My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions
The Bible presents us with an evolving story, writes John Shelby Spong.
December 29th, 2011
09:10 AM ET

My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions

Editor’s note: John Shelby Spong, a former Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, is author of "Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World."

By John Shelby Spong, Special to CNN

The Bible is both a reservoir of spiritual insight and a cultural icon to which lip service is still paid in the Western world. Yet when the Bible is talked about in public by both believers and critics, it becomes clear that misconceptions abound.

To me, three misconceptions stand out and serve to make the Bible hard to comprehend.

First, people assume the Bible accurately reflects history. That is absolutely not so, and every biblical scholar recognizes it.

The facts are that Abraham, the biblically acknowledged founding father of the Jewish people, whose story forms the earliest content of the Bible, died about 900 years before the first story of Abraham was written in the Old Testament.

Actually, that's not in the Bible

Can a defining tribal narrative that is passed on orally for 45 generations ever be regarded as history, at least as history is understood today?

Moses, the religious genius who put his stamp on the religion of the Old Testament more powerfully than any other figure, died about 300 years before the first story of Moses entered the written form we call Holy Scripture.

This means that everything we know about Moses in the Bible had to have passed orally through about 15 generations before achieving written form. Do stories of heroic figures not grow, experience magnifying tendencies and become surrounded by interpretive mythology as the years roll by?

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Jesus of Nazareth, according to our best research, lived between the years 4 B.C. and A.D. 30. Yet all of the gospels were written between the years 70 to 100 A.D., or 40 to 70 years after his crucifixion, and they were written in Greek, a language that neither Jesus nor any of his disciples spoke or were able to write.

Are the gospels then capable of being effective guides to history? If we line up the gospels in the time sequence in which they were written - that is, with Mark first, followed by Matthew, then by Luke and ending with John - we can see exactly how the story expanded between the years 70 and 100.

For example, miracles do not get attached to the memory of Jesus story until the eighth decade. The miraculous birth of Jesus is a ninth-decade addition; the story of Jesus ascending into heaven is a 10th-decade narrative.

In the first gospel, Mark, the risen Christ appears physically to no one, but by the time we come to the last gospel, John, Thomas is invited to feel the nail prints in Christ’s hands and feet and the spear wound in his side.

Perhaps the most telling witness against the claim of accurate history for the Bible comes when we read the earliest narrative of the crucifixion found in Mark’s gospel and discover that it is not based on eyewitness testimony at all.

My Take: Yes, the Bible really condemns homosexuality

Instead, it’s an interpretive account designed to conform the story of Jesus’ death to the messianic yearnings of the Hebrew Scriptures, including Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

The Bible interprets life from its particular perspective; it does not record in a factual way the human journey through history.

The second major misconception comes from the distorting claim that the Bible is in any literal sense “the word of God.” Only someone who has never read the Bible could make such a claim. The Bible portrays God as hating the Egyptians, stopping the sun in the sky to allow more daylight to enable Joshua to kill more Amorites and ordering King Saul to commit genocide against the Amalekites.

Can these acts of immorality ever be called “the word of God”? The book of Psalms promises happiness to the defeated and exiled Jews only when they can dash the heads of Babylonian children against the rocks! Is this “the word of God? What kind of God would that be?

The Bible, when read literally, calls for the execution of children who are willfully disobedient to their parents, for those who worship false gods, for those who commit adultery, for homosexual persons and for any man who has sex with his mother-in-law, just to name a few.

The Bible exhorts slaves to be obedient to their masters and wives to be obedient to their husbands. Over the centuries, texts like these, taken from the Bible and interpreted literally, have been used as powerful and evil weapons to support killing prejudices and to justify the cruelest kind of inhumanity.

The third major misconception is that biblical truth is somehow static and thus unchanging. Instead, the Bible presents us with an evolutionary story, and in those evolving patterns, the permanent value of the Bible is ultimately revealed.

It was a long road for human beings and human values to travel between the tribal deity found in the book of Exodus, who orders the death of the firstborn male in every Egyptian household on the night of the Passover, until we reach an understanding of God who commands us to love our enemies.

The transition moments on this journey can be studied easily. It was the prophet named Hosea, writing in the eighth century B.C., who changed God’s name to love. It was the prophet named Amos who changed God’s name to justice. It was the prophet we call Jonah who taught us that the love of God is not bounded by the limits of our own ability to love.

It was the prophet Micah who understood that beautiful religious rituals and even lavish sacrifices were not the things that worship requires, but rather “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” It was the prophet we call Malachi, writing in the fifth century B.C., who finally saw God as a universal experience, transcending all national and tribal boundaries.

One has only to look at Christian history to see why these misconceptions are dangerous. They have fed religious persecution and religious wars. They have fueled racism, anti-female biases, anti-Semitism and homophobia.They have fought against science and the explosion of knowledge.

The ultimate meaning of the Bible escapes human limits and calls us to a recognition that every life is holy, every life is loved, and every life is called to be all that that life is capable of being. The Bible is, thus, not about religion at all but about becoming deeply and fully human. It issues the invitation to live fully, to love wastefully and to have the courage to be our most complete selves.

That is why I treasure this book and why I struggle to reclaim its essential message for our increasingly non-religious world.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Shelby Spong.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (6,068 Responses)
  1. guru

    blaa blaaaaaa

    January 27, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  2. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible reliable?
    What about those contradictions in the Bible? Let’s look at one some bring up. “And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians,” II Samuel 10:18
    “But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots,” I Chronicles 19:18
    Which is it? 700 or 7000? Try this: they had 10 men per chariot. In battle, the chariot doesn’t get tired. The horses do and the men do. So you have chariot teams that go out and fight for awhile, come back and rest for awhile, and go back out again.
    “And those who died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.” 24,000 – Numbers 25:9 But in the New Testament, I Corinthians 10:8, it says “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” 23,000. So which is it, 24,000 or 23,000? Looks like a mistake. Well, read carefully. The passage says 23,000 died in ONE day. How many died the next day? Yes, 1000.
    “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16-17
    Are there things that are invisible? How about… gravity, radio waves, your thoughts.
    What holds the atoms together? Why do all the protons stick together when they have the same charge? Like charges repel. Answer: “By Him, all things consist.” (see last part of verse).

    January 27, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  3. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes
    “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” Genesis 1:11 If a pine cone falls to the ground, what does it produce? A pine tree. If a cow gives birth, what does it produce? A calf. Everything produces after their own kinds. That is scientifically accurate with no exceptions. Evolutionists believe we all came from a rock over 4.6 billion years ago. Do you believe a dog ever came from a non-dog? That’s what evolutionists will teach you. And how is it, you evolutionists, that a dog in the past could do something it can’t do today – which is, produce another dog? Also, they will tell you that humans came from an ape-like creature. Well, apes are still having babies. Let’s see an ape make another human! Let’s watch it this time. To make sure you aren’t making this story up.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Joshua

      Evolution doesn't mean what you think it means.

      If creatures were only able to give birth "to their own kind" there is no way wolves could have become Yorkshire terriers. A she-wolf does not give birth to a fully formed Yorkie, but that doesn't mean Yorkies aren't descended from wolves. And these are changes introduced only over a brief period of a few thousand years (and for some breeds much, much less.) So, millions of generation not only CAN introduce change, they almost certainly must - or humans would all look the same.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Believer

      Yes I think Theopilus 7 does understand evolution, what he is saying is that we did not all come from single celled organisms. Now as to your Your example of the yorkie and she-wolf, havent u heard of selective breeding? Humans took two dogs that had the traits that they wanted and kept breeding those, and then having those puppies breed with other dogs with similar traits until we got the ones we wanted. Its that way with with the she wolf. She had puppies of many different varieties, the smaller ones survived. Then they had puppies and the even smaller ones survived and reproduced. Same species, both yorkies and wolves are dogs, different variety.

      January 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Joshua what is the difference between a breed and a specie? Is a Yorkshire terrier a breed of wolf or a breed of dog? Variation does it form breeds or species? Can Variation be used as evidence for Evolution? Please help me!

      January 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  4. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes
    “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15 For centuries scientist taught man provides the seed and woman is just the incubator. Not true, woman provides half the seed and man provides half the seed to make the baby. God said that in the first book of the Bible. Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes

    “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;” Genesis 22:17 “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David my servant,” Jeremiah 33:22

    Can the stars be numbered? No. In 2003, the Hubble telescope was focused on a tiny patch of sky the size of a grain of sand. It was near the big dipper. They thought there was nothing there. They took pictures for 10 days, they found more stars than they could count in just that one tiny spot. Current estimate using the Hubble telescope is that there are 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars that are visible, and that’s not counting the ones we can’t see. That’s enough stars that everyone on the planet could have 11 trillion stars to themselves. And that’s only the ones we know about.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  5. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes
    Proverbs 8:26 “While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.”
    Highest part of the dust of the world? Why would dust be considered the highest part? Ask a weatherman. The reason we have rain is that there is dust way up in the atmosphere, and you can’t get rain without those little tiny droplets of dust to collect on. Look up condensation nuclei. If it weren’t for dust in the highest part of the world, we wouldn’t have rain. Almost like God knew what He was doing! Btw…. This was written about a 1000 BC. Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes

    January 27, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  6. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes
    Job 38:6-8 “Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?”
    Foundations fastened? Yes, mountains have roots. Do the stars sing? Yes they do. This was just discovered in the last 50 years. Stars produce radio waves.
    Seas shut up with doors? God put boundaries on our seas. Those are called beaches.
    Seas breaking forth as from a womb? Foutains of the deep (geothermal vents). All scientifically accurate details written 4000 years ago.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  7. Theophilus7

    Lightning is not only a flow of electricity which can carry messages, it also produces EMP (electro magnetic pulse) which carries billions of messages around the world every second.
    Ok, remember the story of George Washington being told by doctors in 1799 that he needed to be bled? The doctors did it twice to him because they believed in the doctrine of humors. Well, George died as a result. If you remember one of my previous posts, the life is in the blood. Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Scientifically accurate, yes.
    “It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:” Isaiah 40:22 This was 2000 years before Galileo discovered the earth was round. What about the spreading out of the heavens? Look up red shift. Yes, the Bible is scientifically accurate.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  8. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes
    “By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?” – Job 38:24 Does the light really cause the wind? Yes, that is scientifically accurate. Sunlight shines on the ground and causes the air to expand. Expanding hot air rises, and more air sucks in behind it. So our wind patterns on earth are because of the sun which is 93 million miles away. God said this to Job nearly 4000 years ago.
    Job 38:35 “Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?” Interesting… lightning speaks. So 4000 years ago, God is telling Job that electricity can be used to send a message. Once again, scientifically accurate – email, phone, radio, tv etc. Electricity can travel through the air and talk to you, yes! Just like God said.
    Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes

    January 27, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  9. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible Scientifically Accurate? Yes
    “Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?” – Job 38:16 Does the sea have springs? Yes, see my previous post about geothermal vents. Btw… this is God speaking to Job. And note: scientists just discovered this in 1977.
    Job 38:19 “Where is the way where light dwelleth? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof?” Note: light is in a “way,” meaning it’s always moving whereas darkness is in a “place,” meaning it’s stationary. Speed of light, yes, light is moving. Is there a speed of dark? No, darkness can’t move. Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes

    January 27, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  10. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes
    “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” Job 26:7 (written nearly 4000 years ago). For years, many thought the earth was resting on something. Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes, the earth is actually hanging on nothing.
    Ecclesiastes 1:6 – “The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.” So the wind blows and returns back where it started from. Sound familiar? That’s called the Coriolis effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_effect. Hot air rises, cold air sinks. When you open your freezer where does the cold air go? To the ground. Air near the equator is generally going up because it’s generally hotter. This is why sailors have tough time navigating near the equator because they could be sailing along and then the wind stops blowing when they get to the equator because the wind is blowing straight up. The wind continues to go up, then splits, then continues about a third of the way to the north pole and sinks again. Solomon said this 3000 years ago in the book of Ecclesiastes. Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes.
    (btw… Nii asked me to stick to topic and discuss accuracy of Bible, so he opened up this can of worms, blame him)

    January 27, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      This can of worms is just what the good doctor ordered. Keep it up I am more than impressed.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:55 am |
  11. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible scientifically accurate? Yes
    Bible says “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” Ecclesiastes 1:7 Is this scientific accurate? Yes.
    “He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.” Psalm 135:7 Is this scientifically accurate? Yes, this is describing the hydrologic cycle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_cycle, 3000 years before scientists figured it out.

    January 27, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  12. Theophilus7

    Is the Bible scientifically accurate?
    Genesis 1:6 firmament (land) dividing waters from waters. Psalms 24:1, earth was “founded upon the seas, and established upon the floods.” Psalm 136:6, earth was “stretched out above the waters.”
    At creation there was a canopy of water above the earth blocking UV light and protection from increased air pressure – explains how humans lived to be 900 years old. And there was water under the crust of the earth – the same water that came shooting to the surface of the earth when the fountains of the deep broke open (Job 38:16) at the time of the flood.
    1977 – scientists discover hot water vents shooting up from beneath the ocean – geothermal vents . If hot water is shooting up from the bottom of the ocean, where would it have to be coming from? Down lower than that. Right? There is still water in the crust of the earth or it couldn’t be squirting out like that. Yes, the Bible is scientifically accurate. God said that 4000 years before scientists discovered it.

    January 27, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  13. CoCoDol52

    Theophillis7, YHWH our and yours too Creator does not need any similatudes or explanations none of what you are providing are of jesus nothing is OLD about the book of life this is why they took the true name out the book of remembrance YHWH left it is for our past present and future it prophesied everthing and this covenant you are speaking of it has not happened yet it is in Jeremiah 31v31-40 of YHWH and His Arm the seed that will be raised from David and His Branch who will govern over the flocks. Don't mislead them. Trying to say that jc is from the seed of the woman many christians have tried that lie before, first of all lets start with the whole book of life the OT every one of Isaiah's sons were a sign of wonder from YHWH in Isaiah 8 Immanuel was for a sign to the king Ahaz, Shearjashub was for a sign a remnant shall return from war in the book of Ezra 2v64, of the fight and command from YHWH of Cyrus to help the Prince and Messiah Zerubabbel to rebuild the temple who was the governor of Judah then his son Mahersahalalhashbaz is a sign that YHWH will not wait any longer for their obedience to YHWH and Ephriam will be taken away the 10 tribes. So as here and all through the book the sons are sanctified and given spirits and are the SEEDS of the men so now a twist in jc's birth will be of a holy ghost and a virgin and the word virgin in the Hebrew text was not used it was almah a married madian or young bride some words have to be discerned there is no other sons not even YHWH's chosen David not born of the SEED of a man and remember your Father YHWH changes not in Malachi 3v6, nothing of His Word is to be changed. And furthermore He does not need a spirit to birth or do anything He is the spirit and once He came down to visit His friend Isaiah 41v8 Abraham in Genesis 18. YHWH does not change so that we will not be consumed with lies and deceit. Malachi 2, and Ezekiel 20 these liar priest and others will see the day of YHWH. These scriptures in the book of life as Isaiah 53,9 and many others all say David and David was born in Bethlehem and Nazarith in Samuel 16,17 YHWHs chosen son of man of Israel the seeds of David for his dedication to YHWH. There is nothing of the story of jesus in the book of life the OT nowhere and if YHWH has given us everyone else why not jc? jcNT(not true). Isaiah even prophesied Cyrus 200 years before he was born so wouldn't the important jc the son of YHWH so called be talked or said in the OT as well. Lets clear up this lie the only son and firstborn that YHWH has said He has is in Exodus 4v22,23 the chosen people 'ISRAEL' stop misleading the flocks. There cannot be two firstborn SONS. Get it together for the sake of righteousness and peace for the nations. People do the commandments 10, they are good sense to live by. Do the sabbath day of rest Leviticus 23 and passover in Exodus 12 and that's it the covenant of your Creator. The only Savior and Redeemer is YHWH in Isaiah 43v3,11 and Isaiah 60v16 and Isaiah 49v26 No one can die for your sins in Jeremiah 31v30 Ezekiel 14v14 we must all do own righteousness get out of the NT book it is idols so is Islam so are all religions they are not of your Father YHWH. Religion is for land dividing and gain of the masses the flocks prophesied in Daniel 11v36-45 of strange gods not known to the fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    January 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  14. Steve Wilkinson

    Wow, what a rant. This guy needs to go to school one day (a real school). It's more like a History Channel segment than anything resembling reality. Sheesh!

    January 26, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • CoCoDol52

      Steve. L O L, I hear this often. Take care.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Bruce

      Ditto your exact comment regarding this article

      January 27, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      This presupposes that human beings are rational beings and hence exhibit intelligence. Wrong! They are emotional beings and exhibit prejudice. Taking the Bible either literally or figuratively doesn't matter if u don't develop spirituality. In this case he's singing what u want to hear n u love it.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Ur comment presupposes that humans r rational creatures who exhibit intelligence! Wrong! They are emotional n exhibit prejudice! Literal or figurative interpretation of the bible shud help u develop spirituality. Otherwise its vanity. In this case he is saying what u'd like to hear n u r loving it.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Momoya! there is a difference between an evangelist and an Evangelical. U still have not done ur homework. Shame on u! Now as u believe Jesus is a myth which is not true read Wikipedia article 'Jewish views on Jesus' at least. Evangelical atheism is a sad religion.

      January 28, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      I do not entertain atheism for the sme reasons because if men can't see their humnity they think they are intelligent Gods. Humans re emotional and selfishness is the worst. When I put my trust in God to love him n men. I am happier. those sinners can change if they r happy not when they r selfish.

      January 28, 2012 at 4:55 am |
  15. CoCoDol52

    backup666, Charles did not say that the apostals were ignorant, and he also said that jesus may have been or was bi-lingul that it was Arabic and Greek languages at this time. No the apostals were not ignorant they began rewritting the Hebrew text in 200AD of the NT and the many changes in it not from the Almighty YHWH(God) and YHWH says He changes not never His Word in Malachi 3v6. jesus nor his story is not ever mentioned in the book of life, the book of remembrance the so called OT gave to us and truly named by the Creator YHWH in Malachi 3v16. As Charles says around Alexander's time of reign and of Ptolemy MY WORDS HERE-- the hellenistic jewsish roman writers were at work they made a deal with Constantine after he legalized christianity in 311 with there new writings of the NT(not true) and this was prophesied with Moses in Deut.32v17 of (newly) strange gods that the peoples future generations will corrupt themselves with in the latter days of idolatry. The Creator YHWH does not condone any religions none, He's Spiritual for He is the spirit of the first the last and there is no one before or after Him. In Isaiah 40v18 He says to many "Who will you try to equal or liken Him to? One should take heed and get out of that NT it is idols and so are all religions they are not of the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all the Living and Waters in Genesis 1-5.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • backup666


      My point was, from Acts 4:13, the words UNLEARNED and PERCEIVED stand out. My interpretation of unlearned is someone that has not received school training and for the author to "perceive" this means that Peter and John demonstrated something for the author to note it. My point for Jesus reading and writing is the verses does not tells what he is reading or writing and we should not assume that it Greek. Jesus and his disciples allegedly were common people. My take would be there was no time to be sent for formal school training.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Martin

      The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie can make you live forever if you accept a blood sacrifice and symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood, and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a woman made from a rib was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree: makes perfect sense

      January 26, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  16. Believer

    I am not talking about the people who lived a hundred of years after the fact. I am talking about those who were there when he lived and created your so called myth, would u di.e for something you made up?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Believer

      Sorry that was posted for Bizarre

      January 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Believer, "those who were there when he lived and created your so called myth, would u di.e for something you made up?"

      Who, exactly, are you referring to?

      January 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Believer

      His disciples, who later became his apostles. The founders of the church

      January 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Bizarre


      "The apostles should be twelve of the most famous people in history. We're told they were hand picked by Jesus to witness his wondrous deeds, learn his sublime teachings, and take the good news of his kingdom to the ends of the earth.

      Which makes it all the more surprising that we know next to nothing about them. We can't even be sure of their names: the gospels list a collection of more than twenty names for the so-called twelve disciples – with Bartholomew sometimes showing up as Nathanael, Matthew as Levi and Jude as Thaddeus, Lebbaeus, or Daddaeus!

      It should be apparent that if the twelve were actual historical figures, with such an important role in the foundation and growth of the Church, it would be impossible to have such wild confusion over the basic question of who they really were."

      You probably won't like this web site that I am about to list, but then the carm one didn't hold much allure for me either.

      Just read that one page on the apostles if the rest of it scares you.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Believer

      Thank you for the article I will read it diligently, and I have a book that you should read, its called Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. A former atheist lawyer who set out to disprove christianity, and ended up as a christian. It is a very well written book. Also it is possible that the disciples changed there names throughout their lives. We have one example with Jesus renaming Simon Peter.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • momoya

      Strobel's "The Case for Christ" fails miserably on many counts.


      January 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Scott

      I would highly recommend Tim Keller's "A Reason for God" when dealing with issues raised in this comment stream. Keller does an admirable job covering many questions raised against faith, christianity, and God.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      @ Momoya; U again! Have u finished ur homework. I find it funny that u shud b recommending reading materials. When someone did u went thro the roof. Anyway I am beyond legal arguments @ this point. I am sure even the statute of limitations will not allow a case on whether Christ lived.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The Jesus never existed arguement cud have been won in AD100. I don't see why i shud listen to it after 1900 yrs. The Jews talk about the followers of Yeshua, why? I've heard them talk about the stolen cadaver never a mythical preacher claiming he was God.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Here is a ref. 'Jesus and Jews' in Wikipedia. If there was a Jerusalem Times it wud've been by Jewish journalists not by Western academics living 1970yrs after de events. Judaism split in2 Pharisaism n Christianity c70AD. In de NT these were not buddies but bitter enemies. Prosecution witness #1?

      January 27, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • Bizarre

      momoya, Thanks. That is a good discussion of Strobel's book.



      I do hope that you read momoya's suggested article. There a quite a few others around also, taking him to task regarding his research tactics.

      By the way, Strobel is not a lawyer (he has some other kind of degree in "Law Studies"). He is a former Chicago newspaper reporter.

      January 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Believer

      Dont worry I read both of the articles that have been posted on this, and while I agree that the argument was one sided in Faith for Christ I suggest you read the arguments that the Christians present in the book, not through the interpretation of someone who does not believe them. If you agree with him then that is your opinion, and you have made it by yourself. Personally I like to hear someones opinions through their own writing and words, not how someone else took what they said.

      January 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Bizarre

      "Personally I like to hear someones opinions through their own writing and words, not how someone else took what they said."

      Why is it, then, that you have no problem with the 1st century evangelists who did exactly that with what they *said* that Jesus said?

      Jesus could have done a much better job at leaving valid doc.umentation of his existence and godhood.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Believer

      I do not have a problem with it for two reasons.
      One I believe that God guided the authors, and the evangelicals who chose the books, to tell us what he wanted us to know.

      Second I have done some research on the selection of the books in the new testament, the old testament is the same as the Judea one. They only picked the books that were written decades after Jesus' death. That were still in the lifespan of eyewitness testimony. The ones that did not make it into the bible were written centuries after the events.

      Also with the writtens still being in the lifespan of those who were against him and saw the events. They never denied what Jesus said and did until the point of his resurection. That was the only point they argued against, and even then they could not come up with a body. And dont say it was stolen because there were guards.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Believer

      Also with my example of Case for Christ, it is physically possible for me to actually go pick up the book and read it.

      As of right now it is impossible for me to go back in time and see Jesus walking on this Earth. Did you know that the Bible was written sooner after the events of his death, than the book of Alexander the Great? Yet we have no problem believing he existed

      January 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Bizarre

      I really don't know where you apologists get that 400 year gap for writings about Alexander the Great. Please ditch that line. There were many concurrent writings about him, as well as in the years following his death:


      And you know what... even if there weren't real-time writings about him, it makes little difference if he existed or not, except to hero worshippers and purist historians (not demeaning historians, it's just a separate discipline). If any wisdom that is attributed to him is verified to be useful - that's all we need.

      It's the same with any practical wisdom that is attributed to Jesus. It's the valid wisdom that matters, not the man. Again, there is not a whit of verified evidence for the supernatural events attributed to him (or anyone else), nor that his alleged supernatural preachings are true.

      January 28, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • Believer

      Be that as it may you still have not been able to address the fact that the people living at the same time were unable to deny any of the miracles or teachings of Jesus, the only point they tried to deny was the resurection, but they could not produce a body.

      January 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Bizarre

      "people living at the same time were unable to deny any of the miracles or teachings of Jesus,"

      How do you know that they didn't? The unbiased people at the wedding in Cana, or at the loaves/fishes deal, or at Lazarus' resuscitation, or the blind man's healing, perhaps never even heard the tales of these alleged miracles... or if they lived long enough to hear about the evangelists' writings, what were elderly, illiterate peasants going to do about it?

      January 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Believer

      If they were able to deny it how did it spread so quickly. We know two things about Christian History, first it was nonexistant until the Roman Empire. Second when it started it spread like wildfire, withing 20 years the message had Greek, Ethiopian and Turkish believers. With the Gospel spreading this quickly you would have thought that someone would have put a stop to it immediatly, but they could not because they had no proof against it.

      January 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Bizarre

      The rapid spread was mainly due to the bombast and excellent PR skills of the zealot, Paul of Tarsus.

      Later, having a powerful Roman emperor, Constantine, endorse it capped the climax.

      January 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Picture the following conversation between a perhaps 80 year-old couple in (at least) 60 A.D.:

      Sol: Marcia, we lived in Jerusalem way back when... did you see a preacher named Jesus, ascend into heaven?
      Marcia: No, I didn't.
      Sol: Hmmmm, me neither, but a few folks are saying that it happened... dang, I guess we missed it.

      January 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Believer

      No one came forth with solid evidence against him, that is all I am saying. That is a fact because as you say the idea of Jesus doing miracles is prepostorous that no thinking individual would buy into it. Yet people did, and not just the poor fishermen. Paul was able to convince Greek philosophers. If someone could have come forth with contradictory evidence then everyone would have stopped believing and Christianity would have died young.

      January 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Sometimes there is just not one explanation for why things go "viral" or become memes.

      How preposterous is a 4-armed goddess – Lakshmi?
      How preposterous is an elephant-faced god – Ganesh?
      Shall I list all (millions?) of Hindu gods?

      People have for many thousand years, and still do, believe in them, including philosophers.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Believer

      My argument to that is Hinduism has pretty much stayed in one culture, whereas christianity has spread to many different cultures.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Bizarre

      Hindus do very little, if any, proselytizing and missionary spreading of their religion.

      The fact is that gods (including the Judeo-Christian-Islamic one) go nowhere unless they are carried there by humans.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Believer

      Yes but know with technology the message of Hindu is out there for anybody. Still other than that culture no one buys it. Christianity is still spreading across the many cultures.

      January 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  17. Believer

    I am not talking about the people who lived a hundred of years after the fact. I am talking about those who were there when he lived and created your so called myth, would u die for something you made up?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  18. Believer

    I have a question, if you take out the miracles of God and Jesus, for there is no evidence for or against that nowadays, is there any point of which the Bible is wrong? Is there any evidence that suggests that the History of Israel is not what the Bible says it was?

    January 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Bizarre


      Well, for one, there is much dispute about whether the story of Exodus is accurate, or at all true. There is no evidence in that area of the world that 2 MILLION people wandered in it for 40 years - no buried dead, no pottery shards, no latrines - nothing.

      January 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Believer

      Multiple reasons why there is no evidence of the wandering in the desert, first off things decay. They dissolve unless buried quickly and preserved. That is why we do not have a fossil record of every single tribe of people that has ever lived. Also in order for large amounts of evidence they must be there for a long period of time, 40 years of wandering is not enough. Also there is a show on the History channel showing how the ten plagues could have actually happened, I suggest you look it up.

      January 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Believer

      Also take a look at this article, it raises some curious questions as to a possibility of why we cannot find any evidence,

      January 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      So let me understand you correctly...

      The lack of fossil remains showing no Exodus doesn't mean anything.

      The lack of "transitional" fossil remains showing Evolution means everything.

      Your god is an awesome god, fer sure.

      January 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Believer

      Did you read the article I offered? there is a very good chance that we are digging in the wrong place.

      January 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      That should be:

      The lack of fossil remains showing Exodus doesn't mean anything.
      The lack of "transitional" fossil remains showing Evolution means everything.

      Not having my best typing day.

      January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Believer: You said, "there is a very good chance that we are digging in the wrong place."

      Didn't read it, although I suspect you're talking about the "Sea of Reeds" vs "The Red Sea." I've heard it before.

      So they just crossed over that little marshy area and parked themselves for 40 years? What about the wandering? Nobody looked in that other place at all? Or did they also look there, and also find nothing of note?

      January 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Believer

      Haha ik how you feel, the funny thing is that all the cities that Luke described he and Paul went to have been discovered to exist, David has been proven to exist. And the bible gives an accurate recording of all of the other kingdoms at the time.

      January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Believer

      Read the article, they did find some artifacts, however the Saudi's would not allow them to continue digging there.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Bizarre


      The Bible might be a somewhat accurate record of the early Israeli tribes who inhabited a small section of the Middle East, with stories of their culture and beliefs and superst.itions. Interesting, but not evidence in any way, shape or form of the existence of supernatural beings.

      Mount Olympus, and many places spoken about in ancient Greek stories really exists. That does not mean that Zeus and the rest of the pantheon of Olympic gods were/are real.

      Many of the places and events told about in the history of ancient Egypt are verified. That does not mean that their gods were/are real.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Believer

      My point is that there is no evidence whatsoever saying that the historical part of the bible is inaccurate, why would someone risk ruinning such a historical book with pointless myths? Why would people die for something they have entirely made up?

      January 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      It doesn't say that they found artifacts, they said that they found evidence (no specifics at all) that supports that claim. Yet how were they able to gather evidence if the area was fenced off like it is claimed?

      January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • jimtanker

      In order to gain power and to control mens minds.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Believer

      They could make it so far but could not continue, they covered the beginning part of the path that Israel took, where they were moving in a hurry and never settled down for more than a day which is why there is so little evidence. The archealogists could not make it to Mt. Sinai where the Israelites actually settled for a period of time.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Bizarre


      Why did/do people die for a myth? They didn't/don't think it was/is a myth. They were/are Believers.

      It's the same reason why Muslim suicide bombers die for Allah; hundreds died with Jim Jones, David Koresh, Heaven's
      Gate, etc. They were/are Believers.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Believer

      Ha you think they gained power? they were constantly ridiculed beat up and kicked out of cities! You might just as well say that Martin Luther King jr did all he did just to gain power and control mans minds.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  19. NickZadick

    The only misconception is that any of it was written by other people than clueless humans.... STOP believing in fairy tales!

    January 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  20. Charles

    "The Bible interprets life from its particular perspective; it does not record in a factual way the human journey through history." Perhaps, but neither does Bishop Spong. The profound ignorance in regard to the history of the period by religious scholars always amazes me. As a particularly glaring example, the writer flatly states that "they were written in Greek, a language that neither Jesus nor any of his disciples spoke or were able to write.", apparently unaware of the fact that Palestine in Jesus day was a bi-lingual society in which both Aramaic and Greek were commonly spoken. The majority of Jews who lived in the Diaspora in fact spoke Greek as their native language, and read the scriptures in the Greek, i.e. Septuagint version. Hellenistic Greek was the dominant language and culture of the whole Eastern Mediterranean region from the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC through the Roman and Byzantine periods, nearly a millennium. It was certainly unavoidable for anyone involved in trade or travel, since Koine was the "lingua Franca" of the day. The evidence in the Gospels strongly suggests that Jesus was Himself bi-lingual and could switch from one language to the other as the occasion required; Aramaic in areas near the border with Syria to Greek in places like Jerusalem where it was probably the dominant language.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:21 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Skepticism is a philosophy which in the arts stifles creativity. It is no surprise that they make so little progress but are always 'thinking' they know. If u r not sure of the truth. How then do u say u know the truth?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • momoya

      Perhaps you should do some research on Bishop Spong. His educational background and publishing history seems to strongly imply that he would not publish carelessly. As to your accusation, I question both your motives and your assumptions.

      January 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • CoCoDol52

      Charles, Simply BRAVO to you all of what you explained is absolutely true. After Alexander and Ptolemy yes Greek everything and language was the domanant of the times. Now jesus I have no idea of his birth or any truth to his being at all for the only proof there is is from the Gospels which was written by the hellenistic jew roman writings of the NT that began in 200AD the beginning of the 4th kingdom as in the vision Prophecy of Daniel 2v40 tells us when many kings will reside and fall, and false religions of idolatry will come (strange gods that the fathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob of the covenant knew not) in Daniel 11v36-12v10 preferably Daniel 11v36-45 of christianity and of islam; vs.39 of christianity and vs. 43 of islam to warn us about idols not of the Creator and Father YHWH(God), from Gabriel sent by YHWH to help Daniel to understand the vision it was for the end times. And out of all visions and dreams this one Daniel just could not get it for it was talking about our times of today confirmed by Gabriel in 12v4 the era when knowledge shall be increased.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • backup666


      You do not provide any proof of Jesus and his disciples could read or write. That is just speculation on your part. However, the bible does not protrays some of the apostles as being ignorant.

      "Acts 4:13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (KJV)

      According to the bible, we know that Jesus could at least read, "Luke 4:16  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read." (KJV) And most christians would point to this verse claiming Jesus could write, "John 8:6  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not." (KJV) However, no one can view what he is writing.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • CoCoDol52

      Charles, I would like to add that in Micah 5, many try to put jesus name on this description but if one would read in Samuel 16,17 they will find that David the chosen of the Father YHWH(God) was born in Bethlehem and totally fits the description of the one who will govern on the throne his SEED David's descendant and Branch will teach the flocks when the new kingdom is raised as prophesied in Jeremiah 23v1-8 and Jeremiah 33v14-21 and it will all be called the Lord(YHWH) Our Righteousness along with the true New Covenant in Jeremiah 31v31-40, this has not happened it is a future prophecy from YHWH through His prophet Jeremiah. This is written prophesied and stated all through the book of life the OT, by the only Savior and Redeemer YHWH(God) in Isaiah 49v26 and Isaiah 60v16. And in Isaiah 43v13 the Father YHWH says that no man can be delivered from out of His hands. Another thing No One Can Die For Anyone Else Sins, as prophesied in Jeremiah 31v30 and Ezekiel 14v14 all son of men are accountable for their own righteousness. And your Creator YHWH says in the book of the last prophet that He Changes NOT in Malachi 3v6.This mean not ever His law not ever His Word. Get out of that Nt(not true).

      January 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Strange but True

      "But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not." (KJV) However, no one can view what he is writing."

      This is what he wrote (drew): ,I,,

      January 27, 2012 at 3:24 am |
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About this blog

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