The Bible: History, Strength and Weaknesses!

· Christianity, CHRISTIANITY, Islam, Religion
Authors

Modern scholarship is confirming every thing that the Holy Quran said about the Bible 1400 years ago.

This is a collection of more than 20 articles and several video clips.


Let me lay down a few quick facts about the Bible in the very beginning.  The Sheperd of Hemas was part of the canon for centuries and now it is not.  The Shepherd of Hermas (Greek: Ποιμήν του Ερμά; Hebrew: רועה הרמס‎; sometimes just called The Shepherd) is a Christian literary work of the 1st or 2nd century, considered a valuable book by many Christians, and considered canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus.[1][2]

The Book of revelation was not in the canon for centuries and now it is. Martin Luther questioned the inclusion of Book of James in the canon.  Even the Pope Benedict XVI agrees that the last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark are a later addition.

Hebrew Old Testament versus the Greek Old Testament: ‘Septuagint,’ explains the glossed over story!

Greek version has several books that were not in the original Hebrew Old Testament.  The translated version into Greek is called Septuagint.  The word ‘version,’ is more fitting than ‘translation,’ because of dramatic differences!  First let us see, what the Holy Quran has to say about it:

Surely, We sent down the Torah wherein was guidance and light. By it did the Prophets, who were obedient to Us, judge for the Jews, as did the godly people and those learned in the Law; for they were required to preserve the Book of Allah, and because they were guardians over it. (Al Quran 5:45) The Holy Quran says about itself and Torah: And before it there was the Book of Moses, a guide and a mercy; and this is a Book in the Arabic language fulfilling previous prophecies, that it may warn those who do wrong; and as glad tidings to those who do good. (Al Quran 46:13) And: We gave Moses and Aaron the Discrimination and a Light and a Reminder for the righteous, those who fear their Lord in secret, and who dread the Hour of Judgment. (Al Quran 21:49-50) On a critical note, the Holy Quran says: Woe, therefore, to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may take for it a paltry price. Woe, then, to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for what they earn.  (Al Quran 2:80)

The last verse quoted above from the Holy Quran is precisely confirmed when we read, how in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint), 14-15 books were added, on top of the books in the Hebrew Bible, from a period when there were no Jewish Prophets.  For details please see my article about Septuagint and comments in their.

The Old Testament versus the New Testament

“And the Jews say, ‘The Christians stand on nothing;’ and the Christians say, ‘The Jews stand on nothing;’ while they both read the same Book. Even thus said those who had no knowledge, like what they say. But Allah shall judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they disagree.” (Al Quran 2:114)

This verse gives us wonderful insight into comparative religions, especially in the contrast between Judaism and Christianity.  In all the teachings wherein Christianity differs with Judaism and Islam, by comparing the Old Testament and the New Testament, we can very easily demonstrate the truth of the Holy Quran and Islam.  In this post I will share a few video clips, which demonstrate this reality, as Christian and Jewish apologists quibble with each other.

Read and listen more on this theme of comparison of the Old and the New Testament.

Prof. Bart Ehrman versus Shastri Philip

Christian apologists choose to bury their head in sand and keep professing accuracy of the Bible. I am going to use Shastri Philip as an example as he is fairly active in Google-knols.  Here is the introduction section of a Google knol by Shastri Philip.  When read against the findings and books of Prof. Bart Ehrman, how hollow Shastri becomes.  Read his text as he preaches inerrancy of the Bible:
Introduction: Before taking up any discussion on Bible and Science, it must be understood very clearly that Bible was NOT written primarily to serve as a textbook of science. Rather, it was written mainly to communicate divine truths to the common man, and hence the language is popular and not technical in style. However, since it is a communication inspired by God, and since God is all-knowing, nothing written in the original autographs can go contrary to the facts of any discipline of science.
Every age has its popular theories and fads, and many of them seem to contradict some statement or other of the Bible. However, we must remember that the popularity of a theory has nothing to do with its scientific accuracy or merit. Therefore if any theory seems to contradict any portion of Bible, it is better to wait till more facts come to light.
In relation to the discussion of Bible and Science, the history of Christianity shows two major types of errors. First, some people who do not have a proper perspective about scientific theories immediately try to harmonize each and every currently popular theory with the Bible, sometimes in every minute detail. Sooner or later that popular theory is discarded by the scientific community, making that “harmonization” laughable.
 
A Good Example Of A Book That Rejects

The Reliability Of The Bible On Many Occasions
The second major error is to reject those biblical passage that seem to be in conflict with a scientific theory. People who do this are only exhibiting their ignorance of history which has time and again shown that it was our knowledge, not the Bible, that was in error at a given point.
An examination of the repeated controversies will demonstrate immediately that there is a curious prejudice in the human hearts against the Bible. If a scientist makes a statement, it is generally accepted with awe even if there is insufficient data to support his statement. On the other hand if the Bible makes a similar statement, it is looked upon with suspicion even if there are enough facts to support it. Such a prejudice is surprising because many of the theories and assumptions expressed by scientists are highly unstable and are often based upon incomplete knowledge. The reason for this peculiar behavior is obvious : the world is in revolt against God, and it will therefore accept anything which negates God’s existence and actions. It is no wonder that men are hasty to play up each and every new scientific theory against the Bible.[1]
Fallacies of such claims by Christian apologists are self-evident in this day and age of information, as the Christian apologists shamelessly keep denying the contradictions in the Bible, in face of mounting information.   I would urge you to read some of the books of Prof. Bart Ehrman if you have not done that or watch his debates, interviews or speeches on this theme on YouTube, if you have not done that already.  Here I link one of those:
Read on, and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon’s advice, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”  I have thirteen Google-knols on these issues and more will follow.  See the attachments below.  Additionally, the recent university based scholarship about the New Testament has vindicated or confirmed every thing that the Holy Quran said about the Bible.
Quranic verses about the history of the Bible and the people of the Book:
Allah is He besides Whom there is no God, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. He has sent down to thee the Book containing the truth and fulfilling that which precedes it; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel, before this, as a guidance to the people; and He has sent down the Discrimination. Surely, those who deny the Signs of Allah shall have a severe punishment. And Allah is Mighty, Possessor of the power to requite.  (Al Quran 3:3-5)
She (Mary) said, ‘My Lord, how shall I have a son, when no man has touched me?’ He said, “Such is the way of Allah, He creates what He pleases. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is. “And He will teach him the Book and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel.  (Al Quran 3:48-49)
And remember when Jesus, son of Mary, said, ‘O children of Israel, surely I am Allah’s Messenger unto you, fulfilling that which is before me of the Torah, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger who will come after me. His name will be Ahmad.’ And when he came to them with clear proofs, they said, ‘This is clear enchantment.’

(Al Quran 61:7)
Verses about some Jews:
Then your (Jews) hearts became hardened after that, till they were like stones or harder still; for of stones indeed there are some out of which gush forth streams, and of them there are some out of which flows water when they cleave asunder. And indeed, of them there are some that humble themselves for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unmindful of what you do. Do you (Muslims) expect that they will believe you when a party of them hear the word of Allah, then pervert it after they have understood it, and they know the consequences thereof ? And when they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe,’ and when they meet one another in private, they say: ‘Do you inform them of what Allah has unfolded to you, that they may thereby argue with you before your Lord? Will you not then understand?’  Do they not know that Allah knows what they conceal and what they disclose?  And some of them are illiterate; they know not the Book but their own false notions, and they do nothing but conjecture.  Woe, therefore, to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may take for it a paltry price. Woe, then, to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for what they earn.  (Al Quran 2:75-80)
Quranic verses about strengths of the Bible:
Allah is He besides Whom there is no God, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. He has sent down to thee the Book containing the truth and fulfilling that which precedes it; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel, before this, as a guidance to the people; and He has sent down the Discrimination. Surely, those who deny the Signs of Allah shall have a severe punishment. And Allah is Mighty, Possessor of the power to requite.  (Al Quran 3:3-5)
Linking the Old and the New Testament:
Surely, We sent down the Torah wherein was guidance and light. By it did the Prophets, who were obedient to Us, judge for the Jews, as did the godly people and those learned in the Law; for they were required to preserve the Book of Allah, and because they were guardians over it. Therefore fear not men but fear Me; and barter not My Signs for a paltry price. And whoso judges not by that which Allah has sent down, these it is who are the disbelievers.  And therein We prescribed for them: A life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and for other injuries equitable retaliation. And whoso waives the right thereto, it shall be an expiation for his sins; and whoso judges not by what Allah has sent down, these it is who are wrongdoers. And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, fulfilling that which was revealed before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel which contained guidance and light, fulfilling that which was revealed before it in the Torah, and a guidance and an admonition for the God-fearing.(Al Quran 5:45-47)
Additional verses:
When Allah will say, “O Jesus, son of Mary, remember My favour upon thee and upon thy mother; when I strengthened thee with the Spirit of holiness so that thou didst speak to the people in the cradle and in middle age; and when I taught thee the Book and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when thou didst fashion a creation out of clay, in the likeness of a bird, by My command; then thou didst breathe into it a new spirit and it became a soaring being by My command; and thou didst heal the night-blind and the leprous by My command; and when thou didst raise the dead by My command; and when I restrained the children of Israel from putting thee to death when thou didst come to them with clear Signs; and those who disbelieved from among them said, ‘This is nothing but clear deception.’”   (Al Quran 5:111)
Surely, Allah has purchased of the believers their persons and their property in return for the Garden they shall have; they fight in the cause of Allah, and they slay and are slain — a promise that He has made incumbent on Himself in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Qur’an. And who is more faithful to his promise than Allah? Rejoice, then, in your bargain which you have made with Him; and that it is which is the supreme triumph.  (Al Quran 9:111)
Then We caused Our Messengers to follow in their footsteps; and We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow them, and We gave him the Gospel. And We placed in the hearts of those who accepted him compassion and mercy. But monasticism which they invented for themselves — We did not prescribe it for them — for the seeking of Allah’s pleasure; but they did not observe it with due observance. Yet We gave those of them who believed their due reward, but many of them are rebellious.   (Al Quran 57:28)
Quranic verses about weaknesses of the Bible:
And the Jews say, ‘The Christians stand on nothing;’ and the Christians say, ‘The Jews stand on nothing;’ while they both read the same Book. Even thus said those who had no knowledge, like what they say. But Allah shall judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they disagree. (Al Quran 2:114)

O People of the Book! why do you dispute concerning Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? Will you not then understand? (Al Quran 3:66)
Say, ‘O People of the Book! you stand on nothing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has now been sent down to you from your Lord.’ And surely, what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will increase many of them in rebellion and disbelief; so grieve not for the disbelieving people.  (Al Quran 5:69)
Stories of atheist clergy rooted in the problems in the Bible: Daniel Dennett outlines in detail

References

  1. Shastri JC Philip’s tall and unfounded claims about the Bible
    http://knol.google.com/k/bible-and-science-001#

Sort by:Reverse sort

27 Comments

Comments RSS
  1. Zia H. Shah

    Criteria for a book to be in New Testament Canon
    Twenty seven books made into the final canon of the New Testament during the first four centuries of early Christianity and there were scores of books that were not so lucky. Here are the four criteria that early Christian leaders used to choose which books should be honored:

    1. It should be ancient.
    2. It should be written by an apostle.
    3. It should be widely used in most churches of the proto-Orthodox denomination, later to be called the Catholic Church.
    4. It should be orthodox meaning promoting the right beliefs as understood by these leaders.

    Prof. Bart Ehrman asks a very interesting question in his teaching company course, After the New Testament: the writings of the Apostolic Fathers:

    “In your judgment, what should have been the most important criteria for determining whether a book could be accepted into the canon or not? If a book was accepted because it was thought to be written by an apostle (for example, 1 Timothy or Hebrews or the book of Revelation) but later scholars have shown conclusively that it was not, in fact, written by that person, should that have any bearing on its canonical status?”

    Prof. Bart Ehrman. After the New Testament: the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Teaching Company Course Guidebook, 2005. Page 36-37.

    The canonical Gospels were thought to be written by the apostles and that was the main reason for including them in the canon. Now we know better that they were not written by the apostles, so, should we still insist in our religious zeal that the New Testament is inspired or literal word of God?

  2. Zia H. Shah

    Some well known interpolations in the Bible
    Paul Johnson writes in The History of Christianity:

    Some alterations can be identified with reasonable certitude. Thus the end of Mark (16:9-20) is not authentic. Again, the very impressive story of the woman taken in adultery, which seems to float without anchor in the gospel of John, does not occur in any manuscript before the end of the fourth century. Scholars have discovered one or two flagrant examples of the early Church ‘back-dating’ theological concepts by tampering with New Testament passages. Thus, the Trinitarian texts in the first Epistle of John, which make explicit what other texts merely hint at, originally read simply: ‘There are three which bear witness, the spirit and the water and the blood, and the three are one.’ This was altered in the fourth century to read: ‘There are three which bear witness on earth, the spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are one in Christ Jesus; and there are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Spirit, and these three are one.’
    Such manifest fabrications should not be regarded as deliberate fraud, done with intent to deceive, and to obfuscate the truth. They occur throughout the history of Christianity, up to the Renaissance and even beyond, and they spring from a concept of the nature of documentary proof which is alien to us. Thus, an earnest scribe, believing wholeheartedly that the doctrine of the Trinity was true, thought it merely an accident or oversight that it was not made explicit in 1 John, and therefore saw it as his duty to remedy the matter. He was merely doing constructive work in the cause of truth! Where these accretions occur late enough, they are easily identified and removed by modern scholars. The earlier they were inserted, the more difficult it is to detect them. And, of course, beyond a certain point, which occurs early in the second century, there is no longer any possibility of cleaning up the text.

    Paul Johnson. The History of Christianity. 1979. Pages 34.

  3. Zia H. Shah

    Poll: 3 In 10 Americans Take The Bible Literally
    A new Gallup poll reveals that three out of ten Americans believe the Bible to be the actual word of God, to be interpreted literally, word for word. These results are relatively consistent with recent results, but down from the peak levels in 1980 and 1984 when 40 percent of Americans said they took the Bible literally.

    Respondents to the poll were given three options as responses to the poll:
    •The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.

    •The Bible is the inspired word of God, but not everything in it should be taken literally.

    •The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/08/biblical-literalism_n_893358.html

  4. Zia H. Shah

    Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says
    By John Blake, CNN

    A frail man sits in chains inside a dank, cold prison cell. He has escaped death before but now realizes that his execution is drawing near.

    “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come,” the man –the Apostle Paul – says in the Bible’s 2 Timothy. “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

    The passage is one of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament. Paul, the most prolific New Testament author, is saying goodbye from a Roman prison cell before being beheaded. His goodbye veers from loneliness to defiance and, finally, to joy.

    There’s one just one problem – Paul didn’t write those words. In fact, virtually half the New Testament was written by impostors taking on the names of apostles like Paul. At least according to Bart D. Ehrman, a renowned biblical scholar, who makes the charges in his new book “Forged.”

    “There were a lot of people in the ancient world who thought that lying could serve a greater good,” says Ehrman, an expert on ancient biblical manuscripts.In “Forged,” Ehrman claims that:

    * At least 11 of the 27 New Testament books are forgeries.

    * The New Testament books attributed to Jesus’ disciples could not have been written by them because they were illiterate.

    * Many of the New Testament’s forgeries were manufactured by early Christian leaders trying to settle theological feuds.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/13/half-of-new-testament-forged-bible-scholar-says/?iref=obnetwork

  5. Zia H. Shah

    Majority of Americans Believe the Bible is Literally True and the Word of God
    As the facts about the compilation of the New Testament become better known the Christian apologists will come up with new rationalizations. However, here is the present demographic reality in the words of loonwatch.com:

    Jews and Christians no longer believe in the inerrant nature of the Bible, unlike the Muslims who take the Quran as absolutely accurate. We are told that Jews and Christians have moved beyond the Bible (even “tossed it aside!”), whereas the primitive Muslims continue to follow their archaic holy book. Therefore, the argument goes, invoking the Bible is hardly relevant, since “most Jews and Christians no longer give credence to it.”

    This argument is not grounded in fact, however. A poll by Rasmussen Reports found that a majority of all Americans (63%) believe the Bible is literally true and the Word of God, with less than a quarter (24%) disagreeing with this belief. This is quite amazing when one considers that about 20% of Americans are neither Jewish or Christian! The percentage of those who believe in the literal meaning of the Bible jumps to 70% for Protestants, and becomes overwhelming (89%) for Evangelical Christians in specific. Meanwhile, 77% of Republicans believe in the literal truth of the Bible.

    A Pew Research poll bore out fairly similar results, with 78% of Americans believing that the Bible is either the actual or inspired Word of God. This view is held by 88% of Protestants, 82% of Catholics, and 91% of other Christian groups. Contrary to the emerging scholarly consensus that the Biblical stories such as Exodus and Conquest are “best regarded as a myth”, only a minority of the public at large (19% of Americans, 11% of Protestants, 16% of Catholics, and 6% of other Christian groups) believe that the Bible is just “ancient fables, history, and legends.”

    Quite the opposite of what our opponents claim, most Christian-Americans very much believe in the accuracy of their scriptural texts. This explains, for instance, why only a minority of Christians in America believe in evolution, with “60 percent of Americans who call themselves Evangelical Christians…favor replacing evolution with creationism in schools altogether.”

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/05/majority-of-americans-believe-the-bible-is-literally-true-and-the-word-of-god/

  6. Zia H. Shah

    History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon
    Taught By Professor Bart D. Ehrman, M.Div., Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary,
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    The New Testament stands unchallenged, in the words of Professor Bart D. Ehrman, not only as the “‘bestseller’ of all time,” but also as the most important “book—or collection of books—in the history of Western civilization.”

    Yet how many of us, Christian or otherwise, are as knowledgeable about the New Testament as we would like to be? Even many who consider themselves Christian find themselves asking some—perhaps even all—of the questions so often posed by those who are not.

    What different kinds of books are in the New Testament? When, how, and why were they written? What do they teach? Who actually wrote them? How were they passed forward through history? And, perhaps most important of all, why and how did some books, and not others, come to be collected into what Christians came to consider the canon of Scripture that would define their belief for all time?

    In The History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon, Professor Ehrman offers a fast-moving yet thorough introduction to these and other key issues in the development of Christianity.

    Drawing on the award-winning teaching skills and style that have made him one of our most popular lecturers—respectful yet provocative, scholarly without sacrificing wit—Professor Ehrman has crafted a course designed to deepen the understanding of both Christians and non-Christians alike.

    “The New Testament is appreciated and respected far more than it’s known, and that’s not just true among religious people who consider themselves Christian. …

    “This set of lectures is designed to provide an introduction to the New Testament for people who recognize or appreciate its cultural importance, or who have religious commitments to it, but who have not yet had a chance to get to know where it came from, what it contains, and how it was transmitted down to us today.

    “The focus in this course will be historical, rather than theological. The course does not either presuppose faith or deny faith. It’s based neither on faith nor skepticism. … It’s simply taught from the perspective of history.”

    Learn How the Christian Canon Was Shaped and Shared

    And it’s an illuminating perspective, indeed, ranging across issues of language, oral history, the physical limitations of spreading the written word at a time when the printing press lay far in the future, and, of course, the theological forces that were shaping Christianity, molding a commonly accepted canon from the various expressions of the faith spreading across the ancient world.

    All of these factors eventually produced a canon, the New Testament, whose 27 books can be grouped into four genres:

    •The four Gospels, the accounts of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we know as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, though all four were written anonymously, with authorship being attributed only by later Christians
    •The book of Acts, which is a historical account of the life of the Christian Church and its missionary efforts after Jesus’ resurrection
    •The 21 Epistles, the letters written by Christian leaders—most notably, Paul—to Christian communities dealing with problems of faith and living
    •The Book of Revelation, sometimes called the Apocalypse of John, which describes the end of the world as we know it, with God destroying the forces of evil and establishing a perfect utopia on Earth.
    In exploring the forces that finally produced this finished canon, Professor Ehrman deals with far more than theology.

    Letters, especially those written by Paul, played an important role in the process.

    Though many of us associate letters with the modern world, Professor Ehrman explains that they were a common form of communication in the ancient world as well. In addition to being written on papyrus, they were also often cut into the surface of a wax tablet formed in a hollowed-out board. The recipients could then smooth over the wax and reuse it for a reply, sending it, in that era before postal service, just as the original had been sent, by giving it to someone they knew who’d be traveling to the appropriate community.

    Because most people in the ancient world could not read or write, letters had to be dictated and recorded by someone who could, a process reversed at the other end, where someone would be found to read the letter to the recipient.

    Letters were usually destroyed after being read so the media it was on could be used again, but if there was reason to keep them—as was the case with Paul’s letters, which were meant to be read aloud to his communities—the letters would be copied by hand, circulated, and read aloud to small church gatherings.

    http://www.teach12.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=6299&ai=52619&cm_mmc=email-_-EMAILTpPrf20110226_52619-_-na-_-na

  7. Zia H. Shah

    Role of Polycarp in the eventual formation of the New Testament canon
    Whereas, the early Muslims made a clear distinction between the revelations to the Prophet Muhammad, his own sayings and the sayings of his companions, the early Christians lumped the sayings of Jesus, with the sayings of the apostles and lumped them together with the books of the Old Testament to eventually get their Bible and labeled the amalgam as the Word of God. Prof. Bart Ehrman writes:

    “Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians is significant for a number of reasons, not least of which is the extensive use it makes of earlier Christian writings (including the Gospels and the writings of Paul) as authorities for how Christians should live and what they should believe. In some ways, this marks the beginning of the process by which certain early Christian writings were considered authoritative for the life and practice of the Church. Eventually, that process was to lead to the formation of a canon of Scripture, the ‘New’ Testament, a collection of books that was accepted as standing on equal footing with the writings of the ‘Old’ Testament (the Jewish Scriptures).

    In sum, the Letter of Polycarp shows us the early stages of a movement to consider earlier apostolic writings to be authoritative for the faith and practice of Christians. Eventually, this movement would result in the formation of the New Testament that has come down to us today.”

    Prof. Bart Ehrman. After the New Testament: the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Teaching Company Course Guidebook, 2005. Page 33-37.

  8. Zia H. Shah

    Addtional excerpts regarding compilation and authenticity of the Bible
    According to Dr. Maurice Bucaille:

    Sometimes, the author of the Bible’s presentation confines himself to informing his reader of this succinct observation which puts an end to all further questions. Sometimes he corrects it by warning him that details may subsequently have been added to the primitive text by men, but that nonetheless, the litigious character of a passage does not alter the general “truth’ that proceeds from it. This “truth’ is stressed very heavily. The Church Authorities answer for it, being the only body, With the assistance of the Holy Ghost, able to enlighten the faithful on such points. Since the Councils held in the Fourth century, it was the Church that issued the list of Holy Books, ratified by the Councils of Florence (1441), Trent (1546), and the First Vatican Council (1870), to form what today is known as the Canon. Just recently, after so many encyclicals, the Second Vatican Council published a text concerning the Revelation which is extremely important. It took three years (1962-1966) of strenuous effort to produce. The vast majority of the Bible’s readers who find this highly reassuring information at the head of a modern edition have been quite satisfied with the guarantees of authenticity made over past centuries and have hardly thought it possible to debate them.

    http://i3.makcdn.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/139591/files//2009/09/xx.pdf

  9. Zia H. Shah

    New Bible drops gender-neutral language of ’05 version
    Since its debut in 1978, the New International Version — known as the NIV — has been the Bible of choice for evangelicals, selling more copies than any other version. But a 2005 gender-inclusive edition bombed after being condemned as too liberal.

    Translators hope their latest edition, which debuted online this month, will avoid a similar fate. They’ve retained some of the language of the 2005 edition. But they also made changes — like going back to using words like “mankind” and “man” instead of “human beings” and “people” — in order to appease critics.

    It’s available for preview at BibleGateway.com, with print versions expected in March.

    Wheaton College Bible scholar Doug Moo, head of the translation committee, said the group tried to create an accurate English Bible without ticking off readers.

    He thinks even critics will respect their work. Translators talked to them ahead of time and gathered suggestions for changes. Where there were disagreements, the two sides had civil conversation about it, he said.

    “We really tried to get it right this time,” he said. “We tried to be careful about not bowing to any cultural or ecclesiastical agenda. We also talked to anyone who wanted to talk to us.”

    The Rev. Don Polk, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, first read the NIV back in 1985. Before then, he’d always favored the King James version, but felt its language was too dated. So he switched over.

    “I felt like it spoke better to our generations,” Polk said.

    In 2009, the NIV accounted for 28% of Bibles sold in Christian bookstores. That was followed by the King James, at 16%.

    Today, the Committee on Bible Translation, which translated the NIV, admits Today’s New International Version, the revision released in 2002, was a mistake. They substituted “brothers and sisters” where the New Testament writers used “brothers.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-11-19-newbible_N.htm

  10. Zia H. Shah

    The Church did insist on the Bible being the literal word of God
    As the limitations of the Bible become commonly known, many Christian apologists will start back tracking their claims, until it becomes more useful and advantageous to have a contradictory text than one free of contradictions, some of the commentors in religious forums are already showing us what the apologists’ strategy will be in coming years and decades.

    So, it is now up to Muslims to not only document the limitations of the Bible but all the tall claims that have been made in its favor in the centuries before.

    The official Catholic website has the following to say about Origen’s views about the Bible:

    The principal passages on the inspiration, meaning, and interpretation of the Scriptures are preserved in Greek in the first fifteen chapters of the “Philocalia”. According to Origen, Scripture is inspired because it is the word and work of God. But, far from being an inert instrument, the inspired author has full possession of his faculties, he is conscious of what he is writing; he is physically free to deliver his message or not; he is not seized by a passing delirium like the pagan oracles, for bodily disorder, disturbance of the senses, momentary loss of reason are but so many proofs of the action of the evil spirit. Since Scripture is from God, it ought to have the distinctive characteristics of the Divine works: truth, unity, and fullness. The word of God cannot possibly be untrue; hence no errors or contradictions can be admitted in Scripture (Commentary on John X.3). The author of the Scriptures being one, the Bible is less a collection of books than one and the same book (Philoc., V, iv-vii), a perfect harmonious instrument (Philoc., VI, i-ii). But the most Divine note of Scripture is its fullness: “There is not in the Holy Books the smallest passage (cheraia) but reflects the wisdom of God” (Philoc., I, xxviii, cf. X, i). True there are imperfections in the Bible: antilogies, repetitions, want of continuity; but these imperfections become perfections by leading us to the allegory and the spiritual meaning (Philoc., X, i-ii).

    At one time Origen, starting from the Platonic trichotomy, distinguishes the body, the soul, and the spirit of Holy Scripture; at another, following a more rational terminology, he distinguishes only between the letter and the spirit. In reality, the soul, or the psychic signification, or moral meaning (that is the moral parts of Scripture, and the moral applications of the other parts) plays only a very secondary rôle, and we can confine ourselves to the antithesis: letter (or body) and spirit. Unfortunately this antithesis is not free from equivocation. Origen does not understand by letter (or body) what we mean today by the literal sense, but the grammatical sense, the proper as opposed to the figurative meaning. Just so he does not attach to the words spiritual meaning the same signification as we do: for him they mean the spiritual sense properly so called (the meaning added to the literal sense by the express wish of God attaching a special signification to the fact related or the manner of relating them), or the figurative as contrasted with the proper sense, or the accommodative sense, often an arbitrary invention of the interpreter, or even the literal sense when it is treating of things spiritual. If this terminology is kept in mind there is nothing absurd in the principle he repeats so often: “Such a passage of the Scripture as no corporal meaning.” As examples Origen cites the anthropomorphisms, metaphors, and symbols which ought indeed to be understood figuratively.

    Though he warns us that these passages are the exceptions, it must be confessed that he allows too many cases in which the Scripture is not to be understood according to the letter; but, remembering his terminology, his principle is unimpeachable. The two great rules of interpretation laid sown by the Alexandria catechist, taken by themselves and independently of erroneous applications, are proof against criticism. They may be formulated thus:

    •Scripture must be interpreted in a manner worthy of God, the author of Scripture.
    •The corporal sense or the letter of Scripture must not be adopted, when it would entail anything impossible, absurd, or unworthy of God.

    The abuse arises from the application of these rules. Origen has recourse too easily to allegorism to explain purely apparent antilogies or antinomies. He considers that certain narratives or ordinances of the Bible would be unworthy of God if they had to be taken according to the letter, or if they were to be taken solely according to the letter. He justifies the allegorism by the fact that otherwise certain accounts or certain precepts now abrogated would be useless and profitless for the reader: a fact which appears to him contrary to the providence of the Divine inspirer and the dignity of Holy Writ.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11306b.htm

  11. Zia H. Shah

    Prof. Bart Ehrman prefacing the New Testament: six minute video clip
    The Gospels were not written by eye-witnesses and these were written anonymously:

  12. Zia H. Shah

    Who Wrote the Bible? – History Channel
    Watch part 1/12:

  13. Zia H. Shah

    Different books in the different Bibles
    According to Prof. Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University:

    After the Reformation, it is possible to speak of four distinct collections going by the name of “the Bible.”

    A. The Jewish Bible consists of 39 compositions in Hebrew (if each is counted individually): the 5 books of Moses (Torah), the 21 books of the Prophets (Neviim), and the 13 books of the Writings (Ketuvim).

    B. The Protestant Bible has 66 books, retaining the traditional 27 Greek writings of the New Testament (despite Luther’s complaints) but adopting the Hebrew canon for the Old Testament:
    1. The books, however, are organized differently: the Pentateuch (5 books), the 12 historical books (Joshua through Esther), the 5 wisdom books, and 17 books of the prophets.
    2. The books that came from the LXX are referred to as Apocrypha and, if included, usually appear in a separate section.

    C. The Council of Trent in 1546 affirmed the traditional canon used in Catholicism and asserted the authority of the Vulgate text for faith and morals.
    1. The Catholic canon includes the 27 writings ofthe New Testament and the Old Testament canon found in the LXX (47), for a total of74 writings.
    2. The writings that Protestants call apocryphal are termed deuterocanonical but are included in the separate categories of historical books (see 1 and 2 Maccabees), wisdom books (see Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach), and the prophets (see Baruch).

    D. The largest canonical collection is maintained by the Eastern Orthodox tradition (77 writings); it has the 27 writings of the New Testament, plus the 39 writings of the Hebrew Bible, plus 11 (rather than 8) writings from the LXX (1 Esdras, 3 and 4 Maccabees).

    Prof. Luke Timothy Johnson. The story of the Bible. Teaching Company Course book, 2006. Page 66.

  14. Zia H. Shah

    Who created the chapters of the Bible

    Stephen Cardinal Langton (c. 1150 – 9 July 1228) was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1207 and his death in 1228 and was a central figure in the dispute between King John of England and Pope Innocent III, which ultimately led to the issuing of Magna Carta in 1215.

    Langton is believed to be the one who divided the Bible into the standard modern arrangement of books and chapters. While Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro is also known to come up with a systematic division of the Bible (between 1244 and 1248), it is Langton’s arrangement of books and chapters that remains in use today.

    Ref:
    Hebrew Bible article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
    Moore, G.F. The Vulgate Chapters and Numbered Verses in the Hebrew Bible at JSTOR.

  15. Zia H. Shah

    Letters by Paul: What were those meant to be by the author?
    Out of the 27 books of the New Testament, 13 of the books are claimed to be letters by Paul. One interesting fact to note about these letters is that as he was writing them, he was not creating any long term literature, as he believed that the end of the world was near and he will see the End of Times during his lifetime!

  16. Zia H. Shah

    How and when did the orthodox Canon of New Testament come about
    Here I borrow a portion from Bart Ehrman’s Book, “Misquoting Jesus.” He writes:

    As we will see, Marcion’s attempt to make his sacred texts conform more closely to his teaching by actually changing them was not unprecedented. Both before and after him, copyists of the early Christian literature occasionally changed their texts to make them say what they were already thought to mean.

    The orthodox Canon after Marcion:

    Many scholars are convinced that it was precisely in opposition to Marcion that other Christians became more concerned to establish the contours of what was to become the New Testament canon. It is interesting that in Marcion’s own day, Justin could speak rather vaguely about the ‘memoirs of the apostles’ without indicating which of these books (presumably Gospels) were accepted in the churches or why, whereas some thirty years later another Christian writer, who equally opposed Marcion, took a far more authoritative stand. This was the bishop of Lyons in Gaul (modern France), Irenaeus, who wrote a five volume work against heretics such as Marcion and the Gnostics, and who had very clear ideas about which books should be considered among the canonical Gospels.

    In a frequently cited passage from his work Against Heresies, Irenaeus says that not just Marcion, but also other ‘heretics,’ had mistakenly assumed that only one or another of the Gospels was to be accepted as scripture: Jewish Christians who held to the ongoing validity of the Law used only Matthew; certain groups who argued that Jesus was not really the Christ accepted only the Gospel of Mark; Marcion and his followers accepted only (a form of) Luke; and a group of Gnostics called the Valentinians accepted only John. All these groups were in error, however, because:

    ‘It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are jOur zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel. . . it is fitting that she should have four pillars. . . (Against Heresies 3. 11. 7)

    In other words, four corners of the earth, four winds, four pillars and necessarily, then, four Gospels.

    And so, near the end of the second century there were Christians who were insisting that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the Gospels; there were neither more nor fewer.

    Debates about the contours of the canon continued for several centuries. It appears that Christians by and large were concerned to know which books to accept as authoritative so that they would (1) know which books should be read in their services of worship and, relatedly, (2) know which books could be trusted as reliable guides for what to believe and how to behave. The decisions about which books should finally beconsidered canonical were not automatic or problem-free; the debates were long and drawn out, and sometimes harsh. Many Christians today may think that the canon of the New Testament simply appeared on the scene one day, soon after the death of Jesus, but nothing could be farther from the truth. As it tUrns out, we are able to pinpoint the first time that any Christian of record listed the twenty-seven books of our New Testament as the books of the New Testament¬neither more nor fewer. Surprising as it may seem, this Christian was writing in the second half of the fourth century, nearly three hundred years after the books of the New Testament had themselves been written. The author was the powerful bishop of Alexandria named Athanasius. In the year 367 C.E., Athanasius wrote his annual pastoral letter to the Egyptian churches under his jurisdiction, and in it he included advice concerning which books should be read as scripture in the churches. He lists our twenty-seven books, excluding all others. This is the first surviving instance of anyone affirming our set of books as the New Testament. And even Athanasius did not settle the matter. Debates continued for decades, even centuries. The books we call the New Testament were not gathered together into one canon and con¬sidered scripture, finally and ultimately, until hundreds of years after the books themselves had first been produced.

    Bart Ehrman. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. Harper One, 2007. Pages 34-36.

  17. Zia H. Shah

    Bart Ehrman’s Book, “Misquoting Jesus”
    Here is a detailed lecture by Prof. Bart Ehrman, describing the compilation of the Bible, how copies and then copies of the copies were made in the medieval ages, introducing countless mistakes. Ehrman’s Book, “Misquoting Jesus” (1 of 5 ):

    In this book he has written:

    “There are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.”

    See my knol about this book:

    http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/misquoting-jesus-the-story-behind-who/1qhnnhcumbuyp/179#

  18. Zia H. Shah

    Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them)
    This is a famous book by Professor Bart Ehrman. One of the chapters in the book is titled, ‘How we got the Bible.’

    Some parts of the book can be read online:

    http://browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061173936

    There are several interviews of the author describing parts of the book on Youtube.com:

  19. Zia H. Shah

    The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20
    The Resurrection

    1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
    4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
    6″Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
    8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

    (The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.))

    9When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
    12Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
    14Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
    15He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
    19After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

    Mark 16 (New International Version)

    http://www.biblegateway.com

  20. Zia H. Shah

    Washington State University’s site addressing why gospels were not written early on
    The texts through which we come to know of Jesus of Nazareth are the Gospels, a set of four canonical texts outlining the life and sayings of Jesus. The first three of these Gospels—whose authorship is attributed to Mark, Matthew, and Luke—recount events and sayings in very similar and parallel ways; these are called Synoptic gospels after the Greek word meaning “that which can be seen at a glance.” The fourth gospel, attributed to John, is a theological work vastly different from the other three.

    These biographies were written relatively late. The first, the Gospel attributed to Mark, was written at its earliest between 70 and 80 AD; the last, that attribute to John, was probably written around 120-135 AD.

    The reason for the lateness of biographies of Jesus was that the early Christians felt no need for either a biography of Jesus or a collection of his sayings. For the early Christians believed that the Christ event in history was the immediate prelude to the end of the world and final judgement of humankind. Paul of Tarsus in his epistles wrote that the present generation, his own, would see the apocalypse. In the Synoptic gospels, Jesus of Nazareth also claimed that the people around him would still be alive for the last days.

    Anticipating the immediate end of the world at any moment, the early Christians felt no obligation to record the life or sayings of Jesus— there was, after all, no future to bequeath this material to. These early Christians were more concerned with preparing themselves for the expected apocalypse and for spreading the truth of Christianity to as many people as possible before the anticipated end of history.

    During this time, the life and sayings of Jesus circulated in an oral form through Christian teachers and public speakers. This oral material included stories and sayings attributed to Jesus, but they did not exist in any systematic, organized, or universal form. These sayings and stories would be used by teachers and speakers as they fit the particular occasion or subject of the moment. A public speaker would use a saying attributed to Jesus as an occasion to lecture or discuss some aspect of Christianity or morality with his audience. What the speaker talked about largely determined what the speaker chose to remember about the life and sayings of Jesus.

    http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/CHRIST/CHRIST.HTM

  21. Zia H. Shah

    The Gospel of Thomas and the Q document
    A study of the Gospel of Thomas and the Q document sheds light on what preceeded the narrative Gospels of Mark, Mathew, Luke and John.

    The Gospel of Thomas and the Q document can be considered to be the Gospel of sayings of Jesus. To read about these go to my other knols:

    http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/the-gospel-according-to-thomas/1qhnnhcumbuyp/146#

    http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/where-is-the-injil-the-q-document-or-q/1qhnnhcumbuyp/145#

  22. Zia H. Shah

    Mark was written in 70 AD — What was written before that:
    According to Burton L Mack:

    Once upon a lime. before there were gospels of the kind familiar to readers of the New Testament, the first followers of Jesus wrote another kind of book. Instead of telling a dramatic story about Jesus’ life, their book contained only his teachings. They lived with these teachings ringing in their ears and thought of Jesus as the founder of their movement. But their focus was not on the person of Jesus or his life and destiny. They were engrossed with the social pro¬gram that was called for by his teachings. Thus their book was not a gospel of the Christian kind, namely a narrative of the life of Jesus as the Christ. Rather it was a gospel of Jesus’ sayings, a “sayings gospel.” His first followers arranged these sayings in a way that offered instruction for living creatively in the midst of a most confusing time, and their book served them well as a handbook and guide for most of the first Christian century.

    Then the book was lost. Perhaps the circumstances changed, or the people changed, or their memories and imagination of Jesus changed. In any case, the book was lost to history somewhere in the course of the late first century when stories of Jesus’ life began to be written and became the more popular form of charter document for early Christian circles.

    It makes some difference whether the founder of a movement is remembered for his teachings, or for his deeds and destiny. For the first followers of Jesus, the importance of Jesus as the founder of their movement was directly related to the significance they attached to his teachings. What mattered most was the body of instructions that circulated in his name, what these teachings called for in terms of ideas, attitudes, and behavior, and the difference these instructions made in the lives of those who took them seriously. But as the Jesus movement spread, groups in different locations and changing circumstances began to think about the kind of life Jesus must have lived. Some began to think of him in the role of a sage, for instance, while others thought of him as a prophet, or even as an exorcist who had appeared to rid the world of its evils. This shift from interest in Jesus’ teachings to questions about Jesus’ per on, authority, and social role eventually produced a host of different mythologies.

    The mythology that is most familiar to Christians of today developed in groups that formed in northern Syria and Asia Minor. There Jesus’ death was first interpreted as a martyrdom and then embellished as a miraculous event of crucifixion and resurrection. This myth drew on hellenistic mythologies that told about the destiny of a divine being (or son of God). Thus these congregations quickly turned into a cult of the resurrected or transformed Jesus whom they now referred to as the Christ, or the Lord, as well as the Son of God. The congregations of the Christ, documented most clearly in the letters of Paul from the 50s, experienced a striking shift in orientation, away from the teachings of Jesus and toward the spirit of the Christ who had died and was raised from the dead. It was this myth that eventually made the narrative gospels possible.

    Narrative gospels began to appear during the later part of the first century. Mark’s gospel was written during the 70s, Matthew’s during the 80s, John’s during the 90s, and Luke. Acts sometime early in the second century. These gospels combined features of the martyr myth from the Christ cult with traditions about Jesus as he had been remembered in the Jesus movements, thereby locating the significance of Jesus in the story of his deeds and destiny. Naturally, these gospels came to a climax in an account of his trial, crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead. They followed a plot that was first worked out by Mark during the 70s in the wake of the Roman-Jewish war. The plot collapsed the time between the events of Jesus’ life and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple which took place during the war. Mark achieved this plot by making connections between two sets of events (Jesus’ death and the temple’s destruction) that could only have been imagined after the war. His gospel appears to have been the earliest full-blown written composition along these lines, but once it was conceived, all of the narrative gospels used this same basic plot.

    (Burton L Mack. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. HarperOne, 1993. Page 1-3.)

  23. Zia H. Shah

    Manuscript discovery at Nag Hammadi on the Nile River in Egypt
    There is 4 hour PBS documentary, ‘From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians.’ Here is the link to watch part I on the internet:

    http://video.pbs.org/video/1365214164/

    I started reading the transcript of Part II. Here is a part of it:

    Prof. MICHAEL WHITE: Other than the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the most important archeological find for much of the early Christian period is the manuscript discovery at Nag Hammadi on the Nile River in Egypt. There, in 1945, was discovered a cache of manuscripts in clay jars buried in the hillside beside the river.

    Prof. ELAINE PAGELS: The discovery at Nag Hammadi began with an Arab villager whose name was Mohammed Ali going with his brothers on an ordinary errand. They took their camels and rode up to a cliff which is honeycombed with thousands of caves. They were digging under the cliffs for fertilizer- that is for bird droppings, which fertilized the crops.

    And Mohammed Ali said he struck something when he was digging underground. And curious, he kept digging, and he was startled to find a six-foot jar, sealed. And next to it was buried a corpse. Mohammed Ali said he hesitated to break the jar because he thought there might be a jinn in it, but hope overcame fear. He took- he said he picked up his mattock and smashed the jar and saw particles of gold fly out of it, much to his delight. But a moment later, he realized it was only pieces of- fragments of papyrus. Inside the jar were 13 volumes bound in tooled gazelle leather.

    NARRATOR: What Mohammed Ali had discovered were books written in the ancient Egyptian language known as Coptic. Unable to read them, Ali took them home.

    Prof. ELAINE PAGELS: Later his mother said that she took some of them and threw them into the fire for kindling when she was baking bread. What he didn’t know until- what we didn’t know until much later is that these contained some of the most precious texts of the 20th century, that they have uncovered for us a whole new way of seeing the early Christian world.

    NARRATOR: What the books showed was that early Christianity was even more diverse than scholars had suspected, with many different ways of interpreting Jesus.

    Prof. ELAINE PAGELS: There were 52 texts altogether, apparently- unless some of them were burned that we don’t know about. And they contain secret Gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip. They also contain conversations between Jesus and his disciples, that claim to go back to Jesus and his disciples- all kinds of literature from the early Christian era, a whole discovery of text rather like the New Testament, but also very different.

    HOLLAND L. HENDRIX: Christianity- or one would rather say “Christianities” of the second and 3rd centuries were, again, a highly variegated phenomenon. We really can’t imagine Christianity as a unified, coherent religious movement.

    Prof. MICHAEL WHITE: We probably ought to think of it as a kind of regional diversity. That is, the Christianity of Rome was different than Christianity in North Africa in certain ways, and that was different from what we find in Egypt, and that different from what we find in Syria or back in Palestine.

    NARRATOR: Some of the oldest Christian communities were in western Turkey, where Paul and his followers had established many of the earliest congregations. At the end of the 1st century, Christians here found themselves in a confrontation with Roman power and authority.

    For the Transcript go to:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/etc/script2.html

  24. Zia H. Shah

    Evolution from Mark to John: let us talk about the garden and timing of crucifixion
    There is 4 hour PBS documentary, ‘From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians.’ Here is the link to watch part I on the internet:

    http://video.pbs.org/video/1365214164/

    I started reading the transcript of Part II. Here is a part of it:

    NARRATOR: The fourth and last Gospel now contained in the New Testament is the Gospel of John, written about 70 years after the death of Jesus. It is the story of a community where the relationship between Christians and Jews has become more virulent, almost to the point of breakdown.

    READER: [John 8:12] “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

    Prof. HAROLD W. ATTRIDGE: In the fourth Gospel, Jesus is a very serene figure who can speak at length about matters divine, a very different kind of speech than the speech which we hear in the synoptic Gospels, which is usually much more pithy, much more directed, much more witty. In John, it’s reflective and revelatory.

    Prof. MICHAEL WHITE: John’s Gospel is different from the other three in the New Testament. That fact has been recognized since the early church itself. Already by the year 200, John’s Gospel was called the “spiritual Gospel” precisely because it told the story of Jesus in symbolic ways that differ sharply at times from the other three.

    Prof. JOHN DOMINIC CROSSAN: Let me compare Mark with John to explain how two Gospels do it differently. In – we call it “the agony in the garden.” Now, there is no agony in John and there is no garden in Mark, but we call it “the agony in the garden” because we put them together. Mark tells the story in which Jesus, the night before he dies, is prostrate on the ground, begging God, “If this all could pass, but I will do what you want.” And the disciples all flee.

    Now that’s an awful picture. That makes sense to me because Mark is writing to a persecuted community who know what it’s like to die. That’s how you die, feeling abandoned by God.

    the ground in John. The whole cohort of the Jerusalem forces come out, 600 troops come out to capture Jesus, and they end up with their faces on the ground in John. And Jesus says, “Of course I will do what the Father wants.” And Jesus tells them to, “Let my disciples go.” He’s in command of the whole operation.

    You have a Jesus out of control, almost, in Mark, a Jesus totally in control in John- both Gospel. Neither of them are historical. I don’t think either of them know exactly what happened.

    Prof. MICHAEL WHITE: Jesus dies on a different day in John’s Gospel than in Matthew, Mark and Luke. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus actually eats a Passover meal before he dies. In John’s Gospel he doesn’t. The Last Supper is actually eaten before the beginning of Passover.

    So here’s the scene in John’s Gospel. The day leading up to Passover is the day when all the lambs are slaughtered and everyone goes to the temple to get their lamb for the Passover meal. In Jerusalem this would have meant thousands of lambs being slaughtered all at one time. And in John’s Gospel, that’s the day on which Jesus is crucified, so that, quite literally, the dramatic scene in John’s Gospel has Jesus hanging on the cross while the lambs are being slaughtered for Passover.

    READER: [John 1:29] “Here is the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

    Prof. MICHAEL WHITE: Jesus doesn’t eat a Passover meal; Jesus is the Passover meal.

    I am stunned how in face of all this information, the Christian dogmas still prevail in the consciousness of a majority in the West. For the Transcript go to:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/…ript2.html

  25. Zia H. Shah

    The Corruption of the Text of the New Testament
    This is an article by Syed Mashhood Ahmad – UK., published in June, 2009, Review of Religions. A portion of it is reproduced here.

    Intentional Doctrinal Corrections:

    The Corruption of the Bible is mainly about later scribes modifying the holy text to suit their own beliefs or beliefs of their Church. There are numerous examples such as the first verse of the Gospel of Mark, which reads:

    The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

    The last part of the verse ‘Son of God’ is present in the Textus Receptus, but is omitted by both the Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. The strength of these two authorities is immense and is enough to reject the authenticity of the last three words.

    However, to prove it even further, whether the original Gospel of Mark contained the above phrase that Jesus(as) was the son of god, the question asked is, why would the scribes omit the phrase? What was their reason? On the contrary they would want to reinforce the position that Jesus(as) was the son of god, which leads scholars to think that the phrase was not originally there, but was added later. This would make far more sense than a scribe deleting the phrase later.

    The above is just the addition of three words; however, in all present Bibles you will notice that the Gospel of Mark ends with Chapter 16, Verse 20. But it is accepted by a majority of scholars that verses 9-20 were not originally there, and officially the Gospel ended at verse 8:

    And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.

    Verses 9-20 are not present in the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus while they are retained by the Textus Receptus, Codex Bezae and Codex Alexandrinus. It is generally held that the verses were added to the end of the Gospel of Mark to give it a proper ending similar to the other gospels. Whatever the reason, these verses were not written by Mark and were added much later in the 5th century.

    Bart Ehrman, a famous textual critic, states:

    ‘…the writing style varies from what we find elsewhere in Mark; the transition between this passage and the one preceding it is hard to understand (e.g., Mary Magdalene is introduced in verse 9 as if she had not been mentioned yet, even though she is discussed in the preceding verses; there is another problem with the Greek that makes the transition end more awkward); and there are a large number of words and phrases in the passage that are not found elsewhere in Mark. Obviously, scribes thought that the ending was too abrupt. The women told no one? Then, did the disciples never learn of the resurrection? And did not Jesus himself ever appear to them? How could that be the ending! To resolve the problem, scribes added an ending.’ 17

    Another example of an entire passage added to the Gospels is the very famous story of the ‘Woman caught in Adultery’ found in the Gospel of John 7:52-8:11.

    Here a woman (some interpret as Mary Magdalene) was caught committing adultery by the Jewish crowd. No mention is made of the man she was caught with. She alone is brought before Jesus(as) to be condemned. However, Jesus(as) forgives her and lets her go.

    The Codex Bezae and Textus Receptus both contain the above story. While P6618, P7519, Codex Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and Vaticanus all omit the entire passage. The story is not present in any pre-5th century manuscript. It may well have been an oral tradition which made its way into the text, but it is definitely not the words of the supposed author, John.

    To read the whole article go to:

    http://www.reviewofreligions.org/1466/the-corruption-of-the-text-of-the-new-testament/

  26. Zia H. Shah

    Bart D. Ehrman: Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
    Bart D. Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar and textual critic of early Christianity. He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Ehrman writes about the early Christians, using the term “proto-orthodox” to describe the Christian traditions that would later be defined as orthodox. He describes first- and second-century Christians as not yet having a unified, orthodox tradition.

    As a textual critic, Ehrman examines various versions of a text in order to determine what the text originally said. For instance, various ancient manuscripts have different endings for the gospel of Mark (see Mark 16). Ehrman concludes (as many scholars have in the past) that the text originally ended at verse 16:9 and that none of the endings were original. One method Ehrman uses for helping him analyze text is to look for changes that favor the agenda of the scribes who copied the texts. If one version of a New Testament text makes the gospels seem more similar, downplays the role of women, softens statements that are hard to take, or opposes beliefs outside the proto-orthodox sphere, Ehrman says that such versions are more likely to represent deliberate changes on the part of scribes and not to be original. This information is borrowed from Wikipedia.

    His recent books, shed significant light on the New Testament: ‘Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them)’

    &

    ‘Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Plus)’

    Several of his interviews are available on the Youtube.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: