Christians like to point to the fact that the Bible has stood the test of time as proof for it being inspired by God. As well, it is commonly brought up how well the 66 books agree with each other, though written hundreds of years apart. I was brainwashed into believing that every shred of real history, or any practical advice or wise saying in the Bible also proved it was “inspired” and “God breathed”. . . Add to that the circumstantial and “amazing” life changing experiences when people get to reading it, (or more likely that they just feel loved for the first time in their life and feel a pressure or accountability from a new motivated to be good, peer group.) on top of anything paranormal being God, and the evil in the world as all Satan and his demon’s fault . . . the whole God package seems justified!
The crazy, and scientifically explained, hallucinations of near death experiences, and all “miraculous” stories we tell and retell, of course bolstered that belief in God as well..
From childhood we are taught of “the miracles of God”, ones like from the book series of “Uncle Arthur”. I remember one story amazing me in particular; it was about the Bible’s ability to withstand a house burning down around it, while leaving it unscathed. . .I was taught to have a “holy fear” of the Bible! (I was even taught the right way to hold it respectfully. . .and NEVER put it on the floor!)
As an adult though, I started to learn that there was often a perfectly logical and natural explanation for the supposed “miracles” of the Bible, (The one’s that were actually history that is. . .) being instead natural phenomenons.
Not surprisingly, all of those previous things I use to think so incredible about God and the Bible he supposedly wrote also had very natural and logical explanations. (Like the Bible not burning because of it -as usual- being hid away in a solid metal desk, likely with a protective Bible cover too, as most ministers would have used.)
The Bible’s “amazing” ability to have stood the test of time, for instance, as well as how many copies it has always had is really not surprising; the two are actually closely related. The real question is why so many copies existed down through the ages (even while numerous rulers tried to have them all burnt)?
While there are other ancient texts still around, like: Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars, Pliny the Younger’s Natural History, Thucydides’ History, Herodotus’ History, Plato, Tacitus’ Annals, Homer’s Iliad and William Shakespeare’s 37 plays,( that people have attempted to preserve mainly for their historical value,) these are not the kind of books that we commonly have any use for today. . . .anymore then we get much out of really old films or medical books. They were appreciated in, and were common of their time, but since then we have seen their worldview to be racist, ageist, sexist and prejudiced.
The Bible is also full of allegories, myths, inconsistencies, and just plain ignorance! (Check out those links for some classic examples). We know through science and archaeology that there is very little information in the Bible that is completely historically accurate. . ..though I’m sure no one was writing the books of the Bible, just to deceive people.) We have realized by looking at other cultures and their moral codes, as well as understanding ourselves through psychology, that the Bible has little practical knowledge that is still, or ever was, good and/or applicable to our culture today.
As that didn’t happen, and interest grew instead of died, there must be a good reason! Well one thing was an obvious difference in my mind: none of those other books were claimed to be “authoritative”, or an “inspired revelation from God” by the religious leaders of the time. . . necessitating the most careful and literal preservation of it by anyone who bought that.
Furthermore it was claimed to be from the “one true God” of the Jews. Until the Nationalistic Jewish writers of the Old testament came along, I don’t believe there was ever a thought in the ancient world that there could be just one god, (much less that one person or nation would have had the audacity to believe they knew who it was!) and so the religions of the world were ever evolving in their inclusive beliefs of many gods and who they were, or what they did. Often even plagiarizing each others gods, by just changing up the names and modernizing the stories a little, to fit their culture. (Check out an earlier taste of that in my post: crossovers in myths and religions.)
There are symbolic allegories told in the Old Testament, as well as the New, that are predated to other cultures myths. From the story of Adam and Eve, to Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Jonah and Jesus, they are all almost identical plagiarisms from before they were written.
Joseph Campbell the famous Mythologist, spent his life traveling and studying to understand and compare the terminology of myths. He found the Bible to come alive to the enlightened reader. His video series the power of myth, or his book by the same title were a great help to me.
- The theological myths are those which use no bodily form but contemplate the very essence of the gods: e.g., Cronus swallowing his children. Since divinity is intellectual, and all intellect returns into itself, this myth expresses in allegory the essence of divinity.
- The physical myths express the activities of gods in the world.
- The psychological way is to regard the myths as allegories of the activities of the soul itself and or the soul’s acts of thought.
- The material is to regard material objects to actually be gods, for example: to call the earth Gaia, ocean Okeanos, or heat Typhon.
- The mixed kind of myth may be seen in many instances: for example they say that in a banquet of the gods, Eris threw down a golden apple; the goddesses contended for it, and were sent by Zeus to Paris to be judged. Paris saw Aphrodite to be beautiful and gave her the apple. Here the banquet signifies the hypercosmic powers of the gods; that is why they are all together. The golden apple is the world, which being formed out of opposites, is naturally said to be ‘thrown by Eris ‘ (or Discord). The different gods bestow different gifts upon the world, and are thus said to ‘contend for the apple’. And the soul which lives according to sense – for that is what Paris is – not seeing the other powers in the world but only beauty, declares that the apple belongs to Aphrodite.
The basic understanding of myths follows these patterns, but the tricky part of the Bible is, while it has some books of pure myth, it has others of ignorant Bronze age history and poetry. You cannot use the same rules to read them all. . .except one: they had the culture of the time, and the knowledge of the time. So you must read the Bible as any ancient text, through the eyes of the people of the time, or you read into it pure made up superstition.
Getting back to the presumed “uniqueness” of the Bible though, to fairly compare and judge that uniqueness we need to have an ancient text that a religion was solely based off of and that taught monotheism. Since there wasn’t such a text in the days of the Old Testament or before, it has easily stood uncontested as “unique”, in numerous ways. . . one being what a uniquely hot topic it’s been since it’s origin.
Luckily though, when a “new revelation from God”, in the form of Jesus came on the scene, we could have many comparable texts. Enter: all the early Christian writers and their books. Some 156 books were written between as early as 30 A.D, to as late as 250 A.D. These are still around in part or whole. . .though some of which were even claimed to be heresy!
To the stanch, Torah-believing Jews of the time, this new covenant or testament was not welcome, as it was seen to negate the old ways. . .as we can see by the many stories of Jesus, even if the claim was made by his followers that he didn’t come to destroy the law but fulfill it. (Everything in the Bible was simply a follower’s claims mind you, as we know that Jesus never wrote a word himself.)
In the same way as the Christians, another faction of Torah -believers decided that the Old testament needed a makeover, and a progressive thinking man named Muhammad felt inspired (some would say he hallucinated from exhaustion and dehydration to get this “inspiration” though. . .which actually fits with having an out of body experience and him later thinking he had gone crazy) to write of his new revelations to add to the Bible, called The Koran.
The same process happened to the Bible in even more recent ” revelations” like were preached by Joseph Smith, bringing in Mormonism. Also “new revelations” from a man called Sun Myung Moon who brought in the “Moonies” . (“He promoted a mixture of Christianity and his own conservative, family-oriented teachings. He preached new interpretations of lessons from the Bible, and fused elements of Christianity and Confucianism”). Others like Charles Taze Russell, (who started the Jehovah’s witnesses) John Holdemen, (who started the Church of God in Christ Mennonite) and many other powerful groups did this too, with the common belief that you couldn’t understand the Bible for yourself, or be led in any way contrary to the rest of the “flock”. . .most of the leaders writing books to be a supplement to the Bible, or at least the Torah, depending on how much time had passed.
All of these controlling cults, as well as many others, brought a certain unity to the people because of their written, revelations of clarification. Plus, with standards came dogma and control, which, so long as you toed the line, you would be happy and unified with your brothers and sisters in Christ in their very divided belief system. All of the Disciples of the original law, claimed to be following the God who supposedly wrote it. . .while agreeing on no two points of doctrine.
Just as a free reading of the Old Testament led to many differing beliefs and new religions, before people put a cap on who can understand the Bible, by creating cults, there was no unity in even one faction of the Old testament believers, the Christian’s.
Much like today, there was much name calling and fighting among even the early Christians!
(As will always be the case when a person can justify their thoughts as being “led by God”.)
This was even seen in the Bible with Paul, twice. Likely Paul sees John Mark as unworthy
since he has already abandoned the ministry.
John Mark did not likely depart because he was afraid of the tough travels or potential persecution though, as is often presumed of him. Rather, Paul’s rather harsh words to the Jewish sorcerer Elymas on Cyprus was probably a bit of a shock and perhaps even the idea that the gospel should go to a Gentile like Serguis Paulus was too radical.
Luke uses the Greek word ἀφίστημι (afistemi, aorist participle) to describe what John Mark did. This word can mean more than simply “depart,” it can have the sense of to “fall away” or “become a backslider.” The word appears in Daniel’s prayer of confession (Dan 9:9) and Jer 3:14 to describe “faithless Israel.”
More significantly, Luke used the word in the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8:13 to describe the seed which does not take root and “falls away” when persecution comes. Perhaps there is a hint here that John Mark was not quite “rooted” in Paul mission and when he experienced the theologically disturbing idea that Paul was going to turn to the Gentiles, he fell away.
The way Luke describes this disagreement is significant – Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp disagreement,” a word used for provoking one to anger and exasperation in Heb 10:24. The word appears elsewhere as “furious anger of the Lord” in Deut 29:27 and Jer 32:37. Paul and Barnabas are in such a heated disagreement over John Mark that there is no solution other than to separate, just like John Mark did.
The secular leaders down through history have found it necessary to either segregate, annihilate or bring Christians and their religion under the sanction of the State, so they could control and unify the many differing beliefs. At which time many books were burned and/or called “unfit”, for no better reason then that they didn’t have enough in common with any of the other texts under consideration.
In the end, out of the 156 or so books, only 27 were chosen as the New Testament canon, because they, at least mostly, agreed with eachother. (Who cares if they were accurate or understood, the big wigs likely figured that “as long as we preserved these books word for word, we would not be accountable to this Christian’s God”.) Thus unifying and setting in stone what “God” really meant. . .in the same way the cult leaders clarified and set in stone their beliefs about the Bible.
Not only have powerful leaders like Augustine and King James shaped the formation of a religion, but Cults who put a cap on “new revelations” surly played their part as well, from the time of the Catholics to now. Which has no doubt greatly helped the Christian faith survive the test of time they are so proud about.
Some of these revolutionary cult leaders have some credibility though, (in a sense) because not only were they just attempting to make the Old testament more applicable and relevant to their time, just like Jesus was said to have done, they were proven to be real historical characters! (The evidence of which Christians have yet to find for Christ. . .strangely enough, the supposedly empty tomb does nothing to help the Christian’s case. . .)
” Had Jesus been a real person, secular sources would have written about him during his life, if he did in fact do even a small percentage of what is claimed of him. The only source we have, even in the first century, is a text written in 94 AD by Flavius Josephus, a Jew, with a couple of obviously forged passages (even the Catholic Church has fessed up to this).”
The stories of Jesus were obviously based on:
- the classic worldview of superstitious, exaggerating Jews, a cultural tenancy we still see today. (Think Fiddler on the roof.)
- a pre-existing mythological belief in the Sun god as seen in the signs in the heavens. Check out the youtube video called real proof that Jesus was not real.
- The way that culture had of telling meaningful stories in allegories and myths that were understood to be such at the time.
These stories of Jesus started circulating 60 or so years after Jesus’s supposed death, and after appearing to over 500 people, yet not one secular eyewitness claimed any of his life, miracles, or death and Resurrection to be real. (Although many mockers did recount the beliefs of the Christians.)
In the Far East Jesus is considered to be just another character in Western religious mythology, on par with Thor, Zeus and Osiris. Most Hindus do not believe in a real Jesus, but those who do, consider him to be one of the many avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu.
Muslims certainly believe in Jesus, but they reject the New Testament story and consider him to be a prophet who announced the coming of Muhammad . .so we can take that with a grain of salt. It’s ironic that the furthest removed countries, and the further we get from the time of Jesus, the more real and amazing he seems to be. . .
And Jews know Jesus to be based partially the stories of Yeishu.
The Hebrew name for Christians has always been _Notzrim_ There were already people called Notzrim at the time of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachyah (c. 100 B.C.E.). Although modern Christians claim that Christianity only started in the first century C.E., it is clear that the first century Christians in Israel considered themselves to be a continuation of the Notzri movement which had been in existence for about 150 years. One of the the most notorious Notzrim was Yeishu ben Pandeira, also known as Yeishu ha-Notzri. Talmudic
with this Yeishu (for short). The Hebrew name for Jesus has always been Yeishu
and the Hebrew for “Jesus the Nazarene” has always been “Yeishu
ha-Notzri.” It is important to note that Yeishu ha-Notzri is not an historical Jesus since modern Christianity
denies any connection between Jesus and Yeishu and moreover, parts of the Jesus myth are based on other historical people besides Yeishu.
Think about it though. . . what powerful leaders today would you trust to weed through and tell you what is from God and what isn’t today?! Do you think any religious authority, much less king, has the power or right to tell you what is from God and what isn’t? Why would it have been better for these men in these councils to tell you God’s will at that time, then a professing “Christian” like say, President Bush to tell you that God will was for you to support him going to war and wiping out innocent men, woman and children?
Or what difference would that be from Moses or Aaron claiming that their unseen God has conveniently told them that your nation should commit genocide to whole cities and take their land, because their invisible friend had given the land to you instead? It wouldn’t be different, but as the ignorant mindset back then thought it was normal to be sheep, and follow the “educated” religious leaders, we still see the books of Moses and the different selected writings put together by these educated men as “authoritative”. Maybe we should question that mentality now though. . .just a thought.
Isn’t at least the Old Testament at least unchanged by powerful and manipulative leaders. . . that we know of? Well, you could say that, but it would be barking up the wrong tree. No one was likely intentionally changing it, and it was as good as any ancient text. . .
From the start though “The Serpent” and “The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil” are replicated symbols in myths of numerous earlier cultures. These different myths would have been known to the Hebrews, probably forming a link between the worship of the symbol of human generative power and that of the heavenly bodies. Just as the worship of the bull connected the respect for the human generator with that for the universal father.
” In ancient Egyptian mythology the world was created by four powers, one of which was the sun god Amun-Rawho who took the form of a snake and emerged from the water to inseminated the cosmic egg, the kneph, which was created by the other gods. In another story, a god named Hathor transformed himself into a poisonous snake called Agep and killed Seth. He also guarded the wheat fields where the spirit of Horus was said to live, bringing the sheaf of wheat to be regarded as the symbol of rebirth.
In Greek mythology Zeus freed two eagles which met at the centre of the world, sometimes called the navel of the earth, which is guarded by a snake called Pytho. The symbol Serpens Candivorens, a snake biting its tail, represents the unending cycle of nature between destruction, and new creation, life and death. The Greeks called this figure Ouroboros. Chinese mythology maintained that the world was surrounded by two entwined snakes, which symbolized the power and wisdom of the creator. In another legend the Buddha was attacked by a snake which bound itself seven times around his waist. Due to the inner strength of the Buddha, the snake could not kill him but instead became his follower.”
“Serpents depicted symbolically on a vertical axis nearly always represent sexual energy- the twin serpents of the cadeceus, the kundalini serpents, the alchemical crucified serpent, and the serpent of Genesis are all symbols of the sexual nature of man. In the Judeo-Christian allegorical story of Adam and Eve, the serpent represents the dual nature of sexual energy, which can either entrap or release the spirit. It is this serpent who guards the mythical tree of life and immortality featured in mythology the world over, where it serves as both a protector of the aspirant and an obstacle to the uninitiated”.. . .but sadly, it’s meaning was lost in time or translation, and people started to take the story of creation as literal. . .the same mistake people make today in reading any of the Bible.
“The serpent plays an important role in every culture. . .As a sexual symbol, the snake can represent the energies of the universe, or base human desires and lust” source: here. An understanding of the meaning of snakes helps us understand other myth stories in the Bible as well.
We see in Exodus 4 and 7 a rod turning into a snake. In Numbers 21:4-7 a bronze snake was supposed to have been crafted by Moses to heal people by just looking at it. . .As both the snake and numerous aspects of the whole Moses character was predated in other myths, while it is possible there was an original basis for the stories, it is questionable that any of the story even happened. . .although truth is sometimes stranger then fiction.
(I did hear about a bush that could have made the story of the burning bush actually a superstitious view of reality. . .it’s interesting enough that I may just have to do some more research and blog on the whole myth in a future post.)
Astrologers, will point out that some systems include a thirteenth sign of the zodiac known as Ophiuchus Serpentarius, the Serpent Holder. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries this constellation was called Alpheichius. Known as the “God of Invocation” after the legendary healer, Ophiuchus (Asclepius). The two serpents in his hands were later replaced by the snake on the pole which was symbolic of the spine and/or the life of man and it became a symbol for physicians.”
It’s easy to see how a virgin birth myth would start, as it would be a necessary thing for a deity who is considered pure to them, to not have a natural human conception . . .(I have wondered how a woman who is under the curse was suppose to fit into this picture either mind you. . .)
Virgin birth stories were fairly common in mythology. The following mythological characters were all believed to have been born to divinely impregnated virgins: Romulus and Remus, Perseus, Zoroaster, Mithras, Osiris-Aion, Agdistis, Attis, Tammuz, Adonis, Korybas, Dionysus. The belief in unions between so called “gods” and women, regardless of whether they were virgins or not, is even more common. Even the Bible describes the “Sons of God” coming into “the daughters of man”. . . Many characters in mythology were believed to be sons of divine fathers and human females. I strongly suspect this is because the ancient people would have called anything different, smarter or more powerful, a “god”. And as there is very good evidence that there was an Ancient race of highly intelligent and different people, that kind of a myth probably had a basic truth to it in many cultures. See my post: “Was Hitler right? (I open a big can of worms in here)”
The Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God born to a virgin, is typical of Greco-Roman myths. The god Tammuz, worshiped in northern Israel, was said to have been born to the virgin Myrrha. The name “Myrrha” superficially resembles “Mary/Miriam” and it is possible that this particular virgin birth story influenced the Mary story more than the others. Like Jesus, Tammuz was always called “Lord.” The Tosefta which writes of Tammuz, mentions a famous case of a woman named Miriam sleeping with a Roman soldier.
Another story that likely influenced the Jesus myth as was mentioned above that the Jews believe, was the story of a man called Yeishu. He was a sorcerer/magician around the time of Jesus. The Jews considered him to be a person who had led the Jews astray. As a result of charges brought against him (the details of which are not known, but which probably involved high treason) He was paraded around for forty days with a herald going in front of him announcing that he would be stoned and calling for people to come forward to plead for him. Nothing was brought forward in his favor however and so Yeishu was stoned and his body hung up on the eve of Passover. Yeishu had some disciples. The connection between Yeishu and Jesus is further corroborated by the the fact that two of those disciples names were Mattai and Todah. Those names are the original Hebrew forms of Matthew and Thaddaeus, the names of two of Jesus’s disciples in Christian mythology. (The early Christians were also aware of the names Ben Pandera and ben Stada for Jesus.)
The story that the mother of Jesus was probably an adultress and not a virgin was connected to the idea that Yeishu/Jesus had been born to a Jewish woman who had had an affair with a Roman soldier. . .which itself probably resulted in Yeishu’s mother being confused with Miriam. (The name “Miriam” is of course the original form of the name “Mary.”) It is in fact known from the Gemara that some of the people believed that Yeishu’s mother was “Miriam the women’s hairdresser.”
The story that Mary had been an adulteress never completely disappeared in Christian mythology. Instead, the character of Mary was split into two: Mary the mother of Jesus, believed to be a virgin, and Mary Magdalene, believed to be a woman of ill repute. The idea that the character of Mary Magdalene is also derived from Miriam, the mythical mother of Yeishu, is corroborated by the fact that the strange name “Magdalene” clearly resembles the Aramaic term “mgadla nshaya,” meaning “womens’ hairdresser.”
Other Christians, who followed the idea that the Messiah was to be descended from David, tried to trace Joseph back to David. They came up with two contradictory genealogies for him, one recorded in Matthew and the other in Luke. (Just one of the issues in the Bible. . .)
When the idea that Mary was a virgin developed, the mythical Joseph was relegated to the position of simply being her husband and the stepfather of Jesus. So it didn’t matter if his made up genealogy didn’t fit with someone else’ s made up genealogy, or with the prophesied line of the messiah through king David . . . Now only Mary’s bloodline mattered. . .presuming one of the genealogies was hers, and the different one somehow Josephs. (Which is highly problematic.) Mind you, then we have the genealogy going through a woman, and that was unheard of. If you can believe that though, then there’s the question of how there could be any human genes in Jesus, without the “curse” passing to him? And if Mary was simply the vessel of God, and Jesus didn’t share any of Mary’s genealogy, why even bring it up?!
Anyhow, the similarities in the story of Yeishu don’t stop there. . . Yeishu fled to Egypt to escape being killed by a cruel king as well. Since the early Christians believed that Jesus had lived in Roman times it is natural that they would have confused the evil king who wanted to kill Jesus with Herod, since there were no other suitable evil kings during the Roman period..
In many different culture’s mythical stories the evil king receives a prophecy that a certain child will be born who will usurp the throne. In some stories the child is born to a virgin and usually he is son of a god. The mother of the child tries to hide him. The king usually orders the slaying of all babies who might be the prophesied king. Examples of myths which follow this plot are the birth stories of Romulus and Remus, Perseus, Krishna, Zeus, and Oedipus. The story of Moses’s birth also resembles these myths (some of which claim that the mother put the child in a basket and placed him in a river). The Christian myth of the slaughter of the innocents by Herod is simply a Christian version of this theme. And no historian has found any evidence of this slaughter in history.
The information in the Talmud alone, concerning Yeishu, is so damaging to Christianity that Christians have always taken drastic measures against it. When the Christians first discovered the information they immediately tried to wipe it out by censoring the Talmud. The Basle edition of the Talmud (c. 1578 – 1580) had all the passages relating to Yeishu and a similar ben Stada, deleted by the Christians. Even today, editions of the Talmud used by Christian scholars lack these passages!
During the first few decades of this century, fierce academic battles raged between Atheist and Christian scholars over the true origins of Christianity. The Christians were forced to face up to the evidence. As they could no longer ignore it, so they decided to take it to the level of desperation and attack it. Humorously, they claimed that the Talmudic Yeishu was a distortion of the “historical Jesus.”:) But don’t take my word for any of this, check all this (and a lot more,) out for yourself below and in the rest of the links! (If you dare. . .)