The Bible is NOT Fiction- some thoughts

I like the idea that this article is trying to get across. i think it would have more power if the Iliad replaced the Odyssey as the comparative tool though.  The main thrust of the article is a very good point about historical value and have thought this to be a fascinating concept. And although the odyssey gave some insight into the thought process or psyche of early bronze age people, I don't think it as historically valuable as the Iliad.

  One reason for this - Arthur Schliemann used descriptions in the Iliad to actually locate the city of Troy (or at least a place that has remarkable likeness to what's described)  Later excavations and carbon dating at the site placed it to being a sieged city during the time described in the Iliad that most likely suffered an earthquake.  This led many scholars to decipher the idea of the Trojan horse as a metaphor used to describe the earthquakes damage which allowed a greek victory, so it wasn't really an act of the god Poseidon, who counted among many of his symbols, the trident the horse and used earthquakes as Zeus used lightning.

As for those that dismiss the Bible's historical value by tying it wholly to divine inspiration sighting greek legend as not divinely inspired, i think you're off the mark.  You have to understand that within the greek pantheon certain human actions are attributed to certain gods.  Inspiration was not that high on the list, therefore was relegated to a lesser deity known as a muse. Zeuss, in the greek mind, had higher matters at hand. Those of you that dismiss the Bible's historical value because of the actions and beliefs of fools that sight it as a source- congratulations, youre more advanced than the people that use the bible to justify and commit atrocities.  Dismissing  it b/c of them leads me to think you aren't realizing it in fact has historical value.  You are more advanced, just not by a whole lot.  If you think i'm wrong, maybe you should keep reading. If you think I'm a jerk, then you should absolutely keep reading! 

Moving on...  in the greek mind, this sort of thing was divinely inspired.   They are simply assigning things to what they felt was apparent.  Now, the same can and should be said of the Bible.  It is not completely fiction. I'll use some things from the new testament... Herod did exist, Pontius Pilatus did exist, the Pharises did exist, the Roman occupation of Palestine happened. The Bible, although not clearly one hundred percent the actual historical record of what happened at the dawn of the common era, does give insight. Being mentioned in the Bible is not equal to non existence.  Roman historians recorded all these people and happenings i just mentioned. 

 Now lets get to the main character of these books.  DId Achilles exist? Probably, or at least someone like him did. He was a great Warrior and led a pretty effective army, so much so that someone decided to tell as story about him that made it through time. Was this guy's name Achilles, you can't say. But theres a good possibility it was, the written history for the time just doesn't exist..  Was he the son of a god.  No.  Did he inspire people.  Yes.  DId jesus Exist? Absolutely.  Why is this so much more easily verified than Achilles?  Corroborating non religious history.  Given the improved historians of the time ( it was thousands of years after the Iliad- an early bronze age story.)  Josephus the roman historian wrote about him and did so by recording the actions of Jesus brother James. Josephus was a contemporary of James and felt him to be the most important people concerning Jesus.  The bible barely mentions James in this manner. 

 Did Jesus get nailed to a cross.  Well at that time, in that place, it wasn't a hard thing to do. In fact it was a common Roman practice dating to well before the time, it was a recorded staple of the Roman penal system. Oh and in that time of turmoil, plenty of Jews were claiming to be the messiah, that's historical fact. Did he rise from the dead and flit up to heaven? No.  In the eyes of his followers, was he a rabbi that offered a completely different message, that was inspiring? Clearly. Did he believe he was doing it for all mankind.  I'd say so, he was a radical jew. so where his followers,  and it's amazing what people will add to a story to get it out. I think it's a good idea to treat people well and stand up for your rights as a human being equal to other human beings. Adding some supernatural myth doesn't make everything a lie, theres still things to be learned.

One case in point, if you read the greek translation from aramaic of the "turn the other cheek passage, it in effect says, " if some strikes you right cheek, offer them your left."  given that all business in those days was done with your right hand, (mainly because custom dictated you wipe your rear with your left)  this means to hit someone's left cheek you had to use the palm of your hand, not the back.  An admittance that you were striking your equal.  That's powerful considering the poverty of the time. That does not make him God in the flesh necessarily. What it does do, however, is make the Bible a pretty valuable tool to triangulate cultural history, more so than the Iliad, mostly because its from an error when there was alot more written histroy going on, as opposed to early bronze age oral tradition. it's really tough to prove Jesus said all these things verbatim, I'm just saying he/they had an impact on aramiac speaking people in palestine and  used actual cultural practices to do so. At least enough that he set himself apart from all the other messiahs of the time.

 So, When Captain America comic books can give me greater, corroburated historical insight as to why Hitler decided to invade Russia and simultaneously open up a western front as well, you can compare the Bible to a comic book.    To the author of "the Bible is NOT fiction", well done. to the readers of this post, first- try to think of Jesus as a Che Gouvera before things like science, video cameras and mass communications-then forgive me for any syntax errors or mispelled  words. I think Che and Jesus would (not so sure about Achilles)

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Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 21, 2011 at 2:40am
Thanks for the review and so much expansion of the idea.  :D
Comment by demcmanamy3 on May 21, 2011 at 2:45am
no problem.  i think you've got a great idea there. it's a shame that some attack it due to their non religious beliefs with as much veracity (fueled by their beliefs) as those would attack it for their religious beliefs.  keep thinking.
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 21, 2011 at 2:48am
I don't think Josephus was a contemporary of James, however.  Josephus is said to have been born in 37 A.D.  His first writings were completed more than 30 years later.  If James was even alive when Josephus began writing, he would have been a very very old man for the age - but he likely wasn't alive by the time Josephus began writing the history of his age.
Comment by demcmanamy3 on May 21, 2011 at 2:59am
contemporary just means they lived at the same time.  so from a historical standpoint it is important because it give the historian proximity to the event.  so when my uncle ken would tell me what it was like parachuting into normandy on d day it gives me insight to the occurrence, even though i was born after it happened. i could write a fairly historical account of d-day, but without knowing my uncle, i'd have a lot less insight.  He died before i could write well, but his stories are insightful and  give me a little more knowledge of what was going through, let's say, a generals mind. More so than if i had not known my uncle.  it's about proximity. Josephus didn't talk to Jesus, he probably didn't talk to James either, but he was a Jew and probably knew someone that was lived really close to what was going on.  he had more insight, than let's say the guy that wrote the book of matthew.
Comment by demcmanamy3 on May 21, 2011 at 3:15am
My uncle is real by the way and did jump into normandy.  But here's a better example... Bobby Kennedy.  He died before I was born.  about the same time difference between Jesus and Josephus.  My college Criminal science teacher (this is true by the way) worked his murder as a junior agent.  I wasn't there, I never spoke to a Kennedy, and am a contemporary, as you are, of Ted Kennedy. that's pretty close. If i was an interested historian with connections (josephus had a ton of roman connections, he was considered a Roman apologist on top of being a roman employed historian) he'd have good insight making him a relatively reliable source.  as i would be if i was writing a history of bobby kennedy and interviewed my college professor.
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 21, 2011 at 3:21am
Ok, well I'll grant you that.  It sure would have been nice, however, had anyone who actually met Jesus ever written anything down.  Perhaps they did, and the early church fathers had that destroyed with all the other materials that contradicted their views on the matter.
Comment by demcmanamy3 on May 21, 2011 at 3:37am

absolutely.  and what would be even better is if people hadn't associated him with supernatural powers too.  i guess the point is this... history can rarely ever give you the whole truth but its far more reliable than  religion, which rarely comes close. 

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 21, 2011 at 3:54am

I've been rereading Mark for the first time in almost 20 years and it's hilarious.  Looking back on it, I'm left wondering how the book isn't easily recognized as inner church narrative by everyone.  Jesus happens to walk past some fishermen and says, 'Hey, come with me,' and these guys just drop their nets and go with him, and then then walk into someone's home and sit down for dinner.  Who the hell would drop the tools of their trade and follow some guy who just said, "Hey, come with me"?  Who the hell would just let some wanderers walk into their home and sit down for dinner just because one of the dudes tells some really insightful stories?  There is zero background or explanation, making it so obvious that the book was written for the already indoctrinated, that one simply MUST ask - what was early indoctrination based on?


It's issues like these that I think are fascinating and when you read the book through non-indoctrinated eyes there is a lot to be learned about the history of the religion itself, which is very important history to our world today.

Comment by demcmanamy3 on May 21, 2011 at 4:12am
yeah that's the point.  there are lots of reasons why that would happen. none of them are miraculous.  in 30 AD the area surrounding galilee was notorious for famine and starvation.  life expectancy was low as a result. the romans imposed harsh taxes as a means of controlling the population. palestine, as a whole was extremely difficult to mange (think hadrian's wall and the roman issue with the natives of scotland- the picts.  the jews and the scots where the only peoples that rome could never make capitulate fully.  so some guy walks by and offers you free food.  the problem is this, your looking at it through today's standards.  it's not uncommon for 1. oppressed people to band together 2. hungry people to take a free meal. 3 in jewish culture, as in early christian culture and in muslime culture, especially in the early first millenium, eating with a stranger of the same faith isn;t uncommon at all.  the bible attributes this particular occurence to the power of the message, history attributes it to the power of the economic conditions.  did this particular story happen? no one can say. is it possible, given the state of things at the time, absolutely. the church's narrative isn't so much that it happened, it;s why it happened, the church says it was divine.  i think the reality is necessity.
Comment by MikeLong on May 21, 2011 at 4:24am
Not odd at all. I can picture it in black and white. Jesus clicks into focus and the theremin starts. The motion of the apostles' legs is clearly involuntary. The same theremin riff starts again as they all enter the stranger's house and Jesus locks eyes. No indoctrination necessary. It all fits.


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