In this article I will demonstrate that Christians generally know nothing about their bible. Even if they have some knowledge about bible verses, they don’t know what the verses mean, who wrote them, or why. They don’t know when the book was written, or how it was published. They also don’t know that all these things are important. Does it really matter, you ask? Well, consider any story you ever read – isn’t it important to know who wrote it? Aren’t the writer’s credentials important? Where does the story come from? Is the story reliable?
Now in order to avoid having those sort of questions – which are good – directed at the writer of this article, so the reader can attempt to avoid or circumvent the merits of the arguments provided here, the reader ought to be aware that the entirety of this article is based on the opening chapters of READING THE BIBLE AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME, by Marcus J. Borg*. So if you doubt credentials, or want references, or proof, or professional and scholarly expertise, pick up a copy of Borg’s book, around 10% of its 300 plus pages are devoted to references and notes etc. that fully explain how his rigorous research reaches its various conclusions.
Let’s take a closer look at some of Borg analysis of the bible (all of which, as I say, is backed up by as many as 50 reference notes per chapter).
Sunblock seems to feel that this writer, being so highly qualified, would be able to give us the low-down dirt on the Bible and its nefarious message and all it contradictions, so I’m going to start with a little history lesson.
‘Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come’
Matthew 24:11-14 NASB
Two Dutch theologians, Desiderius Erasmus and Benedict Spinoza, working independently in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were the first Biblical scholars to apply what was called Higher Criticism to the Bible. There is a well-known phrase, ‘the God of Spinoza’, which is the God Einstein believed in, as do many other deists.
The God of Spinoza created the world and everything else, but has no real interest in human affairs. He is distant from us and does not seek our worship. This was concluded by applying the historical-critical method of studying the Bible, as opposed to the devotional method.
So, for instance, when we read the Gospels, we see an harmonious whole in the four Gospels, seeing in their differences the truth of the Gospel accounts, where their method was to examine the differences and the historical settings and begin to debunk the Gospel accounts.
In the mid-eighteenth century, at the Tübingen School in Germany, the School of Higher Criticism was born. This arose from the pioneering work of scholars such as Jean Astruc, Johann Slomo Semmler, Johann Gottfired Eichorn, Ferdinand Christian Bauer and Julius Wellhausen, all working independently and building on each others’ work.
In the Ninetheenth century, Fridrich Schleiermacher laid the groundwork for scholars such as David Friedrich Strauss and Ludwig Feuerbach, who analysed the history of the Middle East in order to find independent confirmation of the Biblical accounts. They were building on the ideas laid out by the Enlightenment and Rationalist thinkers, such as John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Gotthold Lessing, Gottlieb Fichte and Hegel.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge imported these ideas into England and George Eliot translated David Strauss’ The Life of Jesus into English in 1846. In 1854 he translated Ludwig Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity into English and in 1860 seven liberal Anglican theologians began the process of incorporating this historical criticism into Christian doctrine in Essays and Reviews, causing a controversy that ended up in two of the authors being indicted for heresy.
They were dismissed from their posts in 1862 but reinstated on appeal in 1864.
Some scholars, amongst them Rudolf Bultmann and Robert M Price used ‘higher criticism’ to demythologise the Bible.
In more recent times we’ve had Robert M Price’s ‘The case against the case for Christ: a New Testament scholar refutes the reverend Lee Strobel’.
There has also been Earl Doherty’s The Jesus Puzzle, Robert M Price’s The Reason Driven Life and The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy.
Of course it’s no longer only Europe that’s under this theological curse. Bart Ehrman, who was once an Evangelical Christian and believer in Biblical inerrancy, went on to study Hebrew and other ancient languages in order to better understand the Bible. His studies eventually convinced him that the Bible was anything but inerrant.
After a number of years of struggling with this issue and the problems of evil in the world, he became an agnostic, but continued writing books about Jesus. Much of his writing was based on Walter Bauer’s thesis that Christianity was contradictory and at odds with itself. Bart Ehrman coined the term Proto-orthodox Christianity, in order to describe the early Christianity that existed before consensus or orthodoxy were established. He further goes on to say that the manuscripts were corrupted to suit the story of the Christian faith.
His books include Misquoting Jesus, God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question-Why We Suffer, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them), Didymus the Blind and the Text of the Gospels, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture and The Apostolic Fathers.
In his 2011 book Forged he asserts that eleven or more of the books of the New Testament were politically expeditious forgeries and were not written by the authors to whom they were credited.
Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium was published in 1999, quite conveniently for Bart Ehrman and his publishers. In this book Ehrman states that Jesus was an apocalyptic teacher. He also quashes the proposition that Jesus may have been a shaman, wisdom sage, or even the founder of a mushroom cult, as had been written by earlier authors. Bart Ehrman is a highly esteemed scholar, as were the gentlemen previously mentioned.
In 2012, Bart Ehrman published Did Jesus Exist? To his credit, he goes out to prove the existence of Jesus, but does deny His deity and every important property the Bible attributes to Him. He believes His teachings to be valuable and tries to live by them, but does not ascribe to Jesus any of the miracles he performed or, indeed, His resurrection.
But of course Bart Ehrman is only building on the foundation already laid many years ago by the Tübingen School of Theology. Not only did they set out to destroy the ‘myth’ of Jesus, but the entire Old Testament as well, to the point of saying Moses never existed!
Johann Gottfried Eichhorn and Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher were at the forefront of this new wave of Higher Criticism. This wave of criticism that swept all before it and under the banner of Enlightenment crushed all opposition as being anti-progress. And it there’s one thing no-one who has any idea of intellectualism wants to be accused of, it’s anti- progress.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men
I Corinthians 1:18-25 NASB
Does this not sound suspiciously like the work done by these esteemed scholars? Under the guise of investigation, they have gone out to disprove the life of Christ, the historicity of the Bible and the very existence of Jesus.
It’s not enough to dispense with His teachings and His miracles, they have to dispense with Him as well. It’s one way of giving you a clear conscience to behave in any way you see fit. The furore when George Eliot published his translation of David Strauss’ The Life of Jesus into English, was such that it overshadowed On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin! We are talking here of a largely conservative society who believed themselves blessed of God, as proven by their influence on the world and its affairs. They considered themselves, in a sense, to be God’s own people, chosen for His purpose.
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
I Corinthians 2:6-8 NASB
So when these learned men wrote as they did, they found a ready acceptance in the fledgling Communist movement and their ideas were adopted and then disseminated by the Soviet regime, until it has reached the stage where today, in Europe, Jesus is a nonentity.
For just as God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so he hardened the hearts of these men, who would propose and write, not only heresy, but outright blasphemy, under the guise of scholarship. And as with Pharaoh, they will realise there is a price to pay.
For even though they knew God, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools
Romans 1:21-22 NASB
As Solomon wrote, there really is nothing new under the sun, and the fact that this was prophesied so long ago does not give these people pause for thought. That is astonishing!
But not unexpected.