Originally Posted by SergiuM
Criz, you make a good point. I confused the scholarly dating with the oldest actual piece of the writing found (obviously two different things, my mistake). But how exactly do we know it's been monkeyed with and/or altered many times like you say it was?
Sorry to be coming back to this so late… got preoccupied with more fun business yesterday. I'm restoring a bass drum.
Anyway, first off just to be clear, I didn't mean any disrespect by using the word "monkeyed". But I happen to believe in Evolution, so I think it's an apt word.
How do we know? Most Biblical scholars agree on the following:
Let's start at the beginning: in the 300-400 years between the death of Christ and the canonization of the Bible, Christianity was in its infancy. Many texts were written by many people, possibly none
of whom had actually even met Christ. So many details of Christ's life and the new religion in general were interpreted and written down differently by all those different writers. One of the key differences during that time was the question of Christ's divinity: was he a god, a man, or something in-between? Then around the 4th century, the Catholic church set about taking all the previous writing and thoughts and making it all consistent, creating what they called the Dogma. They made the decisions as to what was the approved story, the book that then became the Bible. Everything else was thrown out.
Part of that process was simply about continuity, or picking the best version of a story that appeared in more than one text. But another part of it was about weeding out the troublesome elements that refused to agree with the accepted dogma. Like if you thought Christ was not divine (once it had been "decided" that he was
), you were called a heretic, and if you didn't recant and accept the party line you were persecuted and very often killed.
(By my way of thinking, that's the major problem with the Bible, right there. Gatekeepers deciding for the rest of us which truths were "true". I've always had a big, big problem with authoritarians and censorship.)
Then, as the link theindian
posted describes, when the Bible and other manuscripts were copied by scribes in the monasteries, mistakes often crept in. Even some outright changes in wording were sometimes made. And sometimes even a change of one word can alter the meaning of a whole sentence or even the whole story.
Then, different denominations accept different versions of the Bible. The King James Bible is different that the Catholic Bible, for instance. (Specifically on the subject of the Rapture... look it up.) But if the Bible is truly God's Word, how can there be different versions. Who would dare change it?
And translations introduce errors. Many languages don't share equivalent words, so you have to pick the closest match. But that often colors the meaning. Even popular English re-translations of the Bible, like the Good News Bible of 1976, seem problematic. Who decides what is the best or most accurate way to change God's Word for a modern audience?
And finally, in our modern day, after the discoveries of other early Christian and pre-Christian texts, like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammabi library, there has been no popular (non-scholarly) reassessment of all that material and how it might impact our understanding of the Bible and Christianity in general. The church has always maintained they got it right in the first place, and that there's no need to rethink or (God forbid) question
So that's the facts right there. Though I can't help it if a little of my own beliefs creep in and color the way I explain it. I've always thought that if you want to understand something, or discover the truth about it, you have to look at all the facts and evidence there is. Not just what the gatekeepers tell you is important, or "true". Like I said in my first post, I respect other people's right to believe in whatever they like. But for me, I can't literally believe in the Bible, after discovering everything else that was kept out of it. The gatekeepers will always say: "Well, that's because we are experts, we know more than you. So trust us." But I don't trust them. Never have, never will. At the very least (as that famous ex-actor once said): "Trust, but verify."
And that brings us back full-circle, and back on-topic, to the original post.
Cheers to all, and all you Americans have a nice Memorial Day…