I was almost 50 years old before I really knew anything factual about how the bible came into existence!
It is astounding.
I was reading it since I was a child never with a doubt in my head.
I was told by people I trusted (who had no reason to lie) that I could be confident the bible was the word of God Almighty.
And, it was as simple as that!
Even as a JW I had been given a peculiar way of thinking about the bible.
What way is that?
I was shown (in my first bible studies) how many errors had (here is the exact wording I was told) "crept" into modern translations. To resolve the contradictions, errors and subsequent doctrinal misunderstandings was necessary to get the PURE word of God out of scripture.
This was, I was assured, possible by consulting the early manuscripts.
Here is an important point to considered:
As a JW I actually had been taught there were ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS. What was hidden from me by gobblety-gook and double-talk was the fact that they NO LONGER EXIST even if they once existed!
This means we have NO WAY POSSIBLE of determining the earliest (presumptively the purest) expressions, words, phrases and meanings of scripture.
Do you realize how vital this is??
Imagine a court trial where the evidence is unavailable and only hearsay remains. No lawyer would proceed and no court would allow such a hearing except in a preliminary venue. Why? Because the law requires BEST EVIDENCE.
People have been basing their belief system, their worldview, their confidence and their mindset on HEARSAY!
Don't take my word for it.
As you begin reading the history of scholarship from the 18th and 19th centuries (which I never did before) a clear picture emerges.
The Age of Reason overtook the world of Faith. A higher standard was demanded of religion. The Church had to present a logical presentation with something to back up their fundamental assertions. An argument (Apologia) explaining the authenticity of scripture had to be logical and the missing links filled in.
It is ironic that biblical inerrantists (people who declare the bible to be entirely free of error) complain that Evolution has missing links which render it unbelievable--and yet---base their belief on a document riddled with tens of thousands of demonstrable errors, gaps and contradictory renderings.
A theology student eventually faces the crucial moment in school when he/she discovers the truth about the bible. A crisis of faith depends on OVERLOOKING or EXPLAINING AWAY THE IMPORTANCE of the following.
1.New Testament word-of-mouth stories circulated by the thousands and were eventually written down.
2.To make these stories more acceptable/believable the name of an Apostle was attributed to them (which cannot be proved and was often disputed). The Gospel "according to" Matthew clearly reveals this attribution. Not the Gospel BY Matthew. etc.
3.Written Jesus stories ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, but, were circulated everywhere there was interest.
4.The Roman Empire had relatively few people who were literate. Religion stories were oral traditions as a result.
5.Scribes who copied gospel stories often were ILLITERATE themselves. Errors resulted. Copyists who could not even read were copying words incomprehensible to themselves. Many manuscripts were written with no breaks between words! Here is an example of how difficult this is to comprehend: thatthatisisthatthatisnotisnot. See? Imagine not being able to read and copying that by candlelight by hand. (It reads: That that IS, is. That that is not, is not.)
6.Deliberate changes in actual wording was the NORMAL way of things and not a mere accidental addition/deletion! If you were tired of losing arguments about a doctrinal matter you could simply add or delete words and put them in a bible character's mouth! (Think of the Jehovah's Witness trick of having Jesus say: "Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise." This instead of "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Pradise." Two different meanings. Well, there was NO PUNCTUATION to begin with!
7.The number one complaint in the early church was about scribal changes/additions/deletions and omissions!
8.So many variations in Christianity competed at the outset that a kind of war of ideology ensued. Scriptures sprung up to prove whatever variant wanted to prove Ad Hoc.
9.When the Roman Emperor became christianized he needed the conflict in his power base resolved for political unity. Orthodoxy demanded arguments over doctrine be settled. Councils were convoked to debate various issues of faith.
10.The declarations of these "official" councils split the church into fragments of warring belief systems. Even the Church of Rome split into two main religious bodies: Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox. This was over a single word concerning Jesus' substance!!
11.Whenever a Council declared something to be true (or false) manuscript copies were seized and burned that proved the other group's beliefs were true.
12.Censorship, oppression, arguments, persecution, exile, favoritism, political in-fighting and execution and torture became weapons of the majority body of Christianity.
You can read about all this if you go to your local library. You can catch the flavor of what kind of men created the Christian religion and be disabused of the colorful lies and false impressions you've grown up with.
Read Eusebius' history of the Christian Church. Figure out what kind of ass-kissing lackey he was. Even read what scholars say about the character and accuracy of Josephus and his twin versions of the same historical stories.
Honest scholars reveal these matters and lay them open to view. The word is out.
The Bible is a political result.
No intellectually honest person can truthfully hold the Bible to be
Because an all-powerful God COULD PRESERVE an accurate book that reveals His divine word.
Now, follow with me here on this. Are you ready? Okay, here goes......
Since it is easily demonstrated that more errors exist in the New Testment alone than there are words IN the New Testament--it is clear that GOD DID NOT PRESERVE accuracy of rendering. Logically--God COULD--yet God DIDN'T.
Now what can you reasonably conclude from this?
IF GOD did not see fit to preserve what we call the bible as an ACCURATE rendering of actual words, events, stories of true happenings--then HOW can we base religious denominations on the translation of these errors and call it TRUTH??????
It is lunacy!
Think of how many doctrines of so-called pure truth come down to translating just one word or phrase "accurately" or according to some manuscript (which is from the Middle Ages and has been re-copied hundreds of times with variant renderings.)
Think of how the New World Translation alone manipulates the idea that there is a PURE rendering possible in presenting doctrinal variations from mainstream Christianity! John 1:1 is a clear example of diddling with the Greek language and pretending there is an absolute proof possible based on manmade rules of language.
Errors in the bible clear DO PROVE one thing which is obvious: THE BIBLE IS MANMADE from start to finish.
If we don't see that; if we don't understand that; if we don't comprehend the importance of that we are irrational ON PURPOSE!
Liars lie to steal reality. Good choices depend on reality. Bad choices are based on false reality.
The thousands of christian belief systems stem directly from the fact that the Bible can be anything anybody wants it to be--AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN MANIPULATED in its wording to prove manmade ideas.
The Apostles were not behind the words of scripture. God was not behind words of scripture.
The Bible is a tool of political power and it has conquered more people by disabling their minds than any weapon of technology ever created!
Only an honest consideration of the facts can wake us up out of our self-induced intellectual slumber to bring the consequences into view.
I implore anybody reading what I've now written to INVESTIGATE for yourself.
I suggest you begin with the highly readable book by Bart Ehrman: MISQUOTING JESUS.