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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. Coach P

    Who wrote the Bible? Is the Bible the infallible, inerrant Word of God? Opinions, opinions, opinions. Here is something to consider. Forget what the Bible says about God and religion. Look at global events that the Bible has predicted. As examples...
    - the rise and fall of four world empires (Babylonian, Byzantine, Greco-Persian, Roman)
    - reformation of Israel as an independent nation
    - a global economy
    - a global money system
    There are many, many more. But, the key is to understand that ALL of the predictions the Bible has made have come true. In addition, there are many, many more predictions that the Bible makes about the future - both global and eternal. As examples...
    - the reformation of the Roman Empire
    - the decline of the USA as a world power
    - the rise of China as a global power
    - a third world war called Armageddon
    - the rise of a global ruler
    - and, of course, eternal life after death spent in either heaven or hell
    It would be unbelievably foolish (1) to notice that all predictions have come true; (2) to conclude all that was simply mere coincidence; and (3) to bet that the perfect track record would be broken, that future predictions were somehow, someway not going to take place.
    Over the centuries, have people manipulated the Bible for their own selfish gain? Yes. Do people continue to do that? Yes. However, how is that the Bible's fault? How does that make the Bible less reliable, less true?!? As a matter of fact, the Bible predicts and warns us against these very explotations!!!
    Those that think the Bible is made up and simply a tool devised to control man only demonstrate that they are superficial and afraid to take a serious look. The Bible is a contract between God and man. At least examine the contract. If you don't like the terms, decline it and walk away. But, at least examine it. It's track record is too good to ignore, and the personal consequences of ignoring it are much too serious.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  2. Observer

    "Who wrote the Bible? It doesn't matter".

    Finally something that atheists, agnostics, and believers can all agree on.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  3. MW

    Why can't people separate God from religion? If there is a God, I don't think he would go for religion. The Bible was written by man and relogion was created by man. Take a look around – man has a tendency to mess things up or do things for his own purpose which is often not for the betterment of others.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • John Do

      The Bible was authored by the Holy Ghost and written by man. It was not authored by man- man merely wrote what he was told to write, nothing more.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • chuck

      Religion is about man trying to reach God or God-status. The Bible is unique in that it is about God reaching out to man – it's not about religion – it's a relationship.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Bill

      The Bible is not the word of God. It is the words of men in search of God. It was not dictated by anything or anyone other than an aspiration toward the infinite. And because men are imperfect, their works are imperfect. That doesn't mean there isn't beauty and wisdom to be found in it.

      April 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  4. humphry

    why'd they even put his up, just gonna be people arguing all day, then talking about spelling mistakes each other is making.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  5. stevie68a

    Anyone with a degree in theology, has a degree in folklore. Keep your talking snakes and shrubbery to yourself. Imagine if new
    texts were discovered with a talking cat! It is time for mankind to wake from these delusions. Consider if you had not been brainwashed as a child, would you still believe in this nonsense? Grow up.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  6. natural born skeptic.

    David, if Paul says that parts of the OT can't be believed then the veracity of the whole thing is in doubt. How many people have been subjugated or murdered in the name of the "good book".

    April 1, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  7. Robert Austin

    The bible is pretty much a work of fiction, bad fiction at best. Most of the old testament is boring to the point of numbing one's mind. It does have some good prose and some of it may be actually based on an actual event. The bible is full of legends, myths and both religious and political propaganda. Mr. Hazony debunks scholars for being scholarly. The scholars are nearer the truth than Mr. Hazony. Mr. Hazony points out that there is no archaelogical evidence of J P E and D but fails to mention that there is also no archaelogical evidence of any of the old testament up to and including David and Solomon.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • John Do

      Glad yours is only one man's opinion.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Michael Delcambre

      Mr. Austin,
      In all due respect, you make statements without the proper knowledge to do so. If you were to study the text in the original language/meanings, you might be quite surprised about the accuracy of the Bible, especially in the field of science. I recommend that you spent some time exploring the writings of Gerald Schroder, Rashi, and Andrew Parker. If a very ancient text can accurately explain the origins of life/creation, then the history questions don't matter. Maybe editing caused historical errors, maybe not. But the truth value of the text goes beyond historical inerrancy.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Writewurds

      Have to wonder what science curriculum, Mr. Michael Delcambre is reading. The Bible is accurate in science? Ecclesiastes 1:5 "The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises." Joshua 10:1-15 (God makes the sun and the moon stand still). Can you imagine the implications of making the earth, rotating at a little over a 1000 mph, instantaneously or even gradually coming to a full standstill? That would be on hell of a tsunami!

      April 1, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Michael Delcambre

      I'm reading past the surface and knowing the differentiation between wisdom literature verses other passages. So basically, the same science as Francis Collins, John Lennox, and Gerald Schroeder, as well as Andrew Parker (Harvard, Oxford, or MIT scientists).

      April 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Michael Delcambre

      Btw, if you are reading a "curriculum," you are subjecting yourself to bias. I studied independently and traveled to Oxford to meet with professors there who were knowledgable about the questions. My conclusions were reached as I found my thoughts aligned with those of experts in the field (specifically Schroeder, Collins, and John Polkinghorne).

      April 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Bill

      While I don't believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, I do believe it is great literature. It's stories have informed great literature ever since. In one of my college writing classes, we were told the two indispensable books for story ideas were the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare.

      April 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Writewurds

      Michael,

      Among the many names you felt necessary to drop in three separate posts, you spoke of Gerald Schroeder. I choose him because he was seemingly more important to you; I fear we don’t have the time or space to debate them all. Basically Schroeder (a PhD physicist) thinks the 6 day creation timeline was from God’s perspective (using Einstein's Theory of Relativity). Using relativistic thinking one might argue God’s 6 days is 15 billion years from man’s perspective. Under this premise, the creation story as described in Genesis had to come directly from God to the author(s); man was not around to witness the whole thing and if he had been he’d have recorded 15 billion years. So if God told the story, why didn’t he stick with his narrative in both Gen I and Gen ll? They are clearly different accounts (this is most probably because they are from different authors or editors, J and P). Further, if 15 billion human years is 6 God days, man has been around between 2.5 and 5 billion years, or longer depending on whether you believe Gen l or Gen ll (can you imagine the population of the earth given currently accepted population trends).

      You may argue that there may be some editorial errors, as you did in your first post (a point that supports Robert Austin’s case). Then why feel a need to justify the creation story at all? Why not accept that it is a myth? Why not go with a more practical solution, that the authors were merely narrating their version of popular Babylonian creation myths, Enûma Eliš and Atra-Hasis.

      Your first dismissive response to Robert Austin’s post was to point out how accurate the Bible is, particularly as it relates to science. For the most part, all the names you posted are of scientists trying to reconcile the existence of God, the Young Earth theory, and in some way the relevancy of the Bible. To the best of my knowledge, the only reason a studied scientist takes on these endeavors is to reconcile their socially ingrained need to believe in a God, particularly the Christian God, against the many contradictions and ambiguities they experience in reading the “Good Book” or hearing from their brethren. The science is not there in the Bible or among the community. There is no credible science coming out of the ID community. It can’t reconcile my earlier points about Ecclesiastes and Joshua. It can’t reconcile the archeological and fossil record with the chronology of the creation story. Throwing out names of scientists embarrassingly trying to justify their faith does make it so.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Writewurds

      Correction, the last sentence above should read:

      Throwing out names of scientists embarrassingly trying to justify their faith does not make it so.

      April 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  8. SeaTurt1e

    Some people say the Bible is the word of God. Some people claim Biblical passages as their proof. For example: "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." But, of course, those words, when first written, were not in the Bible at all. They were written about the canon that already existed at that point. So they were not IN the Bible, they were written ABOUT the Bible, and hold no more authority than any of the words written about the Bible in this forum.

    So it becomes an intriguing case of circular logic to quote Bible verses to supposedly "confirm" the Bible is truth. The Bible is a creation of MEN, which other men have decided to believe blindly.

    Just because you WANT something to be so, and you can quote others who also WANT it to be so, doesn't make it so.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  9. The Truth

    I found out that the final word of God- which is revealed to the Last Messenger – The Quran – The Holy Book is infact not written by anyone or as a matter of fact not changed to single alphabet. It is the same all across the world, right from America , Europe, Asia and even in any part where human lives..

    This in fact shows God want to protect the Final Book for the Guidence of the Human. That has impressed and changed by Life towards God. Amin

    April 1, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Writewurds

      This claim is false:

      http://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-quran-changed-20-versions.htm

      April 1, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  10. all of you all dont know the real truth!!!!

    The bible was ALTERED by alot of historians but we need to check the source .......325 ad when Constantine gave his council of dragons the council of nicea the green light so to speak to change to suit the pagan Roman way.........if you all really WANT THE TRUTH......ONE MUST GO TO KEMIT.....EGYPT WHICH WAS NEVVVVVVVVVVVVVVER BEEN A HOME TO ARABS .....BOTH THE CAUCASIAN MAN AND ARABS HAD AN AGREEMENT B4 CRUSADES TO ENLASVE THE REAL GODS OF THE EARTH.......U DONT HAVE TO BELIEVE ME JUST WATCH AND SEE HOW THE CREATOR OF ALLL LIVING THINGS EXALT HIS CHILDREN ABOVE THE HYSKOS PEOPLE ONCE AGAIN .......

    April 1, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  11. David

    Hey ignorant masses. Very few fringe groups in Christianity believe it was faxed down by God. Christians do believe that the Bible was made and written by man Andrew. In the New Testament Paul even states that parts of the Old Testament can't be believed. It's not as easy as the 30 minute sit-com you are all used to.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • chuck

      Paul said some "parts of the Old Testament can't be believed"??? Where in the world did you get that - give me the verse – I've never seen it.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  12. MumsToo

    It may not matter to some people who wrote the bible, nor how the fluidity of language has changed it from what its original meaning was. However, when people go around persecuting and dehumanizing others because the bible tells them to, then it does matter. I was once told by someone who was trying to convert me, that the reason I didn't "get it" was because I was reading the words in the book, and that I shouldn't read what the bible says, but just open my heart to jesus. Are you serious? The whole religion is based on a book I shouldn't read? Words matter. If a religion is based on a book, and if people are going to be oppressed because of the words in that book, then there should be no question as to the validity of those words. Even if the words in the book could be shown to have never changed, should words in ANY book be justification for committing harmful acts against others?

    April 1, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  13. Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

    To All Atheists, Non-Believers and God Haters,

    Sadly, you are all mistaken. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins (see John 3:1-21, Acts 2:38) and through His life, death, and resurrection offer eternal life to whosoever will. However, if you don't repent of your unbelief and Believe on Jesus Christ, you will be the one burning in Hell. According to the Bible, there are no Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Jews, Gentiles, Animists, Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, etc. in Heaven. They are all burning in Hell for not accepting God's FREE gift of Salvation through Jesus' death/blood atonement on the Cross at Calvary. You can be "Good" in this life and "believe" anything you want, but it doesn't change the reality that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. If anyone dies Believing in Jesus Christ for their Salvation, then they are in Heaven right now. If, like most people, they die believing in no God, good-works or some other man-made idol (Allah, Krishna, Buddha, Saints etc.) then they are burning in Hell. (Revelation 21:8)

    The choice is yours – (Acts 2:38) Repent, Believe get Baptized on the name of Jesus Christ and be Saved. Otherwise perish. If you don't want to hear the Truth, don't get angry at Christians (we're just the messengers informing you what the Bible says), get angry at yourself for rebelling against God Almighty.

    And Yes! Seeing that you enjoy living a godless life everyday of the week and you don't make time for God or attend church on Wednesday's or Sunday's consider yourselves preached too!!

    Seek salvation while you can.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Seth Hill of Topanga, California

      What happened to the billions who lived before Jesus?

      April 1, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      Some believe there is no evidence that Jesus ever actually existed.

      Cheers!

      April 1, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • or maybe...

      SETH HILL...Why dont read the bible and find out 😉 They talk all about it!

      April 1, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • John Do

      David Johnson–Aren't they in for a surprise...

      April 1, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • racing mom

      "Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living. But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written: As I live, says the LORD, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God"

      Romans 14: 9 – 12

      April 1, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ Seth Hill of Topanga, California

      "What happened to the billions who lived before Jesus?"

      Don't worry about the billions who came before you, their fate has been decided long ago rather you should be concerned about your own salvation. Seek it while you still have a chance.

      "....work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;..." – Philippians 2:12

      April 1, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • racing mom

      @ Seth Hill

      doesn't matter. We need to each be accountable for our own selves. Sure, there is an answer out there, somewhere, but somethings need to be taken with a little faith. Just like when we turn on a light bulb; yes, there is a reason the light comes on, but we may not know the particulars to how it got there.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • George Greek

      Another utterly delusionary, brainwashed self-righteous christian has spoken. All religions are CULTS. End of story. Now please go and actually LIVE YOUR LIFE the way it was meant to be lived... with reason and without mental slavery/chains!

      April 1, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • chuck

      @David Johnson – Historical evidence is based on eye witness accounts and historians of the day - I believe you'll find plenty. "Some people" probably don't believe George Washington was our first President - "Some people" are idiots.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • kevin

      Thanks for your comments you bigoted, self righteous fool. The bible is so full of contradictions is can't be trusted with the claims that it makes. It's nice to see that your ignorant mind gets a kick out of preaching it though. I will live my life as I please, in the end you and I will be in the same place – the ground.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • thefurious

      the billions that came before Jesus? Well, if they were Jewish, or followed the requirements set forth in the Torah, then they were made clean through the sacrifices they made before God and thus will live with Him forever. But, with Jesus Christ's atoning act upon the cross, the sacrifices described in the Torah are no longer needed.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ David Johnson

      Some believe there is no evidence that Jesus ever actually existed.

      Cheers!

      Why are you concerned about what others believe about Jesus Christ?!? Historical facts speak for themselves, likewise the historical facts about Jesus Christ stand on their own merits...they need no one to defend them... search after it!! Seek it out

      "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an expected end.

      Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

      And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

      And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.- Jeremiah 29:11-13!

      "....they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. " – Acts 17:11

      April 1, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Blake

      Yes that is a God that I want to worship. One that a child rapist murderer can accept Jesus as his savior on the last day of his life and spend eternity in bliss, but people who do good and try to help others but don't believe in God get to spend eternity being tortured. I cannot comprehend how people can believe these things or agree with them all the while proclaiming that justice is being served. Get away from me with your crazy beliefs and no matter how many times you tell me I'm going to hell I'm not going to change my mind until you present rational logical arguments, which you don't have. And Jesus Christ Offers Salvation get off your high horse because you have no more evidence or proof to proclaim you have it figured out anymore that every other religion.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ George Greek

      Another utterly delusionary, brainwashed self-righteous christian has spoken. All religions are CULTS. End of story. Now please go and actually LIVE YOUR LIFE the way it was meant to be lived... with reason and without mental slavery/chains!

      Actually I'm pretty sane and sleep peacefully every night knowing I've been set free from all sin...George don't hate what you don't understand...Jesus Christ offers salvation, what could possibly be greater than that?!? If no religions or cults existed you'd still want to live forever...I know I would.

      What doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul. – Deuteronomy 10:12

      April 1, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ kevin

      Thanks for your comments you bigoted, self righteous fool. The bible is so full of contradictions is can't be trusted with the claims that it makes. It's nice to see that your ignorant mind gets a kick out of preaching it though. I will live my life as I please, in the end you and I will be in the same place – the ground.

      Whether you think I'm bigoted makes no difference to me, Jesus Christ commands his followers to obey His word rather than seek the approval or favor of men.

      "....THE fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good...". – Psalm 53:1

      April 1, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • thefurious

      to all of you trollin', hating and personally bashing one's intelligence because of what they believe: Who cares what someone else believes? Some of you are just as bad as the street corner, soap box ragin' "preachers". Your words are just falling on deaf ears.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ Blake

      I know, I know its sad isn't it?!? Life is not fair, I tend to hate life at times also....as a matter of fact it sucks sometimes. But you know what? I simply trust God that he will do all that he promises he will do...I know what I am without God, I know what I'm capable of and I now know who I am in Jesus Christ.

      I was a sinner who was once lost but am now a son of the living God. No one understand why bad things happen to people but you can rest assured that all things that are wrong in this life will be made right in the next life...assuming you repent from all sin and seek after God.

      "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. "

      "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "

      "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

      "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

      "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. "

      "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." – John 3:16-21

      "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." – Revelation 21:4

      April 1, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      What tract did you cut and paste that from? If you don't have an original thought or observation, don't bother quoting the Bible. Its obvious your testimony of God is weak if you are doing that.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ thefurious

      "WHY do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?"

      "The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,"

      "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us." – Psalm 2:1-3

      "Your loving-kindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your loving-kindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings." – Psalms 36:5-7

      April 1, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Todd

      HeavenSent that you again sure sounds like you. Come on girlfriend give it a rest. You belong to a cult accept that and stop trying to convert others into it. Real Christians respect everyone and don't go pointing fingers with the holier than thou nonsense.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ The Real Tom Paine

      No tracts here, you just mad because my God is cooler , greater and stronger than yours!!!

      Beside what do you know of testimonies or original thoughts pocket change...ALL you atheists keep stirring the same atheistic excrement Satan's been spinning since the beginning of time. So please! Either repent or take your vile excrement somewhere else!!

      Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said,....'?" – Genesis -3:1

      ".....Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. " – Genesis -3:4

      "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." – Genesis -3:5

      April 1, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ Todd

      No I'm not "Heaven Sent" but God's Word is and real Christians obey God's word, they teach and preach when its not always convenient...even though Jesus Christ hung around sinners he still implored them to repent and sin no more.

      "Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples." – Matthew 9:10

      "And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" – Matthew 9:11

      "Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." – John 5:14

      "She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." – John 8:11

      April 1, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      @Jesus Christ Offers Salvation: Is that the best you can offer, that your God is cooler and stronger than mine? You offer no persanal testimony or experience, only the sort of insults and judgment that the Pharisees meted out. You confirm every atheist's preconceptions about evangelicals, that you really cannot offer anything beyond your own hate. Frankly, you come off as infatile. By the way, I do believe, but unlike you I can tell people honestly about my beliefs without quoting scripture. You accused me of being Satan's excrement: is this how you attempt to convert others?

      April 1, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Bill

      I have sought salvation, and attained it, by rejecting this sort or religious dogma.

      April 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ Bill

      You are self deluded son.

      April 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Offers Salvation

      @ The Real Tom Paine

      What's a matter get your feelings hurt?!? And no that's not the best I got, it was a form of sarcasm...this is not about me!! What I got and what I bring is besides the point. Its about what Jesus Christ brings and what He offers to the lost. My testimony? You care nothing about my testimony, all you care about is coming on here with your insults.

      And you confirm what Christians and most importantly Jesus Christ already know...that people are full of excuses and fault others for their rebellion. You believe?!? You believe what?!? Are you one of those spineless Christians who straddles the fence? If you honestly believe that you can share your testimony with others without quoting scripture, you are deluded.

      The power of the Cross is in the scripture not your own words son get it right!

      April 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  14. Seth Hill of Topanga, California

    It's hard to figure out how Noah took both 2 and 7 of some animals on the ark. Sloppy writing? Bad editing?

    April 1, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  15. Joe

    People are not flawless as the bible says, and people wrote the bible. People seem to think that the bible is not susceptible to corruption due to its content, Christians believe that the entire world has been corrupted by darkness and sin to the point where god needs to burn this entire world up, if the corruption has spread that bad what makes you think that the bible is "magically" unblemished when all is said and done? Personally I don't have that much faith in people.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • or maybe...

      True that

      April 1, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • John Do

      When the writings are devinely inspired and throughout the ages its content has changed very little, how can it be corrupt? That would mean that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are corrupt, something I find not true. The Bible was written by men through the power of the Holy Spirit not simply by the mind of those men.

      Your logic is inaccurate.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Bill

      Oh, but meanings have changed over time. In the King James Bible, Jesus says he is "the" son of God. In the original Greek text, he say he is "a" son of God. Huge distinction. In the KV, it sounds like Jesus is claiming something unique to himself. In the original Greek, he is claiming something that can be claimed by anyone if only each of us will wake up to it.

      April 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • chuck

      @Bill - Do you know Greek or are you just trying to take advantage of something you've heard? If you are referring to the word "huios" it can mean "a son", "the son of man", or "son of God" - it all depends on context, and I believe, that the places that you are referring to, the context is alway "THE Son of God". It doesn't matter what translation you pick – context is king.

      April 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  16. chuck

    Wow! Thousands of years and you people still don't get it. Let me simplify – the Author and Editor: God, the Writer: the Holy Spirit through "directly" inspired men, the Subject: Jesus and the redemption process for mankind. If you can't understand that - you'll NEVER get the rest.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • John Do

      Exactly.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • tim

      Or let me simplify. The author: men. The level of truth: zero

      April 1, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • richunix

      And Elis has not left the building

      April 1, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Meg

      So I would say the writer of the Harry Potter series was inspired by the Holy Spirit too, she went from rags to riches, the stories reflect many of the same issues describe in the Bible. Good versus Evil. Yet today we know it's fiction. The story of Jesus was a spin off of the Persian sun god. The society of today is nothing like the societies of the past and to keep advocating values from 2000 years ago is ridiculous.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Bill

      There's nothing to get. The only thing that says "God" wrote the book is the book itself. So we can easily discount that "authority." And I don't know about anyone else, but life, to me, is not pointless, with or without a God. I give meaning to my life every day. And I appreciate the meanings of all the lives that went before me, and the one's around me now, and the ones yet to come. You don't need God for that, You just need to be alive.

      April 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • chuck

      @Meg – You've obviously never read it. If you have – again, made my point – you don't get it.

      April 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • chuck

      @Bill – thanks for acknowledging that God wrote it. But, that doesn't mean it's not true – are autobiographies untrue? Your choice, and everyone elses choice, to live your life as you see fit – that's called Free Will. I choose to live my life believing in the Bible as God's Word to mankind – and I get called an idiot every time one of these discussions come up. As someone once said – "If I die and there is nothing to this – just dead and buried – I would still rather have lived my life as a Christian."

      April 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  17. JonathanL

    And you have so many contradictions. I sympathize a bit with the author of the article as my logical mind and what my religion taught (aka faith) battled it out for years and finally reason won and I decided I just don't want to be part of any theist or Atheist religion, cult, party what have you. I am just a areaonsable individual, philosophor at best but don't confine me within religious tenets laid down by someone I don't even know. Even before you get to Deuteronomy you have these conflicts which suggest well either more than one version of a story or more than one author – : Genesis 7:15: In the story of the Flood, these verses have Noah collecting two of each species of animals - one male and one female . Genesis 7:2-3 specifies 7 pairs of clean animals and birds and 1 pair of unclean animals.
    Genesis 7:11 describes water coming from the heavens and from below the ground to generate the worldwide flood. However, Genesis 7:4 describes all of the water falling as rain.
    Genesis 7:11, 7:17, 7:24 and 8:3 specify different intervals for the flood duration which have no apparent resolution. 11
    Genesis 11:31 This describes Abraham as living in the city Ur, and associates that location with the Chaldeans. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Chaldeans did not exist as a tribe at the time of Abraham; they rose to power much later, during the 1st millennium BCE.
    Genesis 14:14: This verse refers to Abram pursuing some surviving kings of Sodom and Gomorrah to the city of Dan. However, that place name did not exist until a long time after Moses' death. Other locations are also identified in the Pentateuch by names that were invented long after the death of Moses.
    Genesis 22:14: The verse states: "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day..." There are many verses in the Torah that state that something has lasted "to this day". That appears to have been written by a writer who composed the passages long after the events described, and long after Moses' death.
    Genesis 36 contained a list of Edomite kings which included some monarchs who were in power after Moses' death. R.E. Friedman wrote: "In the eleventh century, Isaac ibn Yashush, a Jewish court physician of a ruler in Muslim Spain, pointed out that a list of Edomite kings that appears in Genesis 36 named kings who lived long after Moses was dead. Ibn Yashush suggested that the list was written by someone who lived after Moses. The response to his conclusion was that he was called "Isaac the blunderer." History has proven him to be correct, at least as viewed by most mainline and liberal theologians. 9
    Exodus 33:7 describes Moses entering the Tabernacle. Yet, the Tabernacle had not yet been built; its subsequent construction is described in Exodus 35.
    Numbers 12:3: This verse states "Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth." (NKJ) If Moses were that humble, it is unlikely that he would have described himself in these glowing terms.
    Numbers 25:1 which describes the rebellion at Peor referred to Moabite women; Numbers 25:6 14 refers to Midianites.

    And hey if Adam and Eve had only two boys, and the only surviving one was a brother murderer, how did we all descend from this limited montage?

    April 1, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Byrd

      Nice discussion.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • richunix

      and the plot thickens.....nice, well done

      April 1, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      you're too philosophical. religion is spiritual fellowship, followership, and leadership; its not about the balance and reasoning between right and wrong.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • kckaaos

      You are a prime example of a teacher who has not learned their subject. i.e. Adam and Eve had many children.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • NotAFanofStPaul

      Ummm, remember Seth?

      April 1, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Michael Delcambre

      Jonathan,
      There are answers to all of your questions. (And I suspect you already know some of them.) The stories that pre-date the Hebrew language may not be literal. That does not deter from their truth value. Mistakes contained within are the source of editing. The more important question is not whether there is evidence that the Bible has been tampered with, but rather is there any evidence to show it is divinly inspired. I recommend you read some of Gerald Schroeder's work. I think he may challenge your thinking.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • JonathanL

      Oh yeah Seth the third son. There are as many gaps as contradictions such as 'The Land of Nod" is suddenly there (with women to marry of course). I guess they had to have somewhere to go. Also historians tend to agree that polytheism was the norm at the time. Seems each tribe had their own god and Yahweh was the God for the Israelites. But to be honest whatever the story was, it is subject to interpretation depending on whether you believe everything you read or not, want to believe but don't and are open to various suggested ways to reconcile the contradictions, or if you feel you know enough to extract only what is of historical value, and discard what you feel is myth, or even appreciate the value of the insight it gives us into the literary styles and culture of the time. I have already decided I have read enough, and a lot of it, reading it afresh seems barbaric and even somewhat perverse and is to me a relic of the distant past that is constantly re-interpreted to make it seem current. I think we can do better and would rather start from scratch, cultivate my own better judgement and reasoning skills, and live my life by my own intuition and knowledge rather than live blindly in faith through ancient rules and creeds which I find to be inflexible, not always correct, and also in some cases hideous. Live by reason and common sense, not by a list of rules, fear, and belief (absent of knowledge).

      April 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  18. waterman

    Most ancient moral text? Ha! Veda and Purana in Hinduism are much older of course. Oldest text in the Western world? Yes. But the Western world does not equal world.

    Bible, is of course written by a whole bunch of people who tried to put down the morality of those days on paper. Their intention was to keep people "in line". And answer questions they thought could never be answered (where did people come come from?) with fairy tales, so people stop wondering about those questions and get on with their life. The woeful inadequacy and primitiveness of the texts is apparent now. What is sad is the large number of people who actually believe this with all seriousness.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Jacko

      @waterman What's interesting to me is people like you (and the kinds of scholarship the essay examines) who think they know what the authors of the various biblical texts intended when they wrote. You say "Their intention was to..." How do you, or anyone, for that matter (skeptic, believer, scholar, non-scholar) know what they intended? Do you have the personal diary of one of the authors where s/he lays out the motivation? No? Then you must have a time machine, or perhaps you're able to read minds across both time and space. If you have none of these, then you don't have anything concrete to hang your hat on. It's all guesswork and assumptions. Yet, you (and others like you, believers and skeptics alike) write as if you really know something about the mindset of people long dead and try to convice others that you're right.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      As far as oldest text in the Western World, the Code of Hamhurabi beats the Torah by more than a couple of centuries.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • waterman

      @Jacko, you are right, I don't know for sure what they were thinking. I am ascribing the best possible intentions to them. The only other alternative to having good intentions is to have bad intentions – something like 'let's create this religion thing with these fairy tales so we can exercise power over people and we can live lavishly without having to work." I prefer to think that they had better intention, but I don't know.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  19. Out side the box

    Think of where the world would be today if books such as the bible would not have been created. This book proposed a solution to a world of corruption. And over the years has touched everyone in one way or another. Whether you believe in the writings or believe in the authors, will be questioned to come, but it is what you take from it that is important. The purpose, "your ability to reason" – "to think independantly", is enough to reflect upon.

    You are given a choice. To live your life with or without it.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • or maybe...

      I agree!

      April 1, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • tim

      The book introduced a world of corruption and mindless genocide. Ever heard of the crusades or all the Father Pedos out there? The idea that the bible somehow helped humanity is laughable

      April 1, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • George Greek

      Actually, mankind would have been a lot more progressed without irrational, mythical religions! Religions are an ancient relic belief system during a time when we did not understand much science and the world, universe, etc. They foment prejudice, hate, murder, etc., as history has witnessed. Sure they have some capacity for good deeds, but the sum part does not excuse all the irrationality and killings that have taken place of in the name of some infantile religion. I cannot wait until the time that these ancient myths will be relegated to the dustbin of history!

      April 1, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • richunix

      Well said George Greek, well said, unfortunely it will fall upon the dead ears of the religious wack jobs....Reliegin was born out of fear of the unknow and has grown into horrible bussiness of deth and hate.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  20. or maybe...

    What if there wasn't any God? What would you spend your life doing? The way I see it, if there wasn't a God, this life would be pointless. Its safe to say we all have a conscience, a little voice, feeling that influences our decisions in life. We all have loved, we all have felt fear, we all have emotions. There has to be a divine reason for all of that, its not something the big bang theory can create...its more than that. I'm not going to lie, I try to follow and believe in the bible but sometimes I do question things. That's were my BRAIN starts working, the brain GOD GAVE ME. Has anyone noticed towards the end of the bible in Revelation 22:18-19 says, "For I testify unto everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, and from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." My common sense, again I was created by GOD with COMMON Sense...tells me..."Hey, Jesus said that for a reason...There are plenty of things in the Bible that just don't sit well with me! Have any you fellow Christian people ever stop to think...WE ARE HUMAN, SINFUL PEOPLE, MANIPULATIVE...Maybe the answer is compromise. Compromise between our brains and our hearts "our souls" Matthew 15:14, "And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a ditch." God doesn't want us to ignore our brains, we need to use them, not waste them. We need to figure the WORD, the Bible, the meaning of life for our selves and do the best we can to be good people, help others to use there brains and do good things, be sincere...Be honest with yourselves, with God and others. Yes...Faith requires being maybe a little blind at times, going with a feeling, after all..that is what faith really is, a feeling. But maybe...that feeling, God speaking to us. A divine intervention? I don't know, you think for yourselves. Our lives are a struggle, but there is plenty of beauty in it too. Anything in life that's GOOD requires work though...we study, we get a nice job, we can do nice things, buy nice things. We establish relationships, work hard at them, even though it can be hard, but in the end we keep these wonderful people around. We respect ourselves, love ourselves and naturally others are drawn to us, because we glow with positivity. Live life as best as you can, get as much joy, and knowledge out of it and in the end we are rewarded, we get to see what it was all about. At least that's what I hope for, maybe I am wrong? But I would rather live my life doing that than living a life without a purpose, because I've done that, and I was miserable. I want to be happy, don't you? Good luck to everyone, God Bless us all 🙂

    April 1, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • ryan

      Well said!

      April 1, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • John Do

      I agree, very well written.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • hello

      your god is dead

      April 1, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      you sound angry...as for Christianity, it's an individual journey with individual experiences through a corporate body–noticed you didn't say anything about spirituality and took a very legalistic approach to reading revelations. i don't agree with that approach.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • richunix

      Very wordy and no end in sight: So here answer to your buringi question:

      The Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit is a counter-argument to the argument from design. The argument from design claims that a complex or ordered structure must be designed. However, a god that is responsible for the creation of a universe would be at least as complicated as the universe that it creates. Therefore, it too must require a designer. And its designer would require a designer also, ad infinitum. The argument for the existence of god is then a logical fallacy with or without the use of special pleading. The Ultimate 747 gambit points out that God does not provide an origin of complexity, it simply assumes that complexity always existed. It also states that design fails to account for complexity, which natural selection can explain.

      Enjoy

      April 1, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      Jesus Christ taught through litiurgies; if you followed them, you wouldn't say what you say. you also would understand why self interpretation and reasoning is dangerous.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • JohnR

      How doesassuming the existence of a god make your life meaningful? That's just stupid.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Tyler

      Well, it's obvious you haven't ever met an existentialist or an absurdist. Perhaps even a nihilist for that matter... That consciousness you claim to have is nothing more than intuition.

      I thought it was ironic that you said everything good comes through hard work. That is very true, but god has nothing to do with it. Two hands working do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.

      Instead of being a good person because you're going to be damned to hell if you don't, try being good for goodness' sake.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • geauxLSUtigers

      poor Tyler..... I will pray for you!

      April 1, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • richunix

      @ Tyler,

      Argument is poor at best, so what about the other 3 billion people that DO NOT believe in Christianity…are they all wrong and your right. Or could it be your wrong and they have it right?

      April 1, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Rod C. Venger

      Amen.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:43 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.