Mankind's search for god / What is true from the bible?

by GBSJG 16 Replies latest watchtower bible


    The previous months I have done a lot of research about the WTS and came to the conclusion that it is not the truth.
    This however makes me think about what I still believe in. Is there a God? Is the Bible inspired by God? Did Jesus exist? Why are there so many religions? On this board I have noticed some people really liked the WTS "Mankind's search for god" book so I started reading that book and I find it very interesting.
    Currently I don't think that there is a God that the Bible speaks about. Because I don't understand the difference between the laws of the OT and the NT they are so different. The laws of the OT are not from a loving God. And if there was a God why is there so much suffering going on, and the explanation the WTS gives for this is not satisfying.
    But the Mankind's search for god book makes it seem that Christianity is based on historical evidence and not myths like many other religions. This is a quote from that book about the issue if Jesus was a Myth: "Historian Durant draws the conclusion: “That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels.”" Also some Roman historians are quoted who mention Jesus.
    So it seems that you cannot deny that Jesus really existed and that he got a lot of people exicted enough to start a new religion. There are also a lot of prophecies about his coming. Altough there of course is no historical evidence of the miracles he performed. How do people who don't believe in the Bible or in a God at all explain all the evidence that point the other way?

  • Leolaia

    I can't comment on everything, but let me ask you the following question: Why must one choose between regarding Jesus as historical or Jesus as mythic? Is this not a false dilemma? Regardless of whether or not there was a historical Jesus (I give this possibility more of a benefit of the doubt than some others here), there is so much in the early Christian tradition that exceeds the historical (and bear in mind this distinction between history and myth is purely modern), such as the star at his birth that threw heaven into confusion (as per Ignatius of Antioch), the symbolic defeat and trampling of the seven-headed dragon in his baptism (as per Odes of Solomon, early Syrian baptismal liturgy; this evokes the ANE conflict myth), the humiliation of the invisible powers at his crucifixion (as per Colossians), the failure of daylight and cosmic upheaval at Jesus' death (as per the gospels), the descent into hell (as per 1 Peter and later sources), etc. Much of the narrative in the gospels, moreover, has been composed out of traditional material from the national mythos of Israel, e.g. the Matthean and Johannine portrayal of Jesus as a new Moses (whose birth echoes that of Moses on many counts, performs signs and wonders as Moses did, who delivers a covenant as Moses did), the Elijah/Elisha typology of John the Baptist and Jesus in Mark, the echoes of King David and Joseph in the betrayal and arrest narrative, etc.

    Historian Durant draws the conclusion: “That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels.”"

    The fallacy in this is the assumption that the teaching and ethos in the gospels and early Christianity had its start ab ovo in a single figure, Jesus, in the 30s AD. The reality is that a huge bulk of the concepts of Christianity (the whole eschatology, much of the christological foundation, the moral teaching, the notion of a general "church", etc.) were already present in the Judaisms of the first century AD. Thus scholars like NT Wright and JD Crossan speak of "mutations" that gave nascent Christianity a character of its own with respect to other Judaisms, these were primarily that (1) Jesus is the eschatological divine agent and (2) The resurrection and "new creation" do not lie in the future but have already begun (the former initiated by Jesus), tho of course there were other innovations. But much of the ethic and theology was already in existence (cf. the Book of Parables and Epistle of Enoch in 1 Enoch), so they were not all "invented in one generation". But the disappearance of these other forms of Judaism have made the emergence of Christianity seem more abrupt. That is to say, even if we grant the full historicity of Jesus, how much of his teaching was original to him and how much did he borrow from earlier sources?

    Also some Roman historians are quoted who mention Jesus.

    But are these truly independent sources? Pliny and Tacitus (not to mention Lucian, a Greek writer) all show evidence of influence from Christian sources. They also add precious little to substantiate details from the gospels. What is unnerving about the gospels is that they rely so heavily on OT exegetical traditions...this is particularly the case with the passion narrative, but it is also the case with many of the miracle narratives and other stories. The impression this leaves is that the authors actually knew rather little and relied on the OT to describe what happened to Jesus.

    There are also a lot of prophecies about his coming.

    How many of these are really prophecies and how many of these are turned post facto into messianic predictions by being used in the NT as source material for narratives about Jesus? This is an important question, because the OT passages when read on their own terms largely do not have any messianic import at all; they attain this status only after being adopted as proof texts (e.g. compare Jeremiah 31 with Matthew 2:18). Not only is the use of these OT texts eisegetical (in fact, it is a haggadaic type of interpretation also found in many contemporary legends about the patriarchs), but often the source texts are the Greek LXX versions and not the Hebrew originals and thus the "prophecy" is faciliated by the translation (e.g. parthenos in Isaiah 7:14)...

  • jwfacts

    Two interesting books that i have read on my way out of the org are The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley and Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces.

    The Perennial Philosophy is that the core to all religions is the same. The Saints and Wise of all religions all describe the same experiences when a person because totally involved with spirituality rather than a material world. He uses this as an indicator that there is a spiritual realm.

    Campbell compares myth amongst all the great religions and cultures, and these too all share common themes. He also feels this is an indication that there is something inherrently spiritual within us that manifests itself. He also makes the observation that religions tend to negate the postivity of religion by encouraging membership by "one may invent a false, finally unjustified, image of oneself as an exceptional phenomenon in the world, not guilty as others are, but justified in one’s inevitable sinning because one represents the good. Such self-righteousness leads to a misunderstanding, not only of oneself but of the nature of both man and the cosmos.”

  • jwfacts

    In answer to your question about Jesus, the same can be said about many religious leaders. They existed. are attested to by historians, are credited with powerful works, started global religions. None of these are a proof in themselves.


    Leolaia your brought up some interresting points, thanks.
    I also did a Google search on "did jesus exist" that brings up tons of interesting material.
    The search for god book also mentions that almost all religions are started because humans can't accept the fact that dead is the end of their life. Humans want to believe that there is more to life. When I think about that it makes a lot of sense to me. But wanting to believe something doesn't make it true though.

  • scout575

    GBSJG: These so-called Messianic prophecies, ie those quoted by Matthew at Matthew 1:23; 2:6, 15,18 etc, are simply verses from the OT that are lifted out of context and made to appear to be Messianic. For me, the attempt by Matthew ( at chapter 2:15 ) to apply Hosea 11:1 as a Messianic prophecy fulfilled by Jesus, really takes the biscuit; it is bold-faced spin.

    I recently went on an internet forum that is specifically designed for ex-JWs who have become born again Christians, in order to demonstrate how Matthew takes liberties with OT, and I was told that I wasn't permitted to raise these questions. The forum administrator simply deleted my questions almost as soon as I posted them.

    If you look at websites that help Jews not to get misled by Christian missionaries, you will find very good expositions of how NT writers misapply OT verses to Jesus. In fact, Jews are hopping mad at NT writers for the way they misuse the OT.


    jwfacts, the search for god book also mentions that a lot of myths share common things. But that book makes it seem that the story the Bible tells about Adam & Eve and the tower of Babel is true and that is the explanantion why so many religions share the same historical believes/myths.
    Of course you can explain that in a lot of other ways, humans have the same desires in every culture so it's not that special that they make up myths that resemble myths made up by other people (about death, everlasting life, etc.). And believes of people are influenced by other cultures / believes as well you can see that that happend with the early christians.

  • jwfacts

    Scout, I have never heard that the Jews say the NT is a misapplication of the OT, but it makes sense that they would. I am intrigued now to look into what they say.

    GBSJG, it is that circular reasoning that always bothered me as a JW. We always said that we had it right and the others were blinded, or the bible had the story first and others copied it. But none of it is provable. If Jehovah is going to judge and destroy everyone based on accepting the WTS, but none of it can be proved it never seemed fair. How does a person ever know that they are not the ones blinded. It is like playing Russian roulette, a person is expected to bet their eternal life on whether the story they believe is the true one.

  • Shazard

    Strange. You don't think that God exist, coz you can't understand him?
    I think that chemistry and quantum phisics does not exist. And by your logic electricity does not exist too.
    But with God we have better case then with electricity. You can ask God all these questions and seek answers. Go to the Jesus Christ directly without different org between.

  • Inquisitor
    Also some Roman historians are quoted who mention Jesus.
    So it seems that you cannot deny that Jesus really existed and that he got a lot of people exicted enough to start a new religion.

    Before you start clapping your hands and swaying to a Hillsong melody, I'd recommend you take a look at my thread about the Mankind's Search For God support for Jesus' human existance.

    I'm not saying he didn't exist, but it's good to listen to all sides before forming a conclusion.



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