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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. Muneef

    3:50] "I confirm previous scripture – the Torah – and I revoke certain prohibitions imposed upon you. I come to you with sufficient proof from your Lord. Therefore, you shall observe GOD, and obey me.

    [3:51] "GOD is my Lord and your Lord; you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path."

    [3:52] When Jesus sensed their disbelief, he said, "Who are my supporters towards GOD?" The disciples said, "We are GOD's supporters; we believe in GOD, and bear witness that we are submitters."

    [3:53] "Our Lord, we have believed in what You have sent down, and we have followed the messenger; count us among the witnesses."

    The Death of Jesus*
    [3:54] They plotted and schemed, but so did GOD, and GOD is the best schemer.

    [3:55] Thus, GOD said, "O Jesus, I am terminating your life, raising you to Me, and ridding you of the disbelievers. I will exalt those who follow you above those who disbelieve, till the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is the ultimate destiny of all of you, then I will judge among you regarding your disputes.

    [3:56] "As for those who disbelieve, I will commit them to painful retribution in this world, and in the Hereafter. They will have no helpers."

    [3:57] As for those who believe and lead a righteous life, He will fully recompense them. GOD does not love the unjust.

    [3:58] These are the revelations that we recite to you, providing a message full of wisdom.

    [3:59] The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.

    [3:60] This is the truth from your Lord; do not harbor any doubts.
    ------–

    [3:77] As for those who trade away GOD's covenant, and their obligations, for a cheap price, they receive no share in the Hereafter. GOD will not speak to them, nor look at them, on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them. They have incurred a painful retribution.

    [3:78] Among them are those who twist their tongues to imitate the scripture, that you may think it is from the scripture, when it is not from the scripture, and they claim that it is from GOD, when it is not from GOD. Thus, they utter lies and attribute them to GOD, knowingly.

    [3:79] Never would a human being whom GOD blessed with the scripture and prophethood say to the people, "Idolize me beside GOD." Instead, (he would say), "Devote yourselves absolutely to your Lord alone," according to the scripture you preach and the teachings you learn.

    [3:80] Nor would he command you to idolize the angels and the prophets as lords. Would he exhort you to disbelieve after becoming submitters?

    [3:81] GOD took a covenant from the prophets, saying, "I will give you the scripture and wisdom. Afterwards, a messenger will come to confirm all existing scriptures. You shall believe in him and support him." He said, "Do you agree with this, and pledge to fulfill this covenant?" They said, "We agree." He said, "You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you."

    [3:82] Those who reject this (Quranic prophecy) are the evil ones.

    [3:83] Are they seeking other than GOD's religion, when everything in the heavens and the earth has submitted to Him, willingly and unwillingly, and to Him they will be returned?

    April 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Doesn't matter

      @Muneef

      Are these quotes you keep posting everywhere from the Qu'ran? And if so, isn't it illegal to translate it? I am not trying to be antagonistic I am only curious....

      April 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Muneef

      Does Matter.

      Quran is translated in to many languages other than English where I can quote the verses that are needed to reflect a certain idea of discussion and that shouldn't be illegal at all otherwise what would be the use of these facilities when not allowed to use to express your say and your right of belief...?!
      Visit this might help you understand;
      http://www.submission.org/quran/index.html

      April 21, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  2. Gezus

    Mankind are like sheep, and our savior was painted as a Shepard. Sheep without a Shepard wander endlessly till their death since they know no better.

    I hear the trumpets call.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Shepard

      That's bad. Now look what you did. My sheep went running in all directions. They hate trumpets.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  3. Muneef

    Many writings by different men,translated from old languages into modern languages all through the ages....hard to imagine there would not be many contradictions from one to another....

    April 21, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Officer of the LAW

      and you'd be surprised how many witnesses do not agree on what just happened during a crime... that just happened right in front of them. Its usually only after they all get together and "agree" on what they saw, after much back and forth, that most of the inconsistencies disappear. That's even when they all speak the same language. Oh wait. Maybe that's why we are digging up so many new versions of these "witnesses" books that were buried for thousands of years under pain of death if they be discovered. Still, where there's smoke there's usually fire. Let those that have ears hear. Let those that have eyes see.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Muneef

      Officer OTL.

      Agree with you about that when it is about a crime but now if that happens about the words of God,then it will no longer would become the words of God but rather be the words of compromise by men....

      April 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Muneef

      Officer OTL.

      Digging? Digging were for it? Jerusalem,under the Mosques&Temples? Where else will they find the truth? The wonder is that if was found would they hide it or amend it before they declare it if found to say what the Quran said about not being a Son nor being a God nor was he crucified nor there would be a free ride through life with out judgment and punishment or reward...?!

      April 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Enforcer of the Code

      When it comes to understanding the words of God, compromise is all anyone can hope for; unless perhaps someone thinks they are God and are able to speak on the same level as God. For God to communicate with humans at all, it must be done at the level of understanding of humans at that point in history. If God had spoken to Moses about cars, airplanes, DNA, how to do brain surgery, etc.; and most importantly how such things should be handled morally, what do we think the effect would have been on Moses or his people? Either Moses would have said what are you talking about or when he went to explain it to the people they would have been lost in trying to make sense of it as well. To some degree that happened any way. That's why there are many varied perceptions of what the revelations were an meant. If it were not so there would truly only be one religion and we all know that while they all should strive for the same truth, they all have their differences due to the compromises of men. Our human limitations though are no reason to punish those who differ from our own limited understandings.

      "Digging" was just a general reference to things like Nag Hammadi, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gnostic texts and Eastern forms of Christianity lesser known in the west, that had other ideas about the various levels of divinity in Jesus and preceeded those same ideas found in the Koran by a few hundred years. Whether they were dictated by God or not, that far in advance of Koran, the ideas had been around for several centuries; before perhaps leading to some of those compromises of men as they were encountered on the caravan routes through out those centuries? Surely such difference would have God leading men to question why and on to further "revelations".

      God's truth is not limited. I would not dare claim to say I have the only truth. As your scriptures say, God has the power to speak to us in many ways and ITS power over everything allows that to be so. So I would not dare or presume to limit, God's ability to communicate to us in ways more advanced than were possible 2000 or 1400 years ago. May we always be blessed to have God continue the revelations in every form as God is surely capable of doing. Whether we decide to acknowledge them and learn what we can from them or not is our limitation; not God's.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  4. Rusty Shackleford

    The original issue is whether JEDP (four sources) wrote what we call the Books of Moses, or whether Moses did, and whether that matters. I think the author does a good job of showing that it takes a lot of faith to trust in the JEDP account, rather than a Moses+1 account (since it seems foolish to think he wrote about his own death). Also, the author points out that it really doesn't matter. A skeptical, honest, intelligent person can believe either, and still be a follower of Judaism (or Christianity).

    As for whether there are contradictions, there are certainly differences in the Biblical manuscripts. Christians didn't do what Muslims did very early - pick one manuscript and burn the rest. Christians allowed these minor differences to co-exist, and didn't worry about it. Focus on the major stuff. The Gospels agree on the essential points. Jesus was born of a woman with no human father. He lived a life that no reasonable person could find fault with. He was crucified. He was buried. He came back and many witnesses touched and ate with him.

    Do the Gospels agree on what Jesus said right before He died? Apparently Gaunt has found that they don't. It doesn't matter. Gaunt is finding fault in the insignificant details. Besides Gaunt, who cares?

    My question is why enemies of Christianity, like Saul, who hated and sought to persecute and even kill Christians, would become Christians themselves? Why join a persecuted group like that, that you yourself despised and tried to exterminate? Judging by his many writings, it's clear that Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, is a thoughtful, intelligent, wise man.

    Futhermore, there are the many witnesses who were devout monotheists, having been raised from birth to despise the polytheistic faiths that surrounded Israel. Suddenly they became trinitarian followers of someone who, according to them, believed himself to be one with God. For the first Christians to have been Jews is as miraculous as the miracles of healing and food production and walking on water and calming the storm that Jesus (Y'shua) is recorded as having done.

    April 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Gaunt

      Firstly Rusty, I would hardly call the last words of your divine savior before sacrificng himself on the cross and dying to save mankind a 'minor detail'. Thats like calling JC a 'secondary character' in the New testament.

      Secondly, you ask 'who cares' about these contradictions? Simple. The many retards and halfwits out there, including quite a few who have posted in this thread, who blindly insist there are no contradictions, of any kind whatsoever in the Bible.

      Frankly, people who admit the Bible is full of inconsistencies and problems, but this does not affect their faith, I dont have this problem with.

      I dislike liars and the unimaginably stupid, especially when they base their belief system on a combination of those lies and that stupidity.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • Magic Mirror

      Liars swear that all those who do not understand things exactly as they do must be liars or stupid, whether they lie to their self or out loud for all to hear. A man is not polluted by what goes into his mouth but by what comes out of it.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  5. MThomas

    The Bibles Gospels do not "contradict" each other it is more eyewitness accounts so while something may look red to one person it may be burgundy to another person this does not mean this was not accurate just a different perspective. No you liberals wont wanna here that anything to deny That you will have to answer for your selfishness one day to a higher power Gods Standard is perfection Nobody meets that standard in Gods eyes if your a thief. you are just as bad as a murderer Perfection and that scares you liberals because why have a higher moral ground when you can be "ME" "ME" "ME". The issue here is that liberals need to justify their behavior by denying God.

    April 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • My Country tis of thee, Sweet land of Liberty

      Actually, you argue for a liberal interpretation by bringing in the different legitimate reasons for perceived contradictions and then proceed to bash the liberalism you argued for. No worry though. So many on the right seem to have no idea that the Liberty provided by our founding fathers, and liberal ideas are one in the same...just a minor often overlooked perspective, like you raised for the perceived contradictions. Next time someone spouts off the word liberal like it was a dirty word, remember how many people have fought and died over a few centuries to provide you with your liberty (liberalism). Perhaps you'd prefer Kings, dictators, the Inquisition etc. ?

      April 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  6. MThomas

    The Bibles Gospels do not "contradict" each other it is more eyewitness accounts so while something may look red to one person it may be burgundy to another person this does not mean this was not accurate just a different perspective. No you liberals wont wanna here that anything to deny That you will have to answer for your selfishness one day to a higher power Gods Standard is perfection Nobody meets that standard in Gods eyes if your a f@g you are just as bad as a murderer Perfection and that scares you liberals because why have a higher moral ground when you can be "ME" "ME" "ME". The issue here is that liberals need to justify their behavior by denying God.

    April 20, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • bobH

      I rate MThomas as the most idiotic commentator on this thread. god is not great, as Christoipher Hitchens reminds us. In fact, god does not exist.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • ALL HAIL christopher hitchins

      May he continue to bend over backwards in his spouting of misunderstanding making it easier for us to kiss his... rather than learning to understand our selves. Talk about cop outs. Now shoot something over my head and hit the other extreme as you guys almost always do.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  7. saggyroy

    "To Kill A Mockingbird" is pretty good too. And it's more realistic.

    April 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  8. Muneef

    THE WASHINGTON TIMES 
    Judas stars as 'anti-hero' in gospel By Julia Duin 
     National Geographic 
    Near the end of the Judas gospel, Jesus tells Judas he will "exceed" the rest of the disciples "for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me."
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/apr/7/20060407-120642-3758r/

    April 20, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  9. Gaunt

    So, as you are incapable of actually making a real argument or opposing the obvious contradictions I have laid out, you are leaving with your tail between your legs throwing out a laughable excuse for your cowardice in the form of weeping revisionism.

    I have laid out contradictions, and provided references to dozens more. What have you done little boy? have you made one cogent argument, provided one evidenced justification? In fact have you done a single thing other than whine like a petulant child?

    April 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh

      Talk about whining? Do you actually read your rants or can't you hear your own thoughts?

      April 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Doesn't matter

      @Gaunt

      Sorry about the delay, but I have a life outside of slamming people and their beliefs on CNN. In regards to these many contradictions you stated...I only know of one, and I am certain that someone else already pointed out to you that what Jesus's last words on the cross were being different in two of the gospels was. But for the sake of your soul I will attempt to explain it to you, when two people witness something would you expect their accounts to be exactly the same? Or could they in fact view the exact same event and come away with different perspectives of the same event? If you are honest with yourself I think I need not carry on, you should get the point...As for your name calling and insulting me...i have no reply...only that I think perhaps you should grow up a little and maybe you won't be so angry about someone challenging your beliefs...you did after all decide to come onto a discussion about the Bible, what did you think you would encounter in terms of discussion, of course people are going to defend what they believe. All in all Gaunt, your reaction to my posts have illustrated that you are a very angry person and truly someone with your level of anger should probably read the Bible and learn about the love of God, and love for your fellow man...you have embarrassed yourself Gaunt...

      April 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  10. Gaunt

    So, unable to actually make a real argument or oppose the obvious contradictions I have laid out, you are leaving with your tail between your legs throwing out a laughable excuse for your cowardice in the form of weeping revisionism.

    I have laid out contradictions, and provided references to dozens more. What have you done little boy? have you made one cogent argument, provided one evidenced justification? In fact have you done a single thing other than whine like a petulant child?

    April 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Doesn't matter

      @Gaunt

      Sorry about the delay, but I have a life outside of slamming people and their beliefs on CNN. In regards to these many contradictions you stated...I only know of one, and I am certain that someone else already pointed out to you that what Jesus's last words on the cross were being different in two of the gospels was. But for the sake of your soul I will attempt to explain it to you, when two people witness something would you expect their accounts to be exactly the same? Or could they in fact view the exact same event and come away with different perspectives of the same event? If you are honest with yourself I think I need not carry on, you should get the point...As for your name calling and insulting me...i have no reply...only that I think perhaps you should grow up a little and maybe you won't be so angry about someone challenging your beliefs...you did after all decide to come onto a discussion about the Bible, what did you think you would encounter in terms of discussion, of course people are going to defend what they believe. All in all Gaunt, your reaction to my posts have illustrated that you are a very angry person and truly someone with your level of anger should probably read the Bible and learn about the love of God, and love for your fellow man...you have embarrassed yourself Gaunt...

      April 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  11. Doesn't matter

    Well Gaunt you've proven yourself to be just as astute as all the other scoffers, one thing that in your opinion const-ituets a contradiction seems to amount to conclusive proof of what you are saying...needless to say you have nothing...and as for war and your personal experiance in it, I'll leave you to your fantasies whatever they may be...

    April 20, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  12. Doesn't matter

    @Gaunt

    First of all, if we are to believe what the Bible says about Jesus then his last words were not on the cross as he was resurrected three days later and said many other words that were recorded as well. Secondly I'm quite sure you know nothing of actual war so don't be so willing to say that you would fight one over a belief that you have simply becuase it conflicts with someone elses...

    April 20, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Gaunt

      Firstly, thats a cheap technicality and you know it. The fact is that the bible contradicts itself, not once, but twice, on this critical point. That is just one out of hundreds of obvious contradictions one would have to be blind not to see.

      Secondly, I know more about actual war than you could possibly imagine my sad little friend, and as I pointed out (twice now) to others incapable of reading, I won't go to war over conflicting opinions, or differing beliefs. I will go to war when you try and impose the delusional rules of your fairy tale upon others who do not share your imagination.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Doesn't matter

      Could you provide a list of these supposed contradictions Gaunt? I would be interested to see what they are as people are very quick to say that the Bible is riddled with them but when I ask for an example...low and behold they have no idea because they are simply parroting what they have heard someone else say and are seemingly incapable of developing their own opinion on this matter having never actually read the Bible. Secondly, in which war have you taken part Gaunt? Of which war are you sir a veteran?

      April 20, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Gaunt

      You want me to list hundreds of bible contradictions here, for you? Seriously? I demonstrated one above, without doubt, and that seems enough. Shall I write a minor thesis for you here? Instead, I will simply direct you to here, not the most complete, or most authoritative, but the most amusing list around. youtube.com/watch?v=RB3g6mXLEKk

      Secondly, technically its not 'war', but in facts 'wars' (or, to be truly technical, 'conflicts' since not all were declared wars...). And none of your business.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  13. Joe Redbear

    This is what im talking about...Every time there is a dissagrement? It's in the Bible....You people draw the Bible Like a Gun ! And you make this Jesus Person out to be ALL THAT ! HE WAS JUST A MAN ! Nothing special...Just a man ! All his word's...good deed's....Gift's? They DID NOT come from him...they came from the creator....AKA....GOD ! Jesus was nothing more then a tool ! I beleive he was a good person...was holy...like a shamen. But that's all. The creator speaks too all of us people..you just need to open up your heart....open your ear's...and you eye's. Really listing. You want answers? Put the book down...go outside. The answer is right infront of you...abouve you...bellow you...all around you. All that book is good for is holding up the end of my couch.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • Bernie

      Just out of curiosity, do you think that the some 6 million jews, pols, gypsies etc opened their hearts, minds and ears to god to relieve them of holocuast?
      You think just this once, in 2000 years, god just might have said, "yeah, maybe I should get this one".
      I know I know, god works in mysterious ways, we know not the time or the hour....or fill in any other useless smoke and mirrors you use to see why god isn't answering your prayers

      April 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • TRUTH DOES NOT REQUIRE VIOLENCE OR YELLING

      @Bernie: So the whole world revolves around you and whether God thinks you're important enough to answer your prayers or not? You think Joe's ancestors didn't experience some of that "Old Time" European religion just like the Jews, gypsies etc? Prayers are answered only when we understand our place in it all, and I guarantee you it isn't as part of the Master Race, Chosen People or any other group that thinks they are so special that God's true laws don't apply to them. Why don't you see all the one's God does get, many times? Forgive me for using the G word because it incorrectly limits perception of what Joe is talking about.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  14. a.believer

    Nothing can be fully understood except one humble himself and allow the Holy Spirit to manifest the truth of all things. I used to be an atheist after having grown up Catholic. Now I know truth. I still have questions, but if I am obedient and patient, I know that my questions will eventually be answered because so very many of them already have. Questions and doubts are very different. Questions are healthy, they lead to answers, to truth. Doubt does not lead to truth because doubt does not exist in the heart of the humble, but only in the proud (who believe that they see all things and know all things and that believers in Diety are ignorant dupes). Humility is the companion of faith. Pride is the companion of doubt. I have been proud and atheist and lived in miserable darkness. Of course, I didn't realize how dark and miserable my world was until I walked into the light. I'm so much happier now than I could have even imagined being when I was proud. I know that I don't have all of the answers yet, but I know Who does, and that is a huge relief! And I know that we all have a common Father who loves all of his children. That I know. Best wishes to you Gaunt.

    April 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Gaunt

      a.believer: Your entire post boils down to, you decided to believe and now you feel pretty good about it. Well, good for you, honestly. If you can find peace and happiness by believing in a fairy tale, no matter what that fairy tale is, then power to you. I have never taken issue with people having faith in gods or God or spirits or spectral ancestors or angels or ghosts or whatever form of supernatural fantasy rocks your boat. If you get strength and comfort out of believeing Santa Claus brings toys to kids at christmas, then power to you.

      The problem arises when you decide that your particular version of your particular unevidenced fantasy MUST be the absolute truth, and so everybody else must conform to YOU imaginary standards of behaviour, no matter what THEY believe or do not believe.

      If you come to me and say 'I stand on one leg every thursday because I believe the moon is sentient and divine', then I will pat you on the head and send you on your way to live in your little delusion.

      But when you come to me and say 'YOU must stand on one leg every thursday because I believe the moon is sentient and divine', then we go to war.

      When you come to me and say, I insist we give moon-sentience-belief the same predominance as scientific astronomy in secular schools, or when you want to pass a law removing the right of women to stand on both legs on thursdays, then we go to war.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • TRUTH DOES NOT REQUIRE VIOLENCE OR YELLING

      @GAUNT: It almost seems like a.believer would turn the other cheek and you would be incapable of making your case in a civilized manner, because you would "go to war" over every difference of opinion about what you should do or how you should act, rather than being able to make a rational evidential case for not doing so. That sounds so much like what the believers are accused of, rather than people like you. How is that so, or is their some ingenuine deception going on for your side ase well?

      April 20, 2011 at 3:52 am |
    • Muneef

      a.believer.

      Good for you that you found the path,as it seems God wants you and for that you were guided, some others are hopeless as not listening to their senses if they have any...wishing you find all the truth that you seek to know. Best of regards.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:59 am |
    • Muneef

      a.believer.

      The best examples is to read the stories of the Prophets and Messengers of God from Adam down to last one,doesn't matter where your sources would be from but the main thing is the morals of it...if I may suggest try this link for such stories;
      http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/Prophet/Adam.htm

      April 20, 2011 at 6:06 am |
    • Gaunt

      Truth, perhaps if you had a bit of free time, you could learn how to read. Seriously, it might help you appear less silly in places like this.

      In fact I said quite explicitly that differences of opinion bother me not one whit, and if you seek to take comfort in some amusing delusion then power to you. I dont agree and know you are insane, but I dont care. If it brings you peace then good for you.

      But when you try and use your delusions to compel OTHERS to act in a manner dictated by your delusion, then damn right I go to war. And so should any right thinking lover of freedom.

      April 20, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Muneef

      Idologies are put forward like services and products,a sales man might not stop talking admiring his services or products but in the end it is for you to buy it or not but never heard a sales man might compel you to buy with out you wishing to....!?

      So i did not like it,pass over it, you want to know more discuss it and show your interest or again pass it with few words (Not buying it,Thank you) and carry on with your window shopping.

      If you became to like the product or service then you may compare it with others on show and finally make your choice....with out pointing out your dislikes to the others in a manner of hurting... Peace.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Muneef

      Idologies are put forward like services and products,a sales man might not stop talking admiring his services or products but in the end it is for you to buy it or not but never heard a sales man might compel you to buy with out you wishing to....!?

      So i did not like it,pass over it, you want to know more discuss it and show your interest or again pass it with few words (Not buying it,Thank you) and carry on with your window shopping.

      If you became to like the product or service then you may compare it with others on show and finally make your choice....with out pointing out your dislikes to the others in a manner of hurting... Peace.

      Tough times never last, tough people do.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • bobH

      your remarks seem quite absurd

      April 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • TRUTH DOES NOT REQUIRE VIOLENCE OR YELLING

      @Gaunt:Perhaps if you had a bit of free time, you could learn how to WRITE. Seriously, it might help you appear less silly in places like this.

      @Gaunt WROTE:

      "In fact I said quite explicitly that DIFFERENCES OF OPINION BOTHER ME NOT ONE WHIT, and if you seek to take comfort in some amusing delusion then power to you."

      Yet what @Gaunt quite explicitly WROTE previously was:

      "But when you come to me and say 'YOU must stand on one leg every thursday because I believe the moon is sentient and divine', THEN WE GO TO WAR.

      When you come to me and say, I insist we give moon-sentience-belief the same predominance as scientific astronomy in secular schools, or when you want to pass a law removing the right of women to stand on both legs on thursdays, THEN WE GO TO WAR.

      I dont agree and know you are insane, but I dont care. If it brings you peace then good for you.

      But when you try and use your delusions to compel OTHERS to act in a manner dictated by your delusion, then damn right I go to war. And so should any right thinking lover of freedom.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • TRUTH DOES NOT REQUIRE VIOLENCE OR YELLING

      @Gaunt accuses others of delusion and insanity without the least bit of proof, much like those @Gaunt feels at odds with. Then @Gaunt resorts to violent threats, once again no different than those @Gaunt takes issue with. The Boogie man does after all exist in everyone who does not agree exactly with @Gaunt's points of view, or at least how they are written.

      And @Gaunt feels justified in claiming others as be deluded, insane, violent or unable to read?

      The truth shall set you free and it won't be found in any extreme. So all would be better off keeping delluded, insane, violent threatening writings to theirself no matter what extreme they hail from.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  15. FourWheels

    I wrote it. I wanted to add lazers and dinosaurs. Moses wanted to go with the more fantasy genre route. So, yeah, you're welcome. //endconversation

    April 18, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • saggyroy

      I Knew it !!!

      April 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  16. Muneef

    [3:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

    [3:1] A.L.M.*

    [3:2] GOD: there is no god except He; the Living, the Eternal.

    [3:3] He sent down to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming all previous scriptures, and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel

    [3:4] before that, to guide the people, and He sent down the statute book. Those who disbelieve in GOD's revelations incur severe retribution. GOD is Almighty, Avenger.

    [3:5] Nothing is hidden from GOD, on earth, or in the heaven.
    -----
    Miracles Bring Greater Responsibility*
    [2:211] Ask the Children of Israel how many profound miracles have we shown them! For those who disregard the blessings bestowed upon them by GOD, GOD is most strict in retribution.

    Shortsightedness
    [2:212] This worldly life is adorned in the eyes of the disbelievers, and they ridicule those who believe. However, the righteous will be far above them on the Day of Resurrection. GOD blesses whomever He wills, without limits.

    Disastrous Jealousy
    [2:213] The people used to be one community when GOD sent the prophets as bearers of good news, as well as warners. He sent down with them the scripture, bearing the truth, to judge among the people in their disputes. Ironically, those who received the scripture were the ones who rejected any new scripture, despite clear proofs given to them. This is due to jealousy on their part. GOD guides those who believe to the truth that is disputed by all others, in accordance with His will. GOD guides whoever wills in a straight path.*

    [2:214] Do you expect to enter Paradise without being tested like those before you? They were tested with hardship and adversity, and were shaken up, until the messenger and those who believed with him said, "Where is GOD's victory?" GOD's victory is near.
    ------–
    [4:56] Surely, those who disbelieve in our revelations, we will condemn them to the hellfire. Whenever their skins are burnt, we will give them new skins. Thus, they will suffer continuously. GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.
    -------
    [78:39] Such is the inevitable day. Whoever wills let him take refuge in his Lord.

    [78:40] We have sufficiently warned you about an imminent retribution. That is the day when everyone will examine what his hands have sent forth, and the disbeliever will say, "Oh, I wish I were dust."
    --------
    [5:98] Know that GOD is strict in enforcing retribution, and that GOD is Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    [5:99] The sole duty of the messenger is to deliver the message, and GOD knows everything you declare and everything you conceal.

    [5:100] Proclaim: "The bad and the good are not the same, even if the abundance of the bad may impress you. You shall reverence GOD, (even if you are in the minority) O you who possess intelligence, that you may succeed."
    -------- 

    April 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  17. Muneef

    The Commandments
    [2:83] We made a covenant with the Children of Israel: "You shall not worship except GOD. You shall honor your parents and regard the relatives, the orphans, and the poor. You shall treat the people amicably. You shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat)." But you turned away, except a few of you, and you became averse.

    [2:84] We made a covenant with you, that you shall not shed your blood, nor shall you evict each other from your homes. You agreed and bore witness.

    [2:85] Yet, here you are killing each other, and evicting some of you from their homes, banding against them sinfully and maliciously. Even when they surrendered, you demanded ransom from them. Evicting them was prohibited for you in the first place. Do you believe in part of the scripture and disbelieve in part? What should be the retribution for those among you who do this, except humiliation in this life, and a far worse retribution on the Day of Resurrection? GOD is never unaware of anything you do.

    [2:86] It is they who bought this lowly life at the expense of the Hereafter. Consequently, the retribution is never commuted for them, nor can they be helped.
    ---------
    Major Commandments
    [4:36] You shall worship GOD alone – do not associate anything with Him. You shall regard the parents, the relatives, the orphans, the poor, the related neighbor, the unrelated neighbor, the close associate, the traveling alien, and your servants. GOD does not like the arrogant show-offs.

    [4:37] The ones who are stingy, exhort the people to be stingy, and conceal what GOD has bestowed upon them from His bounties. We have prepared for the disbelievers a shameful retribution.

    [4:38] They give money to charity only to show off, while disbelieving in GOD and the Last Day. If one's companion is the devil, that is the worst companion.

    [4:39] Why do they not believe in GOD and the Last Day, and give from GOD's provisions to them? GOD is fully aware of them.
    ----------–
    [16:90] GOD advocates justice, charity, and regarding the relatives. And He forbids evil, vice, and transgression. He enlightens you, that you may take heed.
    ----------–

    April 18, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  18. DesertHawk12

    The truth is, Gaunt, that we don't really know which of the two in your example will end up in heaven. Perhaps you are right; maybe the good moral Hindu deserves paradise more than the other man. I stopped worrying about who is and who is not going to heaven and started to focus on my own life and trying to repair the damage that I've done to it. I don't know for absolute certainty that there is an afterlife, but I do know that I can and must do a better job of living than I have. My belief in God helps me to do this. I hope that you find what you are searching for in life and I pray that you will find peace.

    April 18, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • Gaunt

      Desert, your answer is very reasonable, except that while you state you believe in God, you clearly do not follow the Christain God. Denying the necessity for JC in salvation is pretty much the absolute central pillar of the Chriatian Church. You will never find a priest, catholid or protestant, who will confirm you can be a Christian without accepting the necessity of faith in JC for any shot at salvation.

      The God you believe in doesnt seem to need that, he only needs good works and good deeds. Good for you, though the irony is that It seems the God you worship is himself a secular humanist.

      April 18, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  19. Gaunt

    Two men die.

    The first was an evil, man onsessed with casual brutality and violating young women. His body count was in the hundreds, and he was vain, greedy and delf-obsessed. In his final hours in old age, he realises the error of his ways, and seeks genuine repentance for his many thousands of misdeeds, and accepts JC in his last moments.

    Person two is a kind, geneour, forgiving, patient man, who dedicates his life to helping others. He gives all his money to the less fortunate, and aids anyone, no matter their beliefs or race, without seeking reward or even recognition. he is a Hindu.

    According to the bible thumpers, person one is in paradise while person two burns down below.

    And you DARE call yourselves moral?

    April 18, 2011 at 3:36 am |
    • DesertHawk12

      Hi Gaunt, thanks for your gracious words. Actually, I do believe in JC and regard his words as truth. But, how do I know that the whole thing is not just some elaborate story concocted by well-meaning people? Before I was a Christian I led a very destructive life and harmed other people. I don't do that anymore and I credit the Bible and my new-found beliefs for turning things around. Even if my beliefs are wrong, they cause me to live a better life. I think that I can be a good Christian and a skeptic at the same time. I hope that you find peace as well.

      April 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  20. Joe Redbear

    There is one thing i can say about The Bible. Very contradicting. Very contraversial. But yet...there are ones who dont have an answer? Refer you or give you a verse. It's good that you can remeber a scripture.....you have a good memory. Can you remember the last good deed you done for a total stranger? The last time you gave the shirt off your back to cloth someone? Offered food to someone who was hungry? Bet not.....I can....do it every day. That's what im talking about people. If we showed one another the love and kindness that our creatorwants us to do? It would be awsome. Show a little kindness to one another....some compassion for each other. God speaks too all of us...some of us just dont listing....or choose not to.

    April 18, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Adelina

      Joe, there is not a single thing contradictory in the Bible. You just need to have knowledge of the whole. God commands His people to die to self and to love God and others to the end. Little kindness is no match in life's crisis or facing humanity's evil. It takes wisdom, truth, righteousness, unconditional love, courage, perseverance and a lot of other gruelling discipline to live out what God demands. Christianity cannot be a hobby or leisure. It consumes everything of oneself. It should as Jesus deserves everything from us. It's an exchange of life itself. And the new life is Jesus. A great mystery yet a living reality.

      April 18, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Gaunt

      Did you honestly just say that there is not a single contradiction in the Bible? Seriously?

      So obviously you have never even read your own holy book. It is RIFE with contradictions, and not just minutiae, but huge, major things. Dozens upon dozens of them, there is an amusing little cartoon video posted below listing just a few.

      To claim otherwise does nothing but demonstrate that you literally know nothing about your own so called 'holy' book.

      April 18, 2011 at 3:33 am |
    • Gaunt

      Hey Adelina, if there are no contradictions in the Bible, then please tell us: What were the last words of JC before he died? I'd say thats a pretty big issue, enormously important, the dying words of the man himself. So certainly there would not be a contradiction on something so important... right?

      (laughter)

      April 18, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • phillipnc

      Gaunt, you will not find in any of the Gospels that "here are the last words of Jesus Christ". All the Gospels tell us is that Jesus said some things while he hung on the Cross and then he died. The texts indicate that "It is finished" and "Into your hands I commit my spirit" were most likely his last two utterances. What, are you saying that dying people are only allowed one sentence to speak? That accounts cannot complement one another in their information, and have to be 100% identical, word-for-word to be useful for ascertaining the facts of an event? You jest!

      April 19, 2011 at 7:33 am |
    • Adelina

      Gaunt, I did read the Bible. You believe there are contradictions in the Bible because all you read was cartoons.

      April 19, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Gaunt

      Adelina, you have never read the buible, and I will bet good money you have never read any book at all that didnt have a half-naked Fabio on the cover. You have already proven yourself, with your own words, to be a liar and a coward, so one can only assume you are a troll trying to discredit the faithful by being as overtly retarded as possible.

      You are a disgrace to your faith, your family and your country.

      Phillipnc: Valliant effort, but not even close. Two of the gospels say that Christ said something and then died. Period. They dont say he said something, then may or may not have said a few other things then died. Furthermore, dont you think the dying utterances of their God would be something these men would try and note down?

      No the Gospels contradict each other on the last words of Christ, a most significant and telling moment in Church history. They dont even have just two versions, but three. If the book could not even get that right, why should we pay any attention to it? And that is one obvious one out of hundreds of obvious contradictions.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • Guest

      There are contradictions in the Bible, plenty. There are contradictions in both story and message.

      Looking at individual stories the message ranges from strict obedience to love of one another (but generally obedience).

      Stories dealing with specific event differ as well. For example, when the apostles go to Jesus' tomb, each of the four books has a different account of an angel at the tomb, either it is sitting on the stone, standing by the stone, etc.

      Also, major events in the Bible, such as the earthquake and the dead rising from their graves related in the book of Matthew which coincided with Christ's death or rising (also, these events were seen by many, according to the supposed author, St. Matthew), are not mentioned in other histroical works. These events are not simply of biblical importance, they would have been important to anyone living in the region at the time. It seems highly unlikely that these event would only be recorded by one person were they to have actually happened.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.