The Word of Man: Hybridization of Stories

In Bishop John Shelby Spong’s book, Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non Religious World, he cites the work of two professors, H. Graf and Julius Wellhausen, who began to analyze the literary style of the Bible.  They came to the conclusion that the first books of the Bible were not only not the work of  God, but they were authored by at least four different sects of the early Jewish religion. Spong writes:

Analyzing primarily the first five books of the Old Testament Professors Graf and Wellhausen discovered that there were many observable differences that could be discerned in the texts of the Torah itself. This discovery, in turn, led them to the conclusion that the Torah consisted of several strands woven together of what had once been independent material. One strand, for example, referred to God by the name Yahweh, or at least by an unpronounceable set of consonants that were written as YHWH. Where Yahweh was used as the name for God the text also called the holy mountain of the Jews Mount Sinai. There was another strand of the Torah that called God by the name of Elohim, and where that name was used for God, the holy mountain of the Jews was referred to as Mount Horeb. A third strand of Torah material reflected life in the Kingdom of Judah in the seventh century BCE, which well after the split between the Northern Kingdom and Judah and even after the Northern Kingdom had been destroyed by the Assyrians. Still another strand appeared to be dated during the time of the exile in the sixth century BCE after Judah had been defeated by the Babylonians and its people relocated to the land of Babylonia.

How interesting and how revealing! Through all of these millenia since the Torah was written, ordinary people believed that the Bible was a singular document penned by God. Some still do. Spong says that, because of the discoveries stated in the Wellhausen Hypothesis, ‘biblical scholarship has taken an enormous leap into modernity.’ Yet, few of the Bible literalists and evangelicals even know of this hypothesis, let alone would ‘believe’ such a theory to be true.  There’s the rub!

Interestingly, that’s not all.  Around the year 621 BCE a document was ‘discovered’ during a renovation of the temple. During the work of the renovation the workers found, perhaps hidden behind some of the plaster that was being torn away, a book that purported to be “a book of the law.” The book even claimed to have been written by Moses, who by this time had been dead for some six hundred years. The book, discovered by Hilkiah the high priest, was read to King Joshia and he rent his garment and fell to his knees at this ‘newly’ discovered document. Apparently kings can easily be duped by high priests. What the king did not know is that the document was freshly written by the high priests to make the religion more conservative with new laws and rituals. Today that is known as the book of Deuteronomy.

Shysters in the priestly class. [Again.]

As long as The People followed these new, more strict laws, ‘God’s favor’ would shine on the land. Further no destruction would not occur so long as King Josiah lived. A few years later, Josiah was killed on the battlefield of Megiddo by Pharaoh Necho of Egypt. Blamo! Either ‘God’ was away on a golf outing or The People were very naughty. As a result, off they went to Babylonia for a 3-generation captivity.

So that the would not lose their identity during the Babylonian captivity [as had the ‘lost tribes of the north,] the priests decided to further codify the laws- the laws, rules and customs of what it meant to be a Jew. Spong said, “These priestly editorial changes indicated that the mandates of Sabbath observance, kosher dietary laws and the requirement of circumcision for all the males of the tribe were now said to have been original parts of their covenant with God. Then into the Torah they wrote rules designed to govern every aspect of their common life. This was a monumental revision, but when it was complete the nature of Judaism had been set, not in stone, but in literal scriptures.”

Editors of the Bible. Imagine that. By the way, because of these new laws, earlier parts of the Torah had to be amended including a new seven-day creation story- the one where Adam’s rib remained in his body. New set of commandments, too- the newly formulated ‘Sabbath Day’ had to now be included in those stone tablets.

My, my, the word of man sure has undergone lots of changes, revisions and additions as the book grows in size and importance.

One of the long-time contributors to this blog asked my what I hoped to gain through this investigation of the Bible. The short answer is: the truth. The truth about a book deigned ‘holy’ and ‘inspired by God.’ A book that has caused much pain, suffering and death through its misuse and misunderstanding. That’s what I hope to achieve- the truth about the Bible. And in doing so, you and I will have some information the next time some Bible-thumping literalist attempts to foist his or her idiocy upon The People because ‘the Bible says so.’



7 thoughts on “The Word of Man: Hybridization of Stories

  1. Hello Muddy,
    I had to laugh when I read a comment to a posting from a Fundamentalist Christian.

    He attacked another on the site with a statement that was even off topic of the posting with, “What is this….A ROCK!….and according to your evolution theory after a million years it becomes a man.”

    Well I give you the evidence with a passage from the Bible the he admits is to be taken as absolute truth:
    “Genesis 2:18-19: And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him and help meet for him. AND OUT OF THE GROUND the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”

    So I could guess one could take it that he was trying to say that the Bible gives proof of Evolution as God created not only Adam, but every beast, fowl, etc. FROM THE GROUND. Rocks are part of the ground right?

    I guess the non-thinking, mindless person did not realize that was the end of his statement of evidence that the Evolution Theory says that a rock, after a million years, will become a human. After all, the Bible states exactly that…. right?

    Well I’m convinced!!

    1. Engineer- that ROCK may have fallen out of the back of his skull, for all I know. Isn’t is amazing that, here in the 21st century, there is a wide swath of Americans so dumbed-down as to actually believe the nonsense in Genesis over the facts presented to the public by the vast array of scientists all over the globe.

  2. frankly, what you describe with the archaeologic and anthropologic background is the ancient history of propaganda. An ancient history of what we would now consider of a manipulative mind control cult.
    Fast forward to the 1820’s in upstate New York where a charismatic psychopathic religious manipulator claims to “discover” sacred silver tablets given to him in a vison by a supernatural being. He starts a sect that draws the women of his small community into a religious sexual group which he dominates. He is driven out of his community by the men he threatens, but the fascination of his power and charismatic personality draws followers who are empowered and controlled by his message.
    These are still all rather primitive methods when you compare them to the manipulative power of Rupert Murdoch.

    1. An ancient history of what we would now consider of a manipulative mind control cult.

      Still is and is controlling the minds and lives of millions of Americans here in the 21st century! They also want to foist that stuff on us and write it into the laws of our nation as well. Very frightening people, but then, the mind-controlled person is a dangerous person.

  3. Religion is the external evidence of the geology and geography of the human psyche. Freudian/Jungian theorists say that the gods of the ancient religions have become the demons of the new ones…
    You write mainly about the western judaic christian heritage that most of us share. It’s a fascinating train of thought as we trace the origins of both religions back through time and then the evolution of the so called pre chrisitian religions. The Mythologies that evolved from the archaic myths that evolved into the Grecian and Roman religions. Judaic tradition is much more identifiable as tribal. That is what defines them today. It’s interesting that it is much harder to become Jewish than the more evolved desert religion of Islam. Judaism is identified by who you are, your tribal background…it is harder to adopt a religion that defines you by your ancestors. Islam on the other hand, engulfs.
    They share many of the same traits and beliefs, but the flexibility of Islam makes it much more suitable to be a system of social organization and governance.
    It was just this Sunday that I reread the history of the Anabaptists who led the Munster Rebellion in 1536. They were a very powerful movement in Germany and the Low Countries that actually tried to seize power in a nuber of cities, like Amsterdam, before the reformation. They were savagely massacred, as were the Cathars in France and Spain in the 13th century. The Cathar religion was interesting because it was the manifestation of an early liberation theology that broke the bonds of the Roman Catholic control over class and sex. It erased a lot of the lines between clergy and flock. It also totally trashed the scripture of the bible by replacing it with some very open concepts. It became the a powerful rival to Catholicsm in Southern France. The Kingdom of Toulouse, which was an independant entity that was most of Southwestern France, extending into Visgothic Spain was firmly Cathar in 1230. It was very dangerous and had to be destroyed. Part of what religion’s role was in Europe was to teach you to accept your social position. You were predestined to be born a peasant and die a peasant as a king was destined to be born and die as a king. To question or try to obtain the outward manifestations of another class was considered sinful…is there and analogy here with the way the Republicans are using the concept of Class Envy as being potentially dangerous and traitorous to their concept of a Christian America?

    1. Judaic tradition is much more identifiable as tribal.

      I cover this point in the newer post, yet it is remarkable [read sad] that Christian faith is based upon the ‘tribal’ nature of the Jewish tradition.

      Further, it may be asked: what the hell does a 3000-year-old Semite tribal religion have to offer to non-Semites living in Europe and the United States in the 21st century? How can modern-day folks relate to that wandering desert tribe and it’s laws and customs?

      We Americans could relate much more closely to Shawnee or Ojibwa tribal beliefs and customs than the Semites of 1000 BCE.

      On the issue of the Cathar extermination in France, little is ever mentioned of that ethnic cleansing or of other Catholic cleansings that took place during the Great Cover-Up of truth.

      Isn’t it amazing that the current adherents to the Christian faith know so very little about such purges, such exterminations in order to keep the secrets nicely buried? I’m sure that neither you, Microdot nor I ever learned of these cleansings in our Catholic high school religion classes. I never did in my Catholic university courses, either.

      What does it say about an institution that denies its past and discourages investigations into the truth behind its dogmas?

  4. Microdot asks:

    To question or try to obtain the outward manifestations of another class was considered sinful…is there and analogy here with the way the Republicans are using the concept of Class Envy as being potentially dangerous and traitorous to their concept of a Christian America?

    That’s a powerful question, Microdot! I hadn’t thought about it but surely there is some link here with the current right-wing GOP ideology of classes and class position in society. After all, how did that uppity Negro get into the White House?

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