I have accepted the Lord Jesus as my personal saviour.
No I haven’t, I just wanted to know what it felt like to use those words in that order. It’ll never happen again, because I believe in God about as much as you do.
Which is hardly at all.
You: No, that’s not true, I really believe in God a lot!
Mole rat: There are over 3000 Gods currently being worshipped. You don’t worship 2999 of those. So you’re 99.93% atheist. And that’s even ignoring the old Gods that nobody follows any more, like Baal or Thor or Zeus. In Namibia there’s a God of Cabbage. Worship him too, do you?
This is the real history of the Bible.
Most of the Old Testament was based on a series of existing myths, including some Baalism and some Zoroastrianism. A few names were changed, and a whole bunch of different legends were merged to form the character of Abraham. But essentially, the Old Testament it’s an amalgam of about 20 or 30 local stories from various tribes in northern Egypt, Syria and Palestine.
At the time it was begun, only about 1 in every 100,000 people could read or write. Writing was in its infancy, and most of the Old Testament was oral history, passed from generation to generation. And you know how accurate Chinese Whispers can be. Try doing it for 1000 years, and see how much the facts get warped.
Then along came the New Testament, which was begun in the year 130 AD. Until then, as with the Old Testament, it was just oral history. The first Bible as we’d know it is called the Sinai Codex, and was written around 160AD. In it, Jesus was not the son of God. That bit was added later.
In fact, a lot was added later. In the Old Testament, it was predicted that a Messiah would be born in Jerusalem. So it became necessary to show that Jesus was born there, or the whole myth falls apart. Therefore, somewhere around the year 300, some unknown scribe decided to add that story about the Roman census, which forced Mary and Joseph to travel from Egypt to the land of their great, great, great, great, great grandparents; and the whole business with Herod killing the babies, etc.
Four small problems:
- The Romans didn’t hold a census that year. Records exist. They had a census in Palestine in 48BC, and another in 80AD. But none in the year zero.
- If the Romans held a census, they’d want to know where you live. Not where your great, great, great, great, great grandparents lived. It’s like having a census now and asking you to register at the address your forebears lived at in the year 1862.
- Even if, for some insane reason, the highly organised Roman Empire decided to hold the craziest census ever, and you really did have to register where your great, great, great, great, great grandparents lived, the question remains: which set of great dot-dot-dot grandparents? You’d have 64 of them. Do you go to visit the graves of the ones in Jerusalem, or the ones in Kent? What are the rules? Has anyone in a church ever thought about this shit?!
- Oh, and Herod was dead by the time of Jesus’ birth. He’d been dead at least 12 years. Even his wife, Doris (I’m not making that up, she really was called Doris Herod) was dead.
The insane “birth” lie is just one example of the garbage that was added to the original Bible. And a lot was removed too. The Book of Judas, for instance. Scrapped. Didn’t fit with the story the church wanted to tell.
You see, the early Christian church was simply absorbed into the Roman Empire, which used the Jesus story to consolidate power. Roman Empire > Holy Roman Empire. Bingo. Just like that. Rebranded. And to seal the deal, Jesus was given some of the same back-story as the existing Roman god, Dionysus Bacchus. Such as:
- Virgin birth
- Born on 25th December
- Dad was a god, Mum was a mortal
- Changed water into wine
- Encouraged his followers to take Eucharist (“this bread is my body” was his catchphrase)
- Nickname was Yeusus. Not a million miles from Jesus, is it? Even closer in Arameic, where the letter Y is pronounced J.
- Rode into town on a donkey, welcomed by adoring crowds bearing palm leaves
- Was known as the King of Kings, and the Lamb of God
- Died and came back to life after 3 days
You can trust the Bible like you can trust Fox News.
And it didn’t stop in the year 300. Up until the Council of Bishops in 1650, bits were still being added. We all know you can go back and edit your CV to make you sound a bit better, but if you’re writing a history of the creator of the universe (which is what Christians claim), surely you don’t just make it up? Surely there’s some alternative source for all this new material?
So where is that source?
Well, there isn’t one. For 1650 years, it was just invented.
We’re used to thinking about the past, and for some reason 1650 AD doesn’t seem too far away from the year zero. So put it into perspective. Imagine the story of Nelson Mandella, a modern-day figure who is widely respected and has great ideas about peace and freedom and social justice.
Now imagine giving that story to a bunch of people who want to use it to preserve their power and dominate others, and telling them they can add or subtract anything they want from the story until the year 3,650.
Think it’d still be accurate?
Think the Bible is true?
I’m not saying every word in the Bible is wrong. Or that ideas about peace and justice and equality are bad. There is plenty in the Bible that is admirable, but it’s all stuff that we already believe, Jesus or no Jesus. Do you think we just went around slaughtering each other without moral consideration before the Ten Commandments? Have we stopped doing it since? Of course not.
And before I finish, a brief word on the Ten Commandments. Which ten? Somebody chose the ten. Yes, they all appear in the Bible, but they’re mixed in with over 600 other Commandments. There’s nothing that says those ten are the best ones. One of them is that it is a mortal sin (i.e. you spend the rest of eternity in Hell) if you wear mixed fibres. Leviticus 19:19. Check it out. It’s insane.