Who wrote the bible?

Katherine - posted on 03/28/2011 ( 91 moms have responded )

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Apart from the most rabid fundamentalists among us, nearly everyone admits that the Bible might contain errors -- a faulty creation story here, a historical mistake there, a contradiction or two in some other place. But is it possible that the problem is worse than that -- that the Bible actually contains lies?

Most people wouldn't put it that way, since the Bible is, after all, sacred Scripture for millions on our planet. But good Christian scholars of the Bible, including the top Protestant and Catholic scholars of America, will tell you that the Bible is full of lies, even if they refuse to use the term. And here is the truth: Many of the books of the New Testament were written by people who lied about their identity, claiming to be a famous apostle -- Peter, Paul or James -- knowing full well they were someone else. In modern parlance, that is a lie, and a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a forgery.

Most modern scholars of the Bible shy away from these terms, and for understandable reasons, some having to do with their clientele. Teaching in Christian seminaries, or to largely Christian undergraduate populations, who wants to denigrate the cherished texts of Scripture by calling them forgeries built on lies? And so scholars use a different term for this phenomenon and call such books "pseudepigrapha."

You will find this antiseptic term throughout the writings of modern scholars of the Bible. It's the term used in university classes on the New Testament, and in seminary courses, and in Ph.D. seminars. What the people who use the term do not tell you is that it literally means "writing that is inscribed with a lie."

And that's what such writings are. Whoever wrote the New Testament book of 2 Peter claimed to be Peter. But scholars everywhere -- except for our friends among the fundamentalists -- will tell you that there is no way on God's green earth that Peter wrote the book. Someone else wrote it claiming to be Peter. Scholars may also tell you that it was an acceptable practice in the ancient world for someone to write a book in the name of someone else. But that is where they are wrong. If you look at what ancient people actually said about the practice, you'll see that they invariably called it lying and condemned it as a deceitful practice, even in Christian circles. 2 Peter was finally accepted into the New Testament because the church fathers, centuries later, were convinced that Peter wrote it. But he didn't. Someone else did. And that someone else lied about his identity.

The same is true of many of the letters allegedly written by Paul. Most scholars will tell you that whereas seven of the 13 letters that go under Paul's name are his, the other six are not. Their authors merely claimed to be Paul. In the ancient world, books like that were labeled as pseudoi -- lies.

This may all seem like a bit of antiquarian curiosity, especially for people whose lives don't depend on the Bible or even people of faith for whom biblical matters are a peripheral interest at best. But in fact, it matters sometimes. Whoever wrote the book of 1 Timothy claimed to be Paul. But he was lying about that -- he was someone else living after Paul had died. In his book, the author of 1 Timothy used Paul's name and authority to address a problem that he saw in the church. Women were speaking out, exercising authority and teaching men. That had to stop. The author told women to be silent and submissive, and reminded his readers about what happened the first time a woman was allowed to exercise authority over a man, in that little incident in the garden of Eden. No, the author argued, if women wanted to be saved, they were to have babies (1 Tim. 2:11-15).

Largely on the basis of this passage, the apostle Paul has been branded, by more liberation minded people of recent generations, as one of history's great misogynists. The problem, of course, is that Paul never said any such thing. And why does it matter? Because the passage is still used by church leaders today to oppress and silence women. Why are there no women priests in the Catholic Church? Why are women not allowed to preach in conservative evangelical churches? Why are there churches today that do not allow women even to speak? In no small measure it is because Paul allegedly taught that women had to be silent, submissive and pregnant. Except that the person who taught this was not Paul, but someone lying about his identity so that his readers would think he was Paul.

It may be one of the greatest ironies of the Christian scriptures that some of them insist on truth, while telling a lie. For no author is truth more important than for the "Paul" of Ephesians. He refers to the gospel as "the word of truth" (1:13); he indicates that the "truth is in Jesus"; he tells his readers to "speak the truth" to their neighbors (4:24-25); and he instructs his readers to "fasten the belt of truth around your waist" (6:14). And yet he himself lied about who he was. He was not really Paul.

It appears that some of the New Testament writers, such as the authors of 2 Peter, 1 Timothy and Ephesians, felt they were perfectly justified to lie in order to tell the truth. But we today can at least evaluate their claims and realize just how human, and fallible, they were. They were creatures of their time and place. And so too were their teachings, lies and all.

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the New York Times bestselling author of 'Misquoting Jesus' and 'Jesus, Interrupted'. His latest book, 'Forged: Writing in the Name of God -- Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are', is now available from HarperOne.

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Johnny - posted on 03/29/2011

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So we know that the bible is god's word as handed to men because those men wrote that it was? But since then god apparently told a whole different group of people in Saudi Arabia his words and they wrote them down as the word of god too. We call that one the Koran. How am I supposed to know which word of god is the right word of god if they were all words that were actually written down by men?

Johnny - posted on 03/28/2011

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In my case, I am not even pulling up sites that I agree with, lol. I do not believe that the bible is anything but just another book written by man. So there, I agree with you. I simply listed Christians sites because I have found so often in the past that Christians are not interested in anything that secular researchers say about religion.

I do not take mythical texts nor those which interpret them or offer research on them as being particularly factual. Archaeological evidence confirms the existence of pagan worship of Semiramis and other deities before biblical times. That's about all I'm willing to take as fact.

Johnny - posted on 03/28/2011

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I'm not sure why it matters who wrote it.

You don't see people getting upset because dozens of people are Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew). Even Michael Crichton books aren't all written by Michael Crichton. Perhaps this was common knowledge in the past but was sanitized by the church to encourage obedience?

Sara - posted on 03/28/2011

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First things first: does this really surprise anyone?

The real problem is it's a book of parables and allegories, not actual facts or a historically accurate record of events. So, when you try to hold it up to pass muster from archeological, hisotorical or scientific experts, it doesn't pass. But honestly, i don't think it was ever meant to.

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Randy - posted on 12/06/2012

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It maybe easy enough to attribute spiritual misunderstands to : "Scripture = BS."

But, we can all rest assured that the character of each and every inept internet blogger is impeccable: and of blasphemy, more and more the resort of those intellectually lazy and hopeful to generate--through controversy--some interests among those comparative such, willfully ignorant morons, "touching in agreement"; with both the writer of this pointlessness and me!

"The fool saith in his heart, there is no G-d," and even bigger ones say there IS a G-d,

and He is a liar!

Shelley - posted on 05/21/2011

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I am giggling no end here. Just a note regarding Noah's Ark. the bible states that the world was covered in 15 cubits of water, covering all the mountains etc. It also explains how big a cubit is - the length of a man's arm from his elbow to his finger. Bwahahaha. I reckon a comfy spot on my roof would have done it :). Oh and Noah getting those pesky kangaroo's onto the boat must've been a pain, and the millions of different species of worm and newt and parasites - oh my hat!

Also there are a number of other gods (pagean) that the story of Christ is based on - from the immaculate conception to dying on a cross (or nailed to a tree depending on which book of the bible you read) as well as the three day ressurrection. If any are interested, I will be happy to supply the names.

Julia - posted on 05/20/2011

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Interestingly enough I just had a conversation about the bible today with my mother (mother = die hard catholic, me = complete non believer)

The Bible in itself is filled with so many contradictions that I can't find myself believing ANYTHING in it.

ON the other hand I would LOVE to have the ORIGINAL Bible, unedited written in Sanskrit and study that....of course I would have to learn sanskrit and I would seriously learn an ancient language if I could get my hands on the original writings of the Bible. Otherwise what people are reading is translation upon translation upon translation and the Catholic version or the King James (which by the way if you go by this version you have serious issues...all you have to do is look into the history of why it is called the King James version) or the New International Version. How can there be so many versions of ONE story? Because it has changed and changed over time.

So the Bible may have been INSPIRED by the word of God but it was WRITTEN and TRANSLATED by MAN.

Johnny - posted on 03/31/2011

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@ Ladyjane, you make some very interesting points about the development of the bible. I've watched quite a number of those History Channel shows as well, and there is definitely evidence that stories told in the bible (and in other ancient texts as well) did occur in some form. Such as the great flood. As you say, the stories may not really accurately depict what happened in a factual way, just the same as most stories told today. It always depends on the teller.

I just wanted to mention that the tablets of the 10 commandments being found is a highly controversial topic. While I did see something that indicated what you stated had occurred, I've since seen another documentary disputing it rather convincingly. I couldn't find that episode, I can't really remember even where I saw it, but I did find several discussions on it that raise some of the problems, including this:

http://www.bibleorigins.net/shatteredpro...

[deleted account]

Oh... that story. OK. I was thinking you were talking about the story that is in Genesis. I still don't get it, but I get it. ;)

[deleted account]

not the old testament. the story of sumarimus and nimrod. It was written before jesus and its the exact same story. Sumarimus was impregnated by the sky and she bore nimrod as a virgin. This story was written before jesus.

[deleted account]

Huh? That doesn't even make any sense. Of course the old testament was written before Jesus ever walked the earth. The old testament predicted Jesus's arrival.

I'm not interested in debating the validity of the Bible (yes, I'm aware that's what this debate is about). Just that one comment written above since that isn't proof of anything.

[deleted account]

The fact that the book of creation even exists years before jesus ever walked the earth proves hes a fake. he is not the only son of god because he was born 2000 years before that.

[deleted account]

It is the same story...except ones pagan and has a female goddess and the other ripped off the story, changed the time line and peoples names so it matched up with currently living (jesus) at the time, and tried to pass it off as original.

LadyJane - posted on 03/31/2011

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That doesn't make that book any more accurate than the bible. That book could have simply been an unauthorized version. I'm sure more than one person wrote about those events. Just because one book came first doesn't make it fact that the bible story isn't true. There is research to suggest that any other books written about the events in the bible may be fakes in order to discredit the bible. The History Channel is actually trying to get a show together about that very issue. Would be interesting when/if it airs.

[deleted account]

the story of noahs ark is written in the book of creation.. it was written before the bible and about different people so it wasn't actually noahs ark that was found because its a rip off of another story.

LadyJane - posted on 03/31/2011

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IN all honesty, because we weren't around when the actual book was compiled, written or even around when those events happened, there really is no way of knowing exactly which is or isn't fact. With the exception of Noah's Ark and the ten commandments. Pieces of the ark were found exactly where mentioned in the bible. The tablets the10 commandments were written on, also found.

The bible was originally written in old Hebrew, that language in itself have changed considerably since then. Who's to say the translations weren't altered by the time we got to read it? It also wasn't written all at one time so of course there will be discrepancies, everyone who contributed to writing those works must have had different opinions on what they were writing.

Historical accounts state that it was the original disciples who wrote most of the books of the new testament while it was dictated to them by Jesus/God. So, let's say the book as written originally was in fact written by the people it states as authors. With the many translations afterwards, it is quite possible some of those "letters" were merged into one book even though written by different people. There really is no way of really knowing, but history does in fact confirm most if not all of the events in the bible.

I do believe in the bible, not literally, of course, but in the sense that most of those stories have been confirmed.

There have been some books found that either were not included in the bible, or had been removed before the 1500s. Last I heard, these books are currently undergoing authenticity tests before they may or may not be included in later versions.

**It's been said the bible was written by the disciples and apostles both who walked with Jesus and those who knew OF him personally. But, in all honesty. who's to say that those pages haven't been altered by someone else and important info left out and their own opinions put in during the numerous translations.

For me I don't take the bible literally, but the parts that have been confirmed via historical/scientific fact. There was pretty much a series of shows on the History Channel that investigated much of the events of the bible. Some are still being investigated and some confirmed. Overall, however, I do believe in the bible and I do take into account the translation errors. It's more of a historical account and trust me. You can read the diaries of 4 different people of the exact same moment in time and still get 4 totally different accounts of what happened.

♥TIA♥ - posted on 03/29/2011

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I did! ...Nah, to my opinion. Prophets of the time and yes, like some other ladies said "Inspired by the spirit of God" So in say men with their feelings and opinions. And of course "God". Scary thought, sounds very dominating. Yet, I do follow my gospel principles and believe in the Bible.

Krista - posted on 03/29/2011

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All scripture is God-breathed because it says so...in scripture?

Kind of a neat trick, no? It's the ultimate truth because it says it's the ultimate truth.

[deleted account]

Toni, i just got a chance to look at your links. They are trying to disprove the myth of Sumeriamis being the virgin mother. I simply stated that myth was around before the myth of Jesus. Not that the myth itself was fact. Hence me saying that the story of jesus and the bible is based on the story of nimrod and the book of creation.

Jocelyn - posted on 03/29/2011

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Sorry, Jackie Rae, even Batman couldn't figure this one out, lol. I'm just happy that scripture doesn't indicate that we should all have blue hair and wear Jessica Simpson shoes!

Jackie - posted on 03/29/2011

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"A book written by man inspired by God"

Riddle me this Batman - Why is it so believable that God inspired or talked to man in ancient times? But if someone wrote something today and said God spoke to him, everyone would think he was a lunatic?

I

Debbilee - posted on 03/29/2011

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All scripture is God- breathed (2Tim16) so whether it was written by Peter, Paul, James etc etc, it all comes from God. It is not the Aposles that can save us it is Jesus Christ!!!

[deleted account]

Oh for sure. Its human word. I don't believe it. I just know its there and that the bible is based on it.

Jocelyn - posted on 03/28/2011

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Yes, yes...it was the use of the word, "book" that confused me. A book is one thing, a collection of chipped old cuneiform tablets is another. For the record, I believe that any ancient text - no matter the source - is tainted by the fact that it was composed by a human being with an unknown agenda. For all we know, some dewy-eyed Mesopotamian priest created the story of a virgin mother to seduce a young temple virgin. Gilgamesh is a rollicking yarn, but I wouldn't make a life decision based on any of his misadventures. Ditto Jesus. The Sumerian tablets seem to be enjoying a bit of popularity! Was there a book or a movie? It reminds me of everyone rushing to buy copies of the gnostic gospels following rabid readings of DaVinci Code. Go figure.

[deleted account]

Its the first recorded written language in history. The original creation story, among other things. The Sumerians were pagans(practices rituals similar to now known paganism), and they believed in these tablets. They passed down their rituals and they were eventually translated into the bible and other scriptures. Basically every religion is based on these tablets.

Jocelyn - posted on 03/28/2011

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But I am interested in the pagan "Book of Creation." I thought pagans didn't actually produce books. Weren't they oral tradition people? Or are you meaning something bigger by "pagan?" The only thing linking your girl with Nimrod (that I could find in a hasty and completely unthorough search) were some undoubtedly claret-induced ramblings by a 19th century man of the cloth named Hislop.

Johnny - posted on 03/28/2011

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Which is backed up by the FACT that the Sumerians book was inscribed on tablets that have been found and carbon-dated....?

[deleted account]

My proof is comparing the Sumerians book, written long before the bible, to the book of genesis. SAME STORY.

Rosie - posted on 03/28/2011

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actually toni, the wikipedia link does have something about her being a virgin mother.

In support of his claim, Hislop talked about legends of Semiramis being raised by doves. He referred to the writings by the church's Ante Nicene Fathers to suggest that these stories began as propaganda invented and circulated by Semiramis herself so her subjects would ascribe to her the status of virgin birth and view her child as the fulfillment of the "seed" prophecy in Genesis 3:15. Making her son the child of Inaanna (seed of the woman)

Toni - posted on 03/28/2011

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Nothing is just these 3 site alone state that Semiramis was a Virgin Mother .... anything but.
http://womenshistory.about.com/od/ancien...
http://ldolphin.org/semir.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiramis
and there are so many more.
So choice and belief does come into it. What FACT you are reading and believing to be true is obviously different to what I am.
Don't forget that as claimed about the bible, everything you are reading is also just written by a man/woman.

Toni - posted on 03/28/2011

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Just as you did Johnny I can also pull up websites to which I find agree with what I say. Will you respect what they say as truth as you are asking me to accept yours?

Johnny - posted on 03/28/2011

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There is faith which is based in beliefs and then there is logic which is based in evidence. They aren't the same. I'm not sure you can use the term "historically" to describe your belief. That would suggest that you have evidence to support your claim.

Toni - posted on 03/28/2011

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Its all about choices and what we choose to believe. Historically I believe that Semiramis is in fact a descendant of Noah therefore (to me) proving that God came before any pagan religions.

Johnny - posted on 03/28/2011

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http://godkind.org/pagan-holidays.html

Most Christian holidays and symbols have pagan origins. I've attached a Christan, bible-based site, for those of you who would not believe secular research into the issue.

http://www.albatrus.org/english/religion...

Even the "Jesus fish" symbol is believed to have had pagan origins and shows up in archaeological digs dating before Christ.

I am not a pagan and have no interest in "enforcing paganism" on anyone. Julianne's statements are based in historical research and evidence.

[deleted account]

I'm not saying i believe in the book of creation (the pagan book the bible is based on) Its just all religions stem from this one.

Toni - posted on 03/28/2011

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Oh and no I don't have a cross in my house or think that the cross in itself is holy.

Toni - posted on 03/28/2011

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We will definitely have to agree to disagree! Yes like a lot of people we do Christmas and Easter, no I don't keep Sundays holy. How I see it is you're doing exactly what alot of christians are accused of. Trying to enforce the belief of paganism over someone's own belief. Just because you believe religious ceremonies are based on pagan ceremonies does not make it so. It just means that is what you believe.

[deleted account]

are you christian? Do you celebrate christmas or easter? do you keep sunday holy? Do you think a cross is holy or have one in your house?

All pagan.

Toni - posted on 03/28/2011

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There we differ as I believe God himself was around before any pagans ever existed.

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