The Bible As A Historical Document/Allegory.

I gave the following response to someone about the bible which I thought contained some interesting info.  The response I got was just scripture saying the bible is infallible…  Oh well.  I thought I’d share the comment anyway:

 

“One would not even be able to define theism or fundamentalism unless one believes the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself.”

It doesn’t take a specific belief to simply define a term. Theism is belief in a personal god (as opposed to deism, atheism, polytheism or pantheism) and fundamentalism is belief in a strict, literal interpretation of the bible or some other scripture. You do not have to be a fundamentalist to believe there is truth or meaning in scripture.

“And to do so, one has to believe whole the Bible is infallable about God.”

The bible contains poetry, the word infallible doesn’t even apply to something like music or poetry, which is subjective and interpretive and doesn’t have one set meaning that can be true or false. Not everything in the bible is literal, or if it is then we should literally own slaves, literally carry around swords, literally not let women have authority over men (ie vote, run for office or be a boss in any job) and many other things you probably would find distasteful.

“The question is not what parts in the Bible are correct about God, and what parts are wrong. I believe the whole Bible is the Spirit-inspired Word of God, without first of all trying to decide which parts should be taken literally or otherwise.”

I try not to start out an inquiry with a huge assumption. And if the entire bible is inspired by god which bible is that? The original king james bible contained 15 extra books including stories like “bel and the dragon”, and there are often multiple versions of the same texts, in some versions it was a literal dragon that was slain by daniel and in others it was a false idol that was debunked by daniel. Which one is infallible? Genesis 1 and 2 are two versions of the creation account, one says god created the plants and animals and the other says he “let the earth bring forth” the plants and animals (which suggests theistic evolution), which version is infallible? There may be texts that are inspired by god or sent down by aliens, for all I know this could be true – but the only way to know if a particular text contains truth or fiction is to test it against facts, evidence and logic. If a book of the bible or a particular theology contradicts the world we observe around us isn’t it better to see that as a tool for understanding rather than as a threat to our preconceptions? I read a quote the other day someone posted about how creationists used to be pro-science and see science as being a way to better understand scripture because they thought that the physical world and scripture were “two books written by the same author”. I think that is a much more open and healthy attitude and that it’s lost on most american creationists.

“Without this premise the fact of Christ’s redemption and His procurement of righteousness for lost sinners will not make sense.”

Maybe it doesn’t make sense. Maybe it will make sense later and it just doesn’t make sense to you right now. I am not a theologian or an expert on the bible, but when I read the miracle stories metaphors and symbolism jump out at me. When jesus healed the blind man and then talked about spiritual blindness and told the pharisees that they are accountable because they claim to understand this seemed to echo the message of adam and eve (being naked and disobeying god was only a sin once they had the knowledge of good and evil) and the message of jesus dying on the cross (forgive them father for they know not what they do), that sin is not simply doing a bad thing but that it is understanding that something is wrong and doing it anyway. That we can forgive many so-called sinners because they simply do not understand because their eyes have not been opened yet. A virus can kill a million people, but it is not evil because it doesn’t have a brain or a choice, it’s just a chemical process. So with this interpretation in mind rather than seeing the garden of eden as the moment death and pain and crappy behavior entered the world (which we know did not happen a few thousand years ago) what really entered the world was understanding and the responsibility that comes with it. Historically you know what happened 6-10,000 years ago? Not the dawn of time – the dawn of human civilization. It was the period where we went from nomads chasing migrating animals to building permanent settlements and established a division of labor which allowed us invent technology, explore science and try to understand spirituality, morality, philosophy, art, beauty and higher meaning. It is the time we began to take responsibility for our existence.

“If the first Adam was fiction, what about the second Adam (Christ)?”

Christ has been treated as a symbol and a metaphor for thousands of years and the ideas about him are bound to be fictionalized whether he was a real person or not. Or do you think he was white with long hair and a trimmed beard as he is generally depicted? A trimmed beard and long hair both violate the laws of the religion he preached, and he was not of european descent. In reality he probably looked like a cross between osama bin laden and zz top. Similarly if you read about religious leaders and political leaders of 2,000 years ago their stories are almost always part fact and part legend. Alexander the great was said to be the son of zeus, immaculately conceived by a lightning bolt and born of a virgin, and he was said to fulfill prophecies, some from the bible. Nobody doubts that alexander the great was a real person but we have to take the claims about him with a grain of salt.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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15 Responses to The Bible As A Historical Document/Allegory.

  1. Daniel Silas says:

    You wrote: “Not everything in the bible is literal, or if it is then we should literally own slaves, literally carry around swords, literally not let women have authority over men (ie vote, run for office or be a boss in any job) and many other things you probably would find distasteful.”

    Actually that is an improper interpretation in light of hermeneutics, which is is the study of the principles of interpretation concerning the books of the Bible or other texts. Let’s take a few principles of Biblical hermeneutics and apply them in light of your points including historically and contextually in addition to taking it literarly.

    You have to remember that the Law of Moses in the Torah were implemented in different catagories and areas of life. You had the moral laws, criminal law, social/civil laws, food laws, purity laws, ecclesiastic laws (feasts, sacrifices and offerings, the priesthood, worship etc), government, and the designation of land. This list is not exhaustive.

    My point is that the Law of Moses was designed for a nation that was governed as a theocracy for that time period. You have to interpret it historically and in the context it was given. In addition to being national law for a state (Israel), the law was a teacher that pointed us to Christ because humans can’t keep the entirety of the law in our sinful state. Paul wrote that if a person breaks one law, we are guilty of breaking it all. God’s standard is perfection, and that is why we need Jesus. As Messianic Jews and Christians we are set free from the law as it was fulfilled by Christ. He lived by the letter of the law and kept it perfectly, and we are justified by His righteousness before God when we trust in Him. He took our sinful life onto Himself and gives us His perfect life by grace.

    Addressing your point, when it comes to slavery, the Law of Moses was designed to regulate and protect the servants in a nation that practices servantship. It is not like the brutal slavery (sensationalized by the media) in the US before the Civil War. Israelites who owed debts could indenture themselves as servants to pay off what they owed or other various things. God directed the people to treat their servants well, and Israelite servants were released from their servanthood every 7 years. God also used servanthood as a tool of judgement against those evil nations that surrounded Israel, but this practice was just as regulated minus the release every seventh year. In context, these laws were for Israel as a state. When it comes to the New Testament, Jesus came to change and save people, not to change the evil practices of the world. Of course He will when He returns as that is the second fold ministry given to Him by God (lamb and lion). Paul writes that those who had servants were to treat them well and to remember they had a master in Christ.

    When it comes to swords, the only text I can think of is when Jesus told the disciples to buy a sword for self defense after He left the Earth. It simply points out that people have the God given right to defend themselves. I think everyone should be able to open carry a variety of weapons, but that is a totally different discussion.

    In regard to women, the Law of Moses setup regulations to protect them in the different areas I mentioned in a brutal and partriarchal world (not just Israel). Critics often point to the laws concerning war and that the Israelites could take the women captured as wives. People cry out that is so horrible, but in reality during war the armies would come in to rape and kill the women. God’s law determined that if women were captured the men would have to provide them with a home, protection, and every other benefit due a wife. They were not to rape them. It was a different time and culture back then. When it comes to Christianity it elevates women to the same level as men in everyway including equal standing spiritually before God. There is no longer Jew, Gentile, male, or female. We are all one in Christ. The two rules are that in the home the woman is to submit to her husband, and women can not hold authority over men in the Church. Those are due to the punishment that God laid upon Eve for her sin and leading Adam to do the same. Outside of those two areas women hold equal standing in every area of life politically, socially, and in any organization.

    I will keep my comments focused on this topic, so I’ll leave the others for later if I decide to address them. I would love nothing more to argue your points. Though, I don’t want to get too long winded. 🙂 After all WordPress does have a character limit for comments (though I’m not exactly sure what that is).

    • agnophilo says:

      “Actually that is an improper interpretation in light of hermeneutics, which is is the study of the principles of interpretation concerning the books of the Bible or other texts. Let’s take a few principles of Biblical hermeneutics and apply them in light of your points including historically and contextually in addition to taking it literarly.”

      You didn’t have to even reply to this, I was speaking out against a simplistic, literal interpretation of the bible and not even insisting that the bible necessarily supports those things. It does however and we’ll get into it now but I wasn’t going to go there.

      “You have to remember that the Law of Moses in the Torah were implemented in different categories and areas of life. You had the moral laws, criminal law, social/civil laws, food laws, purity laws, ecclesiastic laws (feasts, sacrifices and offerings, the priesthood, worship etc), government, and the designation of land. This list is not exhaustive.”

      It is also fictional. This is the complex rationalization jews came up with for not following their own supposedly infallible scripture – in psychology it’s known as compartmentalization and it is nowhere found in the actual scripture, only the writings that come later by “scholars” saying “um, this is what moses *meant* to say…” You ironically subscribe to both the jewish rationalization for ignoring scripture and the christian rationalization, which you also espouse below and which also came not from what jesus said, but from those who came after said he meant to say. Show me where moses is quoted in scripture saying that 90% of the commandments he espouses have an expiration date, or where jesus says not to own slaves.

      “My point is that the Law of Moses was designed for a nation that was governed as a theocracy for that time period. You have to interpret it historically and in the context it was given.”

      I do. You don’t. I see it as a text written in a subjective period in a subjective culture that reflects both the culture and period it was written in. You see it as the infallible word of the all-knowing creator of the universe, .

      “In addition to being national law for a state (Israel), the law was a teacher that pointed us to Christ because humans can’t keep the entirety of the law in our sinful state. Paul wrote that if a person breaks one law, we are guilty of breaking it all.”

      So all-powerful, perfect god handed down a law that we, as he made us, are incapable of not completely violating. And this doesn’t seem like convoluted nonsense to you?

      “God’s standard is perfection, and that is why we need Jesus.”

      Nothing says perfection like murdering an innocent man. When I think of perfection I immediately think of human and animal sacrifice.

      “As Messianic Jews and Christians we are set free from the law as it was fulfilled by Christ.”

      In order to believe this you have to ignore much of the old testament that makes clear that it is talking about permanent commandments and you have to ignore christ’s commandment to uphold even the least of the commandments and follow the old laws and prophets until “heaven and earth have passed away”, and you have to instead pay attention to only the teachings of paul, who was never even in the same room with jesus and claimed to have had a vision of him.

      “He lived by the letter of the law and kept it perfectly,”

      No he didn’t. I can easily cite examples of him violating and contradicting scripture.

      “and we are justified by His righteousness before God when we trust in Him. He took our sinful life onto Himself and gives us His perfect life by grace.”

      This is voodoo nonsense. If I’m perfect and you murder me that absolves you of your sins? In the words of my generation “wtf?” I don’t accept the notion that sin is a mystical property that can be transferred from one being to another and absolved vicariously, sin is an abstract concept not something you can sprinkle on your dinner like pepper or go to the doctor to have removed. That is bronze age superstition made up by people who thought disease and drought were inflicted on them by god and who were desperate to a) not think that they were the reason their friends and children kept dying and b) not have to sacrifice what little cattle they had in order to justify that belief.

      “Addressing your point, when it comes to slavery, the Law of Moses was designed to regulate and protect the servants in a nation that practices servantship. It is not like the brutal slavery (sensationalized by the media) in the US before the Civil War.”

      Wow, I love how you not only reinvent history but then in a backhanded way defend the “brutal slavery” you distance the bible from by saying it’s been “sensationalized” by the media. You know where this conversation is going so you’re downplaying the evil of american slavery. Kidnapping, murder, shackles and whips and owning people from infancy to old age and raping them and forbidding them as a group to be educated and keeping them so impoverished that even a century and a half later they are still in disproportionate poverty – yeah those hollywood liberals always trying to put a negative spin on things…

      “Israelites who owed debts could indenture themselves as servants to pay off what they owed or other various things.”

      And whites in america could do the same thing. Guess what, they’re not the ones who got beaten to death.

      “God directed the people to treat their servants well,”

      No, just their fellow jews/israelites. I suspect you know as well as I that the passages calling for not being mean to your hebrew slaves are right next to ones forbidding you from being punished for beating your foreign/heathen slaves to death unless they die immediately from the beating – if they survive a few days and then die it’s okay because they’re your property.

      “and Israelite servants were released from their servanthood every 7 years.”

      Yes, israelite servants.

      “God also used servanthood as a tool of judgement against those evil nations that surrounded Israel, but this practice was just as regulated minus the release every seventh year.”

      Omg what spin. You are downplaying god saying you can grab foreigners off the streets and own them and all of their descendants until the end of time. Another temporary suggestion from the almighty by the way, right? Not an eternal commandment. And yes it is so justified to punish the 50th generation of children for something some dictator did long before they were born. They so had it coming, since they inherited their sins from eve and we all know dirty heathens don’t know the right joojoo rituals to wash their sins away so they still have them all. Especially those filthy jews, they still have the sin of killing christ on their souls, so hey, lets all go murder them.

      I am so glad even you do not take this inherited sin and vicarious absolution stuff seriously, and that we live in a secular age where there aren’t enough people with your mentality to actually bring slavery back.

      “In context, these laws were for Israel as a state. When it comes to the New Testament, Jesus came to change and save people, not to change the evil practices of the world.”

      Yeah, but we idiots keep seeing him as a moral figure. God we’re so stupid. And yeah infallible, god-breathed, commanded scripture is definitely the worst form of worldly evil.

      “Of course He will when He returns as that is the second fold ministry given to Him by God (lamb and lion). Paul writes that those who had servants were to treat them well and to remember they had a master in Christ.”

      Believe it when I see it.

      “When it comes to swords, the only text I can think of is when Jesus told the disciples to buy a sword for self defense after He left the Earth.”

      If you add the words “for your self-defense” and “after I leave the earth” to what he said. You know if I thought the bible were the word of god I would be horribly offended at people making it into whatever they like the way you do.

      “It simply points out that people have the God given right to defend themselves.”

      About as much as he was talking about what is the best cell phone plan. It’s as much of an anachronism to the times and culture he was speaking in as “god-given rights”.

      “I think everyone should be able to open carry a variety of weapons, but that is a totally different discussion.”

      Of course, praise jesus and pass the ammo. Whatever increases the suicide *and* homicide rate at the same time is okay by me.

      “In regard to women, the Law of Moses setup regulations to protect them in the different areas I mentioned in a brutal and partriarchal world (not just Israel).”

      I especially like the bit that says if a woman can’t prove she was raped in the city she’s to be executed. Guilty until proven innocent for rape victims, yay.

      “Critics often point to the laws concerning war and that the Israelites could take the women captured as wives. People cry out that is so horrible, but in reality during war the armies would come in to rape and kill the women.”

      Yes, it’s good to take women as wives in war and evil to kill or rape them… Shall I post the many and varied passages where god instructs soldiers to rape and kill women and children or do you want to be kind and spare me the waste of time?

      “God’s law determined that if women were captured the men would have to provide them with a home, protection, and every other benefit due a wife. They were not to rape them.”

      Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

      “It was a different time and culture back then. When it comes to Christianity it elevates women to the same level as men in everyway”

      Other than forbidding them to have authority over any man, forbidding them to speak in religious matters, saying that women are unclean twice as long after giving birth if it’s a girl, commanding them to be bought and sold as property with no power to determine their own fate and blaming every evil in the world on women and saying that your wife, daughter and mother are guilty of literally causing every evil in the world as if they did it themselves. But yeah aside from that they’re totally equal. And the original US constitution treats blacks and whites completely equally… except for a few little things, not really important.

      “including equal standing spiritually before God. There is no longer Jew, Gentile, male, or female. We are all one in Christ.”

      So why isn’t gay marriage legal? And why do only women have to cover their heads to hide them from god?

      “The two rules are that in the home the woman is to submit to her husband,”

      Oh in the home is it? It’s just about who gets the biggest piece of chicken at dinner right? Like when it says a woman’s promise is not valid because her husband can undo it later.

      “and women can not hold authority over men in the Church.”

      Again with adding words. Apparently god needs to be qualified. It says women cannot speak in church and cannot have any authority over man, period.

      “Those are due to the punishment that God laid upon Eve for her sin and leading Adam to do the same. Outside of those two areas women hold equal standing in every area of life politically, socially, and in any organization.”

      Yeah and outside of the institution of slavery blacks and whites were total equals. Sexism is sexism, if you say “women and men are equal except in the following nineteen ways…” it’s not equality.

      “Though, I don’t want to get too long winded. 🙂 After all WordPress does have a character limit for comments (though I’m not exactly sure what that is).”

      I apparently bumped up against it on your site at least once. It seems fairly big fortunately.

      • Daniel Silas says:

        Hi Agnophilo,

        Very interesting response.

        The Bible has to be properly interpreted, or anyone can take anything they want out of context and proper rules of interpretation to make it mean whatever they want. As you amply illustrated by your responses.

        I read what other people have written about the Bible and its various passages, but first and foremost I dig into the scripture itself and do my best to understand it properly. Just because I have tried to explain some things about it that does not mean that I subscribe to Jewish or Christian commentators who came after.

        You wrote: “Show me where moses is quoted in scripture saying that 90% of the commandments he espouses have an expiration date, or where jesus says not to own slaves.”

        In regard to Moses, ” I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him” (Deuteronomy 18:18). This is in reference to Jesus. Yes the Law remains for all those who are outside of Christ and they will be judged by it.

        As to regard to Jesus saying not to own slaves He didn’t. He said we were all slaves to sin and the devil, and He had come to set us free. Not that He was going to change the way the world did things. He will do that when He comes back.

        You wrote: “If I’m perfect and you murder me that absolves you of your sins? In the words of my generation “wtf?””

        You don’t understand.

        You wrote: “Wow, I love how you not only reinvent history but then in a backhanded way defend the “brutal slavery” you distance the bible from by saying it’s been “sensationalized” by the media. You know where this conversation is going so you’re downplaying the evil of american slavery.”

        Wow. I didn’t address the problems with American slavery. I said that the servants in the Bible and what happened in America are distinct. They are two different issues. I absolutely do not support slavery in any form or fashion. I am absolutely not racist in any form or fashion. I think race is a false category and shouldn’t even be mentioned. We are all human, period.

        You wrote: “Believe it when I see it.”

        Read Colossians 4:1 and the book of Philemon. Paul says it as well as encouraging Philemon to free his slave and receive him as a beloved brother.

        • agnophilo says:

          You say you refuse to reply further because we keep going in circles. We keep going in circles because the conversation consists of me saying something, you not dealing with it, and me saying “deal with this” over and over again. Just like this where you gloss over 2/3 of my comment and nearly everything we were talking about because you have no answer, and just to be extra snotty you condescend and imply I am distorting scripture and taking it out of context without backing up your accusation.

          What is the point of talking about or believing anything if you do it with your eyes shut?

          • Daniel Silas says:

            You are funny Agnophilo.

            I didn’t say I refuse to reply further. In my post on my blog (not this one), I said I don’t think its beneficial to either of us if we are simply going to keep going in circles. You say something, and I respond. I say something, and you respond. I deal with each of your points with a response. You deal with each of my points with a response. What I did say was to make a point and we can discuss it. No need to discuss 100 points at the same time.

            I absolutely have answers for you, its not my fault you reject them, don’t see them, or you don’t understand my points. Snotty? Ad hominem again. And yes, you are distorting scripture and taking it out of context to fit your arguments. I point to universally accepted principles to interpret literature and historical texts, explain my views on certain things, and then you simply contradict me without evidence, set up straw men, and resort to ad hominem.

            I didn’t gloss over 2/3 of your response. You stated a lot of opinionated assumptions. When you had a point or asked a question I responded to them, but I may not have responded to all. If you want to discuss scripture, I will discuss any that you want to draw out of the Bible, but you need to reference the scripture (like God telling Israelites to sometimes rape women). Then I’ll give you my thoughts on it. There is not one text in the Bible that I have not studied. I do ask that we do it one at a time for an interesting conversation instead of long one sided monologues throwing a hundred points out at once.

            Have a good evening.

  2. Daniel Silas says:

    I hope you don’t hold my typos against me and infer that I lack intelligence because of them. 🙂

    • agnophilo says:

      I don’t think you lack intelligence because of typos, or that you lack intelligence in general, but remember the words of winston churchill:

      “True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.”

  3. Daniel Silas says:

    Oh, one other thought… Christians are not bound by the law, but the moral law is a guide for us to know how God would want us to live our life. The law that we have is that of love that Jesus said sums up the law and all the prophets. Love God, love the Church (meaning our Christian brothers and sisters), and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

  4. paarsurrey says:

    The present Bible is neither a literal Word of God not it is inspired one; it has been tampered with, additions were made into it by the narrators and the scribes; though originally the messengers prophets mentioned in it did receive Word of Revelation from the one true God.

  5. Daniel Silas says:

    Good Morning,

    You wrote: “The present Bible is neither a literal Word of God not it is inspired one;”

    This is your opinion. It is very possible that the Bible is the literal word of God. I believe the prophets were moved, guided, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. There is no way for you to prove your assertion.

    You wrote: “it has been tampered with, additions were made into it by the narrators and the scribes;”

    You are incorrect. The Bible has the greatest amount of manuscript evidence than any other book from ancient times.

    For the Old Testament the earliest copies are dated back to 200 B.C. Those were compared that to the oldest copy we had previously and there were no changes for 1000 years. If you research the process that the Jewish scribes went through to preserve the integrity of the text you would understand.

    For the New Testament, the oldest partial manuscripts we have includes 43% of the entire New Testament and dates back to the 1st and 2nd centuries. These confirm that there have been no changes to 43% the New Testament writings. We have 100% of the New Testament in partial manuscripts (combined) that date from 100-300 AD and prove the integrity of the NT 100%. The oldest, complete manuscript is the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates back to around 350 AD. We have even greater evidence of the NT’s integrity with thousands of manuscripts that had been translated into multiple languages from various early time periods as well.

    Anything (a tiny, tiny percentage) that does not appear in the earliest copies that we have are very much noted to let everyone know that those few texts don’t appear in the earliest manuscripts. Those few things may be authentic, we just can’t prove it as of yet. Even if you remove those few things, it does not change the truth of the message or that the writers of the Bible encountered God and witnessed Jesus Christ and all He did.

    The Bible is the most well preserved and authenticated collection of writings from ancient times. There are no other ancient documents that can in anyway compare to the care and careful work that was done to protect and preserve the Bible for future generations.

    You wrote: “…though originally the messengers prophets mentioned in it did receive Word of Revelation from the one true God.”

    I believe the prophets in the Bible did receive true revelation of God about Himself and the truth of our existence. YHWH is the true God and Jesus Christ is His prophet. So much so that Jesus is called THE “Word of God” in John 1:1. Jesus was God incarnate, He died for our sins, took our place under God’s wrath, so that we can be saved and have eternal life with Him forever.

  6. Daniel Silas says:

    His resurrection proved all of His words.

    • paarsurrey says:

      Jesus did not die on the Cross to start with; hence there is no case of his resurrection from the dead.

      • Daniel Silas says:

        There is plenty of historical evidence that Jesus died on the cross. That includes Non-Biblical writers in addition to the eyewitness accounts recorded for us in the New Testament.

        Tacitus, one of the greatest Roman historians wrote this in his writings (Annals):

        “But neither human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered. Therefore, to put down the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits and punished in the most unusual ways those hated for their shameful acts [flagitia], whom the crowd called “Chrestians.” The founder of this name, Christ, had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate [Auctor nominis eius Christus Tiberio imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio adfectus erat]. Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city [Rome], where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular. Therefore, first those who admitted to it were arrested, then on their information a very large multitude was convicted, not so much for the crime of arson as for hatred of the human race [odium humani generis].”

        There are plenty of other historians from that time period who record information about Jesus and Christians including that He was crucified. Take a look at Thallos, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Mara Bar Serapion, Lucian of Samosata, Celsus, Josephus, and the Mishnah. Then you have the New Testament and all the mountain of writings by the Christians from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries. Take a look at archaeology and the huge discoveries that have been made for the last 100 years.

  7. Daniel Silas says:

    Looking at your blog I can see that you are Muslim. If you were to apply the liberal standard of scholarship you use against the Bible to the Quran, it would be just as problematic.

    The Quran was passed on orally for a couple of years after Mohammed died (632 AD – 600 years after Jesus walked the Earth). No one person had the entire oral teachings memorized. Also, there was a battle between Muslims where close followers of Mohammed (Salim for example) who had memorized much of Mohammed’s teachings were killed by other Muslims due to politics. The first Quran (Hafsah Codex) was drawn together in writing by 634 AD and every passage had to be witnessed by two men. However, this most important original manuscript of the Quran was destroyed by Muslim leaders in 667 AD. As well as many other Qurans with variants to this one.

    The Hadith (Sahih Bukhari. In Volume 6, Book 61, Number 510) records how the Muslims were very concerned of the different recitations of the Quran. Muslim source materials report that at least four different versions (all different and written by direct followers of Mohammed) of the Qur’an existed before the political order was given to have them burned. (Refer to “Al-Tamhid 2, 247). Once Caliph Uthman had his scribes write down the “perfect” version of the Quran, they had all the variant manuscripts burned. Why? It goes back to the Hadith, “Hudhaifa was afraid of the different recitations of the Qur’an.”

    The Quran that we have today was the one motivated by political leaders who wanted a “perfect” manuscript. It was not the original that was recorded so carefully (Hafsah Codex). Since there are no other manuscripts to examine, we can’t even know for sure if the current Quran really records the teachings of Mohammed accurately. Perhaps it records the teachings of the political leaders instead.

    For further reading: http://www.harvardhouse.com/quran_purity.htm

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