THE BIBLE   A Book Review

Author:  several humon writers and editors
Publication dates:  prehistoric oral traditions,  various essays and stories
Major final editings:  325-- Nicaea,  1563-- Trent,  1647-- Westminster
Publisher:  Not copyrighted;  many publishers and translations

 

Robert Ingersoll 1880

"I hope the time will come when The Bible will be treated like other books and judged upon its merits,
apart from the fiction of inspiration."

We should critically evaluate The Bible as we would any classic best seller:  in light of modern developments, objectively, and not because of claimed divine,  nebulous origins.

Is it the best book ever written,  the literal revealed Truth of a perfect God? 
Or is it boring, erratic, contradictory historical fiction written by prophets and priests to enhance their own position, power and prestige;  a cleaver mixture of folk wisdom and fables disguised and dressed as infallible scripture?

Although The Bible has received a loyal following and great claims are made for its wonders by those who worship it, the average, everyday reader may be surprised to find the brutality that is hidden within.
There has been too much selective reading and quoting,  rather than looking at the holy whole.

The book contains some folk-wisdom and beautiful,  poetic stories,
but these are no reason to sanctify it all --or its advocates-- any more than any classic.

                            Wisdom among folly doesn't make folly wisdom.

Or as George Gershwin said in Porgy and Bess,

"The things that you're liable, to read in The Bible, they ain't necessarily so."

Internal contradictions are the major drawback that keep it from being great literature, or the guide to life it claims to be. The Golden Rule and its practical application against killing and stealing are common for any book of ethics. Yet the first part of this book is riddled with chapter after chapter of property theft, maiming, and brutal mass killings--all inspired by the God that gave the rules. If The Good Book is the work of this confused God, that deity myth certainly doesn't deserve respect or worship.

One specific example is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Just because some of the residents had sexual practices that ere different from the teachings of this God Jehovah, The Bible demands the massacre of the entire villages, including all the children and babies. On this one incident alone, it's very difficult to see how this publication has received moral sanctity. Then these "divinely commanded killings" were used as an excuse to steal possessions and occupy land--a continuing modern practice.

These contradictions aren't isolated incidents or exceptions. Women are described and treated as second class citizens, which is a detriment to their perception and self-image in societies influenced by this book, its macho masculine God concept, and male prophets and priests. It all starts with Eve causing Original Sin. Then women are treated as man's servant, which is understandable since The Bible also condones slavery. The Catholic Pope had slaves and serfs for many centuries: a blatant, hypocritical contradiction to The Golden Rule. Governments have justified their forced labor as public duty, partially based on this biblical heritage.

It's attempt at creationist philosophy is a failure. The Bible opens, "In the beginning, God created heaven and earth." But where did this God come from? The usual response is, "He always was and is eternal." If God always was, then this simplistic explanation doesn't communicate anything but blind faith, which is the trait of religious scriptures, not philosophy. The biblical God then becomes a synonym for "I don't know." It helps to understand the whole book if you substitute, "Once upon a time, God..."

Prophets are a big religious come-on gimmick. But only those who worked out or could be edited to fit comfortably have been voted in by the editors. Others have been dropped and proclaimed fakes, in retrospect. They didn't want any strong competitors for the main man in the second half of their book. Modern-day prophecies are also easily weeded out, its just that we aren't in awe or obedience to them anymore.

The leverage of the biblical editors was the fear of the unknown, especially death. As more of the mysteries of life have been discovered, The Bible and Church interpretations have lost their validity and sanctity. The Bible's God concept is shrinking as our knowledge of life expands.

As for the rest of the Old part, it has some nice poetry in The Psalms, is an interesting early history of the Middle East, and stories of human drama that have permeated modern literature. It's worth skimming for this aspect alone. But the threats of human and child sacrifice, the inhumanity advocated against slaves, women, individualists and other enemies of authorities, make it in the end, a very sad chapter of human history that should be put behind us, and not revered.

 

But the newer parts of the book are touted as an improvement, based on the life of Jesus. This was intended to break away from some of the rigid rules and mistakes of the past, and free people from government and religious tyranny. But it was all the same God who was supposedly inspiring it, and we have already seen that his credibility is highly suspect. One problem is we really don't know who Jesus was or what he said, because he didn't write any of it; it's all verbal history written by those hoping to prophet and profit from the story. Some of the concepts came from a forerunner named John the Baptist, with Jesus building on them, then Paul, among others, embellished the story as publicist and press agent.

Jesus The Superstar is not pictured as perfect. According to The Story,  he ran some pigs of a cliff
("The devil made me do it") and threw a violent, destructive temper tantrum aimed at the money changers in a temple. His later apologists tried to pass these off as God's work".

The greatest mistake attributed to this "peace-loving Christ" is in the Book of Luke. For those brought up worshipping the Prince of Peace, Luke 19:27 comes as quite a shock. "But those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them. bring hither, and slay them before me." (King James Version; all common translations agree he is describing the Divine Kingdom, how it's to be run. and how to deal with dissenters from authority.) For example, according to this passage, King George would have been justified in killing all the signers of the American Declaration of Independence. We have already seen that this brutality is consistent with the Old part of The Book. And just to make sure the point is very clear and understood,  parts of this Luke parable are repeated in Matthew 25:14-30.

But apologists still say, "That's taken out of context." We judge communications and publications on the results: the proof is in the pudding--is it working? For many centuries, people have been misunderstanding. The Catholic Church and the Popes during the Inquisition, took Luke 19:27 very literally, and had dissenters cruelly, brutally murdered in public. Someone else who was confused by his biblical upbringing was Adolf Hitler. In Mein Kampf he said,
    "I believe I am acting as the agent of our Almighty Creator. By defending myself against Jews,
    I am doing the Lord's Work.  The Work that Christ started--the battle against the world enemy, the Jews--but             could not finish, I,  Adolf Hitler,  will conclude."

This use of the scriptures by government is very old and well established,
    often based on Romans 13, verses 1-7 and I Peter 2:13-17:

"Obey state authorities. They are put there by God.
Those who disobey government laws, disobey God.
Government servants are God's servants, honor and respect them.
Pay your taxes gladly. Taxes are used for God's work.
Fear God and honor the government."

Paul might now regret the uncritical endorsement.

Jesus and Paul did speak about freedom from oppressive and silly laws, but the Church power brokers that followed, edited and molded biblical doctrines to serve authoritarian control. This is very similar to what happened to the American government, Although the new ideas were supposed to preserve individual freedom, the judges of the laws relied on old precedents to undermine the change. Ben Franklin and Tom Jefferson, among others, were aware of this corruptive flaw in the application of The Bible and governments, and warned against it--unsuccessfully.

The Final Judgment of any book is the reaction to it; activism. Unfortunately, The Bible has caused many problems as its tired, inflexible dogmas have become obsolete. The outcome has been the same old humon alienation and wars--the Bible is a failure. The killing, theft, slavery and authoritarian-male-dominated subjugation invalidate the book as an ethical moral guide. Too much of it is in direct contradiction to the Golden Rule. Those who go door to door and pulpit to pulpit trying to sell this book and its ideas as being from a perfect mind, should be embarrassed to be associated with this history, God and result.

Overall we can see that The Bible was written and edited by earthly religious power brokers as a means of controlling people, just like other "Divine Scriptures". Its stories are repeated instances of individuals resisting; people not willing to be the envisioned, enslaved sheep: easily herded, sheared, fleeced and eventually butchered and burned--sacrificed. It's a tribute to the human spirit that, despite centuries of cultural brainwashing, we are still rebelling against false, destructive authorities.

In Matthew 23: 25-26, the Good Book uses the parable example of being sure dishes are clean.
Well if I bought a dishwasher  and after two thousand years of numerous adjustments,  repairs, translations and interpretations of the instructions, the damn thing still wouldn't wash dishes--and sometimes made them dirtier--
        I'd have to conclude I'd bought a bum deal.

We must look for another solution... and book.

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                THE KORAN    (Mohammed's insecurities)

Can you imagine Jefferson,  Einstein  or any confident writer repeatedly denying
falsehoods and threatening readers this way?      No.  Wisdom stands on its own.

            A small sample follows:

This book is not to be doubted. 2:2
This is an invented falsehood--magic, sorcery. 34:43, 37:15, 38:4-7, 40:24 and others
This is but a fable of the ancients. 46: 7-18
Mohammed is an impostor. 23:38
It is but an old fictitious tale. 23:83 and 30:59
Mohammed is surely lying. 36:15
Mohammed is no madman. 7:185 and 68:2
The Koran is no invented tale. 12:112 and 38:86
The Torah and Koran are two works of magic and sorcery supporting one another. 28:48
People have denied this Koran and call it foolish nonsense.
        They will be dragged headlong into Hell through boiling, putrid fluid. 25:30-34 and 40:72
Woe to the unbelievers who cry "Fables of the ancients! and Mohammed is a skilledenchanter"
        They shall burn in Hell and drink boiling water.  4:56, 6:70, 10:4, and 74:24

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Shakespeare:   "Me thinks he doth protest too much."

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