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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Amen, Brother!

Finally a MSM story on agnostic author Bart Ehrman whose bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, picks apart the gospels that made a disbeliever out of him.
[Ehrman's] specialty was the ancient texts that tried to explain what actually happened to Jesus Christ, and how the world's largest religion grew into being after his execution.

What he found there began to frighten him.

The Bible simply [is]n't error-free. The mistakes grew exponentially as he traced translations through the centuries. There are some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts that are the basis of the modern versions of the New Testament, and scholars have uncovered more than 200,000 differences in those texts.

"Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament," Ehrman summarizes.

Most of these are inconsequential errors in grammar or metaphor. But others are profound. The last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark appear to have been added to the text years later -- and these are the only verses in that book that show Christ reappearing after his death.

Another critical passage is in 1 John, which explicitly sets out the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). It is a cornerstone of Christian theology, and this is the only place where it is spelled out in the entire Bible -- but it appears to have been added to the text centuries later, by an unknown scribe.

For a man who believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God, Ehrman sought the true originals to shore up his faith. The problem: There are no original manuscripts of the Gospels, of any of the New Testament.

Hello! All you Falwells, Dobsons, Robertsons (finally hoisted on his own petard), etc, etc. These blindly following idiots who believe the bible is THE word of god -- and inerrant at that -- usually don't even know it wasn't originally written in English, much less that it was not a single document, that many other contradictory elements were left out, banned, removed, burned ... nor written during the time of the person now known as Jesus. And I should know. I live among those whom Kathy Griffin refers to as the 'aggressively ignorant.'

"Bart was, like a lot of people who were converted to fundamental evangelicalism, converted to the certainty of it all, of having all the answers," says Dale Martin, Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, and a friend of three decades. "When he found out they were lying to him, he just didn't want anything to do with it."

Boy can I relate to that.

Publishers Weekly writes: "Ehrman claims ancient scribes were so deeply influenced by the cultural, theological and political disputes of their day that they altered the texts of the Bible." Gee...what contemporary culture, country, administration, belief system does that remotely sound like? Similar atterns of behavior in fact: misleading the world about Iraq and WMDs, purposefully linking Iraq to 9-11 when there was no connection, lying about how 'great, really great' it's going over there, ad infinitum.

Good for Ehrman -- having the courage to look logically and critically at history, reality and at these stories, fictions, legends, propaganda -- I plan to get the book ASAP. It costs $25 at Harper Collins but only $15 at Amazon.com. Read the entire WaPo story here.

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