Here's a terrific Newsweek piece, "BIble: So Misunderstood It's a Sin." Lengthy, and well worth reading. But be warned, Christians.
You'll never be able to believe in the divine inerrancy, or even historical accuracy, of the Bible after being exposed to Kurt Eichenwald's review of how the Bible -- especially the New Testament -- was cobbled together in distinctly flawed human ways.
Not surprisingly, a quick review of the over 2,000 comments on the online article reveals that fundamentalist Christians refuse to accept the scholarly reality discussed by Eichenwald.
Here's a get real response I liked.
I don't understand all the Christians complaining about this article unless they have never read a book in their life except the bible. 22 years in ministry, degrees in ancient literature, a seminary degree and a law degree and everything in this article was taught at my conservative seminary!
The problem is most pastors realize that if they tell their congregation the truth, their mythology bubble will be burst and they will stop providing money to pay their salary and for that big building they like to preach in.
Most Christians have never examined their faith critically, never dealt with real doubts and never read the bible for what it actually says. To avoid cognitive dissonance Christians, of the fundamentalist variety, tend to bury their heads in the sand rather than deal with the difficult questions.
For me, I have a much stronger faith knowing the truths mentioned in this article, than walking along believing the mythology I was force fed as a child. Grow up fundies and read what your bible actually says!
Here's some passages from the article that will give you a flavor for it. I just wish "BIble: So Misunderstood It's a Sin" was required reading for every Christian who wrongly believes the Bible is the word of God.
But once again, the verses came from a creative scribe long after the Gospel of Mark was written. In fact, the earliest versions of Mark stop at 16:8. It’s an awkward ending, with three women who have gone to the tomb where Jesus was laid after the Crucifixion encountering a man who tells them to let the disciples know that the resurrected Jesus will see them in Galilee. The women flee the tomb, and “neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.”
In early copies of the original Greek writings, that’s it. The 12 verses that follow in modern Bibles—Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and the Disciples and then ascending to Heaven—are not there. A significant moment that would be hard to forget, one would think.
The same is true for other critical portions of the Bible, such as 1 John 5:7 (“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one”); Luke 22:20 (“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you”); and Luke 24:51 (“And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven”).
These first appeared in manuscripts used by the translators who created the King James Bible, but are not in the Greek copies from hundreds of years earlier.
These are not the only parts of the Bible that appear to have been added much later. There are many, many more—in fact, far more than can be explored without filling up the next several issues of Newsweek.
... By translating the same word different ways, these modern Bibles are adding a bit of linguistic support to the idea that the people who knew Jesus understood him to be God. In other words, with a little translational trickery, a fundamental tenet of Christianity—that Jesus is God—was reinforced in the Bible, even in places where it directly contradicts the rest of the verse.
...Which raises a big issue for Christians: the Trinity—the belief that Jesus and God are the same and, with the Holy Spirit, are a single entity—is a fundamental, yet deeply confusing, tenet. So where does the clear declaration of God and Jesus as part of a triumvirate appear in the Greek manuscripts?
Nowhere. And in that deception lies a story of mass killings.
...Why would God, in conveying his message to the world, speak in whispers and riddles? It seems nonsensical, but the belief that he refused to convey a clear message has led to the slaughter of many thousands of Christians by Christians. In fact, Christians are believed to have massacred more followers of Jesus than any other group or nation.
Those who believed in the Trinity butchered Christians who didn’t. Groups who believed Jesus was two entities—God and man—killed those who thought Jesus was merely flesh and blood. Some felt certain God inspired Old Testament Scriptures, others were convinced they were the product of a different, evil God. Some believed the Crucifixion brought salvation to humankind, others insisted it didn’t, and still others believed Jesus wasn’t crucified.
Indeed, for hundreds of years after the death of Jesus, groups adopted radically conflicting writings about the details of his life and the meaning of his ministry, and murdered those who disagreed. For many centuries, Christianity was first a battle of books and then a battle of blood. The reason, in large part, was that there were no universally accepted manuscripts that set out what it meant to be a Christian, so most sects had their own gospels.
...And then, in the early 300s, Emperor Constantine of Rome declared he had become follower of Jesus, ended his empire’s persecution of Christians and set out to reconcile the disputes among the sects.
Constantine was a brutal sociopath who murdered his eldest son, decapitated his brother-in-law and killed his wife by boiling her alive, and that was after he proclaimed that he had converted from worshipping the sun god to being a Christian. Yet he also changed the course of Christian history, ultimately influencing which books made it into the New Testament.
...About 50 years later, in A.D. 381, the Romans held another meeting, this time in Constantinople. There, a new agreement was reached—Jesus wasn’t two, he was now three—Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Nicene Creed was rewritten, and those who refused to sign the statement were banished, and another wholesale slaughter began, this time of those who rejected the Trinity, a concept that is nowhere in the original Greek manuscripts and is often contradicted by it.
...So yes, there is one verse in Romans about homosexuality…and there are eight verses condemning those who criticize the government. In other words, all fundamentalist Christians who decry Obama have sinned as much as they believe gay people have.
It doesn’t end there. In the same section of Romans that is arguably addressing homosexuality, Paul also condemns debating (all of Congress is damned?), being prideful, disobeying parents and deceiving people (yes, all of Congress is damned.) There is no bold print or underlining for the section dealing with homosexuality—Paul treats it as something as sinful as pride or debate.
...But the history, complexities and actual words of the Bible can’t be ignored just to line it up with what people want to believe, based simply on what friends and family and ministers tell them.
Nowhere in the Gospels or Acts of Epistles or Apocalypses does the New Testament say it is the inerrant word of God. It couldn’t—the people who authored each section had no idea they were composing the Christian Bible, and they were long dead before what they wrote was voted by members of political and theological committees to be the New Testament.
The Bible is a very human book. It was written, assembled, copied and translated by people.
That explains the flaws, the contradictions, and the theological disagreements in its pages. Once that is understood, it is possible to find out which parts of the Bible were not in the earliest Greek manuscripts, which are the bad translations, and what one book says in comparison to another, and then try to discern the message for yourself.
And embrace what modern Bible experts know to be the true sections of the New Testament. Jesus said, Don’t judge. He condemned those who pointed out the faults of others while ignoring their own. And he proclaimed, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
That’s a good place to start.