Fiction of History?

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Cognostic's picture
You are confusing the idea of

You are confusing the idea of "A Book," with an "Anthology of Books," that were written over a period of a thousand years. There is no "BIBLE," "book" The bible is a collection of books written over a thousand years by people all over the Middle East. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul are not even talking about the same Jesus.

jonthecatholic's picture
Agreed that the Bible does

Agreed that the Bible does actually contain several books. But I’m confused to your assertion that they weren’t talkingn about the same Jesus.

Dave Matson's picture
As to Christian bibles, we

As to bibles, we have the Protestant Bible, the Catholic Bible, the Greek Orthodox Bible, the Ethiopian Bible, the Syrian Bible, the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh), and probably some that I've overlooked. You are exactly right. There is no such book as the bible anymore than there is such a thing as the correct translation. That's in addition to the Bible being an anthology, one that shows considerable evolution--especially in the first 5 books or so where formerly independent accounts get squeezed into a single account. That is a story in itself, about various compromises and how the need for them likely arose.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC
The synoptic gospels were compared and edited some 300 years after the supposed events. They were translated into Greek from oral and traditional tales from a variety of sources. The reason they are synoptic is that they were compared and written to form a narrative. Names were changed,traditions inserted and the whole lot cobbled together.
Johns gospel as referenced by Polycarp dates back (the earliest verifiable fragment) to about 150 CE although some scholars are dating that as also 300CE or later. John, if born about 1960, of course, would nowadays be in a mental hospital under heavy medication and constant supervision.
Thomas's gospel is tradition in Southern and Northern India.Scholars have proposed a date as early as 40 AD or as late as 140 AD. Because there was little interference by the Roman church in Thomas and Miriams versions they probably are a much better indication of any character existing called Yeshua bin Josef in the 1st Century CE

Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book.

NOTE: " Important sentence here "Its heavily corrected text" . The veracity of the 'gospels' or any part of the bible is yet to be proven.,In fact all the evidence points the other way to an amalgam of wishful thinking, profiteering by evangelists and finally appropriation and heavy modification and cross pollination from existing, established religion authored by Rome.

jonthecatholic's picture
Fair enough about the gospel

Fair enough about the gospel of Thomas. About the synoptic gospels. Where are you getting this idea of the texts being heavily edited?

If you mean the texts were probably not copied very well and that there were unfaithful copies, I’d agree to that. But when you say it was edited, it implies that these texts were out there, the Church or someone said, we need to edit these things then rereleased them. Which I cannot find any evidence for.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

"About the synoptic gospels. Where are you getting this idea of the texts being heavily edited?"
Seriously? The mass of documents available for even the layman to study are so impressive , and even just skimming the top of the research with an open mind will convince any but the most deluded of the faithful that none of the 'gospels' are in their original form and have many deletions and later additions. All were rewritten, edited and culled in the 3rd century onwards. Please do some research, I have many times corrected your assumptions on these forums only to have you repeat the same nonsense in another thread. Do some serious research with your mind open, you will soon see.

"edited, it implies that these texts were out there, the Church or someone said, we need to edit these things then re-released them." Exactly, that is my opinion, and I know it s the opinion of most scholars whose studies are available for those who look for evidence, not those that make hopeful assertions to confirm their preconceptions.

Do your own research and let the scales fall from your eyes. I quoted the actual people who are studying this bible. It is not my opinion, it is their considered, researched and studied opinion.

The university of Tel Aviv archeology Department has some great papers and evidence for you to cut your teeth on before moving on to the real hard stuff.

jonthecatholic's picture
I have done my research and

I have done my research and the only “major editions” made by any of the gospel texts are those of copying errors and scribes correcting obvious copying errors. Naturally this number of “editions” would be very high considering the very high number of early copies we have today.

I’ll throw your challenge back to you. You do your research correctly and you keep an open mind.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

"I’ll throw your challenge back to you. You do your research correctly and you keep an open mind."

Well I have given you citations in the past why don't you give me some that prove your assertions?

"very high number of early copies" how early? citations please. Quote your earliest, with proofs and citations..that's easy for you.

"copying errors and scribes correcting obvious copying errors" citations and examples please with dates.

That's how we actually research. Its not "ask the pastor hour" its actually getting into libraries, asking historians and archaeologists...all a bit hard when you can "just have faith" but , hey, give it a go, take a walk on the wild side. You might surprise yourself.

And lets get one thing right, I do not have to prove a thing. I am making no claims, you are. The burden of extraordinary proof for extraordinary claims is on you.

You get me an unbroken chain of custodial evidence for any of the synoptic gospels I will listen to you. That's what evidence means. Then we can have a real discussion about whether that proves the divinity of your prophet/messiah/christ figure..

(Spelling edited)

howejm3's picture
@Old man shouts: "The

@Old man shouts: "The synoptic gospels were compared and edited some 300 years after the supposed events. They were translated into Greek from oral and traditional tales from a variety of sources." and "I am making no claims, you are."

The Quran had a massive recall less than a century after Muhammed died, and all diverse copies were burned. There is evidence.

Christianity was widespread from Rome to Antioch to Alexandria. Such a massive recall would have evidence. You are making this claim. Can you defend it?

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JF

"Christianity was widespread from Rome to Antioch to Alexandria. Such a massive recall would have evidence. You are making this claim. Can you defend it?"

Indeed and with ease. The Qu'ran text destruction is very similar to the 4th century destruction of many texts and the later trimming of the texts you now call the bible in the 17th century. It is a red Herring argument. Not playing.
Let us stick to the point of the destruction of the various texts that were extant in the 3rd and 4th centuries which was a bit if a hobby of mine......

The plethora of churches at the time in the 3rd century, proves the great variety of texts that were in circulation. Many were destroyed and the Arian Heresy declared anathema and its followers massacred in the 4th century.
Many texts were ordered to be destroyed, and, destroyed they were along with their adherents with very few fragments surviving of the hundreds of varied texts prior to the standardisation of texts in the 4th century. Even then the differences in interpretation and retention of some texts in the Coptic, Armenian, Greek, Ethiopian churches exist to this day
You have Gnostics, the Ebionites and the Marcionites and others all competing for followers until the 5th century, all with their own creeds and their own gospel texts.
Do you ever wonder where your Nicene creed comes from? And, importantly why it was written?

You seem to be new at this whole concept and find it difficult to absorb as it obviously contradicts your dearly held conditioning. So I can recommend you to a simple and easy to read blog by a Southern Baptist of all things..(I'm not prejudiced).

There are some great citations and references you should take up if you want an understanding of your faith and its origins.

I can only point you to sources of knowledge, if you choose to remain in ignorance and make fanciful claims without evidence that is your right of course. A loss of a potentially intelligent, fulfilled mind though I reckon! But that's religion for ya.

(edited for clarity and meaning)

Dave Matson's picture


It's well known, for example, that the ending of Mark was a late addition. It's no secret that changes have been made in the Bible, but I'm not aware of any attempt to completely rewrite it. But the changes are not all trivial in that major doctrines are sometimes affected.

LogicFTW's picture

Lets flip this around a bit shall we?

First: You are trying to say that the NT is a historical text based on the argument that names are reused. (Which multiple posters already pointed out in this thread the glaring weaknesses in that argument - it is a pretty pitiful bottom of the barrel scraping argument to me.)

So, talking serpent. That happened? World flood and Noah's Ark? Parting of the red sea?
Most modern biblical scholars now say those are stories meant to illustrate and educate, not actually historical accounts of exactly what happened. Why? Because they realize trying to make those events work with what we now know about the world is only going to get them mocked and dismissed by any rational educated person as the evidence that those things did not occur is enormous and solid, and the solid evidence that they did occur is non existent, with the rest of the supposed evidence very weak, (the book that talks of it, says it true!)

So most biblical scholars readily admit at least portions of the bible are not strictly historically accurate, and instead are "teaching stories."

Any historical document that references admitted fictional stories, is no longer a historical document, but instead at best, perhaps a historical study on cultures of the time by delving into the popular fictional stories of the time that people thought were real.

jonthecatholic's picture
I actually agree that it’s a

I actually agree that it’s a weak argument. But I’ve actually yet to see ancient fictional texts which reuse major characters’ names in their stories.

But I agree it’s weak. But even looking at the internal evidence of eachh of these books (gospels) they’re not writing as if they’re writing fiction. They believe they’re writing actual historical accounts.

jonthecatholic's picture
Actually, about the first

Actually, about the first eleven chapters of Genesis, even the early Church and most likely the Jews knew these things to be nonliteral accounts. Again, these are simply based on interpretation evidence. The text itself says they aren’t to be taken literally.

Example would be with the story of creation. We have 7 days but the sun and the moon (what the ancient people used to tell day from night) wasn’t made until the 4th day. Another clue: the author of genesis goes through this pattern where God created the environment first and then fills them with creatures to populate the environments.

This idea that all christians believed this was literally true was a very recent one, probably from the pass 100 years or so. Even Agustine didn’t read Gensis that way. A quick google search will show you this.

LogicFTW's picture
Cant write a long reply now,

Cant write a long reply now, (will later if you want more detail,) but good to see you agree, (as well as other important figures,) That at least parts of various bibles are not meant to be literal truths.

But you will lose me pretty quick if you turn around and say the bible is proof of god, and other parts of the bible are meant to be followed exactly, like rules or commandments.

If you were to find a history book where people readily admit various key parts of it were just interpretations of truth instead of historical record, and that the book has been heavily translated and edited over 1000 years, could you trust any of it to try and make a factual claim about anything, other than maybe," hey the origins of the stuff in this book is old!"

Sheldon's picture
Why would an omniscient deity

Why would an omniscient deity deal in cryptic allegory? Especially when it was competing with thousands of other fictional deities and their claims, and it would by definition have known we would find the truth ourselves very quickly once we learned a method for vigorous objective analysis as we have with modern science?

Apply Occam's razor and a far simpler explanation emerges that removes all need for faith based bias, and denial of known facts, and therefore removes all cognitive dissonance.

Humans create fictional deities and fictional creation narratives. This is a simple and unequivocal fact. Why single one out over the others when it is demonstrably erroneous and try these desparate post ad hoc rationlaisations?

Aposteriori unum's picture
Did you mean "fiction OR

Did you mean "fiction OR history"?

Randy the Atheist's picture
Jesus wasn't a myth. He was

Jesus wasn't a myth. He was most likely a real person and even lived as described in the bible.

Jesus was simply an ordinary man living on the fringes of society who unsuccessfully tried to make a career in various trades like carpentry, fishing and shepherding but luckily found his niche in preaching after inheriting a portion of a congregation led by John the Baptist who was beheaded by Herod.

He was somewhat of a drifter - moving from town to town and practiced what is known today as flim-flam - performing spurious miracles that managed to convince only 12 people - and alluding to, but never admitting, divine godship. He had a knack for getting punched and beaten but always managed to escape at the last moments. His luck finally ran out after messing with the Sanhedrin.

But all was not lost as Jesus had two very important friends - the first being a J.Aramithea who pleaded with Pilate for the body of Jesus just moments after losing consciousness - and a Nicodemus who arrives shortly after moving Jesus to a tomb in a garden and administers a peculiar mix of myrhh and aloe - a salve that stops mortal bleeding. But thats not the only thing that was peculiar. Approximately 100 pounds was used and he did it during the night of the Sabbath when no work is to be done. John 19:39. In Jewish law, the only work that was permissible on the sabbath is saving a person's life and is recorded as "pikuach nefesh".

Jesus' actual survival of crucifixion - unheard of in 1st century Rome - became the basis for the legend celebrated on Easter and influenced a great deal of people - one in particular named Paul of Tarsus who may have actually met Jesus in person on the road to Damascus - complete with holes in both hands and feet and a large gaping scar under his ribs.

While Jesus is often portrayed as a nice guy (I'm pretty sure he was), his efforts fell far too short for any global mission of divine proportions. For one, he didn't even mention the concept of Original Sin - an odd predicament if he were truly here to save everyone from it. And aside from his intentions of growing his congregation, his proselytizing parables only managed to cover a meager 150 sq. miles during his debut - excluding a huge portion of the world that would have to wait approximately 1,500 years to hear it - mostly by force.

Sky Pilot's picture
Randy The Atheist,

Randy The Atheist,

That's an interesting opinion about the story. I've never read that analysis before.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture


Apart from Paul actually meeting this guy, your version makes more sense than that served up on Sundays all over the world. You should preach it somewhere, after all look at what happened to Jo Smith!

CyberLN's picture
Randy, is this what you think

Randy, is this what you think might have happened or are you asserting that this is what did happen?

Sapporo's picture
Jesus could quite easily have

Jesus could quite easily have been an invention of Paul in the same way Jibrail (the Islamic version) was an invention of Muhammad, or Moroni was an invention of Joseph Smith, or Xenu was an invention of L. Ron Hubbard.

I tend to believe Jesus did exist in some form, because it would be peculiar for example to invent the crucifixion detail. But the reality is, not a single detail can be known for certain about Jesus, because all the first accounts relating to him are hagiographies or fleeting secondary account mentions.

I don't doubt the existence of Socrates because the firsthand accounts of him are based in reality (i.e. plausibility), and his contemporaries left strong bodies of work in the same philosophical vein as Socrates is said to have done in the same locale, being immediately influential.

Sheldon's picture
This caught my eye:

This caught my eye:

Things widely regarded as historical facts the turned out to be wrong:

1. Jewish slaves didn't build the pyramids.
2. Cleopatra wasn't Egyptian.
3. Vikings didn't wear horned-helmets.
4. Christopher Columbus didn't discover America.
5. The Pilgrims didn't host the first Thanksgiving.
6. Napoleon Bonaparte wasn't short.
7. Marie Antoinette didn't say, "Let them eat cake."
8. Paul Revere never yelled, "The British are coming!"
9. George Washington didn't have wooden teeth.
10. Albert Einstein didn't fail maths
11. A cow kicking over a lantern didn't cause the Great Chicago Fire.
12. Spanish Influenza didn't originate in Spain.
13. Wall Streeters didn't jump to their deaths following the market crash of 1929.
14. Abner Doubleday didn't invent baseball.

The fact people think they're writing historical fact is irrelevant to whether they are, as I may have mentioned. This of course has much more significance in an epoch where the main method of communicating ideas was orally, and errors would have been amplified with each telling.


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