To my great surprise, I learned that the Bible used to be much smaller than it is today. How small? One book- the Book of Moses. That’s it. Sadly, The People commonly believe that the Bible fell to earth in its present state as the ‘word of God.’ As I read more of Bishop John Shelby Spong’s latest book, Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, I have discovered, contrary to the propaganda I was fed, that the Bible was merely a genealogical record of a wandering Semite tribe. It is not too difficult to figure out that the story of Abraham, the so-called Father of the Jewish nation, is layered with myth and imagination in that his birth is dated to about the year 1850 BCE. Abraham is, to be sure, a faded memory in the Bible, since he lived about forty-five generations before the first word of the Bible was written. In the year 1850 BCE, few people knew how to read or write, yet the details of Abraham’s life are amazingly exact in the pages of Genesis.
So, how did this solo book expand to so many books? And why didn’t God write the entire book at one time? Well, because God didn’t, of course. Bishop Spong notes, surprisingly, that Abraham may not have even been a Jew! His place of origin was the city of Ur in the land of the Chaldees, today Iraq, quite far from Israel. Not only that, but his ‘son’ Issac may not have been his son at all in that his place of birth is recorded at Beersheba, 120 km south-west of Jerusalem. Abraham’s ‘grandson,’ Jacob, was said to have been born in Bethel, 14 miles north of Jerusalem.
“the identification of the three formational ancestors with three shrines in the land opens up the possibility that they may originally have been unrelated Canaanite holy men whose lives were subsequently intertwined and interpreted as the founding fathers of the Jewish people. A motive for doing just that is seen in the Bible itself, for riding on the backs of these patriarchs in Jewish folklore was the justification for the Jewish invasion of this land that occurred around 1250 BCE. The general purpose of these patriarchal tales in the book of Genesis was to justify the military claim the Jews made that they were conquering this land only because God had promised it to their ancestors hundreds of years earlier.”
Of course, anybody not wedded to the literalism of the Bible would conclude that stories of men who walked the earth 45 generations before their story was put to paper, would be mythical rather than mortal. I can trace my ancestry back 7 generations to the year 1700, but no further. Even so, the details of my g-g-g-g-grandfather are sketchy- and he wasn’t a farmer, but rather a merchant who lived in a large city in France.
It is interesting that Rick Santorum, pimping the evangelical vote said, just yesterday in Boiling Springs, SC:
“Where do you think this concept of equality comes from?” Santorum asked the enthusiastic crowd packed into a restaurant here. “It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions, where does it come from? It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that’s where it comes from.”
Certainly the God-fearing evangelicals in Boiling Springs immediately recalled their Bible stories of these three supposed family members whom the Jews called the ‘founders of Israel.’ By the way, what the hell does this story have to do with ‘equality?’ Did these people of Boiling Springs South Carolina ‘believe’ that the concept of ‘equality’ flourished during the Bronze Age- a time of kingdoms, slavery and massive conquests of the lands of warring tribes? Or, doesn’t that matter nor the truth behind the reference?
Spong sets us straight about the stories of these 3 men:
The general purpose of these patriarchal tales in the book of Genesis was to justify the military claim the Jews made that they were conquering this land only because God had promised it to their ancestors hundreds of years earlier. As rational claims go these statements make no sense at all, but as propaganda they constituted then, and still do now, powerful influences in human history.
Yes they do. And, stepping into politics once more, this propaganda is alive and well today as the GOP candidates move to Florida to woo even more evangelicals with their bravado about the State of Israel and the relationship it has with our nation. Did you know that the Las Vegas casino operator and billionaire contributor to the campaign of Newt Gingrich, Sheldon Adelson, is close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and owner of the Israeli daily Israel Hayom. “There is not a better advocate for Israel than Newt Gingrich,” Adelson told the editor of the Jewish Week last year. It is to be remembered that Gingrich recently said that the Palestinians were an “invented people.”
Really? Of course, the Israelis surely are not an ‘invented people’ because….well… because the Bible tells us so!
The Bible tells us so. Unless of course the Bible is a grand piece of propaganda supposedly stamped with approval by God himself.
The next look at the Bible will describe the findings of two German professors, Professors K. H. Graf and Julius Wellhausen, who began to study rigorously the details of the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It is their conclusion that the Torah consisted of several strands woven together of what had once been independent material, written by different sets of scribes at different locations, at different times in history, each with a specific purpose and point of view.
The word of the Lord?