The Bible as the Word of Man

In many Christian liturgies and surely also in Jewish services, after a reading from the Bible the minister, priest or Rabbi states that, what was just read, was ‘the word of the Lord.’  To which the congregation says, ‘Amen!’ Mindlessly, I might add. But then, why shouldn’t the congregation say ‘Amen?’ They were, in their youth, brainwashed into believing that it was so. Few adults ever question what they learned as children, and even fewer adults actively engage in a search for biblical truth. Most are satisfied with maintaining a childlike belief system because it is comforting to them.  Odd, isn’t it, that these same adults no longer believe in the Tooth Fairy or Santa? Or the Boogieman in the closet. Yet, most are satisfied with the beliefs that they held and were taught at that same time in their life.

Oh, sure, there are Bible Study groups all throughout our nation attended by tens of thousands of adults. Sadly, though, each of these study groups never ask the question, ‘Who wrote the Bible?’ Rather, the begin with the premise that the Bible is the Word of God and then go on from there. They also tend to examine the Bible as if it was written in one sitting and/or dropped from Heaven in Elizabethan English. The authorship is not to be discussed nor questioned because, after all, it is ‘the Word of God.’ Circular thinking or, rather, no thinking at all.

Lucky for us, there are a few brave ministers who have taken the time to examine the authorship of the Bible, not assuming that it was necessarily written by God. Nor inspired by God. Naturally, as expected, most of these ministers have been summarily dismissed from their churches or have a very difficult time presenting their thoughts without severe criticism. The biblical apologists are rabid in their defense of their ‘sacred scripture.’ The word heretic was invented as a means of quelling such investigation. The Catholic Church dropped it’s hydrogen bomb, excommunication, on any such scholar. Whoa to those who…!

Bishop John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, is a minister who decided to not only investigate the origins of the Bible but to tell people what he found. Websites have arisen, not surprisingly, to denigrate his findings. Biblical apologists are furious with him for what he has undertaken. As if they are afraid of what he has to say.  As if what he has to say will collapse the entire sandcastle that they created. Maybe it will.

So here goes.

Sponge and many other biblical scholars do not believe that  God is the author of the Bible.  Nor do they believe that God inspired the authors to pen his words. There was something else which ‘inspired’ these men to write the words: politics, propaganda and religious authority are three. Sponge cites a perfect example [one of many] of why the Bible is not the ‘word of God.’ The most egregious witness to this is this:

If the Bible is God’s Word, for example, how would we deal with a passage in which the prophet Samuel instructed Saul, the king of the Jews, in God’s name, to engage in a war of genocide against the Amalekites, in which he was to kill man, woman, child, suckling, ox and ass among the Amalekites (I Sam. 15:1–9)?

Spong asks, “How can this be the Word of God?”  Spong continues:

If it is God’s Word, why would we want to worship such a God? What kind of God could inspire the psalmist to write in God’s “holy Word” that the people of Israel would not be happy until they had dashed the heads of the children of their Babylonian enemies against the rocks (Ps. 137:8–9)?

Indeed, why? “Beyond those rather bizarre episodes,” writes Spong,  “what is one to do with the biblical definitions of women as subhuman, the biblical acceptance of slavery as a legitimate social institution and the biblical admonitions to execute homosexual persons?”

Spong says that ‘the Bible is a small library of books composed over a period of about one thousand years between roughly 1000 BCE and 135 CE. Many of these biblical books did not have a single author. Some of them were edited and re-edited over as long a period of time as five hundred years before they reached the form in which they found inclusion in the Bible. Can the “Word of God” actually be edited? Why did God not get it right the first time? What human being would have had the hubris to add to or delete from the “Word of God”? Yet that kind of editing happened, we now know, probably in every book in the Bible.’

This ought to be enough to convince the mildly inquisitive person that the famous book held in such high esteem is a work of humans. But wait! There’s more.

However, that will wait until Chapter II.

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13 thoughts on “The Bible as the Word of Man

  1. I am so proud of the fact that when I was in a public Jr. High School in Detroit, I was forced to attend Monday night catechism classes. After 4 weeks, Father Bretz, the assistant pastor of St. Monica’s asked that I be dismissed. I asked too many embarrassing questions and took up all of the class time while he tried to deal with my questions, plus, I was actually planting my bad ideas in the minds of the other students. Yes, it upset my dad, but we agreed it was for the best. I was free then to try to grow my hair like Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones….

    1. You were ‘allowed’ to ask a set of questions before being ‘excommunicated’ from the class, at least. That benefited both you and the other kids in the class. Pity the thousands of kids who cannot ask such questions because they already know not to open their mouths. That’s the propaganda factor, pure and simple and it has worked for generation after generation. Lord knows that I never asked questions of the nuns or priests. Neither they nor my parents would have permitted such ‘insolence.’

      1. When I took my first college position, it was in North Dakota. My classes
        were open discussion and lecture, and I push students to think..Many of the
        classes were organized around student debates. They would have a topic
        to debate pro and con like ” Is Alexander Hamilton a Realist” or Did the
        United States Rush to Use the Atomic Bomb against the Japanese”. There
        were two students on each side of the issue, and every one in the classes
        had a debate topic. For many, it was there first experience of standing
        up in front of their peers. Then they had to refute the points of the other
        side, and finally they had to answer the questions from their peers. Many were uncomfortable with this format and complained to an old time
        professor there, and she came to me and said, “You can challenge our
        students like this because they are taught to never question the preacher or the teacher.” Can you imagine what happened in my classes covering
        the reformation and the deist movement. This is a public university, but a
        highly religious state dominated by Lutheranism and Catholicism.

        1. they are taught to never question the preacher or the teacher.

          It is interesting that, what is written about Jesus, states that he was always asking questions of the ‘preachers’ during his time on earth. Yet, in most Christian schools and religion classes, the students dare not ask the ‘big’ questions.

  2. Can it be edited? look at all of the versions of the bible now currently being used by different sects….you can find a version that has the parts that were expurgated from other versions, a version that has text rewritten to conform with the social norms of the period it was written in, then no matter what version you read, you can always find someone to reinterpret it into what you think it should mean…or what they want you to hear….

  3. “Few adults ever question what they learned as children, and even fewer adults actively engage in a search ….”

    Doesn’t this then help to explain the LIV. Religion has taught them not to
    question…….

  4. “religion has taught them not to question”, that may very well be true, but I believe it is more basic, religion gives us “permission” not to question.
    I write about the evolution of consciousness and how religion had evolved…but look at America, the way religious freedom has allowed the evolution away from from a traditional interpretation of western christianity.
    We have a Mormon Theocracy that has arose with a very flexible creative doctrine that uses the bare framework of biblical traditions as the springboard for a totally different sense of morality that denies the basic idea of western family, it promotes a more tribal but still patriarchal view of the family as a social unit. There are millions of Mormons in America who believe in various permutations of rather recently evolved doctrine that might involve alien beings, life on other planets and a supernatural evolutionary afterlife. In reality, the Mormon position is to use the technique of “milk before meat” in other words, the true teachings of the religion are rarely ever spoken about to non members.
    There are millions of Scientologists in the world. This is a sect that has nothing to do with Christianity. It had it’s origins with an obscure German writer in the 1920’s who may not have been entirely serious when he produced the original mimeographed self published pamphlets that sci fi writer, L.Ron Hubbard stumbled upon and based a series of sci fi books upon. Yet, the enterprising Hubbard was rapidly able to devise an extremely profitable corporate religious method that alternately subjugated and empowered it’s members.
    This is the history of the rise of the distinctly American Evangelical version of Christianity. From tent revivals by enterprising scam preachers to the radio and then through television to the present multi million dollar mega church ministries we see today.
    Yes, western religion and many of the other world religions teach us not to question by preying upon our innate desire to question. It is the fear of truth.

  5. Microdot ends with, It is the fear of truth.

    Ain’t that the truth! It’s akin to the magician who will never show how the trick is accomplished for fear of losing his audience.

    We Americans, as I have said many times, are a terribly gullible clutch of people and the shysters, economic, political and religious have a quite fertile field in which to plant their personal seeds and reap the benefits from The People.

    Europeans, on the other hand, have a much longer history of religious crap landing on their heads and have, therefore, purged themselves of the ‘infallibility ‘ of both the doctrines as well as those who pimp it. We Americans are so naive in the field of religion as to be those ‘children’ of which the Bible often speaks.

    1. btw…the european aspect is another direction altogether, which I was going to go in here….you are absolutely correct in comparing the European perspective with the American. The European relationship to religion is much more openly xenophobic and conservative. The religious fanatics here are identifiably toxic varieties of nutz….of course they seem to be more prevalent as you travel in an easterly direction.
      I can write from a French Perspective…we have trouble keeping the doors open for services at the Catholic Church here in Badefols once a month. It is an eglise which dates from the 12th century, but there are no priests…there is a traveling cure from Montignac who comes once a month, but he has full schedule. This is our heritage, but I think European society has actually learned from history….in 1905, religious schools were banned….the church hasn’t been allowed to own property since 1798. The French monarchy effectively “owned” the popes since 1250. Catholicism may be the major religion of France, it is the culture, le heritage, but it hasn’t had the role it has had in the rest of the world here since the time of Joan of Arc, though she is still the “touchstone” for the fra right. Hah, we break zee weend een yer general direction…..

      1. Hmmmm……Never thought I’d ever utter these words: I’m pretty impressed with the French.

        Are you aware that the present Pope is trying to take back all properties associated with the Church? That includes schools and universities. He also wants nuns back in habit.

  6. captain, sir…I have no problem with the direction you are sailing. I think it is the trap door that has to be opened into the secret attic of the american psyche…RELEASE THE BATS!

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