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. Martini58

    Yawn. New opportunity to make old points.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  2. Ziggy

    While you people ar arguing here, we are seeing Bible prophecies happening before our eyes.

    Instead of fighting, we need to work together, otherwise, we are all doom !!!

    The best time to invade a country is when they are fighting a civil war.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  3. Ex-Catholic

    The Catholic bible was written to scare uneducated peasants into submission, take their land, their money, and to enslave. They actually did it good naturedly under the guise that their reward is heaven. All the while the Church became very wealthy and powerful indeed, killing at will (see the Crusades). I hope Jesus existed because the writings attributed to him are beautiful words to live by. Perhaps all the kneeling before the church has dulled parishioners' minds. Snap out of it!

    February 22, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Anglican

      Ex. You do not speak the truth, you simple reveal your pessimistic view of life.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Anglican

      ........................simply reveal............

      February 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  4. Ziggy

    What do you people think about ancient aliens?

    February 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Godless

      I think there's more proof of ancient aliens than there is of god.

      February 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  5. Ziggy

    Why did the Vatican, in May 2008 issued the statement that the existence of ETs is not inconsistent with the belief in God.

    Why did they make this statement at this time – what do they know?

    So now that the Catholic Church has said that alien life is A-OK, is it safe to assume that world leaders are getting ready to let the cat out of the bag? Are we preparing for a global announcement of epic proportions…that aliens DO exist and ARE visiting Earth?

    February 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  6. Laura

    You have a right to your opinion as do everyone else. But, as far as I'm concerned, I'd rather believe that God and the Bible does exist than not. You see, I believe in morals, having a conscious, treating people right, etc. It allows me to sleep well at night. That's a good thing about America – freedom of speech, opinions, etc.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Matt

      I don't understand why those who are religious think they need god to "believe in morals, having a conscious, treating people right, etc." It shouldn't take a belief in god and and the promise of an eternal afterlife to do right by your fellow human beings. If there is a God I'm sure once you're judged he'll see the the selfishness of your acts. Trust me- I don't believe there are any forms of deities watching man from a distance and I sleep very well knowing I do my part to better mankind.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Estevan

      You have a right to your opinion as do everyone else. But, as far as I'm concerned, I'd rather think rationally than accept myths and legend about a god who likely does not exist. You see, I believe in morals, having a conscious, treating people right, etc. It allows me to sleep well at night. That's a good thing about America – freedom of speech, opinions, etc.

      (PS: Please ignore the later double post on page 8...this is a response to Laura)

      February 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  7. The Truth

    The Bible is very real. Jesus and God are very real. The problem the "author" and some of you may be having is that you don't hear His voice calling you. Or perhaps you're blinded. But make no mistake, He is very real. And with all of the tragedy in this world currently, His return gets closer. If you hear Him calling you, answer. Enter through the gate, take the narrow road which leads to life. Don't wait until its too late.

    Mark 12:40
    40 “He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their hearts,
    so they can neither see with their eyes,
    nor understand with their hearts,
    nor turn—and I would heal them.”

    Matthew 7:13-14
    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    John 10
    The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
    1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
    7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

    11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

    14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

    February 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  8. Ziggy

    In the Book of Genesis, God did not create the sun unitl day 4, given this, how is the first three days defined before the sun was created?

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

      Days are creative periods. Not 24 hours periods.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Magic

      Genesis is an example of creative writing... 🙂

      February 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  9. Ziggy

    In the Koran, the number 19 is significant, there are 114 books in the Koran (that is divisible by 19) I looked at Book 19 – it is on the Virgin Mary, I then went to verse 19 of Book 19 – and it is about the birth of Jesus.

    This is all very interesting.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  10. uhhello

    I love it when zeolots meet atheists and show how blinded you both are. Did any of you actually READ the article? Nowhere does he say ANYTHING about the existence of God...just the history of the Bible. Hello?? Can you read?? He even says that going deeper into the Bible (more than 99% of you have) can be a source of "renewal and reawakening". Get off your soapboxes and try reading the words this time, not your preconceived "beliefs".

    February 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Rob

      I don't know if you just climbed out from under a rock or what, unhello, but do you realize that there are large numbers of believers (especially Evangelical Christians) who believe the Bible (or some version of the Bible) to be the absolute, perfect, innerant word of God. When Mr. Beal points out that there are many different versions of the Bible, when he points out that what most people regard as "the" Bible wasn't put together until 3 or 4 centuries AFTER the supposed birth of Christ, he is quite directly challenging the beliefs of those Evangelicals. While he may not say outright, "You Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are wrong about the Bible," he is nevertheless saying that in no uncertain terms.

      That's why we atheists and those Bible-thumpers are getting into it, quite rightfully so.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Drew

      this article tries to relate current culture with history. lol...Can you tell me where on this planet people are persecuted for being Is-lamic, Buddhist, Taoist, etc?? It doesn't happen for a reason. Just because the corrupt atmosphere we live in today has taken advantage of the Christian Bible for marketing purposes is not going to sway me in my faith. I am a Christian and I know that the Bible tells me that Christians will be persecuted for their beliefs. The wilderness he speaks of does exist, the only thing is the Bible helps to lay a path through the wilderness and is chock full of answers not more questions . Christians believe in one universal truth, that Jesus Christ the son of God lived, died, and rose from the dead to free us from the sins we create on a daily basis.

      February 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Rob

      Drew - you think Christians are the only ones who have ever been persecuted for their beliefs? Ever heard of the Holocaust? Ever heard of the Khmer Rouge and what they did to the Buddhists in Southeast Asia in the 70's? How about the Chinese military in Tibet and there relationship to the Buddhists? How about Communist China's treatment of the Taoists?

      You really need to read some history before you spout out your ignorant tropes about Christian persecution.

      February 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Drew

      I am referring to the belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Tibet wants to be separate from Communist China as a separatist campaign not because of Tibetan Buddhism. Jews believe in the God of Abraham which just so happens to be the same God i believe in thus persecution as stated in the Bible once again. The Khmer Rouge was based on Communism and class, not religious beliefs as a whole but part.

      February 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Rob

      Drew - you are evidently a complete idiot. The Buddhists were singled out by the Khmer Rouge. It was religious persecution. Check your facts. The Taoists were singled out, along with other religious groups, by the Communist/Maoist regime. Jews were persecuted for their religion as well, and last time I checked, Jews are not Christians.

      Wow, your ignorance astounds me. "Only Christians have ever been persecuted" - that one will go down in the books.

      February 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  11. music

    Calm down people, the article is not attacking Christianity. Okay, okay, it doesn't promote Christianity either. The guy is simply stating a fact that many people choose to ignore. So glad to have run across this today!

    February 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Vikram Pimplekar

      Its not very surprising that that Author does not present a single fact against the authenticity of the Bible or its message. How the Bible came to gether is a fascinating story in itself (Interested readers may want to read 'From God to Us' by Dr. Norman Geisler or ' A brief introduction to the Bible by the same Author). The Author has some pre-conceived notion of what faith / religion might by and then he uses that to interpret what the Bible is saying.
      Bible simply means the book. Just because there are a variety of translations, does not necessarily mean that there is a difference in the message conveyed. Just because there are lots of fake currency notes does not necessarily mean the true one does not exist. Lots of fake currency notes just mean lots of fake currency notes, it has no bearing on the authentic currency note.
      There is one single message in the Bible and considering that the first book in the Bible was written around 1400 BC and the last around 100 AD, this is a fascinating fact. The message is this, there is something wrong with us human beings, the Bible calls it Sin. Once it establishes how Sin entered the world, the rest of the book is an unfolding plan of redemption of how God is deeply involved in the world and loves the world enough to come down as a human and die. We can deny /reject / ridicule this storyline as much as we want, however that does not change the truth that the Bible is Authentic and has a very relevant message for you and me. Just ask Voltaire....

      February 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  12. Chip

    None of what is in this article is new information, by a couple thousand years, nor is it surprising to an informed Christian. Is this supposed to sow doubt in believers? Or is it just meant to make all the new-agers feel better about believing whatever they want?

    February 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Epidi

      I'm Pagan and I NEVER felt bad about my beliefs. Was your comment intended to make those of us who do not follow in the tradtional book religions feel inferior by insinuating that we should feel guilty? Tsk! Tsk!

      February 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • rep

      Here's a comment full of common sense!

      February 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • rep

      Just to be clear. My comment was directed at Chip!

      February 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Brett

      Chip – The point is that the bible has a mystique that is undeserved. People venerate the book as the word of God but that is obviously not the case unless God has an amazing sense of humor. 200+ variations on a theme and people fighting over which one is more factually correct. It is nonsense. Many different people created, translated, interpreted, and edited the words over time. This was simply a guide to a civilized life, the original self-help book, nothing more. Unfortunately it has been re-purposed as a key to an afterlife that may or may not exist.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  13. Lacey

    I don't think anyone could deny that different forms of the bible exist and such existences lead to religious sects. Most religions claim to be the "one true religion" and all rely on the bible for verification of its claim. So there is a choice to be made: religions are all either full of hot air or one religion is indeed superior to the others. I suppose that is a scary thought because to ensure your religion is the right one you either have to condemn non-followers of your one true religion OR you have to admit that your version of the bible is just that "a version". And "a version" makes those words on the page subject to scrutiny and what religious person could tolerate such a thing?

    I think the author hit on a great point, Its not if you read or claim the bible as your own but do you live by a set of moral principles? And if you do, how do those principles dictate your interactions with others. If you take your version of the bible word for word, do you believe everything it says? Most would probably have to admit they haven't read the bible in its entirety or that they rely on their local paster, reverend, etc. to pull out scripture and make interpretations. Now that is an interesting word isn't it...interpretation. Interpretation make "versions" and religious leaders are nothing more than interpretors and too many people rely on the interpreter rather than learn to speak the language for themselves.

    The author has a good point, learn to read the language and quit blindly believing in something you've only been told what it means.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  14. Chris

    If Jesus is black, and God is a woman, should we refer to Her as "She Who Be"?

    February 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • independentlyowned

      Jesus was not black, he was Aramaic,ancestors of the Arabs. Plus, not all black people have poor grammar :-p And if you believe in a God, the way I understand it is that God is neither male nor female, but also both simultaneously, God has no gender but represents all human forms. Stop being ignorant because it's not funny.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Independently owned..neither male nor female,,then why do the Catholics call him Father ,,don't tell me they have something wrong... Catholic mom will be on you.. Also where did this understanding come from?

      February 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  15. Ziggy

    Mathematics is the language of the universe – to better understand the universe, you have to study mathematics.

    For the beauty of the universe to exist, there has to be a supreme architect.

    To think otherwise is akin to a teenager, living with her parents, thinking they are independent.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Chris

      What an incredible pair of beliefs you have! First you promote mathematics (a science), and then in the very next sentence you spout one of the most ridiculous, unscientific thoughts I've ever heard. Please get off the fence. That is THE most dangerous place to be.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • T3chsupport

      Hey, don't knock the fence. From the top of the fence, you get to see both sides for their true colors.
      This guy is not on the fence. He's stuck in it.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • AL

      Ziggy whaaaaat?

      February 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Estevan

      "For the beauty of the universe to exist, there has to be a supreme architect." What evidence do you have of this?

      Let me answer that for you: none. You have no evidence to support this.

      There is no reason to think that the universe requires a supreme architect.

      February 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  16. Epidi

    I like the wilderness as he puts it in his article. It's how we find out what we are made of, how strong we are, how flexible to survive and find diverse. I'd rather be in the wilderness, wandering and being purified by my own trials by fire in the pool of life, than relying on a book religion whose pages have been rewritten and interpreted in so many different ways by so many who think they have all of the answers.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • bettejodux

      Epidi, I think you'll like my column. I'm a humanist. I live on Kauai You can visit me at http://bettejo.wordpress.com/ I have a poisoned pen, a sharp tongue and a kind'a cute sense of humor. Love to take a swing at the thumpers.
      Scroll around. Please leave a message. Peace and love Bettejo

      February 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  17. Shane

    The writer misses the main point entirely, and it's this. God is sovereign over all, and all things are possible with God. Which means God has the ability to bring a book together such as the bible to relay important messages to his people. How did the bible get written in the first place during the dark ages, translated into every language, while the people translating it like Luther were being persecuted and threatened with execution. The bible's early transcripts have survived all these years, from the Torah in the old testament, to the writings of Paul in the new testament for one main reason. Because God supernaturally has ordained it. He says "heaven and earth will pass away but my words will abide forever"!! Thank you Jesus!

    February 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Stephanie

      Really, Jesus isn't in my bible. So they point you make has no real point to anyone but those that think like you. Jesus wasn't the messiah, and anyone who believes otherwise is delusional. Now see, that got a rise out of you. Only because it shakes the cores of what you have been told to believe. No one should be arrogant enough to think man could interput what G-d wants, needs, feels or otherwise. None of us where there when G-d came to the forfront of lives that were so segregated and oppessed that we thought we could write down the story. Play the game of telephone to know that words, stories, traditions and facts are often white when they ended black. believe what you want, and live how you think you should. do not tell me that i need to believe as you, or ELSE. if you find that you believe in one religion over another, well great for you.. you have found your own path. I believe one way, you believe another.... IT ALL DOESNT MATTER, BECAUSE IF YOU BELIEVE IN HEAVEN ... THAT JUST MEANS WE ARE ALL GOING THERE, WE WILL JUST LIVE IN DIFFERENT NEIGHBORHOODS. dont worry about your neighbor, they worry enough about themselves enough. your views of this article are in accordance with what you believe in as your bible. dont just the others if they arent believers in your bible, because to thier mind you are wrong too.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Peter

      Shane, it is you who has missed the point. The writer is not trying to say that your god does not exist, or that you should not have faith in such a god. The main point of the article is to question your understanding of the origins of the Bible, which was not transcribed as dictated by a deity, but rather pieced together over time, by an assortment of editors. You are still free to believe that your version of such a deity arranged for a particular set of contributors to come together to produce the copy of the Bible that you keep on your nightstand, but you also need to understand that your book may be wildly different than the other 5,999 versions of the same thing. While I'm sure you will argue that God was the author the whole time, and everybody else was just a ghostwriter, the fact of the matter remains that there is no official first edition of the book, which is the main point.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • AL

      Stephanie..Marry me!

      February 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Amused

      Shane, I believe it may well be you who has missed the point! "The Bible" is not a single definitive book or collection of books, but is a group of letters, written by various people, at various times, with various political agendas that have all been severely modified and edited multiple times to serve multiple agendas over the last 2000 years. There are no first hand accounts of any event and not a single word in these books were written by God or any other diety, but are only the opinions of ancient people. If you look at the "Holy Bible", the old testament with the "gospels" added, you find that there were many different letters written about Jesus, but only the few letters that portrayed him as a god were selected by the Roman Emperor Constantine to be an official part of the New Testament for strictly POLITICAL reasons! Emperor Constantine wanted to unite his empire and did not care whether there was any truth whatsoever in those particular letters, he only cared about his empire! Yes, a Roman Emperor selected, edited and modified the books that were to be called the "Holy Bible" and most christians consider it to be the actual, literal word of God. I find that to be very sad and ironic...

      February 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  18. michael

    This article has quite the timing with the death of a couple who was traveling around the world in their sailboat distributing Bibles.
    ... 'no such thing as the Bible' ... Timothy there is such thing as the Bible and God continues to use it change lives... and stir peoples souls... as it is yours! ... to unpack the Bible to a 'black and white' form so to speak would be like unpacking the layers of love. ... a little mystery isn't a bad thing. Don't be scared. 🙂

    February 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Eli

      I wish it was that easy. My senses detect no proof of god, God, Zeus, Ra, or Allah (God again, jut the Muslim version).

      My feelings on the matter are very confused. I want to believe. I want to, but logically it's ridiculous.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Rob

      Eli - you don't have to believe. Like so many millions before you, you're perfectly capable of living a moral, meaningful, full life without any kind of belief in an afterlife or a god. Try to form your beliefs on the basis of evidence and reasoning. Have good reasons for what you believe, and be willing to change those beliefs if you're proven to be wrong with evidence. THAT is true integrity.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Brad

      Hi Eli, I agree that it's not easy. But I don't think it's ridiculous. There are lots of reasons that can take you in the direction of faith. Why did the Big Bang happen? Why do we have consciousness? Why do we see beauty in the world? Why do some people sacrifice themselves for others?

      People will accuse me of putting God in the unknowns – so if there's something we don't understand scientifically, I explain it with God. But I don't see it that way. I see it as putting the "Why" in where science gives us the "How."

      I'd recommend reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. It's not a perfect book, and he clearly has a Christian bias, but he raises some interesting points. I'd also recommend Philip Yancey, a very thoughtful Christian writer, who isn't afraid to tackle doubt and the big issues.

      But at the end reasons can only take us so far in faith. There must be that "leap" of faith – belief in something that we cannot prove definitively. So why do it, if we cannot prove it? Because it gives us humility. Because it gives a reason to love others (though of course, I agree you can love others without coming from a religion). Because it gives us a reason to to persevere through struggles. Because Jesus asked – when he returns, will he find faith on Earth?

      February 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • michael

      Thanks for your reply. God stories are just as special and unique as love stories... I wish I could share mine but this is hardly the place. I encourage you to get caught up in God and not religion alone... and I will share that my God story is artfully connected to the Bible and personally affected by Jesus Christ.
      My God story starts there... at the life of Jesus.
      Like love... its a dynamic journey not boring destination.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • rapor

      The Case for Christ is a good one to look at. Another good book is Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Lewis was an athiest turned apologist in WW2 England. In Mere Christianity he begins at nothing, no faith, no God, no heaven or hell, and builds a logical case for God's existence and for Christianity as a whole. He does it without judgement, churchy rhetoric or any of the other things that have come to typify the Christian faith and form the basis of most of the anti-Christian arguments here. It seems like you want to think that we are not some cosmic accident and that there is something out there that is bigger than us. The truth is you are completely normal and there is nothing wrong with not being satisfied with science and reason. Incidentally, it takes a lot for me to say that because I am highly analytical and a biochemist by trade. I would encourage you to explore and use your intelect but do not discount that rumbling deep inside you that logic and reason cannot satisfy.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Rob

      Eli - I don't think Lee Strobel is particularly inspiring. He's largely a con-man. Read Paul Doland's book "The Case Against Faith," which takes down Strobel's banal "arguments" one-by-one. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/paul_doland/strobel.html

      February 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  19. Andres

    It is interesting that the people that says that the author is by fact wrong, they don't list the bases to prove it. And please don't say that the core stories across all bible versions are the same! any given word translated to different languages or versions can actually give a totally different approach, specially if the one who is reading it, or sermoning it, will analyce his own conclussions given his particular needs, surroundings or culture. To my oppinion, it might be interesting to read the author's book just to know the other side of the story and also to know (without the usual religious author's inthended cohersion on beliefs, for therefore I believe he is very brave to publish it), a different (based on some facts and coherence) story of the Bible.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  20. mightyfudge

    No one knows what happens when we die, and anyone claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants your money. In this case, the cost of a book (ironically so you won't purchase a different one.)

    February 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Randy

      Don't put 'dirt' in your pamphlet.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • gerald

      That you don't know doesn't mean noone does.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • T3chsupport

      I wish people would understand that it's ok to not know things.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • widget

      I can guarantee you gerald that, other than physically, NOONE knows or can prove what happens once you're dead and buried. An opinion of what happens is not a fact, it's an opinion.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • catadmin

      some people DO know what happens when they die and they are not selling any books.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • AL

      gerald, show me someone who does know.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Think about it

      God uses very blatant ways to show man what is in front of him (floods, earthquakes, fires, etc...), so when looking at the Bible try to find what sticks out. Below I've included some pointers in finding GOD's road map for His True word.

      Simple question: When you walk into a room, who would stick out from the crowd? A really short person, and a really tall person. If you have some man standing at 2 feet tall, he will stand out. In the same way a person standing 8 feet tall will also stand out. Well God ensured that HIS BIBLE stands out. And His WORD stands out.

      The shortest chapter of the Bible is Psalm 117.
      The longest Chapter of the Bible is Psalm 119.
      The middle chapter of the Bible is Psalm 118.

      God made sure the shortest and longest chapters in the BIBLE stood out to grab ones attention. Then He pointed to His wisdom in the middle chapter, right in between the shortest and longest chapters of the REAL BIBLE.

      How many chapters exist before Psalm 118? 594
      How many chapters of the Bible exist after Psalm 118? 594
      Add the two together and you get 1188.
      What is the verse at the very center of the Bible? Psalm 118:8

      Psalm 118:8"It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man."

      So, ask yourself this question, how could a BIBLE/BOOK be written over a period of THOUSANDS of YEARS have such PRECISION in making that verse the middle verse of the BIBLE? It has to be ONE AUTHOR, that being GOD. Any other book, is just a FAKE. (So use the KJV, or NKJV Bible when looking for a good Bible. Those are great translations, that don't OVER TRANSLATE the original words. )

      Note: It's rather FUNNY to see that some NOBODY is trying to SELL his BOOK by trying to say the best book in the world is not real. I mean, that's so pathetic.

      Be blessed!!

      February 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Drew

      Awesome revelations there Think about it. Really profound stuff!!! Thank you for your stewardship and may God Bless all

      February 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
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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.