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Criticism of the Bible is an interdisciplinary field of study concerning the factual accuracy of the claims and the moral tenability of the commandments made in the Bible, the holy book of Christianity. Long considered to be the perfect word of God by devout Christians (and the Jewish parts by devout Jews), scholars and scientists have endeavored for centuries to scrutinise the texts to establish their origins (a related field of study known as biblical criticism) and validity. In addition to concerns about ethics in the Bible, biblical inerrancy, or the historicity of the Bible there remain some questions of authorship and what material should be included in the biblical canon.
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At the end of the 17th century, only a few Bible scholars doubted that Moses wrote the Torah (also known as the Pentateuch, traditionally called the “Five Books of Moses”), such as Thomas Hobbes, Isaac La Peyrère and Baruch Spinoza, but in the late 18th century some scholars such as Jean Astruc (1753) began to systematically question his authorship. By the end of the 19th century, some such as Julius Wellhausen and Abraham Kuenen went as far as to claim that as a whole the work was of many more authors over many centuries from 1000 BC (the time of David) to 500 BC (the time of Ezra) and that the history it contained was often more polemical rather than strictly factual. By the first half of the 20th century, Hermann Gunkel had drawn attention to mythic aspects, and Albrecht Alt, Martin Noth, and the tradition history school argued that although its core traditions had genuinely ancient roots, the narratives were fictional framing devices and were not intended as history in the modern sense.
The modern historical consensus is that it is unknown who wrote most of the books of the Bible.:1 Most of them are written anonymously, and only some of the 27 books of the New Testament mention an author, some of which are probably or known to be pseudepigrapha, meaning they were written by someone other than whom the author said he was.(3:10) The anonymous books have traditionally been attributed authors, though none of these, such as the “Five Books of Moses”, or the four canonical gospels “according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” have appeared to stand up under scrutiny.:1 Only the 7 undisputed Pauline epistles appear to have most likely been written by Paul the Apostle, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos (not by John the Apostle, nor by the author(s) of the other ‘Johannine literature‘). Scholars disagree whether Paul wrote the “Deutero-Pauline epistles” and whether Simon Peter wrote First Epistle of Peter; all other New Testament books that mention an author are most likely forgeries. Though, for the Pastorals, this can be a result of mainly a passing down the tradition of “scholarly consensus” vs. merited by the evidence.
In the 2nd century, the gnostics often claimed that their form of Christianity was the first, and they regarded Jesus as a teacher or allegory. Elaine Pagels has proposed that there are several examples of gnostic attitudes in the Pauline epistles. Bart D. Ehrman and Raymond E. Brown note that some of the Pauline epistles are widely regarded by scholars as pseudonymous, and it is the view of Timothy Freke, and others, that this involved a forgery in an attempt by the Church to bring in Paul’s gnostic supporters and turn the arguments in the other epistles on their head.
Specific collections of biblical writings, such as the Hebrew Bible and Christian Bibles, are considered sacred and authoritative by their respective faith groups. The limits of the canon were effectively set by the proto-orthodox churches from the 1st throughout the 4th century; however, the status of the scriptures has been a topic of scholarly discussion in the later churches. Increasingly, the biblical works have been subjected to literary and historical criticism in an effort to interpret the biblical texts, independent of churches and dogmatic influences.
In the middle of the second century, Marcion of Sinope proposed rejecting the entire Jewish Bible. He considered the God portrayed therein to be a lesser deity, a demiurge, and that the law of Moses was contrived.
Jews discount the New Testament and Old Testament deuterocanonicals, Jews and most Christians discredit the legitimacy of New Testament apocrypha, and a view sometimes referred to as Jesuism does not affirm the scriptural authority of any biblical text other than the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.
Elizabeth Anderson, a professor of philosophy and women’s studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, states that “the Bible contains both good and evil teachings”, and it is “morally inconsistent”.
Anderson criticizes commands God gave to men in the Old Testament, such as: kill adulterers, homosexuals, and “people who work on the Sabbath” (Leviticus 20:10; Leviticus 20:13; Exodus 35:2, respectively); to commit ethnic cleansing (Exodus 34:11–14, Leviticus 26:7–9); commit genocide (Numbers 21: 2–3, Numbers 21:33–35, Deuteronomy 2:26–35, and Joshua 1–12); and other mass killings. Anderson considers the Bible to permit slavery, the beating of slaves, the rape of female captives in wartime, polygamy (for men), the killing of prisoners, and child sacrifice. She also provides several examples to illustrate what she considers “God’s moral character”: “Routinely punishes people for the sins of others … punishes all mothers by condemning them to painful childbirth”, punishes four generations of descendants of those who worship other gods, kills 24,000 Israelites because some of them sinned (Numbers 25:1–9), kills 70,000 Israelites for the sin of David in 2 Samuel 24:10–15, and “sends two bears out of the woods to tear forty-two children to pieces” because they called someone names in 2 Kings 2:23–24.
Anderson criticizes what she terms morally repugnant lessons of the New Testament. She claims that “Jesus tells us his mission is to make family members hate one another, so that they shall love him more than their kin” (Matt 10:35–37), that “Disciples must hate their parents, siblings, wives, and children (Luke 14:26)”, and that Peter and Paul elevate men over their wives “who must obey their husbands as gods” (1 Corinthians 11:3, 14:34–35, Eph. 5:22–24, Col. 3:18, 1 Tim. 2: 11–12, 1 Pet. 3:1). Anderson states that the Gospel of John implies that “infants and anyone who never had the opportunity to hear about Christ are damned [to hell], through no fault of their own”.
Simon Blackburn states that the “Bible can be read as giving us a carte blanche for harsh attitudes to children, the mentally handicapped, animals, the environment, the divorced, unbelievers, people with various sexual habits, and elderly women”.
Blackburn criticizes what he terms morally suspect themes of the New Testament. He notes some “moral quirks” of Jesus: that he could be “sectarian” (Matt 10:5–6), racist (Matt 15:26 and Mark 7:27), and placed no value on animal life (Luke 8: 27–33).
Blackburn provides examples of Old Testament moral criticisms, such as the phrase in Exodus 22:18, (“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”) which he says has “helped to burn alive tens or hundreds of thousands of women in Europe and America”. He states that the Old Testament God apparently has “no problems with a slave-owning society”, considers birth control a crime punishable by death, and “is keen on child abuse”. Additional examples that are questioned today are the prohibition on touching women during their “period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19–24)”, the apparent approval of selling daughters into slavery (Exodus 21:7), and the obligation to put to death someone working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2).
The historicity of the Bible is the question of the Bible’s “acceptability as a history”.[incomplete short citation] This can be extended to the question of the Christian New Testament as an accurate record of the historical Jesus and the Apostolic Age.
Scholars examine the historical context of the Bible passages, the importance ascribed to events by the authors, and the contrast between the descriptions of these events and other historical evidence.
Archaeological discoveries since the 19th century are open to interpretation, but broadly speaking they lend support to few of the Old Testament‘s narratives as history and offer evidence to challenge others.[a][b][incomplete short citation] However, some scholars still hold that the overall Old Testament narrative is historically reliable.
Biblical minimalism is a label applied to a loosely knit group of scholars who hold that the Bible’s version of history is not supported by any archaeological evidence so far unearthed, thus the Bible cannot be trusted as a history source. Author Richard I. Pervo details the non-historical sources of the Book of Acts.
Historicity of Jesus
The validity of the Gospels is challenged by writers such as Kersey Graves who claimed that mythic stories, that have parallels in the life of Jesus, support the conclusion that the gospel writers incorporated them into the story of Jesus and Gerald Massey, who specifically claimed that the life story of the Egyptian god Horus was copied by Christian Gnostics. Parallels have also been drawn between Greek myths and the life of Jesus. The comparative mythology of Jesus Christ examines the parallels that have been proposed for the Biblical portrayal of Jesus in comparison to other religious or mythical domains. Some critics have alleged that Christianity is not founded on a historical figure, but rather on a mythical creation. One of these views proposes that Jesus was the Jewish manifestation of a pan-Hellenic cult, known as Osiris-Dionysus.
Christ myth theory proponents claim that the age, authorship, and authenticity of the Gospels can not be verified, thus the Gospels can not bear witness to the historicity of Jesus. This is in contrast with writers such as David Strauss, who regarded only the supernatural elements of the gospels as myth, but whereas these supernatural myths were a point of contention, there was no refutation of the gospels’ authenticity as a witness to the historicity of Jesus.
Critics of the Gospels such as Richard Dawkins and Thomas Henry Huxley note that they were written long after the death of Jesus and that we have no real knowledge of the date of composition of the Gospels. Annie Besant and Thomas Paine note that the authors of the Gospels are not known.
There are many places in the Bible in which inconsistencies—such as different numbers and names for the same feature, and different sequences for the same events—have been alleged and presented by critics as difficulties. Responses to these criticisms include the modern documentary hypothesis, the two-source hypothesis, and theories that the pastoral epistles are pseudonymous.:p.47
However, authors such as Raymond Brown have presented arguments that the Gospels contradict each other in various important respects and on various important details. W. D. Davies and E. P. Sanders state that: “on many points, especially about Jesus’ early life, the evangelists were ignorant … they simply did not know, and, guided by rumour, hope or supposition, did the best they could”. Yet, E.P. Sanders has also opined, “The dominant view today seems to be that we can know pretty well what Jesus was out to accomplish, that we can know a lot about what he said, and that those two things make sense within the world of first-century Judaism.” More critical scholars see the nativity stories either as completely fictional accounts, or at least constructed from traditions that predate the Gospels.
For example, many versions of the Bible specifically point out that the most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses did not include Mark 16:9–20, i.e., the Gospel of Mark originally ended at Mark 16:8, and additional verses were added a few hundred years later. This is known as the “Markan Appendix”.
Translation of scripture into the vernacular (such as English and hundreds of other languages), though a common phenomenon, is also a subject of debate and criticism. For readability, clarity, or other reasons, translators may choose different wording or sentence structure, and some translations may choose to paraphrase passages. Because many of the words in the original language have ambiguous or difficult to translate meanings, debates over correct interpretation occur. For instance, at creation (Gen 1:2), is רוח אלהים (ruach ‘elohiym) the “wind of god”, “spirit of god”(i.e., the Holy Spirit in Christianity), or a “mighty wind” over the primordial deep? In Hebrew, רוח (ruach) can mean “wind”, “breath” or “spirit”. Both ancient and modern translators are divided over this and many other such ambiguities. Another example is the word used in the Masoretic Text [Isa 7:14] to indicate the woman who would bear Immanuel is alleged to mean a young, unmarried woman in Hebrew, while Matthew 1:23 follows the Septuagint version of the passage that uses the Greek word parthenos, translated virgin, and is used to support the Christian idea of virgin birth. Those who view the Masoretic Text, which forms the basis of most English translations of the Old Testament, as being more accurate than the Septuagint, and trust its usual translation, may see this as an inconsistency, whereas those who take the Septuagint to be accurate may not.
More recently, several discoveries of ancient manuscripts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Codex Sinaiticus, have led to modern translations like the New International Version differing somewhat from the older ones such as the 17th century King James Version, removing verses not present in the earliest manuscripts (see List of omitted Bible verses), some of which are acknowledged as interpolations, such as the Comma Johanneum, others having several highly variant versions in very important places, such as the resurrection scene in Mark 16. The King-James-Only Movement rejects these changes and upholds the King James Version as the most accurate.
The Bible and science
Common points of criticism against the Bible are the Genesis creation narrative, Genesis flood myth, and the Tower of Babel. According to young Earth creationism, flat earth theory, and geocentrism, which all take a literal view of the book of Genesis, the universe and all forms of life on Earth were created directly by God roughly 6,000 years ago, a global flood killed almost all life on Earth, and the diversity of languages originated from God confusing his people, who were in the process of constructing a large tower. These assertions, however, are contradicted by both the natural and social sciences. For instance, cosmological evidence suggests that the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old. Analyses of the geological time scale date the Earth to be 4.5 billion years old. Developments in astronomical sciences show the Solar System formed in a protoplanetary disk roughly 4.6 billion years ago. Physics and cosmology show that the Universe expanded, at a rapid rate, from quantum fluctuations in a process known as the Big Bang. Research within biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and geology has provided sufficient evidence to show life originated over 4 billion years ago through chemical processes. Countless fossils present throughout the fossil record, as well as research in molecular biology, genetics, anatomy, physiology, zoology, and other life sciences show all living organisms evolved over billions of years and share a common ancestry. Archaeological excavations have expanded human history, with material evidence of ancient cultures older than 6,000 years old. Moreover, 10,000 years is not enough time to account for the current amount of genetic variation in humans. If all humans were descended from two individuals that lived less than 10,000 years ago, it would require an impossibly high rate of mutation to reach humanity’s current level of genetic diversity.
The argument that the literal story of Genesis can qualify as science collapses on three major grounds: the creationists’ need to invoke miracles in order to compress the events of the earth’s history into the biblical span of a few thousand years; their unwillingness to abandon claims clearly disproved, including the assertion that all fossils are products of Noah’s flood; and their reliance upon distortion, misquote, half-quote, and citation out of context to characterize the ideas of their opponents.
The BioLogos Foundation has sought to reconcile these scientific challenges with the Christian faith.
According to one of the world’s leading biblical archaeologists, William G. Dever,
Archaeology certainly doesn’t prove literal readings of the Bible…It calls them into question, and that’s what bothers some people. Most people really think that archaeology is out there to prove the Bible. No archaeologist thinks so. … From the beginnings of what we call biblical archeology, perhaps 150 years ago, scholars, mostly western scholars, have attempted to use archeological data to prove the Bible. And for a long time it was thought to work. William Albright, the great father of our discipline, often spoke of the “archeological revolution.” Well, the revolution has come but not in the way that Albright thought. The truth of the matter today is that archeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and even the New Testament than it provides answers, and that’s very disturbing to some people.
Dever also wrote:
Archaeology as it is practiced today must be able to challenge, as well as confirm, the Bible stories. Some things described there really did happen, but others did not. The biblical narratives about Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Solomon probably reflect some historical memories of people and places, but the ‘larger than life’ portraits of the Bible are unrealistic and contradicted by the archaeological evidence….
I am not reading the Bible as Scripture… I am in fact not even a theist. My view all along—and especially in the recent books—is first that the biblical narratives are indeed ‘stories’, often fictional and almost always propagandistic, but that here and there they contain some valid historical information…
According to Dever, the scholarly consensus is that the figure of Moses is legendary, and not historical. However, he states that a “Moses-like figure” may have existed somewhere in the southern Transjordan in the mid-13th century BC.
This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, YHWH, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai.
Israel Finkelstein told The Jerusalem Post that Jewish archaeologists have found no historical or archaeological evidence to back the biblical narrative of the Exodus, the Jews’ wandering in Sinai or Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. On the alleged Temple of Solomon, Finkelstein said that there is no archaeological evidence to prove it really existed. Professor Yoni Mizrahi, an independent archaeologist who has worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency, agreed with Finkelstein.
Regarding the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said:
Really, it’s a myth … This is my career as an archaeologist. I should tell them the truth. If the people are upset, that is not my problem.
- Richard Dawkins
- Matt Dillahunty
- Albert Einstein
- Sam Harris
- Christopher Hitchens
- Robert G. Ingersoll
- Thomas Jefferson
- Thomas Paine
- Bertrand Russell
- Mark Twain
- Bible conspiracy theory
- Biblical criticism
- Criticism of the Book of Mormon
- Criticism of the Quran
- Criticism of the Talmud
- Historical criticism (higher criticism)
- Misquoting Jesus
- “Biblical archaeology has helped us understand a lot about the world of the Bible and clarified a considerable amount of what we find in the Bible. But the archaeological record has not been friendly for one vital issue, Israel’s origins: the period of slavery in Egypt, the mass departure of Israelite slaves from Egypt, and the violent conquest of the land of Canaan by the Israelites. The strong consensus is that there is at best sparse indirect evidence for these biblical episodes, and for the conquest there is considerable evidence against it.”, Peter Enns
- “So although much of the archaeological evidence demonstrates that the Hebrew Bible cannot in most cases be taken literally, many of the people, places and things probably did exist at some time or another.” Jonathan Michael Golden and Joseph Golden
- Friedman, Richard Elliott (2019). Who Wrote the Bible?. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 6. ISBN 9781501192401. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
- Encarta-encyclopedie Winkler Prins (1993–2002) s.v. “Astruc, Jean”. Microsoft Corporation/Het Spectrum.
- Encarta-encyclopedie Winkler Prins (1993–2002) s.v. “Pentateuch. §2. Theorie van gesplitste bronnen”.
- Bart D. Ehrman (2002). “16: Forgeries in the Name of Paul”. Lost Christianities. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
- Luke Timothy Johnson (2008). The First and Second Letters to Timothy: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 35A, Anchor Yale Bible. New Haven; London: Yale University Press. p. 56.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2003). Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. New York: Oxford. pp. 122–123, 185. ISBN 978-0-19-514183-2.
- Pagels, Elaine (1 March 1992). The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-56338-039-6.
What perspectives can such analysis offer —if any— on the question of Paul’s own relation to gnostics? Much of the discussion, as B. Pearson notes, has focused on allegedly “gnostic terminology” in Paul’s letters.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford. pp. 372–3. ISBN 978-0-19-515462-7.Brown, Raymond E. (1997). Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible. pp. 621, 639, 654. ISBN 978-0-385-24767-2. Scholars who hold to Pauline authorship include Wohlenberg, Lock, Meinertz, Thornell, Schlatter, Spicq, Jeremais, Simpson, Kelly, and Fee. Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, p. 622.
- Cutner, Herbert (1 July 1986). Jesus: God, Man Or Myth. Health Research Books. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7873-0235-1.
In his pamphlet Paul the Gnostic Opponent of Peter Gerald Massey proves quite clearly to any unbiased reader that “Paul was not a supporter of the system known as Historical Christianity, which was founded on a belief in the Christ carnalized; an assumption that the Christ had been made flesh, but that he was its unceasing and deadly opponent during his lifetime; and that after his death his writings were tampered with, interpolated, and re-indoctrinated by his old enemies, the forgers and falsifiers, who first began to weave the web of the Papacy in Rome.”
- Freke, Timothy; Gandy, Peter (June 2006). The Laughing Jesus: Religious Lies And Gnostic Wisdom. Three Rivers Press (CA). p. 73. ISBN 978-1-4000-8279-7.
Not only is Irenaeus the first person in history to mention Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and The Acts of the Apostles, he also claims to be in possession of a number of letters by Paul which have not been heard of previously. In these letters, which are known as the ‘pastorals’, Paul has been transformed from a gnostic into a literalist. Of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament, the three letters that are most widely dismissed by scholars as forgeries are the pastorals, which gnostics at the time also refused to acknowledge as authentic.
- “Bible.” The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia. West Chiltington: Crystal Reference, 2005. Credo Reference. 29 July 2009
- Vincent L. Milner; Hannah Adams (1860). Religious Denominations of the World: Comprising a General View of the Origin, History, and Condition, of the Various Sects of Christians, the Jews and Mahometans, as Well as the Pagan Forms of Religion Existing in the Different Countries of the Earth; with Sketches of the Founders of Various Religious Sects. J. W. Bradley. p. 325.
He [Marcion] further maintained that the law of Moses, with its threats and promises of things terrestrial, was a contrivance of the evil principle in order to bind men still more to the earth. (Image of p. 325 at Google Books)
- Jackson, S H. (1824). The Jew; being a defence of Judaism against all adversaries, and the attacks of Israel’s advocate [publ. by the American society for meliorating the condition of the Jews], ed. [really written] by S.H. Jackson. pp. 86, 90.
Inquiry into the nature of any proposition is absolutely necessary ; particularly in matters offered for our [the Jews] conversion. And it is a very just observation of Mr. Basnage, who says, “We must prove the divine authority of the Gospel (to the Jews) before we engage in the particulars of other controversies.” (History of the Jews, b. 7. c. 34.) And I add, till this is done, and the Jews admit the divine authority of the New Testament, nothing can be urged from thence for their conversion : for, in controversies, neither party can, with the least shadow of reason, make use of any authority which is not admitted or granted by the other. […] I conclude that the writers of the New Testament could not be under the infallible guidance of God ; neither do I find that they published or gave out their writings as such. And if they did not declare themselves inspired, what authority could any one else have to declare them so? On the contrary, it very evidently appears that there was no scriptures, no writings, deemed canonical in what is called the first ages of ……ianity [Christianity], but the Old Testament ! (Image of p. 86 & p. 90 at Google Books)
- Anderson 2007, p. 336.
- Anderson 2007, p. 337
- Anderson 2007, pp. 336–337.
- Anderson 2007, p. 338.
- Anderson 2007, p. 339.
- Blackburn 2001, p. 12.
- Blackburn 2001, pp. 11–12.
- Blackburn 2003, pp. 11–12: “Then the persona of Jesus in the Gospels has his fair share of moral quirks. He can be sectarian: ‘Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matt. 10:5–6).”
- Blackburn 2001, pp. 10, 12.
- Blackburn 2001, p. 11.
- Thompson 2014, p. 164.
- Enns 2013, p. unpaginated.
- Davies, Philip (April 2010). “Beyond Labels: What Comes Next?”. The Bible and Interpretation. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
It has been accepted for decades that the Bible is not in principle either historically reliable or unreliable, but both: it contains both memories of real events and also fictions.
- Golden & Golden 2004, p. 275.
- Grabbe 2007.
- Nur Masalha (20 October 2014). The Zionist Bible: Biblical Precedent, Colonialism and the Erasure of Memory. Routledge. p. 228. ISBN 978-1-317-54465-4.
critical archaeology — which has become an independent professional discipline with its own conclusions and its observations — presents us with a picture of a reality of ancient Palestine completely different from the one that is described in the Hebrew Bible; Holy Land archaeology is no longer using the Hebrew Bible as a reference point or an historical source; the traditional biblical archaeology is no longer the ruling paradigm in Holy Land archaeology; for the critical archaeologists the Bible is read like other ancient texts: as literature which may may contain historical information (Herzog, 2001: 72–93; 1999: 6–8)
- As J.A. Thompson concludes, ‘it is perfectly true to say that biblical archaeology has done a great deal to correct the impression that was abroad at the close of the last century and in the early part of this century, that biblical history was of doubtful trustworthiness in many places. If one impression stands out more clearly than any other today, it is that on all hands the overall historicity of the Old Testament tradition is admitted.” J. A. Thompson, The Bible and Archaeology, 3rd ed., fully rev. (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1982), 4; See also, W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Baltimore, 1955), p. 176.
- Casey, Maurice (16 January 2014). Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?. A&C Black. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-567-59224-8.
Thomas L. Thompson was an American Catholic born in 1939 in Detroit. He was awarded a B.A. at Duquesne University, a Catholic university in Pittsburgh, USA, in 1962, and a Ph.D. at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1976. …[Thompson] refuted the attempts of Albright and others to defend the historicity of the most ancient parts of biblical literature history.
- Moore, Megan Bishop; Kelle, Brad E. (17 May 2011). Biblical History and Israel S Past: The Changing Study of the Bible and History. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-8028-6260-0.
The minimalists’ first main claim, that the Bible could not be considered reliable evidence for what happened in ancient Israel, is based on a View of the text that was influenced by literary criticism and philosophical criticism of history writing. Philosophical and literary examinations of history writing are concerned with the literary shape of the text, often called history’s poetics. Such study recognizes that historians chose data and put it into a narrative using preconceived notions of the meaning of the past. Thus, literary considerations of history blur the line between history writing and fiction. The events of history, like those of fiction, were seen as emplotted, or directed into a meaningful story line by an author. It is not difficult to see how the claim that history and fiction are quite similar can raise serious questions about the accuracy of a historical account.
- results, search (9 December 2008). The Mystery of Acts: Unraveling Its Story. Polebridge Press. ISBN 978-1598150124.
- Graves, Kersey (1875). The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors: Or, Christianity Before Christ, Containing New, Startling, and Extraordinary Revelations in Religious History, which Disclose the Oriental Origin of All the Doctrines, Principles, Precepts, and Miracles of the Christian New Testament, and Furnishing a Key for Unlocking Many of Its Sacred Mysteries, Besides Comprising the History of 16 Heathen Crucified Gods. Freethought Press. pp. 22–23.
3. Here I desire to impress upon the minds of my clerical brethren the important fact, that the gospel histories of Christ were written by men who had formerly been Jews (see Acts xxi. 20), and probably possessing the strong proclivity to imitate and borrow which their bible shows was characteristic of that nation ; and being written many years after Christ’s death, according to that standard Christian author, Dr. Lardner, it was impossible, under such circumstances, for them to separate (if they had desired to) the real facts and events of his life from the innumerable fictions and fables then afloat everywhere relative to the heathen Gods who had pre-enacted a similar history. Two reasons are thus furnished for their constructing a history of Christ almost identical with that of other Gods, as shown in chapters XXX., XXXI. and XXXII. of this work. (Image of p. 22 & p. 23 at Google Books)
- Massey, Gerald (1883). “The Kamite Typology”. The Natural Genesis: Or, Second Part of A Book of the Beginnings, Containing an Attempt to Recover and Reconstitute the Lost Origines of the Myths and Mysteries, Types and Symbols, Religion and Language, with Egypt for the Mouthpiece and Africa as the Birthplace. 1. Williams and Norgate. p. 13.
The human mind has long suffered an eclipse and been darkened and dwarfed in the shadow of ideas, the real meaning of which has been lost to the moderns. Myths and allegories whose significance was once unfolded to initiates in the mysteries have been adopted in ignorance and re-issued as real truths directly and divinely vouchsafed to mankind for the first and only time: The earlier religions had their myths interpreted. We have ours mis-interpreted. And a great deal of what has been imposed on us as God’s own true and sole revelation to man is a mass of inverted myth. (Image of p. 13 at Google Books)
- Massey, Gerald (1907). “Child-Horus”. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World: A Work of Reclamation and Restitution in Twelve Books. 2. T. F. Unwin. p. 752.
Christian ignorance notwithstanding, the Gnostic Jesus is the Egyptian Horus who was continued by the various sects of gnostics under both the names of Horus and of Jesus. In the gnostic iconography of the Roman Catacombs child-Horus reappears as the mummy-babe who wears the solar disc. The royal Horus is represented in the cloak of royalty, and the phallic emblem found there witnesses to Jesus being Horus of the resurrection. (Image of p. 752 at Google Books)
- Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter (1999) The Jesus Mysteries. London: Thorsons (Harper Collins)
- Barnes, Harry Elmer (1929). The Twilight of Christianity. New York: Vanguard Press. pp. 390–391.
Among the more eminent scholars and critics who have contended that Jesus was not an actual historical figure we mention Bruno Bauer, Kaithoff, Drews, Stendel, Felder, Deye, Jensen, Lublinski, Bolland, Van der Berg, Virolleaud, Couchoud, Massey, Bossi, Niemojewski, Brandes, Robertson, Mead, Whittaker, Carpenter and W. B. Smith.
- Drews, Arthur (1912). “Part 4, Section 1”. The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus … Translated by Joseph McCabe [from Die Christusmythe.]. London.
There is no other source of the belief in an historical Jesus but the gospels. The credibility of the historical documents of Christianity finds no support outside themselves. (Part 4, Section 1. at Wikisource)
- Evans, Elizabeth E. (1900). The Christ Myth: A Study. Truth Seeker Company. p. 17.
There is evidence that all the Gospels were borrowed from an earlier source, but whether that source was history or romance, and whether the author or the later compilers dressed up foreign and ancient materials in local and contemporary attire, cannot be known. The earliest “Fathers” of the Christian church do not mention nor allude to any one of the Gospels, but they do quote from some other work or works in language similar to and in substance sometimes agreeing with sometimes differing from, the canonical Gospels. (Image of p. 17 at Google Books)
- “New Foe Of Religion Arises”. Chicago Tribune. February 6, 1910. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
New Foe of Religion Arises—German Professor Maintains the Messiah Never Lived.—Big Debates in Public.—Women Overcome by Hysteria Interrupt Disputants.—[by cable to the Chicago Tribune.]—Berlin. Feb. 5.—Berlin was this week the scene of one of the most remarkable theological discussions since the days of Martin Luther. It was provoked by Prof. Arthur Drews of Karlsruhe, who caused a public sensation by plastering the billboards of the town with posters propounding the startling question:—”Did Jesus Christ ever live?” …Prof. Drews appeared in Berlin under the auspices of the League of Monists, whose position, as their name denotes, is akin to those who express their creed in the formula, ‘There is no God but God; for hear, O Israel, the Lord, thy God, is the one God.’—The professor laid down his theories after the classic manner of old time university disputations. The gist of his position in large measure was like the mythical theory of David Strauss, which created a sensation fifty years ago. Strauss held there was verity in the historic Christ, but that the vast mass of miracle and supernatural wonders had been woven like wreaths around the head of Jesus. Drews goes further. He alleges there never was such a person as Jesus of Nazareth.
- Dawkins, Richard (16 January 2008). “The Argument from Scripture”. The God Delusion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-547-34866-7.
The Argument from Scripture: The fact that something is written down is persuasive to people not used to asking questions like: ‘Who wrote it, and when?’ ‘How did they know what to write?’ ‘Did they, in their time, really mean what we, in our time, understand them to be saying?’ ‘Were they unbiased observers, or did they have an agenda that coloured their writing?’ Ever since the nineteenth century, scholarly theologians have made an overwhelming case that the gospels are not reliable accounts of what happened in the history of the real world. All were written long after the death of Jesus, and also after the epistles of Paul, which mention almost none of the alleged facts of Jesus’ life. All were then copied and recopied, through many different ‘Chinese Whispers generations’ (see Chapter 5) by fallible scribes who, in any case, had their own religious agendas.
- Huxley, Thomas Henry (1892). “Agnosticism And Christianity”. Essays Upon Some Controverted Questions. Macmillan. p. 364.
Agnosticism And Christianity: Therefore, although it be, as I believe, demonstrable that we have no real knowledge of the authorship, or of the date of composition of the Gospels, as they have come down to us, and that nothing better than more or less probable guesses can be arrived at on that subject. (Image of p. 364 at Google Books)
- Besant, Annie Wood (1893). Christianity, Its Evidences, Its Origin, Its Morality, Its History. R. Forder. p. 261.
(D.) That before about A.D. 180 there is no trace of FOUR gospels among the Christians. …As it is not pretended by any that there is any mention of four Gospels before the time of Irenaeus, excepting this “harmony,” pleaded by some as dated about A.D. 170 and by others as between 170 and 180, it would be sheer waste of time and space to prove further a point admitted on all hands. This step of our argument is, then on solid and unassailable ground —That before about A.D. 180 there is no trace of FOUR gospels among the Christians. (E.) That, before that date, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are not selected as the four evangelists. This position necessarily follows from the preceding one [D.], since four evangelists could not be selected until four Gospels were recognised. Here, again, Dr. Giles supports the argument we are building up. He says : “Justin Martyr never once mentions by name the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This circumstance is of great importance ; for those who assert that our four canonical Gospels are contemporary records of our Saviour’s ministry, ascribe them to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and to no other writers.” (Image of p. 261 at Google Books)
- Paine, Thomas (1898). The Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology. Truth Seeker Company. p. 143.
But exclusive of this the presumption is that the books called the Evangelists, and ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and that they are impositions. The disordered state of the history in these four books, the silence of one book upon matters related in the others, and the disagreement that is to be found among them, implies that they are the production of some unconnected individuals, many years after the things they pretend to relate, each of whom made his own legend; and not the writings of men living intimately together, as the men called apostles are supposed to have done; in fine, that they have been manufactured, as the books of the Old Testament have been by other persons than those whose names they bear. (Image of p. 143 at Google Books)
- “Contradictions from the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible”. Skepticsannotatedbible.com. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
- Knight, George William, Howard Marshall, and W. Ward Gasque. The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary). William. B. Eerdmans, 1997. ISBN 0-8028-2395-5 / 9780802823953
- Brown, Raymond Edward (1999-05-18). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library). Yale University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-300-14008-8.
- W.D Davies and E. P. Sanders, ‘Jesus from the Jewish point of view’, in The Cambridge History of Judaism ed William Horbury, vol 3: the Early Roman Period, 1984.
- Sanders, E.P. (1985). Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress. pp. 2 (Kindle Edition).
- Sanders, Ed Parish (1993). The Historical Figure of Jesus. London: Allen Lane. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-7139-9059-1.
- Hurtado, Larry W. (June 2003). Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-8028-6070-5.
- Brown, Raymond Edward (1977). The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. pp. 104–121. ISBN 978-0-385-05907-7.
- The Continuing Christian Need for Judaism, by John Shelby Spong, Christian Century September 26, 1979, p. 918. see http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1256 Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
- Amy-Jill Levine; Marianne Blickenstaff (2001). Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings. A&C Black. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-8264-6333-3.
- “Bible.” The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Credo Reference. 29 July 2009
- The Bible in the Syriac tradition, Sebastian P. Brock, p. 13
- Day, John (24 January 1985). God’s Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea: Echoes of a Canaanite Myth in the Old Testament. CUP Archive. ISBN 9780521256001 – via Google Books.
- Understanding Biblical Israel: a reexamination of the origins of monotheism, Stanley Ned Rosenbaum
- The Jewish religion: a companion By Louis Jacobs, p. 251
- Eric Pement, Gimme the Bible that Paul used: A look at the King James Only debate onlineArchived 2007-10-12 at the Wayback Machine.
- “Answers to Creationist Attacks on Carbon-14 Dating”. 19 November 2008.
- “Cosmic Detectives”. The European Space Agency (ESA). 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
- Barbara Bradley Hagerty (August 9, 2011). “Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve”. All Things Considered.
- The Bible’s Buried Secrets, PBS Nova, 2008
- Dever, William G. (March–April 2006). “The Western Cultural Tradition Is at Risk”. Biblical Archaeology Review. 32 (2): 26 & 76.
- Dever, William G. (January 2003). “Contra Davies”. The Bible and Interpretation. Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- William G. Dever “What Remains of the House That Albright Built?”, in George Ernest Wright, Frank Moore Cross, Edward Fay Campbell, Floyd Vivian Filson (eds.) The Biblical Archaeologist, American Schools of Oriental Research, Scholars Press, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2 March 1993, pp. 25–35, p. 33: “the overwhelming scholarly consensus today is that Moses is a mythical figure.”
- Dever, William G. (2002). What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?(Paperback ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich. [u.a.]: Eerdmans. pp. 98–99. ISBN 9780802821263.
- The Nature of Home: A Lexicon of Essays, Lisa Knopp, p. 126
- Deconstructing the walls of Jericho Archived December 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- “Senior Israeli archaeologist casts doubt on Jewish heritage of Jerusalem”. Middle East Monitor. 9 August 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-09-29.
- Did the Red Sea Part? No Evidence, Archaeologists Say, The New York Times, April 3, 2007
- Einstein: “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”
- Brandt, Eric T., and Timothy Larsen (2011). “The Old Atheism Revisited: Robert G. Ingersoll and the Bible”. Journal of the Historical Society. 11 (2): 211–238. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5923.2011.00330.x.
- Thomas Jefferson’s Abridgement of the Words of Jesus of Nazareth (Charlottesville: Mark Beliles, 1993), 14.
- Anderson, Elizabeth (2007). “If God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?”. In Hitchens, Christopher (ed.). The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81608-6.
- Blackburn, Simon (2001). Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280442-6.
- — (2003). Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Very Short Introductions. OUP. ISBN 9780191577925.
- Enns, Peter (10 January 2013). “3 Things I Would Like to See Evangelical Leaders Stop Saying about Biblical Scholarship”. Peter Enns. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
- Golden, Jonathan Michael; Golden, Joseph (2004). Ancient Canaan and Israel: New Perspectives. ABC-CLIO. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-57607-897-6.
- Grabbe, Lester L. (25 October 2007). “Some Recent Issues in the Study of the History of Israel”. Understanding the History of Ancient Israel. British Academy. doi:10.5871/bacad/9780197264010.003.0005. ISBN 978-0-19-726401-0.
- The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, by C. Dennis McKinsey (Prometheus Books 1995)
- The Historical Evidence for Jesus, by G. A. Wells (Prometheus Books 1988)
- The Bible Unearthed, by I. Finkelstein and N. Asherman (Touchstone 2001)
- David and Solomon, by I. Finkelstein and N. Asherman (Freepress 2006)
- The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty (Age of Reason Publications 1999)
- Not the Impossible Faith, by R. Carrier (Lulu 2009)
- BC The Archaeology of the Bible Lands, by Magnus Magnusson (Bodley Head 1977)
- Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, by Dan Barker (Ulysses Press 2008)
- Why I became an Atheist, by John W. Loftus (Prometheus books 2008)
- The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins (Blackswan 2007)
- 101 Myths of the Bible by Gary Greenberg (Sourcebooks 2000)
- Secret Origins of the Bible by Tim Callahan (Millennium Press 2002)
- The Origins of Biblical Monotheism by Mark S. Smith (Oxford University Press 2001)
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