The Basis of Christian Belief was accidentally destroyed. It was corrupted by the finest men who ever lived.
They acted with the noblest intentions. This is the story.
Ever heard the expression, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”?
The bible has traveled that road.
It went from the past to the present and didn’t make the trip in one piece.
In fact, it had a hell of a time getting here. Consider the facts.
All we know about God, Jesus and true teaching comes from our own bible.
What if our bible has become accidentally corrupted?
What if honest men with the best of intentions merely shaped it over and over(changing it/corrupting it) by trying to make it plain and in harmony with itself?
I propose to tell that story as simply as possible
HOW THE BIBLE BECAME CORRUPT and the Impact this has on Jehovah's Witnesses
1. Jesus stories were told orally because the population of those times was illiterate. Jesus stories were told and retold. Many heard and believed and passed the story on by retelling.
2. Non-believers were critical of various parts of those stories and found fault with them identifying obvious (to them) discrepancies.
3. Believers started shaping the stories for the sake of making the “truth” of them more believable, more logical more coherent and harmonious.
What was the net result? The original story was changed. As the original changed it vanished.
Oral Jesus stories convert to writing s and many variants appear.
What about the written stage? Why were these stories written down at all?
1. Just as in politics you have at least two parties with opposite views, in neo-christianity, opposite opinions were voiced.
2.Clashes produced charges of “heresy”. I’m right and you’re evil!
3. The need arose to PROVE (using proof texts) true teaching.
Each listener heard and retold his or her own "version" of the story. By writing it down it became fixed. Just as we prove our words today by using a dictionary.
( A dictionary doesn’t originate pronunciation and meaning. It reflects the majority use becoming a reference of orthodox use for others. )
What came next?
1 Before any Gospel, . t he "Apostle" Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) wrote a number of letters telling HIS OWN story which included his peculiar claims, theology and authority.
Paul claimed that the resurrected Jesus gave him special revelation, insight and wisdom. His letters were passed around as supernatural communications from Jesus himself!
2. Copies were made! Copies of copies were made. Copies of copies of copies were made. (Originals wore out and only the copies remained.)
3. Opponents/believers for and against resulted in other writings for and against.
Competition for Truth
The Jesus Movement split into many parts. Competing stories produced competing writings.
1.Paul's written version of what Jesus mystically channeled to him created a buzz.
2.The Jewish branch of Messianic Jews believed in the Jesus they had known and reacted to Paul and to others who INTERPRETED Paul in different ways.
3.The marketplace of ideas produced stong competitors: MARCION whose own version of Paul's theology was branded Heresy, spread like wildfire.
War between three main factions broke out:
1. Jews who did not accept Jesus as Messiah
2. Jews who did accept Jesus as Messiah
3. Neo-christians who no longer viewed Judaism as approved by God.
Let us fast forward a couple of thousand years to our own time.
What do we know at this point? Who won the competition for "truth"?
1. Jerusalem and Jewish worship was virtually destroyed by Roman armies.
2. Neo-christianity was left to battle so-called “heretics” with unorthodox writings.
This competition for “truth” required an ironclad way of proving what was “true”.
How better but by appealing to unimpeachable proof: God is on our side. Our writings are inspired by God!
Whatever writings already existed BEGAN TO BE VIEWED as possibly holy and inspired communication by God. What better book of reference than an INSPIRED one? Surely an inspired writing trumps an opinion!
Each competing group with their own particular version of “truth” promoted their own peculiar collection of writings in preference to any other. Gradually, claims of inspiration competed with other contradictory claims of inspiration. They could not all be true!
A battle of orthodoxy commenced. A canon was needed to end the bickering.
Who won? The side with the most power to enforce orthodoxy!
Enter Roman power and Constantine.
The First Council of Nicea convened to settle divisions, debates, orthodoxy and heal Christian in-fighting.
For better or worse, the power of Rome established what could be published. Authorized holy writing began to be transmitted and unauthorized writing was rounded up and burned.
Here is where the story of bible corruption really begins.
No printing presses, internet or technology existed. Holy writings would all have to be done by human hand.
Copying by hand was the ONLY method available.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT IS ESSENTIAL...
This is an important step in understanding what happened to corrupt the original record of Jesus and his teachings. Consider these premises very carefully.
- None of the early Christians would stake their life, their family, their eternity on something they knew was a lie or a distortion. It would be blasphemy and unthinkable.
- Any motive a preacher, an elder, a scribe or copyist had was of the noblest and purist kind.
- Error comes from the honest efforts to “improve” what is written or spoken. What is changed is no longer the same. Original words disappear and new ones appear.
How Can this Happen?:
If you are a translator you want your copy to communicate what is true.
If you are copying/translating lines of text that appears to contain a mistake you would NOT transmit an obvious “mistake”.
You’d change the “mistake” and make it conform to what YOU thought was the correct (true) word, phrase or meaning. (corrupt the original) .
In Chapter 1 of Mark he quotes Isaiah as having spoken something which Isaiah did not say.
In the earliest manuscripts of Mark 1.2, the composite quotation from Malachi (3.1) and from Isaiah (40.3) is introduced by the formula “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet.” Later scribes, sensing that this involves a difficulty, replaced . . . with the general statement… Mark 1:2 (King James Version)
2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before the……..
The specific word used by Mark is removed and a general statement is substituted! (corruption by pious intent)
The reader who would copy or translate Mark was faced with three choices:
- Leave the mistake as it is. (Uncorrupt)
- Omit the mistake. (Corrupt)
- Change it and make it come out "right". (Corrupt)
If a copyist or translator saw TWO different versions of a story told what could they do to remove the dissonance?
They would harmonize by changing them. (corrupt.)
If the copyist or translator comes to a text that contradicts their own personal theology, what could they honestly do? Transmit the “error” (preserve the original) or correct the error? (corrupt.)
Little by little, copy by copy, the ORIGINAL vanished.
New incarnations passed to the next generation of copyists and translators (which they, in turn, "Improved" and corrupted further!
Biblical scholars agree almost universally that Mark is our earliest gospel which was later used by Matthew and Luke as a major source. As Matthew and Luke used Mark, they made certain changes and alterations to its accounts. The alterations range from improving Mark’s grammar, smoothing Mark’s negative portrayal of the apostles, changing the order of events, enhancing Mark’s image of Jesus, expanding Marcan stories, and editing Mark in certain other ways. Thus, Matthew and Luke corrected Mark since they did not find Mark to be an altogether satisfactory account. That Matthew and Luke made a variety of changes to Marcan stories is no longer a controversial issue and virtually all scholars acknowledge Matthew and Luke’s use of Mark.
Constant "improvements" and "clarifying" efforts expunged the original words, phrases, meanings of the original. (corrupt.)
AS LONG AS THE ACTUAL AUTOGRAPH ORIGINAL REMAINS INTACT you can still compare and see where the changes happened. Right?
Those ORIGINALS do NOT exist! The wore out or were discarded, burned or left to deteriorate.
How did anybody allow that happen?
Think about it!
At the time the gospels (or even Paul’s epistles) were being written NOBODY CONSIDERED THEM INSPIRED!
The late eminent Catholic scholar, Raymond Brown, wrote:
…neither evangelist liked Marks’s redundancies, awkward Greek expressions, u ncomplimentary presentation of the disciples and Mary, and embarrassing statements about Jesus. When using Mark, both expanded the Markan accounts in the light of post-resurrectional faith.
The fact that Matthew and Luke freely altered and “corrected” Mark strongly suggests that they did not consider it to be inviolable “inspired scripture”
In view of the above what can we conclude concerning our use of the Bible today?
1.We cannot use the actual words of scripture to discern shades of meaning. Why? We DON’T HAVE THE ACTUAL WORDS of scripture. Only the (no longer existing) originals had those exact words.
- We can’t proof text our teachings and our doctrines by citing scripture.
- We can’t prove the “harmony” of the gospels (copyists MADE it happen!)
- We can’t quote the bible’s claim of inspiration to prove inspiration.(circular reasoning.)
- Nobody corrupted the bible on purpose. It is the result of pious fraud.
- The earliest manuscripts are hundreds of years removed from the originals and are themselves copies of copies of copies.
- Over the centuries the distortions became part of Christianity and its avowed Orthodoxy of necessary belief. Today by looking backward at the fictionalizing of scripture we cannot restore the originals and determine what no longer remains. We can only make guesses.
For Jehovah’s Witnesses today to base their idea of TRUTH on inerrant scripture and compel their members into following their interpretations is without actual basis. They make guesses and call it "pure" teaching.
At best Jehovah’s Witnesses teach the ideas of men. Those ideas, like all other human things, is subject to error, mistakes, false assumptions and outright distortion.
Does the history of this religion prove this? Yes! All their prophetic pronouncements are said to be based on the Bible. None has come to pass. What better demonstration of ERROR based on ERROR without criminal intent.
We have demonstrated the Bible is the result of thousands and thousands of other men’s interpretions of “truth” already and that the uncorrupt ORIGINALS are lost forever.
The crying irony of it all is that nobody is the bad guy. They are all good guys doing the best they could possibly do.
Any current member of Jehovah’s Witnesses can, with clean conscience, turn directly to God as the source of Truth(in prayer) and ignore the rantings and false claims of mere men---even their own Governing Body.
For prayer is all we have left.