. The “story of the Book” is a fascinating one, with many surprising turns, but the upshot is that the further we go back in history, the more biblical variety we discover. “That old time religion” is an illusion.

For many of us, it’s more than a little disconcerting to realize that there’s no pristine original Bible to recover, that it’s messy and plural all the way back to the beginning. But is it not also a very familiar feeling?

Trying to save the Bible by recovering the Adam of all Bibles is as futile as trying to save the marriage by recovering the Eden of married life. There’s no such thing, so there’s no going back. Our desire for a pure, unadulterated, original Bible, “in the beginning,” is an illusion that shields and distracts us from the real, unstable, often terrifyingly ambiguous relationship with another that is the life of faith.

Life is crazy uncertain, so it’s understandable that many of us want religion and especially the Bible to offer deliverance from it. But it doesn’t. It’s not a rock but a river, not a book of answers but a library of questions. When we take it seriously, and soberly, it calls us deeper into the wilderness – away from the sunny shoreline of the island and toward the uncharted interior.

That wilderness, like the ones in which the Israelites wandered and Jesus was tested, can be a place of danger and disorientation, but also of renewal and reawakening.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Timothy Beal.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Catholic Church • Christianity • Judaism • Opinion

soundoff (1,016 Responses)
  1. PAUL

    A lot of babbleing --no meaning,-–read and understand like it is your eternal well being,

    March 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  2. Margroks

    No, what the author of this article is saying is that there was no "Bible" which was handed down directly to man; didn't happen. For instance, about 400 years after Jesus died some early priests decided which gospels they would allow into the book they would call the Bible and it was THEM who dictated what went into it. They included their own ideas of righteousness which evolved from the culture of the time, hence you get horrible references to things like slavery being ok. Other religious books are the same. Man claims God told him what to do but there is no evidence of this whatsoever.

    March 2, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  3. timothy Merrill

    He is simply objecting to the definite article "the" and says it should "a" as in, "I have a Bible," rather than I have "the Bible." And he's right, as in, "Duh!" The rest is old, old news and countless others have made the same observations.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:41 am |
  4. gracesong

    beal was being foolish by saying the bible doesn't exsist. I'm sure he had his reasons but there are many miracles that happened in our time that happened in the bible. I've seen miracles happen like the ones recorded in the bible. beal probably has never seen these miracles happen. and the things in the bible is pretty accurate to our history books! God will shine the light for mr beal and he will know the real truth of the bible. I will pray for you and Gods truth cannot stay hidden forever(: God blesses you and loves you no matter what you believe. ❤

    March 2, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  5. gracesong

    I believe beal was being foolish by saying a bible doea not exsist. I am absolutely haunted by the fact that anyone can say that the bible does not exsist. there is proof that many of the miracles in the bible happened. I've seen people pray and miracles happen like the ones in the bible. it might be hard for beal to understand that because he hasn't seen the miracles. I had doubts sometimes until after God showed me proof. and if you study geneology, from adam to noah its recorded in the bible. he should research a little more about the bible and I'm sure God will shine the light on him and he will realize the truth. and tthe truth cannot be hidden. I will pray for you mr beal and God will show you the way(:

    March 2, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  6. Muneef

    Hud sura 11:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful 
    And there is not a beast in the earth but the sustenance thereof dependeth on Allah. He knoweth its habitation and its repository. All is in a clear Record. (6) And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days – and His Throne was upon the water – that He might try you, which of you is best in conduct. Yet if thou (O Muhammad) sayest: Lo! ye will be raised again after death! those who disbelieve will surely say: This is not but evident magic. (7) And if We delay for them the doom until a reckoned time, they will surely say: What withholdeth it? Verily on the day when it cometh unto them, it cannot be averted from them, and that which they derided will surround them. (8) And if we cause man to taste some mercy from Us and afterward withdraw it from him, Lo! he is despairing, thankless. (9) And if We cause him to taste grace after some misfortune that had befallen him, he saith: The ills have gone from me. Lo! he is exultant, boastful; (10) Save those who persevere and do good works. Theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward. (11) A likely thing, that thou wouldst forsake aught of that which hath been revealed unto thee, and that thy breast should be straitened for it, because they say: Why hath not a treasure been sent down for him, or an angel come with him? Thou art but a warner, and Allah is in charge of all things. (12) Or they say: He hath invented it. Say: Then bring ten surahs, the like thereof, invented, and call on everyone ye can beside Allah, if ye are truthful! (13) And if they answer not your prayer, then know that it is revealed only in the knowledge of Allah; and that there is no God save Him. Will ye then be (of) those who surrender? (14) Whoso desireth the life of the world and its pomp, We shall repay them their deeds herein, and therein they will not be wronged. (15) Those are they for whom is naught in the Hereafter save the Fire. (All) that they contrive here is vain and (all) that they are wont to do is fruitless. (16) Is he (to be counted equal with them) who relieth on a clear proof from his Lord, and a witness from Him reciteth it, and before it was the Book of Moses, an example and a mercy? Such believe therein, and whoso disbelieveth therein of the clans, the Fire is his appointed place. So be not thou in doubt concerning it. Lo! it is the Truth from thy Lord; but most of mankind believe not. (17) Who doeth greater wrong than he who inventeth a lie concerning Allah? Such will be brought before their Lord, and the witnesses will say: These are they who lied concerning their Lord. Now the curse of Allah is upon wrong-doers, (18) Who debar (men) from the way of Allah and would have it crooked, and who are disbelievers in the Hereafter. (19) Such will not escape in the earth, nor have they any protecting friends beside Allah. For them the torment will be double. They could not bear to hear, and they used not to see. (20) Such are they who have lost their souls, and that which they used to invent hath failed them. (21) Assuredly in the Hereafter they will be the greatest losers. (22) Lo! those who believe and do good works and humble themselves before their Lord: such are rightful owners of the Garden; they will abide therein. (23) The similitude of the two parties is as the blind and the deaf and the seer and the hearer. Are they equal in similitude? Will ye not then be admonished? (24).

    Words of pearls well gathered in lovable design! No one earth can arrange it better...for those who know in words secrets of poems and knowledge are the best judges of existence... Read with you hearts slow and deep..only those hearts hardened as rocks and harder;

    The similitude of the two parties is as the blind and the deaf and the seer and the hearer. Are they equal in similitude? Will ye not then be admonished? (24).
       

    February 28, 2011 at 6:40 am |
    • Muneef

      Easy to be read and explained here;

      http://www.masjidtucson.org/quran/noframes/ch11.html

      February 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  7. Muneef

    Each soul earneth only on its own account,nor doth any laden bear another's load.
    No laden soul can bear another's load.
    And no burdened soul can bear another's burden.
    No laden soul will bear another's load.
    That no laden one shall bear another's load.

    Al-Anaam sura 06:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Lo! As for those who sunder their religion and become schismatics, no concern at all hast thou with them. Their case will go to Allah, Who then will tell them what they used to do. (159) Whoso bringeth a good deed will receive tenfold the like thereof, while whoso bringeth an ill-deed will be awarded but the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (160) Say: Lo! As for me, my Lord hath guided me unto a straight path, a right religion, the community of Abraham, the upright, who was no idolater. (161) Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the Worlds. (162) He hath no partner. This am I commanded, and I am first of those who surrender (unto Him). (163) Say: Shall I seek another than Allah for Lord, when He is Lord of all things? "Each soul earneth only on its own account,nor doth any laden bear another's load". Then unto your Lord is your return and He will tell you that wherein ye differed. (164) He it is Who hath placed you as viceroys of the earth and hath exalted some of you in rank above others, that He may try you by (the test of) that which He hath given you. Lo! Thy Lord is swift in prosecution, and Lo! He verily is Forgiving, Merciful. (165).

    Al-Isra sura 17:
    And every man's augury have We fastened to his own neck, and We shall bring forth for him on the Day of Resurrection a book which he will find wide open. (13) (And it will be said unto him): Read thy Book. Thy soul sufficeth as reckoner against thee this day. (14) Whosoever goeth right, it is only for (the good of) his own soul that he goeth right, and whosoever erreth, erreth only to its hurt."No laden soul can bear another's load", We never punish until we have sent a messenger. (15) And when We would destroy a township We send commandment to its folk who live at ease, and afterward they commit abomination therein, and so the Word (of doom) hath effect for it, and we annihilate it with complete annihilation. (16).

    Fatir sura 35:
    O mankind! Ye are the poor in your relation to Allah. And Allah! He is the Absolute, the Owner of Praise. (15) If He will, He can be rid of you and bring (instead of you) some new creation. (16) That is not a hard thing for Allah. (17) "And no burdened soul can bear another's burden", and if one heavy laden crieth for (help with) his load, naught of it will be lifted even though he (unto whom he crieth) be of kin. Thou warnest only those who fear their Lord in secret, and have established worship. He who groweth (in goodness), groweth only for himself, (he cannot by his merit redeem others). Unto Allah is the journeying. (18) The blind man is not equal with the seer; (19) Nor is darkness (tantamount to) light; (20) Nor is the shadow equal with the sun's full heat; (21) Nor are the living equal with the dead. Lo! Allah maketh whom He will to hear. Thou canst not reach those who are in the graves. (22) Thou art but a warner. (23).

    Az-Zumar sura 35:
    If ye are thankless, yet Allah is Independent of you, though He is not pleased with thanklessness for His bondmen; and if ye are thankful He is pleased therewith for you."No laden soul will bear another's load". Then unto your Lord is your return; and He will tell you what ye used to do. Lo! He knoweth what is in the breasts (of men). (7).

    An-Najm sura 35:
    Didst thou (O Muhammad) observe him who turned away, (33) And gave a little, then was grudging? (34) Hath he knowledge of the Unseen so that he seeth? (35) Or hath he not had news of what is in the books of Moses (36) And Abraham who paid his debt: (37) "That no laden one shall bear another's load", (38) And that man hath only that for which he maketh effort, (39) And that his effort will be seen. (40) And afterward he will be repaid for it with fullest payment; (41) And that thy Lord, He is the goal; (42) And that He it is who maketh laugh, and maketh weep, (43) And that He it is Who giveth death and giveth life; (44) And that He createth the two spouses, the male and the female, (45) From a drop (of seed) when it is poured forth; (46) And that He hath ordained the second bringing forth; (47) And that He it is Who enricheth and contenteth; (48) And that He it is Who is the Lord of Sirius; (49).

    February 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  8. Joyce

    Thanks NL, I am off to check this out. Sounds interesting.

    February 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  9. Muneef

     ولقد يسرنا القرءان للذكر فهل من مدكر
    "And indeed We have made easy (yassarna: we made easy, facilitated) the Qur'an for understanding and keeping in mind (al-Dhikr= to keep in mind, the recollection, that which is thought over). So is there anyone who bears this in their mind?" (54:17, 22, 32 and 40)
     
     اولئك يسرعون فى الخيرت وهم لها سبقون
    "It is those who race with one another to improve the quality of life for humanity (al-Khayrat: to surpass in goodness), and it is those who are the forerunners (of mankind)." (23:61) 
    ومن احسن قولا ممن دعا الى الله وعمل صلحا وقال اننى من المسلمين
    Who is better in saying than one who invites to God, and perform deeds that create justice and peace (3milu saliha: works that reform and restore the balance), and says: "I am one of those who gives over to peace (al-Muslimin from salama: to give over to peace and welfare)." (41:33)
     
     يايها الذين ءامنوا كونوا قومين لله شهداء بالقسط ولا يجرمنكم شنان قوم على الا تعدلوا اعدلوا هو اقرب للتقوى واتقوا الله ان الله خبير بما تعملون
    "O you who acknowledge [Truth] and create security (amanu: trust, acknowledge, peace & security). Be steadfast & stand up (qawwamin from Qama: to stand up firmly for something) for God [on earth] bearing witness with justice, equity & fairness (al-Qist: to be fair and just even with people who do not deserve it) and let not be incited by hatred (shana'an) for a people, to not act with absolute equity, impartiality & justice (ta'dilu from al-Adl). To act with absolute equity & impartial justice (adilu) is the closest (aqraba from Qaraba: to be near, close) to the duty to guard against what harms mankind (al-Taqwa from ita'qu: to be on guard/aware of what harms, to be shielded). And be aware of God (atqu Allah). Surely God is aware of all your actions." (5:8)
     
     لكل جعلنا منكم شرعة ومنهاجا ولو شاء الله لجعلكم امة وحدة ولكن ليبلوكم فى ما ءاتىكم فاستبقوا الخيرت الى الله مرجعكم جميعا فينبئكم بما كنتم فيه تختلفون
    "For each [community] among you have We have appointed a way of progress (Shir'ah: a way to a watering-place, path where everything meets/gets nourishment)  and way of life (minhaj: open road, path of life). And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto, you. So, outdo one another in doing good to the society. To God you will all return, and He will then make you understand wherein you differed." (5:48)
     
     والذين استجابوا لربهم واقاموا الصلوة وامرهم شورى بينهم ومما رزقنهم ينفقون   والذين اذا اصابهم البغى هم ينتصرون  وجزوا سيئة سيئة مثلها فمن عفا واصلح فاجره على الله انه لا يحب الظلمين  ولمن انتصر بعد ظلمه فاولئك ما عليهم من سبيل  انما السبيل على الذين يظلمون الناس ويبغون فى الارض بغير الحق اولئك لهم عذاب اليم  ولمن صبر وغفر ان ذلك لمن عزم الامور
    "They respond to their Maintainer of Evolution (Rabb: to sustain the evolution towards maturity) by establishing the movement towards [Peace] (Salat: to move towards something, i.e. we are guided to the state of peace 10:25), and conduct their affairs by mutual consultation [Democracy] (Shura: consultation, debate, counsel another), and they keep open for the welfare of others what We have given them. And whenever gross injustice is inflicted upon them, they defend themselves and stand up for their rights (yantasiruna: to defend or aid themselves). But requiting evil may become an evil in itself! (sayyi: to hurt or tyrannize others) So, whoever pardons and makes peace (aslaha: to restore the balance), his reward rests with God. Surely, He does not love the violators of human rights (alThzalimeen: Those that put themselves above others, from Thzalima=to displace something). Certainly, those who stand up for their rights, when injustice befalls them, are not committing any error. The blame is on those who oppress people and cause disorder on the earth resorting to aggression, unprovoked. They are the ones for whom there is an painful retribution. And for he who is patient, perseveres (sabara: to persevere and keep one's charachter) and forgives and protects (ghafara: to protect against consequences) then that is an indication of strength." (42:38-43).

    Research link for more resources or (Gems you will find it) Insha'a Allah;
    http://www.deenresearchcenter.com/ResearchLibrary/EnglishLibrary/QuranResearchTranslationsTafsirArabic/tabid/98/language/en-US/Default.aspx

    February 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  10. DDS4HIM

    Well, we can all see that Satan is alive, well and active! Does anyone actually believe that minds and opinions will be changed with our posts?

    February 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  11. Splovengates

    The fact that we can have this forum (and others) to discuss whether there is a real Bible or a real God or not, reveals that there is indeed a loving, all wise God-The One who inspired men to write the Bible. They all have the same message: "It is because I love you, says GOD, that I do not force or compel you. He veils all that would force the will. He conceals the gates of pearl and the streets of gold. He desires to win the heart by love. Thats the God that I know. I look at the natural world and see wisdom beyond my comprehension. I see something Supernatual. Like, who made the DNA and beyond or the sun moon and stars and beyond? The Big Bang happened and— all of a sudden, here we are. Gimme a break! Dont make me laugh. Im enjoying the freedom GOD has given me. Hope you do the same.

    February 27, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  12. Frank McKibben

    No matter which version of the Bible I read, they all same basically the same thing. I can use a Catholic Bible to help Catholics, a Protestant Bible to help Protestants. I've also used the Jehovah Witness bible to prove that Jesus is the Father, Son Holy Spirit. So no matter what Bible I use they basically say the same – That we are sinners, we need God, His name is Jesus, and He died for Us and has provided a Kingdom for Us which is coming and we should pray for it.

    February 26, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  13. Muneef

    Quran is being and has been memorized by Muslims by heart since 1400 years ago and this has helped it to remain unchanged, it has helped in finding and correcting any printing mistakes or recitation mistakes.. 
    (http://english.sunnionline.us/News/Middle-East/2080-13,000-Palestinians-Memorize-Whole-Quran-in-Gaza-Summer-Camps).

    February 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  14. Muneef

    Imam Bukhari
    consciousness of responsibility
    108. A man is the shepherd of his family
    212. Ibn 'Umar reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of the people of his house and he is responsible. A woman is the shepherd of the house of her husband and she is responsible. Each of you is a shepherd and each is responsible for his flock.
    (Bukhari, Nikah, 91)
    In a hadith reported by Abdullah b. Omar Prophet Muhammad said: "We are all shepherds and we are all responsible for those who are under our hands (i.e. in our flocks). An administrator is a shepherd. The man is the shepherd of the family. A woman is the shepherd of her husband's home and children. We are all shepherds and we all are responsible for our duties as such.
    Search for more with googling (Consciousness of Responsibility – Ismail Hakki Unal
    Consciousness of Responsibility ... the importance of the consciousness of responsibility is emphasized; while attributing responsibility to all sane and ...)lastprophet.

    February 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  15. Josh

    This article is pointing out the obvious but is also doing a disservice to the historical truth found in the Bible. In terms of historical consistency the Bible wins over any other book in history. Please read Josh McDowell's "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" for some more perspective.

    February 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  16. Tom

    This has got to be the weakest argument for the authenticity of scripture that I have ever read or heard. The fact that it was written by a professor of religion is both sad & comical. I feel for his students.

    February 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  17. Tim

    Well Mr Beal, you bring up arguments that have been addressed time and time again by real scholars, unlike yourself. Basically, you believe that God is too stupid to have been able to communicate with his creation outside of what is visible. All the arguments you bring to the table have been answered with quite reasonable explanations and facts not only in this age but ages past. God is able to create the universe but not protect a form of communication? Let’s try this example: you write a paper. But I want to destroy it or edit it and add my two cents. However many times I mess around with your paper you still have the original; in fact you saved it to your hard drive, sent copies out, put a copy in a vault etc etc. No matter how many time I try to muddle your work the original is still there. The New Testament written in Koine Greek is a frozen language. It’s always there no matter how many people try to mess with it. Go to the Jews if you want to see what the Old Testament is all about. Accept what they accepted. Reject what they rejected. The never accepted any extra books etc. So what you are saying is that because of your perception of what you see, you think God is an idiot and not smart enough to be able to protect His communication with His own creation. Sorry, but millions don’t believe you. You are without hope and your beliefs and teaching are exposed and only for those who are hoping what you say is so in order to have it their way, whatever way that is.

    February 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Wilstar

      The author is absolutely correct. If there ever was an "original" it is lost forever. But there most likely never was an original bible. There were original manuscripts, all very disparate in their opinions of what Jesus said, did, and wanted us to do. But none of those originals exist. The very best we can do is to go back to about 150 years after Jesus to find copies of copies of copies of the original. Those are in Greek. And it is quite obvious the exegesis shows that none of the authors were whose names appear on the gospels. None of the apostles had the education to read, let alone write coherent sentences. The bible is, indeed, an illusion. It is for people who wish to continue a delusion. Your analogy of an author keeping an original copy on a hard drive is foolish. What if that hard drive crashed? Then what? What if years after the author's death, his original work was lost and nobody who had a copy of it knew for certain that it had never been altered? And we're talking about today, with the precision of electronic technology. Back in those days, copying was done by hand, and by people with agendas of their own. Odds are, the bible we read today, no matter which version, is nothing at all like whatever original manuscripts there once were.

      February 27, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Brandon Cazatori

      If you keep the original locked away and allow all of the other translations to be what people believe to be truth, your point is null and void..........Yes God's word is true, but as soon as man began to pen the words of a perfect GOD, it became tainted becasue man is imperfect.......IF YOU let SPIRIT guide you, HE will lead you into all truth....I think the point here, is we in modern day society DO NOT HAVE ONE BOOK ALONE, that ultimatly is GOD's unadulterated infaliable word.........the basic truths of GOD have not changed, such as his Deity, his birth and his death and most importantly his ressurection and salvation for man........however, many other scriptures have to be rightly divided and CANNOT be taken literally.......one must understand why it was written, to whom it was written to , and what was happening in history when it was being written.....we must understand the signs of the times...........

      March 2, 2011 at 6:53 am |
  18. Muneef

    Realities for all here found to be very interesting and very informative.
    Kindly visit the link;
     
    [Divisions in our world – Not the Result of Religion-Karen Armstrong talks German journalist, Andrea Bistrich]  .
    Western people have a responsibility for everybody who is suffering in
    the world.
    The divisions in our world are not the result of religion or of
    culture, but are politically based.
    The three religions of Abraham - Judaism, Christianity and Islam -
    can and should be viewed as one religious tradition that went in three
    different directions.  
    (http://www.just-international.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4081:divisions-in-our-world-are-not-the-result-of-religion&catid=45:recent-articles&Itemid=123)

    February 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  19. Muneef

    Check the challenge from God at verse 88 challenging mankind and jinn.

    Al-Isra sura 17:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    And say: My Lord! Cause me to come in with a firm incoming and to go out with a firm outgoing. And give me from Thy presence a sustaining Power. (80) And say: Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished away. Lo! falsehood is ever bound to vanish. (81) And We reveal of the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy for believers though it increase the evil-doers in naught save ruin. (82) And when We make life pleasant unto man, he turneth away and is averse; and when ill toucheth him he is in despair. (83) Say: Each one doth according to his rule of conduct, and thy Lord is best aware of him whose way is right. (84) They will ask thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little. (85) And if We willed We could withdraw that which We have revealed unto thee, then wouldst thou find no guardian for thee against Us in respect thereof. (86) (It is naught) save mercy from thy Lord. Lo! His kindness unto thee was ever great. (87) Say: Verily, though mankind and the jinn should assemble to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof though they were helpers one of another. (88) And verily We have displayed for mankind in this Qur'an all kinds of similitudes, but most of mankind refuse aught save disbelief. (89).

    February 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Floyd

      No one can come to God except they go through Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Creator. The Creator has many names but there is only one Son He has and we call Him Jesus the Christ. In the end all will come to know this is the truth but those that have been warned will have no recourse for not believing the truth and thus will have to suffer eternal damnation for rebelling.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  20. Muneef

    Some said how would the bible be God's words! I would say since you know what is right what is wrong you will be able to tell which is of God and what is of men...God is Good and therefore will tell only good although as God said;

    Allah hath (now) revealed the fairest of statements, a Scripture consistent, (wherein promises of reward are) paired (with threats of punishment). It is only hard for those who can not tell the difference between wrong and right....

    February 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Mao

      I know the Koran scriptures which speak of Allah's mercy, that theme needs to be more developed.
      The Bible says that God says sun on the evil and the righteous (Matt 5:45), and that while we were sinners, Jesus died for us (Rom 5:8).
      This is interesting considering the minority of Muslims that go and attack their enemies, but it would be great for Muslims to have added power to show mercy by studying the Bible. I think 1% of Muslims that I've talked to do not know about Jesus and why God sent him to die (which is found in Isaiah 53:1-12, which was prophesied 700 years before Christ came).

      February 25, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Muneef

      Mao.
      From of the blogs back seen it was told that Jesus was not who brought Christianity and that the holybooks were written one thousand years after Jesus and that christianity  was introduced by Pual and Luke...! 
      But Quran told that he was sent to guide children of Israel who went wrong but them being known for killing prophets of God have done that but as we understand it was not him but some one in his cloth who was crucified and that God raised him.
      Any way after they have done that and fearing consequences for doing so the latter ones thought better to make changes to eliminate the criminal act about it and show it as if he was meant to die for the benefit of his believers as was with those used to be appointed and named as "Sin Carrier"... Such thing never exists that your sins are carried by some one else; find verse 7&8 speaks of it;

      Al-Zalzala sura 99:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      When Earth is shaken with her (final) earthquake (1) And Earth yieldeth up her burdens, (2) And man saith: What aileth her? (3) That day she will relate her chronicles, (4) Because thy Lord inspireth her. (5) That day mankind will issue forth in scattered groups to be shown their deeds. (6) And whoso doeth good an atom's weight will see it then, (7) And whoso doeth ill an atom's weight will see it then. (8).       

      February 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Floyd

      There is no other name given under Heaven or elsewhere a person can be saved. Being saved is a broad term but in the end being saved means only one thing and if you do not have that faith then you will not be saved, so believe in God and His son and be saved. Forget the temptation to doubt and just go ahead and believe. I know He saves for I experienced being saved from evil hands on more than one occasion by my Lord Jesus. He is real my friends and there is no other.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.