October 26th, 2010
11:02 AM ET

My Take: Bible has some shocking 'family values'

Editor's note: Michael Coogan is a lecturer on Hebrew Bible-Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School, professor of religious studies at Stonehill College, and director of publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum. Editor of "The New Oxford Annotated Bible," his most recent book is "God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says" (Twelve).

By Michael Coogan, Special to CNN

When talking about so-called family values, pastors, popes, and politicians routinely quote the Bible as if it were an unassailable divine authority - after all, they assume, God wrote the Bible, and therefore it is absolutely and literally true.

But that is a misconception. As the Bible itself makes clear, its authors were human beings, many of whom are named: David, Isaiah, Luke, and Paul. These human writers wrote over the course of more than a thousand years, and their writings reflect their own views and the values they shared with their contemporaries, so not inconsistencies are frequent in the Bible, both trivial and profound.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. kit

    That the author of the Bible according to Mr. Coogan were men, one of whom was King David, is Mr. Coogan's greatest misconception. Had King David authored his book in the bible we will certainly not read the part where he killed Uriah so he can take Bathsheba to be his woman, afterall, he went to great lengths to cover this part. This is why we believe God is the author of the bible, because the hidden things of men known only by God are revealed here. The bible is inspired by the spirit of God and is discerned spiritually. Without a doubt Mr. Coogan did not discern the Spirit of God that is at work in the scriptures.

    December 13, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  2. Dr. Evil


    November 16, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  3. No Man Knows

    Mat 25:13: Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

    Rev 3:3: Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee

    October 29, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  4. Iqbal khan

    This man has also studied in same Harvard Divinity School, see what he have to say.....


    October 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  5. Fred

    This guy has a lot of qualifications but he lacks the two most important ones: he does not believe the Bible and he is not saved. Who could possibly think it's a good idea to have the Bible taught by a non-believer? "Ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth." Instead of teaching, he needs to sit down and be taught.

    October 28, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  6. TheView


    @Luke: You may not be trying to be rude, but you are succeeding rather well. And I am trying not to take your words personally.

    October 28, 2010 at 7:54 am |
    • Luke

      Are you suggesting that you are offended by someone else's study, math, data and conclusions? Could it be that you just don't like the yield of the study? And what does that have to do with me?

      October 28, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  7. TheView

    Anyone who insults a woman like you did, has no "wits" I can't stand your tone. Your "confidence" does NOT give you a pass to insult and call names. You are the confused one. Go away. The View sweeps you off the set. Be Gone!

    October 28, 2010 at 7:51 am |
    • Luke

      And where exactly did I offend a woman?

      October 28, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  8. TheView


    Frogist – Eh, I read the studies where reseached compare smarts to religosity and understand the causation/corellation argument. I don't think it really imapcts my conclusion though. According to the math, you're either dumber than most and flock to religion, or your religious which makes you dumber. Either way, you're dumber than most on average. Note that I am note trying to be ruse here – it's just what study after study after study yields.

    You have been voted the most ignorant and egotistical blob on this blog, and the Earth! Although we can't figure out why your egotistical..you have shown nothing to anybody, cept your a windbag)
    Btw...all you "sniffers" of his but cheks, don't bother. Your even dumber then this. Bye Bye!

    October 27, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
    • Luke

      Let me get this straight; if I reference three independent mathematical studies that yield similar results that are indisputable, I am ignorant and egotistical? Care you elaborate please?

      Also, I don't like your tone. I hereby challenge you to a test of wits. Please do not confuse confidence with arrogance, by the way.

      October 28, 2010 at 7:23 am |
  9. Eva

    Doc Vestibule

    I understand the awe you feel at the beauty of the natural world.
    The Universe is a wonderous place!
    But why infer divine intervention?
    Do you also see God's hand in all things ugly and destructive?
    If a butterfly's southerly migration is evidence of intelligent design, then why does it mean when moths fly into flame? Is such suicidal behaviour also evidence of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent creator?

    Mayby the moths that fly into the flame, do so because they are drawn to the light and heat.
    Is such suicidal behaviour also evidence of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent creator?

    All creatures created by God, react to thier environment. Why do whales beach themselves?
    These are acts of nature, and I see God there too, Don't forget, he said, My kingdom is not of this world.
    Sometimes people get thier eyes on only that which can be seen and felt.
    Do I see Gods hand in destructive and ugly things? Yes, when I see him working thru others to help victims of Natures natural disasters, such as when people pulled together to help when hurricanes, tornados and Tsunamis strike.
    But why infer divine intervention?
    Because I look at the splendor of all the universes and galaxys, and the Earth, and something unseen within myself KNOWS there is a God that did all these things. I cannot deny it, for its there. Just like you can't believe it, cause its not there.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  10. Muneef

    We ell all die in the end on the right time not before and not after but question is are you equipped for the life after death have you made things that would save your skin on that date? Just wish God would strengthen your faith in you and bless you with guidance to the Light of eternity.

    October 27, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    • Reality

      What Muneef's god and his/her followers have done to the lives of many global citizens:

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15) Followed by the daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings every day in the terror world of Islam.

      October 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  11. ButtingIn

    Di...That is indeed what counts! Bless you for your faith!

    October 27, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
  12. ButtingIn

    Know What said
    Jesus, if he was an all-mighty and all-knowing "God", would have known that these records were not sufficient proof.

    He dealt with that at the end of Revelation/ Read it.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  13. Muneef

    May God rewards and blesses her for her efforts in faith and kindness towards the weak and abused humans.Amen.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  14. Darla


    Oh, I could be wrong. I'll admit that openly, but I still am not convinced as to these gentlemen's historical credibility. I'm sure they saw something, but we are talking about incidents that reportedly happened quite a few years back, of which the records, as the second gentleman in the video admits, were hardly maintained. That second gentleman also admitted that he was able to easily put the incident out of his mind soon after it occurred, so it couldn't have been that dramatic at the time, right?

    Today they have a story to tell and a willing audience, so forgive me if I hang back on my acceptance of the details of their stories, but I learned back in the 2004 election that military men can sometimes have very, shall we say 'selective', memories

    Well, the reason he put it out of his mind, is because he had to. The goverment had told them in a meeting, "it never happened, it don't exist, you never saw it. He didn't have much choice. Thats why the selective memories. If you read up on this, you will find that it is true.
    The US was actuallty encouraged by the other countries, to go forth with what is been covered up. China, Russia and England have now made thier findings available.
    These are men that were guarding our missles systems, and saw them disarmed by these craft. Also, air traffic controllers spoke about the unidentified craft that they have seen or radar and had no explanation for.
    This meeting took place a few weeks back.
    The records were not maintained too good, because it was covered up. Some were fortunate enuff to keep some of those original do-c-u-m-ents, before they were confisticated.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
    • NL

      Interesting! For argument's sake lets say that it's all true, and that aliens with superior technology are taking pains to do what, exactly? Prevent us from nuking ourselves into extinction? Now what does that imply? Certainly not a belief that Christ is inevitably coming to destroy the world Himself because why bother saving a planet you know is doomed anyway, right? Then again, maybe they would they fight His efforts as well? Can you see it? Christ and his minions vs. UFO aliens at the battle of Armageddon!

      Seriously though, if UFO aliens disclose themselves to the world I would have no difficulty believing that they exist, but if they also claim to believe in God I'll have to ask them to present their evidence just like anyone else. Which side do you imagine they would take in the evolution debate? How would they view our religions? Would they have their own religions?

      October 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  15. Di

    I hope I am doing this right. My comments are regarding Professor Coogan's article. You know, to me it doesn't matter if the stories of Noah and the Ark, and the crossing of the Red Sea are exaggerated. Truth is men did write the Bible. It is not dictated by God. Men wrote, their experiences, their history to pass down. Yes, there maybe errors and inconsistencies, these men did not anticipate writing but to a couple of generations beyond their own. IOW, Moses did not know he his writings needed to be perfectly consistent with Daniel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or Paul. He just wrote. but really how much does it really matter?

    What counts and what I know is true is the story of a Savior born, died and resurrected for His beloved, but fallen children,man. Isn't that what counts?

    October 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
    • Know What


      "what I know is true is the story of a Savior born, died and resurrected for His beloved, but fallen children,man."

      That part was written by men too. Who's to say that they didn't make up things and exaggerate? They were evangelists, pushing their new first century religion.

      Jesus, if he was an all-mighty and all-knowing "God", would have known that these records were not sufficient proof.

      October 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      "how much does it really matter?"
      You can't be serious! You toss it all off as okay that these words have been falsified and cling to your fantasy?

      That's not faith, that's ridiculous and pathetic.

      October 28, 2010 at 2:55 am |
  16. LulaMaeTestament

    Ey meant be sure* and read it..hic...LulaMae had one to many...! 🙂

    October 27, 2010 at 6:44 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.