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My Take: It doesn't matter who wrote the Bible
April 1st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: It doesn't matter who wrote the Bible

Editor’s note: David Hazony is the author of "The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life," published recently by Scribner.

By David Hazony, Special to CNN

I am a person of faith. But sometimes I like to step outside of faith and just think about things rationally. Usually this oscillation between faith and skepticism serves me well, with faith giving reason its moral bearings, and reason keeping faith, well, reasonable.

It’s a nice balancing act — except when the question of who wrote the Bible comes up. My Jewish faith tells me that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch. Reason tells me to be open to the idea that somebody else had a hand in it.

And there are definitely a few glitches in the text that back up those suspicions - notably the last eight verses of Deuteronomy, which describe Moses’ own death.

But try as I might, I just can’t believe that the Five Books of Moses were written by J, E, P and D – the four main authors whose oral traditions, biblical scholars say, were cobbled together to make the Torah. (The letters stand for the Jahwist, the Elohist, the Priestly source and the Deuteronomist. Those, we may assume, were not their real names.)

Call me an academic infidel.

I know, it’s been generations now that Bible study scholars at universities around the world have accepted as true that:

(a) the Pentateuch was composed over many centuries through these four oral traditions, which were later written down;

(b) these main texts were woven together by an editor or series of editors living around the 6th century B.C.E.; and

(c) these different traditions are detectable by scholars today, to the point where you can justify entire conferences and an arena’s worth of endowed chairs to figure out not only the source document of every scrap of biblical text, but also the gender, political inclinations, subversive intentions, height, weight and personal traumas encumbering every one of its authors.

The first two are plausible, I suppose. But the third has always struck me as pure fantasy, the point where idle speculation gives way to heavily funded hubris. Of course, if I’m right about the third, the first two lose their authority as well.

Why don’t I buy it?

It’s not just because of how stark, uninspiring and vaguely European those four letters look in a byline. Nor is it the fact that in more than a century’s worth of digging up the Middle East by archaeologists, not a single trace of any of these postulated “source texts” has ever turned up. And it’s certainly not because the scholars’ approach contradicts my faith — after all, it was the willful suspension of faith that led me to consider it in the first place.

No, faith and skepticism dwell together in my confused bosom like pudding and pie.

Rather, my rebellion against these scholars comes from experience. Specifically, my experience as an editor.

It all started a few years back when, as the senior editor of a Jerusalem-based journal of public thought, I ran into trouble on a 10,000-word, brilliantly researched essay about Israeli social policy composed by the sweetest man on earth who, unfortunately wasn’t a stellar writer.

I spent a few weeks rewriting, moving things around, adding and cutting and sweating. Finally I passed it up the chain to Dan, my editor-in-chief.

"Hey Dan," I said. "Could you take a look at this? I added a whole paragraph in the conclusion. Tell me what you think."

A few days later I got it back, marked up in red ballpoint. On the last page, in the conclusion, he had written the words “This is the paragraph you added,” and drawn a huge red arrow.

But the arrow, alas, was pointing at the wrong paragraph.

You see, it turns out that it’s not very easy to reverse-engineer an editing job. To take an edited text and figure out, in retrospect, what changes it went through — it’s about a million times harder than those tenured, tortured Bible scholars will tell you.

Language is fluid and flexible, the product of the vagaries of the human soul. When an editor has free rein, he can make anything sound like he’d written it himself, or like the author’s own voice, or something else entirely. It all depends on his aims, his training, his talent and the quality of his coffee that morning. A good editor is a ventriloquist of the written word.

That’s when I started to suspect that what Bible scholars claim they’re doing — telling you what the “original” Bible looked like — might be, in fact, impossible to do.

Think about it. My case was one in which the author, editor and reader are all known entities (in fact, they all know each other personally); the reading takes place in the exact same cultural and social context as the writing and editing; and the reader is himself a really smart guy, Ivy-league Ph.D. and all, who had spent a decade training the editor to be a certain kind of editor, with specific tools unique to the specific publication’s aims.

Not only that, but he was even told what kind of edit to look for, in which section. And still he couldn’t identify the change.

Now compare that with what Bible scholars do when they talk about J, E, P, and D. Not only do the readers not know the writers and editors personally, or even their identities or when or where they lived. The readers live thousands of years later and know nothing about the editors’ goals, whims, tastes, passions or fears — they don’t even know for sure that the whole thing really went through an editorial process at all.

(If anything, the same textual redundancies, narrative glitches, awkward word choices and so forth that the scholars claim are the telltale signs of an editing process are, in my experience, very often the opposite: the surest indicator that an author needs an editor, desperately. If the text was edited, it was done very poorly.)

As with any field of research that tries to reconstruct the distant past, biblical scholars get things wrong on a daily basis.

And that's OK: Getting things wrong is part of the nature of reconstruction. Whether you’re talking about the origins of galaxies, dinosaurs, ancient civilizations, medieval history or World War II, the conclusions of all historical research come with a big disclaimer: This is the best we’ve got so far. Stay tuned; we may revise our beliefs in a couple of years.

With biblical scholars, however, you often feel like they’re flying just a little blinder than everyone else. At what point does a scholar’s “best guess” become so foggy as to be meaningless?

The Five Books of Moses take place somewhere in the second millennium B.C.E., centuries before our earliest archeological corroborations for the biblical tales appearing in the Book of Joshua and onward. We have no other Hebrew writings of the time to compare it with. So all that scholars really have to go on is the text itself — a wild ride on a rickety, ancient, circular-reasoning roller-coaster with little external data to anchor our knowledge of anything.

This would be fine, of course, if there weren’t so much riding on it.

With other fields, we usually don’t have our own dinosaur in the fight. But with the Bible, it’s not just the scholars duking it out with the clergy. There’s all the rest of us trying to figure out what to do with this stupendously important book — either because it anchors our faith, or because it contains enduring wisdom and the foundations of our cultural identity.

Where does that leave us? Some people, sensing their most cherished beliefs are under siege, will retreat to the pillars of faith — whether that faith is religious or academic. Either it was Moses, or it was J, E, P, and D. End of discussion.

As for the rest of us, it may raise questions about whether we really ought to care that much about authorship at all, or instead just go with Mark Twain’s approach. “If the Ten Commandments were not written by Moses,” he once quipped, “then they were written by another fellow of the same name.”

Using our reason means sometimes admitting there are things we just don’t know, and maybe never will.

Maybe that’s all right. After all, isn’t it enough to know that the book is really important, that it has inspired love and hate and introspection and war for thousands of years, that it is full of interesting stories and wisdom, poetry and song, contradiction and fancy and an unparalleled belief in the importance of human endeavor - in the possibility of a better world - despite the enduring and tragic weaknesses that every biblical hero carries on his or her back? That it is an indelible part of who we are?

Isn’t that enough to make you just read the thing and hope for the best, forever grateful to Moses, or that other fellow by the same name?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Hazony.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • History • Judaism • Torah

soundoff (2,549 Responses)
  1. holycow

    if we had to believe correctly in order to be loved by God, we'd all be in trouble.

    April 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      No one has to have faith in anything unless its known to be true. Otherwise its a lie, even if its only a lie to yourself – thats actually the worse kind, because it then justifies you doing other bad things. So one of the 10 commandments, can not be in conflict with true religious faith. Yes we are all in trouble if we have to be right always, aren't we 🙂 Could that be why jesus spoke so much of compassion and not casting the first stone unless we are without sin our self?

      April 3, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  2. Nodack

    After reading that I am even more convinced all religion is man made. Man has always sought to control other men and created thousands of "Gods" throughout history. Sometimes they had good intentions and sometimes it was just a leader creating a powerfull god to strike fear into his servants to obey the laws that the "God" laid down for "his" people. Really it was just the leader deciding the code of ethics for his people including of course donations to the cause.

    I just had a guy and a kid ring my door bell today pushing their religion on me and then not ten minutes later a different person rang the bell doing the same thing. I was curtious and accepted their invitation,but what I was really thinking was that they were sheep belonging to a cult and I wanted nothing to do with them.

    Religion has it's good points. The Ten Commandments are a great idea. Unfortunately it has it's bad points too. There is always a clause in every religion that states if you don't follow that religion that you are going to suffer agony in hell for eternity. Religions don't play that well together so we get situation where Muslims and Christians become mortal enemies that treats the other religion with contempt.

    Sorry, but it's all mad made with a good side and an evil side, but still man made. You guys can fight it out all you want, but leave me alone.

    April 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      I'm not sure the Eastern religions or Native American ones stress the hell aspect so much, if at all. That just seems to be common to those rooted in the Middle East. Gettin in tune or balance with your surroundings is really what it should be all about any way. I know that feeling about leave me alone though.

      April 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  3. LoneZero

    @Stclair lol yeah plus everyone, good or bad, goes to Hades (the grave) charlatans and heretics alike. Not so bad right? lol

    Sorry i went off topic with with Frederica, I like our discussions on her claims loI

    I just meant with all the inconsistencies, contradictions, negativity, and discrimination within the text It couldn't possibly be the word of a kind, forgiving, loving, powerful, all knowing God. The Bible has written all over it the fact it was a human edited socially constructed books put together by people over many centuries. Not to mention all those human errors within it.

    All we know is that supposedly it was an authorship inspired and guided by God, other then that we don't know anything else. How do we know they were truly inspired? What if they just claimed they were inspired and wrote down whatever they felt would lean the masses in their line of thinking and worship?

    With each new gospels discovered to this day that didn't make the Bible it raises so many questions. Why didn't it make the Bible? The Bible is the inspired word of God, why weren't they added? Who decided? What was the reason for it being left out and forgotten? There are even books recognized and considered canon with the Bible and are regarded sacred text yet didn't make the cut either, Who decided? Was it a committee? Who was in the committee? How did they vote on what stays and what goes? In this time frame the masses were generally illiterate, church and noble men were the few who could read, did they have a hand in it's construction? Was it only churchman? Or did nobles have a say as well?

    Why was the Bible written years and years after Jesus' death? Shouldn't it been written while Jesus was alive? Why did God wait so long to inspire and direct these men to write it?

    The Bible is an article of faith, it's part of a religious belief system that really doesn't fit the way we think scientifically when we live in the age of science were we are suppose to ask for evidence and challenge beliefs. Extraordinary claims needs Extraordinary evidence.

    That is why I think it does matter who wrote the Bible. Sorry again if went overboard and rude in my previous post, it's true you do get caught in the emotion of the discussion.

    April 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Respectfully reconcile religious with scientific fact. The Bible, or at least most of the many versions, I think all say "Thou shalt not lie" and something to the affect of "Seek and ye shall find", both of which seem to be in line with science.

      Now consider philosophy, psychology, sociology etc. as science and see how the history developed our understanding of them and reflected that in the texts and following history. Cause and effect.

      No one should be made to believe things that don't make sense. But if someone wrote something that doesn't seem to make sense, trying to understand why, and why others thought it was important, has its values too. Actually I probably leaerned this from trying to make psychological sense from obscure song lyrics in the 60's and 70's. You can learn something useful from anything if you want to. If you don't that's your loss.

      People read a lot of books classed as outright fiction, probably more so than nonifiction. Yet I'm almost positive they get useful information from them as well, or else they would be awfully stupid spending so much time reading them. To me its a waste of time usually, but that's just me. Its my loss. You at least ask enough intelligent questions to show your interest in considering the truths, so maybe I am just rambling to others.

      April 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  4. QmhBsm

    The author is correct. It does not matter who wrote it. While the Bible may contain words of wisdom, its overall concept is a sham. There are no supernatural beings setting arbitrary and capricious rules which, when followed, lead to eternal life. We live. We die. There is nothing beyond that.

    April 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Wisdom is a sham, arbitrary and capricious. Sounds like some more thinking is required.

      April 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • The Beginning Didn't and End Won't

      You forgot a question mark:

      Wisdom is a sham, arbitrary and capricious? Sounds like some more thinking is required.

      I know now 🙂

      April 4, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  5. Margarita

    Muneef
    Thanks for stating it much better than I could.
    Now, I was just thinking that there have been many atrocities perpetrated to humanity in the name of science as well as in the name of religion around the world and through out history. Scientific theories and Religious arguments have been used to justified slavery, genocide, war, experimentation..and let's not forget how both have threated and continue to treat the mentally ill. Just saying

    April 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Just sayin right. Nothin wrong with that.

      April 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thank you,read this;
      Waters Foams;
      The nations of the earth will gather against the Muslims like hungry people going to sit down to a table full of food. This will occur when the Muslims are large in number, but "like the foam of the sea".(A minor sign of the judgment day). 

      The Truth vs Falsehood

      [13:17] He sends down water from the sky, causing the valleys to overflow, then the rapids produce abundant foam. Similarly, when they use fire to refine metals for their jewelry or equipment, foam is produced. GOD thus cites analogies for the truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it goes to waste, while that which benefits the people stays close to the ground. GOD thus cites the analogies.

      [13:18] Those who respond to their Lord deserve the good rewards. As for those who failed to respond to Him, if they possessed everything on earth – even twice as much – they would readily give it up as ransom. They have incurred the worst reckoning, and their final abode is Hell; what a miserable destiny.

      Religions water waves and metals ashes are foaming out the wastes,while goodies remain on earth....

      April 4, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  6. ccalhoun

    Irrelevant.The bible is either literally true, an impossibility, or not true, in which case it's all in question. What is unassailable is that it's a pathetic god who would choose to communicate with Man in this manner. I am a person of "faith", and I don't believe the bible EXCEPT FOR THE WORDS OF JESUS, is the word of any rational god or is necessarily relevant to today's life.

    April 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Reality

      Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) 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 sects.

      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, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
      earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

      For added "pizzazz", 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 "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:
      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      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:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      April 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Reality sees the surface and cold hard facts without a heart or soul. Being heartless or souless leads to bad things to, believe it or not.

      April 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  7. Stclair

    I stopped reading after: "sometimes I like to step outside of faith and just think about things rationally." And I'm thinking why would you use the former when the latter works pretty good. So, I stopped reading and just skimmed.
    Then I read a comment some woman said they weren't slaves to men. She must not have read 1st Timothy chapter 2. Hey, LoneZero, you don't have to be 'Lone'. Keep trying to teach men and we'll meet in hades together, as long as they don't separate charlatans and heretics.

    April 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  8. Margarita

    Some of the best people I know are people of faith, some of the worst people I know are people of faith. Draw your own conclusions I'll draw mine

    April 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Muneef

      Margarita.

      You are right here there is White and Black in Religion as well...
      The whites are those who taken it to understand it and practice it Spiritually.
      The Blacks are those who taken it not to understand it or practice it, but for use as a political movement towards seeking power and for covering their crimes of their corruption's.

      These types are there in Judaism,in Christianity as well as in Islam....those are the ones in the dark and behind all the human sufferings and wars... Believe me it will be as those who Hell would be filled up with...and not those who help each other and do good deeds....

      April 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Very good points both of you.

      April 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  9. Muneef

    Al-Hijr sura 15:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    We have, without doubt sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). (9) We did send messengers before thee amongst the religious sects of old: (10) But never came an messenger to them but they mocked him. (11).

    April 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Reality

      All in the name of Allah:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      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, 3,483 and 925 in non combat roles. 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      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 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. 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 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      April 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Reality. Are you really so uninformed. Humans, not their perceptions of God (religions), caused all those atrocities by abusing their intent, rather than by following it. History is full of such attrocities by all sides and removing religion won't change that. Something else will just be used in its place asan excuse to kill to make some richer: communism, democracy, facism etc. etc.

      Give it a rest and cure to the source instead of the symptoms if you're so concerned. You want to cure measels by surgically removing them. It turns out bloodier than you think. People lost their heads in the French Revolution over it. Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Pol Pot's Cambodia and many other efforts to do away with the old religions, were no picnics either.

      Anything positive to add? Anything constructive on how to cure the cause instead of the symptoms?

      April 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Sabina

      Were the messengers that were sent the ones that attacked America on 9/11?

      April 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      The Koran was written a few hundred years before that. We don't need to get into religious text comparison either. There are quite a few Biblical verses in the Old Testament that could and have been just as easily misused.

      April 2, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  10. Jess

    Just 7 Saturdays until Judgement Day. Was the Bible written by God or by men? If by men, no worries – ever. If by God, .....

    April 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      If I had dollar for every time I've heard the world is ending tomorrow over 50 some years, I would probably be a millionaire.

      If everyone would just worry more about doing right today and being ready when your own time ends, the world would definitely be a better place. Just think. Over 2,000 years, the end of time was always coming tomorrow. That's over 730,000 wrong calls with all the unnecesary stress and anxiety that probably cause more problems than the cry for the end of days tomorrow ever prevented. At what point does credibility get considered?

      Odds are your time will end long before the end of time occurs, so play the odds and stop freaking everbody out, including and especially yourself. When your time comes it won't really matter whether you're alone or take everyone else with you. The results will be the same. Sorry.

      April 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  11. Muneef

    [15:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

    [15:1] A.L.R.* These (letters) are proofs of this scripture; a profound Quran.

    [15:2] Certainly, those who disbelieved will wish they were submitters.

    [15:3] Let them eat, enjoy, and remain blinded by wishful thinking; they will find out.

    [15:4] We never annihilated any community, except in accordance with a specific, predetermined time.

    [15:5] The end of any community can never be advanced, nor delayed.

    [15:6] They said, "O you who received this reminder, you are crazy.

    [15:7] "Why do you not bring down the angels, if you are truthful?"

    [15:8] We do not send down the angels except for specific functions. Otherwise, no one will be respited.

    God's Messenger of the Covenant*

    [15:9] Absolutely, we have revealed the reminder, and, absolutely, we will preserve it.

    [15:10] We have sent (messengers) before you to the communities in the past.

    [15:11] Every time a messenger went to them, they ridiculed him.

    [15:12] We thus control the minds of the guilty.

    [15:13] Consequently, they cannot believe in him. This has been the system since the past generations.

    [15:14] Even if we opened for them a gate into the sky, through which they climb;

    [15:15] they will say, "Our eyes have been deceived. We have been bewitched."

    April 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • commojoe

      I'm hoping your sacred writings give you peace, joy, and richness of life, sir.

      April 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thank you.
      It does but not when men made extremes out of it to make it sound and look as a terrorizing religion rather than a peaceful one that direct us to respect other beliefs even if we do not agree with... Since God is the best of judges at the judgment date,we are not to judge others for their belief....
      Allowing extremes to judge others would mean that even a Muslim would attack another Muslim accusing him of being infidel just for a minor disputes. And that has already happened in Egypt in the past when some group call them selves the group of AlTakfear...who attacked moderate Muslims splashing them with Acid Water burning their faces beside other types of attacks...
      We moderate Muslims are not happy with extremism in religion,when it is turned from being spiritual practice into political movement of an organized religion groups,that are taking it politically rather than spiritually...

      April 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • commojoe

      Muneef, I couldn't agree more. Just because we may not have spiritual beliefs in common, we can still treat each other kindly, and in this country, as brother or sister Americans. Let's hope and pray for that true peace that each of our sets of spiritual beliefs can have in common, where we may each believe what we feel is best for us in our heart, but still treat our neighbors as kindly as we would wish to be treated. Thank you for your wise words; if this sort of common ground and dialogue could just spread and be more common......

      April 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims to include Muneef:
      There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam.

      Saving 2 billion lost Christians:
      There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity.

      Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
      Abraham and Moses never existed.

      Added details upon request.

      April 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Thanks Muneef and Commojoe. We need more to feel the same.

      Muneef, I think you answered my earlier reply above with this post. I look forward to your postings, when I have a chance to sign on whether its Beyond Human Ego, Scientific Pantheism etc.

      I spend most of my reading time with ancient history to look for the source, evolution and interactions, of religious and human thought. So I probably don't read the Holy texts alone, as much as others on here might, though these interaction do prompt me to pick them up and look a bit more. I love marveling in the mystery; or just stimulating interactions on the same. So its good to have people like you who do post the texts and stimulate my, and hopefully other's minds as well, to look some more. Hope all is well with you.

      April 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      I guess my hypnotizing Reality to go back to sleep didn't work though. Of course it could just be a broken record, repeating the same mantras over and over. If it keeps them out of trouble, I guess its all good to a degree, but its sad to detect no inetellectual growth at all.

      April 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thank you all for that and I am glad that my postings stimulates minds for us to work out which is really false and which is true...
      Waters Foams;
      The nations of the earth will gather against the Muslims like hungry people going to sit down to a table full of food. This will occur when the Muslims are large in number, but "like the foam of the sea".(A minor sign of the judgment day). 

      The Truth vs Falsehood

      [13:17] He sends down water from the sky, causing the valleys to overflow, then the rapids produce abundant foam. Similarly, when they use fire to refine metals for their jewelry or equipment, foam is produced. GOD thus cites analogies for the truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it goes to waste, while that which benefits the people stays close to the ground. GOD thus cites the analogies.

      [13:18] Those who respond to their Lord deserve the good rewards. As for those who failed to respond to Him, if they possessed everything on earth – even twice as much – they would readily give it up as ransom. They have incurred the worst reckoning, and their final abode is Hell; what a miserable destiny.

      Islamic waves are foaming out the waste....

      April 4, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • The Beginning Didn't and End Won't

      Me again. I'm sure you would agree though, that it would be so much better to do so through dialog than some of the methods that hit the news every day from all sides. The truth does not require violence to be proven or known. So while religion is often blamed and claimed as the cause of such attrocities, true religion or Allah/God does not require man to make itself known in these ways. We give Alah/God so little credit if we believe that to be true. In fact, I would think killing others for religious purposes, would be the greatest blasphemy, regardless of what the ancients may have thought. I do hope that the governments in the Islamic lands become more in tune with the needs of its people. The same in the non-Islamic lands as well.

      April 4, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  12. DietCokeGrrll

    I came here through a post about this piece on the blog 'furious purpose' (btw. thanx Martin). http://furiouspurpose.me/

    Interesting discussion, but I must say I'm dismayed by some of the nastiness here. Would have hoped that more 'enlightened thinkers' would have condemned the racist and anti-Jewish posts that have appeared on here too.

    April 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  13. DE

    Most of the apostles were illiterate and did not write the books attributed to them. The gospels were forged years later by men who wanted to inject their own beliefs into the bible. They may partly explain why the crucifixtion and "resurrection" of Jesus has 3 different endings. One more thing, as a pious Jew Jesus would consider the teachings of chritianity as blasphemous.

    April 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • commojoe

      Because Jesus Christ was sent here as a fulfillment of the law, He DID change the rules set down in the Old Testament, and WHAT three different endings are you talking about? Jesus dies and is resurrected in ALL FOUR Gospels.

      April 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Reality

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction?

      Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      April 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  14. commojoe

    Okay, many comments from people seem to indicate that THEY choose NOT to believe that the Bible is the God-inspired, written-through-man's-hand scripture that we, in the Christian church believe it to be, and that's fine, if that is what THEY choose to believe. But, we Christians DO choose to believe it, as did many or most of the people who founded this great nation. Trying to belittle or ridicule faith is not going to make it go away, any more than it will make God, Himself, go away. If it gives those of us who believe comfort, strength, and what we believe is a wiser way to live, what business is it or harm is it to ANYONE else?

    April 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      commojoe doesn't think the bible – and religion in general has done any harm...

      Read a bit of history about how religion – using various bibles for guidance – has perpetually stood in the way of man's quest for knowledge... Dissemination of ignorance has been the chief product of organized religion...

      April 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • commojoe

      Sorry, PTL, but Christianity AND other religions have given us many beautiful things, including art, literature, architecture, not to mention a moral center on which to base THIS GREAT COUNTRY YOU LIVE IN and enjoy all its benefits, such as freedom of speech. So, without religion, there would BE NO USA as you know it today. YES, some sinful individuals have used religion as a base to do unspeakable evil, but that does NOT refute the base teachings or mean that people who wish to believe should not follow these guidelines for their lives, if that is what they choose, BY FAITH, to do.

      April 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • DE

      As a pious Jew Jesus would consider the teachoings of christianity as belaphemous. Religion in general is nothing more than brainwashing. Each generation brainwashes the next and it goes on and on.

      April 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  15. chef dugan

    Litany of disillusion! I love it. It's the best description of the bible I have ever read. People who believe the bible literaly are masters at deluding themsleves. The bible is beautiful prose, has some very good moral advice in the commandments, and a smidgeon of history so we should take it for what it's worth. Golda was right – 40 years in the desert and they choose the only place that doesn't have oil! Jews are a lot smarter than that!

    April 2, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  16. AJ

    It's good you don't care who wrote it.... because it was mostly written by a handful of government scribes about 300 years after Jesus died. That's the first edition, I'm not even counting the multiitudes of changes, edits and re-writes since then.

    April 2, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      I assume you are referring to the New Testament. We have copies from before the time you specify. Actually, we have more copies from closer to the time of writing for the New Testament than we do for any other books from the same time period.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  17. Ruderalis

    Of course it matters who wrote the Bible. If the Bible is contradicting itself on who wrote it, then why believe anything in it at all? Would you believe Charles Manson if he wrote a version of the Bible? No? Why? How do you know the people who wrote it weren’t like him? Oh I know why, it’s because mommy and daddy forced these ideas onto you before you could think for yourself, so you wouldn’t be bad and act up. “If you lie Timmy, you’re going to hell.” How many parents use the fear tactics in the bible to control their children? How many of those children do the same thing to their own family when they have children? It’s a pattern that has obviously gone on for ages and influencing a young naive child’s mind at such a young age creates “faith.” Notice how now that we have more information at our fingertips that “faith” is going away? It’s because we are individuals who can think for themselves and choose not to wander in a desert for 40 years talking to burning bushes!

    April 2, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      Now we just set in 4 by 6 cubicles for 40 years, squinting at glowing computer monitors doing work that no one sees unless something goes wrong. Think I would have rather been wandering in the desert.

      April 3, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  18. Jay Wilson

    "I am a person of faith. But sometimes I like to step outside of faith and just think about things rationally."

    If you ever really used that rational thought, you would come to realize that the Abrahamic God is a fairy tale. Rational thought requires empirical evidence of "his" existence and none exists. "God" is a creation of men used to control other men, and if we stopped indoctrinating our children, the belief in "him" would ultimately fade away.

    April 2, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Bob Bales

      There have been a number of people who didn't believe the Bible, studied it because they thought it would be easy to disprove, but ended up concluding it is true. And not naive, uneduated people. One was Simon Greenleaf, who also wrote a book that became the standard reference on the rules of evidence for the court system for much of the 19th century.

      April 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Reality

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

    "New Torah For Modern Minds

    "The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "litany of disillusion" about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

    April 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  20. Kallen to LoneZero

    First God wrote the Bible through the hands of Men. Second men and women have different roles. Men are to be the head of the household. That does not mean that women are to be their slaves. As women we are helpers to the man. That doesn't mean that we cannot hold positions of leadership and authority. In the home it is the man's role to lead and make the ultimate decisions on issues by discussing it with his wife.

    April 2, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Ituri

      A typically religious load. Women are second class citizens in your religious world, and our modern world desires none of that garbage.

      My mother is a music teacher, loves her job, is really good at it too. The family church, using those same teachings about women, won't even let her call the notes key to start a song when there are no elders available to do it. When she did it once from her seat when all the elders were sick, another man later told her it was "Inappropriate."

      You people deserve to be ridiculed for such anti-woman preferences.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jesus

      Religion was invented by men for other men. Women are merely the property of men in the Bible. Just look at the Ten Commandments. One is "Do not covet thy neighbor's wife." The language shows the commandments are meant for men not women. Obviously the writers of the Bible did not intend this commandment for women.

      April 2, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Unclaimed

      So thats why women are always coveting the neighbors husband while their spouses are at work?

      April 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Sabina

      I am confused by your statement "In the home it is the man's role to lead and make the ultimate decisions on issues by discussing it with his wife".
      If the mans job is to lead and make the "ultimate decisions" how can he then "discuss" it with his wife. He has already made the decision so what is there to discuss?

      April 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • lagnafe

      My invisible deity is better than your invisible deity and better looking to and kinder to, sounds like a bunch of eight year olds fighting over a toy, because when you die its lights out and thats it! the thing is we as humans need to be good to one another and quit wasting our time over what a bunch of so called prophets and child molesters said over two thousand years ago and start living in today! Now don't get me wrong parts of the Ten Commandments are great and probably parts of the Koran are great too,but you know what smoke is smoke and nothing more or less!

      April 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • holycow

      lame

      April 2, 2011 at 5:06 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.