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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. frink

    The bible has more fiction then The Lord of the Rings.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  2. CW

    I feel truly sorry for this author. He doesn't realize that God could sn-'uff his life out in an instant but God is a grac-'ious, mer-'ciful, c-'ompas-'sionate God and so he will continue to give this person a chance to make the right choice. One day if he doesn't he'll regret it.

    Furthermore....The BIBLE IS TRUE....perfect in every way....and is God's holy word on how to live your life.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Godless

      Wow. You completely missed the point. WHICH bible is true?

      February 22, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • cov

      CW..I Agree!!!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      CW... god has no more ability to snuff out our lives than Harry Potter. Religions, however, has that ability due to the extreme nature of their belief systems. If you wonder why Atheists are vocal lately.. call it self preservation..

      February 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Face

      You're right, Deuteronomy 25:11 is a PERFECT sample of God's will.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  3. Rob

    I doubt that the existence of myriad versions of the Bible will shake anyone of their faith. The comments above by various Christians shows that. And why? Because faith isn't amenable to reason or rational analysis. Faith is not falsifiable. Unlike science, faith is unwilling to change its claims based upon new evidence (such as what Mr. Beal is offering). And that, my friends, is what makes it so dangerous.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Godless

      Exactly. To think that otherwise rational, intelligent, logical beings can be so completely blinded by this is amazing to me. To borrow from the movie Dogma, a belief is almost impossible to change; an idea is more approriate because ideas are open to change based on new information. Having an idea that god is real is not so bad – believing it to be true is dangerous.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Anglican

      Rob. You place your faith in science, and you seem very sure of your position. God or science. Enjoy your life. Peace.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Rob

      Anglican - you don't seem to understand the meaning of "faith." Faith is belief without evidence. I believe that the methodology of science works to help us understand the world. I have centuries worth of highly verifiable evidence to justify that claim. So my appreciation of science is based on evidence, not faith.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      Rob.. I agree.. I would be willing to change my view of god if he could be verified. If there was an amputee who grew limbs back immediately as people pray for him/her under scientific scrutiny that at least would indicate a higher power, if not god. I wonder if the religious are open mined enough to tell us the evidence they would accept for the non existence of god...

      February 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  4. Pamela DeWitt-Meza

    Ironically, the Bible speaks of unbelievers as those who are spiritually blind. Though you don't believe, you are a testament to my living Bible in all you have just professed. The Bible is both a rock and a river- though you will never experience these Truths without faith. One can be a 'religious' professor and be devoid of a spiritual life, because religion is made by man, not God. I'm sure you can't see the wind- Yet I'm also sure you know it blows and moves- So it is with the Lord. Faith is the 'evidence of things not seen'. On earth things may never make sense, but that doesn't mean the Bible and God are untrue- that is black and white thinking and your/our inability to see the whole picture. You can always, always, always go back because you are made in the image of God who knows you intimately and loves you. You will never be out of His reach.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Anglican

      Faith in God, not proof of God. Good post. Peace.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Rob

      You commit to the same black-and-white thinking that you so deplore. "There's a God with such-and-such attributes no matter what you think" is black-and-white thinking, especially given that Mr. Beal is presenting evidence that the text upon which your faith relies is much more ambiguous than previously thought. It just goes to show that, no matter the evidence, you'll always spit your ignorance in the face of others. That's black-and-white thinking.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  5. chuckd88

    There may or may not be a god, but one thing is made clear by watching 10 minutes of Sunday morning TV. Religion is a hoax!

    February 22, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  6. Reality

    Hmmm?? Said topic is old news!!! This has been noted countless of times over the last 200 years.–

    A synopsis yet one more time:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    "New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:

    Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  7. Ed

    Finally someone admiting the truth.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  8. joshhuffman

    A book inspired by a perfect God yet that is written by an imperfect humanity will still miss the mark of perfection. That's kind of God's point. His available Redemption and Grace made available despite our sin and imperfections. If all you're seeking is confusion and discrepancy then you'll find it. However, if you're open to truth, encouragement and inspiration, it's also there as well. I also believe that despite our best efforts to commercialize God's Holy Word, His higher purpose still remains intact for this amazing book. To draw people into a relationship with Him and to help them discover His purpose for their life.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Godless

      If god is so perfect, why can't he just snap his magic fingers and make a perfect, non-confusing and straightforward book that is not open to interpretation. Does an all seeing and all powerful god not have the ability to create a book? Are printing companies more powerful than god?

      February 22, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • L in Seattle

      Because, Godless, like any good parent, He is not going to do your homework for you. He expects you to study things out for yourself. If you ask, he is happy to help with understanding the material and working through the difficult problems, but you will never learn anything for yourself if someone just hands you the teacher's edition.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • FudgeMonkey

      @ L in Seattle...

      That is such a copout. Maybe an almighty, all powerful, all seeing, all knowing God, would consider protecting innocent children from murderers and pedophiles, and the like. A child that never lives long enough to accept Jesus, condemned to burn in eternal hellfire after being subjected to a serial rapist/murderer, does not sound anything like a loving parent.

      February 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  9. Jason

    Beal is technically correct, but he vastly overstates his case. If you read any of the various translations he talks about, you will receive the same message, just worded slightly differently. This is inevitable, since translating from another language requires a certain amount of paraphrase.

    Also, the Christian bible also starts with the Torah, just like the Jewish bible. Beal gives the impression that this is not so.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  10. Mary

    The Bible is a lot more problematic than some Christians would like to make it. Some people want to believe that every word, even every comma, is the word of God. That flies in the face of reason, as the Bible is a history and a literary work, as well as a book of faith. The book has many authors and has undergone many translations. It is Man and not God who has decided what books should be included or excluded.

    Furthermore, I am dumbfounded at Christians who consider every letter that the apostle Paul wrote the word of God but apparently don't think that Christ's teachings are very relevant. If one is a Christian, the most important part of the Bible should be Jesus' teachings on how we, allegedly His people, are supposed to live. When listening to Christians, see how often they quote Paul in proportion to how often they quote Jesus. You usually find that they prefer the bigoted misogynist and misanthrope Paul to the enlightened Jesus. I suppose that Paul is more likely to support their own prejudices.

    I can be a Christian and bear to hear the truth about this Book that I treasure. Reason, as well as faith, is a gift from God. I suggest that more Christians use it.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Michael T Murphy

      very well said Mary

      February 22, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Ravennwings

      I like you, Mary! Your approach is reasonable and commendable, in my opinion. Also, it's interesting what you say about how Christians quote Paul much more often than they do Jesus. When I was still a Christian myself this eventually came to first confuse, then bewilder, then anger me. Especially when, looked at in the historical context as promoted by Professor Beal, Paul did not write those "books" as a contribution to a work of unified, canonical texts for the enhancement of Christianity, but as LETTERS. Letters of advice for his friends in different parts of the Ancient Mediterranean world–and he tailored his advice for the cultures to whom they were written.

      It's always been my belief that anyone who follows Christianity should ONLY take as absolute the words of Christ himself (since, you know, he's the one you're supposed to be emulating) and regard everything else as advice, for better or for worse.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Magic

      ravenwings,

      "...anyone who follows Christianity should ONLY take as absolute the words of Christ himself..."

      Ah, but what WERE they...? Those words that are attributed to him by the 1st century evangelists in promotion of their new religion? If Jesus were an omniscient "God" he would have known that this doc.umentation is not sufficient.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Ravennwings

      @Magic

      Just one of the myriad reasons I am no longer Christian.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Mikey

      Very well put Mary. Paul and Peter are more often used as guides than the words of Christ.

      February 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  11. Bruce

    I am very sorry for your lack of hope. I have prayed that the Lord God almighty would open your eyes to the Truth that is the Word of God. He Loves you and has died for you as He has for all of us. Repent, turn from your sin, submit to Him and you will know the Peace that passes all understanding. Your cup can indeed run over as well. God has preserved His word as He has promised, and despite man's attempts to difuse, add to, and pervert, we can be confident that He has ensured we still have the "God Breathed" Word.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  12. ralvis

    I agree there are too many versions of the Bible. It just confuses the innocent, unfamiliar seeker/inquirer. The intent has been to make it more readable (modern English versus Old English) with side commentary and lessons that relate the principles for different interests (a kids Bible has colorful pictures, an apologetics Bible is filled with references to historical evidence from outside of the Bible, a student Bible includes application sections more relevant to the students). So what.

    The Bible business is a money-making machine, and that's too bad because it shouldn't be about money. And there are some translations that take more liberties than others to make the language more relevant, but that doesn't mean the contained Scripture is not authentic; it doesn't take away from the historical validity or timeless relevance of the principles. If you took a step back and spend time reading the book you're criticising so much, you will find life and hope and you might have a different perspective.

    Either way, Truth is Truth, regardless of what the blogosphere thinks.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • CatholicMom

      ralvis,

      You said, ‘….you will find life and hope and you might have a different perspective.’…..might….
      Just saying one word differently would make a huge difference….…..you will find life and hope and you WILL have a different perspective.

      Now, look at John 3:16…..
      King James Version
      16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      Douay-Rheims Bible
      For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.

      The reformation [rather the deformation] is when man took the Bible and made it his own…changing the number of Books and changing words. No wonder people look at the 38,000 differing views in all the denominations [derivatives of Mother Church] and decide to not belong to any….just take the Bible [which ever they choose] and become their own pope by private interpretation even though the Bible says that Scripture is not a matter of private interpretation. That verse didn’t hold any truth for them in the 1500’s so why should it now, when they think themselves so much more learned.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  13. OldGoat

    Bible, smible. Read Playboy and you'll learn just as much. It's all fiction.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • JiffyGeo-GA

      Eveyone has a religion and everyone follows a philosophy of life. My focus happens to be on the redemptive work of Christ and I like the KJV for its accuracy and beauty. It's good that we can all have a choice. But, as I asked a man once, suppose you're right and I'm wrong. Suppose there is no god to answer to, no heaven or hell, no life after death, just the grave. I haven't lost anything because I've tried to make the world a better place to live by challenging men and women to be their best. On the other hand, if I'm right and you're wrong, he quickly responded – the one of these days I will probably be in hell. Each of us chooses a course in life and enjoy the benefits or suffer the consequences of that choice.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Gallunk

      Playboy is fiction?? Arggh!!! Say it ain't so.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  14. Adrian

    I think it is instructive that Jesus chastises the Pharisees in John's gospel, saying, :"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." The point, I think, is that it is all about Him. From the beginning, time prophesied He was coming, and all time since has been proclaiming that He came as promised. but most of those alive at the time to see it missed the significance. It is all about Jesus.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  15. Susan

    I certainly respect Prof. Beal's right to his opinion. I do feel bad for him or anyone else who has made it their life's work just to prove others' beliefs wrong-seems a rather empty pursuit. I cannot speak for religions other than my own but being a follower of Christ requires a transformation of one's heart, to accept the gift Jesus gave us of salvation. I cannot provide any proof of this other than my own deeply felt conviction and that anyone would spend their life trying to convince me and others like me that there is no proof and therefore we are the sad little beings believing in a myth seems a wasted life. Regardless of his feelings about religion, there seems to be more constructive ways to spend his life. Get out and live life instead of telling us we are fools. Look in the mirror to see the fool nearest you Prof. Beal.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Cuttingtorch

      Read the article again and see if you can figure what he is talking about. It's not too hard. Reading comprehension was taught at the grade school level.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Case Western Alumnus

      My final seminar in Religious Studies at Case Western Reserve University was taught by professor Beal. He is a devout Christian in every sense of the word. However, he is also an academic. His personal studies, as well as the studies of his peers in the field, have revealed that what he has written above is obviously true. There is no one Bible, just as there is no one "Christian" or "Christianity." That fact has not harmed his faith, but rather has caused him to engage with the many texts of the Bible and with the various traiditions that are a part of the amorphous, ever changing phenomenon that is "Christianity" in a deeper, richer way than most fundamentalist, literal minded idiots who call themselves Christians. Though I am an atheist and disagree with Professor Beal's personal beliefs, I have to stand up for him here. This article is not about his personal faith – he is simply being intellectually honest. He isn't trying to "disprove" your faith. If what he has to say threatens you or your kind of Christianity, perhaps you need to take a more honest look at your own tradition rather than attacking a man whose faith you know nothing about.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Mikey

      Susan – in the future please actually read the article. In no way does Prof. Beal say that your faith is wrong or misguided. He is merely stating historical fact – there is no one Bible.

      February 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • FudgeMonkey

      READ >>>>>>>>THINK>>>>>>>>>UNDERSTAND.

      Oh no...someone is writing about inconsistancies in the Bibles....HERESY! HERESY!

      February 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  16. frank

    Read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

    February 22, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • rosco

      And then read its deconstruction on Daylight Atheism. And if you're not willing to, please ask yourself why anyone should read the book?

      February 22, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • FudgeMonkey

      "The Case for Christ" is a complete fraud. It tries to make people think that it is an objective investigation by a Detective, as to the authenticity of the Bible. It is written by a man who had alrady converted, before he wrote the book. It's hardly objective, preaching to the choir.

      February 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  17. Cletus

    Hey Hunter. Just because I don't believe in Zeus doesn't mean I'm going to Hades when I die. Your attempt to conjure a sense of foreboding and supernatural terror fails like a limp noodle.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  18. Matrix

    What exactly is he wrong about, Hunter? Is he wrong for understanding the history of the bible a lot better than most Christians?

    February 22, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  19. Anglican

    Scripture, tradition, reason. One may take it, or one may leave it. Peace.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  20. Hunter

    Some day Mr. Beal will die. In the twinkling of an eye after that moment he will be presented with the irrefutable truth that he was wrong, and that he failed to notice the "Last Exit Before Toll" sign on the turnpike of life. It is his life, and he is free to make what ever choices he chooses, in the end, he, and he alone will have to answer for those choices.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • ObammaAlabamaSlamma

      Are you saying that he is wrong that there are many different versions of the Bible, and there always have been? Because I'm 100% positive that he's right. Nowhere in this article does he profess any kind of anti-spiritual belief, so maybe you should just ask "WWJD" and turn the other cheek, friendo.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • cindy

      Amen.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Aalkrers

      Well by saying there are multiple versions like he did, he is inferring that it is not credible. That doesn't really make sense. If a bus blows up and 20 articles are written about it, some in French, some in English, some in Arabic. Does that mean that they all have to have the exact same facts and thoughts surrounding the incident or the incident never happened? It's the same thing, just add 2,011 years. There will be inconsistencies as different cultures adopt it. To say that the bible doesn't exist because it's not a single, final book, is childish and a sloppily constructed argument. It's not a twilight book or Snookie's book, it's been around for 2,000 years and has had to be translated as our society changed.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Emile

      Typical. Anyone who disagrees with you will "get theirs" in the afterlife. I look forward to when you emerge into the afterlife and say " Wow,we weren't even close".....

      February 22, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • ObammaAlabamaSlamma

      @Aalkers – A better analogy would be if there were interviews with ten different people who saw the bus explode. Some people would leave certain events out, embellish different aspects, etc. So if you only read one interview, how can you be sure it's reliable, if there's someone else who is stating something completely different?

      February 22, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Dr Pepper

      Zooom! Hunter, that was the point flying over your head!

      February 22, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Denita

      Hunter and Aalkrers need to read the entire article again, especially the last paragraph.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Fred Evil

      Religious superiority FAIL!!!

      February 22, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • al

      While you waste away your life believing in fairy tales...I would say Beal comes out ahead on that contest.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Jesus Himself

      Mr. Hunter, there is no heaven, there is no hell. When we die, well we just...die. I'm truly sorry for the honesty.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Charlie H.

      I am very much an agnostic. I adhere to no organized religion whatsoever. As a young boy – I was told of God and Jesus and life ever after. But now, as a man of 50 years, I do believe I have assembled enough of life's experiences to understand the complexities and frailties of man. From what I've seen of most organized religions, they are perpetrated by fear and greed. I would like to think that when my time comes to leave this little blue marble, that if there is a God?.. He would not be as judgmental as you would claim Mr. Hunter. He would be accepting of the Human condition. The fact is, I do not know.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • cov

      I'm with Hunter...WELL SAID!!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • auguron

      I have a feeling he won't be alone though. He'll be right along with those thieving, lying, cheating degenerates...sorry I mean ministers.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Mikey

      I agree completely – the author did not disrespect your faith. He was pointing out that there is no one BIBLE!!! And there isn't – there are many.

      February 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • FudgeMonkey

      Judge not lest ye be judged. Mr. beal does not contend that the Bible is not credible, nor does he proclaim his personal beliefs to be contrary to the Bibles teaching.

      You are not a messenger of God's love...

      February 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Lord Charles

      OR....he will be right and God has a fenced in yard, where he keeps all the fools who wasted their lives believing in something that wasn't real...and even maybe HUNTER...God will take his wraith out on those who put a middleman between him and his children...um...think about that... I don’t think that would happen as it sounds to Christian manner to me...

      February 23, 2011 at 2:07 am |
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About this blog

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.