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Friday, 5 October 2012

Come On! The Bible's Forgers Weren't THAT Bad.

I have to take issue here with an unjustified criticism of Christian fundamentalism. As regular readers will know, I am always scrupulously fair on Creationists.

I found this unwarranted parody of Christian Creationist belief by Tom Weller, author of "Science Made Stupid: How to Discomprehend the World Around Us", winner of the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book. It was quoted in "The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound" by Jack Huberman.
"Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths, wild tales, lies, and gibberish. Over the centuries, these stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly shuffled. Finally, this material was badly translated into several languages successfully. The resultant text, creationists feel, is the best guide to this complex and technical subject."

Huberman, Jack (2008-03-03).
The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound (p. 320).
Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
What's my objection, I hear you ask?

Surely, it's not fair to claim that the pieces were repeatedly shuffled, is it?

Mind you, there is this embarrassing muddle at the end of 2 Chronicles and the start of Ezra where we can see the compiler lost track and forgot where the arbitrary division into different books should go:
And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.




Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.


No, you're not seeing double. 2 Chronicles seems to finish in mid-sentence and clearly has the first two and a half verses from Ezra tacked on the end, making the last 'sentence' gibberish. So much for inerrancy.

Pretty clear there that there was some shuffling going on and some arbitrary assigning of verses, and pieces of verse to different books. You'd think the forgers would have covered their tracks better than that, but then they were writing for a non-discerning readership with vested interests and never in their wildest imaginings did they ever expect to find us ordinary plebs reading it. Besides, you can never have too many 'prophets' to give authority to your tales.

Aren't these ancient fossils of the compilation process used to create the Bible interesting. They show us the transition between myths, children's stories and legends and the 'inerrant word of God' under, especially in this case, a particularly unintelligent design process.

But is that enough to say the whole of the Hebrew creation myths which ended up in the earlier chapters of the Bible were torn into pieces and repeatedly shuffled? I think that's going a bit far and taking the sort of liberty with Creationism which would do credit to a Creationist website or book, where they take such liberties with science for a living. The rest of Tom Weller's description of it as embroidered, garbled gibberish, lies, tales and wild myths is of course accurate.

3 comments:

  1. You are wrong.

    Why are you wrong?

    You are wrong because the Bible says you're wrong.

    QED.

    Infallible argument, innit?

    ReplyDelete
  2. My favorite part is where a description of Moses's funeral is included in one of the books of the Bible that Moses supposedly wrote. Not only did the parchments get shuffled quite a bit, but the final editor must have been smoking donkey dung or whatever they used back then.

    ReplyDelete

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