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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. peter gibson

    To you non-believers. You were predicted in the bible. calling the bad good and the good bad, brother against brother, etc. if we all lived by Jeses's example, we'd have a perfect world!

    April 3, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • no gods

      The Jesus that reaffirmed parents should stone disobedient children? The Jesus that condoned slavery? The Jesus that called the Canaanite woman and her people dogs?

      Perfect world? I don't think so.

      April 3, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • peter gibson

      I suggest you read it again.

      April 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • peter gibson

      ...and not just the soundbite, but the message he was giving for us.

      April 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • no gods

      I have and the verses and "message" is clear in all three examples. It is you who cannot accept facts, which is why you believe in ridiculous nonsense in the first place.

      April 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Frederica

      @Nogods The disobedient children were grown national traitors. Failure to carry out that law put the whole nation in danger with many innocent people killed. The slavery was employer-employee relationship. Jesus and His followers prohibited any slavery to men. The term "dog" was a cute parable; everyone understood it except you.

      April 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @peter gibson,
      You write good. If everyone followed Jesus' example, we wouldn't be here, or did he have children that I'm not aware of.

      @Frederica,
      "Jesus and His followers prohibited any slavery to men."
      Prohibited, really? where is that written?

      April 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  2. HotAirAce

    My take on who wrote the bible is summed up in what I told the jesus freak who knocked on my door yesterday:

    "You guys (believers of any cult) are all full of sh!t, now get the phuck off my property."

    April 3, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Have a Whiff

      Sounds like the same reason for all the hot air, Ace.

      April 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  3. no gods

    Judaism was formulated by the royalty and priestly aristocracy of Judah for unification of the two Kingdoms after Israel fell. This is why you have doublet stories in the Torah and two history accounts (Kings vs Chronicles). The common folks and religion of ancient "Israelites" was polytheism which was redacted into "monotheism" over centuries. The other gods in the pantheon were demoted to angels or made into attributes of Yahweh. They still pay tribute to the goddess Asherah. The Shekhinah is female. The menorah is an Asherah tree and they have vulva shaped cookies for Purim (Hamantashen).

    April 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I'm not acquainted with either ancient Hebrew or Aramaic, but in modern Hebrew, the word "Elohim" (god) has a plural connotation... (the word "Shamayim" (skies) has a dual connotation...

      Interesting...

      April 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  4. bill

    I'm ready for The King to return. Don't worry about the radiation, we have science to protect us. The follies of man over and over. All you need is the size of a mustard seed.

    April 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Elvis?

      April 3, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • no gods

      "All you need is the size of a mustard seed."

      The average size brain of believer.

      April 3, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      No, Constantine the Great or maybe the Persian King Cyrus the king of kings. To lump all believers in one group, is like lumping all people who make such statements as "the average size of the brain of believer", as narrow minded idiots. Neither one is true, or there would be no hope for any of us.

      April 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  5. Pat

    Athanasius of Alexandria defined the contents of the Bible in his 39th Festal Letter. The books he didn't want got left out; the ones he wanted were the ones that made it. There's your Bible.

    April 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • faithful

      I don't care who wrote the bible, as long as it warned and made me aware about the coming of the marked beast and its (Atheists) minions so that I could prepare myself and my family that we maybe prevented ourselves from the on-slaught.

      April 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      Faithful missed the boat a long time ago. The beast was Nero, severe persecutor of Christains when Revelations was written. Fear of Nero was what forced it to be written in such an allegorical and vengeful way. The Romans of the times actually thought the Christains were atheists, because they did not believe in the accepted Gods of the time.

      It would be better not to care who wrote it, so long as your family learned how to be good people from it.

      April 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      Pat: And that's only one of the many versions of the Bible. Athanasius' decrees had no impact on the Christains outside the Roman Empire, like in Persia, India, Ethiopia, Armenia; and the barbarians preferred Arian's versions and ideas for a long time. So many paths.

      April 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  6. Lo-Tsai

    Do not attempt to live by words in books translated from one dead language into another several times over the centuries. Instead be here now with the living Tao of Nature and you'll be content and free.

    April 3, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      Agreed. I thought it was Lao Tzu? The order of the universe. As above, so below? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Oops that was Zen. All part of the same natural world though – of which we are a part of, not apart from. Just like God. One in the same.

      April 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  7. Jesusfreakazoid

    I agree it doesn't matter who wrote the Bible. The problem is when people let this book which is full of hate, prejudice, and immorality control their lives.

    April 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  8. Trev

    From a scholarly standpoint this is an honest and transparent take on biblical authorship. Well done. Unfortunately I think you take your conclusion too far, David. You've departed from the premise of biblical authorship mattering less and choose to spell out what it's really about. You lost my vote here, David, because it's not really about those things you say. It's God's story, where He is the central character, not Moses or Joshua or anyone else. You left God out of your conclusion entirely. For a lot of people I can see that indicting everything you just said, because ultimately you've just set up the Bible to be just another good book. For a person of faith it's more than that.

    April 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  9. scrollman

    Who really cares how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Mankind has always had a twisted mind which it uses to control the masses. Just for a moment, consider the impact the revelation of irrefutable proof of accepted doctrine and dogma were constructs, devised by man to control man, and had no basis in the teachings of those it espouses. Read The Fallujah Scrolls.

    April 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  10. Nunof

    I thought your artilce was briliant – until I read the comments. You might as well have not written it at all.
    I have degrees in Biblical Languages and have studied various sides of the issues and come to agree with you. People believe w/o much critical thinking ... but what's weird is that nothing seems to be able to make them change their minds.

    Some people trust their fundamentalist preachers ... others bible "scholars," and still others trust "scientists." Shoot, there are millions who trust Oprah – she isn't an expert in anything (but self-promotional media). You have written something very cool here ... it says (to my mind) that it's hard to trust anyone or anything if you view the world critically.

    You are correct – but what good is it? Jesus described first century Jews (through tears) as "sheep without a shepherd." Today it's clear that the blind still lead the blind, but those being led refuse to accept even the possibility. "Most scholars" teach this ... "Most scientists" teach that ... why do we care what they say? Because we're gullible – so gullible in fact that we don't even recognize how easily we are mislead.

    I applaud your article. And like David – I love the Torah!

    April 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  11. Karin

    Jon S,
    It is not close-minded to feel that religious minded individuals are functioning without a framework of evidence. These individuals are making bold claims without (any) supportive evidence. The type of faith they hold is not the type of faith you state as an example. Rather, the faith a religious individual holds has no evidence what so ever. Your car key and engine starting example holds evidence. As the mechanics of the operation has held true in the past. IE; your car started many times in this fashion. A religious individual will simply inject their god did it, without any supportive evidence. Huge difference. I suppose for them, on a good day god did it. On a bad day the devil did it or it is gods lesson. We could insert anything here really... On a good day Mrs Unicorn graced me. On a bad day Mr. Monster is behaving very badly.

    April 3, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Right On Bye

      We must first dehumanize our enemies in order to destroy them with losing our sense. Some of your post is doing that by lumping all religions and religious people into the same unhuman mold.

      Faith without logic is delusion. So faith cannot equal delusion. It is simple Algebra. Its amazing so many who profess faith have been brainwashed to believe faith and science/logic are in opposition. What a sick world WE'VE made doing so.

      April 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Maybe

      Right On Bye,

      Ok, say that there is an actual 'being' that is the first cause of the universe. What do we know about it? What if its physics are different from ours? What if its logic is different from ours? What if its mathematics is different from ours? What makes you think that it is even aware of us little pipsqueaks or cares one whit about our fates? One can make up properties for it - desires, needs, wants or intentions - but that does not make it so.

      April 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      1. "Ok, say that there is an actual 'being' that is the first cause of the universe."

      Never said nuthin bout a first cause. More like an eternal cause. Creation and destruction goes on eternal every milli micro second. There was no beginning there will be no end. Why waste time eternally postulating about what created God or what came before the Big Bang or when we're all gonna go together in some apocalypse? What purpose does it serve in everyday life? As far as a being... the universe is the being, not something conceitedly created in human image. The infinite universe in its original meaning. There is only one. Infinitely large. Infinitely small. Within and outside you.

      2."What do we know about it?"

      First, what scientific theories have proven. We also know that there are theories based on those theories already proven, that while based on such experience, have not been proven. We know science, philosophy, religions, mystics and many other things make such theories based on experience that are not yet fully understood or proven.

      3. "What if its physics are different from ours?"

      Its physics are ours. Its not our choice. We are not the measure. It is. If there's something we don't know yet, that does not mean it breaks natural law. It just means we are too dumb to fully understand all of natural law.

      You were created "within God's likeness", not to look like God, as "in God's likeness might imply". "Within" and "in" can mean the same thing, but "in" can lead to destructive egos that then lead and led to even worse misunderstandings.

      4. "What if its logic is different from ours?"

      See #3

      5. "What if its mathematics is different from ours?"

      See #3

      6. "What makes you think that it is even aware of us little pipsqueaks or cares one whit about our fates?

      We are not the center of the universe. Me or you or the Pope or preacher or Dalai llama etc. That being said, it should be considered... the overwhelming complexities that have existed throughout your life to sustain you every second of every day. What a miracle. Are you not thankful when you consider that alone, much less the things that sustained your ancestors to get to you? The more anyone has learned from science the more that is understood. Since we exist within its being, every breath and heartbeat is supported by it. On the other hand, you are correct to consider our lack of importance to the overall big picture. We influence what we can, but our will is not free. We do not alway get to chose how the big picture will treat us and we like to think we have free will enough at least to control how we react, but even that is shaped by all our prior learning experiences concious and unconcious. These things are also why we can not be the measure of what is good and what is evil when discussing what It does or has done. The overall picture, again, is way beyond our ability to judge.

      7. "One can make up properties for it – desires, needs, wants or intentions – but that does not make it so".

      Think I said above what makes it so. Nuthin that I/we made up. Things I/we don't understand sometimes, very true. We work on It. It... is the only thing that's certain about... It... though.

      Sometimes doses of Eastern thought will cure the Western perception sickness and put true religion and science back in sync making a better world if that is what we want. Sometimes we're just too stubborn and lazy and conceited thinking that we're already as good as we're ever gonna get. That stands as a roadblock to understanding It. Priests and Scientist both sometimes cause that.

      April 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  12. NC

    This article put me to sleep. You would have been much better getting out of your head and into your heart....

    April 3, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Magic

      NC,

      "You would have been much better getting out of your head and into your heart..."

      Then he would have written some poetry for you. Fine... but very different from facts.

      April 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  13. Carole Clarke

    In ancient days few people except scribes knew how to read and write. But they had wonderfully accurate memories and when it came time to recite what would become the Bible to a scholar who could write, they got it down pretty well considering how old it was. Homer was a slave who was also illiterate – his "performance" was to recite tales of Troy, which became known as "The Iliad" and "The Oddessy". The prophet Mohammed was also illiterate and recited his revelations to those who could write. This tradition would last well into the Middle Ages and "The Enlightenment", when even the poor had some access to schooling. Once you become literate you lose the faculty of absolute recall, depending on what was written down. This is also true of photographs – you remember a trip far better if you do not take photos – perhaps the memories are stored in a different part of the brain. Translation errors also muddy up such works. All in all I am just glad the Bible is there for me, along with Shakespeare and other truly great works. It doesn't matter who should get the credit – just be glad you have it!

    April 3, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  14. Karin

    I am in complete agreement as to who cares whom wrote the bible. What I do care about is why so many individuals hold a faith based delusion of who, what and why they are without any evidence to back their claims. Is faith really so much more real than reality?

    April 3, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • faithful

      yess! indeed...Reality is nothing compared to faith.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • myke

      @ faithful. that statement you made has caused the death of MILLIONS throughout history.

      April 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • faithful

      yet, it saved billions of soul.

      April 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      Really. You actually know that without lying and breaking a commandment?

      Faith without logic is delusion. So faith cannot equal delusion. It is simple Algebra. Its amazing so many who profess faith have been brainwashed to believe faith and science/logic are in opposition. What a sick world we've made doing so.

      April 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  15. Jon S.

    Okay, I started reading this article and was VERY quickly unimpressed. By the second sentence, to be exact. "I am a person of faith," the author writes, "but sometimes I like to step outside of faith and just think about things rationally."

    Okay. Problem. Who says that faith and rationality are incompatible? The implication of what he is saying is that to be a person of faith, one has to abandon rationality. That is utterly stupid. Everyone has some measure of faith. For example, I get in my car, put my key in the ignition, and I have faith that the car will start. Is this irrational? The car started yesterday. The procedure remains the same. I don't understand how exactly it works (the mechanism, etc.) but I don't need to.

    There are so many people who assume these days that to be a quote-unquote "person of faith" that that automatically means you must operate out of ignorance, or willfully abandon common sense, or rationality. That "people of faith" are uninformed and/or un-educated. The first two sentences of this article buy into that notion.

    I am sick of that kind of close-mindedness, and so... I choose to stop reading.

    April 3, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • John Galt

      You have empirical evidence that the car should start. You have tested it every morning for a long time, there are repair shops littered around the town, you have grown up seeing them start, you do have a basic idea of how it works... it is not a good analogy, drop it. Every time people of faith think they are being clever with some analogy to every day life, they simply show themselves to not grasp the basic principles that a good Chemistry class would show you about the how/when/why you draw conclusions based upon experimental evidence. No, it is not "faith" like a religious person has believing in something that there is absolutely zero evidence for and lots of evidence against.

      April 3, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • pr0x1m0

      @ John Galt... Jon S also has empirical evidence that his car may fail to start, hence, the repair shops you mentioned. Anyone, regardless of how much they know about cars, can tell you that. So, now that we're back at square one, the question is, upon which evidence will he choose to ACT? That is faith! Maybe you should drop your counter-argument.

      April 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Magic

      Many people have 'faith' that their lucky blue rabbit's foot brings them good fortune.

      Superst.ition: : a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.

      April 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • AtheistsHardTruth

      These people will not believe that there is sun until they got (sun) burn, that there is rain until they wet and there is air until they ran out of it.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      Jon S.: Agreed

      John G: Faith without logic is delusion. So faith cannot equal delusion. It is simple Algebra. Its amazing so many who profess faith have been brainwashed to believe faith and science/logic are in opposition. What a sick world we've made doing so. You're not helping as much as you and those who keep spouting the same incorrect definition of faith, think you are doing. Now go back to whatever little guidebook you guys use, and figure out what standard retort applies to amke you feel better.

      April 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Maybe

      AtheistsHardTruth

      "These people will not believe that there is sun until they got (sun) burn, that there is rain until they wet and there is air until they ran out of it."

      These things are observable, testable, predictable and verifiable. Faith is not.

      I have combed my hair every day of my adult life with my right hand. My hair has never spontaneously turned purple. I have faith that my right-handed hair-combing has saved me from this fate.

      April 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  16. Dennis

    Bible, Religions, Gods? Created by humans who are afraid of death! Created by humans to control other humans! If believing in something you percieve to be real gives you comfort during life or at the time of death then thats good for you. But trying to convince intelligent, rational people that your religious beliefs are the one and only truth and then trying to impose your believes on others like all religions have done since there inception, then thats where you demonstrate your limited intellect.

    April 3, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • pr0x1m0

      @ Dennis (and all the skeptics)... Aren't YOU trying to impose YOUR BELIEFS about religion as "the one and only truth?" While accusing the Church of "mind control," the skeptics have forced upon our society the unfounded notion that faith and rational thinking cannot be congruent, and, much of the time, they do this to further their own agenda(s).

      April 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • carl

      Someone once said: History is a fable agreed upon by man.

      April 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • AtheistsHardTruth

      Right on the head proximo, and even half blind could see egos of these dolts swelling like space blob but not their brains that had shrunk to the size of a quark, without using the most advance magnifying glass.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      Carl: Someone else said if you don't remeber it you're bound to repeat it. I've learned that even if you do remember because so many people think like your quote, they force us to repeat it anyway. Even fable had meanings woth considering.

      Atheist: Faith without logic is delusion. So faith cannot equal delusion. It is simple Algebra. Its amazing so many who profess faith have been brainwashed to believe faith and science/logic are in opposition. What a sick world we've made doing so.

      April 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  17. TYRANNASAURUS

    It doesn't matter who wrote the Bible...............

    Of course it doesn't........ its a 2 thousand year old piece of OUT DATED fiction....... It's like in 2 thousand years from now who's going to really care who wrote HARRY POTTER.

    April 3, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Right On Bye

      Hey dino brain 🙂 Somehow I don't think Harry Potter will ever have the impact on humanity that these religious texts have and had. It's not fashion show or pop-culture. C'mon man. If any one remebers Harry Potter in more than 200 years, much less than 200 years, I'll be very surprised. Especially if I'm still here to know that 🙂

      April 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • The Beginning Didn't and End Won't

      I think you meant "much less than 2000 years"

      April 4, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  18. Ruthann Panipinto

    Nice try. However, I disagree with the idea that "Maybe that’s all right.". If you were a woman in the present or past day. You would to.

    April 3, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  19. HRPufnstuf

    Bible / Torah / Koran
    Books written by old men, probably wearing dresses, at a time when the world was still flat, and the sun revolved around the earth. How relevant / accurate can they be?

    April 3, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Magic

      Human nature is the same as in those days, though. Those old codgers figured out some patterns and had a few pieces of good advice for peaceful, beneficial human behavior. The problem is that people see a few of pearls of wisdom in the Bible and therefore buy into the whole supernatural fantasy.

      April 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Right On Bye

      I think you really mean "some people".

      April 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  20. Reality

    Again, the 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis are way ahead of David Hazony. No mention of this in Dave's comments. One wonders why that is? And he does not mention The Code of Hammurabi or the Egyptian Book of the Dead both of which predate the Torah as "Ancient Moral Codes".

    An excerpt from the 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 3, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Eric

      The only problem with your analogy is that the guy whose article you re-wrote was not a scholar and you even admit that his writing was pretty crappy. So is it any wonder that he could not reverse engineer what you wrote? He was barely able to engineer what he wrote. The biblical scholars are able to identify the different authors by identifying differing styles in writing and phraseology. There are phrases and words that would have been used during one time period, but not during others and there is a mixed bag of that, covering 4 different time periods. You and I (lets assume that our writing abilities and other factors are equal fro sake of argument) could write an article on the same subject and follow the same information flow (or even the same outline) and word that article very differently. Your grandfather (again, assuming writing abilities and other factors are equal) would word that same article completely differently than you would. That is how they came to ID the 4 distinct authors. It's not groping blindly...it's based on the study of the writings and the science of linguistics.

      April 3, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Eric

      oops...I thought I was replying to the author...not you Reality...

      April 3, 2011 at 11:49 am |
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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.