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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. Jon

    I'm pretty sure that virtually no one (in their right mind) in the modern era would claim that there is only one true version of the text that has come to be known as The Bible. The texts therein clearly represented a wide array of cultures, authors, and theologies. However, the fact that the Bible is an evolving text does not undermine its significance. Are you claiming that only a delusional person would be able to find solace in its message? How is it disconcerting that there isn't one "pristine" original version?

    February 22, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • WhatWouldHorusDo?

      I'm sure you can find solace in its message. However, it has been used as a tool to indoctrinate people and codemn those who do not believe in it. It has caused hurt and pain for people for centuries now, and it has been done while using this book. Christians pass judgment on everyone who are not in their book club.... and they back up their actions on the belief that it is the "one" true word of god....well good news for the rest of us....there isn't one true word....and yes each version is extremely different, but what is even more different is the pastor's and follower's interpretations.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  2. seth

    The Bible did take a few centuries to coalesce. But coalesce it did with overwhelming consensus...it is a matter of faith whether or not that was the work of God's Spirit or simply just a bunch of humans inventing something we call the Bible.
    That being said the author greatly exaggerates the differences between all of these 'Bibles'. It is true that the Catholic church has a few extra books added in from ancient Jewish sources (originally added by St. Jerome in his Latin Vulgate translation). But they don't add or detract significantly from the overall story of the Bible. Those books are never- I repeat, never, cited when it comes to the differences between Catholics and Protestants. Those differences come from historical debate and different ways of viewing church leadership- but not those few OT books. In other words, Protestants and Catholics use largely the same Bible.
    The exact same can be said of the Orthodox additions/redactions. They are interesting but the reason we can all call ourselves 'Christians' is because the story is still the same and the VAST majority of books are the same. The differences pale in comparison to what is identical. And so what if some banal publishing company creates a 'Golfers' Bible'? It's silly but has no bearing on whether or not there is 'A' Bible. And who cares that the Jewish community orders their Torah differently? It's still the exact same books as the Old Testament (with the obvious few exceptions already noted)!
    Yes, Virginia, there is a 'Bible'. You can go to the store and buy one. They will come in different colors and be bound with different material. It's still the same thing. The Catholic one has a few extra books. Try not to freak out.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • WhatWouldHorusDo?

      simply just a bunch of humans inventing something we call the Bible

      Thank you. You make me right. 🙂

      February 22, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  3. Craig

    Good mention of the dead sea scrolls. Oh, wait. You didn't mention that did you. Good research.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  4. Doc Vestibule

    If you're a Bible adherent, how do you know whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, oriental Orthodox, As.syrian, Byzantine, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Anabaptism, Brethren, Methodist, Pietism, Apostolic, Pentocostal, Charismatic, African Initiated, United, Quakers, Couthcotti.tism, Millerism, British-Isrealism, Latter Day Saints, Mennonite, 7th day Adventism, Kelleyism, Co.oneyism, Shakers, Methernitha, Strigolniki, Yehowism, Christadelphians, Christian Science, doukhobors, Iglesia ni Cristo, Makuya, Molokans, Subbotniks, Ebionism, Martinism, Rosicrucians, Rastafarianism, Santo Daime, or Umbanda is the REAL interpretation of your God's words?
    If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select The Truth out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things, especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Jon

      I think it's safe to say that we're all impressed by how many denominations you can list.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And I'm equally impressed with your condescending sarcasm.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  5. kaiser roll

    Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.
    Genesis 38:8

    February 22, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Valerie

      What's you point? You didn't make one, you copied and pasted some Old Testament passage that means NOTHING.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • WhatWouldHorusDo?

      Pst, hey, Valerie, when you get angry, it make me right 🙂

      February 22, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Q

      I think he is trying to tell us to stop rubbing one out at night...lol.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Godless

      If god truly dispised those kinds of acts, there would be no dudes left on this planet.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • JoeT

      Quite clearly in a bronze-age society it is a shame and a sin to leave a widow without any children to care for her in her old age.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  6. Valerie

    My Take: The writer of this article looks like a cross between Bill Paxton and Jon Bon Jovi. Discuss!

    February 22, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Jon

      lol, agreed.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  7. godsman

    I am not a regular visitor to the blogs here at CNN, but on the few occasions that I have visited (an attempt to be "well rounded" in my world view as far as news is concerned), i have seen a noticeable slant towards what I will call anti-christian-ism being purveyed here. I wonder why it is that since its founding by Jesus, so much hate gets directed at the Christian faith. Every century since the founding of the Christian faith has found someone trying to destroy Christianity. Don't give me your crap about the Crusades being the greatest example of why Christianity is a religion of hate when there was so much death dealt to the christians centuries before the crusades. What is it to any of you "non-christians" how or what I believe? Why do you spend so much of your precious time trying to disprove or destroy my beliefs? The God I serve has allowed all of us to choose how we will live. He doesn't dictate anything to anyone when it comes to our choices. You choose to not believe in Him, I choose to belive in Him. Your disbelief will never change my belief.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • WhatWouldHorusDo?

      Are you trying to get sympathy for your religion/faith? You think it is just christianity? You are a joke my friend. Try being a Muslim American October 2001 in NYC, and then tell me about persecution. Or being a anything other than Christian in the south, and then come talk to me. You are not being singled out, every religion is persecuted, and I think you are a horse's behind for thinking Christians get it worst, because they do not. So what if you have to deal with a blog or article stating FACTS about the origin of your holy book.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • NL

      "He doesn't dictate anything to anyone when it comes to our choices."
      Ah, but do you believe that He will torture everyone who doesn't make the 'correct' choice?

      "You choose to not believe in Him, I choose to belive in Him. Your disbelief will never change my belief."
      There is always hope that the close-mined will some day see reason. All we can do is plant little seeds, as Justin Bieber would say.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Vik

      Here, then, is a difference between us:
      I am willing to change my views if I am presented with proof that I am wrong. You are not.
      You are like a parent who refuses to see that their child is dead even with their body lying on the ground in front of you.
      All you have to do to convince me is to prove your silly contradictions to be true.
      To convince you, I would have to deprogram you using modern psychiatric techniques first, since your level of indoctrination has destroyed over your ability to use reason and logic.
      This is not irreversible, but it's highly unlikely that anyone will make the effort to open your eyes to the truth. Comments like the ones in this blog by "unbelievers" are probably the most you'll ever see in your lifetime.
      We aren't burning your churches and forcing you into deprogramming camps like we should – there aren't enough of us to do that. Your little fantasy world is safe as long as you surround yourself with propaganda and fellow "believers".
      This is the real world. Your "bible" and gods do not exist. We have proof that you refuse to face – a common symptom of brainwashing known for thousands of years.
      Yet we are still living side-by-side...we can be just as nice as you...and we don't need any bible or sky-god to do this.
      Better keep an eye on those other religions, though. Holy wars can be pretty easy to start and hard to stop.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Godless

      Vik – that was, in a word, perfect. Couldn't have said it better myself.

      As an athiest, I do not believe there is a god. That said, if god were to prove itself to be real (and I mean real proof, not "look around you" or fifth-hand stories about some miracle in Guatemala), I would be first in line at church the next day. But the same cannot be said for the believers. They aren't open to accepting that there is no god. They are set in their beliefs and nothing will change that. To many of them, they probably see that as a good thing, rather than the problem that it really is.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Rob

      Godless is correct. The fundamental problem here is that faith is not falsifiable and therefore has no inherent error-correcting machinery. The level-headed person changes their beliefs if they find sufficient evidence that contradicts those beliefs. But the person of faith chooses blind acceptance in the face of contradictory evidence (like Mr. Beal offers us). That's why faith is dangerous.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • NL

      godsman-
      "I wonder why it is that since its founding by Jesus, so much hate gets directed at the Christian faith."
      Have you ever wondered why every legitimate criticism of Christianity throughout the ages has been labeled as 'hate'? Why make 'sacrilege' a crime unless the 'victim', the belief, is too frail to defend itself? Fear of entering into open discussion is a clear indication of having a weak case.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  8. Chad

    http://sierracommunitychurch.org/sermons.html

    February 22, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • NL

      A persuasive sermon may be able to convince people to trust the bible, but so can a persuasive con man convince people to trust in him, right?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  9. Chad

    Timothy Beal's assessment of the Bible is superficial at best, and disingenuous at worse. His discussion here would certainly be complicated by what my pastor talked about this week: "Can the Bible be Trusted." You can check out Dan Wilver's answers by visiting this link and clicking on the audio for his sermon on 2/20/2011.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  10. pat

    of course there is a bible..the issue is however is if it is truly the word of God.... yes or no there is still a book called the Bible that many people deem holy..... personally I find it a good read but in no way do I believe that it was inspired by God.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  11. Quilter77

    I love how those who know nothing of the Bible will quote bits and pieces without understanding the entirety of this book. Their ignorance or hatred for God and His word is very clear.

    Like the post about a loving father sending his children to eternal torture. God doesn't send anyone to hell, which you are referring to. Hell was created for Satan and his demons. It was never created for humans. But God gives us a choice, which is why Jesus came. Hell is a choice.

    As far as Jesus refusing to help a "minority" woman – you obviously do not know the culture of the times. She was not a minority, she was poor. The poor came to the homes of the rich at that time to glean from their tables. The rich would leave food for the poor. Jesus used that story to share that anyone is welcome at His table. And please provide the chapter and verse for your claim that Jesus instructs people how to whip slaves. I don't have that in my Bible, so I'd like to know where you found it.

    If you don't believe in God, that is your choice and that is just fine and dandy. But if you are preaching tolerance for others beliefs, lifestyles, ideals and creeds, you better start including Christians, or you are just a hypocrite.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • WhatWouldHorusDo?

      Stop. stop. I can't laugh anymore, or my sides will hurt. Take a theology course. You people crack me up. Educate yourself. Hahahaha.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Eric G.

      I find it interesting that you as-sume that anyone with a different interpretation of the Bible does not understand it. You also as-sume that those people are ignorant and hate your God.

      Please provide the proper interpretation of the bible for the ignorant. You will also need to provide verifiable evidence that your interpretation is true and factual. If you cannot provide these basic things that you claim you can, you will be exposed as the hateful and ignorant one.

      We are all waiting for you to provide the proper explaination of the Bible.....

      February 22, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Pssshhh!

      "God doesn't send anyone to hell"

      Actually, since your god is omnipotent, nothing happens outside of his will, so yes he does.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • EDWCAR

      That is Interesting; most Christians I have met are hypocrits.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  12. tim43

    Very refreshing article.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  13. Sean BG

    The article is clearly 'pearls before swine'...

    February 22, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  14. Josie

    This is one book that I have actually taken the time to read, study, and learn it history. It fasinating, and I agree with his last statement...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...seems to me he might have a better understanding then many do when it comes to the Bible.

    I know of people that will only read the New Testament, because it has the teachings of Christ in it, they read the Old Testament but realized that it really had nothing to do with how things were done anymore, so what was the point.

    I have read the Dead Sea Scroll, any version of any Holy Book I can get a hold of, and anything along those lines...and will continue to do so. Though I am Christian, it's more spiritual then traditional...and yes people there is a BIG difference!

    February 22, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  15. Cristobal22

    My favorite part is where Jesus refuses to help a minority woman because of her race (the "crumbs from the master's table" incident). Or maybe it's his comments about how one should whip a slave who has done something wrong but doesn't realize it was wrong.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • David

      You couldn't be more wrong. He did in fact, heal her, and the whole point He was making to the disciples was that grace and mercy are open to everyone, regardless of ethnicity or nationality. Like much of Jesus' teaching, it was done Socratically. He made leading statements and asked leading questions, the answers to which illustrated his point, namely that it was her faith and character which made her worthy, not her genetics or social status, a principle the disciples hadn't fully grasped. So, you may have been wrong about this passage, but thanks for bringing up such a great example of the universality of Christ's love!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  16. happyjackrich

    Of course there is no bible. There is also no God. Patently obvious, since no "loving father" could ever condemn his supposed "children" to eternal torture for the mere act of disbelief in him – especially in light of the fact that this fantastical god doesn't bother to provide any rational evidence of his existence.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • tim43

      Well said.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Q

      Bravo!!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Bill

      Where in the Bible does it mention that people who don't believe are doomed to eternal torture? You wouldn't be confusing the Bible with Dante, would you?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • catadmin

      God does not send people to a hell. THe concept of Hell is completely misunderstood by many poeple. From an afterlife, we all live a life we understand. Nothing more and nothing less. God didn't create those ideas. People had free choice.(Perhaps some people's vision of the world is a hell? Others feels more beauty?)

      And proof of God is in everything. You only have to look for it. You can't prove Love, Joy, Hate, Envy, etc. These things can't be measured and /or probed. They are felt. And so is Faith. But because one can not use the five senses to determine that it exsists doesn't mean it doesn't. Perhaps we have limits and can't see beyond our own world of influrence?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  17. jdc

    good luck with that dude. everyone of us has a built in understanding that there is something beyond us. want to deny it? thats cool, its called free will but you live with your choices.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Rob

      Speak for yourself. Not everyone has a "built in understanding of something beyond us," or at least not an instinct for believing in gods. Don't psychologize for the rest of humanity, please.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Bor

      Actually, I saw a scientific article on the inter-webs just today proposing that humans may have evolved a tendency towards religious beliefs... Just sayin

      February 23, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Rob

      Bor - that is one interesting hypothesis. But it's just that, an hypothesis. If evidence continues to mount for it, then it might be worthy of consideration. But, despite the argument, it's still not going to be true of everyone.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  18. phoenix

    you s are the bible and the bibles are you, repent or go to the fire.

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

      Which version of the fire?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • auguron

      Do you honestly have any idea what you sound like right now?

      February 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  19. Joe

    I see. So by extrapoloation, since everyone has different opinions on physics, that field of science doesn't exist either. And of course politics too. Another post-modern guy who lives in a contingent universe, but only removes the Bible for being contingent, not everything else. You remove the first cause when it comes to metaphysics, but go about your life as though something is wrong if you turn your key and your car doesn't start.

    Not to mention, proving that something doesn't exist is a contradictory undertaking. It has to exist to prove it doesn't exist. You are pre-supposing its existence to deny its existence.

    But that's besides the point. The Bible exists. People disagree on the version. This is article is a complete waste of bandwidth.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • WhatWouldHorusDo?

      Wahahaha? Are you trying to convince us or yourself? Wahahaha.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • lev

      Joe, did you see that? It just went by. It was "the point", and you missed it.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  20. Aenaey

    I will not draw into the debate of the actual relavence of the Bible... however... your logic (and your idiotic book therefore) is a failed concept. Was there an original Bible? No, because there wasnt a single individual slated to write the Bible. Instead it is a collection of stories put together as a tool of guidence.

    Your argument is one of "there isnt a bible so it didnt happen"? What about history books? There isnt a single history book. You cant find "The History Book". So does that mean history didnt happen? The Roman empire was recorded via thousands of texts... so I guess that didnt happen. Rome never existed and its all a myth.

    Events that happen right now are recorded by hundreds, thousands or even millions of people... so a couple thousand years from now should the message from those events be lost just because it didnt have a unilateral source?

    Even more so... does a single author or source make the book "fact"? Because you took your thoughts, as a single person, and put them to paper, does that make them "the story"? No... it makes it opinion, no matter what youre writing (sans fiction). I would much rather believe something I hear from 1,000,000 people than from 1... I think the fact that the bible is from so many sources and so many difference versions are out there with the same basic prinicples and messages give it a lot more credibility than one close minded persons thoughts.

    You can read all about it my book... "The rise and fall of the uneducated illogics"

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

      I think you and some other people are taking his meaning a little too literally. He's not saying there is no such thing as the Bible. He's saying there is no such thing as THE BIBLE. According to the author bibles exist but there is no one original manuscript. Of course, this makes perfect sense. The new testament is a compilation of the writings of the apostles amongst other things. You can imagine that what was available for one version may not have been available for another and vice versa. And he is correct saying that how and who translated each individual bible could certainly alter it's meaning. How can you prove that the version of the bible you read is the true and correct absolute word of God? I really don't think you can. But I don't think not being able to prove such a thing necessarily diminishes the value of the Book. In the end the bible is just a guide on how we should live our lives. If used as such there could be 100,000 different versions out there, but I think in the end their core messages do remain the same.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • WhatWouldHorusDo?

      Waaahahaha!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • pgp

      Apparently the comments I made are being "moderated". Do we still live in America as a free speech nation? Where we can choose the kind of life we want to live? I am a born again, spirited filled Christian and very glad of it. I used the name of Jesus Christ in my comments for I imagine that is the reason to "moderate" my comments. Historically, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by a boy in 1948 – verifying the voracity of the Holy Bible. Israel became a nation in May 1948 around the time the scrolls were found. Jerusalem became the capitol in the 6 day war of June 1967. The Holy Bible said this would come to pass over 2 thousand years ago! By the way, that means literally we are in the last days of the age of grace! Israel was not a nation for over 2400 years! Add it up. Earthquakes, floods, famines, ruthlessness, violence in mens hearts, pestilences, etc. – all in this book in graphic timeline and accuracy. Read Revelation 18 about the demise of 'Babylon' in one hour and shudder. We all saw the towers fall in one hour which I believe is a warning that modernday 'Babylon' America
      will be destroyed in 1 hour. Get saved now. America the mightly is not mentioned in the great tribulation. The people to whom the Holy Bible does not exist will get it in a split second. Laugh at the Holy Bible, laugh at me. But I am not the one who is ignorant! I am at peace and very thankful I chose to know God. Having studied this book for at least 18 years, I would be considered a 'scholar' at a university. However, being a Christian, I am slandered as a hypocritical pig in muck who is too ignorant to 'get' what all the highly evolved 'get'. I am going to thoroughly enjoy living in heaven with Jesus and family and friends who have gone on before me – and forever to boot! You can go to hell if you want to – it IS your choice.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @pgp

      Your christian persecution complex is getting in the way of reality...

      There is no live active moderator. You have not been discrimated against. You have merely used one of many undoc-umented potentially nuaghty word frgaments such as s3x, c-um, t!t and soft-. A more extensive but unofficial (found by trial and error) list is posted occasionally. Edit your post to avoid the bad word fragments and your post will be accepted.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:06 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.