Tuesday, July 19, 2011

like scientology - tanakh and koran are total frauds as well...,

HuffPo | Since the early years of Christianity, various myths, legends, and even conspiracy theories about the origins of the Bible have enjoyed wide circulation. The discovery in recent decades of many books that were not accepted into the Christian canon has only added to this speculation, spawning numerous best-sellers and television programs. Though the number of theories has grown, however, the three most popular are sufficiently well defined that we can consider them as we might various options on a multiple-choice quiz. So read carefully and then make your selection.

The Big Three

A: Holy Dictation. Promoted by conservative Christians, this view stresses the inerrancy -- that is, the factual accuracy in all matters of faith, history, and science -- of the Bible. Authors, in the grip of the Holy Spirit, received a divine revelation directly from God that they transcribed without error. So while the biblical authors may have written in their own voice and style, the contents of their compositions were nevertheless divinely inspired and controlled. For this reason, there are no errors of any kind in the Bible; hence, if the Bible says the world was created in seven days then, indeed, it was created in seven days.

B: Imperial Decree. Popularized by historical works like The Gnostic Gospels and fictional books like The Da Vinci Code, this view suggests that the official and final contents of the Bible were established by ecclesial councils ordered by Emperor Constantine and his successors. The intent of these councils was both to provide theological unity to the fledgling Christian empire and to stamp out the rise of feminism and other movements in the heavily patriarchal and increasingly orthodox early Christian church. According to Elaine Pagels, divergent theologies like Gnosticism were a threat to the unity and power of the imperial-backed ecclesial authorities, while for Dan Brown there existed a conspiracy to suppress the "true" story of Jesus' romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene, their unrecognized child, and Mary Magdalene's significant influence in the early church.

C: Forgeries & Falsehoods. Who wrote the Bible? All too often, this view suggests, it wasn't who the actual authors purported to be. Rather, much of the New Testament was written either by persons whose identity remains irrecoverably anonymous or by frauds impersonating famous and powerful Christians of an earlier generation. While the gospels represent the former case, many of the letters attributed to the Apostle Paul as well as those attributed to Peter and others represent the latter. As Bart Ehrman has recently argued, the checkered history of the composition of these books undermines the integrity of the New Testament as a whole.

So what do you think -- did you find a satisfactory answer? If not, it will help to remember that multiple-choice tests often offer a fourth choice, "D: None of the Above." As it happens, that choice would be the better answer for this question, as each of the first three possibilities is flawed. For instance, while Mormons have a story that describes the divine transmission of their holy book, Christians by and large have rarely made such claims. In fact, the theory of inerrancy -- a word never used in the Bible -- was only coined only a century ago by fundamentalist Christians seeking to defend the Bible from recent discoveries about its historical origins and fallible conclusions in the realms of history and science.


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