home
RSS
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. JARAD

    The bible is Asops fables for Adults. good stuff in it but, still just stories.

    April 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      Its more than that, but less than either extreme. Try a little harder.

      April 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  2. plaiche

    Frankly sir, you are a bit of an idiot to claim that these are trivial matters. While the words may stand on their own merit, their prominence would be a tiny fraction of what they are had the bible not been properly edited, marketed and branded, and this sham ought to impact anyone's opinion of its relevance.

    "I am a person of faith, but sometimes I like to....just think about things rationally."

    Oh yeah?

    April 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • She Still Loves You Anyway

      YEAH YEAH YEAH

      April 12, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  3. Marlene k

    The Bible has been used since the jews left Egypt , it influence the christians to copy the Jewish Bible and add their version. it has all the laws , and tells us how to live and treat other human beings, we need this more now than we ever needed.I think you seem to think by eliminating the most precious book the Bible you would not be recognized as a Jew, you are mistaken. Many who know well the Jewish Bible are elaited to study it , and it seems to them like history repeats itself.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  4. md2205

    The only way – I repeat – the only way to understand what the Five Books of Moses means is to learn it with an Orthodox rabbi or female teacher. The author realizes that Bible criticism can't be correct, and he is correct, and with much greater ease than what he goes by. For example, there are many names of G-d written in the Five Books of Moses. Why is that? The Bible critics would say it is because many different authors chose different names. But the real reason is because each name of G-d refers to a different characteristic of Himself that He is showing at the time. For example, when it says Elo-him, it signals that His aspect of being judging, strict, and working within nature to accomplish His goal is more evident than His other characteristics. When it says Y-H-W-H, it refers to His all encompassing aspect of forgiveness and mercy operating more intensely at that time. There is the letter vov, which sometimes comes at the beginning of words staring the different chapters. When that happens, it indicates that something is going to happen that we don't think is good, that we would find to be a tragedy. There is so much more that I would also suggest that to understand the Five Books of Moses, one should read a book found in an Orthodox Jewish bookstore called "The Bible Unauthorized", which explains in readable form all one has to know to understand the subject matter. You will finally understand what the Five Books of Moses is trying to say and how it is relevant for us. There are some great websites, such as Chabad.org, or Aish.org, Meaningfullife.org, etc. Please look them up.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:13 am |
  5. Angel

    Wow!!! There is a couple of things i've noticed. Whenever you talk about religion, everyone, and i mean everyone has an opinion. Second, Every Religion believes their way is the right way, and everyone else is wrong and going to hell!! Overall, I believe religion will be mankinds downfall, and even now as we type and read this article people are dying because of so called religions!!! but their is one common thing that i find in all religions and in life and that is FAITH, but it is hard to have FAITH, when you see all the religious nonsense that is going on in the world!!! Just my opinion..

    April 11, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Lessons not Learned

      Not all followers of religion, believe that anyone who doesn't think exactly like them is going to hell. To do so is the ultimate sin, for it means the one thinking that, is saying they truly understand all of the Supreme Being's heart and mind. To think one knows as much as the Supreme Being, is not overy far from claiming to be IT, which would be the true meaning of "taking God's name in vain" or to imply you are The Supreme Being (IT) for vanity.

      Perhaps that Supreme Being is teaching us a valuable lesson about true religion, if we are paying attention to those you speak of, as practicing false religion at all of our expense today. The lesson keeps being given over and over down through the ages. Maybe one day we'll learn. Our attention span is so short.

      April 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  6. Iqbal khan

    An eye opener....

    http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/israel.htm

    April 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  7. Muneef

    The Exodus;    
    [20:77] We inspired Moses: "Lead My servants out, and strike for them a dry road across the sea. You shall not fear that you may get caught, nor shall you worry."
    [20:78] Pharaoh pursued them with his troops, but the sea overwhelmed them, as it was destined to overwhelm them.
    [20:79] Thus, Pharaoh misled his people; he did not guide them.
    [20:80] O Children of Israel, we delivered you from your enemy, summoned you to the right side of Mount Sinai, and we sent down to you manna and quails.
    [20:81] Eat from the good things we provided for you, and do not transgress, lest you incur My wrath. Whoever incurs My wrath has fallen.
    [20:82] I am surely Forgiving for those who repent, believe, lead a righteous life, and steadfastly remain guided.
    http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/Prophet/musa.htm

    April 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • From One Many

      Over and over, in both the Koran and early parts of the Bible, God/Allah says "we did this" or "we did that", and in the Bible God's are often mentioned plurally. Does the Koran or later Muslim thinkers, explain how that does not imply polytheism? I know the Christains claim, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Trinity, to really be different aspects of the same God and I believe Hinduism does much the same with their many aspect of one God, much like the early Western Mystery Religions and Mythologies. Are there Muslim thoughts on why "WE" is used so much when God/Allah seems to be speaking? There are also jin and angels I believe, like Gabriel, who would also have to seem to be aspects of the one God that is all. How is this explained? Thanks

      April 12, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Muneef

      From One Many

      -"We" is a word used by Royals such as the Queen of England as to referring to her self, so wouldn't the King of kings use it referring to him self ?!
      Another way to look at it let us borrow few verses from the Quran;

      Al-Qadr (The Destiny) sura 97:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Power. (1) Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Power is! (2) The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. (3) The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. (4) (The night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn. (5).

      Al-Maarij (The Heights) sura 70: 
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      A questioner questioned concerning the doom about to fall (1) Upon the disbelievers, which none can repel, (2) From Allah, Lord of the Ascending Stairways (3) (Whereby) the angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day whereof the span is fifty thousand years. (4).

      Al-Fajr (The Dawn) sura 89:
      Nay, but when the earth is ground to atoms, grinding, grinding, (21) And thy Lord shall come with angels, rank on rank, (22) And hell is brought near that day; on that day man will remember, but how will the remembrance (then avail him)? (23) He will say: Ah, would that I had sent before me (some provision) for my life! (24) None punisheth as He will punish on that day! (25) None bindeth as He then will bind. (26) But ah! thou soul at peace! (27) Return unto thy Lord, content in His good pleasure! (28) Enter thou among My bondmen! (29) Enter thou My Garden! (30).

      An-Naba (The Event) sura 78: 
      Lord of the heavens and the earth, and (all) that is between them, the Beneficent; with Whom none can converse. (37) On the day when the angels and the Spirit stand arrayed, they speak not, saving him whom the Beneficent alloweth and who speaketh right. (38) That is the True Day. So whoso will should seek recourse unto his Lord. (39) Lo! We warn you of a doom at hand, a day whereon a man will look on that which his own hands have sent before, and the disbeliever will cry: "Would that I were dust!" (40).

      Al-Hijr (The Valley) sura 15:  
      We send not down the angels save with the Fact, and in that case (the disbelievers) would not be tolerated. (8) Lo! We, even We, reveal the Reminder, and lo! We verily are its Guardian. (9).

      Now from above verses check the following;
      Sura 97:04
      Sura 70:04
      Sura 89:22
      Sura 78:38
      Sura 15:09

      Could it that God was referring to him self and his loyal servants "Angels and Spirits" ? 
      Al-Fath (The Victory) sura 48: 
      For to Allah belong the Forces of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom. (7).

      Al-Tawba (The Repentance) sura 09:
      But Allah did pour His calm on the Messenger and on the Believers and sent down forces which ye saw not: He punished the Unbelievers: thus doth He reward those without Faith. (26).

      Al-Anfal (The Spoils of Wars) sura 08: 
      When ye sought help of your Lord and He answered you (saying): I will help you with a thousand of the angels, rank on rank. (9) Allah appointed it only as good tidings, and that your hearts thereby might be at rest. Victory cometh only by the help of Allah. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise. (10).
      ---
      Speaking of forces sent by God from heavens and earths that were unseen to sport believers in wars... 

      Hope was able to explain the use of "We" in the Quran...   

      April 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  8. Hartley Anderson

    I'm surprised at David Hazony's statements. The only way to approach the Bible is with the belief that God himself is the real author and those, whose names appear on the various books, as his ghostwriters. And, yes, the characteristics of each one of those writers appear in the text but God provided the understanding that's revealed.
    The reason so many "Christians" are not Christian is because they don't believe God. He commands us not to believe humans in Isaiah 2:22, Psalm 146 and in many comments throughout the OT that say in effect: "those shepherds who have led my people astray." So, who should we listen to? 1 John 2:26 & 27 tells us that God himself is the only teacher we need.
    Furthermore, Jesus made statements to this effect many times while here: Many have eyes but do not see, and ears but do not hear." Those God teaches are those who go looking for him by studying his words only, and who obey his commands (Zephaniah 2:3). God opens their spiritual "eyes" and "ears" just as Jesus did with his disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13 – 45).

    April 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Muneef

      Hartley Anderson.

      Agree with every word you said in your post above;
      The Arabic Quran is drafted as in a way that who may hold it or recite it is as words of God direct talking to him that person. While we find in the English translation they always writing "O, Muhammed" although it is not there in the Arabic Version... The message is addressed to us all through prophets and messengers of God as medium and not for their own or a particular tribe or race.
      The Prophets&Messengers of God were as his chosen sons to rely his holy message. Not any of those chosen prophets&messengers would want,say or call people to worship him as God rather than God the creator alone...!?
      [96:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
      [96:1] Read, in the name of your Lord, who created.*
      [96:2] He created man from an embryo.
      [96:3] Read, and your Lord, Most Exalted.
      [96:4] Teaches by means of the pen.
      [96:5] He teaches man what he never knew.
      ----
      [55:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
      [55:1] The Most Gracious.
      [55:2] Teacher of the Quran.
      [55:3] Creator of the human beings.
      [55:4] He taught them how to distinguish.
      ----–
      [47:24] Why do they not study the Quran carefully? Do they have locks on their minds?
      -----
      [20:114] Most Exalted is GOD, the only true King. Do not rush into uttering the Quran before it is revealed to you, and say, "My Lord, increase my knowledge."
      ----–
      [20:123] He said, "Go down therefrom, all of you. You are enemies of one another. When guidance comes to you from Me, anyone who follows My guidance will not go astray, nor suffer any misery.
      [20:124] "As for the one who disregards My message, he will have a miserable life, and we resurrect him, on the Day of Resurrection, blind."
      [20:125] He will say, "My Lord, why did you summon me blind, when I used to be a seer?"
      [20:126] He will say, "Because you forgot our revelations when they came to you, you are now forgotten."
      [20:127] We thus requite those who transgress and refuse to believe in the revelations of their Lord. The retribution in the Hereafter is far worse and everlasting.
      ----
      [2:170] When they are told, "Follow what GOD has revealed herein," they say, "We follow only what we found our parents doing." What if their parents did not understand, and were not guided?
      [2:171] The example of such disbelievers is that of parrots who repeat what they hear of sounds and calls, without understanding. Deaf, dumb, and blind; they cannot understand.
      ---–
      [17:71] The day will come when we summon every people, together with their record. As for those who are given a record of righteousness, they will read their record and will not suffer the least injustice.
      -----
      Hope same suffice proving the correctness of your comments what ever their holy scriptures were... 

      April 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Our Evolving Understanding of It All

      Muneef wrote: "While we find in the English translation they always writing "O, Muhammed" "

      I think that was referring to old translations of the Koran or maybe ones with either dishonorable or misguided intent. The translation I have and the one online. neither one have "O, Muhammed" in them.

      That shows some of the problem in any of this. There are so many different translations of all the books. So it all takes man to figure it out, with more faith in Allah than the deceiver to properly lead. This brings me to another question.

      I understand the man brought up on blasphemy charges in Pakistan was found not guilty, but then killed by the mob any way after his trial.

      I looked in the Koran for the definition of blasphemy as dictated, but could find no reference of blasphemy or blaspheme. How does Islam define it then? Does it require additional books not dictated, or humans to work it out from other words in the Koran? Is it understood differently by different Islamic sects? I ask this respectfully with the intent of learning Thanks as always for your patience with my ignorance.

      April 15, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  9. Thumpthis

    Religion will be the downfall of humankind as we know it. The result of hatred and intolerance doesn't require prophesy – it's a no-brainer.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Paul Bishop

      The force that came closest to bringing humanity to its fall was the godless, atheistic communism of the USSR and China. The greatest genocides in history are from the likes of those who rejected religion – Mao, Stalin, Phol Pot.... and on.

      In Rwanda when the Hutus were murdering Tutsi's left and right, it was a group of Christians that stood against it. Hutu and Tutsi believers came together in a worship service holding hands and singing "We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, They will know we are Christians by our love." The preacher preached out of Galatians 3 to say there is neither Hutu nor Tutsi but all are one in Christ. But Tutsi rebels didn't listen. They massacred them all.

      Religion doesn't necessarily bring downfall. Misuse of religion does. Further, Nonreligion has been shown to perpetrate the worse times in human history. As for me, I'm staying with Christ. He's the only one with real hope around here.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Kona

      @paul:

      What a load of baloney that is.

      5 million Killed in the name of the Christian god in the Crusades.
      2 million killed in the name of the Christian god in the Inquisition.
      6 million killed in the name of the Christian god in the Holocaust.

      It has been estimated that over the course of history, that there have been more people killed in the name of a god, than in all the wars combined. 13 million innocent killed in the three examples that I gave.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • The Cross and the Stake

      Thumpthis: The cause is a no brainer, not the result; at least no brain in the people causing. They exist on both sides though.

      Kona: We're all ent-itled to our opinion, but your facts are one sided and incomplete. They therefore make you no better than the ones you perceive to be the issue.

      Paul: You need to keep making the point about the true cause not being religion, but rather the misuse of zealous intent based on partial truths of any kind. Without blind followers of religion or non-religious causes either one, there would be a whole lot less blood.

      Open heart and minds. Learn not burn.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  10. Andy

    thank you so much for this wonderful article.

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

    Excuse me for my ignorance but can i ask why can't the many Bibles become combined as One Bible...could that be possible ?? Remining as it is could lead to too many branches that are rather following the Bibles Authors than it is the Prophet of God...?!

    [19:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
    [19:1] K. H. Y. `A. S. (Kaaf Haa Yaa `Ayn Saad)
    [19:2] A narration about your Lord's mercy towards His servant Zachariah.
    [19:3] He called his Lord, a secret call.
    [19:4] He said, "My Lord, the bones have turned brittle in my body, and my hair is aflame with gray. As I implore You, my Lord, I never despair.
    [19:5] "I worry about my dependants after me, and my wife has been sterile. Grant me, from You, an heir.
    [19:6] "Let him be my heir and the heir of Jacob's clan, and make him, my Lord, acceptable."
    [19:7] "O Zachariah, we give you good news; a boy whose name shall be John (Yahya). We never created anyone like him before."
    [19:8] He said, "My Lord, will I have a son despite my wife's sterility, and despite my old age?"
    [19:9] He said, "Thus said your Lord: `It is easy for Me to do. I created you before that, and you were nothing.' "
    [19:10] He said, "My Lord, give me a sign." He said, "Your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three consecutive nights."
    [19:11] He came out to his family, from the sanctuary, and signaled to them: "Meditate (on God) day and night."
    [19:12] "O John, you shall uphold the scripture, strongly." We endowed him with wisdom, even in his youth.
    [19:13] And (we endowed him with) kindness from us and purity, for he was righteous.
    [19:14] He honored his parents, and was never a disobedient tyrant.
    [19:15] Peace be upon him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he is resurrected back to life.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Muneef

      http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/Prophet/yahya.htm

      April 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • One Aware

      BHE: A reconciliation of all faiths and science and history would benfit us all if we compare and see the common truths, I think then the man made ones usually fall away, but we could still honor all our ancestors because they tried for our benefit. As usual you have a good heart, and we need more to have strong faith in God/ Allah, that to make such a review and reconcilliation, God/Allah would guide us more that Satan. Faith placed in the right place. Then, we have to be aware that some ideas appeal to our human nature side and accept them for that, as motivators and not necessarily the most important part of the truth.

      God/Allah wants us to be reconciled with him/it. It's Satan is who tempts us into fearing differences rather than trying to udertsnd and learn what God was trying to say to the various people in their times and places.

      By the way, I looked at your city on Google Earth, along with and island to the noth west that I was surprised to see towns on it. Always though it was just a desert island. Is that Yemini, Saudi or Egyptian? I also looked at Mecca and could see the Kaaba from space. It's pretty large and can be seen from fairly high up. The I looked at some roads through the Kingdom for perspective. I love geography and learning about the different cultures as well as history. Hope I'm not on some FBI watch list now 🙂 I would actually be trying to put an end to all our differences if I had more power, rather than stirring more up.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  12. Joe Redbear

    @ Jeff.... Thank you for your answer. Kind of what i exspected. For every question about the christian faith....we are told it's in the Bible...or giving a scripture. And tht's fine, i can live with that. But too live my life around a book? Not a chance! But it's my choice.... And all the answers are not in the Great book. There in your heart....if people would open there heart and there mind....and take time to listen? You will find your answer. The proof is all around you, and it sadden me the we as people of THis Mother Earth abuse it. It' like watching spring break on cable...everyone going crazy! Kind f like when mom and dad not home? Let's have a party! And this is where I think in my opinion the Great Book comes in. Gives us some guide lines to live by....like Dad's rules. If you do this? There are groundings so to speak. Again...we all have choices... Just make them good ones...live a good clean life...and care for one another. Rules to live by... not in the book...my word's..

    April 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • One Aware

      Good points Joe. I gained some perspective about Native American thought reading a Book called Seven Arrows when I was in my 20's, that heped somewhat with an understanding of some native American beliefs and wisdom. I've read other books since to increase my appreciation for such native American Wisdom – it seems a little more wise with being in tune with nature and playing our roles as responsibel parts, instead of masters. I am told I have enouth Cherokee great grandmothers to be 1/16, and tough I get the feelings some of my white ancestors may not have been so proud of that, it makes me proud. Thanks for the perspective.

      Speaking of which, one of the tales I remebmer was of a feather. How each man could sit at different points in a cirle around the feather and though they all saw the same feather, would describe it differently based on where they sat. Their perspectives were different. So their truth were different. Not wrong, just different. A very important leson. Thanks again.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  13. Corey

    The Bible's authors don't matter because it's all crap. It's just stories. It's a bunch of men trying to control things with deep dedication for a God that doesn't exist. I to this day cannot understand how people can go to an old building and chant songs to someone who isn't there. Isn't that called delusional? Didn't we used to call these groups cults?

    April 11, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  14. Olaf Big

    Of course, it ain't matter who wrote the Bible. Do you care who wrote the bus schedule next to your office building? If you can see and in a sound mind, you would rather drive anyway.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  15. monbois

    I agree! It doesn't matter because it's all BS!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  16. Joe Redbear

    Im going to go out on a limb here, and pray i don't get hanged from it....lol. Our people ( Native American) We have a great deal of respect for spirituality. Although misunderstood. Im not going to go into great detail about our way's...that would be disrespectful too my elders. I been to the great white churches...i have read this book you people consider to be sacred. I have tried to understand it...and yet i walk away with more questions. You hear about the great flood that wiped out everything. But yet this man name Noah and his family went to work and started populating the world again? So how did African Americans come to be? Our mexican freinds... Asian? Native American? I If were going to beleive this sacred book? Then I put more faith into THe Green Egg's and Ham Book. We are all Children from the same Great Mystory. And it's is way overtime that we start acting like it. Treat each other with respect....and kindness. Im sure the creator would want it that way.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • Jeff Johnson

      Joe Redbear... you seem to have an honest question, so I will attempt an honest answer... hopefully kindly and respectfully.

      If the history of the book of Genesis were true... then the various "races" as we know them would have emerged after the tower of Babel. Peoples were suddenly divided into various language groups. Some variation would have been due to the presence/absence of various genes within each group. Further... as each group stayed together and moved to different geographical locations... environmental pressures would have resulted in natural selection... further differentiating the various people groups.

      (Note that... under a strict reading of Genesis, there is absolutely *no* basis for racism. All peoples are made in the image of God and are descended from both Adam and Noah.)

      April 11, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • One Aware

      Just a matter of perspective regarding the Tower of Babylon anf the confounding of languages. I think we are experiencing some of that now. They wanted to build this great tower requiring lots and lots of workers. Where do you get them if you don't have enough people in your kingdom. You go out and get foreign labor or slaves who of course many will not speak you language So that makes building more difficult and eventually unsuccessful. So what does Joe Babylong the average worker think, who had no idea these people existed before the project? It obviously loooked to him like God confounded the language, since he has the workers view; not that the languages were confounded before the workers were brought in.

      I fear the same in the computer industry now days. We bring in so many outsiders and not only that use new sets of programming languages and technique for eacg new project. I worry the Tower of Babel effect will happen again, collapsing our business support, confounding everones finances. Oh wait, has that already happen? Time to retreat back to our corners?

      April 12, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Ronit

      Noah had 3 sons: Shem, Cham, and Yafet. Distinctly different, these three sons each branched out and if you read all those generations of people there, it is not a stretch that everyone can be included there.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  17. Erik

    The one aspect of this the author may not have given full consideration to is the difference between modern writing and ancient writing. The Judeo/Christian Bible is not the only ancient text from that time period, although I don't know of any others from that culture. My basic point is that writing was much more expensive and people did it a lot less. And with far less text being written, I would really doubt they had anything like the editors whose skills we enjoy today.

    To put it another way, I humbly suggest the author has greatly underestimated the strides the field of literature in general and his specialty within it in particular have taken in the last 2500 years or so.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:51 am |
  18. Christian Adeline

    "It doesn't matter who wrote the Bible"? People say truth doesn't matter or doesn't exist only when they don't like the truth. We don't need intellectual apathy in any academia. And this author should not pretend to be a believer, either.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • nobbr

      Completely agree

      April 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • MagickMan

      The apologist's job has always been difficult. It's just gotten, well, virtually impossible given the advances in science. But you just keep saying that since God create the Earth flat, it must be!

      April 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  19. Rob

    My take:This article's author does not matter.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  20. Noley

    C'mon, the Bible is a compilation of fictional facts, factual fictions and total fabrications about a huge range of historical and imagined events written over a few thousand years by multiple authors, most of whom were not eyewitnesses to the things they wrote about. There's some good stuff in there, but a fair bit of baloney, too.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Katmoondaddy

      Look through the parables not at them. Man didn't walk with the dinosaurs and the Earth wasn't created in a week. There is a higher power that whispers throughout the Bible. Listen carefully and don't feel contempt before investigation.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • NL

      Really, if the actual value of the Bible are all the allegorical truths that one can gleam from it then all myth has the same value, as well as Shakespeare and any number of other authors of recognized fiction.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Davren Noble

      Too bad your stating an opinion you can't prove. Its a shame how much "historical fact" people take as true just because they read it in a book, but eyewitness accounts of the Bible account for nothing? There's nothing rational about that train of thought

      April 10, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Rob

      Walking on water wasn't built in a day.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Magic

      Davren Noble,

      "...eyewitness accounts of the Bible account for nothing?"

      An event (events) purported to be the most earthshaking, life-changing occurrences since the beginning of time require more than just a couple of lame, unsubstantiated, hearsay stories to be believed. Very poor doc.umentation from an alleged omniscient "God".

      April 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Muneef

      If am allowed to suggest,Maybe you should take the Wisdom it wants to reflects and leave the baloney behind? But first you will need to read all before can extract the Wisdom from any Book that is Considered Holy or of Ancient Wisdom...! Don't see any thing wrong in that...

      April 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Andy

      To be fair to the Bible, realize that apart from the Bible, we barely know anything from before 1000 AD about minor civilizations such as the Hebrews and the others that were in Palestine. There are good hypotheses that align the book of Exodus with what historical data we have about Egypt at the time. I can't believe that religious people compiling good teachings to live by would have included thousands of historical details. An omniscient God, however, would know every detail and would want to have it written down and preserved so that the original details are never lost.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Nursehope

      You are sooo close: Bible is fictional but NO facts. Nothing except urban legends, heresay, great stories and parables but NO facts. Many people do not need facts to model their behaviors and way of being. They rely on nice stories that promise happiness, personal revelations and empowerment based upon belief in the supernatural, etc. To each their own needs.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • nobbr

      As a student of the Bible, it is evident you are completely misinformed. The Bible, which contains 66 books, is accurate and is reliable becaus eof three main facts: 1) Its scientific accuracy. 2) Its historical accuracy and 3) The fullfilment of prophecies. How can you explain that the Bible in the book of Job says that the Earth is a sphere and is hanging from nothing in space, when many centuries later the Greeks came to the conclusion the Earth was round and it was only until men went out inot space that we got a definite prrof that the Earth hangs from nothing? How could the Bible foretell the name of the conqueror and even the detailed way in which the city of Babylon was to fall under the Persians in 539 BC?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Tom

      The very first line of the article is pretty priceless:

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

      April 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Dsim

      If you want to debate the historicity of the Bible you have to compare it to other texts that we rely on to be "historically acurate". So here is an acurate number concerning the New Testament. The book that ranks second in all of history in refernece to manuscript authority is The Illiad, written by Homer, for which we have 643 copies of the original text. These copies have been dated by historians to have a 400 year gap from the time that the original text was written. In contrast the New Testament of the Bible has 24,970 copies of the original manuscript. Some of the writtings date only 50 years from when the original manuscript was penned. There is a good point made in the fullfillment of prophecy from the OT. To add, the focal point of the prophets is the fortelling of the comming Messiah. Some of these prophesies where made over 800 years before Jesus of Nazareth was born. There are 61 specific prophesies in the old testement (not to mention hundreds of other messianic references). The historical person of Jesus Christ fulfills them all!

      April 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Robert

      The bible could have easily been manipulated to make it seem like it predicted events but i wouldnt like to go into conspiracy. According to the bible, Satan walked Jesus to a really tall hill. Jesus and Satan saw all the empires in the world..... So if the Bible contains scientific fact, i would like to see the hill where i get a nice view of the entire planet.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • Dsim

      Robert,

      When making the statement about the Sacred text of the Old Testament being manipulated, I want to reference an important component to Jesus' ministry. Most of the Jewish religious elite of his time (the Pharisees and Sadducees) hated Jesus and had the OT passages memorized. I am sure that the Canon of Scripture that Christians have to this date would not have made it out of Isreal or Jerusalem if the Old Testament had been "manipulated". In fact Jesus himself, reads a passage to the religious elite directly out of Isaiah, which prophecies the comming of the Christ in Luke 4:16-19. When Jesus read the passage he stated that the prophecy had been fulfilled in their hearing. I am sure they would have objected if he had made it up. Also, In Luke 4 the wording is that Satan took Jesus up to a high place (the versions I have looked at don't say it was a physical place). Now, you would have to believe what the Bible says about both Satan and Jesus to accept that it is possible for them to have viewed all of the kingdoms – the Bible even supports what Satan says when he mentions that he is the ruler of those kingdoms.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • Carlton

      If the Bible wasn't what God wanted it to be, than he wouldn't have allowed it to be written the way it is today. God is all powerful and he influenced all of the authors of the bible. The Bible even says the God is the Word. You can't argue with that because it would be like arguing with the All Mighty Himself. Believe.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • jessica

      How much of it have you read?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Bobbe503

      What if Religion, like everything else, is evolving? That would explain how primitive the “rules” were in the Old Testament, how relatively refined Jesus’ teachings were to the people of his time and how those Religions all seem so ridiculous to a thoughtful person now. And as many have mentioned, how does an atheist know what is right? What is right to one is not right to all. But couldn’t some of these people with alternative views of what is right just be somewhere else on a tangent of evolution? And here is what I find interesting in the discussion. Maybe this book feels right to us because there is a collective “right” and conversely “wrong” or evil and we all know it, but we have all come to despise the overbearing ways of today’s religions and are loath to call this searching as God? Maybe we need a new name for this which might make it easier for all of us to accept?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Our Evolving Understanding of It All

      Bobbe503: No what if.............it always has evolved and always will.....so long as we do. The bigger question would be.. .will we?

      We shouldn't rid ourselves of our past as that leads to other problems, like cutting the roots off a plant.

      Philosophy was once meant to be the study of truth, scientific and religious. Most of the illness of the world has been caused by putting the two at odds. Perhaps we just need to get back to understanding the truth instead of telling people its not supposed to make sense. That being said, there will always be things we don't know and make poor guesses at, but if we stopped, so would evolution. The sin, even if only to our self, is when we stop looking.

      April 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41
Advertisement
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.