The likes of Ehrman and Friedman

by dgp 13 Replies latest jw friends

  • dgp

    After reading about his book on this forum, I got the book Who Wrote the Bible, by Richard Elliott Friedman. I had also bought several other books by Bart Ehrman, and then one by Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the Bible. I haven't read them all yet, but what I have read is enough for me to ask yet another question here. It is clear that the theologians and Bible scholars of other Christian religions have been doing a serious and dispassionate analysis of the Bible for a long time now. They are aware that there are many contradictions in the Bible, some of them very obvious, like, for example, the two tales of the Creation, one immediately after the other, and both in the Book of Genesis. This is like the attack of rationalism on faith, which these guys find a way to withstand (yes, I know Ehrman is now an agnostic). This kind of Bible study does not seem to take place among Jehovah's witnesses, and I don't mean the rank and file, but the people at the Writing Department. I wonder if they realize that they are not contributing with anything new, and, therefore, are condemned to either stagnate or then follow somebody else's theology. It's a religion that can't stand on its own feet.

    Opinions, anyone?

  • not a captive
    not a captive

    Religion is not faith.

    Religion is all about message control.

    And to control a text like the Bible you have to freeze it.

    No new discoveries--got that, all you members of religious groups?

    Now faith is not the same as religion. Jesus spoke of faith but faithless religionists killed him. Paul said that when he persecuted Christians he acted as a person without faith.

    Being a member of a religion does not require faith. You just recite the right answers, get baptised and do as you're told. You are considered exemplary.

    So nothing new shows up in religions--any of them. The writing department of Jehovah's Witnesses? they do not use original scholarship--they just look at back issues of the Society's literature and a few old reference volumes from the churches of "Christendom".

    Religion tries to stand on my feet.

    I want them to let me stand on my own.

    "For it is by your[own] faith that you stand"

  • sir82

    JW writers are severely boxed in when it comes to research.

    They are forced to utterly and completely reject anything and everything that conflicts with the notion that (1) the Bible is 100% accurate, down to the minutest detail, as a history book and (2) there simply cannot be any contradiction whatsoever anywhere within it.

    As you might expect, with such restrictions, their "research" is limited to cherry-picking out-of-context snippets of information that seem to support their ideas.

  • PSacramento

    Most bible scholars tend to view the bible as many things as opposed to just one thing ( the innerant word of God) and as such, they understand why there seems to be contridictions and they understand why ancient man wrote things that he did and claimed that God "said so".

    They know that the bible is not JUST the word of God, but the history of a people, the beliefs of a people, the views of a people, the good, bad and ugly, the understand the role that belief in God held in ancient man and how ancient man viewed "God's will", they understand many things that JW's refuse to understand.

    Its funny that you brough up Bart Ehrman and Bruce Metzger since Bart was a student of Metzger and was, it seems, quite the bible literists from what I have read.

    When doing work with Metzger, who didn't believe the bible was inerrant but Bart used to, Bart realized that his view ( of bible inerrancy) may not be correct and that caused him to doubt ALL, funny since his own teacher and many fellow students who didn't have that view to begin with, never had such a "crisis".

  • dgp

    Yes, I know that about Ehrman and Metzger.

    I believe that many a strong believer, myself included, has gone and will go the way of Ehrman.

  • PSacramento
    I believe that many a strong believer, myself included, has gone and will go the way of Ehrman.

    I would tend to agree, I think people that have an "either/or" mindset will see things in a very Black and white way so, in regards to the bible, if THEY believe it to be innerrant and then see it NOT to be so ( in theri own view) then yes, they will reject it altogether.

    Of course, they MAY be starting off from an incorrect POV to begin with which makes any decision based on THAT POV, a decision that is "one sided" or "incorrect".

  • PrimateDave

    After reading Who Wrote the Bible? by Friedman, I began to appreciate that true scholarship is defined by a certain respect for others who may have differing points of view. Friedman's introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis was eye-opening. After I read the book, I did a quick search for the DH or "Higher Criticism" in the Watchtower CD. The WTS won't even tell you enough about it to make an informed opinion. They don't want you to believe it, so they turn it into a "straw man" and dismiss it out of hand. I lost any remaining respect I might have had for the WTS from that time on.

  • PSacramento

    If we truly want to ge the "correct" picture about the bible, if there is one, we must TRY to read ALL opinions on it with an open mind with minimal precoonceived notions, though I admit I have a hard tiem doing that.

    I read those that are against a literal interpretation and those for it and their cases, I read those that believe the bibel inspired and those that believe it to be simply a "book", I read those that point out the issues in the bible AND those that answer those very issues, I read commentaries on the different bible books and letters and try to read the commentaries that are old and those that are new.

    It IS, not was, IS a daunting task and I have only been at it for the last few years, but I have learned this:

    ALL is opinion which makes ALL just that, opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

    I don't view one's opinion higher than another, I have learned soemthing of value from ALL sides of the many arguments.

    I am NOT ready to "give up" on the bible, but I do NOT take it to be literal and I do see see it as "many things" and not just "one thing".

  • dgp

    If I were of the opinion that the Bible is just literature, would that be an opinion like any other?

  • PSacramento


    All we have are opinions.

    Most of the stuff that different religions and denominations argue over is just that, an opinion, an opinion made by one man 1700 ( Augustin Hippo) years ago or even one made less than 100 years ago ( Rutherford), but still just an opinion.

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