I have been doing some reading from a couple of Elaine Pagel’s books and one by Bret Ehrman. Both authors have researched and written about the books that didn’t make it into the Bible, the errors, mistaken or otherwise, in those that did, and the fussin’ and feudin’ over the decisions. I’ll even finish them one of these days. These aren’t books that you read cover to cover in a few days. At least for me. This is something you think about, do a little research and read some more. And in the meantime something else grabs my attention, and………..excuse me, my new book on Greek Mythology just came, there’s those essays by Tom Cowan, that book on herbs, and you think this is why my reading list never gets any shorter? Oh, and don’t forget the shawl I’m working on and really need to finish
I’ve always asked questions. I’ve never been able to believe something just because “it is written” or somebody said so. I’ve always had to work it out for myself. And I guess that’s my core identity. It doesn’t really depend on anything outside of me. And I guess I never bought into the every word in the Bible was written by God therefore it can’t be questioned. It’s been nearly two thousand years, texts have been copied over and over, mistakes got made and things got added or subtracted. And language as a tool can be incredibly crude. Especially when we’re working with several languages and a lot of centuries.
In fact, Ehrman who heads up the religious studies department of the UNC at Chapel Hill, started out as a literalist and is currently an agnostic. I guess that’s why so many of the fundamentalists head for the barricades at the drop of a very small hat. If someone who went through the literalist training, believed it whole heartedly, started his research intending to prove that the literalists were right and ended up not only on the other side of the fence but in the next county, what will happen next?
Everything was written after the fact. Probably based on third hand accounts at best. Preached in Aramaic and Hebrew, written down in Greek, translated into Latin, translated back into Greek and then into the modern European languages.
Funny thing about ancient Greek, the words were not separated and there was no punctuation. You can read a phrase as “Jesus is now here” or “Jesus is nowhere.” Excuse me, I think I’ll just go outside and thank whoever did it for the birds, the flowers, the fact that I woke up this morning, that mom also woke up this morning, and the cats. That’s the core, everything else is profit.
I doubt if Paul ever intended for his letters to be taken as gospel “truth.” He was writing to specific people, in a certain place, at a certain time. The Bible is a tool, and it’s one of many, to be used for understanding the spirit. And you can’t understand the Bible without understanding the people who wrote it and the people and cultures around them. And that’s a very tall order. It’s so much easier I guess to “just accept Jesus and you’ll be saved.” But, as my family will tell you I’ve never taken the easy way to anything.