Re: Religion is like a boatMay 27th, 2016
The reality is that it is all true to an extent, and equally nonsensical at the same time. The Bible has meaning to all its readers, but it is important to consider that the meaning it has is informed by the prejudices the reader brings to it.
To really understand the Bible and what it intends to say to present generations, it is necessary to understand who wrote it and why, and the cultural context in which it was written. The story is an interesting one, in no small part because the story is so much messier than most of its advocates would have you to believe. And its very messiness is why it is a story rarely told in any completeness to Christian audiences.
The overriding theme of the Bible storylines is the theme of cultural conquest. Conquest by the Hebrews over their enemy neighbors, culturally by the Jews over the Israelites (used here to mean members of the ten "lost" tribes), the Christians over the Jews, the Catholics over the Gnostics, Marcionites, and other pre-Catholic factions, and on and on. In some cases, the conquest is recorded as a historical, often military event. In others, it merely is recorded as a change in content and context, an alteration of the storyline and outlook and worldview.
And the story of the editing and translation of the final form of the Bible into what today is regarded as holy scripture is a story not just of cultural conquest, but of political intrigues, and not just between competing bishops, but with secular political authority itself. It is as if the U.S. congress or president were to decide what constituted Christian doctrine and scripture, and everyone went along - at the peril of their lives - until no one even questioned the accuracy of the official viewpoint.
The effect of its origins as selected parts of whole bodies of scripture, written by at least a hundred and fifty different people in dozens of different places at different times, many centuries apart, and for different reasons, colors what its authors wrote. Yet that simple fact is widely ignored, both by people who naively follow what they read in it as the inerrant word of God, and by more liberal scholastic theologians, who seek to understand its historical context as well as a body of doctrinal scripture, which they often blindly follow, even though they know full well its messy origins.
MORE: The Bible And Christianity -- The Historical Origins (external - login to view)